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Toy libraries are genius and we need more of them

They help kids play while reducing mama's clutter. 🧸

Toy libraries are genius and we need more of them

Our kids love them, but when you become a mama you quickly realize that toys are...well, kind of the enemy. Think about it: They can be expensive. They clutter your home. They have relatively short life spans. They hurt when you step on them (talking to you, Lego on the floor!)

But the fact remains: Our children want—and, to some extent, need—toys.

That's why we're so intrigued by the concept of toy libraries. They're more common in other countries, but more and more are popping up across the United States and the benefits of them are pretty compelling in the age of minimalism.

A toy library is exactly what it sounds like: A place where children can borrow toys, much like one would with books at a traditional library (sometimes they are even housed within a traditional public library). The cost-saving benefit here is pretty obvious—and minimalist mamas will love having fewer toys cluttering their homes, not to mention the sustainability of this option.


And then there are the developmental benefits: A 2011 study suggests that toy libraries can help children develop more positive relationships with toys—and by playing with borrowed goods, kids are more inspired to be more creative in their play. The setup benefits parents as well: We all know trips to the toy store can be stressful, but toy libraries often provide free spaces with few restrictions for children.

Toy libraries actually have a rich history. According to The Atlantic, toy libraries (or "toyeries") can be traced back to the 1920s. While historically there's been an emphasis on how toy libraries can support low-income families and neighborhoods, we see how they can benefit all families: They can help us embrace more sustainable lifestyles by decreasing consumption, encourage our kids to play with others, and put the focus back on play.

Play is necessary. It allows children to learn, to exercise their bodies and minds, and to interact with the world around them in new ways. The American Academy of Pediatrics stressed this in a recent report. Allowing kids to check something out of a toy library may even encourage them to step away from screens (which, not surprisingly, are pulling children away from beneficial playtime more and more).

The thing about toy libraries that's so interesting? While the concept itself is so old-school, we could totally see this becoming the future of child's play...and we're very much on board with that. Time will tell if toy libraries will really take off in the United States, but we see so much potential here. What do you think, mama?

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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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It's a moment that changes a family, a mother and the world. The moment a new baby enters the world everything changes. The occasion is momentous, and more and more often photographers are embedded in mothers' birth teams, ready to preserve a family's history as it happens.

And in the age of the internet, these photos don't always stay with the family. Photographers and parents are choosing to share incredible birth images that are changing the way others see birth.

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