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What do stay-at-home moms do all day?

Laundry. We are literally always doing laundry.

What do stay-at-home moms do all day?

While usually we're being quaint and adorable like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, there are a few other things that get us from WHYGODWHY in the morning to Netflix o'clock at night.


We clean things so they can be destroyed right exactly before you drop by. I don't mean to brag, but my kids are capable of making my house a major health code violation in ten seconds flat. Sometimes I think about posting pictures of what my house looks like when it's clean—just for reference.

Welcome to my home. Here is a picture of what my house looked like one time last week. It could also look like this more often if I had 47 maids and manservants.

Due to a current cash flow problem, we have had to reduce our Downton Abbey staff size.

Please come back in 25 years to see it like this again.

Thank you.

We are always smelling things. Pillows. Clothes. Carseats. Butts. My life is just a game of: Where and what is that horrible smell? Did something die? Did someone poop? Is that a piece of pizza under there??

I just need you to know that I KNOW about the smell. Okay?

There's only one thing worse than being stinky, and that's being unknowingly stinky.

I am not that girl.

I have been trying to solve this mystery since Tuesday.

I appreciate your patience.

We take family photos and hang them on the wall so that we can live vicariously through those happy… and remarkably clean people.

Look at them, aren't they precious?

Laundry. We are literally always doing laundry.

Step 1: Wash load.

Step 2: Forget.

Step 3: Smell load.

Step 4: Hmm. Smells fine. Dry load.

Step 5: Smell dry clothes.

Step 6: Dammit.

Step 7: Re-wash and dry.

Step 8: Pull out dry clothes to fold “later" and throw them on your bed.

Step 9: Forget until you go to bed. UGH.

Step 10: Throw clothes on floor.

Step 11: In the morning have children run through clothes until you can no longer tell what is clean.

Step 12: Throw pile back on bed because you cannot even.

Step 13: Repeat until you die.

We are keeping people alive.

We are just saving lives, one pair of adult scissors at a time.

Delivering the children. To school, from school, to birthday parties, to dance, to sports…

I'm just a girl, sitting in a minivan… praying you don't ask me to get out.

These Lorelei Gilmore shorty shorts did not anticipate leaving the vehicle. I brought the kids and they are dressed. I can not guarantee any other kinds of hassles or formalities such as bras, pants, or shoes.

The kitchen counter. We all have our one thing that makes us feel like we might be in control. Mine is my kitchen counter. Kids engaging in WWF wrestling? Toddler screaming while being permanently velcroed to my calf? It ACTUALLY being cloudy with a chance of meatballs?

I do not care if the heavens have opened and giant chili cheese dogs are bouncing off my front porch.

I can't control everything—but I can control one thing, and that is my kitchen counter. If you need me, I will be wiping it down for the 102nd time today.

Feeding people. I serve up three meals a day so that people can cry, fall on the floor in convulsions, and agonize over which is better: my cooking, or starving. Then they choose starving… because my food is just. That. Bad.

Insert eternal eye roll.

And then the Lord gave us wine. Thank you, Lord.

Grocery shopping. I am making moral decisions at the grocery store.

Do I spend my life savings on organic and feel very good about my healthy and conscientious choices?

Or…

Do I fill my cart with hormones and pesticides and feel like a money-saving boss?

Life is so complicated.

I cope by buying mostly organic and hitting up Dairy Queen on the way home for lunch… because balance.

We are not searching for unsolicited advice.

Things you can do instead of give me advice:

Clean my minivan.

Get me a Roomba that eats toys.

Pour me a coffee.

Tell me I'm pretty.

That is all.

We are not judging you.

You know what I don't have time for?

Judging.

I do not care if your kid eats fruit snacks or cucumbers. I don't care if you homeschool or are a working mom. I just don't even care.

I don't care if you don't want kids or are on the career track. I say more power to you—and please, while you're up there, break a few glass ceilings for my girls, would ya?

I don't think my life is harder or that I'm some sort of martyr. I think that this is exactly what I chose to do. And sometimes it is hard, because that is the nature of things that matter. Just like any great dream, it is worth the cost.

Things worth believing in are also worth fighting for. Sometimes that looks like hard work and sacrifice.

These kids—they are my dream.

And I believe in them 100%.

You do you, my friend.

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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

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

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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

$35

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

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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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