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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.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.

The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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