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Playground Workout

11 easy exercises moms can do at the playground

Playground Workout

On March 31, 2012, I lied in my hospital bed, just one day after giving birth to my daughter, Sophia. I’m a fitness enthusiast, so I had exercised my entire pregnancy. But when I reached for my once toned abs, all I found was mush.

I had always told myself that I was not going to lose my identity -- who I was at the core -- even after becoming a mom. Growing up in Manhattan, I always wanted to do “it all.” A three sport varsity athlete and captain while playing jazz at Lincoln Center, I was never one to shy away from challenges. By the time I was 38, I graduated from Cornell, completed four marathons, was a news producer at CNN, studied International Affairs and Arabic, worked at the NYPD as an Intelligence Analyst, started two fitness companies, got married, had a child and got divorced. Through all of this, exercise made me feel stronger, more independent, and more grounded.

After giving birth to Sophia, I remained as passionate about fitness as ever, but realized so many moms felt they couldn’t prioritize their own fitness over the needs of their little ones. So I created a class where moms could get a good workout with their little ones in tow with nothing more than, well, a playground.

Here are five pieces of playground equipments that you can use for the ultimate postpartum workout.

SWINGS

TRX with Swing. with or without your child in the swing, hold the sides of the swings, place your heels on the ground and lean backwards. With a straight back, pull yourself up towards the swing and slowly let yourself go back to the starting position. Repeat 12 reps. Muscles targeted: back, hamstrings, core.

TRX Lunge and lift: start with one foot forward and the other one back, your knee an inch from the ground in a lunge position. Hands on sides of the swing. Pull yourself up, bring your knee in towards the swing, and go back into a lunge position. Repeat 12 reps. Do both sides. Muscles targeted: back, glutes, core.

TRX Curtsy Lunge and kick: start with one foot forward and the other leg behind the front leg. Your hips are squared, and your hands on sides of the swing. Lunge down into a curtsy lunge, then pull yourself up and kick your leg out. Repeat 12 reps. Do both sides. Muscles targeted: outer glutes, back, core.

BENCH

Side planks on bench: the great thing about this is you can do this while watching your child. Choose a side, preferably in the direction where s/he is playing. Muscles targeted: core, obliques.

Tricep Dips on Bench: start sitting on the bench with your fingers facing out. Slide yourself off the bench and lower yourself down by bending at the elbow. Then lift yourself back up. Repeat 12 reps. Muscles targeted: triceps.

Reverse Plank: place your palms flat on the bench, fingers pointing out. Straighten legs and lift up. Hold for 30 seconds.

STEPS

Step-ups: facing the step, place your right foot up, then left, then down right and down left. Go as fast as you are comfortable with for 30 seconds. Then lead with the other leg. Muscles targeted: cardio, glutes.

Side Up/Downs: facing one direction, place your foot on the step, then the other foot, then step both down. Go as fast as you are comfortable for 30 seconds, then start with the other side. Muscles targeted: cardio, glutes.

Step-Plie: stand with your legs wider than hip distance. One foot is on the step, the other is on the ground. Feet turned out. Lower down into a plie position and plie back up. Repeat 12 times. Then turn and have the other foot on the step. Muscles targeted: inner thighs, glutes.

MONKEY BARS

Monkey Bar Crunches: place your hands on the monkey bars, keeping your legs down. Lift one leg at a time so they are parallel to the ground. For added challenge, lift both at the same time. Do three times: first time, walking lunges from each station; second time, side lunges to each station; third time, run to each station.

SLIDES

Slide Incline push-ups: place both feet on the slide. With your hands in push-up position, do a push-up and repeat 12.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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

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

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

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids—so here’s what I did

We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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