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First, she was laid off. Then, Tara Pringle Jefferson got her entrepreneur on.

Young women with growing families want careers that are fulfilling and flexible. Own it.

First, she was laid off. Then, Tara Pringle Jefferson got her entrepreneur on.

“Your position has been eliminated, effective immediately.” Upon hearing those seven words, I felt like all the air had been sucked out the room.


I was 24 years old, a mom of two kids under 4, and a new homeowner with a new car note. Hearing that I no longer had a job (effective immediately, no less) was probably the worst news I could have received after I followed my boss into her office that chilly November afternoon.

I had been sitting at my desk, tweaking the company’s website. I got up to take a quick bathroom break, and when I came back, the light on my phone was blinking, letting me know I had a new voicemail. It was my boss, sounding very calm and measured. She wanted me to come down to her office when I had a moment.

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I put the finishing touches on the project I was working on, and grabbed my pen and notepad like I always did when entering her office. As I headed out of my office, I ran into my boss in the hallway and began talking a mile a minute.

“So I just finished working on Project X and I’ll be sending an email to our design team before I leave today to update them on our progress and I really think….” I was so busy chattering away that I didn’t notice how unusually quiet she was being.

It didn’t start to sink in that something was amiss until she motioned for me to sit at the round table in the corner of her office and waved in the head of HR to join us.

“Tara, you have produced excellent work for the company,” my boss began. “And I really hate to do this but….”

I was stunned.

After I gathered my things and took the slow, agonizing journey to my car, somehow I knew that this was the chance I had been waiting for: the chance to be self-employed and work full-time for myself.

And now here I am, four years later, still doing the damn thing.

Currently, I am a multi-hyphenate renaissance woman. I’m a writer, an editor and communications consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and governmental agencies as well as the mom-and-pop shops down the street. In addition, I have a growing business as an empowerment coach, giving women the tools they need to bloom in every area of their life.

My days are busy but my rewards overflow. I’m able to chaperone field trips, cook dinner, be available for snow days or flu season and more. I’m also able to give my children an up-close look at what it’s like to have a vision and execute it. (On more than one occasion I’ve overheard my daughter tell people she wants to be a blogger like me when she grows up.) My only regret about being an entrepreneur is that I didn’t do it sooner, that I was too scared to make the leap because I had kids.

I’ve been giving lots of advice to women who were just like me: young, with growing families and looking for a career that is fulfilling and flexible. They want to be in charge of their day-to-day life and turn a profit in the process.

I say: Go for it. Entrepreneurship isn’t for the weak, but it’s a blessing.

Tara’s latest book, The Good Life: Pep Talks for the Stressed Solopreneur, is on sale at Amazon.com now.

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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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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