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3 Tips for a Stay at Home Mom

Given the abundance of opinions about working – or not – once a woman becomes a mother, it’s no surprise that I began wrestling with this decision long before I became pregnant. As is often the case when we think about topics we’ve yet to experience ourselves, I had plenty of opinions about what a woman “should” do.

I had a near-constant monologue running in my head that went something like this: “Your mom has always worked in a ‘big job’, so you should, too. Carry on the family legacy! Remember that neighbor who got divorced? Well, that wouldn’t have happened if she had a job. Look at Sheryl Sandberg – keep leaning in, Elizabeth!!”

Of course I would return to work once I had a baby, whenever that day arrived.

And then one morning, everything changed. Every single thing. My husband was still asleep when I nudged him gently to say “the test is positive.”

Once there was an actual baby to consider, the to-work-or-not-to-work debate both escalated and ceased in my head. On the one hand, I was now actually pregnant and considering actual, not imagined, circumstances. On the other hand, I had a growing sense that this new life would change me in unimaginable ways, and would satisfy and challenge me in ways that no job could.

I resigned from my job a few days before Ava was born. In the months since, friends have connected me with job opportunities which could be interesting, but something has stopped me from pursuing them. I’ve spent hours half-heartedly browsing job postings and even landed a few interviews, only to find myself longing for uninterrupted stretches of time at home with my baby. Sometimes I see women rushing to work in their tailored suits and heels, and feel pangs of envy about the lives I imagine them leading.

It has taken me almost one year to make peace with the fact that I’m now a stay-at-home-mom. If I’m honest, some days that peace is still elusive. And yet, as we celebrate my daughter’s first birthday, I truly would not change a thing. My journey has been nothing like I imagined, and the pros and cons of being a full-time mom certainly aren’t as black and white as I imagined so many years ago. In fact, it has been better, richer and more rewarding than I could’ve ever dreamed or hoped.

As you consider what your own life might look like once your little one arrives, I encourage you to be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be gentle. Offer grace. Think about the facts, consider your preferences and goals, seek wisdom from those around you, and be brave in making the decision that’s best for you, whatever that might look like. Whatever you decide, and however your journey unfolds, I salute you!

If you do decide to make the leap to life as a stay-at-home mom, here are few tips to ease the transition:

1. Build your mom network and make it diverse. As a new mom -- or as a mom who is new to being at home full-time -- you need other women who are in the same season of life as you. This will come in handy at 3 am when you are trying to rock your baby to sleep and are in need of some sympathy via text message, when you want to discuss the best ways to get your pre-baby body back, and when you want to discuss brands of diapers that don’t leak overnight. You also need women in your life who have been down this road before -- women who will encourage you to savor the newborn moments, even when they feel so very hard; women who will share their experiences with pediatricians, preschools, and babysitters; and women whose own lives have settled down enough that they can breathe some energy and peace into yours. Finally, you need to hold onto those friends who don't have children. Staying connected to your former self not only nourishes your soul but it can keep you from settling into a routine that is totally dominated by motherhood and parenting. These friends will encourage you to get your nails done, meet for a glass of wine, and ditch the ponytail for a night -- all little ways of reminding yourself that you are a dynamic, energetic, interesting woman.

2. Decide what three things you need to do to feel good at the end of the day. That is, make a short list of "must do" items that, when completed, will help you to breathe easy at the end of the day, even if a lot of other aspects of your life are chaotic. For me, it's reading the newspaper, exercising, and spending good chunks of time fully focused on playing with my daughter. The transition to being at home full-time can be challenging as the hours blend together, home-related tasks become your primary "work," and no boss is telling you what to do. This can mean the day may end before you’re aware that it even started, and what is true in the office is true at home: articulating your goals and priorities makes them much easier to achieve.

3. Get out. Get out with your child, get out as a family, get out with your husband. Just GO. Take a class, go to Starbucks, hop on the bus or subway to see an exhibit, try a new bakery or visit a friend. The tendency to stay inside -- especially in the blur of the early days -- can leave new moms feeling isolated and alone. This compounds the feelings of "who am I now that I don't work/have a baby/am a mom?" Getting out of the house is the best way to remind yourself that there is a world out there, beyond nap schedules and burp cloths and late-night feedings. Be brave and try to plan a mix of small and more ambitious outings each week to keep your life -- and yourself -- fresh.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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