Letting Daddy In

How to share the role of parenting with our partners.

Letting Daddy In

As moms, we live in a state of constant dichotomy. We want to get our bodies back in shape, yet it can feel “selfish” to take time to go to the gym. We long to go out with our friends whenever we choose, yet we can’t imagine spending that much time away from the baby. We crave time for ourselves, yet we’re nervous to leave the baby with our partner for extended periods of time. What if the baby misses us? What if hubby feeds the baby wrong or puts the diaper on backward? We dream of the things we would love to do or create or accomplish, yet somehow we have difficulty stepping away. This is where we, as women and mothers, shoot ourselves in the foot.

In my circle of Beyond Moms, I’m surrounded by women who really want to do it all. We want to be active moms, business builders, and cultivators of causes we care about. But when we become mothers, we are pulled toward our little ones like a magnet--they become our first priority at the sacrifice of everything else. We would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t admit that the other parts of ourselves continue to whisper (or scream) in our ears. We still want to create and share, and dare I say…have fun!

But to do all those things, we have to let our partners “In” on the process of caring for our little ones. And for some strange, hormonal, protective, Mama-Lioness reason, we have a very hard time doing that. Is this normal? I think so. But if we really want the kind of life we dream of, the one in which we are mothers with dynamic lives outside of the nursery, we must let some other hands on that baby. Especially the hands of our partners.

Here are some major moments where the option to let daddy in can make a major difference in your quality of life, and some “damage control” suggestions in case those moments have already passed.

1. Pregnancy and Birth Decisions--He has a voice too!

I noticed pretty quickly at OB/GYN appointments and ultrasounds that most doctors and technicians only addressed me, pretty much disregarding the presence of my husband. This got us thinking about how quickly the Dad is disregarded in the pregnancy process, which probably begins to disempower their involvement a little too quickly. Instead, ask your husband how he imagines a healthy pregnancy and birth. Ask him what he imagines a nursery to look like or how he would like to be involved in the birth process. My husband wanted total involvement in my birth but made it clear that if possible, he didn’t want to see the baby “actually coming out.” So I let him stay by my shoulders for the pushing, but boy was he excited to cut the umbilical cord and hold our son for the first time. Allow your husband’s needs and voice to be part of the mix from the very beginning so he feels safe and included.

Damage Control: Is hubby already sequestered from the pregnancy/birth conversation? Simply invite him back in! Tell him you want him to be involved and really care what he thinks. Even if he remains a little quiet, invite him to your medical appointments and share the details with him. Tell him that he matters, and ask him where he would like to get involved. Communication is key, and it’s never too late to open that door. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Feeding, Diapering, and The Home--Plagued by Perfectionism.

When your tiny peanut arrives home, your focus is all about giving him/her your best. As Mom, you often intuitively feel what that is. When my son came home, I had a very hard time not hovering over my husband as he attempted to diaper, feed or soothe our son. I literally couldn’t help from telling him the best way to do things or nagging him when I felt something was done improperly. I somehow thought my son wouldn’t survive if something wasn’t articulated in a state of hyper-perfectionism. When my son would cry in the night (as infants often do), I felt compelled to always be the one to cradle and rock him. Within days, my husband and I were battling--he told me that he too had a fatherly instinct and that I had to let him explore what that meant. And as challenging as it was for me to allow that during that intense, hormonal, emotional time, he was 100% right. There were many moments that I would find the two of them asleep on the couch during those sleepless infant nights, and I could see their bonding beginning. I realized that it was up to me to make room for those experiences, no matter how challenging it felt.

Damage Control: If the late nights are all on you (because you declare it so) or you do all the dishes (not because he isn’t willing but because you’re the only one who knows how to properly clean the Dr. Brown’s bottles), perhaps ask him if he’d be interested in having some late nights with the little one. If hearing the baby cry is too much, maybe some ear plugs or music to get you through? The two of them need to figure it out. Show him how to clean the small spots in the bottle, but then be done with it; let him do it. If you find yourself instructing on how best to slice an avocado (like I do), ask yourself to kindly refrain, and just simply tell him to cut an avocado. Simplify the direction and make room for him.

3. The How and The What--Let Him Figure Out His Own Style.

Somehow we convince ourselves that “His Way” is the “Wrong Way” and that “My Way” is the “Right Way.” I’m very guilty of this one, and even to this day, I want food prepared my way, toys arranged my way, and my son dressed the way I like him dressed. Does being a mom mean being a control freak? In some senses, yes. But once again, this will bite you in the behind. We have to realize that Dad has his own ways of doing things, and we have to let go of how we think things “Should Be.” If your child wears a funky, ill-fitting outfit for a day, will anyone judge you? If your child eats pizza and fries for one day, will your child live? And dare I challenge the thought that maybe your husband will surprise you and do something in a way that you’ve never thought of...and it is so much better than your way? (This has happened to me more times than I can count.) We must let go a little and let our partner have his own space to figure out his own style and let our little ones feel comfortable with it. It’s the only way we, as Moms, will have the space and freedom to take care of ourselves too.

Damage Control: There’s no time like the present, my friends. For this one, you may need to create a mantra for yourself like, “I must let him figure this out and I must keep my mouth shut.” Simple and direct. If our partner is already to scared to speak, open the door with a statement like, “Maybe you’d want to pick out little guy’s outfit today?” or “Make quesadillas the way you like to make them!” Simple statements like this give him permission to have an opinion and a perspective.

Motherhood is so intense, and so is our view of the motherly role. But we must not limit the possibilities for our child’s care, as it will limit the possibilities for the family as a whole. If we stepped out of our individual family paradigm, wouldn’t we want our partner to feel empowered and clear? Wouldn’t we want our kid to feel comfortable and be cared for by both parents? And most importantly, don’t we want to feel, as Moms, that we have the confidence to step outside of the home and be productive? I know the answer is yes, so let’s make it little daddy moment at a time!

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As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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