I haven’t done a Mommy List in a while so I thought I might throw one in now! 6+ months into my working mama journey, here are the 5 things I’ve found most useful (you may see a repeat or two from a previous post, but that just goes to show how great they are).
#1: A stylish diaper bag
Photo Souce: Terapeak
I don’t have my own photo of this bag as yet (at least not one I particularly like enough to share, but I do own this SOHO diaper bag. It’s great – comes with several little places to store bottles, nipples, teethers, etc, but also doubles as a great work bag. It fits my laptop, my notebooks, and my bottle cooler bag and pumping equipment without sacrificing a stylish, professional look.
#2: A handy (hand) pump!
I’ve written about the Medela Harmony once before, and I just have to reiterate that since starting work again, this thing has been one of my best friends. It’s easy to carry around, it takes such little space and is dead silent and lightweight making it perfectly convenient for any situation – from pumping in taxis (with a cover of course) on the way to work, to pumping in private in the Mother’s Room, to even taking video calls/conference calls mid-pump. It suits any pumping need for working moms who could use the comfort, space-efficiency, and discreetness.
#3: Reliable cooling bags.
People don’t talk about this enough, but a reliable cooling bag is everything. On long work days, or while traveling, it is absolutely essential that you are able to bring your milk around with you and keep it fresh. For long days out where I know I won’t have access to a fridge, I bring the Medela. It fits up to 4 bottles, and is incredibly effective. Keeps the milk cold for 8+ hours (as long as the bag itself isn’t exposed to sweltering heat). For shorter days when I know I have access to a fridge, I use the Dr. Browns bag. It’s easier to carry thanks to its long strap, and takes less space even though it fits the same number of bottles. The only downside is it only keeps things truly cold for 4-6 hours (depending on external weather conditions as well). That’s why it’s perfect for when I’m going on a movie date with my husband (knowing I’ll only be out a few hours, and want something that straps nicely onto my shoulder), or am headed into a full day at the office (knowing I’ll have access to a fridge and freezer and it’ll only be used during transit times).
#4: Yoga With Adrienne
This is my most recent love: the Yoga With Adrienne YouTube channel. On particularly busy days, popping on a 30 minute session from her many videos is a great way to get a good stretch in, recenter yourself, and find quiet and calm. It’s also a good way to get your circulation going and to reduce stress levels. Try her channel out! I particularly like her because she isn’t too New-agey-meditatey type. She doesn’t chant along with you or anything like that. Her approach to yoga is very practical, she’s very relatable in her commentary, and I love that she is very clear at communicating the steps for each pose and each flow (incredibly important when you’re doing yoga from a video instead of in person — yoga is highly dependent on correct posture and position, so the clearer an instructor is, the better).
#5: A good Life Group!
One of my “rocks” in this entire “working mom” transition has been having a good Life Group (Bible Study Group/Church Community/whatever you want to call it) behind me of like-minded, and similarly-“situated” individuals. By that I mean: people in the same phase in life. My life group meets every Thursday, and while it’s not strictly a couples’ group, it is predominantly composed of married couples. The group prays and eats dinner together, sometimes sings a few songs or watches a video together, and then is divided into groups based on whatever material we are covering. Sometimes it’s girls-only, others it’s mixed. What this does is it provides me with a space to decompress, unwind, refocus on God and others, think about what really matters, and ask for sound advice from people who’ve been in similar situations as me. This in particular has been a real blessing and something I know I can always count on. I would suggest that all new working mamas find themselves a support group as well – not just in your team (though support within your team at work is also important), but outside of work too!