I feel guilty at work and guilty when I’m not working—but why?

I am a mother, and mothers are deep, complicated souls who cannot be pigeon-holed into one position.

I feel guilty at work and guilty when I’m not working—but why?

I am a procurer of many markets, a woman of many talents, and a mother who wears many hats.

Each day, I shuffle through my apparel, switching out my garments to fit what role is required of me. Sometimes wardrobe alterations are needed multiple times a day, as I slink out of one façade and into another. I am versatile and flexible; changing on a dime to accomplish the tasks at hand.

I am a mother, and mothers are deep, complicated souls who cannot be pigeon-holed into one position. We are multi-taskers, flying by the seat of our collective mom jeans.

I have my mama hat—

A floppy entity that is weaved together from straw. Chasms protrude along the brim, scars from motherhood’s many accidents. It is smeared with oatmeal and is always sagging in my eyes, as if the hat itself carries the responsibility of three small children.

From the moment I first placed it upon my brow, I knew that this was the greatest hat I would ever wear. Although it sees its share of sweat and tears, it is one my most treasured possessions. Sometimes, after little bodies are tucked into little beds, I stare lovingly at my mama hat, fingering the frays and appreciating the moments it has brought me.

I have my wife hat—

It used to be more polished. That beauty started out as a trendy piece that I would throw on for a date night out or a movie night in. It used to be accompanied by spontaneity and passion and there was a time when it felt like it was my most significant accessory.

But it took a beating in recent years—trampled on by tiny feet and sat on by the dog. It had to be temporarily placed on a shelf in the hall closet while I dealt with night nursing, colds and flus, and the robust demands of young motherhood. However, my children are growing older, allowing me to dust off my wifely fedora and put it back into rotation.

And last, but surely not least, I have my working hat—

It is a cloche hat, the iconic women’s fashion statement of the 1920’s. It is classy, daring, and makes me smile when I put it on. It fills me with poise and assures me that my well runs deeper than mother, and wider than wife.

When I wear this hat I am challenged. When I wear this hat I am fulfilled. This cloche hat does not take away from, but adds life to, every other facet of me. But as well as it fits, and as successful as I may be when I am wearing it, there is guilt sewn into its very stitches. And each time I place it upon my head I am filled with equal parts exhilaration and shame.

For as mothers we are expected to be adaptable in our fashion and yet we are criticized for showing too much pleasure in one specific style.

We are taught to mind our children, take care of our husbands, clean our houses and cook our dinners. And then, inevitably, we are looked down upon for doing so—because being “just a mom” is somehow not enough. And for some women, it is not.

Sometimes the need for mental challenges makes us yearn for more—beyond the bliss and reproach of domesticity.

But God forbid a mother works—and God forbid she likes it. Somewhere, scrawled neatly in perfect cursive and etched into every woman’s brain, is the dishonor of being happy, and seeking satisfaction, when she is not wearing her mama hat.

We have been conditioned to feel inadequate in every accessory—that somehow being fluid in our ability to change and accommodate, although it is expected of us, is wrong.

I want to be free from the heavy guilt of a working mother.

I want to relish in the frenzied, beautifully soiled nature of my frayed straw hat of motherhood, while feeling confident and stunning in the fedora of wifely attire.

I want to feel proud and righteous when my cloche working hat fits snug upon my head; to be content in knowing that I am anything but simple.

For I am a woman of many hats.

In This Article

    This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

    One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

    I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.

    Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

    The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

    Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

    Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

    Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

    Woodland Snug comforter


    The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.


    Braided Pom Pom Throw

    Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.


    Lumbar pillow


    What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?


    Crystal infused sleep mask

    sunday citizen sleep mask

    Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.


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


    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class


    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.


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


    When you ask any two mamas to share their experience with breastfeeding, you are bound to get very unique answers. That's because while the act of breastfeeding is both wonderful and natural, it also comes with a learning curve for both mothers and babies.

    In some cases, breastfeeding won't be the right path for everyone. But with the right tools, resources and social support systems, we can make progress toward the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to continue breastfeeding through the first year of a child's life. After all, breastfeeding helps nourish infants, protects them against illnesses, develops their immune systems and more. Not to mention that mothers who breastfeed experience reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

    With National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, it's a great time for mamas (and expectant mamas!) to gather the supplies that will support their feeding journey—whether it looks like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or combo-feeding.

    Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

    Designed for regular use, this double electric breast pump allows mamas to customize the cycle and vacuum settings that work for them. The 100% SoftShape™ silicone shields on this pump form-fit to a wide range of breast shapes and sizes—which means more comfortable, more efficient pumping. And every pump comes with two complete Dr. Brown's Options+ bottles, giving you everything you need to go from pumping to feeding.


    Dr. Brown’s™ Breast Milk Collection Bottles

    There's no need to cry over spilled milk—because it won't happen with these storage bottles! Make the pump-to-feeding transition simpler with Dr. Brown's Milk Collection Bottles. The bottles adapt to Dr. Brown's electric pumps to easily fill, seal and transport, and they work with Dr. Brown's bottle and nipple parts when your baby's ready to eat. (Meaning no risky pouring from one bottle to another. 🙌)


    Breast Milk Storage Bags

    With an extra-durable design and double zip seal, your breast milk will stay fresh and safe in the fridge or freezer until it's needed. Plus, the bags are easy to freeze flat and then store for up to six months, so your baby can continue drinking breast milk long after you are done nursing.


    Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump with Options+™ Bottle & Bag

    Here's something they don't tell you about breastfeeding ahead of time: While feeding your baby on one side, the other breast may "let down" milk, too. With this one-piece Silicone Breast Pump, you don't have to let those precious drops go to waste. The flexible design makes pouring the milk into a bottle stress-free.


    Dr. Brown’s® Manual Breast Pump

    No outlet in sight? No worries! With this powerful-yet-gentle Manual Breast Pump, you can get relief from engorgement, sneak in some quick midnight pumping or perform a full pumping session without any electricity needed. With Dr. Brown's 100% silicone SoftShape™ Shield, the hand-operated pump is as comfortable as it is easy to use. Complete with Dr. Brown's® Options+™ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle, a storage travel cap and cleaning brush, consider this the breastfeeding essential for any mama who has places to go.


    Options+™ Anti-Colic Baby Bottle

    With the soft silicone nipple and natural flow design of these bottles, your baby can easily switch between breast and bottle. Clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to the vent, your baby can enjoy a happy tummy after feeding sessions—without as much spit-up, burping or gas! By mimicking the flow and feel of the breast, these bottles help support your breastfeeding experience.


    This post is sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are 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 indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)


    Secret Agent play set


    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    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.


    Stepping Stones


    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.


    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.


    Sensory play set


    Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.


    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.


    Foam pogo stick


    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.




    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.


    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.


    Pull-along ducks


    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.


    Rocking chair seesaw


    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.


    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.


    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.


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


    13 useful baby products to leave at grandma’s house

    You'll even want two of these so you can keep one at your own place, mama!

    There's a lot of information highlighting products you need when you travel with a baby, focused on what fits in the plane's overhead compartment or makes a hotel more baby-friendly. But I've struggled to find recommendations for what to buy when you're only going a couple (or more, in my case) miles away to the grandparents' house.

    Those items you want to leave there with them that will give you peace of mind your baby is safe (because let's be honest, some things our moms did with us is probably not safe anymore) and also give them the confidence they can take care of baby while you are out. I focused on products that also have a long life with your children because there's no point in spending a ton of money on things they will quickly age out of when they won't necessarily be using them frequently.

    Here are my recommendations for what to leave at the grandparents' house:

    A portable crib

    BABYBJ\u00d6RN  Portable Travel Crib

    What: Starting with the basics, this BABYBJÖRN travel crib is a safe place for your baby to sleep while they are away from home (and even at home!). We are huge fans of the sleek design.

    Why: It's light and easy to set up, making it perfect for longer trips or short visits. Since it folds up, it's easy to store behind a couch or in a closet, meaning baby doesn't need a dedicated room. It grows with baby, and it's safe for kids ages 0-3 years, which means you will be getting a lot of use out of it.


    A sound machine


    What: A sound machine is highly recommended to help babies sleep better and longer since it blocks out all outside noises. This top-rated Hushh version creates natural fan-based sounds and can be clipped anywhere.

    Why: Compact and easy to use (no need to fiddle with confusing technology or download an app), everyone can operate this one. What's more, the rechargeable battery lasts up to 12 hours. Our family takes it with us wherever we go and it even helps me sleep better!



    ECO PEA CO.  Bamboo Diapers

    What: Babies go through a lot of diapers so make sure grandparents are set up for success by leaving them with more than enough. The Eco Pea diapers are earth-friendly and soft on your baby's bum.

    Why: In my experience, not all diapers are good for all babies. Mine needed a specific level of absorbency (they were big wetters) and also blow out control (constant poopers). By leaving the exact brand of diapers you love and your baby is used to, you can ensure baby and Grandma will be having a blast while you're away.


    A lovey

    MARY MEYER  Putty Sloth Character Blanket

    What: These Mary Meyer soft character blankets are both cute and snuggly. The sloth is equal parts comfort and play, making baby feel safer while sleeping away from you.

    Why: Children love loveys and I find it smart to buy two (or more!) of the same lovey to have in case of emergency (say, when you have to wash it, if you lose one, or to keep at the grandparents' house).


    A play mat

    TOKI MATS  Rainbow Watercolor Padded Play Mat

    What: The Toki Mats play mats don't only come in adorable and stylish prints, but are a safe place to plop baby on the floor for some solo time play, practicing tummy time or taking adorable photos.

    These mats can fold in two for easy storing. The cover is removable and machine-washable in case of any accidents. They are a bestseller for good reasons, and not only ideal to use indoors but also outdoors to keep baby away from grass and dirt.


    A bouncer

    BABYBJ\u00d6RN  Bouncer Bliss in 3D Mesh

    What: This BABYBJÖRN bouncer is an all time favorite for a reason—babies love it and parents love anything their babies do as well (I'm guilty of it!).

    Why: The mesh bouncer is great for all weather and is made with super safe fabrics. No batteries needed to keep baby entertained as the bouncer moves with the kicks of their legs. It's perfect for the grandparents' house because it gives them an extra set of "hands" (so to speak) for when they need to prep meals or take a shower. It folds flat, making it easy to store anywhere. Suitable for kids 0-2 years old.


    A play gym 

    LOVEVERY  The Play Gym

    What: A play gym is another way to keep baby safely entertained while also developing skills and senses. The Lovevery play gym is an all-time favorite because of the wide range of activities baby can do on it.

    Why: This play gym really grows with your kids, which means grandparents can use it for a really long time. The mat is machine-washable and the whole thing can be broken down and folded to be tucked in the closet.


    Wooden block set


    What: This traditional set keeps little ones busy without the bright colors you expect from their plastic counterparts, which will probably make Grandma happy.

    Why: The possibilities are endless and when play time is over, they can be neatly stored in their wooden box.


    A bottle warmer

    Baby's Brew Portable Bottle Warmer Pro Set

    What: Some babies really like their milk or formula warmed up. If you have one of those babies worry not because the Baby's Brew portable bottle warmer will make your life (and the grandparents') so much easier by heating up to the exact perfect temperature in seconds.

    Why: This bottle warmer will give grandparents the peace of mind that the milk or formula they are offering baby is absolutely safe. Plus, the formula dispenser guarantees the right amount of it will be in every bottle mixed.


    Unbreakable plates

    MUSHIE  Square Dinnerware Plates

    What: The Mushie plates are not only unbreakable, but also dishwasher-friendly and super stylish, meaning they won't clash with Grandma's style or give her an extra chore.

    Why: You don't want your kids breaking the fancy china at their grandparents (is that still a thing?) so send them over with these plates that don't look like children's plates to make sure everyone stays happy while you're not there.


    Solids food subscription

    Yumi intro to soilds kit

    What: We all know how important nutrition is in the first years of our children's lives, that's why this Yumi subscription service is great to have. It takes away the stressful thinking and planning of baby's meals while ensuring they are getting the best mix of quality and variety.

    Why: Grandparents will love feeding baby their first solids, especially without having to do any of the prep ahead of time. The Yumi tubs can also be kept frozen so they'll be ready when needed.


    Bath kneeler


    What: Everyone who's ever bathed a baby in a bathtub knows how hard it can be on both arms and knees. Enter the PUJ bath kneeler to keep everyone happy during bath time.

    Why: They may be spry, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve just a little more comfort. The compact design is foldable and small enough that it can be tucked away in any bathroom for the next visit.


    Toilet training seat

    BABYBJ\u00d6RN  Toilet Training Seat

    What: The BABYBJÖRN toilet training seat is perfect to use on the go. It sits over the regular toilet seat and prevents little kids from falling in. It comes with a hook to hang by the toilet or behind doors.

    Why: For bigger kids who are starting their journey on toilet training, this seat is ideal to have anywhere yo go, because it will give them the confidence and safety they need to use the bathroom, without having to lug around a big plastic pretend toilet. Thanks to the rubber on the outside sides, it won't slip off and is safe for children to sit on.


    This article was originally published in September 2020. It has been updated.

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


    Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

    The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

    Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

    Motherhood knows no bounds.

    When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

    The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.

    Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

    Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

    Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

    Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

    "When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

    We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

    Our favorite viral mama + kid videos