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Early to rise or night owl?: How more mamas are rocking careers on their own schedules

First: ladies, let’s talk PUMPING.

Not as in, “Pump up the jam,” though that would spectacularly fun, but as in, pump up the boobie milk. 85% of mothers in the U.S. pump at some point (source.), and, let’s be honest mamas, it can be completely unglamorous and inconvenient.


But, if you want to return to the workforce, or enjoy a few hours away from your baby, a breast pump is pretty much a necessity.

Current models are loud, have bottles that hang off the end of your breasts (as if you needed another reason to feel cow-like), and are the furthest thing from discreet.

Enter Babyation, a brand committed to creating a discreet, quiet breast pump. After all, "Shouldn't the breast pump be as elegant as an iPhone and quiet as a Prius by now?"

Ahem—we agree.

Sam Rudolph, co-founder of Babyation, came up with the idea of making a smart breast pump before she and her husband even had babies. It was natural for her—Sam couldn’t understand why the technology hadn’t evolved in so long. It seemed ridiculous!

Now, with an 18-month old son of her own, she’s realized that running a business with a baby is a whole different ball game.

Read on to discover 5 things Sam didn’t know about being a mom + running a killer business at the same time—

In Sam’s own words:

1. I’m better at work because I’m a mom.

Those good mommy hormones definitely relaxed me! I’m more patient, and I think my communication skills have improved.

I have less time than I did before my son Exton was born, but that also means I have less time to waste.

Now, I’m smarter in how I prioritize.

During the really busy weeks, I sometimes think about how much easier things would be if I were building this company pre-baby. And while my life would be undoubtedly less chaotic, the company is better because I’m a mom. It’s impossible to fully solve the problem if you haven’t experienced the need first-hand.

2. You need to find your motivation.

Running a startup is hard, and raising a toddler is hard, and doing them at the same time takes a special kind of crazy! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a privilege to do what I’m doing, and I couldn’t do it without our gifted team.

Every day, we hear from moms who tell us how our breast pump will make their lives easier or better. Those emails motivate us to push ourselves harder. They inspire us to stay up later, to work harder and to do whatever we can to make this business successful.

3. 4 am is a perfectly acceptable time to be working

We live in a 24/7 world. As far as I’m concerned, unless you’re working on a shift or something that is tied to an event/meeting with a specific start time, there is no good or bad time to be working—they’re all up for grabs!

That also means that, in my book, it’s acceptable to take time for the things that are important to you…as long as you’re getting your work done. My first job out of college was at ESPN, and I worked the 5pm-2am shift for years. That really set my internal clock, and because of that, I’ve never been an early riser. I’m usually home for my son’s bedtime, and then I basically put in almost another full workday. It’s great—I’m usually trading emails with various team members until about midnight, and then I turn my attention to projects or planning. It’s quiet, and I can start ticking things off my to-do list.

The best part about 4am is that it allows me to overlap with both the night owls and the early risers, and it’s really accommodating for time zones across the world!

4. Skills translate!

Even though Babyation and ESPN seem very different, it’s amazing how many similarities there are. Both are focused on serving their audiences and on building a strong brand. Both leverage technology to create incredible products and experiences. And both require talented multi-disciplinary teams and subject matter experts on a daily basis.

Just because you haven’t yet done something doesn’t mean you aren’t imminently qualified to do it. It just means that you need to understand how your past experiences can contribute to your future successes.

5. The tribe of mom bosses is real.

One of the biggest surprises for me has been that there is a real sisterhood in entrepreneurship, especially among female founders. In the corporate world, we hear so many stories about how women don’t pull each other up, and my experience with Babyation has been the complete opposite. I think it’s one of the unsung stories in the startup world, and it’s so important.

Beyond other founders, I’ve been so impressed by the women I’ve met since we began this company. They are intelligent, insightful, helpful, and most importantly, willing to share their expertise and offer advice. Strangers have given their time, their networks and their skills to help us be successful. It really does take a village.

One last thought…

You do you.

There is so much judgment around moms and women in general…especially around the topic of work. I’m a firm believer in doing what’s right for you. I think that if we’re capable of raising another human being, then we are capable of making the decisions that are right for us.

Want more from Sam?

She was lovely enough to answer five “Motherly” questions for us!

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

Sam Rudolph: Coffee! But I’m afraid I don’t have great advice beyond caffeine. Neither my husband, Jared, nor I are morning people, so getting out the door is always a struggle. We’re lucky in that we can normally stagger when we leave, so we have a little buffer. One of us can get ready, while the other feeds and dresses Exton. Then we switch. We’ve gotten spoiled; it’s definitely dicey if one of us has an early meeting!

The life hack or tip that has changed my life...

Sam Rudolph: I’m a big fan of Asana to help manage tasks, projects and calendars. I resisted it for a long time, but it really does help with workflow.

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

Sam Rudolph: I make breastmilk! I’m constantly amazed that my body creates food for another human being. I keep meaning to create a quote for Instagram that says “I make milk. What’s your super power?” I think this article might be just the push I need to actually do it!

This quote inspires me...

“For every obstacle, there is a solution: over, under, around, or through.”

Sam Rudolph: This has been my mantra since high school, and I just love it. Recently though, I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack a lot, and another quote has resonated:

“When you knock me down, I get the — back up again.”

I think resilience is an underrated quality. We all have bad days, setbacks and disappointments. How we react and respond is really defining.

To me "motherly" means…

Sam Rudolph: Nurturing others as they discover and become their best selves.

Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

Our Partners

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 Comfortsforbaby.com 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.

Our Partners

A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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