The Bags We Pack

 What's that? Luggage for an entire family to go on vacation for a week? Nope. Just what I lug out the door every morning. No big deal.
What’s that? Luggage for an entire family to go on vacation for a week? Nope. Just what I lug out the door every morning. No big deal.

 

The type A, list making planner in my brain had already concluded that there was no way I could unpack and repack a bag for the baby every single night. I’d need to pack for as much of the week as possible on Sunday or this would never work. So while Sundays started out pretty scary… we’ve become more efficient and less scared, and even have time to do things other than obsess about the week.

At first, I was spending the entire day Sunday packing, second guessing and rechecking the bags… while juggling diaper laundry, baby food making, the ever-present Sunday night teacher guilt, and oh yeah- quality time with my family. (You can imagine how much fun I was to be around on Sundays!) Once I realized the world wouldn’t end if the bags weren’t perfect though, the weekends started to develop a rhythm- and here we are 2 months in- having Sunday brunch without a side dish of panic. What are we doing? First, making baby food for the week on Saturdays (sometimes even Friday night) has been a game changer. I enjoy it more and don’t feel stressed about it. I’ve also gotten much faster! Next, my husband is the King of Cloth diapers. We’d use all AIOs and fitteds if it were up to me, but he’s happy to stuff our stash of pockets- so that’s how we fill the diaper bags. And that’s what seems to work best for our babysitters. Last, everything has to be ready by the door before I go to bed or I won’t sleep. In the morning, I just need to add the lunches to our bags, the freezer block to my pump bag and grab my breakfast. The King of Cloth gets up with the baby, gets him dressed and packs the car. I try to get in the car by 6:35.

In each diaper bag: 6 diapers, 2 nap diapers, 8-10 wipes, spray bottle, 2 wet bags, Tylenol, a back up outfit (including socks, because I have a fear of one particularly squirmy baby’s feet landing in poop during a diaper change), sleep sack, lunch bag.

Back to Work Nightmares

For me, the scariest part of heading back to work was the fear of being unprepared. After our baby was born, my husband and I made it out of the house (with the baby) by 9AM exactly TWICE in about 6 months. Both times took every ounce of prior planning and organization we could muster, and both times we were late, forgot things and felt less than successful. With these experiences flooding my brain… I knew it would be impossible to drop off my little guy and make it to work by 7AM. The idea of pulling this off and being dressed and ready to work made me think I should just quit my job now. I spent the last month I was home having a new kind of back to school nightmare. Instead of the nightmares I was used to every August- forgetting to prep student name tags or showing up to school 2 hours late… my school nightmares were full of phone calls and texts telling me I’d forgotten to put milk in the baby’s bag or asking where the diaper bag was- only to realize I had brought it all the way to school. It was just a matter of time- and I knew it. How could one person remember so much? One of my worst nightmares was about the breast pump bag I’d be lugging with me. In my dream, I’d left all of the pump parts at home and filled the bag with school supplies. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was just about to pump.  This is now a bag I double check every morning- just to be safe. No pencil sharpeners yet, but you can never be too safe.

 

Update- I did not quit my job. In fact, I actually feel more organized now that when I was home, maybe this has been good for me… (?1?!?)

 

 

 

 

 

Diaper Storage

One of my favorite IKEA purchases in recent months in the Svira Box. It comes in all different sizes and I originally bought a big one for storing hats and gloves and all the other winter stuff that ends up lost on the floor of our coat closet every year. Each time I’ve been back to IKEA since, I’ve bought more. I love the muted, quiet color and the opening on the end to add a label.

So, while I love the colors and pattern of my son’s cloth diapers, I don’t have any interest in using them as a decorative feature in my home. And… as I have searched for storage ideas, I’ve seen a lot of decorative solutions- that just weren’t for me. The changing table is in our dining room… so we’re trying to create a look that says, “don’t mind me,” not “poop happens here and so does your dinner.” The Svira Boxes have worked great for us! I keep them full of diapers on the shelves of my $7 (SCORE!!!!) Salvation Army changing table. Hang a wet bag or two from the top and voila! Diaper changes are no big deal.

The Making of a Bedtime Routine

“Have a predictable bedtime routine,” they said. They all said. Every book, every parent and every sleep expert. So for weeks, I’d come downstairs after my little guy had finally fallen asleep to debrief my husband on the battle I’d just won… or maybe more accurately the white flag the baby had just raised. Together we had gotten in the habit of spending anywhere from 10 -30 minutes each night attempting to reconstruct the exact order of events that led to a sleeping baby. This intense analysis was key if we were going to repeat that the series of unfortunate events tomorrow- get from awake to asleep with even more ease-  and finally dub it our bedtime routine. As the sleep deprivation increased, the litany of relevant events evolved from “I read a book and then put him in his crib” to “I used his hand to turn the pages- but not all the pages- just the last two” and “no, no- I didn’t make eye contact with him when I gave him the lovey. That’s why he went to sleep and didn’t cry!”

We maintained this intense level of deliberation night after night as we tried to uncover the magic combination of events that would unlock the elusive ‘sleeping through the night’ we had heard so much about from all of the well rested parents we knew. You know the type: theyremember what they need at the grocery store, cook a meal without forgetting most of the ingredients and let’s not forget the just out of reach- look human… right. Those human-looking parents. The litany of ridiculous behaviors we adults were engaging in only became apparent to me the third or fourth time I was going to be away at bedtime. My husband and I hashed out the specifics of the impending bedtime routine to death- like a couple of crack football coaches from 90s sitcoms… think chalkboards, clipboards.

Anyway…I’m no longer delirious. And, here’s what I’ve figured out. The bedtime routine is the stuff that makes sense on your way to bed. It’s not a made up of a bunch of tasks that need to be crammed in at the most challenging time of the day (exhausted baby & more exhausted parents). Now that bedtime happens successfully (no crying parents) these days, when I’m asked what the routine is, it’s easy for me to describe and no one needs to get out a pen… or chalkboard. Feed the baby, read around the room, read him the book that’s by his crib, give him a kiss and get out. I’m reasonably confident too, that if one of those activities is skipped, or another added- all will be fine!

I love getting to do bedtime. After I feed the baby, we spend about 10 more minutes together. I give him his binky and lovey and carry him while we read around the room- from the changing table all the way around to the crib. In our nursery, that means we spell out Kade (pointing to the letters because I’m a nerdy teacher), and sing the framed verse of “You Are My Sunshine” that is hanging over his changing table. Next, we read the All The Ways I Love You poem by the light switch, and point to and name all of the people in our family in the frame on the other side of the room. Next, I put the baby in his crib with his lovey and pacifier and draw his attention to the giraffes over his crib asking him, “How many giraffes are watching you sleep?” Then we count the 5 giraffes, I tell him the bedtime story and give him a kiss. He rolls over and pulls his lovey to his eyes and I stare for a little bit… because he’s so sweet and peaceful… and then I go do grownup things… and talk to my husband about things other than how exactly I pointed to the letters of Kade’s name. Because… we’re no longer delirious!!!

Another crazy craft project… nesting is a real thing. My OB should have had the power to give me Michael’s coupons.

 

What a Difference a Little Cloth Can Make

Beautiful fabrics make all of the grossness that drips and spews out of babies a little less offensive. I fell head over heels in love with some flannel prints a while back and decided to make some cloth wipes. Some rockets, some dinosaurs… The softness of the flannel is so sweet against my baby’s skin when there’s spit up dripping down into his shirt and lodged under his neck. When I’ve been hit… like that time the spit up fired directly into the hood of my freshly washed sweatshirt, the soft flannel rockets were the way to clean up my little guy’s face. And the more textured terry on the reverse helped me scoop the rest out of my hood.

There’s nothing like being out and about with your adorable baby all by yourself, and having an unexpected wave of grossness hit. To me, it feels like hundreds of eyes are on me and they’re all waiting to find out, “is she prepared?” But, after whipping a rocket ship cloth wipe out of my shirt (yes, tucked under my bra strap like a grandma) in the line at the market the other day, I wondered if cloth might always distract onlookers from their investigating. While I collected the mountain of drool, the only thing the customers around me seemed to notice was the adorable cloth wipe. “We didn’t have things like that when my kids were small” and “what a beautiful burp cloth!” Meanwhile, my worries that the drool soaking all the way through my Boba wrap and onto my skin would leave me somewhat exposed (think scary wet t-shirt contest) were abated.  

Our Cloth Friendly Peg Board

Fewer diapers are changed here in my son’s bedroom than in our dining room. This pegboard is functional, but doesn’t store many diapers. I’ll share our diaper storage solution and the downstairs changing table(who doesn’t want to deal with poop in their dining room?) in another post. This pegboard was a fun project to do while I was nesting… which at my house looked like a craft store exploded. This project was much tamer than any of the wreaths or crib mobiles I crafted! I bought the frame at a Salvation Army for $4 and there just happened to be a pegboard behind the picture. The letters are cardboard and came from Hobby Lobby along with the buttons and other fun accents. I think I found the 8×8 frame at Hobby Lobby too. I found the wire baskets at Home Depot. My spray bottle addiction is fueled by IKEA… and I actually am planning to go back for more… After painting the pegboard white, I hot glued the letters and black frame to the pegboard. I made the “You are My Sunshine” decoration in Google Presentation (like Power Point) and you are welcome to print it out if you’d like to use it!

Wiping Up Baby Poop, With a Little Help From My Dog

When I started this cloth journey, I promised not to stress myself out. I’d give it a whirl, but there would always be disposable diapers and wipes in my house… guilt free! I wanted to take it slow and ease in. I knew I could use disposable wipes with my cloth diapers, and evaluate the wipe situation later. Why add any undue stress, right? Wrong.

Imagine this: You’re changing a disposable diaper, using some regular old disposable wipes, straight out of one of those facial tissue style pop up boxes. You wipe up what ever stinky mess your little one has created, putting each wipe into the soiled diaper, only to roll up the diaper (full of the used wipes and mess), fasten it closed with the hook and loops, and toss it into the trash.

Now rewind. If you stuff those same disposable wipes into a cloth diaper, they’ll end up in the washing machine with the diaper. Does that sound good? Of course not! But if you don’t… where will you put them? That’s what I wondered, as I held a poop covered wipe in one hand and my baby’s (still messy) legs in the other. I gazed over at the trash can… but that didn’t feel right either. So, after awkwardly dropping each soiled wipe into a plastic shopping bag my husband held… we made the switch to cloth wipes. And, I kept that habit of putting messy wipes into the messy diaper and rolling the whole mess up. I just toss it into a wet bag instead of a trash bag. And, on the subject of moistened wipes. Again, Pinterest and blogs and FB groups had so many different suggestions, that I felt overwhelmed. I was scared that if I used the wrong essential oil, my baby might have a reaction, or if I pre-moistened them and stored them, they’d grow mold. So, after days of hemming and hawing, I decided this was too big of a decision to make, while sleep deprived and delirious. In the meantime, I grabbed the spray bottle we used to quiet our dog when the UPS truck came, and sprayed each wipe as I needed it.

 How could a pooch this cute possibly have a behavior problem?!?
How could a pooch this cute possibly have a behavior problem?!?

That spray bottle became a staple on my changing table. And for 99 cents each at IKEA, I later bought a sea foam green TOMAT spray bottle for my diaper bag, another for the changing table downstairs, and a handful more just in case. And eventually, Chloe the Wonderdog came to fear, or quiet down, both when faced with her original pink spray bottle as well as each of the sea foam green IKEA spray bottles.

The End of Leaks

I’ve been quietly battling leaks since… well since I started this whole cloth thing. My little guy’s onesie has been wet in one (or both) of two places at some point almost every. single. day. There’s often a wet patch on his belly, right at the top of the diaper. If not, then there’s probably one around his legs. Sometimes I start undressing him to change his diaper and prematurely celebrate leak-less-ness. Then as I unsnap the dry looking onesie I feel the leg leak that I couldn’t see. Ugh.

 Another LEAK?!?#$@!!!
Another LEAK?!?#$@!!!

 

Why are there so many leaks? I’m buttoning all of the buttons! This shouldn’t be rocket science. I see baby after baby wearing cloth and looking dry online. All of these amazing moms are chatting about the cutest fabrics and who’s having a diaper sale. No one is complaining that their every day is wet and leaky… except me. And, only in my head. I want this to work so badly that I am maintaining a relentlessly optimistic attitude. 

Until recently, most of my problem solving attempts have involved shopping. “I’ll just try another brand. This one probably just isn’t a good fit for us! Or this brand… or this style…” Increasing the variety of diapers, of course, has only complicated the situation- as I can’t figure out which ones leak, if there are any patterns etc.

Two weeks ago, I got serious about getting to the bottom of this. I had the opportunity to buy someone’s entire stash of 30 pre-loved Fuzzi Bunz diapers. Now, I already had one Fuzzi Bunz Elite- and it seemed to hold up against leaks better than most of my diapers. Buying these diapers would help me eliminate several variables and get to the business of stopping leaks. So I cleaned all of the diapers and talked my husband into spending and evening adjusting elastics with me so that all of the new diapers would be exactly the same size. We separated any whose elastics might need replacing and vowed to use only diapers from this new lot until I figured out what was going on. And within just a few days, I had! There was one bump in the road (massive leak) that had me questioning if the PUL was too old and was no longer water resistant. That was quite a scare because that would mean that I had just wasted $200, and I wondered if I could justify keeping this up. But I stayed focused, put that one in the wet bag marked, “diapers that leak” and kept plugging along.

I learned some things that I was able to generalize across multiple styles and brands of diapers.

1. The leg leaks (usually minor- more like dampness) are not so much ‘leaks’ as they are a result of the cotton in the onesie doing what cotton does and wicking the liquid from the diaper. If I only snap the middle of the three snaps on the onesie, this doesn’t happen. I learned this when I posted a picture of a wet onesie to Fluff Love Photostream and asked for advice. The middle snap and slightly larger onesie advice were game changers!

2. Microfiber absorbs quickly, hemp absorbs a ton. Layering a microfiber insert on top of a hemp insert is a great strategy. It hasn’t failed me yet and I’ve been using that combination consistently for several days now. Next, I’m going to try charcoal inserts and another fabric called Zorb. I was expecting much too much from my pile of trim microfiber inserts. Now that I’m using them with a hemp doubler though- I am happy and my baby is dry.