Going on a kid-free vacation is fantastic, but coming home is even better

I tucked my bags beneath the seat in front of me, then leaned back and stretched out my legs—marveling at the extra room provided by the emergency row aisle seat I’d chosen. When the flight attendant came by, I requested a cocktail and handed her my drink ticket. With my drink in hand, I picked up my book, tucked in my ear buds and settled back for my four-hour flight to LA.

This experience stands in stark contrast to the flight I’d taken a few months prior. That one started with wrestling a car seat into the window seat of the airplane and threading the seatbelt through to latch it properly. It included copious amounts of snacks, picking up dropped crayons at two-minute intervals, and answering the question “Are we there yet?” no fewer than eleventy-billion times.

On my non-kid flight, the captain turned off the fasten-seat belt sign and somewhere on board, a baby began to cry.

Yes, I thought, as I started the next chapter of my book, traveling without kids is really pretty great.

My trip was to Hawaii. I was running a 15k race along the coast of Maui with my good friend, Erin, and then we were going back to her place on Oahu for a few days before I headed back home.

Aside from the two hours we spent running, the trip was a delight. We ate delicious food, lazed on the beach, and the only body I had to apply sunscreen to was my own. I never once had to scout for a public bathroom in a panic, and I managed a trip to the grocery store AND Target without a single meltdown.

For five days, I didn’t have to tend to anyone’s needs but my own. When I was hungry, I ate; when I was tired, I slept; and there wasn’t a single dinnertime that involved an ultimatum or tears.

It was glorious, friends.

I reveled in my freedom and soaked up every last selfish second of it. All too soon, it seemed, it was time to head home. Back to reality and responsibility, to where the simplest of tasks were made harder by cries of “I do it myself,” and, “Five more minutes, Mom, please?”

As I was prepping to board for the last leg home, I noticed a young mama flying alone with an infant. She was balancing allthethings and asked the gate attendant if she needed her baby’s car seat base or just the seat on the plane. The attendant didn’t know.

As the new mom became flustered and shifted her baby in her arms, I leaned over and told her she didn't need the base. Relieved, she confessed it was only her second time on a plane and her first time flying with her 9-month-old daughter.

I’d been looking forward to closing my eyes and grabbing a nap on this final flight home. Instead, I found myself asking if I could help her. Part of me expected her to reject my offer—to say no thanks, she was fine. But she said yes, if I didn't mind, that would actually be great.

I learned her name was Gabriela and her daughter was Olive, and they were flying to Nashville to visit her family in Chattanooga. I helped her gate check the giant stroller and tucked the car seat base in an overhead bin, then together we wrestled that seat belt through the car seat into the window seat of the airplane. I picked up the teething toys that were dropped, ordered her an extra glass of water while she was nursing.

As the plane began its descent, Olive woke up from her nap. Gabriela held her in her lap and played peek-a-boo and talked to her in that sweet way a mama talks to her baby girl. I watched Olive’s face light up at her words; her eyes tracking her mother’s every move, and I smiled in recognition. I knew that look; I’d seen it on the faces of my son and daughter.

“You know,” I said. “They save that look just for their mamas. That expression of absolute adoration, wonder, and trust—it’s just yours.”

When we landed, I helped Gabriela set up the stroller and snap Olive’s car seat into it. I tucked her bags in the bin beneath it and wished them a wonderful visit home. Gabriela thanked me profusely, but I waved her off. All I’d done was carry a few things.

She’d helped me remember what I love about being a mom in the first place.

Then I hurried off to my own home, where my son and daughter were waiting. When I walked through the door, their faces lit up like Christmas and they barreled across the kitchen to hold me tight.

Yes, it was nice to get away. But it’s even nicer coming home.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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

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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


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


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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