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8 working moms share how they find work-life balance

"I set the boundary to focus separately on family and work. My inbox is never empty, but I make sure my computer and iPad are away so I'm not tempted to look at them."

8 working moms share how they find work-life balance

There's no denying that working moms are masters at multitasking. But, between changing diapers, setting up playdates and juggling conference calls, today's career women are struggling to live up to unrealistic work-life balance expectations. Not only are they carpooling, cooking dinner and creating Pinterest-worthy birthday parties. They're also spending countless hours at the office climbing their way up the corporate ladder.

“Expectations are implied through social media like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, as well as TV shows, movies, commercials and billboards," said Lorena Arguello, a marriage and family therapist in Claremont, California. “Sadly, we instantly compare ourselves to each other's ability to have it all. Yet we only see what the mom is choosing to post, not the everyday ups and downs."

We recently chatted with working moms from all walks of life—authors, executives and accountants—about their favorite tips for striking that elusive work-life balance. Here were their key points...

Empower

“I used to feel so guilty because I wasn't available to help out at a pizza party or to pick my kids up. They ride the bus. But someone told me, 'Listen, we need each other. Some moms get the field trip to the UN organized because they've worked there for 20 years. Other moms create magical entryways for the gala because they have more time to create from home. Love thy fellow mother is truly my number one rule." – Kristen Dollard, 41, Brand Director at Yoga Journal, mom to Avery, 10, and Luke, 5

Stay Positive

“I de-friend those friends who drain me with their negative energy. Brutally honest, I know. But you only have so many hours and minutes in each day. Who you choose to surround yourself with really matters. Choose positive!" – Robyn O'Brien, 45, The New York Times bestselling author of The Unhealthy Truth, mom to Lexi, 17, Colin, 16, John, 14, and Tory, 12

Disconnect

“I set the boundary to focus separately on family and work. My inbox is never empty, but I make sure my computer and iPad are away so I'm not tempted to look at them. Once Will goes to sleep, I hop back on email to handle anything that came in since I left or to get a jump on things for the next day, but I cap that at 90 minutes tops. It's hard to disconnect from work, but it keeps me sane." – Jillian Roscoe, 38, Senior Vice President Talent at ID Public Relations, mom to Will, 9 months

Get House Help

“Don't drown yourself in chores. You must enlist help from your husband, babysitters and even kids to keep up with the housework. You are balancing a lot, but chores are something everyone can do!" – Colleen Keilers, 36, Digital Marketing Manager for The Mom Project, mom to Gerald, 4, Noah, 3, and Maddock, 11 months

Order Online

“Delivery apps! Google Express and Amazon Prime Now are my main two. It's key, especially if I'm out of town. I'll cook before I leave, but I like to keep the fridge packed. My oldest is so picky I can always rely on getting some rotisserie chicken and chicken tenders delivered, especially if I'm gone for more than two days." – Mimi Dakar Berry, 40, Vice President and Creative Director for Sonya Dakar Skincare, mom to Jacob, 5, and Eli, 3

Make Choices

“As a working mom of two young boys, I sometimes feel like there is a birthday party every weekend. I have two systems in place to help this stay fun. First, I buy presents in bulk. Secondly, I alternate birthday parties with my husband. If he has work to do, I will take the kids to the party and vice versa." – Desi Bartlett, 45, Celebrity Trainer and Founder of Mothers Into Living Fit, mom to Cruz, 8, and Rocket, 3

Plan Ahead

“I try to work late at night to make up for future lost time. My schedule is not your typical 9-to-5 so I can work around that and plan accordingly. I do have a planner I live by that has everything from what is pending at work to my grocery shopping list. That helps me stay sane!" – Melina Harvey-Read, 33, Senior Accountant for The Mom Project, mom to Lucas, 6, and Louis, 4

Schedule Play Dates

“My favorite way to balance it all is to have lunch outside with the kids during the week. It refreshes me because it's a break from work where I can see my sons. We talk about what they did that morning or what park we will go to before dinner. They go back to a sitter after lunch, but I let her have a little breather while I hang with them." – Nicolette Martin, 34, HR Coordinator, mom to Christopher, 4, and Vincent, 1

The experts agree: Arguello suggested taking a time-out to find your own happy place.

“Balance is something we're always striving towards and it can truly feel elusive," she said. “Factors may include self-care, children, spouse, friends and work. It is definitely our tendency to put self-care last, but caring for ourselves is what makes us a better mother, wife, friend and employee."

Article by Dana Zepeda of The Mom Project.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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