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How to Talk About Politics with your Kids

3 ways to shape your conversations (and when to not have them at all).

How to Talk About Politics with your Kids

When I was first approached to write a piece about talking politics with your children, I thought, “My kids are so little. I don’t talk to them about politics.”

But, that’s not entirely true. It’s part of our lives, whether we like it or not, and it’s part of our conversations, whether we realize it or not. I’m political, and I’m participating in the future by being a mother. I’m creating the next citizens of this country, maybe even leaders.

I am my daughters’ only source of information and reason, and will be for a long time. I am responsible to break their innocence, and my desire should be to see them grow into informed citizens of the world.

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But when your kids are four or five -- or maybe even younger, how do you do that?

1. Age is an important factor when it comes to difficult conversations, because children need information at an age-appropriate pace. When I look into their trusting, pure faces, free from worry, and I think, “They are four and five.” There’s something spectacular about how little thinking there is to do as a child. It’s not a lack of imagination or curiosity. It’s thinking for the joy of it—play, wonder, dreams. I can barely remember that delicious freedom now; maybe I only recall it as I see it in my own children.

Back when I was a child, I didn’t have to think on the other things, the “stuff” of life, the worries that begin to plague our motivations and actions as adults. I had my parents to do that for me. I was warm and safe in their care, and in the beautiful world that they created exactly for me to be that. Home was a base, where questions could be asked with no consequences, and where I could take authority at their word.

This is the world I hope to recreate for my daughters: Home is the stress-free zone, where, for as long as they need it to be, everything at home is right, the standard, and safe. But it is also a place where they should and can feel free to ask questions, and I am responsible for answering them.

2. Assigning value to a person’s head or political party doesn’t make sense to a child, but if you tell them to do so, they will. I did not go into the details of the presidential race or drop names with certain traits attached to them or even talk about the right vs. the left. Children are malleable, impressionable, and trusting. Because they count on us for their safety, for their bubble worlds (and because that’s a fair expectation in childhood), we should assume that they are watching, reflecting, repeating. But should we place that on them? What is politics anyway? Isn’t it a value system after all? And if it’s a value system, couldn't we approach their soft, learning hearts and minds from a different angle? One that doesn’t use judgment or fear or anger?

3. Don’t fear-monger. Instilling fear of what one leader or another will do if given too much power will do just that for your kid—scare them. Insisting on an us-versus-them mentality, pointing out the flaws, and using every opportunity for a soapbox will breed children who do the same—and who do so without the opportunity to form their own opinions yet.

Perhaps rather than worry about how my daughters view politics, it should start at how they view humanity. How they see the world. How they make choices that affect themselves, but learn to see the ripple effect on others. I want to give them the tools—education, kindness, giving-back, confidence—that they will, in turn, assimilate into their lifestyles, their choices, and their actions as working, law-abiding, voting adults some day.

Some day will come so, so soon. My work is important work, and I have to do it fast. But I will also cherish the time when I can work in an environment that is precious and free and safe. I will bask in gratitude for the years where concepts of speech and friendship and independence are pure, and so the opinions my daughters form around those ideas are yet untainted.

I am blessed with the chance to start anew and be reminded of goodness and feel hopeful, not divided, as I watch these young minds entrusted to me flourish with dreams for how the world could be. And right now, that’s all they need to know.

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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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Want to be a happy parent? Let go of these 15 things to find joy

5. Your need to look perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Embrace your imperfections.

Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

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