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Prepping for the Kindergarten Transition

The mama behind Lucky Penny blog gets ready for her first day of school.

Prepping for the Kindergarten Transition

*We’ve partnered with Safari Ltd® to help you prep for a successful school year by using the art of play. No matter how many years of preschool you’ve got under your belt, there’s something major about sending your baby off to Kindergarten. You’ve officially got a “big kid” now, even if she still looks (and sometimes acts) like your baby. And although you know there will be many exciting, overwhelming and, yes, nerve-wracking “back to school” moments to come, that first day of Kindergarten always gets top billing. Like, forever. But a little bit of back-to-school prep can go a long way, for both kiddo and mama. So we’ve partnered with our friends at Safari Ltd®, makers of our favorite educational animal toys and figurines, to show how some creative play with some of Safari’s hand-painted, scientifically accurate “Toys that Teach” can be the best way to get your toddler school-ready before she ever steps foot into the classroom. Ana Fritsch, the blogger behind the Lucky Penny blog, is about to experience that first day of Kindergarten with her daughter Edith this fall. We asked this Brooklyn mama to show us what the night before school looks like for her, Edith and little sis Lilah, 3, as part of our back-to-school series with Safari Ltd®. Below, she shares how she’s prepping (hint: there’s lots of Safari’s Toys that Teach® involved!) for this momentous back to school transition. “With Summer nearing its end, I found myself one day in the ‘Back To School’ aisle picking up a few supplies and wondering how it is that my first baby is making her way into Kindergarten in just a few short weeks." I feel a little more prepared for the transition thanks to NYC’s Universal Pre-K program. Edith is going to be attending the same school this year and it has helped us both feel very comfortable knowing what lies ahead. I was amazed watching her growth in Pre-K, seeing new connections being made in her mind and seeing them come to life outside of the classroom. I can only imagine what new skills and knowledge she will acquire during this school year." Her Pre-K teachers last year sent her home with a calendar that counts down the days until the start of Kindergarten and she has anxiously been crossing them off. She wakes up every morning and screams, “Only 23 more days to go!” Her teachers did a great job getting her ready for the transition, having her eat in the lunchroom with the “big kids” and having us leave quickly after drop-off. We have also been working on reading and staying busy with activities, crafts and pretend play with her collection of Safari animals and creatures. We also love stopping by her school garden to see how the plants her classroom planted have grown. The night before school, I always pack her lunch and we pick out her clothes together. They aren’t allowed to bring any toys to school, but we sneak in her favorite Safari Lion that she promises to keep in her backpack during the day. Edith has always been a bright, outgoing, and very independent girl. And while she hardly follows my rules at home, she really thrives in a structured school environment. I’m excited to see which of her friends from last year are returning. She made such special friendships and I would love to watch those grow throughout the years. Kindergarten is definitely the beginning of a new era for us. I don’t feel like I’m closing the door on her being ‘my baby’ but rather opening a new door for so much growth and opportunity. I feel like this is just the beginning of getting to know who she really is and watching find her way in the world.” Give your kiddo a head start on the school year by teaching the importance of nature and its conservation through the joy of play. Save 15% off sitewide at Safariltd.com with coupon code WELLROUNDED. Photography by Jonica Moore Studio for Well Rounded.

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Shop Edith’s Safari Ltd® toys here:

Safari Ltd® Wild Safari® Wildlife Lion

Safari Ltd® Crystal Cavern Dragon

Safari Ltd® Mythical Realms® Pink Unicorn

Safari Ltd® Wildlife Wonders™ Reticulated Giraffe

Safari Ltd® Mythical Realms® Baby Pegasus

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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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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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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