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10 powerful ways to help children + families impacted by Hurricane Michael

When Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida this week, American families in that state, as well as in Georgia and the Carolinas had their lives upended. One of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history took lives, leveled entire neighborhoods, forced families from their homes and left others without power and necessary supplies.

We can only imagine how hard it must be for families trying to keep their children safe in a situation that feels anything but. If you're looking for a way to offer your help and support to the families that need it, we have some suggestions for you.

Here are 10 ways to help families and children in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael:

1. Open your home 

Airbnb is making it easy for people in Florida, Alabama and Georgia to offer shelter to either evacuees or out-of-state volunteers. Just sign up for the Open Homes program.

2. Help provide child-focused supplies 

We can help families who've been impacted by the hurricane get necessary items like portable cribs, strollers and other gear for babies and kids by donating to Save the Children's Hurricane Michael Children's Relief Fund.

3. Donate to the National Diaper Bank Network through Amazon 

Diapers may seem like a small thing, but to parents who need them and don't have them, getting a pack of Pampers would be a huge relief.

A donation to the National Diaper Bank Network can also go a long way toward helping families who desperately need diapers right now. Putting diapers in the hands of parents who need them is as easy as buying a box from the National Diaper Bank Network's Amazon Wish List.

4. Help teachers restock classrooms 

The children living in the path of Hurricane Michael didn't just lose their homes, but in many cases, their schools and classrooms were damaged, too. When they get back into those classrooms, they're going to need new books, furniture, classroom supplies, technology, and therapy resources.

We can help teachers restock their classrooms with those supplies lost to the hurricane by donating to the Donors Choose Hurricane Michael fund.

5. Help families rebuild their homes 

So many families will need to do major remediation on their homes before moving back in after this hurricane, but accessing the resources to gut a damaged interior or rid a home of mold is difficult for families who have already endured so much.

SBP is a nonprofit dedicated to helping families get back into their homes after disasters like Hurricane Michael, and a can help get people back into their homes and lives faster. Check out SBP's Hurricane Micheal response here.

6. Donate blood 

When disasters strike, donating funds is great, but for the people who need it, donating blood is even better. It's easy to make an appointment with the American Red Cross to donate blood to those in need. Your blood could help a family enduring the hardest moment of their lives.

7. Donate through text message  

One of the fastest ways to donate to the relief efforts is via text message. Text "DISASTER" to 20222 to donate $10 to volunteerflorida.org. Text "DISASTER25" to up that donation to $25.

8. Protect yourself (and the families you intend to help) from fraud 

In almost every town and city across America, churches and community groups are collecting donations to help the victims of Hurricane Michael, but so unfortunately, are scammers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, charity fraud after a hurricane is sadly common.

Make sure the money you're donating goes to the people who really need it by checking prospective charities through Charity Navigator or CharityWatch, and avoid making cash or gift card donations. Reputable charities have online portals for credit card donations, the FTC notes.

9. Volunteer 

Donating your time is another way to help. Some organizations volunteer efforts are already at capacity, but others are still looking for people who can help not just now, but in the weeks and months ahead. Check out this application for Volunteer Florida if you have time to spare.

10. Remember these communities and the families in them 

As Volunteer Florida notes in its volunteer application, recovering from this disaster will take the area years.

People need help now, but they will still need help weeks and months into the future. Some of the communities hit by this storm suffer high rates of poverty, and a natural disaster is quickly turning into a financial disaster for many families.

In the weeks to come, Hurricane Michael may fade from the news cycle, but we need to remember and continue to help the families it devastated, because it won't fade from their memories any time soon without our help.

We can all imagine how hard this must be for the parents and children living through it, but we can work hard to help limit the time families have to spend in limbo, between disaster and recovery.

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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.

$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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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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