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“To succeed you have to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of producing—a task that requires depth.”
Cal Newport

Three pages into Cal Newport’s newest book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World my phone rings in the other room.

Whoops. Not off to a good start.

I walk over and turn it on silent before heading back to my reading chair. I lean forward and close out all of my open windows on my laptop—Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, my blog’s dashboard. After a moment I lean forward again and close my computer for good measure.

As a self-proclaimed master of multitasking (aren’t all moms?), I was dreading that the “rules” on the pages that followed would be a collection of criticisms accompanied by unrealistic suggestions on how to follow them. I mean, how am I supposed to get everything done in a day without multitasking?

What I found instead was a thought provoking, albeit challenging guide for finding success without giving up my multitasking ways completely. I learned that by incorporating regular “deep work” into our lives, we find purpose and productivity that ultimately brings us happiness. Well, I definitely want to be happy.

So what is deep work? Newport defines it as:

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.”

His assertion is that deep work in incredibly rare and valuable in the workplace, so by honing in the ability to do deep work you will find both a more meaningful career—and some serious job security.

As a working mom, I read the book with my “work” hat on, but quickly began to think about how Newport’s concepts would greatly benefit me if applied at home—where I do a majority of my multitasking. (There’s some pretty solid parenting advice to be found, as well).

Here are 6 takeaways from Newport’s book that will help you go deep to be a better mom, a sought after employee and a more successful person.

1. Ditch distractions

You get settled at your desk with a fresh cup of coffee and immediately start scrolling through emails. You reply to a few then open up the project you were working on yesterday. Your computer pings so you hop back over to your email and type out a quick response before returning your attention. This happens a few more times and by the end of the hour all you’ve accomplished is a handful of insignificant emails.

Now imagine that you sat down at your desk and spent a solid hour straight plugging away at that project. I’m willing to bet that time would have been much more productive without the distraction of email.

While working moms will find it difficult to remove the infinite distractions to focus at the office, moms who work from home or take care of their children full time might find it nothing short of impossible. (In fact, when Newport first introduced the idea of “uninterrupted concentration” I about laughed out loud because hardly a bathroom visit can go by uninterrupted in my house.)

I would argue, however, that much of our stress as moms is self-imposed from these types of distractions (don’t get me wrong—motherhood is hard). We crowd our day with guilt and obligations and it doesn’t leave enough room for fun and productivity. You can’t enjoy an afternoon at the park with your child if you’re on your phone the whole time or distracted by what you’re going to make for dinner.

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2. Be busy no more

There’s a quote out there in cyberspace that says “You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé.” Look at the empire she was able to build (with a lot of help, no doubt) in twenty-four hours a day just like the rest of us mere mortals! My guess would be that Bey doesn’t complain much about a busy schedule, but that she is incredibly strict with how she spends her time so that she’s productive.

Busyness seems to have become synonymous with motherhood to the extent that when many of us are asked how we’re doing, we reply that we’re “staying busy.”

But what are we busy doing? If you just spent an hour on Facebook before reading this article (no judgment!), Newport would call this “busyness as a proxy for productivity.”

While a number of mom-duties are undeniably unavoidable (picking up your kid from school, for example), it’s worth taking a closer look to determine if any changes can be made to alleviate the busyness feeling. Keep a journal for a week so you can look at where your time is spent, and then make some choices (which may mean your kid takes the bus or you set up a carpool rotation), so that your schedule reflects what really matters to make your life productive and meaningful, and not just busy.

3. Take control of your time

When I finally got to the part of Newport’s book where he talked about how to go deep and he brought up time blocking (he calls them “task blocks”), I got really motivated. If moms know how to do anything, it’s schedule a calendar. But time blocking means much more than making sure your daughter doesn’t forget about her dentist appointment.

Time blocking is designed to protect your time.

For example, when I started working from home in January I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sit at my computer five days a week without engaging with the outside world beyond the scope of email; however, if I was out and about meeting with people at coffees and lunches every day, I would never get any work done. So I quite literally block time (I used Google calendar, because it creates actual blocks and can be color coded and shared as needed) for various work projects that have to get done. Other blocks are set for meeting with people outside of the home (as needed), multitasking (yes, multitasking!) through minor tasks like replying to emails and social media comments, and even taking breaks for lunch or a quick workout.

Be strict with your time blocking, whether you chose a set schedule for the week (waking up at 5 a.m. each morning to work out before the kids are up) or if it varies from day to day (Mondays are my tush-glued-to-my-desk to write days) and ask others to respect your time, as well.

4. Practice disconnecting regularly

Have you ever left your phone at home for the day when out running errands or in the office all day? Did you completely panic and feel naked and alone? Or were you calm and maybe, dare I say it, relieved that you were temporarily unreachable and undistracted?

I must admit that even though I feel a pang of nervousness that the day my phone is missing from my side will be the day there is an emergency phone call from my kids’ school, I usually love the relief that I get from (temporarily) not being constantly connected.

When I came across Newport’s chapter called “Quit Social Media” however I thought I was going to have to stop reading. (I’m a digital marketer and blogger for goodness sake!) Newport quickly clarifies that he’s not leading the revolution to end social media (or the Internet), rather he encourages us all to give ourselves plenty of opportunities to resist it. In others words, trying leaving your phone at home.

The problem with constantly being tuned in to social media and infotainment sites like BuzzFeed and Huffington Post is that it takes us away from more meaningful interactions like reading a book, lunch with a friend, or a puzzle with your child.

As Newport said in Deep Work, “your world is the outcome of what you pay attention to.” Do you really want that to be your Twitter feed?

5. Shut down completely

It’s likely that if you have young kids in your house like I do that you’ve given them a bedtime, right? We don’t impose an arbitrary time just so we can kick back with a glass of wine for some alone time (okay, maybe that’s part of the reason); we have a set bedtime because we know that our kids need a certain amount of sleep to perform their best the following day.

As adults, we’re less likely to take care of ourselves in this way.

What Newport is talking about is more than just a bedtime (although I’m betting he clocks a healthy number of z’s per night). It’s a “shut down” time. It’s the time when you say I have done all I can do today (so long mountain of laundry), and focus on recharging for the next day.

Whether leaving work at work when you head home at 5:30 p.m. and resisting the temptation to log back in when the kids are asleep, or walking away from the household chores you’ve yet to tackle, it’s having the willpower to shut down (and not just right before bed) and stay down (don’t even peek at that email inbox!) so that you can get back to performing your best tomorrow.

6. Create a Routine

Speaking of willpower, it turns out that we have a limited amount of this self-determination that becomes depleted as we use it. Newport compares it to a muscle that tires, but I’d prefer to think of it as our resolve to resist our children’s whining.

What’s the best way to not cave into a tantrum-thrower?

To have routines—and stick to them.

Our willpower to battle our children over bedtime, for example, is quickly drained if there isn’t a bedtime routine and a practiced response to any disputes. Routines give kids (and adults) a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.

This is Newport’s case in a nutshell when it comes to deep work: you have to do it habitually, which starts by incorporating it into your daily routine.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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