How to travel for work after baby—and survive (and sleep!)

“My heart and body physically ached at leaving him longer than an 8 hour work day.”

How to travel for work after baby—and survive (and sleep!)

Writing this post from a quiet hotel room in Chicago, I feel like I’ve come full circle.

My very first work trip away from my baby 3+ years ago was here, to Chi-Town.

My son was 6 months old, I did a whirlwind 36 hour trip to give a talk at a conference, and I was undeniably a hot mess.

My heart and body physically ached at leaving him longer than an 8 hour work day.

I remember staring longingly at any airplane-bound baby. . . sobbing uncontrollably in the airport bathroom. . .and pumping while sitting in my airplane seat.

(Yes, that was incredibly awkward, but I couldn’t figure out where else to do it, and I was leaking…)

At that point, my son wasn’t interested in taking a bottle from anyone but his daycare teachers, so I wasn’t even sure he would eat while I was away.


And while everyone told me “at least you’ll sleep the night!” that simply wasn’t true, as I needed to interrupt my sleep at some crazy hour to pump.

When my talk was over, I literally ran to a taxi, feeling that sense of “must be with my heartthrob NOW” urgency one feels in the first few months of falling in love.

My little trip was just that— little. But it felt like a huge deal at the time. I couldn’t even fathom how some of my friends with little babies had gone away longer—for days or weeks—and further—some traveling internationally with coolers of dry ice to bring home their pumped milk.

When I went away on longer trips, I was lucky enough to be able to bring my little guy with me (my husband has a flexible schedule so could watch him during my conferences).

And while bringing the baby has its own set of challenges, they don’t include missing him desperately or pumping gallons of milk.

Things change as our kiddos grow, of course.

Mine are now 1½ and 3½, and now that (a) I’m past the hormonal issues associated with giving birth and breastfeeding; and (b) have been sleep-deprived for going on 4 years now, I have a very different perspective on work travel.

Now I can sleep the night in a gloriously comfortable hotel bed.

Now I can enjoy a nice, long, meeting-free, mommy-request-free airplane ride.

And now I can leave my children cards and notes and do FaceTime with them in a way that’s meaningful.

This morning they waved and blew kisses to me as I got into my taxi.

And tonight, while I miss them, I will revel in a night of cocktails with colleagues followed by 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep.

So if you’re planning to take a business trip without baby after your return to work, here’s what I recommend:

Focus on the good things

A photo posted by brunoszka (@brunoszka) on

If your baby is tiny, the best thing about your trip may be that your baby gets to bond with someone else.

And that someone else may get to learn a few things about caring for baby and holding down the fort that they didn’t know.

(These are things you can and should continue to rely on them for even after you get home!)

Breathe in deeply the change of scenery

A photo posted by brunoszka (@brunoszka) on

Been sitting in your house with baby for a few months while on leave?

Tired of the stacks of paper in your office?

Focus on the work trip as a way to awaken your senses to something new.

To breathe in some new and different air and sights.

Sneak in some self-care

A photo posted by brunoszka (@brunoszka) on

On work travel, I’ve managed to “sneak” in everything from a pedicure, to a walk on the beach, to a nap, to a yoga class, to some shopping, to a Broadway show.

I also like to bring my journal with me – nearly all my journal entries since having children have been written from airports.

Be present to your feelings

A photo posted by brunoszka (@brunoszka) on

No use fighting them.

Just feel.

Take them in.

And keep moving through them.

Today at the airport, I wanted to scoop up a little toddler stranger and kiss him, which told me yes, I miss my boys.

It’s okay to acknowledge the missing.

And then when that feeling has passed, it’s okay to feel good about taking time for yourself and your career.

Know that baby will be FINE

On that first trip I took, it turns out my son didn’t drink anything for about 12+ hours.

And then he caved, of course, and guzzled a few bottles of milk when he got desperate.

You’ve inevitably left the baby with a competent caregiver—so trust that all will be well.

And on the flip side, if you’re thinking about bringing your baby with you on the trip, and you can swing it, my advice is to go for it now!

Before she can run and raise hell on an airplane.

Or before he reaches an age where routine is absolutely king.

Or before you have a second kid, making the whole prospect of traveling with them make you crave a blissfully quiet trip alone.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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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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