To the mom whose partner is traveling *again* this week—I am with you

Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not hard.

To the mom whose partner is traveling *again* this week—I am with you

Yesterday, my husband left to go out of town on business for the week. Again. This is not an uncommon occurrence in our household; he travels at least two and sometimes three weeks out of the month.

Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not hard, though. The burden usually shared by two is carried by my shoulders alone—being “on” from very early until very late, handling every request and need, squeezing in work wherever it’ll fit.

Most nights I’m a zombie by 8:30 p.m. after the gauntlet of dinner, bath, and bedtime routines.

While the stress of it all is significant, something about anticipating it makes its load more bearable. I know it’s going to be hard—but I'm ready for it.

What I wasn’t prepared for is how hard it is when he comes back home.

You see, we develop a routine of sorts when it’s just the three of us and expanding back to a quartet takes more accommodation than I anticipated. Lucky Charms for dinner makes me a cool mom, but is a less-impressive feat when it’s served to someone over the age of 10.

If I’m not careful, I catch myself barking orders at my husband and expecting him to fall in-line with the kids, forgetting that I’m not the only adult around anymore. It’s hard to flip between being The One Who Does All the Things and a co-parent who shares the decision-making and responsibilities equally.

It took several months of settling into my husband’s travel schedule before we figured out how to make it work best.

Now, we make sure he gets a few minutes of FaceTiming with the kids every night between dinner and bedtime. Our children are still pretty young (7 and 3) so we keep it brief, but it gives them a chance to see and talk with their dad and tell him about the highlights of their day.

It also keeps my husband in tune with their moods and new accomplishments, so he doesn’t feel out of the loop when he comes back home on Friday.

The other thing we do that helps is make time for a conversation between the two of us every other night. It was harder than it sounds, at first. He often travels to a different time zone, and his work hours are frequently longer, which means his availability to talk doesn’t always line up with the most convenient times (or happen at all, when things on-site weren’t going smoothly).

I’d rationalize that nothing exciting had happened that day anyway, and there wasn’t much to talk about, so it was fine just to exchange a few brief texts. But eventually, I realized how critical that talk time—mundane details and all—was to keeping us connected and on the same team.

So now, whether it’s me staying up an extra hour or him ducking out of the business dinner for 10 minutes, we are committed to making time to talk with and listen to each other while apart. Hearing each other’s voices has a way of bridging the miles that words on a screen just can’t manage.

I’ve also found it helpful to foster friendships with friends whose spouses have irregular schedules—from doctors to pharmacists and firefighters—these friends know what it’s like to parent with no 6 p.m. relief team. Sometimes, I’ll load up the kids and head over to a girlfriend’s house to do the dinner and bathtime routine together while our husbands are away.

There’s no question that ricocheting between solo parenting and being a two-parent household took some getting used to, and it’s a constant adjustment-in-progress. But as I’m learning, it seems everything in parenting is sort of an adjustment-in-progress, isn’t it?

We’re finding our way though, and you will, too.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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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.

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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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