14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If you are a parent with a baby that is more than a month old, you have probably heard about the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3).  This is a questionnaire that you will fill out every couple of months for your baby for the first five years, and it’s designed to screen for developmental delays.  The questions center around development in skills separated into 5 categories – communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social.  Each category contains 6 skills and asks you to rank each one on whether your child does it always, sometimes or not yet.  The score for each category is compared to what is considered average for a child of the same age.  It then is easy to tell if your child is at risk or falling behind in a certain category. 

While all the categories are important, this article answers the question “how to help baby develop gross motor skills” by focusing on activities that can be used to improve gross motor skill development in babies up to 18 months old.

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

My son is one of those kids that is overly cautious and not into working any harder than necessary.  The result is that he has been behind in gross motor skill development pretty chronically for the first 1.5 years of his life despite being on track for the other 4 ASQ-3 categories. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some activities to incorporate to encourage the development of these important skills.  However, before you start, you will want to figure out what motivates your child.  For my son, food and car keys were the ultimate motivators.  Other items just didn’t hold enough appeal to get him to do things he didn’t want to.

Babies Not Yet Crawling

If your baby isn’t crawling yet, then focus on activities that build a strong motor skill base.

            Tummy Time

Tummy time is important from birth.  This is the first type of exercise baby will do start working on those motor skills.  If your baby hates tummy time, don’t be disheartened.  There are ways to do modified tummy time to get baby used to the idea.  Some ways to modify include using a Boppy pillow to prop baby’s chest up and laying on your back and putting baby on your chest.  These methods get baby off her back and used to being on her stomach.  However, it’s important to eventually progress to traditional tummy time for the full benefits.  You should aim for increasing amounts of tummy time (at least 30 to 60 minutes a day), but this can be broken down into sessions that are only a couple of minutes long.  Doing a minute or two of tummy time after every diaper change is a way to get in some good practice.


            Rolling

Rolling is one of the first major gross motor milestones.  Lots of tummy time helps encourage this skill, but once baby develops it, keep encouraging rolling.  Rolling is a great way for baby to start getting from point A to point B before crawling, and all that rolling helps further strengthen the abdominal muscles which are important for the upcoming gross motor milestones.

Baby rolling over to reach a toy is a great way to encourage motor skill development.

            Sitting

Baby will likely want to sit and look around well before she is actually able to stay upright on her own.  Encourage this by sitting baby on the floor between your legs.  Let her use your legs to help balance.  Slowly decrease the amount of support you provide and see how long she can sit before you need to help her rebalance.  At first this will be exhausting for baby but doing this consistently will quickly build up her stamina.

Baby sitting in a Bumbo seat to strengthen gross motor skills.

            Kneeling

Once baby has the core strength to roll over and stay sitting on his own, you can start encouraging him being on his knees.  There are a few ways to go about doing this.  An activity table is great because it’s low enough that baby can kneel and reach the buttons.  However, it’s too high to reach them while sitting.  Putting baby on his knees to balance against the table and play helps him get used to supporting his weight with his knees which is important for crawling. 

You can also help baby get into a crawling position and hold the hands and knees pose for a minute.  This can be done by helping to support baby’s legs in the crawling position and gradually decrease the support as baby gets stronger.

Baby kneeling by a play table helps get him ready to crawl.

            Jumperoos

Jumperoos can be fun for babies as they start to reach the point of having enough core strength to sit up.  These encourage putting weight on the legs and bending the knees to bounce.  However, keep in mind that while the legs get stronger, the support provided by the jumperoo is enough that core strength isn’t developed as much, so it’s important to encourage core strength development through other methods.

Note: Some babies are very interested and willing to get moving.  However, others are more reluctant and would prefer to have mom and dad (or older siblings) move them from point A to B.  Pay attention to your baby’s personality and know that you may have to let him struggle for a bit to learn that he is capable of moving himself.  With my son, he learned to roll, sit and stand while leaning against something.  However, he had no desire to move himself from laying to sitting or sitting to standing. 

A baby sitting in a Jumperoo and smiling.

Babies That Are Crawling (or close to it)

            Encourage Pulling To Stand

Before baby can walk, he has to be able to stand.  Some babies quickly figure out that they can get into a lot more trouble by pulling up on coffee tables and grabbing papers, cell phones or food.  However, if your child is more hesitant, pull out the super desirable object you identified at the beginning and place it on a low table.  Make sure your child is sitting near the table and knows the object is there. For some children that may be enough to entice them to stand.


Couch Climbing

If your baby isn’t willing to pull up on a coffee table, you may need to start with a lower object.  In this case, remove your couch cushion.  Sit baby on the floor by the cushion-less couch and use your tempting object to convince baby to pull up.  You may need to provide a little boost, and that’s okay.  Keep trying and each time provide a little less help.  Chances are good, baby will figure out he actually is capable of doing it himself. 

Once your child is pulling up, you can still use the cushion-less couch trick to teach baby to climb onto things.  A couch without a cushion is the perfect height for a new climber to gain some confidence.


            Playgrounds

Climbing is great for babies to continue developing their gross motor skills.  Playgrounds with play equipment involving steps, tunnels and slides are great for encouraging your child to explore, navigate different terrain and work on those climbing skills.  I suggest finding a playground that has separate play areas for little kids versus older kids.  This seems to keep a slower paced area that is safe for your little one to play without getting trampled by the bigger kids.  These little kid play areas are usually shorter which makes it easier for you to stay close and offer a helping hand while keeping your feet on the ground.

If you are struggling with bad weather, don’t forget to look for indoor playground options.  Many fast food restaurants and shopping malls have indoor play areas.  Many cities have indoor play centers of various designs as well.  These places can be great for getting energy out of a new mover on a rainy day.

Toddler playing at a playground.  Playgrounds are a great way to encourage gross motor skill development.

            Push Toys

Sometimes our kids are reluctant to walk because they lack confidence.  Push toys can be great for strengthening the walking muscles but still providing a secure, supportive feeling.  I really like this Melissa and Doug Alligator Push Toy as a starter push toy.  It’s solid and sturdy which provides a lot of support.  However, once walking with this got easy, a plastic push lawn mower was a good next step.  The plastic push toy wasn’t as stable, so it required more self-support from my son. 

I suggest incorporating a walk with the push toy into your daily routine.  We started walking down the street every day after I got home from work.  My son would push his toy down the sidewalk, and I would supervise and make sure he stayed on the sidewalk.  This helped him develop the necessary muscles while still feeling secure.  I found walking outside was more effective than inside because inside he kept running into things and would quickly get frustrated.


            Toys Requiring Hands-Free Standing

Toys that require your toddler to stand without holding own are great for distracting them enough that they will stand without support.  We got a plastic t-ball set that my son was intrigued by enough that he would stand and take an occasional step without any support. 


            Shopping Carts

This goes along with encouraging more walking.  Some stores have kid-sized carts that are just the right height.  However, if your local stores don’t have these tiny carts, kids can still help push the full-sized cart.  You will need to help, but pushing a big cart makes your toddler feel important and gets in valuable walking muscle exercise while you are shopping.


            Walking While Holding A Hand

Once our son would walk while holding someone’s hand, we started having him walk everywhere holding a hand.  When we went to the store, we would have him walk from the car into the store while holding our hands.  When we run errands, he spends a lot of time in a car seat, so this routine helps him get exercise while we get things done. 

We found that this, plus daily push toy walks and pushing the shopping carts really helped him get the confidence to take his first steps.


            Walking On Uneven Ground

Walking on surfaces that are completely (or almost) flat and hard is a great way to start.  However, to up the difficulty level for your little one that doesn’t want to let go of your hand, go for some uneven surfaces.  Walking through the grass or on the mulch at a playground is a great way to work on stabilizing muscles.


            Tempt the First Steps

Eventually, your little one will need to get brave and take the first unsupported steps.  You will start to notice when your child is ready to take the first steps and just needs to develop the confidence.  This is where you can pull out the shiny object you identified above.  Tempt your child with something they love but usually can’t play with, but only allow them to have it if they are standing unsupported.  You can also encourage them to step forward one or two steps to reach it.  Just make sure that you do provide the reward and let your child play with the object.

We did this with our son and car keys.  We went into the middle of the room and stood him up, then gave him the keys and let him stand on his own.  He was so entertained that he forgot that he wasn’t holding onto anything.  When he would realize and sit down, the keys went away, and we would start over.  We then started getting him to take one or two steps to get the keys.  Once we did that a couple of times, he suddenly realized he could walk and started walking everywhere.

Toddler standing up and looking in a wallet.

Did your child take off walking early or were they a late walker?  What worked for you to encourage gross motor skills?

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How To Manage Living Far From Family When You Have a Newborn

How To Manage Living Far From Family When You Have a Newborn

Depending on who you ask, it can be a blessing or a curse to live far from family when you have a baby.  I spent an entire post outlining the pros and cons of having a baby when you live far from family. However, it may be the situation you find yourself in.  Here are tips for labor, delivery and postpartum when you live far from your family.

How To Manage Living Far From Family When You Have a Newborn

You probably don’t need your family there while you are in the hospital.

Your due date is really just a guess on when your baby will be born.  In reality, it will likely fall somewhere in a 4 to 5-week range.  This can make it really hard for family to plan travel to be there precisely when you are in labor without risking missing the baby entirely. 

Also, while you are in the hospital, you have your husband to help and an entire team of nurses and doctors taking care of your every need.  We didn’t even change a diaper until we got home because the nurses did it every time.  Depending on if you have a natural birth or C-section and what complications occur, you will be kept in the hospital anywhere from 24 hours to 4 + days after giving birth.  There really isn’t much for your family to do other than be in a cramped room.  To solve this, ask your doctor how fast past your due date they will let you go prior to induction.  Have the first family visit take place a week after that date.  This will ensure that baby is here and you are home prior to having family come.


Take advantage of family visits. 

When you live far from family, they are likely planning to visit for a week or more at a time to make the trip worth it.  Take advantage of this to have round-the-clock help.  I wanted my mom to be the first to come visit, and my mother-in-law to be second.  Therefore, I had my mom come 2 weeks after my due date (based on the above formula).  She stayed for 2 weeks.  Then my mother-in-law came and stayed for a week.  During this time, I pumped enough to have a bottle prepared prior to bed each night.  Then our moms would get up with the baby for the 6am feeding.  They were already awake because of the time difference, and it gave us a solid 6 hours of sleep before I needed to be up for another feeding.  The result was we felt pretty human the entire first month.

photo of a grandma with her newborn grandson who is yawning

Practice going out while you have help. 

While you have family visiting, go out to eat, go to church, go to the mall, etc.  Use the extra set of hands to help while you are learning how to juggle a newborn and everything that goes with a baby.  Make sure to get all my tips for going out with a newborn.


Plan for time without family prior to going back to work. 

If you will be returning to work after having a baby, you will want a week or two right before you go back where you don’t have family visiting.  This gives you, your husband and your baby time to figure out a routine that will work.  Check out my other tips for returning to work after maternity leave to make your transition as smooth as possible.


Schedule family visits with a buffer in between. 

When our son was born, the day my mom left, we dropped her at the airport in the morning and picked my mother-in-law up a few hours later.  In hindsight, it really would have helped to have at least a 24-hour buffer to adjust.  I was still emotional from my mom leaving, and not mentally ready for another visitor that fast.  I also wanted time to just hold my son and let him sleep on me without having to share him with family.


Plan the next visit before the current one ends. 

With the emotions after birth, it can be difficult saying goodbye to family.  I found it was easier to know when we would see each other again before the current trip ended.  Sometimes this was our family visiting again, other times, we visited them, or sometimes we met somewhere in the middle for an extended weekend.


Estimate how much time your guests will want you to entertain them versus entertaining themselves or simply being happy to take care of the new baby. 

My mom was happy to go out and do things, but also brought work with her to occupy herself if the baby was asleep and we wanted to rest.  We had other family that wanted time to go do the tourist things in the area and were happy to do this on their own.  Figuring out what everyone wants helps to manage expectations.

photo of parents with grandparents and a baby with napa valley in the background.

Get involved with a church. 

This is a great way to meet like-minded people.  If you find a church full of other young parents, they can be great support for you as you navigate new parent life.


Final Thoughts

If you are pregnant and don’t live near family, there are many pros and cons.  However, it’s important to make the best of it and have a plan in place prior to giving birth.  Consider who will be coming to visit, how long they want to stay, and what order you want them to come in.

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

Maybe you love where you grew up and couldn’t imagine living far from the place you have always called home.  Maybe you are on the other end and spent high school counting down the years until you could escape to somewhere more exciting.  Either way, as a responsible adult you are now considering having kids and are wondering if you are better off raising your children near family or farther away. 

I’ve lived on the other side of the country from my family as well as my in-laws while having my first child.  Here are some things to consider about having kids while living far from family.

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

I’m a positive person, so we will start off with the pros of living far from family.

Pros of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family


1. There is no pressure to allow family to be present at birth 

If you live a short drive from family, there is a good chance your mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, grandma, or anyone else you can think of may decide they are entitled to be present for the birth of your child.  You may not want an audience, but it can be really hard to tell the well-meaning family they aren’t invited.   If you live a plane-ride (or very long drive) away from the family, you won’t be able to predict exactly when you will go into labor, so they won’t be able to plan a visit without risking their stay ending before the baby is born.  It was really easy to have a labor, delivery and hospital stay without anyone except for my husband.  I was happy to show off our new baby once we got home, but the hospital stay was a whirlwind of recovering and figuring out breastfeeding.  I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there.

Mom holding a newborn baby in the hospital.

2. You have more freedom to develop your own parenting style 

There are so many opinions on the “right” way to be a parent.  However, the right way for you is the way you and your husband decide to parent.  This should be a decision made based on your preferences and not on pressure from family.  Being far away means you don’t have family around offering their input as often.


3. You have more power over the visit schedule 

If you live near family, well-meaning family may feel entitled to drop by for a visit whenever the mood strikes them.  If they happen to be coming over to clean for you, then it may be welcome.  However, they likely aren’t planning on that.  If you live far from family, it requires planning visits ahead of time.  This allows you to make sure both families aren’t there at once (unless you approve it), and to have buffers between visitors if you desire. 


4. You and your husband learn to rely on each other 

If you have a great relationship with your mom, it may be really easy to get her help and input on every parenting question and call her for babysitting frequently.  However, it can be easy for you to rely more on family than your husband which can make it hard to form a parenting team.  Being far away decreases your ability to rely on family and allows for a stronger parenting team to be formed between you and your husband.


5. When family visits they stay with you 

This means that they are already planning to be present for those 2 am wakeups.  If there is a large time difference, you can utilize it to have family help with overnight feedings or rocking baby back to sleep.  We had almost four weeks of help between our mothers visiting right after our son was born.  During this time, I pumped enough to have a bottle prepared at bedtime each night.  Our mothers would get up with our son and give him a bottle for the 6 am feeding which gave my husband and me a six-hour stretch of sleep before I needed to be up for the next feeding.  The result is we actually felt pretty human during the first month.


6. Your child gets well-traveled at an early age

I believe helps make baby and the parents more adaptable to new situations.  My son went on 10 round-trip flights during his first year.  The first trip was stressful, but after that we got a system figured out and it wasn’t a big deal.  Here are all the tricks I learned for flying with a baby

Dad holding a baby on an airplane.

Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family


1. If you want family present at birth, this can be hard to plan 

Often affordable plane tickets have to be purchased well in advance.  With a 4 to 5-week range around the due date, it’s difficult to pinpoint when people should come to visit. 


2. Family doesn’t get to visit as much 

For your family to visit the new baby, either they need to travel to you, or you need to travel to them.  Also, when they come, they usually stay with you which means extended time with family versus short visits.  Depending on your situation, ever-present family may be a major additional stress when you are already stressed with a newborn. 


3. Family visits can be difficult if you have parents that don’t travel or have health problems that make traveling difficult  

If you are in this situation and will have to be the one traveling, make sure to get all my tips for flying with a baby.  You can also use my Family Travel Planner to make the travel planning process much easier.


4. You might feel like you are missing out 

We lived a 5-hour plane flight from all of our family for almost 3 years.  The only times I really broke down because I didn’t have family nearby was when we found out we were having a boy and when my mom left after visiting right after my son was born.  These were times when I did really want to share them with my family, and I felt like a phone call or FaceTime just didn’t cut it.

A couple holding a baby boy balloon.

5. You don’t have as much help 

When you live near family, they are often happy to babysit or be an extra set of hands.  However, living far from them means that you don’t have these built-in, free babysitters.  Friends can be helpful, but you can only impose on them for free babysitting so much.  Living far away meant we couldn’t go to the movies without paying a babysitter or going when we had people visiting.  We made a point of taking our son out to restaurants, the store and the mall starting when he was only a week old.  Therefore, it became normal for him and us, so going out to eat or shopping with him in tow isn’t a big deal.  Definitely get my tips for going out with a newborn to make your life easier.


6. Holidays can be hard 

For holidays, you will likely be traveling back to family or spending them without family.  Either way it can be hard.  We traveled back to visit family.  Like I mentioned above, traveling itself wasn’t a big deal.  However, with Christmas, it was difficult having to consider luggage allowances and making sure our son didn’t get too many large or heavy gifts that we would need to figure out how to get home.

Baby in a car seat surrounded by luggage.
This was the amount of luggage that we traveled with when visiting family for two weeks over Christmas and New Years.

7. Guilt trips from family about living far away 

You may hear comments from family (likely grandparents) about how they don’t get to spend time with their grandchild because he lives so far away.  Even if you don’t hear these comments, you may feel guilty that your parents don’t get to spend much time with their grandchild.  This is likely to be more significant if your baby is the first grandchild. 


Final Thoughts

Do the pros of living far from family outweigh the cons?  That depends on your family situation.  For us, we made do and logged some serious frequent flier miles.  It was good for my husband and I to grow as a couple and figure out the whole “new parenting” thing.  However, we will now live driving distance to our families.  It’s not close enough that people can drop in unexpectedly, but it’s close enough we can fill an entire car for the holidays and not have to worry about how much baggage we are dragging along.  For us, I feel like that is a good compromise.

What do you think? Do the pros or the cons weigh heavier in your opinion? Let me know in the comments!

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Before becoming a mom, leaving the house to go to the store, or a restaurant or anywhere really was easy and took little thought or planning.  However, once you become a parent, leaving the house is a whole new level of difficulty. 

When my son was a newborn, leaving the house looked something like this:

  1. Nurse the baby
  2. Change a diaper and make sure clothing for everyone was weather appropriate
  3. Make sure diaper bag is fully stocked (don’t forget to grab my diaper bag packing list)
  4. Eat a snack/meal
  5. Nurse baby again
  6. Change diaper again
  7. Finally leave the house (~3 hours later)

Obviously, the amount of time it takes to prepare to leave the house can keep many new parents home bound.  However, getting out of the house as a new parent is essential for your sanity!

Unless you or your newborn has health issues or the weather is absolutely awful, I suggest starting to make short outings the first weeks after you come home from the hospital.  Here are my answers to common questions and tips for different activities that are completely doable with a newborn.

Where to Take a Newborn

Newborns are surprisingly portable.  Until about 4 months, they are able to sleep anywhere, and you can transport them both in and out of the car with a car seat and stroller travel system.  You can take a newborn most places that you would go anyway. 

It does take a little practice to juggle all the extra items you need to bring, and plan for feeding sessions. If you have family visiting, enlist help for your first few outings.  It’s great to have an extra set of hands and the person can spend time with you and the baby and no one is thinking about how messy the house is.

During my son’s first 2 months, we went to the grocery store, target, various restaurants, the mall, church, and wine tasting.  Enjoy the portability of your baby now because once they get older they become less portable and require more planning. Follow the tips below, and you can take your newborn out as part of your normal activities.

Taking a newborn out doesn't have too be extremely difficult.  You can do most activities with a newborn in tow.

Taking a Newborn Out Before 6 Weeks

Six weeks seems to be the magic number with babies, but things don’t really change that much at six weeks.  Your baby is still portable, and many children don’t get their first vaccinations until they are closer to 2 months.  The biggest thing that changed for us at six weeks was I went back to work (read more about that here and here).

The biggest concern with taking a very young baby out is that they will catch a virus.  Viruses that are minor annoyances for adults can result in severe illness in babies.  However, a few precautions can greatly decrease the chance of your baby catching something.

1. Don’t let others hold your baby

If someone asks to hold your baby, you are allowed to say no.  Exercise this right!  The less people that hold your baby, the less likely baby will get sick.  This also applies to letting people rub his hair, kiss him or touch his skin.

2. Utilize a car seat cover

Many respiratory viruses are passed through coughing and sneezing.  If you use a stretch car seat cover like this one, you can block respiratory particles from infecting your baby.  It also helps keep people from touching your baby and provides a dark, quiet area for sleeping.

3. Practice baby wearing

If you aren’t planning to carry the car seat with you once you get where you are going, then your best defense is baby wearing.  This keeps baby snug against you and protected from respiratory particles.  It also helps deter people from touching or wanting to hold your baby.


When can you take a newborn out for a walk?

You can take a walk with your newborn as soon as the weather cooperates.  You want to do your walk at a time of day where it isn’t super hot or super cold.  Also make sure to provide adequate warmth and/or sun protection.  Newborns have very fragile skin, so err on the side of too much sun protection in the form of a stroller shade, car seat shade, and/or car seat cover.  If the weather is okay taking the baby for a walk can be great for both of you, and you usually won’t have to fend off too many people.

The best time to take a newborn for a walk will vary by location.  You will want to decide based on the weather and what you feel like.  Chances are good your newborn will sleep for most of the walk anyway, so at this stage, you don’t need to worry about nap times.  Usually, earlier in the morning or early evening work well because the sun isn’t as bright as it is midday.  However, if the sun is out, you will still want to make sure baby is shaded.



When can I take my newborn to a restaurant?

You can take baby out to a restaurant as soon as you are ready to go out.  You will want to make sure your diaper bag is fully packed, so that you are prepared for any dirty diapers or feeding needs.  I found that taking the car seat into the restaurant is the best way to have a calm meal.  Infant car seats generally will fit into the booth and restaurants often have high chairs that when flipped over hold a car seat.


When can I take my newborn to church?

We took our son to church when he was 1 week old.  You will want to follow the tips above about keeping people away, so your baby doesn’t get sick, but otherwise, it’s pretty easy.  We took the car seat into the church and sat at the end of the pew so the car seat could be on the floor next to us.  This also allowed for a quick escape if necessary.  Just make sure you don’t pick a seat right next to a speaker. 

Many churches have a room for nursing mothers.  Scout out the location of this room when you arrive, so you are prepared if necessary.  Churches also usually have child care that extends to infants.  However, I would recommend keeping your baby with you for the first couple of months – usually they will sleep anyway.


Related Content

Can I take my newborn to a wedding or other family gathering?

Major family events are often ones you don’t want to miss, but your family and friends likely didn’t plan their special day around the age of your baby.  Therefore, you may find yourself needing to choose between taking your newborn or staying home.  My best friend got married when my son was 4 months old, so off to a wedding (on the other side of the country) we went.  Many of the principles from above apply here.  However, if it’s something that is going to have a DJ or other loud music, make sure to grab a pair of these baby headphones.  Without them loud noises can quickly overwhelm a newborn.  However, with the earmuffs, a party with flashing lights and dancing can be great fun for a baby.  My son loved dancing and looking at the lights with his headphones on.

Taking a newborn to a wedding with noise canceling baby headphones works well.
Photo taken by Josh + Jeanette

Final Thoughts on Leaving the House with a Newborn

Getting out of the house is good for the whole family, so you shouldn’t be scared to leave the house with a newborn.  Just make sure to follow these tips and plan short outings initially.  Pretty soon you will gain confidence and running errands or going places with your newborn won’t be a big deal at all.

Taking a baby out on an airplane doesn't have to be overwhelming.  This infant in a car seat looks very content in the window seat.

If you start getting really brave, you could fly with a newborn.  If you decide to brave that (we did when our son was 4 months old), make sure to read these Tips for Flying with a Baby.

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The Secret Life of Working Moms

The Secret Life of Working Moms
The Secret Life of Working Moms

Being a Working Mom Is Hard

Simply being a mom is hard, so there is no question that being a working mom is hard.  Even those that aren’t working moms don’t need much convincing.  However, exactly what that hard looks like varies greatly depending on your family situation and your career.  Here I’ll share what my schedule looks like as a working mom and share some thoughts from other working moms with very different careers and family situations.  If you are a mom getting ready to go back to work, grab my tips for returning to work.


Working Mom Schedule

Here’s what my typical day looks like with a 13-month-old and a career as a veterinary pharmacist.  Grab all my tips for managing working mom life here and here.

5:45am

Get up and get a quick 25-minute home workout in.  Grab my tips for fitting in a workout.

6:25am – 6:50am

Shower and get ready.  I’m a big fan of sleep, so my mornings don’t start early enough for me to fully style my hair.  Whatever I can do with it while it’s wet is the style of the day.

6:50am

Pack my lunch and breakfast and make coffee. I love fancy coffee, but a daily trip to Starbucks is not something I have the time or budget for. Therefore, I use my Nespresso and milk frother to make my skinny latte in the comfort of my own kitchen.

7:00am

Wake Paxton up

7:05am

Get Paxton started eating breakfast. He usually eats either a banana or an Ego waffle with butter and cinnamon sugar and water to drink. If he’s still hungry after that, we top off with some blueberries.

7:15am

Brief hubby on where Paxton is at in his morning routine. I’m lucky because John is a stay at home hubby, so I only have to get myself ready and out the door in the mornings.    When I leave, Paxton is usually still eating breakfast and wearing nothing but a diaper.

7:16am

Run out the door so I’m not late to work

7:30am

Arrive at work.


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7:30am – 1pm

Work. I’ll also find time to drink the coffee and eat the breakfast that I brought from home.  Some days it’s close to lunchtime before I get breakfast of overnight oats eaten but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take so that I can get a few extra minutes of sleep.

1pm1:30pm

Lunch break where I work on blog stuff, read the current book for my book club or browse social media.

1:30pm – 6pm

Work

6pm

Leave work

6:20pm

Get home. 

6:20pm – 7pm

Play with Paxton and get him ready for bed. John has already fed him dinner, so this time includes a bath, lotion, a couple of stories and a bottle of milk.

7pm – 7:15pm

Snuggle time with Paxton as he’s falling asleep.

7:15pm

Put Paxton in his crib.  At this point, I won’t hear from him again until I get him up the following morning.

7:15pm9:30pm

This is the extent of my free time.  During this time, I catch up with hubby, eat dinner, pick up around the house, work on any projects I have going, watch TV and get ready for bed.  If I’m not in bed by around 9:30, my 5:45am alarm is awfully rough.

Alternative Thursday Night

On Thursdays, I work a second job in retail pharmacy after finishing my first. On that night, I go straight from job number one to job number two.  I end up getting home at 9pm in time to eat dinner, catch up with hubby and go to bed.


This schedule allows me to work 4 days that are 10 hours each which gives me three full days to spend with Paxton.  While I have limited time with him on the days I work, it’s nice having an extra day completely free.

This is what my typical weekday involves.  However, it doesn’t capture when I have weekend work trips or pick up an extra shift in retail. I usually have one or the other of these once to twice a month.


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Doing housework either falls to hubby or I do it on my days off because I’m generally too exhausted after a long day at work.  If you are managing to find time and motivation for organization, you can grab my organization hacks here. If you are overwhelmed by baby clutter, but don’t have the mental energy to tackle it, join my free email challenge where I help you get all the kid items under control in small steps.


Working Moms in Other Professions

Now that you’ve seen my schedule, career and family differences mean that no two moms have the same working mom experience. Here are summaries of working mom life from 4 other working moms.

Working At Home

Abby Jacobs has a 16-month-old and is a parenting blogger. For her, being a working parent looks a bit different than most. She said, “I work from home, so the time I put into my blog is broken up throughout the day. As soon as my son is down for a nap I hurry to get to work and try to get as much done as I can in that time period. It also means I’m up working after his bedtime most nights. But, it also means I get to enjoy him while he’s awake. My job allows me the unique opportunity to raise, support, influence, and be a key part in his life–all while making money from home!”


Working With Other People’s Kids

Mary Smith is a teacher with a 5-month-old and a 2-year-old at home.  Here’s what being a working mom is like for her. “As an elementary school teacher, I spend my entire day with children. I wake up at 5AM to get myself ready before I get my own babies ready for daycare. The drive to work is the only peace I will see until my head hits the pillow at night. Many don’t realize being in education is so much more than just teaching. I plan every minute of every day, accounting for different learning abilities and interests. I manage disciplining 20 tweens going through 3 learning stations per hour, and also make sure they are staying on task. I mediate disputes between students and counsel the ones having problems. Tutor, nurse, janitor, and lunch lady are a few of the other roles I play each day. And breaks? Spent in the closet pumping milk for my infant, then speeding off to meet/call parents, write lesson plans, grade papers, finish documentation…or if I’m really lucky, I get to sit for a brief moment to eat some lunch in the 15 minutes I have left for myself.

By the time I leave work, I am mentally exhausted. I’ve given all my energy to my students, and sometimes feel I have nothing left over for my own kids. It’s a mad dash to get in the front door, let the dogs out, change the diapers, get dinner fixed, clean the kitchen, bathe the boys and then try to find a few minutes of quality time with them. Some days we don’t even manage a story before bed. But I do the best I can and make the best of the weekends and holidays. When it gets tough, I just remind myself how lucky I am to get off for so many breaks and summer vacation, because some working parents don’t even have that.”


Fixed Working Hours

When asked what being a working parent is like, Clio Franconi said, “Running all the time.”  She has a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old and is a director’s assistant.  She explained working life as, “I have fixed working hours, and even if my work environment is cool, I still struggle to get there on time and then have to rush to go pick-up the kids. Everything has to be calculated, organized, and planned so that either one of us parents can go take care of our kids before the school closes. (Plus of course, all the rest of the chores). It’s great to be able to have some adult time and share it with awesome co-workers, but frankly, it is exhausting. There’s so little time to just be together, as even when we do spend time to play or read in the evening, everyone is so tensed and tired after the whole day running around. On the other hand, when I’m at home, I can completely shut the work drawer in my head and dedicate myself fully to my husband and kids. The boundaries between the two are very clear and they don’t get mixed, which helps me concentrate on the present moment.”


When You Have a Lot of Kids

Trish Brockway is a labor & delivery nurse with 7 kids at home ranging in age from 4 to 28!  Here’s her take on working mom life. “My career was my dream and calling from a young age. I love it! I love the hours and how I can work it around my family life. For many years I have been a travel nurse. Traveling has worked well for our family, as we also homeschool. I love that my children have toured the country and seen more of it than most adults can claim. We studied the Alamo while walking through it. My kids could stop and imagine the life of the men trapped inside the walls. How cool is that?
I am also fortunate to work as a PRN nurse when not traveling, which means I set my schedule. The hours a nurse works, twelve-hour days, is a blessing and a curse. My day starts early and ends late. I leave my younger children before they wake. I kiss them goodbye while they sleep and most often, kiss them next after they are asleep at night.” 

Final Thoughts

Working mom life varies greatly depending on how many kids you have and their ages, the demands of your career, your husband’s work situation, and your work schedules. For example, my daily schedule looked very different when I had a newborn and I was still breastfeeding. 

Just don’t let the working mom guilt get the best of you.  You can read my story with mom guilt here. But remember this is a mental battle.  After you read my mom guilt experience, read about why being a working mom is awesome. No two experiences are the same, but they are all hard and can all be rewarding. 

Are you a working mom?  What has your experience been like?

The Secret Life of Working Moms

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom
The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom

A year ago, I became a mom. I retired my red lipstick because I didn’t want to leave lipstick on my baby that I couldn’t stop kissing. I became the baby bouncing mom making mom friends. I started crafting and taking my son to library story time. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom, but as soon as I saw my baby boy, I fell head over heels in love and into mom life. My career was what I always said I would never give up for the sake of being a mom. To that end, I went back to work when my son was only six weeks old. I convinced myself that my career I loved kept me sane and kept a part of me separate from being a mom. I kept telling myself it was good for my family, good for my son and good for my sanity, but still the mom guilt set in. Little did I know this would be my biggest battle of the first year.

Mom guilt is not something I ever thought I would struggle with. I mean, I was unapologetically me. I loved my career and grew up with two parents who worked long hours. I turned out fine, so why would my son be any different? But once I went back to work it hit me hard. Guilt about missing out on the majority of my son’s waking hours, guilt about taking time out of my workday to pump. Guilt about missing the first word, the first crawl, the first clapping. Guilt about getting to work at the last minute and leaving right at the end of my shift. Guilt about skipping out on girl nights to go home and spend time with my son. Guilt about going out with friends and missing out on my limited time with my son. The list just keeps going.  There was no winning.


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I really thought that those things would all balance out as I got better at being a working mom. I wouldn’t be pumping forever, and my son would start napping less and being awake for longer hours that I could play with him. I would develop a rhythm that would allow me to see my friends but still spend time with my son. It would all balance out. But a year after becoming a mom, it hasn’t balanced out. If anything, the guilt has only gotten more pronounced.

Everyone keeps saying to cherish every moment because time goes by so fast and they grow up so fast. And everyone is right.

I feel like I blinked and missed this past year. My snuggly little newborn wants to get into everything now and snuggles only slow him down. Maybe I should be listening to everyone and loving every minute of the messes and noise and snuggles because sooner rather than later they will be over.

Enter more mom guilt. The initial mom guilt-inducing situations have gone, or I’ve gotten used to them. Now I feel guilty when my son is snuggled with me and I’m thinking of the million things that I need to do. I feel guilty when I let him play by himself so I can get something on my to-do list done. I feel guilty enjoying his super long naps because it means I can get a ton of things done. I feel guilty not checking work emails while I’m home with my son but feel guilty when I do. And the list keeps going.

Now that I’ve been a mom for a year, I’ve added another dimension to the mom guilt.

I’ve remembered that I used to be someone with dreams and goals before I was mom and that someone was pretty awesome.

I had a full-time life prior to becoming a mom and now I’ve created a full-time mom life where my career is about all that resembles that previous life.

I miss me, or at least the pre-mom me.

The problem is that fitting any of my pre-mom activities in requires taking time from somewhere which often means time I could spend with my son. Now I feel guilty when I’m reading a book instead of doing household things or leaving my son with dad while I go ride my horse.


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I reached the point where working instead of being with my son was pretty easy to justify. Now though I’m trying to justify non-work things that don’t involve my son. And every time I do one of those things, I get a constant stream running through my head about how my son is only little once, and the years fly by. And it’s even worse when my son doesn’t want me to leave. I had a rare opportunity to leave my son with his grandmother while I spent an afternoon at a coffee shop and went to dinner with a friend (2 of my favorite pre-mom activities that I almost never do anymore). I was excited to go and sure that my son would have fun with grandma. Then he saw me and crawled over and wanted to be held and snuggled and my heart melted. He didn’t want me to leave. Cue the mom guilt.

Despite the ever-present mom guilt, I will keep pushing forward. I know that there is more to me than just being a working mom. I know that having multiple dimensions to my personality and how I define myself makes me a better mom. I know there is a balance to be found, but it’s a work in progress. I will continue to be positive.

So, in the meantime, please quit reminding me that the years are short and I’m going to miss this stage because I already know all that.

Mom guilt may be the hardest thing about being a working mom, but there are plenty of great things. For a list of reasons why being a working mom is great, check out this post.

If you are a working mom and struggling to fit everything in, these tips from other working moms may help, and here is how I organize my week..

If you are getting ready to head back to work after maternity leave, make sure to check out these tips for returning to work.

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom


Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom

Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom
Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom

I’m a firm believer that being a working mom does not make you any less of an employee or a mom. However, it does take a skill set ripe with organization and efficiency and is not for the faint of heart.  As a working mom, I have a super full week but still manage to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights and do things I enjoy. Here are the steps I take for organizing my week to do it all.  Make sure you are doing these things when organizing your week.

If you want more working mom tips, check out this post!

1. Plan Your Meals

As a busy mom, the last thing you want is to be trying to figure out meals.  Designate a couple hours one day a week to plan what the entire family is going to eat for each meal and snacks for the next week and go to the store.  When you get home, prepare what you can ahead of time.  Put your ingredients for crockpot meals into gallon freezer bags so you can just thaw and dump. Wash and cut fruits and veggies for snacks. Prepack bulk snacks into single serving bags. Pre-make lunch sandwiches, just leaving off the condiments.  These things make many of your meals grab and go.  By doing it all at once, it also reduces your dishes.  Instead of dirtying a knife and cutting board every morning when preparing lunches, you only dirty one on your meal-planning day.

For how to meal plan, check out this post.  If you want to meal plan for baby, grab my meal planner for baby here.

2. Have a Weekly Family Planning Time

If your family is anything like mine, you have a million things going on each week with people going every which way.  Take time (I think it works well when meal planning) to have a quick family meeting. Discuss and write down all events going on during the week.  Include who needs to be where and when and how they are getting there.  You can then take this into consideration when planning meals.  By planning the week as a family, you decrease the number of forgotten events and can mentally prepare for what to expect.

3. Cut Down on Your Store Trips

By planning your meals and activities for the entire week, you can make a shopping list that really covers everything that is needed.  If you only go to the store once during the week versus 3 times, you will save a ton of time. 


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4. Make To-Do Lists with Priorities

If you want to get enough sleep, you don’t have time to lay awake thinking of everything you need to do tomorrow.  I use the Wanderlist app to keep track of what I need to do which allows me to have lists for work, my blog, stuff at home and a shopping list.  I then share all relevant lists with my husband, so he can view and add/delete things from the lists.  Despite this, I still really like a hard copy planner, but having an app for my to-do lists means that I have access to it whenever I have my cell phone handy.  That way I can add things as soon as I think of them (mom-brain is real!).  Within these lists I prioritize.  I order things in which I plan to do them(the app lets me rearrange).  I take 5 to10 minutes on Sundays (our meal/family planning day) to determine what must get done during the upcoming week and what extra things I plan to accomplish in my free time.  Because we have just done our family planning, I have a decent idea of how much time I will have to work on various things.  At the end of each day during the week, I spend about 5 minutes planning what I’m going to accomplish the next day.  If I have a plan in place, I can go to sleep feeling ready for the next day and hit the ground running in the morning (after coffee). 

5. Write Down Due Dates and Commitments in Lots of Places

I love my paper planner, but I’m not looking at it every second.  A cell phone calendar can provide helpful reminders, but if technology fails for some reason, you are out of luck.  Never rely on just one place to write down everything.  Write things lots of places.  I put things in my cell-phone and outlook calendars, my paper calendar and on my whiteboard calendar on my office wall.  This way I am sure to see where I need to be and when so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.


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6. Identify Activities Likely to Have Downtime and Put that Time to Work

You can’t add any more hours to the day, but you can make the most of everyone.  Think about things you will be doing that will have downtime. Do you sit in traffic during your commute?  Use that time to listen to an audio version of the book you need to read for a book club or catch up on the news through Podcasts/radio.  Do you drive your son to and from practice every day?  Have a whiteboard and dry-erase markers in the car for your son and use the time to quiz him on his spelling words or multiplication tables.  Use your lunch break to run errands or go fora walk. You get the idea – now get creative on how you can use the time that otherwise would be wasted on activities you don’t care about. 

7. Work Efficiently

This is ideally a byproduct of the above tips.  If you have a plan for your day and make a habit of identifying and utilizing your downtime, you should be able to work more efficiently.  However, it’s so important, so I wanted to give it its own point.  You need to have the habit to maximize your efficiency.  Cut down on your social trips to the water cooler or your social media time in favor of getting more done.  This may seem like a sacrifice if you enjoy those breaks.  However, you can look at it as working efficiently now, so you can do what you want later instead of worrying about what you didn’t get done. 

If you are just getting ready to head back to work after maternity leave, make sure to grab the tips in this post.

8. Do Not Welcome Boredom

I get a lot of different projects done at work and am consistently product.  However, I don’t put in a lot of extra time outside of work. Instead, I fill downtime with something I need to do.  If I have 10 minutes between meetings, I’ll spend it answering emails or brainstorming a project.

9. Determine How You Are Spending Your Time

If you are still feeling like you don’t have nearly enough time or find that time keeps getting away from you, take a look at what you are filling the time with.  Often the culprit is social media.  The new iPhone update tracks your phone usage by categories, so if you regularly use social media on your phone versus other devices, you can see how much time is devoted to that.  Another culprit is getting sucked into a TV show someone else turned on.  I don’t turn the TV on very often, but if someone else in the house has it on, I can easily lose 30 minutes watching something that I never would have put on myself.

10. Keep a Schedule

You can find plenty of resources talking about why kids do well with schedules.  However, they can be beneficial to everyone in the house. For example, my son goes to bed at 7pm every night.  During the week I get home from work around 6:20. Therefore, I know from the time I walk in the door until I put my son to bed, I’ll spend it with him.  Once he goes to bed, I have a solid 2.5 to 3 hours to do everything I need/want to do before going to bed.  By giving myself a bedtime of 9:30 – 10, I ensure that I’m not getting lost in TV or social media instead of getting the sleep I need.  If you don’t have a schedule in place, it may take a little trial and error.  However, once you find one that works for your family, it will have huge benefits.

11. Delegate

My last tip is to recognize that you won’t be able to do everything, and you shouldn’t be expected to. Ask your partner to cook dinner a couple of times a week if he gets off before you.  Divide and conquer with errands on the weekend.  Take turns helping kids with their homework.  You get the idea.

12. Rest

As a working mom, I’m sure you are overwhelmed with a to-do list that is impossible to complete in the 24 hours each day allows. However, skipping rest and relaxation in favor of trying to do as much as possible is a recipe for burnout. I definitely struggle with this because I like to constantly feel productive. However, I find that scheduling time into my week where I give myself permission to just forget my to-do list is a lifesaver. Sometimes this is reading a book, relaxing with my husband or just going to be early. I do sometimes struggle with getting my mind to shut off though. There are days when I try to sit relax and I spend the entire time overthinking things for myself and everyone else. If this sounds familiar, here are some awesome tips that help to quiet your mind.

What are your tips for organizing your week?  Let me know in the comments!

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

If you found this helpful, make sure to sign-up for my newsletter in the sidebar, so you don’t miss any great content!

Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom
Organizing Your Week as a Busy Working Mom

35 Essential Tips for Working Moms

35 Essential Tips for Working Moms
35 Essential Tips for Working Moms

Working mom is the job that comes with the world’s longest job description.  It includes breadwinner, chef, chauffeur, doctor, teacher, psychiatrist, activity planner, maid, pet mom, personal shopper, secretary, and other duties as assigned.  For a look into what it’s like being a working mom, check out this post.  So how do moms manage to do it?  Here are 35 tips from me and some other awesome moms in the working mom trenches.  If you are a working mom trying to figure out how to not only survive but thrive, try implementing these tips.

I asked a group of awesome working moms what their top tip is for balancing it all.  Here is what they had to say!

On Having a Schedule and Planning

The most common tip I received is to have a schedule and routine.  Here are what a few moms had to say on scheduling.

  1. Mandis from Everyday Emerson said “You need to follow a schedule! Even if you think you don’t, do it, and you will see just how much you do! Otherwise, it’s like running a free for all circus.”
  1. Nadalie from It’s All You Boo said, “As important it is to have a schedule for daily and weekly appointments and activities, don’t forget to schedule time for you too. You need downtime, moments where you can just breath, and rest your mind and body. Think of it as self-care, me time or even mediation time. Without these moments you can’t possibly balance it all.”
  1. Cindy from Living for the Sunshine said, “I keep structured routines in place. Kids do better when they know what’s coming next (and so do I!), whether it’s homework, bedtime, etc. There’s less arguing and we get more accomplished in less time.”
  1. Tish from Babies & Fur House said, “A routine. Having a routine when I went back to work made things easier.  When I have days off or weekends, we can go do things because I know when my little man will be ready to eat or when he’s ready for a nap. Having him on a routine even has him sleeping better at night!”
  1. Amanda from The Frugal Mom Guide said, “The secret is planning, planning and planning some more. If you want to be organized and not be pulling your hair out every morning, I suggest packing lunches and bags the night before. Set out clothes and shoes in advance. Organizing your command center is so important because it’s easy to forget things on a hectic morning when you have ‘mom brain’. Planning also involves meal planning so you know exactly what you’re making for dinner and you don’t have to scramble for ingredients every day. Also, have a calendar by your command center and make note of early pickups, appointments and extracurricular evenings.  Being a working mom is so tough, but planning can make it a tad bit easier!”
  1. Colleen from Good Bye Anxiety, Hello Joy said, “I must schedule me time on the calendar.  I write down things that I want to do like read a book, visit a bookstore, or visit with a friend. Adding it to the calendar makes it feel as important as one of my children’s sports practices or doctor’s appointments.”
  1. Jordan from Mom Unraveled said, “I have to set a schedule in order to achieve any kind of work/life balance. Certain times are devoted to work while other times are devoted to my family.”
  1. Sandra from Casa Speed said, “I live and die by my Passion Planner! I’ve used it for three years now, and it’s been a game changer. I’m a military recruiter, soccer mom, blogger…in addition to every other role women have in today’s society. Writing everything down in one place and being able to see a week at a time is how I keep everything straight. Nothing is too small, because if it doesn’t go in my planner, it doesn’t get done. Just never forget to allow for commuting time!”
  1. Raina from Kentuckiana Momma said, “Time blocking is my best friend. I plan out my day the night before. I know what projects I need to work on for my side businesses, what food I want to set out for the baby and discuss dinner plans with my husband. I also have a schedule for after I get home from work so that I make sure to spend time with my baby girl.”
  1. AK Brown said, “Create a schedule and stick to it. For example, I only record YouTube videos on Wednesdays. My daughter is old enough to where she understands my work schedule.”
  1. Murisa from Weekend Housewife said, “Prioritizing…make time for the things you find most important that night and go with it. Don’t try to do too many things at once or the night will get away from you and you will feel like you didn’t spend enough time with the littles. The stuff can wait; they grow up too fast.”
  1. Mandis from Everyday Emerson said, “You need to follow a schedule! Even if you think you don’t, do it and you will see just how much you do! Otherwise, it’s like running a free for all circus.”
  1. Elizabeth from Crazy Busy Happy Life said, “I couldn’t survive without my daily planner. Every weekend I sit down and plan the week ahead. I also carry it with me everywhere so that I can update it and refer to it on the go.”
  1. Angie at Calm for Mommy said, “I find that when I’m at work, I get my best ideas about things going on at home, and when I’m at home, I get my best ideas about things happening at work.  I started carrying around a small notebook with me to both places to write down these flashes of inspiration so that I remember them when I need them. This also tends to apply to what needs to get done or is a high priority for each place.  At work, I know exactly what really should happen at home.  By the time I would get home, I would feel tired and unfocused and would forget what those priorities were.  The solution for this is before leaving work, write down 1-3 key priorities for the evening.  Things that you will be really glad to have accomplished.  Then, before bed, do the same for work.  Write down 1-3 key priorities for the next day that you really want to focus on.  When you get into work, you’ll have your to-do list ready and be able to hit the ground running.  In general, I find that writing things down helps me to ensure I remember the things I need to remember.  It feels good to outsource your brain a bit by writing things down so that you’re not always scrambling to remember the details of life.”
  1. Nicole from Resting Mom Face said, “Schedule everything! Having a schedule of what needs to be done when and what is most important is crucial as a working mom. I plan out each week including work/blog goals, family goals, and self-care goals. I also decide what my most important task is that week. This helps me prioritize my week. Check out how I organized my week (and download my free weekly planner template) here: restingmomface.com/weekly-planner-template.”
  1. Jade from Mommy Matters said, “Make a schedule. Set aside blocks of time every day to be present with family. Bonus if you put away your phone. Quality over Quantity. Also, meal prep one day/week. This will free up a significant amount of time throughout the week.”
  1. Sarah from Garden Full of Dreams said, “My favorite tip to juggle life and save money while I am working is to plan my meals in advance, make judicious use of the slow cooker/ Instant Pot, and batch cook so I can stockpile it in the freezer.”
  1. Here’s my addition to all of the above: Find an app that works. I find that no matter how much I like my planner (I always have at least one I’m using), it isn’t always with me.  However, my cell phone is always close by.  I use Wunderlist which is a free app to make lists.  I have to-do lists for my blog, my day job, and home life.  I also share lists with my husband, such as a shopping list and a to-do list for while he’s home with our baby.  This allows both of us to add things to the same list no matter where we are when we think of it.

For help with scheduling and planning, check out this post on how I organize my week.

On Asking for Help

No one can, or should have to, do everything on their own.  These mamas describe why it’s important to get help whenever and where ever you can.  Life will be easier once you start allowing others to help you out.

  1. Kristen from Full Time Vida said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling a little burned out after a long day, don’t feel bad for needing to take a moment for yourself. Let your partner put the kids to bed or take care of dinner (better yet, order take out! Sometimes it’s necessary). Sharing the load at home helps avoid burn out and allows you to spend a little extra time with your kiddos.”
  1. Sam from More for Mama said, “Asking for help! As a working mom who likes things done a certain way, it can be hard to admit that I need help, but sometimes I do. Whether it’s asking my husband, my mom or even a close friend, a little bit of help goes a long way when you’re juggling it all.”
  1. Jessica from A Modern Mom’s Life said, “Stop trying to do it all!  As a new mom, I wanted everything to be “just so” and I stressed out if it didn’t work out that way.  Now, 10 years later, I’m a pro at delegating and letting the work get done by others (especially my kids) but maybe not to my highest expectations.  It’s okay to let go of that control – trust me, you’ll be happy you did!”
  1. Marissa from Just Simply Mom said, “Use as many helpful services as you can afford. Grocery delivery (Peapod, Shipt, Instacart), meal prep delivery (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron), cleaning services, etc.”
  1. Autumn from Get Fit by Autumn said, “I strongly urge all my clients (who are usually busy moms) to leverage online grocery shopping. I love picking up my groceries & shopping while I’m watching Netflix. It saves me HOURS. Plus, I don’t get stuck purchasing unhealthy, middle of the grocery store junk!!”

On Separating Work and Family

Mom guilt is a real problem, especially when you spend a large portion of your time at work.  Working moms often feel guilty that they are leaving work right on time or not answering emails at home because they have a family.  However, these same moms feel guilty that they spend all day at work instead of with their kids.  It seems like there is no way to win.  Therefore, be totally present in whatever moment you are in.  These moms do a great job explaining why they focus on work at work and family at home.

  1. Laurie Michaelson from I Hustle for Her said, “There really is no such thing as “having it all” as a working or non-working mom. The sooner you come to accept that and determine what a “balanced” life is for you and your family the happier you will be. Making sure you establish boundaries with work and home life are also important. If you need to be there for your kids at a certain time, be there, and make it clear to your employer that it is not negotiable.”
  1. Huda from Ajsmommy said, “Honestly, organize everything so you’re not all over the place. When you are not working, make sure there are no distractions like phones, iPads, etc., and spend quality time with your family. Make sure to have a date night with your spouse. Also, make time for yourself; you don’t want to burn out. Take it one day at a time and don’t feel guilty that you have to work. You are trying to make your family better financially.”

On Fitting Things in Whenever You Can

Sometimes we just need more hours in the day.  Unfortunately, Amazon Prime doesn’t have a working version of Hermione’s Time-Turner, so we are stuck with just 24 hours.  Make the most of those 24 hours, so you have time to accomplish what is most important.

  1. Amber at Live Simply Better said, “Work out on your lunch break! And if you don’t work out on your lunch break, at least make it super effective. I run as many errands as possible during this precious hour. If I don’t have any errands to run, I use it as a chance to schedule a lunch date or a walk date with another mom friend. I’ve gotten my flu shot, gone to Mass, gotten forms notarized, and more during this amazing free hour!!”
  1. Brittni at Brittni Lee said, “My best tip is to wake up before the baby and get yourself ready for the day–if you wake up when the baby is up and don’t find the time to get dressed and look presentable, your day can automatically feel less productive.”
  1. I would add that multitasking can be your friend. We spend so much time every day waiting in line, waiting for a website to load, waiting to pick up the kids, waiting for dinner to cook.  Use the time you spend waiting to accomplish something else.  Cell phones are great for this.  On your cell phone, you can learn a foreign language, check your email, read the news, read a book, review documents, catch up on social media, make travel plans, order food, and tons of other things.  You decide if that waiting time is spent decompressing or being productive, but either way, make it count.

On Taking Care of Yourself

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Make sure that you are taking care of yourself because if not, you won’t be any good to anyone else.

  1. I want to start by saying ‘Forget perfectionism’. Perfectionism is a pipe dream in the best of cases, but one that you may have been happy chasing before you became a working mom.  However, as a working mom, you will never be perfect.  You have to be okay with doing the best you can and knowing that you may still mess up at all levels.  Be happy with yourself if at the end of the day you did the best you could.
  1. Erica from I Spy Fabulous said, “Accept that some days you will balance it really well and other days you will fail at it spectacularly. Be flexible, stay positive and enjoy the ride.”
  1. Elizabeth from Crazy Busy Happy Life said, “The number one thing that helped me manage my kids and my work life has been exercise. I’ll be honest, there are days where I struggle to find the time to exercise. When I’m faced with that problem though, I remind myself how GOOD I will feel after I exercise, and I’m never wrong. Countless times I’ve walked out of the gym and said to myself, “I’m so happy I did that.” I find that my mind is clearer, I’m more focused, and I get more done when I regularly exercise. Plus, it helps me have more patience with my kids.”

On Mental Health

I also want to add the following tips to help with your mental health.

  1. Know when to take some mental health time. You can’t call in sick from being a mom, but you can skip making dinner and order pizza once in a while.  Use the extra time you would have spent making dinner doing something relaxing for you.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers. You will always feel like you are coming up short when you are trying to measure up to all the moms you see around you.  Don’t compare your bloopers to someone else’s social media highlight reel.  Just do the best you can and be content with the outcome.  If your family eats cereal for dinner sometimes, that’s okay.
  1. Learn to say no. Working moms who look like they do it all, manage that by not doing it all.  If you don’t want to go on every field trip, don’t go on every field trip.  Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do just because you don’t want to disappoint.  If you stretch yourself too thin, it won’t benefit anyone.  Working moms already have plenty of things they have to do in a day, say no to things that are optional and you really don’t want to do anyway.
  1. Take a deep breath and know that you are good enough. If you have read this far, you are an awesome working mom.  You obviously care about being the best mom and employee you can be.  Do what you can and let the rest go.  You may have days where you screw up on every level, but you will also have days where you win at every level.  Take them as they come and learn to laugh instead of cry when things don’t work out.

So, there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth.  Take these 35 tips to heart and go slay the working mom game!  And if the day doesn’t go as planned, there is always coffee and wine to make it better.

Did you find this information helpful?  If so, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any mom life tips!

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

35 Essential Tips for Working Moms


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Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave
Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

The United States as a whole offers much less paid maternity leave than other countries.  However, it doesn’t matter if you get a long or short leave, it’s still hard to leave your snugly baby and head back to work.  Here are my 10 tips for returning to work after maternity leave. If you are really dreading the return, check out this post I wrote about why being a working mom is awesome.

Top 10 Tips

1. Practice Your Morning Routine

You and baby have likely gotten into a morning routine that doesn’t involve leaving the house in time to be somewhere first thing. Work with your partner to plan what your morning routine will look like, and a couple weeks before you go back start practicing.

2. Do a Daytime Care Trial Run

Whether your partner will be staying home, you have a nanny coming to you, or baby is going to daycare, do a practice run or two. This allows you to make sure your baby is comfortable with the caregiver and gives the caregiver a chance to ask any questions that come up. If you are hesitant to give up any time with your baby, just make it a few hours. Use that time to run errands, get your hair done or just take a nap.

If you are feeling guilty or worried about putting your baby into daycare, check out this post about why it’s okay.

If you are thinking a nanny may be a better option, you will definitely want to ask these interview questions when finding the perfect one.

3. Make Sure Baby Will Drink a Bottle

If you have been exclusively breastfeeding while on maternity leave, your baby may not be too impressed with an impersonal bottle at first. Start practicing a couple weeks ahead of time, so baby gets used to it. The last thing you want is to be spending your first day back worrying about if your baby is eating.


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4. Practice Pumping

Along with baby practicing drinking from a bottle, you will need to practice pumping if you plan to continue breastfeeding. You don’t want to be trying to figure out how to use your pump when you get to work.

5. Build Up a Milk Stash

If you are planning to pump at work, you will be pumping to feed your baby the next day. It never hurts to have a little bit of a milk stash built up. If you have enough supply, start creating a freezer stash a couple weeks before going back to work.

6. Preemptively Skim Your Emails

If you have a job where you get a lot of emails, find some time to at least start going through them. Delete all the ones that are junk or no longer relevant. This will drastically cut the size of your inbox. Simply knowing what you are in for when you are opening your email on your first day back can help with the dread. I used my midnight pumping sessions to go through my emails.

7. Stop By Work For a Visit

Simply stopping by with your baby for a few minutes and chatting with coworkers can make going back not seem so bad.

8. Incorporate Your Favorite Part of Work Into Your First Day Back

For me, I love the traveling and speaking aspect of my job.  Therefore, the weekend right before I went back to work I traveled to spend the weekend speaking.  This was like ripping the bandage off.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go at first but ended up enjoying myself and afterwards going to work for a day seemed easy.  Maybe traveling isn’t what you want to do, but if you love getting lunch with a coworker, try to plan lunch on your first day back so you have something to look forward to.

9. Consider Adjusting Your Schedule

Sometimes there may be a better way to make it all work. It could be worth asking your boss about flexibility. Are you able to condense your work week or work from home some days? I was able to change from working five days a week to working 10 hour days four days a week. I still work the same 40 hours but have a whole extra day with Paxton each week which makes a big difference.

10. Don’t Make Any Drastic Changes Until You’ve Been Back to Work for at Least 1 Month

As maternity leave nears its end, it can be really tempting to decide you want to be a stay-at-home mom. Don’t make this decision while you are on leave. Go back to your commitments for at least 1 month and try your hardest to make it work. If after one month you are still sure that you would rather be a stay-at-home mom, then it may be worth considering if that’s a possibility.

Once you are back to work, check out these 35 tips from working moms on how they manage to balance everything.

Final Thoughts

In summary, plan ahead.  I dreaded going back to work for the last couple of weeks of maternity leave.  However, I realized that once I had a plan in place and slowly started getting involved in the work world again, it wasn’t that horrible of a thought.  I also found that leaving the house every day to go to work forces me to step out of my role as mom and focus on my other roles which keep me from getting burned out with any one thing.

If you really want to focus on you, check out my tips for fitting fitness into a working mom schedule here.

What helped you go back to work after maternity leave?  Let me know in the comments. If you are still looking for more tips, here are some additional tips for returning to work after maternity leave.

If you want to hear from other working moms that make it work, check out this interview series. I was even included as one of the interviews. You can view mine here.

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Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave