Stepping Back into the Light | Adjusting our Comfort Levels in an Uncomfortable Year


Have your comfort levels shifted this past year?


We have learned so much as parents in the past year. One of the biggest things I think we have all discovered is that everyone’s versions of their “comfort levels” have differed so greatly. This has been challenging, confusing, at times exhausting, and extremely divisive between neighbors and friends. But one of the greatest things I have discovered as a parent is that in every situation, what you feel is best is what is best for your family. It may look different from what is best for someone else’s family. And that’s ok.


I sometimes envy the parents who have been able to work from home or keep their babies home throughout the past 18 months. As a healthcare professional, it was never a question for me if I would continue to go to work as we are conditioned to walk straight into the fire if that’s how we do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. As soon as our daycare reopened, I was the first one there at early dropoff, ready to go. Was I scared? Absolutely. There were so many unknowns. Did I feel mom guilt? Definitely at times. But luckily, my daughter has adapted to our new normal, and we have pushed onward into the unknown.



Fast forward one year, and I found myself breathing in the fresh air (as well as a sigh of relief) as we were able to enjoy more activities in an outside environment. My daughter was so happy to be able to enjoy fun extracurriculars like her first season of YMCA t-ball and soccer practice at school. But the air we are breathing is different these days as it’s often mixed with a side of anxiety. Am I making the right decision? What other safe activities can we do? This summer allowed me to take one tiny step back into the light and encouraged me to look into other things we could do as a family to continue to enjoy and support our beautiful city. Here are some great options we’ve tried this year:


  • Saint Louis Zoo – Always a great option!
  • Saint Louis Science Center – We have enjoyed timed admissions this summer with limited capacity and plenty of space for big imaginations.
  • YMCA youth sports – Preschool t-ball was a fun experience in an outdoor environment. Recently we have ventured inside for swim lessons and have enjoyed small class sizes of 4 kids per 1 instructor.
  • MADE for Kids – This was such an exciting discovery! When Magic House felt like too much this past year, I decided to try their satellite location on Delmar. What a treat for my daughter to enjoy a smaller creative space without the crowds.
  • Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) – Free, timed admission tickets were a treat for baby and me on maternity leave. They also have free themed playdates each month.
  • Eckert’s Farm – Great for seasonal activities and pumpkin picking this fall!
  • Missouri Botanical Garden – There is always something new! We enjoyed Origami in the Garden over the summer. 
  • Grant’s Farm – They are now offering timed ticket entry and have fun Halloween events planned.
  • Urban Fort Play Cafe – This place made a safe birthday party possible for my daughter. You can rent the entire play area instead of participating in open play.



We know that as moms, we are constantly doing, learning, and reevaluating all our steps and missteps throughout motherhood. What works today, tomorrow, or this week, may not work the next. I know my comfort level throughout this changing season can only be described as a work in progress. For those days I didn’t feel good about leaving the house, I found some creative options in St. Louis to keep things interesting for my four year old:


  • DIY succulent kits
  • Cupcake decorating kits
  • Pipe cleaner bracelet kits
  • Bake at home pizza kits
  • DIY seasonal balloon garlands
  • Virtual dance classes



No matter how far you’ve stepped out into the light this year, you are doing great as a mom! Your decisions are the best for your family right now, and it’s ok if you feel your comfort level doesn’t look so black and white. We are all learning, adapting, and overcoming together. You got this, mama!

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Haley was born and raised in small town Kansas. She moved to St. Louis after graduating from the University of Kansas to attend graduate school at Lindenwood. Her 2 year plan to live in St. Louis turned in 12 when she met her husband. They were married on home plate at Busch Stadium in 2015 and are parents to two girls, Presley (4) and Piper (7 months), Haley stared her career as a Certified Athletic Trainer working at high schools all throughout St. Louis. After returning to nursing school she was a Trauma ICU nurse for 5 years before taking on her current role as the Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator at a Level 1 Trauma Center. Outside of work Haley blogs about local food and businesses as part of the Yelp Elite Squad, volunteers for Make-A-Wish MoKan, and loves strength training and self care. Haley considers herself a “wrangler of tiny females”. She loves raising a strong willed preschooler who both challenges and amazes her. Haley loves living in St. Louis and feels it has so much to offer to inspire children and foster creativity. You can follow her at @mamastrebs.


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