Productive + focused: Why mothers are rock star employees

Mothers know that when the children are napping, they have a set amount of time to accomplish something. 

Productive + focused: Why mothers are rock star employees

Mothers are constantly hearing two competing messages.

The first message that often gets served to us is this—never ever leave your children’s presence, manage every detail of their lives, make sure they are always having new and enriching experiences, protect them from anything and everything, spend every waking minute being the “perfect” mom and keep them constantly entertained and happy.

But on the other hand, we hear from major female, supposedly “feminist” voices that we should lean into our careers, not step back from our passions, and not abandon the things that we loved most before we had kids, including keeping our marriages alive and passionate.


And this leaves us scratching our heads, because something has to give. A choice to say yes to one thing is a choice to say no to another. No person, woman or man, can be in two places at one time. Omnipresence is unfortunately not a gift granted to us mortals.

So we choose, one way or another, and then the guilt sets in.

So many voices would tell us that our motherhood role, this changing the world for one, is all that matters in our lives. That it is what we designed for, made for, created for, and that it is the pinnacle of our role on this earth. So many other voices tell us that we must choose to continue changing the world, and not allow our children to get in the way of that choice. We are liberated, strong, independent women and no one can put us in a box.

Both sides leave us wanting, don’t they?

One side leaving us feeling truncated, frustrated, as though all that we were ever called to, educated for and experienced in outside of motherhood never mattered. And on the other end of the spectrum, feeling as though our children are simply an inconvenience to be managed as we pursue our dreams. No mother goes one single day without feeling the weight of her choices, one way or another.

We are also assaulted by voices that are constantly telling us to “savor the moment” because time flies by so fast. So not only are we under the pressure of making every moment picture perfect, capturing it, and making sure it lives up to an advertising standard, but we are also now living under the weight of a nostalgia for the future, an aching sadness for something we haven’t even experienced yet.

What began as the power to choose has become a trap of perfection that we can’t escape.

I have two daughters, ages four and one. I leave the house two days a week to work, and I often work during naptimes, after they go to bed, and in the “in-between” moments of the day. They see me working, and they know it is part of my life, our life as a family. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. They don’t fully understand what I do yet, but I can’t wait to tell them someday.

In my life as a mother, I have chosen to walk the line. And let me tell you, it is a tightrope between two high rises. The stakes are high, and you sweat a lot. And wonder if you are doing the right thing, that maybe you should turn back. But once you are there, the thrill of it takes over. And you know you have to keep going.

I choose to be present with my kids when I am with them. And I choose to spend intentional time away from them to pursue my dreams.

I believe mothers are not only not hindered in their dual callings and vocations, but are given a special grace that allows them to be even more productive, more goal-oriented and more focused than anyone else.

I believe when it comes to pursuing our mothering and our “other” calling, we are not at a disadvantage, but we have several advantages.

1. Creativity

Simply being in the presence of children causes us to open our eyes to the wonder of creation. We see things differently. We stop, we sit, we listen, we marvel. This is the wellspring of all creativity. If you ever feel “dried up” creatively, you need only to spend an hour with a toddler, pretending and exploring.

2. Play

Our children teach us how to play again. And all innovation comes from the freedom we experience in play. Play is the furthest thing from wasting time—it is a needed and valuable commodity. Without play, we cannot come up with new ideas. We cannot remember what really matters. We cannot innovate. As moms, we experience every single day what major corporations such as Google and Lego spend millions to cultivate—a sense of play and wonder.

3. Urgency

Mothers know that when the children are napping, they have a set amount of time to accomplish something. We do not have the luxury of putting off priority items until “later”—as moms, we don’t get a “later.” Later will bring with it a myriad of new responsibilities. We get right now.

4. Focus

This goes hand in hand with the above—when mothers do get any amount of free time, we know how to laser focus on what needs to get done. We know how to knock things off the list—and do it quickly. We have the ability to focus on a project better than a CEO in a boardroom on her/his third cup of coffee. And sometimes, when we need to, we know how to just take that time to focus on rest and self-care.

5. Planning ahead

Moms throughout the land know the panic that can ensue when caught out at a restaurant without a diaper needed for an accident, or the horror of forgetting a pacifier at home when your child is screaming in the back seat. We know the importance of planning ahead. We don’t forget one. single. thing. Because we can’t. We know that if we plan ahead, things will go much more smoothly when game time comes.

I believe that it’s time that we define our own version of success. We can devote ourselves to our children, we can create a loving, playful and joy-filled home environment and we can do what we’re called to do outside of our mothering if we so choose. We can choose to live in the “both/and”… in the tension.

It comes down to this—the freedom to choose.

Not based on guilt or fear, not based on the desire to please or heed all the competing voices. Based on your own family’s needs and your own calling. Every mom is so unique in her personality, desires, and motivations. And we have to start honoring that.

So mamas, consider this your permission slip to ditch perfect and be 100% yourself- unapologetic and unashamed.

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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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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


What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

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