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You're not failing, mama

If you're in a tough season right now, please let this be my reminder to you: You will catch a break. You will figure it out. You will find a way.

You're not failing, mama

It's an important reminder to note how fast time goes. But not always necessarily in the sad "They're growing up too quickly, how is this happening?" way... it's also important to remind ourselves that things change quickly when raising young children.

The chaos doesn't stay the same.

The exhaustion fluctuates.

The frustrating phases pass.

The things you have time for changes.

The difficult things differ.

The joy remains and grows and the challenges come and go in varying degrees.

As quickly as summer came and as quickly as it's winding down, I'm reminded that hard seasons pass. I find that the timing of summer ending closely aligns with the feeling of things settling a bit in my life. My youngest is almost 11 months and we've, dare I say, gotten into some sort of family of five rhythm that is working pretty well for us.

There are still PLENTY of challenges, of course, but I feel we are out of the initial newborn/figuring out how to manage three children haze (for the most part) and right now things feel strong and happy and fun.

I wouldn't necessarily say 'balanced,' but I think I have come to terms with the fact that my life won't feel balanced for a long, long time. And I actually do think I am okay with that.

My confidence levels have risen and I feel I am able to manage the kids out on adventures better. We just got back from a road trip to NY (just me and my three girls) to visit family and friends and it went really, really well.

A few months ago, I tried this exact same trip and it went really, really poorly. I was at my peak overwhelm at that point and I'm not sure what I was thinking at the time.

Why, exactly, did I think driving about five hours in a car with a 5-month-old, 2-year-old, and a 4-year-old (without another adult) during the week when I had work deadlines to meet would be a sound idea?

I think I just thought, Hey I used to do this when I had two kids… I can manage it.

But I couldn't. And I definitely learned a lesson that I continue to learn and try to reconcile with: Don't bite off more than you can chew—especially in seasons of transition.

Things are FAR from "easy" right now, but they're good. They're feeling real and regular and more manageable. The weight has been lifted off my shoulders a bit, and the wheels continue to turn.

I think we have found our new normal.

And you know what I am realizing at this moment? This is about our hundredth "new normal" as a family.

Since finding out I was pregnant over five years ago, and holding my first baby in my arms four and a half years ago, then swiftly adding two more babies into the mix—we have shifted priorities, changed our mindsets, refocused.

We've lost it, broken it, and pieced it back together. We've grown, we've evolved, we've bettered ourselves.

And we will do it all a hundred more times over the next five years.

The seasons change—we change—and that is part of the beauty of being alive. The warm spring sunshine and bright, colorful flowers wouldn't be as fulfilling without the cold, bitter winter, now would they? (Or is that just because I live in New England?)

In motherhood, the small moments of extreme heart-bursting love experienced between us and our babies, like when my 2-year-old looks up at me—out of nowhere—to tell me I have pretty eyes, or when I watch my 4-year-old teach my 11-month-old how to bark like a dog, or when my daughters run to the door the second they hear their dad's keys jiggle in the lock… they all wouldn't be as satisfying without the lessons after the meltdowns, the chats after the arguments, the tears during the growing pains.

If you're in a tough season right now, please let this be my reminder to you: You will catch a break. You will figure it out. You will find a way.

Time is moving.

The tantrums will tame.

The sass will settle.

The sleep will come.

The crying will calm.

You will continue to rock this.

You're not failing, mama.

It will not be like this forever. ❤️

What kind of season are you in right now?

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

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You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

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