The Realm of Motherhood

Close the door behind you, but give yourself permission to leave sometimes.

The Realm of Motherhood

I once had a friend tell me, “When I became a mother, it felt like a door closed behind me.”

For many new mothers, this probably instantly strikes a chord. Walking through the doorway of motherhood is like entering an entirely new world, one that can seem equal parts overwhelming and claustrophobic. The realm--and the room--of motherhood.

To call motherhood a “room” makes sense considering the tendency to compartmentalize the experience. Though we are often a mom and something else, motherhood can be all-encompassing and touches every corner of our beings. To be sure, mothering warrants recognition. It is a sacrificial and rewarding career. So we step aside ourselves and footnote our other endeavors, little closets and hallways off of the main space in which we are “mom.”

Then we imagine the doors to those closets or hallways are closed. Locked even. We feel cut off from other facets of life while inside “motherhood,” a room like a nursery that’s full of diapers and squeaky toys and breast pumps. Maybe society told you to do this, that that’s what being a good mom is. Perhaps you’ve just been swept away in it all and found yourself here, in the middle of unending piles of dirty laundry. It could very easily have been your own, beautiful choice, to walk into the room and lock the door behind you, to be in every single moment while you have it.

Regardless of how you wound up in the place, chances are, you’ve faced your breaking point at some time or another. There’s been a day where something snapped and you ran around the room, desperate, jiggling all the knobs of all the doors just trying to get out. Just crack a window even! Let a little light and air in. Peeking through keyholes, trying to get a glimpse of just what exactly you shut out when that door closed.

I remember before my first daughter was born, being pregnant and working feverishly on her new nursery. I remember the way the afternoon light shone through the big windows, casting shadows over new creamy-colored sheets and through the tiny bird mobile that dangled over the crib. I remember moments passed in the glider, practicing my rock, imagining when the nursery would be full. I spent hours folding all of those cloth diapers and sorting teethers and rings and blocks into separate bins.

There was a peace in there.

Soon enough, there was a baby in that space. I had entered the realm of motherhood, and there certainly were days that seemed unending, like that realm was all I would ever know. Sometimes I would catch my breath though. I’d remember when that room was barren of cries and squeaks and giggles, when I’d been preparing the place and feeling so peaceful. Those feelings commanded, “Sit.”

Maybe the door is closed for a time or during certain parts of the day. There will certainly be minutes or even hours that seem unbearable and inescapable. You might lunge for the handle and bang on the door for someone to let you out. But in the midst of all that, take time to sit in the room. Study the way the light brightens it up and the shadow friends it makes. Note the intricacies and the quirks, the ways the nooks and crannies are filled. Soak up the peace of this realm, which, for all its small and trapped feelings, is actually a brief, fleeting space.

Because though motherhood doesn’t mean the end of life, it does mark a milestone after which you’ll never be the same. Choose to see the good in that, the peace in that: Where once there was not, now there is. And instead of longing for what is behind the closed door, bask in the restfulness and the joy of the room you’re in.

And know that you have permission to drop the burp cloths for a little while and step outside the room. You can keep that closet full of your stilettos and pretty dresses. You’ll still need them once and awhile. It is a beautiful thing to be a mother and something else. It is good and right to dash down one of those hallways every once in awhile, to connect to some other part of you. Just as there are other rooms in the house, there are other pieces of you that deserve to be nurtured. In the long run, if you’re a better, richer person, you’ll raise better, richer kids.

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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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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What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:

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