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To my messy (wonderful) husband

You’ll never regret having crumbs in your kitchen if it means your children are secure in their father’s love for them.

To my messy (wonderful) husband

[Editor's note: This story is a letter from a woman to her husband. While this is one example of one type of relationship, we understand, appreciate and celebrate that relationships come in all forms and configurations.]

Okay, mama—sit back and relax. I'm going to tell you a story, and it's probably a scenario you'll be all too familiar with as a wife and mother. (It also might be autobiographical in nature.)


You've planned a Saturday evening out with your girlfriends, so you spend that afternoon getting the house in order, the laundry going, the dishes unloaded and reloaded and prepping dinner for the hubby and the troops. When you leave, everything is not only in working order, but the house is looking pristine. Dinner is ready to be put in the oven and you even have the kids' pajamas laid out and ready in their rooms.

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You head out for a night on the town with the girls—perhaps dinner at your local quasi-fancy restaurant, so you have a reason to get out of your yoga pants, sip on an overpriced glass of wine and dine on mediocre food, all so you can talk for a few hours to people who don't call you “mom." You pull your minivan back in the garage and step into the house, relaxed from a night out and you round the corner into the kitchen...

Is this actually my house, you may wonder. It's hard to know for sure, because it looks like a bomb went off in there. Your blood pressure rises. Dishes covered in food scraps are scattered across your kitchen countertop. There are 19 cups full of water on the counter, the casserole you slaved over is sitting out on top of the stove and kitchen chairs are pushed into a tent-making formation. There are crumbs all over the floor and a huge sticky spot that looks suspiciously like melted ice cream. There are remnants of burned popcorn remaining in your favorite copper cookware and there is rage flooding your soul.

Thoughts begin to fill your mind—thoughts like, “No one appreciates everything I do around here" and “My husband has no regard for me and everything I do for our family. "With your temper burning hot as the sun, you open the dishwasher and begin to slam dishes into the racks, making sure enough noise is generated to get your husband's attention upstairs. You grab the casserole and cover it, then loudly make room in the refrigerator for the Pyrex dish. You make sure he can hear you shoving the chairs back into place, grunting a few times for good measure. You're like an animal waiting for your prey.

And: enter husband. “Hey, babe," he says, strolling blissfully unaware into a warzone. “How was your night? Did you have a good time?"

You glare at him and mutter, “Mmmhmmm."

“We had fun, too," he says. “We had dinner and played for a long time, then we watched a movie. I just got the last kiddo to bed."

“Hmmmmm. That's nice," you respond in a snarky tone of voice.

“Umm… Is everything okay?" he asks, legitimately confused by your behavior.

“Oh, YES, everything is FINE. Why do you ask?" you answer, slamming things around a little harder.

“Well, it just seems like you're a little upset, and..."

“Oh, it DOES, does it? Yes, I'd say I'm a LITTLE upset. I just don't understand how I can leave the house in spotless condition only to come home and find…"

And you launch into a tirade you've been rehearsing for 10 minutes in your mind. After you unload every reason why you feel undervalued as a wife and a mother, your husband stands silently, unsure of what to say. Finally, he speaks, and when he does and you hear his response, you sort of want to take a jackhammer to your kitchen floor until you hit soft earth, and then keep digging until there's a hole big enough to hide your over-inflated self in.

“I'm really sorry, babe. I really didn't mean to leave a mess for you. I was going to clean up—I just got distracted, because the kids and I were playing together and having a tickle fight and building Legos, and then we all piled on the couch and watched a movie together, and by the time I got them all to bed, you had just gotten home. I really was going to clean it up, I promise. Here, let me finish up and you go do what you need to do."

And… crickets. Crickets for what feels like hours, because what do you say when you realize that the man you chose, the one you promised yes and forever to, has actually become the father you dreamed of for your children.

He's the father you never had. He's a breaking-the-mold kind of man, because he sets aside things like dishes and crumbs and half-eaten casseroles to have tickle fights with and build Legos with and watch movies with and access the hearts of his children. He's the kind of father who goes into the office early, before the sun has begun to think about making an appearance, not because he's an early bird, but because it allows him the flexibility to make it home each and every day before the sun says goodbye. He co-parents—he never “babysits"—and he shows you up on a regular basis with his innate parenting instincts and skills. He recognizes the value of sacrificing temporary things like hobbies and alone time and nice cars and dirty dishes and clean kitchens for the eternal investment he makes in his children. In your children.

And finally it dawns on you—you're not mad at HIM for the mess in the kitchen (or at least you're not too mad)—you're ashamed because you temporarily put more value in a clean kitchen than you did in your children connecting with their father.

So let me encourage you to hit the pause button next time you want to go off on your husband over the temporary things. This doesn't mean that he should never contribute around the house, and it doesn't mean you can't have pet peeves and speak your mind and that he should leave things trashed every time you leave because he's “pursuing eternal things," but try to build up an abundance of grace for your man, the one who is your children's father.

You'll never regret having crumbs in your kitchen if it means your children are secure in their father's love for them.

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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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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