Making working motherhood work: 7 ideas I love

1. When I cook dinner, I make enough for multiple nights.

Making working motherhood work: 7 ideas I love
Let’s do this, baby.

Prior to my son’s birth I was on the receiving end of a lot of advice.

My mother told me how to swaddle a baby and my grandmother explained the importance of newborn mittens. Aunts and cousins shared tips about bedtime and bath time and tummy time and other mom’s, carting their already-born little ones at Babies-R-Us, told me which kinds of breast pads and bottle brushes were the best. Sometimes, strangers on the street even offered unsolicited advice about more personal aspects of parenting such as overcoming the challenges of breastfeeding and post-delivery care.

I thought I’d heard input about just about everything baby related until, almost nine weeks after my son was born, I headed back to work and realized that no one had told me how to make this “working parent” thing work .


In those early days I felt so overwhelmed by the chores and chaos of combining parenthood and work life. It’s taken many, many months to create a routine and a semblance of balance that feels right for my family and, though I often still find myself wishing for just a few more hours in the day, by utilizing the tips below, tips from co-workers and friends and, yes, strangers on the street, I’ve become much more effective at ensuring the time that I do have at home with my son, is as high quality as possible.

Here’s 7 ways we make weeknights work at our house:

When I cook dinner, I make enough for multiple nights

Eating dinner as a family is important to us.

Unfortunately, cooking a high quality meal from start to finish often takes close to an hour, an hour that just doesn’t exist for many parents. To become more efficient in the kitchen, we plan and prepare meals that can be served more than once. Soups, casseroles and pasta meals lend themselves particularly well to freezing or re-purposing.

More home-cooked meals, less work overall for me and my husband. Win-win.

I find outings close to home

I find that as parents, we often fall in to the trap of thinking that the time we spend with our kids is most valuable when they are doing something “special.”

But instead of fighting traffic to get to the best park in town or to the music class three zip codes over, spend time getting to know your neighborhood and stick close to home on weeknights. Libraries, playgrounds, walking trails and restaurants near home can function as weeknight traditions that allow you to spend more time interacting with your little one and less time stuck in the car.

Put chores in their proper place

Most parents will attest to the fact that their home was a little bit neater before their baby arrived.

Not only do babies, and all their equipment, often create messes, they also demand the time parents likely used to spend cleaning.

Trying to clean with a baby on your hip or a toddler tugging at your skirt is frustrating and unpleasant, instead of trying to clean when the kids are awake, so my husband and I committed to spending 30 minutes each evening doing chores as soon as the kids go to bed.

Though half an hour probably won’t leave your house sparkling, it will keep it in good working order until you have a bit more time on the weekends.

Do your to do list—with baby

Even after adjusting expectations and cutting out as many chores as possible, there are some things that parents simply have to get done.

As frustrating as last minute errands or unexpected messes can be, I try to adjust my mindset and view them as opportunities to spend time with or teach something to my little one.

A last minute trip to the grocery store can become a lesson in colors, numbers, fruits and vegetables and cleaning up the spilled Cheerios can become a tasty sensory play lesson session. (Hey, a mom can dream.)

Make bedtime extra special

Bedtime can be frustrating to me as a working mother. Not only do I want my baby to get enough rest, but most of us the time after their little one’s go to sleep to finish work, clean up or prep meals for the next day.

In our family, we’ve worked hard to eliminate bedtime frustrations by creating a routine that is not only effective for helping our son sleep, but that is an enjoyable capstone on a busy day that everyone can look forward to.

Keep it simple, a bath a story a song and a snuggle, and in time both mama and child will appreciate the special, sleepy bonding time.

When you're present, be present

Sometimes working parents like me need to use their devices in the evenings, but most of the time I try to put it away to be truly present with my son.

This has been such a good experience for our family that I definitely encourage other friends to put their phones away from when they get home after work until baby goes to bed.

Time between parent and child is precious, removing screens lets everyone get as much as they can from that special time.

Keep a running list of quick, quality activities

Weeknights are not the time for elaborate sensory play or for activities that take longer to set up than the child will play with them.

I try to make the most of the 20 minutes it takes for dinner to bake or the 15 I have before bedtime by keeping a list of quick, quality activities and by keeping the supplies accessible.

A few much-loved shorter activities in our home include playing with the water table, taking a walk around the block, painting with watercolors or Skyping with grandma and grandpa.

Plus I love seeing my little guy light up with all these (easy) activities.

It makes all the hard work—all worth it.

Julia Pelly has a masters degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. She is currently writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood and sisterhood. Julia lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and son.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

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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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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What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

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