After going back to work, I now cherish 'boring' days with my baby

We all need a little balance in our lives, and the contrast of mixing it up makes the day-to-day normal that much sweeter.

After going back to work, I now cherish 'boring' days with my baby

These days, Sunday nights include packing many tiny containers full of toddler-friendly finger foods to send with my son for breakfast and lunch the next day.

Sunday nights include trying to fit in one more mini Netflix marathon with my husband before another busy week.

Sunday nights include looking through my planner, figuring out how many errands have to happen this week because if we run errands after work, I can't take my son to the park or the library or for a playdate.

Until recently though, my Sunday nights looked a whole lot different. They frequently included staring at an almost blank calendar, anxiety building about too many hours at home with my baby and no one else to talk to.


I was a stay-at-home mom for the first 15 months of my son's life. I wouldn't trade that time for anything. I know that staying home isn't for everyone, but I truly loved immersing myself in all things baby and watching my son transform so quickly, as only babies do.

Still, there were parts that were hard. It seems like a paradox, but being a stay-at-home mom is incredibly hard work and I also felt like there was so much time to fill in our days together. I hate to say that because I love observing babies and watching their development, but for me at least, it was sometimes true.

I am a homebody by nature, but a rainy week would leave me on edge, feeling like I couldn't spend another hour at home with no one else around without losing my mind.

Even with wonderful mom friends, being a stay-at-home mom at times felt isolating. There were days that were so full of joy that I couldn't imagine being anywhere else, and days that felt so lonely when I couldn't be more grateful for Target and the library, where I could escape to and at least make small talk with a stranger.

I began to think through our weeks and try to plan at least something for every day. If I had a week with no plans it made me anxious. I imagined long days with nothing to break up the time and felt the urge to fill the calendar.

Still, I really did love being a stay-at-home mom. I would probably still be at home with my son if the school where I taught before he was born hadn't contacted me and asked me to come back part-time. It was a hard decision, but I felt pulled to say "yes," even though part of me dreaded and feared the change and the loss of precious time with my little one.

I knew I had to listen to my inner-self and give this a try.

Parts of going back to work were much harder than I expected, but I've also experienced a very welcome shift in how I view an empty calendar. I've had two days off from work recently where we had nothing planned, and instead of seeming "boring," they felt truly luxurious.

A "boring" day means I can probably sleep past 5 am. And more importantly, it means I won't have to wake up my sleeping baby, which makes me feel guilty Every. Single. Time.

A "boring" day means I can take time to cuddle with my son in the morning, rather than rushing to get him up and dressed for the day. It is heart-wrenching when he wants me to cuddle in his bed with him and his favorite stuffed penguin and I have to tell him "no" because we're running late for work.

A "boring" day means we can go for a walk and go to the park and play Legos together, all in one day. A day like that feels so full.

A "boring" day means I can make lunch for us based on what we want to eat, rather than packing it all into his red fox lunchbox the night before. Even with a toddler clinging to my leg, this feels pretty nice.

A "boring day means we can read every book on his bookshelf, and then get more books out of the closet because we have all the time in the world.

A "boring" day means I can spend a little time folding laundry or preparing dinner while my son plays nearby without feeling guilty because I know I still have plenty of time to give him my full attention.

A "boring" day means I can go to story time or a mom meetup, which all seem to be in the morning when I'm usually working.

A "boring" day means I can slow down, and this is what I love most of all. It means we don't have to rush, we don't even have to go anywhere unless we want to. While maybe this used to feel a little bit boring sometimes, it doesn't now—not even a little bit.

It feels amazing to wake up slowly and sip coffee all morning while watching my child play or run around the backyard. It feels… perfect.

Going back to work has made me view our open-ended "boring" days in an entirely new light. This is not to say that being a stay-at-home mom is easier. It isn't. At all. It's just nice to have the contrast.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I enjoyed the days when we were out and about all day and had lots of plans. Now that we're always out, I treasure our time to stay home and do things spontaneously.

So to the mama fighting boredom, watching the clock and ticking down the minutes until bedtime, try to remember the goodness of all of the extra snuggles you're getting. Then make a date with a friend if you can.

We all need a little balance in our lives, and the contrast of mixing it up makes the day-to-day normal that much sweeter.

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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In 2015 a teacher at an elementary school in Wisconsin posted a 'bedtimes by age' chart to Facebook, and parents are still commenting on this post nearly four years later.

The teacher who posted the chart, Stacy Karlsen, didn't create it, she just found it, she told Fox 6 back in 2015. She thought the parents of the 200 or so kids at Wilson Elementary would find the chart as helpful as she did, but the post's viral reach went far beyond her intended audience.

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