Why I’m learning to let grandma ‘spoil’ my kids—a little bit

The rules can seem to go out the window when grandparents are around. I’m learning to keep calm and call grandma. 

Why I’m learning to let grandma ‘spoil’ my kids—a little bit

Five years ago, my hubby and I moved from New York to Los Angeles for career and (subconsciously) to start a family in the Golden State.

The crazy part is we had so many close friends and family in New York, in LA we literally had one friend.

So when I had my oldest child, we were manic mode for the first six months. I tried to do it all, with very little help. It was overwhelming and I yearned for more family support close by.

Luckily for me by the time my daughter turned one, most of my family had joined me in Los Angeles!

It’s a dream come true...right?

Let’s discuss the perks: free babysitting, lots of family time and a growing bond between extended family and my girls.

And it really is a beautiful blessing to see how much my girls love their grandparents.

Seeing my girls with their grandparents brings back so many memories: I adored my grandmother and have so many fond memories of her teaching me to write a letter for the first time, making mint tea from our homegrown garden in the backyard and teaching me to sew a hole in my favorite sweater. The memories are endless; my grandmother embraced her role as matriarch and rock of our family so of course I cherish the moments when my girls bypass me and run straight for their grandma or excitedly tell me how they made cupcakes with her.

These are all the reasons why I love how close we are.

But at other times this quote comes to mind, “Nothing in life is ever free,” which clearly was referring to free babysitting services.

Having successfully raised you, grandparents have an air of confidence on their side. They feel like they’ve raised you just fine so whatever they do should be okay, too.

Regardless of whether you have written it down, texted them, posted it on the fridge or reminded them as you walked out the door to (please!) not give your girls sugar or let them watch more than one show on PBS kids, the rules can seem to fade away when grandparents are around.

They love to spoil with sugar and promises of grandiose adventures or super duper cool toy things.

But then we—the parents—are left with cleaning it all up. We are left with the sugar high, the sassy outbursts from watching too much tv and the nonstop talk of trips to Disneyland or new dolls!

Weren’t our parents young parents once too? Weren’t they busy with work, marriage and family? Weren’t they overwhelmed with trying to do it all?

I believe the answer is yes.

And this is what my husband has to constantly remind me: our parents have raised their children. They made the hard decisions. They disciplined us. They sacrificed and endured so we could have more opportunity.

Becoming a grandparent—spoils and all—is now their reward.

So I try to remind myself that my husband is right. Grandparents are allowed to do the fun stuff now. (Within some reasonable limits!)

My mother was/is an awesome mom. She was a single mother with three kids.

She is my hero.

So yes, she is allowed to sit back and spoil my girls.

I hope grandparents can take a minute to reflect and put themselves back in our shoes every once in a while. Yet, I am working on being more patient and realizing that the relationship between grandparent and child can be just as beautiful and beneficial as the one between parent and child.

So the next time they spend the day with Grandma and have dried frosting in the corner of their lips and on their fingertips, I will remember that I am beyond grateful for the joy in my girls’ eyes and the love in their hearts.

Join Motherly

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.

Keep reading Show less

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.


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


A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

Keep reading Show less