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The Upsides of Having a Partner Who Travels for Work

My husband has been traveling a lot for work over the past two years. And it’s interesting, especially when you have a kid. It would be interesting if we didn’t have a kid, but of course in that case, I wouldn’t be nearly so homebound. (It’s also a real reminder to all of us who usually have a co-parent how hard single parents work EVERY DAMN DAY.)

So, yeah, I’m psyched for my partner and the helpful opportunities his work travel brings and the intellectually stimulating times he gets to have in other cities around the country and the uninterrupted nights of sleep in hotel rooms and the uninterrupted meals with other writers and the long quiet plane flights during which he can read an entire New Yorker or just watch “Moana” (again) on the free TV.

On the other hand, see everything in the previous sentence. He was gone last summer for five weeks and I know it wasn’t easy for him – the job he was doing was tough and he missed us – but it definitely felt less easy for the person back at home, (me!) But work puts food on the table and travel is often inevitable, so, in that spirit, I give you some of the upsides, if, like me, you need a little help spinning it:

You can watch whatever TV you want at night.

After the requisite 75 minute toddler bedtime routine/relay-for-one, involving demands for water, admonishments about how there will be no more water, an explanation of why sleep is necessary, ten additional hugs, a long silence during which sleep seems imminent, followed immediately by the declaration that someone has been cutting up a storybook and just wants to let you know, then it’s time to PARTY ALONE IN YOUR SILENT APARTMENT.

You can watch whatever you want, if you still have the fortitude and interest in staying awake. I sometimes make it through half of the Season 2 Pie episode of the Great British Baking Show before collapsing on top of a heap of unfolded laundry. It’s really liberating.

Dinner is a snap.

So is breakfast and lunch, if your partner happens to travel on weekends and you’ve got no babysitter or childcare provider to help with a meal or two. Instead of trying to provide a big wholesome meal for two adults and however many children, you can simply eat the remains of your children’s noodles with butter and peas and feel superb about your carbon footprint.

Who hasn’t let ease beat nutrition for 24 hours or 48 or however many hours one’s blood sugar stays stable enough to make decisions for? Who doesn’t love to eat all of the olives and spinach and broccoli off someone’s slice of pizza because they otherwise will not consume it? Who doesn’t love making a breakfast smoothie out of frozen strawberries, a lot of ice, and a little ice cream because someone forgot to go to the grocery store in advance?

You get to showcase your super-parent skills during meltdowns.

No matter how many family members, friends, and neighbors offer and provide help during your partner’s trips away, a meltdown can often only be handled by the parent who has not left town: you. This serves as a fun opportunity to show yourself and the whole world and the whole block or the whole coffee shop or the whole YMCA how great you are at being patient but firm in times of minor crisis.

Perhaps he’ll beg desperately for a cookie immediately after he’s eaten a chocolate croissant. Perhaps, when you refuse to give him quarters for those toy machines outside the bodega, he will fall to the pavement and then call out to a stranger on the street, “Can you help me?” Perhaps, if you’re especially lucky, your kid will go totally limp and scream for the parent who isn’t there. No matter what fun he has in store, you will handle it because you have to because, as you know, no one else can do it for you.

You and your kid might actually have a good time together.

If your partner travels enough, this will happen for sure. Cool things will happen, like your kid will devour half of your spinach omelet without asking you to remove the spinach and it will endear you so much, you’ll forget how hungry you were. You will get stuck in a thunderstorm together and your kid will grab onto your soaked legs and look up at you with so much hope and desperation, you will think, yes, I can protect you from absolutely anything and I will.

Maybe in the middle of the night, your kid will climb into your bed and, uncharacteristically, sleep until after 8, and when he wakes up, his first words will be, “Mommy, I saw a bird,” because there is a bird right outside your window. The world will feel quiet and fine, and, for a moment, simple – and yours and his for the enjoying.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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