Monday, May 15, 2017

How I Made $29.95 in 10 Minutes

Don't worry; this isn't a post shilling my new multi-level marketing scheme. It IS, however, an important post. Today I "made" $29.95 by mending one of our hanging wet bags.

Let me explain.

We've had several rounds of illness the past year that have required that I bleach our diaper laundry. This has caused one of our large hanging wet bags to develop a hole in the fabric around the handle so it was no longer able to be hung up. The PUL was still in perfect condition so rather than buy a new one I mended the one we already had.

In this age of planned obsolescence the idea that we should fix something when it breaks can sound downright foreign. But it's worth doing. Besides saving money by not buying a new wet bag, I also avoided adding yet one more thing to the landfill prematurely. I also was able to talk to my older son about caring for the things we own and how we can repair fabrics through sewing- it became a teachable moment.

We tend to focus on ways to earn more money or how to save on the things we buy. We forget that NOT buying something saves us the most money! I'd much rather put that $29.95 towards a new zoo pass to make memories with the boys.

Mending, darning, and repairing items have saved us thousands of dollars over the years. I fully intend to teach my boys how to mend and sew.

Have you fixed something recently rather than buying a new one? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

10 Essentials for a Sick Baby

***Post contains affiliate links***

The first time your baby gets sick is awful! They are so tiny and helpless and can't take most medications. These are some tried and true essentials to have in your arsenal so you are prepared for that first cold. There is nothing worse than your baby waking up in the middle of the night with a fever and not having anything to help him on hand. I often give these items as baby shower gifts so new moms will be ready.

1. Infant Tylenol
 Acetaminophen is safe for babies of all ages so I recommend always having some in the house. Ask your doctor for the dosing information at baby's first check up a few days after birth. I keep it on my refrigerator and also a picture on my phone if I ever need it when we are out.

2. Thermometer
We have several thermometers. We have a temporal thermometer but I don't feel it is very accurate so I recommend a basic digital thermometer. Our pediatrician recommends taking the temperature under the arm and adding 1 degree rather than taking it rectally.

3. Baby Comfy Nose (or Nose Frida)
You NEED this! A bulb syringe is basically worthless against a bad cold. I prefer the Baby Comfy Nose over the Nose Frida because you don't have to buy filters. You just use a tissue you have on hand.

4. Little Remedies Saline Drops

This is also an essential! Babies and toddlers can't take decongestants so saline drops are a safe way to help them to drain. I put a few drops in then use the Baby Comfy Nose to suck everything out. It really helps loosen up the gunk.

5. Zarbees Cough Syrup
This isn't really a medicine but it is nice to help ease little throats sore from a bad cough. It won't actually make the cough go away but it is soothing. It can be used on babies 2 months and up.

6. Humidifier
A humidifier will help little ones so much when they are congested and miserable. Again, you will inevitably need it at 3am so have it on hand BEFORE little one gets sick. This is a great Baby registry item.

8. Rolled Blanket Under Top of Mattress 
Nothing to buy here! Just roll a receiving or swaddling blanket like a log and place it under the head of the mattress so baby can lay at a slight angle. This will help her congestion to drain.

9. Vicks Baby Rub
I like to put the Vicks on baby's feet then cover with socks or footed pjs for a bad cold. Never use adult Vicks on a baby!

10. Infant Motrin
Babies shouldn't have Motrin before 6 months but I do feel it lowers the temperature better than acetaminophen. You can also alternate the two- check with your pediatrician for recommendations on dosage and time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Free Printable Nature Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers

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Sometimes afternoons are a struggle for me, especially when one or both of the kids refuse to nap. My go to activity is to get outside if at all possible. As I've written about before, nature has a calming effect on all of us. This activity is one that I feel is low stress but still Montessori and nature friendly.

I kept the pictures simple. Usually I love colored illustrations but I wanted the focus to be on finding the objects rather than D fixating on the colors. It seemed to work really well. I tried to get him to simply identify the objects but he insisted on bringing his first item, a stick, with us. A child a bit older could take pictures of the items as they find them. This would lend itself well to a lesson about "leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing but pictures."

I laminated the Scavenger Hunt page with our Swingline Laminator (if you don't have one of these I cannot recommend them enough!). It kept the page tidy so we can reuse it again and again.

I was able to wear the baby in his Tula in a back carry so I was hands free to interact with D. I like that the baby got the benefit of being with us on our nature walk but D felt like he was getting one on one attention through the game.

Here is the pdf file for the scavenger hunt- I look forward to reading the comments to see how it goes for your family!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Surviving and Thriving with a Baby in a Small Home or Apartment

 ***Post contains affiliate links***

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time but something always comes up. Whether you are raising your child in a one bedroom apartment in NYC, a Tiny Home on the lake, or traveling the country in an RV you CAN live your small home lifestyle with a baby.

I know there are many reasons people choose to live in smaller homes. Some people are trying to save money, some are minimalists, some love their current lifestyle, and others were hit hard by the housing market crash. We went down this road after we found ourselves upside down on our one bedroom condo but have learned to love a more minimalist lifestyle. Honestly, the hardest thing about living in a small home with kids is dealing with the comments from friends and family.

If you take nothing else from the is post I hope it is this:

You don't need most of the baby stuff people say you need!

Babies really need very little; a place to sleep, food, diapers, some clothes, and love. The rest is just extras.

Tip 1: Skip the crib
This is basically baby gear heresy but hear me out. We bought a beautiful solid wood made in Canada crib and our first rarely slept in it. He started out in a Graco Travel Lite Crib as a bassinet then slept with us before moving into his toddler bed.  Our second used the Travel Lite Crib then moved into a full sized Pack n' Play and is happy as can be. If I had it all to do over again I would simply buy a full sized Pack 'n Play with the bassinet attachment. Skip the "deluxe" model with the newborn napper and changing gizmo- it's just more crap to store. I would recommend buying a mattress for it since the pad included is super hard. Also pick up a couple of sheets.

A Pack 'n Play is ideal for a small home because it takes up less room, is easily moved (it has wheels!), and can be folded up when not in use.

Tip 2: Skip the Big Infant Gear
I made the mistake of registering for many of the big contraptions people said I "had" to have. The reality is few were used often and we didn't miss the ones we skipped. My advice is to skip the big stuff until baby arrives. If you think baby needs something like a swing borrow one from a friend to try out then buy one used.

Things to Skip:
  1. Exersaucer/ jumparoo- these take up a ton of room and you won't use them for months! Buy a used one later if you really need it. Better yet, get a doorway jumper that is easily stored under a bed when not in use.
  2. Changing table- I used a changing pad on a dresser but after the brief newborn phase I mostly used a waterproof pad on the floor. Looking back I could have totally skipped the changing pad all together.
  3. Swing - we never had one, never missed it
  4. Rock 'n play - we never missed it plus it has been linked to plagiocephaly and torticollis 
  5. Plastic baby tub- get a bath pillow instead.
  6. Bumbo chair- it's not necessary and is bad for baby's development
  7. Special burp cloths- I just used flannel receiving blankets
Things I NEEDED:
  1. Boppy- I would never have survived breastfeeding without it!
  2. Bouncy chair- Both of my boys loved it. It gave me a chance to do things like take a shower and use the bathroom lol
  3. A couple of Toys- check out this post for my favorite baby toys
  4. Books-  check out this post for my favorite baby books
  5. Car seat- Plenty of people skip the infant seat but I thought it was nice to have
  6. Bath Pillow- I used it in the sink at first then in our regular tub until baby could sit up for baths. It easily hung on a suction cup out of the way in our shower.

Tip 3: Buy Used as You Need Things
Don't register for everything you could possibly need for baby's first two years. Get the essentials for early on then buy the other things used when you actually need them. This saves you space but also has another HUGE benefit. When things are purchased at full price you feel like you NEED to keep them in case you have another baby because replacing them would be expensive. If you buy something used for $10 it's easy to let it go because you know you can pick up another one if/when you need it. You can use Craigslist/ Facebook Swaps as your free storage unit

Tip 4: Look For Travel Versions of Items
 This was something I actually did right the first time around! Travel items take up less space and are usually easier to store. Here are a few of my favorites.

Fisher Price Space Saver Chair - I love this because it straps onto one of the chairs you already have so it doesn't take up any extra space like a regular high chair would.

Pack 'N Play - see Tip 1

Travel Swing- If you find you need a swing get a travel version that folds up and takes up less space

Tip 5: Babywear
Babywearing is an essential for me! I liked the K'tan for the brand new stage then a Tula after that. We have gotten a TON of use out of our Tula and I feel it has more than paid for itself. If you live in an urban area where you walk everywhere you might even be able to get by without a stroller! I hang my carrier on a door hook and it takes up virtually no room.

Tip 6: Breastfeed If You Can 
It's not for everyone but I have found breastfeeding to be great for minimalists! No bottles to clean, heat, or store. I have 3 small bottles for an emergency and some breastmilk in the freezer and that's it! I'm lucky to mostly work from home so I don't have to provide milk for daycare. 

Tip 7: Consider Using Cloth Diapers
Diapers are expensive and take up tons of space in landfills. I have seen friends with entire rooms full of disposable diapers in all sizes bought by well meaning friends for showers. If you live in a tiny home you don't have room to store thousands of diapers! My cloth diaper stash can all fit in one drawer and will last through potty training.

Tip 8: Keep a Minimalist Mindset When It Comes to Wardrobe
 People LOVE buying tiny baby clothes! But those tiny clothes can pile up to take up a TON of space if you let them. My advice is to stick to the basics for sizes newborn- 12 months. For newborns I like the side snap kimono shirts because getting complicated outfits over their tiny, wobbly heads was basically impossible! Add a few zipper sleepers for night time. Don't buy too much in newborn since your baby might not wear it!

After the newborn stage, I stick to onesies with pants and one piece rompers. I like the Carter's sets. I think it's better to do laundry more often than to have over a week's worth of clothes to store. I store clothes in other sizes in space saver bags

Also, buy one brand of white socks in each size (I like the ones from Children's Place). They will all match and you won't waste time finding sock to match each other and the outfit.

Do you live in a tiny home with a baby? What are your tips?