What we should learn from this employer’s response to a worker’s mental health day

For a phrase that has the word “health” in it, mental health is all too often overlooked as a vital component of wellness. That’s why it gives us such hope that an employer in California wasn’t just open to one of his employee’s requests for a mental health day—but actively applauded it.

In a now-viral Twitter post from Madalyn Parker, a web developer at the software company Olark, she explained to her co-workers and employer that she needed a brief mental health break before returning to work “refreshed and back to 100%.” In the email chain Parker posted, her boss, Ben Congleton, replied by complimenting and thanking Parker on her decision to share the true reason for taking time out of the office. As he stated, he “use[s] it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health.”

Reflecting on the situation, Parker told Motherly she’s grateful she was transparent because it’s already opened up more dialogue in her office.

“Now that things have gone viral, many of my teammates have been checking in with me to make sure I’m handling the attention OK,” she said. “But, usually when I take off for mental health, I return to work, let my team know how I’m doing, adjust expectations and get things done.”

While this is a short exchange, it is telling: A follow-up is offered based on having stepped out of the office, but the focus is otherwise on the work that needs to be done, much like it should be if we were to step out of the office with a cold.

This acceptance that highs and lows with mental wellness are natural parts of life is something that employers should strive to facilitate in all workplaces—because, as Congleton said in his response, we all benefit when we can “cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”

In a follow-up interview with MONEY, Congleton further explored his feelings about the stigma of mental health in the workplace as opposed to how it is handled at Olark: “I sort of felt like this was just something that should be normal. It’s just business as usual for us. This is not something new.”

After the conversation about mental wellness initially went viral, Congleton also explored his thoughts on Medium, where he said, “It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace. In situations like this, it is so easy to tell your teammates you are ‘not feeling well.’ Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues.”

While more workplaces are moving toward more rights and benefits, a long road is still ahead of us in regard to open conversations for all—but it is affirming to know that there are companies who are contesting for mental health rights and representation.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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!


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.


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.


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.


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


My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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