5 sure-fire ways to make the most of your maternity leave

I would close my eyes, take a deep breath and look at my sweet baby boy.

5 sure-fire ways to make the most of your maternity leave

I recently returned to work from my eight week maternity leave with my second baby boy. And gosh, do I miss being home with him. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but my last few weeks of maternity leave were so nice. Almost peaceful.

I know, how can taking care of a tiny newborn that depends on you for every little thing be peaceful? I promise I’m not crazy!

Here’s how I did it:

1. I lived in the moment. Truly.

I took the word “leave” very seriously.

Let me tell you, I am an extremely Type A person. I love to make lists. I love to mark things off my lists. I love to be productive. If I don’t rewrite my list each morning and efficiently schedule my day, I feel like a bit of a failure. (I know, I need to chill out. That’s a work in progress.)


But I decided I was going to go against my Type A brain, embrace what was in my mommy heart and just live in the moment.

When I would feel the need to run down to the basement and throw in a “quick load of laundry”, I would close my eyes, take a deep breath and look at my sweet baby boy. Remind myself that the laundry can wait, and I would stay exactly where I was, with his sweet little hand holding onto my finger. I would look at his fat little squishy face and try to memorize it. I will never get the chance to spend eight full weeks alone with my baby again. So I soaked it all up.

Yes, I was exhausted and covered in spit-up and got peed and pooped on multiple times. I rarely had the chance to shower and my hair didn’t come out of a topknot for weeks. But this is how I managed to enjoy my leave instead of letting my Type A brain take over.

2. I changed the items on my to-do list.

I am a creature of habit so even on my leave I would make a to-do list. But instead of it saying do the laundry, clean out closets, paint the upstairs bathroom and file away old tax documents, it said cuddle with your baby boy, take a nap, watch four seasons of Hart of Dixie on Netflix, and read the latest US Weekly. And I would mark those things off my list. It fueled my Type A need for productivity.

3. I took ALL the help that was offered.

If my mom said she would bring over dinner, I said yes. A family friend offered to keep the baby once a week for a couple hours so I could sleep or run errands. I said yes. My mother- in- law asked if she could keep my three- year- old so I could relax. I said yes.

There is ZERO reason to feel guilty for these things. People offer because they want to help. Allow yourself to say yes.

4. I got out of the house.

I made sure I left my house every day. It could be to take the baby for a walk or go to the gas station. But I made sure I left, even if it was just for a few minutes to sit on the back porch and drink coffee while the baby napped. It’s crazy what a little fresh air and a short conversation with an adult can do for your mood.

5. I took some ME time as well.

I had to have a c-section so I gave my body plenty of time to heal. I had my husband watch the kids so I could take an extra nap here and there. I did the little things that I actually enjoy doing. I ate a taco if I wanted one. I didn’t worry about the calories in the blizzard. I read a book I had been trying to read for five years. I took my work email off my phone. I got a pedicure. Ahhhh, it was so nice.

So mama, when you are on maternity leave, take an actual leave. Take advantage of the small amount of time you have with your precious newborn. They won’t be that little forever and everything else can wait.

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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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 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.

Our Partners

My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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