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Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. But for me, it’s so worth it.

I may not always be a SAHM, but for now, these moments are treasure stored up in my heart.

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. But for me, it’s so worth it.

For #MotherlyStories | Becoming a stay-at-home mom was exciting and also terrifying.


In fact, my first two days of motherhood were bliss. I ordered milkshakes from the hospital “restaurant”and barely lifted my head from the pillow to slurp them down. Three people at once were hovering to make sure baby had a good latch and vitals were checked every couple hours. I didn’t even do any diaper changes.

Then they sent me home. I was like, “Isn’t one of those nice nurses coming to boss me around and make sure no one dies?” Feeling highly unqualified and not very adult, I entered into full time motherhood.

After nine years with my littles (who now number four!), I have gained some wisdom on how to make the big transition.

Make being a SAHM work for YOU.

Staying at my house all day and cleaning the kitchen over and over and over again makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock myself to greener pastures. Take me away to the mental institution, because that’s where I’d be if I tried that lifestyle. For some it totally works, and I admire that. For me, being a SAHM looks more like going places A-LOT. Parks, meeting my ladies at the beach (like, every day in the summer), the library, the coffee shops, and outings to Target. It works for me because my children love it and I love it. And—even if it’s a complete disaster with spilt popcorn, screaming children, and tears (both theirs and mine)—at least by the time I get home I’m happy to be there and also, its nap time.

There’s no “one way” to do it; find a rhythm that works for you.

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Being a SAHM is not the only thing that defines you.

You are a mom. You are also YOU. I kind of panicked during my first year of being a SAHM, because I was worried I would lose myself in a motherhood-vortex. You don’t have to forget YOU. Yes you’ll always be “Mom”, but you are also other. A runner, a writer, a socialite, an activist, an artist, a coffee snob, a doctor, an adventurer, a surfer, a fashion-junkie, an introvert, an extrovert...you are still you.

Part of being a great mom is staying healthy and nurturing your own identity. Have friends and adult conversations, nurture your passions, and go on dates.

Cut some corners.

I attempt to do the food cleanup as little as possible. In the summer we eat most meals outside. In the winter I pack sandwiches to eat on the way to the library. Yes the car gets a little dirty, but at least I don’t have to live in there. Paper plates, cereal for dinner...make your life easier, cut some corners.

Do the things that make you a better you.

Leaving your kids with a sitter or going to work a couple days a week will not ruin them. Ask yourself the question: Will getting a part-time job, going to the gym or getting a sitter for some alone time, make you a better version of you? If the answer is yes, and you can...DO IT.

Make peace with your lack of measurable success.

First outfit of the morning is fit for the Baby Gap runway. You’re feelin’ proud of your trendiness and good taste. Before you can get out the door to run errands, however, they’ve blown out three outfits and puked on you twice. You end up heading to Trader Joe’s in a shirt you cleaned with a baby wipe and sweats pants you tell yourself look “kind of like pants”. Baby is...not naked. #winning

Pat yourself on the back my friend, it may look like you did nothing today, but we know the truth. Also, everyone is alive and fed.

Go you.

STOP THE MOM GUILT.

It’s everywhere, eeking in every time you’re on Facebook or look at yourself in the mirror. There is MORE PRESSURE THAN EVER to be the perfect mom. My friend, NO ONE is pulling it all off, I promise. Focus on your strengths and give yourself a break with your endless list of weaknesses, cuz guess what? We ALL have them.

I know it’s hard to make peace with the fact that you are not going to be the perfect mom, but, spoiler alert: You’re not. Insert weeping emoji here (I am still genuinely disappointed I wasn’t born a saint). Guess what, your kids aren’t going to be perfect either. Leading by example might look more like being humble, having grace for you and others, and apologizing well when you screw up.

Remember why you chose to be a SAHM.

Sometimes there are those perfect moments of chubby fingers clasping your face and the words, “You are my fav-wit mommy.” And then there are the days where it’s just rough, and you’re seriously wondering if you’re crazy. Those are the days when its important to remember why. Why did you choose to be a SAHM?

For me it’s been a rough couple weeks of sickness and exhaustion. But when I take a moment to remember my “why”: It’s being together. It’s sharing all the moments, even the ugly ones. It’s holding their hair back when they’re sick and making food for them 47 thousand times a day. The good, the bad and the ugly, it’s all gold in the long run. The bad days are just earned by much more blood, sweat, and tears than the others.

I may not always be a SAHM, but for now, these moments are treasures stored up in my heart. I know I will never regret this.

****

Remember mama, you are not alone. You are not the first one to feel overwhelmed and inadequate at this job. At this very minute millions are also having a face-palm moment.

It’s a dirty, frustrating, but beautiful job and it’s worth it.

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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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