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Summer fun + games: 11 ways to enjoy the season with your kids 🏖️

What is it about summer that feels so magical? Maybe it's the longer days, the warmer temperatures, or simply the chance to spend more time outdoors, but whatever it is, we firmly believe summer should be FUN.

For the mamas looking for a little warm weather inspiration, we put together an easy list of family activities to try this season (plus product recommendations from Pottery Barn Kids to help make your outings extra special). Happy summer!

1. Hit the beach.

Lilly Pulitzer Let's Cha-Cha Round Beach Towel

(Or lake or pond or riverside!) A little sand and surf are the perfect way to reconnect and soak up the sun this summer. When you're ready to dry out or just need a soft spot to reapply sunscreen, curl up on this sweet family beach towel.

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2. Search for seashells.

Blue Stripe Beach Cover Up

Whether you start a collection or just spend the afternoon seeking the perfect shell specimen, hunting for shells is a great way to occupy busy little minds. Keep them safe from the sun while you seek with a charming cover up.

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3. Attend a pool party.

Solid Harper Wet/Dry Bags

No beach nearby? A pool party is a great way to cool down with friends no matter where you live. Bring along this cute wet/dry bag to pack up swimsuits and towels when the swim is over.

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4. Plan a picnic.

Navy/White Stripe Family Pop-Up Tent

What is it about food eaten outside that just tastes a little better? Picnics with kids are an easy way to sneak in some extra vitamin D and adventure. Simply throw some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks in a cooler, grab this fun pop-up tent, and enjoy your spread in a nearby park—or even the backyard!

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5. Run through the sprinkler.

Cactus Inflatable Sprinkler

For the ultimate summer throwback, all you need is a stretch of grass and a hose. Give your sprinkler fun a punch of personality with a fun inflatable, like this cool cactus.

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6. Take a trip.

Mackenzie Navy/Orange Gingham Hard Sided Spinner Luggage

A vacation is the perfect way to take advantage of the extra time off as a family. Whether you get away for a week or just a night, spend time exploring a new locale (and tote everything you need in a cute suitcase).

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7. Go on a nature walk.

Fairfax Insulated Water Bottles

Spend your summer getting to know the local flora and fauna. Prep kids with guidebooks or checklists of things to look for on their journey to keep their minds engaged. When it's time to break, pass out these insulated water bottles to cool them down.

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8. Work on the summer reading list.

Tan with Charcoal Trim Mini Teepee

As much as we love a busy summer, it's just as important to take time to unwind together. Spend an afternoon or two enjoying the great indoors by snuggling up with your favorite summer reads in this tent.

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9. Have a sleepover.

Shaggy Head Sleeping Bags

After a year of school nights, take advantage of the extra free time by planning a sleepover for your children's friends. (And when the sleeping bags are this cozy, they might even sleep!)

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10. Movie night at home.

Gray Lightning Anywhere Beanbag

Or keep everyone close to home with a family movie night. Set out popcorn and candy and make sure everyone has a comfy place to crash—like these soft beanbag chairs.

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11. Blow some bubbles.

Bubble Splasher

Summer should be whimsical and fun—so simple, iconic activities go a long way. Blow a stream of bubbles, watch them sparkle in the sun and enjoy every bright, dazzling moment with your family, mama. Here's to non-stop fun!

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10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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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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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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