Why I’m not judging the mama on her smartphone

We are all doing the very best we can within our own unique situations. 

Why I’m not judging the mama on her smartphone

For #MotherlyStories | I’ve decided to give mamas with smartphones a break.

I’ve read a lot about how distracted we are by technology—in fact, I see it frequently in my own life.

I’ve spent hours feeling guilty about doing work during my daughter’s ballet class, or peeking at social media at the playground. I do believe that our children benefit when we are interacting with them rather than merely monitoring them.

And if we want to stand a chance of teaching our children to keep technology in its proper place—if we want to raise a generation that has self-control when it comes to technology—then yes, we do need to model that ourselves as mamas.

But I’ve come to believe that we just need to give the mom with a cell phone a break.

That mama on her cell phone?

She has been actively engaging her child for the last 6 hours straight and just wants a quick 10 minutes to zone out while her child plays in a safe place.

She’s browsing Facebook for a few minutes to regain that bit of sanity that will carry her through the end of the day.

That mother checking Instagram?

She just folded laundry through nap time because she knew she would never get it done otherwise.

And just when she had a moment to sit down, naptime was over.

She doesn’t have time to sleep when the baby sleeps, so for her, a mental break will be restful.

And taking care of mama, well that’s good for baby, too.

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That woman sifting through emails?

She’s a work-at-home-mom who juggles parenting with running a business.

She might have to send her kids to a babysitter if she couldn’t access work through her phones.

She might be a bit distracted now, but is so happy to know that she will be the ones who tuck in her own kids at nap time, kiss boo boos, and walk her little one through their daily teachable moments.

This is how she provides balance for her family.

Personally, I’m in the busy working mom boat, but my smartphone is about more than just balancing my work day with my family life.

You’ll also find me on my phone searching Pinterest for teacher/class gifts at the last minute, looking up recipes for dinner, researching various symptoms my children present at any given time, and, without a doubt, handing my phone right over to my kids to prevent meltdowns at the pediatrician’s office or any time a restaurant visit runs long.

If I didn’t have the flexibility of a mobile office, my daughter would be sitting in preschool while I was sitting at a desk.

We would not be having a special treat together after class or discussing her dreams of owning her own salon (or bakery or cupcake shop where she could sing all day) when she grows up.

My cell is more than a phone; it as a tool, a resource, and yes, occasionally an escape or even a babysitter.

But for the most part, my phone does not parent my children, and my use of it does not make me a bad mother.

I do feel the guilt, though, so I often remind myself that everything today is accessed by our cell phones.

I don’t recall anyone giving my mother’s generation a hard time for reading the newspaper or searching the Betty Crocker cookbook for dinner ideas.

Moms today are simply doing the same thing via a different platform.

We are all doing the very best we can within our own unique situations.

We should all absolutely put down the technology in lieu of real, human interaction every chance we have, but let’s not feel bad about ourselves as mothers if we pick up a cell phone for a few minutes here and there.

So next time another mother picks up her smartphone on the playground, or searches a recipe in the grocery store, or checks her email in the check-out line, I’m dropping the judgment.

You do what you need to do, mama.

Jennifer Gottschalk is a sales rep, mama, and blogs at Baby Steps in High Heels.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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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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