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Working Mom Must-Haves

3 inspiring working moms share the registry items they can’t live without.

Working Mom Must-Haves

It’s hard to know what life with baby will be like, but if you’re planning to be a working mom, there’s some stuff that’s just universal. Like: the daily struggle to find balance is real. A little support can go a long way. And, your baby registry is for so much more than baby--it’s also for stuff that you won’t be able to live without as a working mom.

We know, not every baby boutique will let you register for just what a working mom needs (MZ Wallace bag, anyone?). Which is why we went out and found you some pretty inspirational working moms to share those clutch items that will make your new life a breeze. It’s also why our friends at the personalized registry site Gugu Guru have added tons of them (and other unique registry recommendations related to your unique lifestyle) to their product picks. Because baby registries should be as much about mama as they should about baby, right?

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Get these working mom must-haves on your own baby registry stat, then head over to this week’s giveaway and win a package that will help you go back to work with style and ease.

JULEE WILSON, Senior Fashion Editor at The Huffington Post

“The only way I can describe the day I went back to work is: bittersweet. I had spent the last 12 weeks getting to know this amazing little being and now I had to hand him over to a perfect stranger (albeit an amazing nanny). However, while I was sad to walk out the door, I was thankful that I would be walking back into a dope job, surrounded by super talented people, and living a career that I always dreamed of. You can't have it all -- but you can have a lot. I have a lot.“

JULEE'S WORKING MOM MUST-HAVES:

 

  1. "Orion" nameplate necklace. Always gotta keep my baby boy close to my heart. Enough said.
  2. Moleskin notebook. I love these durable journals for working on stories as I ride the train to work and jotting down precious memories -- like Orion's minor and major milestones.The
  3. Belly Bandit. Much to my dismay -- yet not surprisingly -- my body didn't bounce back to it's former semi-taut state. With that said I needed some help pulling these together. Enter, the Belly Bandit. One word: amazing.
  4. MZ Wallace "Metro Tote" bag. Every gal needs a chic and reliable work bag and this is mine. I also have a larger camo-printed one for Orion's diaper bag. In a nutshell: It's as close as you'll ever get to carryall perfection.
  5. Brother Vellies denim "Erongo" shoes. Transitioning back to heels took so time -- so in the meantime I indulged in a pair of great casual flats like these dope all denim kicks by Brother Vellies.Get all of Julee's picks here!

GRACE LEE, founder and CEO of Nine Naturals

“I've had to ease myself back into work. It's a lot to juggle work with the schedule of two kids. I feel fortunate to have a job that allows me that flexibility and an incredible team that keeps things running smoothly at Nine Naturals, even in my absence. The things that make going back to work easier are things that add convenience and efficiency to my life.”

 

GRACE'S WORKING MOM MUST-HAVES:

  1. Stylish nursing wear for easy access when pumping at the office are a must. I sure as DON'T want to be taking my shirt on and off at the office. My favorites for style and functionality are: the Au Lait Shop Tank and Mitera Collection Charlotte Nursing Dress (pictured above).
  2. A monthly membership to ClassPass. With ClassPass I can pick up a class anywhere in the city at a time and day that works for me. It makes it easier to squeeze in a workout when I have free time.
  3. Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer. A lot has changed in between my two pregnancies -- including new, improved gadgets! The Baby Brezza One Step Sterilizer Dryer sterilizes AND dries your bottles and pump equipment. No more drying rack needed!
  4. A versatile bag that is both fashionable and functional. As a working mom, I'm always on-the-go! I need a bag that can take me from school drop-off to work to kids' activities, while also big enough to carry my laptop, breast pump, diapers and the rest. My friend and fellow working mom, Jocelyn (the founder of the online store Tuckernuck) introduced me to the MZ Wallace Metro Tote. It's the perfect carry-all and made of a lightweight fabric that is water- and stain-resistant.
  5. Meals from Plated. Plated is a weekly meal delivery service that sends you food ingredients and recipes. It takes the stress out of meal planning and I love being able to try new recipes.Get all of Grace's picks here!

JESSICA SHORTALL, author of Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom's Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work.

“With my first child, going back to work sparked in me a really deep, terrifying anxiety. I sobbed while I was still in the hospital, and started having panic attacks while home on leave. I ended up battling postpartum anxiety, triggered by the combination of going back to work and being obsessed with being ‘successful’ at breastfeeding while working long hours and traveling a lot for my job. I couldn't imagine a world in which I wasn't with this baby ALL. THE. TIME. And I agonized over the idea that he'd somehow forget who I was (this is crazy, and did not happen).

The good news is that with my second baby, I didn't have the same demons. I really leaned into that maternity leave...so much snuggling and napping together and binge-watching of Scandal. I worked hard at taking the breastfeeding pressure off of myself, even as I continued to breastfeed as much as I felt was healthy for me.”

JESSICA'S WORKING MOM MUST-HAVES:

      1. Soothing gel pads for your nipples for early breastfeeding. No, this isn't a work thing, but dude: your nipples are really going to hurt at first. I used the Medela kind, and cut them in quarters because they can get pricey. My top hack? Setting them on top of a cup full of ice for a few minutes before applying them. Can you say “ahhhhhhhhhhh”?
      2. Coconut oil. I never used the stuff because I didn't know it was a thing, but apparently pumping women swear by it. You kind of grease the insides of your pump flanges and it makes the whole thing less terrible.
      3. Pump-friendly work clothes. This means crossover tops, wrap dresses (if you're cool with having a very visible post-baby tummy and/or you own stock in Spanx), button-down shirts, shirt dresses, and layered camisoles and tops. You can certainly get dedicated pumping clothes from brands like Loyal Hana (pictured above), or ask from some gift cards from some mainstream stores and go buy some "I still look about 5 months pregnant but I'm not" pumping- and working-friendly clothes.
      4. Pumpin' Pal breast pump flanges. These are compatible with most pumps, either as replacement flanges or to drop into the pump's standard flanges, and I literally don't have the right words to describe how game-changing they are if you're going to be pumping all the time. They hurt less, they minimize spills and drips of milk, and they can even support greater milk output. I've met the founder -- an inventor who was tired of seeing his wife struggle with the lame flanges that most pumps come with -- and he is a great guy who really just wants to help working moms.
      5. Electric Pump. I'm assuming in all of this that the expecting mom's health insurance is going to cover a double-electric breast pump. Obamacare requires most insurance plans to cover a pump, although double electric vs. single manual is not specified, so it can be hit or miss. If I were registering for a pump today, I'd go with the Ardo Calypso. I've never used it myself, but it gets great reviews and it is totally silent...no more lying on conference calls when people ask, "What's that weird sound?"
      6. A My Brest Friend nursing pillow. Get over the silly name and get one of these. It’s so great when your baby is tiny, because it fits snugly against your body so the baby doesn't kind of melt into the crack between the pillow and your body. And the fact that you can buckle it onto yourself and walk around the house (NOT with the baby still on it) makes it kind of amazing.

Get all of Jessica's picks here!

This post was brought to you by Gugu Guru.

Want to win $700 in working mama essentials for your own back to work journey? Enter here!

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're 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 toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

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.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop 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.

$100

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.

$40

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.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

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.

$33

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.

$88

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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 www.comfortsforbaby.com 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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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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