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Dear society: Dads know what they’re doing. Let’s let them do it.

I recently wrote an essay in response to a friend venting to me about how her girlfriends kept saying that their husbands were going to babysit their kids so they could have a girls’ night out. Apparently, it struck a deep nerve, which I take to mean this is a deeply systemic issue that has multiple problems that need addressing.


I feel like there’s something more that needs saying: My husband is not a babysitter because he’s a parent. We’ve already established that. But how about we break this down a little, so, at its simplest, it looks something like this...

A parent knows what he’s doing.

It seems that not only have we, as a society, gotten so used to seeing mom as the sole caretaker of her children, but we have also gotten used to believing dad is an incompetent caretaker.

We see this everywhere. We see it in the public men’s restrooms that have no changing station included, because men, of course, would not know how to change a diaper. We see it in the lack of paternity leave at most businesses (maternity leave’s not much better, but that’s another subject for another day), as if no father in his right mind would want to spend those early weeks helping his partner and acclimating himself to this new dynamic of family. We see it in our TV shows and our movies and our commentary on clueless celebrity dads who carry their children all wrong. (Who of us really knows what we’re doing the first time out of the gate, anyway?)

Maybe this is where the real problem lies—why both men and women express outrage at seeing men put on pedestals for taking responsibility as a parent—because, the truth is, men don’t want to be there. They don’t want to be held up as an exception when they’re just loving their kids the best way they know how. Some days that’s taking care of the explosion that happened in their 6-month-old’s pants, some days that’s mopping up the puke that happened in the hall and some days that’s teaching a kid to ride a bike or rollerblade or drive.

Of course we want to thank them for their contribution. Of course we want to acknowledge that they’re doing a great job as a parent, same as we are. Of course we want to make sure they know how beautiful it is to see a dad loving their kids with his time.

But what saying “Dad’s babysitting tonight” or “Your wife is so fortunate to have a helper like you” does is quietly undermine who men are as parents.

Babysitters and helpers don’t really know the children for whom they care in the ways a parent does. Babysitters and helpers don’t have to stick around. Babysitters and helpers don’t make decisions about what to do with the kid who’s getting beat up in school or how to handle the not-turning-in-homework conundrum and where to put the baby until he’s sleeping through the night.

My husband and I are fortunate enough to split our days down the middle. (Not everyone is able to do this. That’s OK. Our schedule is not the point of this essay, so don’t get lost here.) Although we do things differently as parents, we share the same core philosophies. That means the kids know what to expect when a parent takes over the parenting shift. They know that I don’t like a lot of noise, so if they want to wrestle or play freeze tag, they better do it out back. They know their daddy doesn’t care about noise as much as I do, so they know they can play music through the loudspeakers and try to talk over the music if they want. They know their daddy makes them read stories in the home library while I prefer they read in their rooms with me, on my lap. They know they can probably get away with some things when my husband’s on duty that I would never tolerate—and vice versa. We have different preferences because we’re different people. Our kids adjust accordingly.

But just because we do things differently doesn’t mean I’m a better parent than he is. It doesn’t mean he has no idea what he’s doing. In my house, Daddy knows what to do when a kid stubs his toe on the curb, and he knows where the school papers belong (recycling or keep-it-forever?), and he knows how to read a story so a 3-year-old will pay attention. He knows how to teach kids about multiplication tables and metaphors and the proper way to dance “Whip It Nae Nae,” and the deeper things, like love and honor and respect and grit and perseverance and identity.

It seems that we’ve traveled a little too far down this path of Dad as the joke, Dad as little more than useless, Dad as a bungling idiot. It’s time to change this perception, too.

I know men who don’t have sole custody of their kids and they want nothing more than to be more than a babysitter for their kids. I know men who stay at home while their wives work full-time and they want nothing more than to be seen as competent caregivers. I know men who are serious about their parenting and just want to be seen as responsible dads.

DADS KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING, SOCIETY. We should let them do it.

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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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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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