School starts FAR too soon and when it does, we lose the summer nanny we’ve grown to love. That also leaves us in a place where we’re looking for part-time child care in our home for 3 boys (1 year, preschool, and 1st grade).
Both of us adults work from home and our work hours are flexible; I can work around when I know my kids are taken care of. Most of the time it’ll be just the two younger boys. I aim to have childcare coverage between 20 and 25 hours each week, which seems like a good fit for my employer and myself. Even if you can’t fill a full 20-25 hours, I’d still like to hear from you!
This would be a great position for a college student with a few large blocks of time out of classes or a homeschooled/alternative schedule high school student or retired adult who wants to spend time with kids. If you are interest or have a suggestion of someone who might be, please let me know!
Miracle blanket: These are totally worth the $30 price tag if you have a baby that Houdinis his or her way out of any other swaddle however, it’s possible to find them at a consignment store, with diligence and patience
Crib and mattress: Of course think of aesthetics but also of durability, storage possibilities, and reuse
2 waterproof mattress pads: I love this particular brand because they’re very breathable (no sweaty babies!) and don’t make a crinkly plastic noise
2+ sheets: My favorite have been jersey knit
Muslin swaddles: When my first child was born, the only brand out there was Aden and Anais, but now there are many brands with many prints. I’ve used these as a nursing cover, car seat cover, thin blanket for toddlers on vacation, sun shade, makeshift baby sling, and superhero cape, to name a few
Wubbanub/Dr Browns lovey pacifier: Yes, these are cute but they’re also incredibly useful. The extra weight of the stuffie prevents the pacifier from rolling away into a distant corner of the crib during the night.
Pack n play: These can range from simple to elaborate. If you’re going to use it in your bedroom for a while after the baby is born, perhaps you want one with a bassinet or changing station. We preferred something smaller than the pack n play and went with a simple one with no regrets (we’ve been using the same one for 3 babies over 7+ years)
Graco quilted pack n play sheet: The only pack n play sheet worth having! It adds a little padding to an otherwise stiff mattress and has real elastic around the edges for a tight fit. If you’re likely to travel often or for long periods of time, I recommend having 2.
Portable bassinet: If you have large pets or older children running around the house, I cannot recommend having a small bassinet to move around the house enough. If I were to buy one today, I’d stalk Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for a Halo bassinet.
Sleep sacks (wearable blankets) in multiple sizes: I’ve purchased (and liked) Yoga Sprout muslin wearable blankets for warmer weather and fleece Halo sleepsacks for winter. My babies have always slept better with multiple layers and I’m happy to get more sleep!
White noise machine: You get a white noise machine! You get a white noise machine! A white noise machine in every bedroom! The Marpac Dohm UNO white noise machine doesn’t loop and provides a constant, steady whirring sound.
Video Baby monitor: We received the Infant Optics DXR-8 video monitor as a gift when our second son was a baby. Even with a small house, having a video monitor was espeically useful for the toddler years. I don’t use one this one on a daily basis anymore but don’t travel to a vacation rental house without it! I’ve heard really good things about v-tech video monitors as well.
Pump (go through your insurance, most pay for at least 50%)
Bottles: No matter what your breastfeeding plans are, it is a very good idea to have a few different bottles on hand. Babies tend to have opinions about bottles so having 1 or 2 of several different brands is a smart way to start out before buying an entire set
Breast pads (disposable or reusable): There was never a point while I breastfed my babies where I didn’t leak milk before or during a feeding. I needed more absorbancy than what reusable pads could give me and settled on Philips Avent breast pads because they were easiest to open one-handed (a necessity)
Bright Starts Lots of Links: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! They connect toys together, hang toys from the car seat handle, lock cupboard doors (at home and on vacation), are perfect first bath toys, and more.
Board books: We are frequent library visitors and I’m a huge advocate of making books available for children at their level from the moment they’re big enough to turn a page. I wrote about some of our favorite board books in this post.
Mirror: Our first baby was 5 weeks old when he started chattering to the picture of a baby on the side of a diaper package. I knew then that we needed a mirror! We kept this mirror through all of our boys’ babyhood and it made tummy time much more pleasant.
Play Gym: There are many different kinds of play gyms but my recommendation is one where the baby has room to roll from side to side and can be tempted by a manner of hanging toys. Of all the larger pieces of baby gear, this is one you may need earliest. Most babies are interested in talking to their reflection by one month old.
Some sort of containment unit (jumper, walker): Our house is many things but big is not one of them. I preferred to have only 1 larger baby item out at once. We cycled through a Jumperoo (so, so much love for the free-standing jumper), swing, and walker on wheels as baby developed.
Infant car seat (Graco and Chicco are most popular)
A stroller (that lays all the way flat)
Some sort of baby wearing device: I like a wrap (baby k’tan) for small infants and a soft structured carrier like the Ergo 360 for bigger babies and toddlers
Rear and forward facing convertible seat (usually go up to 50+ lbs)
Extra base for a second car
Quilted cover for cold weather
Diaper rash ointment
Nose Frida and extra filters
Vicks waterless vapor plug in
Bath toys (can easily wait on these for their 1st birthdays)
Fragrance free wipes (i like Huggies, they’re thicker)
Newborn to size 3 diapers (Pampers Swaddlers for little sizes, Huggies Movers for really chunky babies and older babies)
Wipable travel changing mat
Trash can/diaper genie
Earth Mama Angel Baby bottom balm
Dermoplast spray (Blue top! Can get at the hospital)
Robe and comfy sweatpants
Rice bag/heating pad
Plain onesies (short and long sleeved in many sizes)
Footed sleepers in light weight fabric and fleece
Socks of all sizes
Towels and washcloths
Silverware (soft tipped and toddler spoons and forks)
Plates and bowls (Target has pillowfort brand dishes in many colors for $0.59 each, microwave and dishwasher safe)
Munchkin snack catchers
Sippy cups (several different varieties because babies have preferences)
Wipable silicone bibs
High chair (as few crevasses as possible to clean)
Travel booster seat
Large Items (easy and way cheaper to buy these second hand)
Diaper bag (stroller straps or a XL carabiner to attach to stroller)
This meaning the birth of our third boy, Lincoln Charles, back at the end of May. We’re all in love and he seems pretty smitten too.
This also happened.
Ben is now 6 and a total big kid. His birthday post is currently drafted so expect that to come soon or at least before his 18th birthday.
And then there was this.
Teddy is 4 and started preschool in the fall. There are two whole mornings each week that it’s just me and the baby. It’s weird but 100% ok. I also have a birthday post for him and have another 14 years before he turns 18. It might get posted soon.
So here’s to the end of 2018! I hope to blog more in 2019 but I’ve said that before. If you want to keep up with our circus, I’m way more active on Instagram.
Diaper Pail: IKEA Knodd (it has a tight fitting lid that has held up through 2 kids and 5 years of diapering)
Pail Liner: Planet Wise liner (We rotate through 2 of these and haven’t noticed any waterproofing failure over hundreds of washes)
I started building my cloth stash knowing I ultimately wanted to use BumGenius 4.0 (since updated to 5.0!) because they were about as simple as cloth diapers can be. My husband had never changed any diaper before our first son was born and we felt we didn’t need to add more complication to our lives. I still feel strongly that we made the right choice!
However, I knew there would be a period of time between newborn stage and when our babies reached the BumGenius weight limit that I would have to find an alternative. Enter Green Mountain Prefolds and waterproof covers. If I were to start off my stash on a shoestring budget today, I’d definitely go with all prefolds and covers. Two dozen newborn size prefolds and 2 dozen small prefolds kept us fully supplied until the boys were around 9 lbs.
We tried many different kinds of diaper covers (wool, fleece, PUL) but liked the PUL best, particularly the kinds with extra leg gussets for my skinny legged boys. Thirsties Duo Wraps with snaps were my top favorites (I’ll likely have to buy more for Baby 3) but Bummis Super Whisper Wraps were a close second. The Bummis covers don’t have the leg gussets so we had a few more problems with explosive leaks. For older babies, we liked (and still use) Flip covers, made by the same folks as BumGenius diapers.
Washing Cloth Diapers
Every washing machine is different but essentially you’ll want a cold soak, a hot wash, hang dry anything made of PUL, and dry everything else on high to kill off bacteria. I wrote more about our specific washing routine in this old post.
A few helpful additions: Charlies Soap: An additive-free detergent that rinses clean and doesn’t leave build up in diapers or clothes. Since starting to use Charlie’s 5+ years ago, we’ve since switched to washing all of our clothes in it. I bought a large 5 gallon pail in 2013 and am just starting to scrape the bottom in 2017, in spite of washing diapers, clothes for 4, and household items in it.
Diaper Sprayer: Breastfed baby poop is completely water soluble so this wasn’t something I needed to bother with for the first 6 months but you might need it! Any solids should be removed from the diaper before putting it in the pail for washing and the easiest, mess-free way to do that is investing in a diaper sprayer that connects to the water line of the toilet. It’s super simple to spray off solids, flush, and put that diaper back in the pail.
Biokleen Bac-Out: If you find that your diapers are a little funky smelling and don’t smell clean after washing, try spraying them with Biokleen. The enzymes in the spray start breaking down the odor causing bacteria while the diapers are in the pail and gives you a fresher smell after the wash (and prevents build up that can cause diapers to repel liquids)
Diapering Accessories Bummis Fleece Liners: Cotton cloth diapers don’t do a great job of keeping moisture away from sensitive newborn skin and my babies kept getting rashes. Those rashes stopped once I started using a fleece liner. To be fair, these are literally rectangles of microfleece and anyone with scissors and some cutting skills could make their own for much less money
GroVia Magic Stick: An excellent everyday diaper rash stick (that you don’t have to get your hands gooped up to use!)
A wet bag for dirty diapers on the go: I started off with a smaller wet bag but quickly decided that a bag that could only fit 2 diapers tightly rolled wasn’t very helpful. I fell in love with the wet bags from Alva Baby; they’re roomy enough for many diapers and include a second pocket for dry clothes or spare diapers. As a bonus, they work GREAT for spare clothes during potty training as well (I bought a second bag for our preschooler’s backpack when he started 3s preschool).
Like many people, I enjoy spending some time at the beginning of the year drafting goals for the next 12 months. 2016 was a great year in some aspects (Ben potty trained and started school! We road tripped to Disney and Colorado!) but there were some hard bits as well, like Teddy spending time in the hospital with viral-induced asthma. There’s no doubt that there will be similar ups and downs in the coming year but perhaps having lived through 2016, we’ll be better prepared to deal with them. Looking back on my personal and our family life over the last year, I’ve come up with 3 goals to help focus my energy in 2017.
I’ve grown frustrated by how many resources I waste due to carelessness or laziness. I buy but don’t cook food because it didn’t feel convenient and it needs to get thrown out. I sit on my phone or computer instead of making use of the very little productive time I have and the house and family suffer for it. My goal is to waste less by planning more. If I plan our meals better, less food goes to waste. If I set daily goals, I don’t waste time trying to figure out what I should be doing with my free time instead of just doing it. This is a pretty far-reaching goal since the “less waste” mentality spreads into so many aspects of my life (waste less space in the house by purging things we don’t use, use up the craft supplies we have on hand instead of buying new, etc). I’m hoping there will be some positive financial side effects from this goal as well.
Grow My Business
I started working as a virtual assistant (VA) for Brian Krogsgard at Post Status in 2015. I’ve always had the capacity to work more hours but haven’t made an attempt to promote my VA skills and expand my client base. That stops this year. My goal is to increase my client load by 2 and max out my available work hours. As a subsection of this goal, I bought a domain and started creating a site by myself to promote my work. Marketing myself is a huge stretch; I didn’t know it would be so challenging! I foresee lots of learning in this area over the next year.
Complete One Large House Project
We bought and moved into my grandparent’s house in the summer of 2012, a few months before Teddy was born (I don’t recommend moving during the third trimester). We painted, cleaned, and did minor renovations very quickly so we could get settled with our then 22 month old before the new baby arrived. Since that summer, we have done very little to improve the house. It’s in great shape but, as expected since it was owned by people two generations older than we are, there are lots of aesthetic changes we’d like to make to make it fit our family better. I think this means we’ll finally be replacing the flooring in the kitchen, dining room, and bedroom hall to something more kid friendly (we currently have cream colored carpet in the dining room!).
Do you set goals or make big plans at the beginning of the year? What are your goals?
After two babies of my own, it turns out that I’ve become opinionated about the acquisition and use of baby gear. Our family is of the philosophy that “enough is as good as a feast” and while we love our children, we do not want to live inside a primary colored, cluttered home with no space to enjoy the home as an adult. I’m also super Dutch (literally and figuratively) and abhor spending more money than necessary. I’ve come up with this basic list of (mostly) essential baby and toddler items that we trust to work well with a few extras thrown in to answer the question, “What do I need for this baby?” Realistically though, a baby needs food, shelter, diapers, and attention, and most baby stuff is extra but the right tool certainly does make a job easier! Clearly, I didn’t include clothes on the list because what you need varies so much due to seasons and climate. Start with one piece sleepers and white onesies and you’ll be set for newborn stage.
Miracle Blanket (I thought these were overpriced until my first child peed through his at 3 days old. I ordered a second immediately)
In a half-hearted attempt to clear out my drafted posts, I’m publishing them without much editing and tons of photos, starting with our trip to London in January. Enjoy!
Overnight flight Tuesday to Wednesday. I got about 3 hours of sleep on the flight due to a surprise wake up from a non life-threatening medical emergency. We were proud we were able to pull out cash, find the underground, buy Oyster cards, make it to rented apartment all by ourselves without a phone to guide us.
We arrived at apartment in Holborn at noon. Our host was very helpful with local restaurant and bar recommendations. We headed to Franco Manca for sourdough pizza for lunch. Delish and inexpensive! Bought sim cards with pay as you go data plans from o2 for our iphone 5ses. Both phones were up and running in about 5 minutes, so different from a phone back home! We overbought data but it was wonderful to have maps/directions, contact with each other while we were separated, access to social media, and the ability to contact our boys back home. We headed to Cittie of Yorke pub to meet up with WP folks. Too exhausted to think straight. Hit up Stainsbury’s for snacks, cheese and meat for dinner, and muffins for breakfast before watching HIMYM and crashing.
The Brians (husband and boss) had to get to conference by 8 but I slept until 9:30. Blissful! I enjoyed a quiet breakfast before heading out to the British Museum, a free history museum only a few blocks away. I explored Greek, Egyptian, and European artifacts and art before heading back to the apartment for Indian food and to be available while my mom took our baby to the doctor. Turns out he had an ear infection and while we didn’t plan on (or prepare for) our boys to be sick while we were gone, things went extremely well and Teddy started antibiotics right away. The conference was just on Thursday so I met up with Brian at the official after party at a pub just down the street from our apartment, a literal 3 minute walk! We loved being so close to everything!
Brian and I walked to Westminster Abbey on our first day of site seeing, about 35 minutes away from the apartment. The Abbey was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. We couldn’t take photos of the interior but it was definitely awe inspiring. For the two of us who love history, architecture, fascinating life stories, and learning, it was a gold mine! There’s a ton of great information at this site. Admission includes a free audio tour which really helped us make the most of our admission. We even ate lunch at the restaurant on site, the Cellarium Cafe. Not only did we not have to hunt for food, it was incredibly tasty!
Westminster Abbey is very close to to the Palace of Westminster and it’s very famous clock, Big Ben. We had enough time to wander around the Palace building and across the River Thames to the London Eye. I am incredibly, paralyzingly terrified of heights and, desiring to keep this trip as inexpensive as possible, we happily skipped the Eye. We were able to make it back to the Abbey in time for the 5:00 pm Evensong service, sitting mere feet away from where the royal family sat for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We walked past Buckingham Palace after dark, which was a little disappointing since we couldn’t see much, but made up for it with an intensely delicious dinner at Wahaca, a Mexican restaurant, in Soho. I am extremely skeptical of Mexican food outside of Mexico but our meal was one of the highlights of our trip. We still talk about it 10 months after the fact!
The next day Brian and I walked 45 minutes the opposite direction down the Thames to the Tower of London. I have so many photos of our explorations on this day because the contrast of the very ancient buildings in front of the ultra-modern skyline of London was incredibly striking. The oldest building in the Tower (and my personal favorite) is the White Tower, which was begun in the 1080s. It is mind-blowing to experience to soak in the history of a place that existed hundreds of years before your country of origin was founded. After the Tower tour, my long-suffering husband waited with me at Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross station to get a totally necessary photo. To end the day, we met up with the other Brian and folks from Human Made for dinner and drinks before crashing.
Before we had felt settled, it was time for us to make our way back to the airport via the Tube for the excruciatingly long flight home. The flight from the US to London was 7 hours but the opposite direction was 9! We were very, very happy to get off that airplane in Atlanta! We barely had enough time to scratch the surface of all there is to see and do in London and want to return, possibly with our boys, to finish our tourist wish-lists.
One of my favorite parts of parenting is introducing our boys to family traditions that date back to when we were little and trick or treating on Halloween is one of my favorites (possibly because I’ve always loved dressing up).
We kicked off our Halloween celebrations by bringing Ben and Teddy to my dad’s office on Friday afternoon to go trick or treating around the office building. It’s a big company with lots of stops but it works great for the little monsters and superheroes with short legs because there isn’t too much walking.
I felt a little bit like we were herding cats! Every time I tried to direct Ben and Teddy one direction, one would split down another hall or even start going back where we came from!
Ben is an old pro at trick or treating but Teddy wasn’t too sure at first. It only took a few stops before he was grabbing treats with both hands while quietly chanting, “One, pick one.”
In just an hour, the boys got more candy than they could carry. They were exhausted from all the running and Ben took his first nap in many months on the drive home!
Instead of carving pumpkins, which takes a whole lot more parental involvement at this age, we broke out my collection of acrylic paint and let the boys go to town on their tiny pumpkins. They are incredibly proud of their creations.
For the first time in five years, Halloween wasn’t cold, wet, and miserable! We joke that costumes in Michigan are designed to fit over a snow suit and since I remember many times having to wear a winter coat and hat under my costume, that is a real threat. Happily, we had dry weather in the mid 50s this year. After a quick dinner of pumpkin shaped pizza (Papa Murphy’s for the win!), we met up with friends and headed out into the neighborhood.
Ben wore his costume the whole time, everyone got treats they were excited about, and Teddy has a newfound, deep love of carrying things around in his Elmo “buckick.” I think we can call Halloween 2016 a success!