Amy Beth

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tidying Up: Kids’ Clothes

Ugh.

tidying up kids' clothes

After coming off my high from tidying and basically emptying my closet, this category was not so magical. I didn’t uncover new empty areas of my home or feel a great weight lifted from my shoulders. But it’s done and I think I have a few thoughts and tips to help anyone else out there trying to tidy up their home with little kids in tow.

First off, the KonMari method says that you should only tidy your own things. If you live with other family members you have to let them decide for themselves what sparks joy, and you can’t very well force someone to think about that. This is why I am basically ignoring my husband’s office. But I consider tiny children to be an exception to that rule. After all, the person who is most often dealing with their stuff is me. So I think that means I get to decide what to do with it.

Second, the KonMari method doesn’t really address the issue of practicality or future planning or little people who basically need a new wardrobe every season because they grow and change so fast. Going through their clothes and asking what sparks joy sounds like an awful lot of work for clothes that are all going to be outgrown in a few months anyway. So here’s how I addressed the whole issue of kid’s clothes.

Ask “What can he/she wear now.

These are the only things you need to have out taking up space in your drawers. I found many things sitting in drawers and closets that were either too small or too big. These things need to find another home.

Use the KonMari folding method as much as possible.

The KonMari folding method really does save space and make it easier to see the clothes you have to choose from. But kid’s clothes can be tiny and are not always worth folding into rectangles. So fold the shirts and pants and PJs. But skip the underwear and socks. It’s impossible.

Have a plan for what to do with outgrown clothes.

This is a the kicker that can really trip people up when it comes to kid’s clothes. Your plan could be to just load them up and take them to a thrift store because you know you are done. If you know you won’t be having future kiddos and are feeling particularly sentimental about certain items I recommend putting them aside in a box or bin to deal with when you get to the sentimental items category. Right now is just about clearing the clutter, not necessarily going through a whirlwind of emotions. Just make sure you don’t feel sentimental about everything.

Another good plan could be to hand down clothes to a family member or friend. While Mari Kondo advises against passing your belongings on to another person only to clutter up their life, I think kid’s clothes are a good exception. Hand-me-downs are legitimately useful to many people. As you’re preparing clothes for handing off, it would be kind to sort according to size, gender, and possibly season if you have that many items. It’s time consuming, but your friends will thank you. This is a good time to discard anything that has really seen better days. If there are items with impossible to remove stains, tears, or are otherwise not in immediately wearable condition, just toss them. Nobody wants hand me downs that they have to spend a lot of time trying to fix.

And another plan could be to keep them for future use. If this is your plan you definitely want to make sure you have good storage containers and a place to keep said storage containers. This is what has caused me problems in the past. I may have known I needed to clear out a bunch of outgrown clothes, but I had no boxes to put them in. When that happens you either end up with overcrowded drawers or piles of kid’s clothes in other areas of your house. To remedy this I bought several extra of the type of container I like to use so I will have one readily available the next time one of my kids grows a size. Sorting by size and gender again is a given. Be kind to your future self.

Our plan for outgrown clothes is actually a combination of the last two. We figure we may have another kid eventually, but in the meantime, a family member who is expecting a baby soon is taking the bins of the sizes she needs right now. When her kid outgrows them, she’ll pass them back to us.

These boxes of outgrown clothes may not spark a lot of joy right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be very joyful when the next baby comes along and all I have to do to dress him is pull a box out of the garage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Baby Rainbow Sweater and Pixie Hat

I’ve known how to knit and crochet for many years. I find it to be a relaxing activity to pick up at the end of the day. Perfect for feeling productive while binge watching TV. However, despite my many years of practice, I have very little to show for it. I’m great at starting a project and losing steam before it is finished.

Baby rainbow sweater and pixie hat

So I’m really proud of this sweater.

Baby rainbow sweater and pixie hat

Baby rainbow sweater and pixie hat

I followed the Eliose Sweater pattern that you can find here, just modifying the colors a little. To go with it made a little pixie hat based on this pattern. The hat was very easy and quick, which was nice after spending so much time on the sweater. I made the sweater just a tad on the big side so Poppy should be able to wear it through the winter and into the spring.

Baby rainbow sweater and pixie hat

Baby rainbow sweater and pixie hat

Baby rainbow sweater and pixie hat

These are going down as projects 5&6 in my 31 Projects goal.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cloth Diapering Changing Table

Changing table setup for cloth diapers

Back when I was first learning about cloth diapering (and caring for a baby in general) I found the changing table to be an endlessly interesting topic. Funny, the things that are interesting before they become a part of your daily life. But I loved to see how people set up the changing table and the systems they used to make cloth diapering quick and easy. Now that I change diapers several times a day, I no longer find changing tables to be that interesting. However, I know there are some people out there looking for ideas and inspiration and now that I’ve been using the same setup for over 2 years I feel like I might have a thing or two to share. Aside from a few upgrades we added to the setup for baby #2, our changing table has pretty much remained the same since Charlie was a wee lad (pun intended).

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First we have the dresser. I like to have a lot of space when changing a diaper so a nice long dresser works well as a surface. This Ikea dresser has worked well for us (although it seems they may no longer sell it.) We’re a short family so I could see how some may want a taller surface to work on, but for most this would be comfortable. It provides plenty of storage so we keep all of Poppy’s clothes and blankets and extra diaper supplies in the drawers.

Changing Pad: You need something to put the baby on. I like having a soft minky cover with a diaper insert laid out where the actual diaper changing is going to take place. That way if any of the mess leaks out I can just toss the insert in the diaper pail without having to change and wash the whole cover every time.

Lamp: I like to have a lamp nearby for those late night changes.

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Wipes container: all you need for this is some kind of plastic container that fits your wipes. We use cloth wipes (the cheapest wipes I could find without making my own) that we just wet with plain water. We wash diapers every two or three days and find that the wipes stay wet but still free of mildew when we change them out that often as well.

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Basket When we get a fresh load of diapers out of the wash, I go ahead and stuff all our covers with inserts. They just sit in a basket ready for me to grab at a moment’s notice. The basket also holds any diaper creams we may need. I frequently use Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion spray to help clean an especially messy bum and sooth sensitive skin.

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Drying rack: the Applecheeks diapers we use allow you to reuse covers once or twice before washing them. I got this little dish towel drying rack to hang up our diapers to air out after they are used. It’s a great little compact way to keep them nearby.

Diaper pail: for cloth diapers I recommend getting a simple trash can with a lid you can open with one hand and Kissaluvs diaper pail liners. Get two liners so you have one to use while the other is in the wash. Our liners have held up really well for us through hundreds of washes.

Hamper. Diaper changes and outfit changes often happen at the same time, so I like to have the hamper nearby.

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Extra Inserts: I store extra inserts in the top drawer so they are easy to access if I’ve run out of stuffed covers and need to put one together quickly.

And there you have it. Our diaper changing station! It is severely lacking in cuteness; I need to add some artwork on the wall above it. But as far as function goes this set up is pretty solid. I hope this helps anyone trying to set up a nursery for the first time!


For more baby and kid room inspiration, be sure to check out my Pinterest board!

Follow Amy’s board Kid’s room on Pinterest.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Favorite baby gear

Gear pinterest

Just about every new expectant mother has typed in a google search to the effect of “what things do I need for this new baby?” And google has happily delivered pages upon pages of lists with titles like “Essential Baby Gear” and “10 Things Every New Baby Needs” and “101 things to put on your registry.” And then every new expectant mother has felt the panic that comes with realization that this new baby could cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars before they even turn a year old.

I’m going to try not to do that to you.

When it comes down to it, everything a baby needs can be found within his mother’s arms. Food to eat, a cozy place to sleep, warmth, safety, and a whole lot of love.

But there are a few material items that, while not essential, have been useful in my personal experience. Many other mothers would swear by a totally different list of items. But, these are the things I find myself thinking I’m glad we have on a regular basis. So here’s a run-down of a few of my favorite items for a new baby.

Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

Cosleeper

This little contraption has proved to be the best solution when trying to navigate all the differing views on safe sleep for babies, at least for me. It provides the benefits of a crib – the baby has a safe separate space to sleep with plenty of air circulation and a good firm mattress and no risk of getting squished. But it also has the benefits of co-sleeping – I can easily hear my baby and attend to her right away if she needs it, and transitioning from sleeping to nursing and back to sleeping in the middle of the night is (comparatively) painless. It’s also good for me. If I have a baby in bed with me I can’t sleep for fear of either squishing or waking her with my movements. If I have a baby in another room I can’t sleep for fear that I won’t hear or notice when she needs me. With the co-sleeper, the sleep I get is peaceful.

Aiden and Anias muslin swaddle blankets

Swaddle2

These blankets seem pretty pricey, but I’m so glad we allowed ourselves this little splurge. I find these blankets to be useful for all sorts of things – swaddling, a nursing cover, a car seat cover, spread out on the floor to play on, etc. They are lightweight enough that they are easy to fold up and stick in a bag. But they are much bigger than most of the typical cotton or flannel receiving blankets you find at the store that start to seem much to small after the baby is a couple of months old. They get softer the more you wash them and have just enough stretch to make a good swaddle. They’re also adorable.

A whole lot of prefold diapers to use as burp cloths.

Diapers

Most of the little pieces of fabric sold as burp cloths in the baby aisle are much too small to catch anything of any significance. And my babies know how to burp with significance. A big pack (or two. or three.) of prefold cloth diapers are much bigger and much more absorbent. And you can never have too many. Never once have I thought that we have too many burp clothes.

Car mirror

Mirror

I know rear-facing carseats are the safest for babies. But I hate not being able to see them in the car. A good shatter-proof car mirror gives me the peace of mind I’m looking for.

Video Baby Monitor

Monitor

Baby monitors in general are much contested over whether or not they needed. Video monitors kind of have a reputation for being a little overboard and overprotective. But I gotta say, my video monitor is one of my new favorite baby things. When Poppy started to get too big for the co-sleeper (see #1 favorite thing) she had to move into a crib in her brother’s room. I felt some slight anxiety at that thought of her no longer sleeping right next to me. So I got a monitor to compensate. Now I can check on her at any time without disturbing her or her brother’s sleep. It’s also useful for those times when the baby (or three year old, for that matter) is making noises in her sleep and you aren’t sure if they need help or not. A quick check with the video monitor tells me if they are waking up or just dreaming.

Baby Carrier

Ktan

There are many different types of carriers, all with various pros and cons, but I love having a way to keep my baby next to me without using up all of my hands. I find carriers most useful when running errands, doing light housework, and playing with your older child in the backyard. Babywearing is also fantastic for soothing a fussy baby and getting stubborn non-nappers to fall asleep. I started off with the Baby K’Tan and loved it. It was super easy to get on and off and very comfortable. However it doesn’t work as well with larger babies so I’ve been dipping my toes into the the wild world of ring slings and woven wraps.


As I look back on my list I realize that I chose a lot of these items because they help me feel closer and more connected to my baby. I stand firm that all a baby really needs can be found in her mama’s arms, but mama’s arms need a break occasionally. So if you’re a new mama trying to figure out what you need for your new baby, my best advice is this: Pick the things that sound the most helpful in giving you a break. The individual items will be different for everyone, but the goal is the same – to keep our babies safe and loved.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Extended Breastfeeding and Weaning – Pt. 2

My last post on my breastfeeding experience left you with lots of thoughts, but not a lot of helpful information. It’s easy to find posts and articles out there with tips and strategies on how to keep going with breastfeeding. There seem to be a lot less on how to quit. So for those mothers out there that find themselves needing to wean a baby (well, toddler at this point) who would be happy to keep nursing forever, here are a couple of things that helped me.

A few weaning strategies

Don’t ask, don’t refuse

Sometimes a mother can get used to asking her toddler if he wants to nurse, to which he will of course say yes. But if you don’t ask, sometimes the kid will forget about or be distracted enough not to notice that you’re skipping a feeding every now and then. This can be a gentle way to phase it out, but it can move pretty slowly.

So maybe sometimes refuse

Sometimes I knew Charlie was asking for milk simply because he was kind of bored and it sounded like a good way to pass the time. When this happened I started to just say, “Not right now, you can have some milk before bed (or whenever the next routine nursing time was)” and try to direct his attention to something else. This worked to make nursing less of a recreational activity and eventually we were just nursing during those times that it was firmly planted in our daily routine. So for those instances…

Change up the routine

For a long time Charlie nursed every morning. I would bring him back to our bed when he woke up and we would snuggle and nurse for a few minutes before getting up to get ready for the day. So eventually I started to make an effort to up be and moving before he started to stir. Then once he woke up, rather than bringing him back to the bed which he would automatically associate with wanting to nurse, I would or get some toys out for him to play with in the living room or let him hang out with me in the bathroom while I finished getting ready. I found that by changing the regular routine he didn’t seem to notice that he didn’t get to nurse that morning. This worked well for the morning, but I still struggled with how to do away with nursing before naps and bedtime. So that’s when it was helpful to…

REALLY change up the routine

As in, leave town for a while and have somebody make a new routine with him. In my case, I went to visit my sister for five days while Charlie stayed with his dad and grandparents. While the trip wasn’t planned as a way to finish up the weaning process, I kind of suspected before going that it might do the trick. Even if Charlie wanted to continue nursing after I got back I wasn’t sure that I would still have milk to give him. (I didn’t.) So for five days Charlie got in a new routine with his daddy of a cup of milk (not from mama) before bedtime and nap. Once we were reunited I just continued with the new routine. On the few occasions that asked to nurse I just explained that mama didn’t have any more milk but he had his cup of milk that he could drink. Since he had done well with the new routine already he didn’t put up much of a fuss about it and just like that we were done.

The End

Even though Charlie didn’t exactly wean himself, I could tell he was ready and that I was going about weaning in the right way because it felt like a gentle process. I didn’t experience any engorgement or discomfort, which told me that I went about it gradually enough. (All of these strategies put together probably took about 2-3 months.) And Charlie never had any melt-downs or fits at the prospect of no milk for the day. On the occasions that he asked and I refused, he would easily accept the answer and move on to other things. I’m thankful that it wasn’t emotionally difficult for him, because that would have made it much harder.

The hardest part was my own emotional response. While I was ready for him to wean and knew that I wanted there to be some space before the next baby came, it was still a bittersweet change. Some of our sweetest moments together had been while nursing, from his early newborn milk-drunk smiles, to the games we would play where I would nibble on his fingers and send him into a fit of giggles. In many ways it felt like the end of nursing was the end of babyhood for him, not exactly an easy thing for a mother to come to grips with. And on top of all that, I’m pretty sure weaning caused some pretty significant hormonal changes for me. I spent the week or so after Charlie had weaned for good feeling very emotional. Sometimes because I was mourning the end of nursing, but sometimes over a variety of insignificant and unrelated things. Basically, I spent about a week needing a really good cry at the end of each day. My emotions eventually evened out and got back to normal, but I definitely wasn’t expecting that particular emotional roller coaster.

In all, I nursed my first child for 28 months. I’m thankful we stuck out the early challenges and were able to keep it up for as long as we did. But while the nursing relationship is definitely a special thing, it’s the mother-child relationship that has real staying power. Obviously our bond hasn’t diminished at all with the lack of nursing sessions. We’ve found plenty of ways to get our quality time in together. The bedtime nursing routine was quickly replaced with story times and back rubs and night-time lullabies. Morning snuggles under the covers still happen if we’re not in too much of a rush (and sometimes even if we are). And while babyhood may be over, I’m finding toddlerhood to be a pretty fun stage.