True life: I miss my friends

There’s a freedom that comes along with being around people who *like* me more than they *need* me.

True life: I miss my friends

I need to continually remind myself how good I have it because lately I’ve been exhausted. Maybe it’s this killer flu that I can’t seem to shake, or maybe it’s just that my kids are of the age that every single second I’m in my house, they require my attention.

I love them with every last fiber of my being, but that doesn’t mean I love the fact that I haven’t gone to the bathroom in over five years without interruption.

Lately, it seems like when I get home from work I’m in a perpetual battle against time. It takes forever to get dinner cooked, cut, and doled out to my kids, to clean up the inevitable emergency spills, and to get my own food ready and on the table before the rest of my family is done eating. Sometimes I’m up and down so much that it doesn’t seem worth it to sit down.

Sometimes it seems that if I’m not at work, doing things I need to do for my colleagues and students, then I’m at home doing things I need to do for my children and husband. When I get to feeling like this, I realize I miss my friends. A lot.

I miss making plans with them on a whim.

I miss being able to have uninterrupted conversations with them without having to answer questions like, “Where does the moon hide during the day?” or “Why do bunnies have floppy ears? Why don’t I have floppy ears?”

I miss how being with friends—away from my house or from work where I am very much needed—makes me feel.

There’s a freedom that comes with spending time with friends who know “pre-mom” me. It makes me feel like an adult who can talk about art and books and what’s happening in the news without the worrying about soccer practice, swim class or house cleanup that my other “adult self” needs to think about.

There’s a freedom that comes along with being around people who like me more than they need me.

I knew that motherhood would have its challenges finding a balance between being a mother and being who I used to be, but in my head, I thought I’d be managing that equilibrium a little better than I’m doing now. I knew I’d see my friends less, but still enough, and I thought that if I weren’t able to see them, it would be because I was spending a lot of amazing quality time with my children.

In reality, 90% of my life as a mom right now is dishes and laundry and wiping up wetness. The individual tasks are far from difficult on their own, but a day full of them—one after another—is far from easy.

These types of days simultaneously slowly and quickly come and go and come and go and come and go until one day I realize that I can’t remember when it was I last talked to my closest friends. My people. The ones who really get me. Was it weeks ago? Months?

I miss them. And I’ve missed them for so long. I’ve just been too overloaded to do anything about it.

Most of who I see these days are family, people I work with, and those rare individuals who can pull double duty with me—like the friend I can talk to while we meet to workout, or the pal I can chat with on the sidelines because her kid plays soccer with mine. They’re fantastic humans. They really are. But they’re my 2-for-1 friends, which means we might not pick each other so often if it weren’t for the other extra thing that binds us together.

I do make attempts to see my friends. I’m not wholly living in self-friend-isolation. I send a text or make a call in an attempt to reconnect when I can, but the odds are not high that the exact moment I can come up for air and reach out to them will correspond with when they can respond back and reach out to me in return. So the cycle often continues.

I miss our weekly meetups—our collaboration during DJ trivia and our friendly competition at bingo.

I miss sharing and rehashing every tiny aspect of our lives over a bottle of red wine.

I miss sharing our worries and frustrations with one another and having those conversations where we might be crying at the beginning, but we’re always laughing by the end.

I miss being able to see my friends when I really need to see them, not only when it fits into a slot in both of our tightly packed calendars.

I try not to get too down about it because I know I’m doing what is best my family and myself, and I know it won’t always be this hard to find time connect.

I take solace in our text messages, emails and snapchats—the lifeblood of our long-distance communication. I am comforted by the fact that my friend group recognizes that we will always be here for one another when needed, but we don’t demand each other’s undivided attention to prove it. Honestly, those are the kinds of friends I need most right at this stage of my life.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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