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6 New Zealand-Inspired Activities That Will Make Kids Crush Summer

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Summer holidays are on the horizon. Some parents are anticipating them with glee; balmy evenings spent flying kites on the beach with the whole family. You find these people on Pinterest and on stock photos- they are often wearing white and every child has brushed hair.


Other parents are looking at the approaching school holidays with a sense of great doom.  Edvard Munch’s The Scream is more the image that comes to mind. In this parent’s summer the sky is on fire, hands are raised to the face in an expression part horror, part extreme boredom. And there’s not a kid in sight – lost, every single one of them.

As a homeschooling mom I only know when school vacations happen because my Facebook feed gets filled with parents asking what the jeff they are meant to do with their kids every day for the next 60 days.

Being at home with my kids day in and day out, though, does mean I have a LOAD of ideas for activities that pass the “Time Input by Parent x Time Spent on Activity By Kid” equation.

The ultimate summer bucket list is comprised of these kinds of activities. Ones that can be set up quickly and inexpensively that keep children occupied for hours. Lots of these activities capture the imagination and end up evolving into games all of themselves.

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Here we go:

Photo by http://sibylnutmeg.co.uk/mud-faces/

Mud Gargoyles

Ages 1- 12

Find a tree and a small area you have permission to dig up, in your yard or a friend’s yard, perhaps. (Try to avoid the local golf club/prize winning rose gardens.) Dig up a bucket of mud, add a little water to make it moldable.

Press lumps of mud onto the trunk of the tree into heads and shapes. This activity can go in all sorts of directions. Ending with mud slinging target practice is a winner!

Note: You also probably need a hose at the end of this one.

Ice Hacking

Ages 3- 8

Take some plastic dinosaurs, or other waterproof miniatures, and put them in small containers of water (plastic jars or Tupperware) and freeze them overnight.

The next day, give your child some tools and utensils and suggest they rescue their dinosaurs from the Ice Age. We have given our young children small butter knives and rocks and they have loved smashing out their little toys.

Summer Sledding

Ages 2- teenagers

There is a hill fairly local to us that provides the whole community with entertainment.  If you turn up on a sunny day, you will hear laughter ringing out as people of all ages sit upon a flattened out cardboard box and slide down the hill.

I don’t know if it’s just a local thing, or a New Zealand thing, but I haven’t seen it in any other place!

Find a hill of a smooth, steepish gradient and this summer sledding could be yours to enjoy, too!

Photo by: http://www.sunhatsandwellieboots.com

Giant Woven Sculpture

Ages 2- 10

This takes a little bit of preparation from the parent, but once up it is an activity that has the potential to stretch over the whole summer.

Take 10 bamboo stakes and dig them into the ground, in a line with eight inches between them. It will look like a gappy fence. Now take a long piece of string and, beginning from the top, tie the string horizontally from the first bamboo stick to the last, weaving in and out of the stakes. Take another piece of string and do the same thing, eight inches below the first string. Do it again until you have completed a grid.

This is the frame for your summer sculpture. Weave in weeds, grasses, flowers, sticks, driftwood, shells. Wherever you go this summer bring back natural materials to weave into your sculpture. As the days go by, your empty frame will become a masterpiece. Ideally, your children will take on a sense of ownership over this giant artwork and will spend hours weaving natural treasures in and out of the grid.

Sand Battle

Ages 5- 10

Sometimes days spent at the beach go by in a whiz, as children just enter the zone of play with all the sensory opportunities available. Other times they need a little help. Try this.

Ideally you need a bit of beach with an estuary.

Build a sand castle (* yawn * – wait, wait!!!) that is out of the way of the trickle of water, but downstream from it.

Then, take on the role of an attacking enemy and, a few meters up, try to dig channels in the stream to direct the water towards the sandcastle to take it out. Encourage your children to build dams and other channels to keep the flow away from their sandcastle.

Swap roles.

If you are anything like me, you will get right into this and will enter the zone of play so thoroughly you won’t even want to slip away and leave them to it after a while!

Photo by http://pueblopulp.com

Ice Slide

Ages 2- teenage

Many years ago I ran a youth club. It was the easiest job ever because I let the young‘uns come up with their own activities. One of the things they came up with was the ice slide. It sounds improbable, the sort of thing that only works for people on a Coca-Cola advertisement, but I can tell you it’s legitimate!


You do need quite a large freezer – a chest freezer is ideal. And then you need large square Tupperware boxes or the vegetable trays out of the bottom of your fridge. Fill these with water – 3-5 inches- and freeze for at least a day. It needs to be solid.

Chuck the slabs of ice in an ice box and head to a hill. It needs to be fairly smooth grass and of moderate gradient. Bring winter gloves and have the kids wear jeans.

You’re getting the picture now, aren’t you?

Take your slabs to the top of the hill and slide away! Depending on how hot the day is the slabs will last up to an hour, surprisingly, and your children will be SO DELIGHTED with this fun that they won’t need any more entertainment for the rest of the day.

*Bonus Tip*

One of the things we like to do is write new activities we’ve discovered onto slips of paper and put them into a jar. At the start of each week we’ll pull out an activity and plan to fit it into our week. It keeps things fresh and fun and adds a bit of sparkle.

For more outdoor activities check out 80 Outdoor Activities for Rain or Shine.

What are some of the things you plan on doing this summer that no one has heard of? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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If there's one item that people claim is *so* worth the price-tag, it's a Dyson vacuum. The cordless tools have become essentials in homes, cleaning up messes quickly, all without the hassle of a cord.

If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $379.99

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Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

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"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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Warmer weather is finally here, mama—and that means it's time to switch up the family's wardrobes. 🙌 If you love matching with your little, or are determined to *finally* get those family photos made this spring or summer, we're obsessed with these mommy and me matching sets.

Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

1. Ivy City Co Jumpsuits, $42.00-$62.00

mommy and me matching jumpsuits

This linen set is perfect for transitioning from hanging out at home to dressing up for days out. Plus, plenty of space for growth!

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2. Madewell x crewcuts Denim Set, $55.00 and up

mommy and me matching denim set

We're obsessed with the '90s vibes these sets give. Now to decide which to choose—denim jacket, shorts, or dress?

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3. Old Navy Floral Midi Dresses, $10.00-$22.50

Old navy mommy and me matching dresses

Nothing says spring quite like florals. The whimsical prints are dainty and the rayon fabric is breathable for those warmer days. Shop mama's version here.

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4. PatPat Matching Family Swimwear, $19.99 and up

matching family swimwear

Match with the entire family with this pinstripe set. We love the one shoulder look, too!

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5. Keds x Rifle Paper Co Sneakers, $44.95-$79.95

mommy and me matching shoes

Twin with your little in these embroidered canvas sneakers. Bonus points for a rubber outsole so no slipping. 👏Shop the version for mama here.

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6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

Lilly pulitzer matching dresses

Still not sure what to wear for Easter or that summer soirée? Pick up these matching shift dresses for the most beautiful family photos. Shop mama's version here.

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7. Maisonette x marysia Swimwear, $57.00 and up

Mommy and me matching swimwear

These are definitely splurge-worthy, but we can't get over how adorable they pair together.

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8. PatPat Gingham Dresses, $17.99-23.99

mommy and me matching gingham dresses

These will be your go-to pick for every outing this spring and summer.

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9. Old Navy Striped Oxford Shirts, $13.00-$22.00

matching striped oxford shirts

A relaxed oxford is a staple in everyone's closet. It's versatile enough to dress up or pair with denim for a more laid back look. Shop mama's version here.

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10. Pink Chicken Garden Dress, $72.00-$198.00

pink chicken matching garden dress

Whether you have a spring wedding to attend or want something flowy to wear for vacation, we adore these garden dresses. Bonus points for working for maternity wear, too.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being a perfectionist has naturally been part of who I was since as long as I can remember. I could blame living in the continental U.S., where perfectionism is highly esteemed, or the family dynamics that come with growing up in a household of five women.

Deep down, though, I think it all really stems from a deep and instinctual longing to be loved, accepted and approved. Whatever the reason, it has never really been a part of me that I considered a problem.

That is, until, I became a mom.

When I had my first child, I did the best I could to keep it all together, to prevent people from seeing how my perfection was being pulled apart at the seams.

A nap schedule was, of course, essential. My son was easygoing and slept through the night like an angel baby. My house was still spotless and I managed to somehow work part-time and keep healthy meals on the table every night, but I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding.

Since I took this failure as a great assault at my abilities to properly nurture my child, I let mom guilt run rampant over the issue. I decided I would just step up my perfect-parenting game in another way by pumping breastmilk around the clock until my son was around 18 months old.

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For anyone who has ever exclusively pumped, you know it can become total madness and take away the joy of feeding your child.

Managing a toddler was definitely wild, but with my background in pediatrics, I knew how to keep him busy while I kept things "under control." In other words, with just one child, I could still play the part of being perfect. All was fine until I became a mom of two children. It wasn't long after my daughter was born that I realized I needed to start letting go of perfection.

I was living alone in a new city with no help and my husband worked long hours. Managing a 2-year-old and a newborn, all while trying to keep a perfectly clean house and healthy dinners on the table every night, was, to my surprise, impossible in every way. My body was a wreck, not "bouncing back" as it did with my first. My daughter never slept for more than three hours until she was over a year old. She cried for hours on end most nights, as I tried relentlessly to calm her.

I remember bouncing her in her carrier for hours trying to get her to calm down and settle in for sleep. Meanwhile, I was a zombie and my son tore every square inch of the house into pieces. Keeping a naptime schedule was nearly impossible with another child to consider. Dinner was often takeout. There were days when I didn't look in the mirror or have proper clothing on until 5 pm.

The demands of motherhood laughed at my idea of picture-perfect motherhood. Every night I went to bed feeling like I had failed my children. I cried. Oh man, did I cry.

It wasn't long until I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a good mom, that is, to focus on things that are actually important, I had to stop sweating all the small stuff.

Even though I didn't really know how I was relieved that I didn't have to keep up with myself anymore. I had grown so weary of the high standards I had set for myself and those around me. I wanted a way out of the perfectionist trap and to loosen the reigns.

I realized that the most beautiful encounters with my children had been when I decided to say, "Oh, don't worry about it!" (i.e. the house, dinner, naptime schedules, etc). Love and joyful encounters with my children was incomparable to the latter. I knew my children needed me to look at them and not the 3-day- old stain on the dining room floor. The beauty in the moments, when I intentionally chose stillness and gratitude over productivity, was the reason I decided it was time to lay down a life-long pattern of perfectionism and control.

The problem was, I didn't really know where to start. I had been living this way for more than three decades. But I did know that I needed to start somewhere. So I started practicing being imperfect. Just like I had been teaching my 4-year old son. "The only way to get better at something is by practicing," I would tell him.

So, I did. And so I still am, practicing being imperfect.

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