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Working dads have guilt, too

I feel as though I am often just as compromised as my working wife feels. It's frustrating for the both of us.

Working dads have guilt, too

"Dada!" my 2-year-old, Nicholas, bounded toward me, embracing my leg before I'd even closed the front door. The guest of honor in his nightly surprise-party-of-one had arrived.

"Hi buddy!" I replied, scooping him up and kissing a tiny nose that, thankfully, looks more like my wife's.

"He did a lot today!" my wife said. Like me, she'd just finished a long day of work, and so she proceeded to give me our caregiver's report: baby gym, music hour at the library, two new letters in the alphabet puzzle. And now...

"Bib bib," Nicholas said, completing my thought. He gestured to his chair where, after thoroughly perusing his bib drawer to select the evening's lucky winner, Nicholas would spend the next 45-60 minutes fussing over (and eating some) food.

To recap: Our nanny gets to see our only child tumble adoringly on a mat and clap along to "Pop Goes the Weasel" while we endure a protracted hunger strike spanning our entire time with him before bedtime.

As co-breadwinners (TBH, she makes a bit more than me) with busy careers, my wife and I are in the same exact boat as one another. We divvy up household duties evenly. I can't cook, she won't clean bathrooms, etc.

With Nicholas, what we also share is a working parent's guilt. Yes, dads get that, too—though there are differences in the way this guilt manifests in men.

For my wife and I, these shared-yet-separate pangs at forfeiting, from our offices, the best parts of Nicholas' day are layered with traditional gender roles, modern feminism and what it means to be a two-career household in our newly woke world.

It's good ol' fashioned guilt, run through separate gender blenders and served soberingly cold.

There are many different facets of my working dad guilt—guilt at home, at work, imposed on me by society. I feel as though I am often just as compromised as my working wife feels. It's frustrating for the both of us.

Marriage is, I believe, the ultimate partnership of equals. And the more progress women make in society at large—the push for equal pay, breaking glass ceilings, the #MeToo movement—the more our nation resembles an ideal marriage: a more perfect union, however impossible to fully realize.

But for dads like me, these positives come with pause—a hesitancy that leaves us perpetually wondering whether we're doing enough to maintain a co-parenting equilibrium that is, typically, off-kilter from Day One. Here, work is a key factor.

Most dads, myself included, start fatherhood in a decidedly imbalanced role: While mom stays home with baby for her maternity leave, most dads are often back in the office a few weeks (or even days) after birth. Right or wrong, our society still sees mothers as primary caretakers from the very beginning of our children's lives.

Dads, then, are typically in a co-parenting hole from the get-go. And as gender norms and roles evolve, we're left to play catch-up without fully understanding where the goalposts are—where true co-parenting equilibrium lies. Our jobs serve to further condense spare time in a culture that, however fittingly, now asks dads to carry a more equitable share of the parenting load. Though appropriate, this is daunting nonetheless.

But this cultural progress can also be liberating—a win-win for moms and dads alike.

The "traditional" dad role —sole breadwinner, lone disciplinarian—had limited work/life balance; and the "traditional" mom role—a stay-at-home mom homemaker, had none whatsoever. As more households comprise two working parents, the further we get from those antiquated norms, the better. Because equality is… well… equalizing.

Today, my wife and I both have work/life balance—or, at least, as much as possible. We cover each other during particularly busy work stretches, and try not to add to each other's guilt when work time impinges on family time. We are flexible, interchangeable.

We are equal. And as equals we can help alleviate our working parents' guilt through symbiotic support and common experience.

But while our culture gets more woke, workplaces often lag behind societal progress. For dads, this holds true not only for the still-fledgling push for paternity leave but also in lingering perceptions of traditional gender roles.

For example, many managers are less likely to raise an eyebrow at a dad leaving early for his child's sporting event than say, a pediatrician check-up. For decades, society has established the former activity—athletics—as manly, while relegating the latter to a woman's work.

Times are changing but, as we drag our typically older bosses into modernity, working dads feel a distinct sort of guilt as we strive to be available for our children and respectful of our spouses' careers. This is because striking such a balance means straying from the traditional "working dad" construct.

It's sexism, plain and simple, and it's wrong.

Many men—myself fortunately excluded—are trying to play a larger role in their children's lives under the watchful eyes of suspicious employers. Similar to many bosses paying women less for equal work, too many managers see a desire for more involved fatherhood as office excuse-making. You can read the thought bubble atop their heads: "Can't your wife handle that?"

Many fathers are trying to be New Age dads while working for Stone Age employers, resulting in a pulled-from-all-directions, paranoia-laced guilt. I myself feel it sometimes—and again, I have a particularly understanding boss.

Working dads must breach these man-made social barriers with both insistence and persistence. The more dads normalize tackling heretofore "pink collar" parenting duties, the more equal we will become to our spouses and, over time, the lower our bosses' eyebrows will raise.

After all, our kids aren't excuses but reasons—and very good ones at that.

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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

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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!

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Detective set

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Wooden digital camera

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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.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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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.

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Pull-along hippo

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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.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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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.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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