Simplify the Diaper Bag {Two under Two}

I’ve now been a mother of two for just over six weeks and I’ve made it a point to get out of the house as often as we can. I want to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and leaving the house to go to the library, playground, or a playdate boosts my mood and helps LJ burn off a lot of energy. Win win! In order to leave the house though, I have to be prepared to take a diaper bag.

I have blogged several times about what I carry in my diaper bag (newborn, infant, toddler) and it may sound strange but these posts kind of serve like snapshots into my life at various points of motherhood. I like to share these posts not only to give some ideas to fellow mamas who might be looking to streamline their diaper bags but also to document what I carried at that point in time so I can look back later and reminisce on that stage of life. 😉

My goal with a diaper bag is simple: I want to have access to the things I may need when we’re out of the house but avoid feeling like I’m carrying around everything we own. I don’t want it to be so full that it puts strain on my back or is impossible to find anything quickly.

Today I’m going to share everything that I carry in my diaper bag these days with “two under two” (two kids under two years old). As with all my previous posts on this, I want to emphasize that this is what works for me. It might not be what works best for anyone else and that’s okay. I personally want my diaper bag to be efficient and minimal-ish (more than just a bare minimum of diapers and wipes). I know I could pack more items that may offer convenience in various situations, but I choose not to. I pack what I am most likely to need and anything not listed is honestly something we can do without in 99% of situations.

Diaper Bag 7.jpg

First up, I have a new diaper bag! I had used this diaper bag since LJ was born and I honestly loved it; however, it got such heavy use that it was getting pretty worn down and the front compartment zipper had completely broken. Rather than get the same bag again, I chose this one because it offered a similar look but had a few more inner pockets which I wanted now that I have stuff for two kiddos. One thing I definitely wanted to keep the same was a backpack-style bag – my arms are full enough these days that I don’t want to have multiple bags slung over arms. I want one bag that holds what I need and allows me to be hands-free so I can push a stroller/carry a carseat/hold my toddler’s hand, etc.

As it was with my first diaper bag, the front pocket is my “mom” pocket. This takes the place of carrying around a purse and holds a pen, a few snacks (I like to have protein-packed snacks while breastfeeding), hand sanitizer, headphones, and gum.

diaper-bag-3.jpeg

The side pockets are great for carrying my water bottle and I also slip my phone into the other side (usually I slip it in my jeans back pocket but if I don’t have one, I can quickly stash it there).

The main compartment is where I keep everything for the kids. I roll everything and place it on its side to maximize space and keep things easy to access. The main space holds a muslin blanket, flannel blanket, two burp cloths, a spare outfit for Vi (a sleeper, because that’s easy right now!), my wallet, a nursing cover, and a toy for LJ. I also usually throw in a snack container for LJ with crackers or something similar and his water.

diaper-bag-1.jpeg

Additionally, there are 5 pockets around the side and I’m purposeful with each one (counter clockwise from “top” of picture): The back pocket holds a changing pad (came with the bag) and a reusable clutch of wipes.  The next pocket is insulated for a bottle, but since I’m currently breastfeeding I store extra pacifiers and a pair of socks for Vi here. The next pocket holds 3-4 diapers for LJ. The next pocket holds 4-5 diapers forVi, along with diaper cream. The last pocket is LJ’s “snack” pocket. It holds a reusable placemat (handy at restaurants), a bib, spoon and case, and snacks (typically 1-2 pouches, fruit snacks or a fruit strip, and some type of bar).

diaper-bag-2.jpegdiaper-bag-6.jpeg

There is one last thin pocket outside the diaper bag (in the back) and it is usually empty, but it’s a handy place for me to slip something small I might need to carry for a particular purpose, like our mail, a book for my bible study, etc.

A few additional tips for a “two under two” diaper bag:

-Repack when you get home. It’s not exactly calm when we’re trying to get out the door. I’m getting kids changed, breastfeeding, getting myself ready, cleaning up spit up, changing a final diaper, grabbing LJ’s water bottle, trying to find shoes, wrangling LJ into his shoes, etc. The minutes leading up to us leaving the house are often hectic and rushed. It is not the time to realize “oh shoot, we have no diapers for Vi” or scramble to grab snacks in for LJ. And I certainly don’t want to leave the house and realize I have no wipes to clean up a poop mess (have you seen this!? OMG – hilarious, but also I would be so stressed out if this happened to me!) So in order to avoid that extra stress right before leaving or realize too late that we forgot something vital, I “reset” it each time we get home. I refill diapers, wipes, snacks, take out anything extra we used last time, and just get the bag back to baseline. I may not have time to do this right away when I get home, but I don’t put the bag in its “spot” unless it’s reset and ready. This way, the ONLY thing I have to do before leaving is throw in LJ’s water and zip it up! So much less stressful.

-Have an extra diaper clutch ready to go for your toddler. The first time I took both kids to my bible study, I went to drop LJ off in childcare and realized I couldn’t leave the diaper bag with him because I needed it for Vi! So I clipped his diaper name tag to one single diaper and handed it to his teacher like “uhh, sorry this is the best I can do.” Such a rookie mistake! I purchased this simple clutch and it’s the perfect size for a small pack of wipes and a few diapers (and even his water and one snack if needed). I keep it stocked with wipes and 1-2 diapers and store it next to my diaper bag; any time I’m going somewhere where LJ and Vi will be in separate places, I throw it in with my main diaper bag and then have something to leave with LJ. So much easier!

Diaper Bag 8Diaper Bag 4

Diaper Bag 5

As you can see, I still carry quite a few things around in the diaper bag. I’m prepared for the situations that are most likely to happen (hangry toddler, messy diapers, etc) but I’m not going to stress out about every possible situation (if LJ gets bored or restless, I don’t need 7 toys in the bag to distract him because we’ll typically be able to find something in our surroundings to focus on). That’s what works for me!

What are your purse or diaper bag must haves?

Advertisements

First Month as a Family of Four!

Well, somehow I now have a ONE MONTH OLD.

20190924_200633.jpg

It feels like I just I shared Vi’s birth story and she is already one month old! She hit the milestone yesterday and while I’m thankful she’s healthy, growing, and settling into more of a routine (which generally means more sleep – whoo hoo!), I’m already missing the sweet little newborn cuddles.

IMG_20190923_200939As I’m sure you can imagine, my days at home with a toddler and newborn have been a little chaotic (see photo below ha!) but we’re hitting our groove now and I’m hoping to get back into more consistent blogging. I figured the best place to start was to have a catch up post where I bring you up to speed on what life has been like for us over the past month. It’s been a sweet, challenging, FULL month to say the least!

20190826_191803

My c-section was on a Friday, so I stayed at the hospital through the weekend. Several members of my family and Justin’s family came to the hospital during our stay to meet the baby. Since we didn’t know the gender ahead of time, it was fun to keep the surprise a few more hours until our parents could come to the hospital and find out in person – we loved getting to see their reactions when they heard we had a girl!

We came home from the hospital on Monday morning and it was SO good to be back at home. Right away, LJ wanted to hold Vi and it was just THE. CUTEST. THING. We didn’t even have to tell him what to do – he held his hands out and it was the most natural thing in the world. My heart was in a puddle!

20190826_110415.jpg

Justin had four workdays off for paternity leave (six total including the weekend) and it was so nice to get settled back home as a family. My mother-in-law stayed to help us during our first week home and then my mom stayed with us the second week. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without them. They cooked meals and kept our house semi-clean and most importantly, kept LJ entertained so I could focus on breastfeeding and getting into a routine with Vi. It was also nice to get a few naps in and catch up on sleep while they watched the kids! Because of my lifting restrictions, I wasn’t able to lift LJ in and out of his crib so they were the only reason nap time and bedtime continued to run so smoothly! I’m SO thankful for their help!

IMG_20190922_093523_449

The past two weeks we’ve been on our own as a family of four. This post is already getting super long so I’ll just touch on some of the highs and lows of the past two weeks.

IMG_20190914_220414_225.jpg

Lows:

-LJ got croup last week and it was so hard to keep him separate from Vi. He ended up spending two days at my parents house (we joked he was in quarantine) so he could rest and recover and Vi could stay healthy.

-We expected sleep to be elusive, but there have been a couple nights that we were awake more than we were asleep and even one night where Vi AND LJ were up most of the night. We know loss of sleep goes with the territory of having a newborn, but it is still tough!

-The first couple weeks, Vi did NOT like to be set down. She would sleep for 3 hours if someone was holding her…but would wake up in 20 minutes if I had set her down to sleep somewhere. It got to be draining to always have to hold her for hours (although it did lead to sweet snuggles).

-Vi started out wanting to feed every 90 minutes like clockwork. I’m so thankful I’m able to breastfeed, but being that on demand was exhausting and challenging.

-Two kids under two years old means someone always needs me. It’s a constant juggling act and some days it’s felt extremely overwhelming.

20190924_202124.jpg

Highs:

-The brother-sister bond is just about the cutest thing to watch. I love how LJ searches for Vi first thing every morning, he goes over to her when she cries, he tries to give her the pacifier, and he loves to hold her on the couch. It’s just so precious!

-LJ has grown so much in the past month. He’s using his words better, gaining more independence, and actually helps me with simple tasks like bringing a pacifier or throwing something in the trash. So proud of my big boy!

-Vi took to breastfeeding well and had a much better latch than LJ did starting out. It made the beginning of our breastfeeding journey MUCH more pleasant this time around!

-Justin and I have learned some tricks to help Vi sleep better in the bassinet or pack and play and it’s made life a lot easier to not have to hold her for all her naps.

-We’re finally getting longer stretches of sleep at night!!

-I mean…girl clothes are just the cutest. I already have a mild bow obsession. 🙂

-We’ve had a few days out as a family and it’s been great to get to have time together doing something fun outdoors!

-It has been a nice season of slow. It was initially hard to accept the fact that my house would just be less clean and I’d get less “done” during the day, but I’ve come to enjoy the shift in priorities. Snuggles trump folding laundry any day and I’ve enjoyed just spending time with my littles instead of worrying about all the other things that just don’t really matter that much.

-The dogs are unfazed by the presence of another tiny human. 😉

20190924_200202Love you Vi. Thanks for one unforgettable month. ❤

BABY WEEK is here!

It’s finally BABY WEEK! Whoop whoop!

Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks and my repeat c-section is scheduled for Friday, so we are very very very close to meeting this little one! I’ve been cleaning the house, stockpiling groceries, making freezer meals, and just finishing up a few little things. It’s crazy to think in just a few short days we’ll be a family of four!

Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for some absolutely dreamy maternity pictures!

I wanted to do one last pregnancy update before baby comes (and this will be the only blog post this week because I’ll be busy with other preparations). If you’re interested in reading back through the previous updates, I did one for first trimester, 20 weeks, and third trimester.

Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

All things considered, I’ve been feeling really good. I had a little bit of a cold a few weeks ago and stuffiness + sneezing while pregnant definitely isn’t fun but if that’s the worst I have to deal with, I’ll take it. I’ve been loving my BaoBei support band (pictured below) this pregnancy – it’s like a sports bra for your belly and really helps alleviate many of the aches and pains surrounding a growing belly.

LastBabyUpdate5.jpg

I have been having some weird shooting pain that comes and goes in my upper legs/groin area and I think it’s due to how I’ve been carrying LJ and walking, plus the way my pelvis is shifting. Stretching a lot has helped with this but it’s been a literal pain to deal with and I’ll be glad when it’s not an issue anymore! Other than that, I really can’t complain. I’ve been feeling good and I just love this stage of a big ol’ pregnant belly poppin’ out. 🙂

LastBabyUpdate8

Energy/Workouts

I have continued to keep up with the Expecting and Empowered at-home workouts consistently. I’ve mentioned before that the co-founders do frequent 10-week accountability challenges and we’re currently in week 8/10 of a challenge. This has really helped me stay on track and make sure to get the strength training AND cardio in each week.

LastBabyUpdate10

Justin and I did make the decision to drop our YMCA membership because we just weren’t using it enough so I’m no longer attending cycling classes there but I have been keeping up with long stroller walks with a friend and we do have a treadmill at home so I’ve stayed active. I only track my weight gain at OB appointments, and I’m staying about 7-8 lbs lower than I was with LJ’s pregnancy, which I credit to all this activity!

Food Cravings & Aversions

Still no food aversions but lately I’ve been craving ALL THE SWEETS. Seriously, my sweet tooth is out of control! My latest discovery is a new ice cream: Blue Bell Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Oh sweet goodness, that stuff is dangerously delicious.

LastBabyUpdate9

I’m still needing to eat something small every 2-3 hours and I particularly love keeping things like string cheese or protein bites on hand for little snacks throughout the day.

Sleep

Ahh sleep. How I miss you. This baby is very nocturnal and loves to party hard starting at like 9 pm and go all night. Needless to say, it makes getting a restful night of sleep difficult, especially now that baby is so big. I’m tossing and turning, waking up multiple times a night to get comfortable, and just not really getting much restful sleep. Up until about 36/37 weeks, I wasn’t needing to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but in the last week or two I’ve needed to at least once a night, which also interrupts my sleep.

LastBabyUpdate11

Because nights aren’t restful and baby is less active during the day, I’ve really been trying to nap or at least rest when I can. LJ is thankfully back on track with taking a 2-3 hour nap each day so I’m able to get a few things done and then rest a bit which is a nice way to recharge a bit during the day.

What I’m Looking Forward To

Sweet baby snuggles. Little baby coos. That indescribable newborn smell. Seeing LJ as a big brother. Finding out if baby is a boy or girl and calling him or her by name. Even just writing all these things makes my heart feel like bursting – I am just so looking forward to meeting this person whom I’ll love for the rest of my life!

LastBabyUpdate7

Boy/Girl Predictions

I had a dream where essentially at one point, baby was a girl and at another point, baby was a boy. All within the same dream! So I’m still very much in the dark with no gut feeling or intuition. Most people have guessed girl based on how I’m carrying or whatever wive’s tales they subscribe to, so we’ll see!

LastBabyUpdate1

LJ’s Awareness

Little man is blissfully unaware of how his life is about to change. He still points to my belly when we ask where the baby is, gives my belly kisses, and likes to lift my shirt and support band and actually rest on my belly skin when we talk about the baby. It’s so sweet! We recently set up the pack and play downstairs and talk about how it’s “for the baby” so he’s getting used to that. I also ordered him a boy and girl baby doll and we’ll give him whatever gender his sibling is on Friday so he’ll have a baby of his own. I’m a little nervous about how the transition will go for him but luckily we’ll have lots of family around to help the first few weeks so he’ll still get lots of individual love and attention.

Misc Stories

I had a case of major pregnancy brain and totally skipped an OB appointment two weeks ago. I never miss appointments and this was especially bad because I am at the point in pregnancy where I’m going every single week on the same day at the same time. AND I had just been texting a friend earlier that morning about how she had a mom brain moment and totally forgot her son’s pediatrician appointment. Despite all these helpful things, I still totally forgot about my own appointment. I was so embarrassed!

I had a recent burst of nesting energy and convinced Justin it was the right time to paint both the nursery and LJ’s bedroom. You can see our sweet little nursery update here. I know that baby won’t actually be using the nursery for a few months, but just having it done made me feel so much more prepared and ready for baby!

I love that I’m close enough to birth that when people ask when I’m due, they get freaked out. Last night I was in Costco to get a new cell phone and the worker asked when I’m due – when I replied “Friday” he got a slightly panicked look on his face like I was going to go into labor on the spot and said “OH! Wow!” Ha!

Pretty much every random stranger who comments on my belly thinks it’s a girl. We’ll know if they’re right in FOUR. DAYS.

NatalieJoy4

Thanks for following along with me on this pregnancy journey! Crazy to think that my next blog post will be introducing you to my baby! All thoughts and prayers appreciated for a smooth delivery on Friday. ❤

 

 

Baby #2 Hospital Bag

Friends, tomorrow we will hit a big milestone.

37 weeks. In the world of pregnancy, this is a big deal because it means baby is considered full-term.

FULL. TERM. We’ve made it! Honestly, I am both super excited and a little bemused – like how are we here already? But also…I feel like I’ve been pregnant a loooooong time. Ha!

Even though I do have a repeat c-section scheduled, I went into labor early with LJ so I’m mentally preparing just in case this baby decides to surprise us early too. Yesterday, my new diaper bag arrived in the mail and it was just the kick start I needed to start to physically prepare for delivery by organizing and packing up things for mine and baby’s hospital bags. Today I thought I’d share what I packed this go-around (with LJ I packed WAY too much – typical first time mom, right?) This is just a list of what works well for us and our needs; it might not be exactly right for you, especially depending on what your hospital provides, but I hope it’s still helpful for anyone else who may need to be prepping for labor soon!

What's in my Hospital Bag.jpg

Baby’s Hospital Bag

I have blogged many times about my diaper bag and while I loved it, I knew that I needed to get a new one for life with two kids. For one thing, my old one has been used so much over the past 21 months that the front zipper pocket is completely broken which renders the pocket pretty much useless. For another, with two kids to pack stuff for, I wanted something with just a few more interior pockets. After what felt like endless research, I settled on this backpack style bag and so far, I’m loving it!

For baby’s hospital stay, I am packing the following items:

babys-hospital-bag.jpg

-Halo Sleep Sack (we loved this for sleep with LJ and used it exclusively until he could roll over)

-Swaddle Me velcro swaddle (another option for baby’s sleep, a little less fabric than the sleep sack for a cozy sleep)

-Two burp cloths

-One long sleeved onesie (the same one LJ wore in the hospital – I can’t wait to see this baby in it!)

-One plain short-sleeved onesie

-Two pairs of leggings

-Two sleepers

-Two pairs of socks

-Aden + Anais muslin blanket

-Flannel blanket

-Beautycounter balm (the hospital does provide ointment if needed for diaper rash, circumcision healing, etc. but I prefer to take this stuff along)

-A blue striped hat + a few headbands (can’t wait to find out which ones we get to use!)

And that’s it! Honestly, I still feel like this is probably too many clothing options, but since I will probably be in the hospital 3-4 days, I wanted a few choices. Everything is gender-neutral because we didn’t find out gender with LJ and we don’t know with this baby, which actually makes it pretty easy to pack because it’s the same stuff as before! Our hospital provides diapers, wipes, stuff for bathing, etc. so we didn’t bother to pack any of that this time around.

Hospital Diaper Bag

And it all fits perfectly in the new diaper bag!

Mommy’s Hospital Bag

Clothing

For my bag, I packed the following items this time around:

Mommy's Hospital Bag.jpg

-Black flip flops (I like these for the shower/bathroom)

-Postpartum Support Leggings (an old pair I got off Amazon and wore with LJ and a new pair from Bao Bei that I am very excited to use!)

-Postpartum bloomers (the hospital provides pads + mesh panties, which I will also use, but I’m excited to have something along that also gives extra support)

-My cozy robe

-Fuzzy socks! I hate having cold feet.

-“Slipper” socks. Someone gifted me this dark gray pair of fuzzy slipper socks when I was pregnant with LJ and it was my favorite thing at the hospital. They are easy to put on and off and they have grips on the bottom so I didn’t slip around at all. I kept them by my bed and wore them walking around my room and hallway, they kept my feet warm and felt like a treat, and they got popped in the laundry as soon as I got home. Loved these!

-A cozy gray cardigan

-Loose fitting black pants (alternative to compression leggings when I need a looser fit)

-Four nursing tank tops (mostly from H&M)

-Two nursing sports bras (I love these from Motherhood Maternity)

Toiletries

The hospital does provide basic toiletries, but I feel much more like myself if I bring along my own things so this is what I prefer to do. Basically, I pack like I would to go on any trip (my shampoo + conditioner, Wet brush, extra hair ties, my morning and evening skincare products, toothbrush, contact stuff, deodorant, dry shampoo, and my basic daily makeup) but I do have a few specific additions. I make sure to take along a small handheld mirror so I can do my makeup from bed, nipple balm (because those first few days of nursing – ouch!), and washable nursing pads.

Mommy's Hospital Toiletries

I have a large travel toiletry bag that all this fits in and for the next 17 days all my stuff will be in it on my bathroom counter. This way, I can still have access to use it every day but it’ll be ready to grab and throw in the suitcase quick if baby decides to come early.

A few extras

I will also take along my trusty Boppy breastfeeding pillow (this was SO helpful to have in the hospital with LJ!) and my cell phone + charger. Justin and I share a suitcase for stuff and my half is now packed. He is on his own to make sure his stuff gets packed in time. 😉

What are your hospital bag musts? Even though I’ve done this before, it’s been 21 months, so if I’m forgetting anything crucial, please share below!

My Mom Uniform

Good morning!

Today I’m once again joining Erika & Shay‘s monthly Let’s Look link-up (which will actually be tomorrow, I’m just posting a day early) and this month’s topic is your favorite “outfit of the day” or OOTD. 

If you’ve been around for a long time, like 5 years ago before my blog’s hiatus, you know that this space started out as a place to share lots of teacher outfits. My Instagram used to be exclusively dedicated to sharing my teacher ootd and I would share simple, everyday looks that were professional, comfortable, and affordable. The outfits are all still saved under my closet archives but here’s a little sampling of what my professional wardrobe used to be:

 

I loved mix-and-matching basic pieces in different ways – I loved little details like a fun ruffle, statement jewelry, or unique shoes and I enjoyed finding fun ways to layer. I still enjoy dressing up like this if I have the occasion to!

Now that I am no longer teaching and stay at home with LJ all day, it would be super easy to live in sweatpants, but I still try to get dressed every day. I don’t mean get dressed up, I mean just get dressed in anything other than the same old sweats.  It is literally JUST as easy to throw on a basic striped shirt as it is to throw on a sweatshirt, and it may seem silly but it affects my overall confidence and happiness. I’m way happier bumping into a friend in the grocery store if I’m wearing a “real” shirt. I’m way more confident kissing my husband when he comes home if I’m not in the same sweatpants I was wearing when he left for work in the morning. When I feel like I look even just a little bit put together, I feel better about myself and a happier, more confident Sarah is honestly a happier, more confident wife and mom.

All that being said, I don’t have the same about of time to piece together a daily outfit like I did when I was teaching and even if I did, there’s no real reason to go to that level of thought and effort. My days usually include pushing a stroller on a walk or running around my backyard or reading books on the floor so the heels have taken a leave of absence. Plus, many days I end up with yogurt on my pants or have a strawberry thrown at my shirt (thanks LJ) so I stick with basic, easy to clean clothes. I have a “mom uniform” of sorts that goes something like this: easy top in a classic pattern (stripes, plaid, etc), one piece of simple or statement jewelry, skinny jeans, and flats. It maybe takes an extra two minutes to pull these items from my closet instead of reaching for sweats, but the minimal amount of extra effort makes a huge difference.

All of those outfits were super easy to thrown on, and I felt so much happier and more confident heading out the door. And they are all still comfortable and easy to “mom” in!

Now do I also take the time to do full-on hair and make-up everyday? Heck no. I’m often in a messy bun with maybe a few swipes of bronzer and mascara. And of course there are days where LJ and I are in jammies and sweats all day long. But I really do try to put at least a little effort into getting dressed more often than not.

I also want to address that now that I’m pregnant, my wardrobe is reduced and comfort is the name of the game, but I still try to look put together. I’m rocking a comfy, simple top, skinny jeans, and my Converse most days.

Also, since it’s approaching summer, we’re outside playing a lot now so I’m often wearing some form of athleisure.

My favorite OOTD is one that is comfy, cute, and requires minimal thought and effort while still staying a step or two above my ratty college sweatshirt. By keeping a simple “mom uniform” in mind, it’s easy for me to feel put together every day.

What’s your standby, go-to outfit that makes you feel put together and confident?

Simplify the Diaper Bag {Toddler}

Before I begin, thank you to all who have been praying for G, the student I shared about in Tuesday’s post. He is still in ICU, so please continue to pray! Thank you!

One of my main goals, both in life and on this blog, is to keep things simple. So often we over-complicate things and make life more difficult, time-consuming, mentally draining, or stressful than it needs to be. Sure, some things are worth lots of extra time and effort, but most things can really be brought down a notch or two (or seven) and life can still flow smoothly.

One thing I have really tried to keep simple is my diaper bag. I have a distinct memory from before I had children of a friend coming over to my house carrying her baby in the carseat, her purse was slung over her one shoulder, and her stuffed-to-the-brim diaper bag over the other. She waddled into my house bogged down with all this stuff and I thought “whoa, that looks so exhausting!” I started to look around at moms when I was out and about and noticed that my friend was not unusual; lots of moms were carrying multiple full bags on their shoulders or in their strollers and it just seemed like they had so much stuff with them at any given time. I decided that when my time came to use a diaper bag, I wanted to do things differently.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I’m very to-each-her-own around here. If you want to think through all the possibilities for what your child(ren) may or may not need while out and about and take it with you just to be safe, that’s totally your prerogative and I support you and have zero judgement! For me, I don’t want the weight of heavy bags yanking on my shoulders. I don’t want to have to dig around for several minutes just to find something at the very bottom of my bag. I don’t want to *think* I have something with me but really the bag is too full to easily locate it to be sure so I just leave my house and then when I need that item, come to find out it’s not actually in there at all. I want things to be simple, streamlined, and easy on my shoulders and back. I want to have what we need while out and about without carrying half my house everywhere I go.

Each stage of LJ’s life has required different necessities. I’ve previously shared what was in my newborn diaper bag and then my infant diaper bag. Today I wanted to share how I’ve updated what I carry now that LJ is a toddler. And I want to emphasize again: every baby and mama are different! This may not be the perfect diaper bag for anyone else but it is what works well for us!

Check out this post to learn more about the diaper bag I use. I love its simple, clean look and minimal-ish use of space and pockets!  I use the word “minimal-ish” to describe my bag and list of essentials because there are a few things included that aren’t really needs but sure do come in handy. I also link to a few items; I don’t get any compensation for this but just wanted to share products that have worked for us.

Simplifying the Toddler Diaper Bag.jpg

Toddler diaper bag essentials (plus a few extras)

The front compartment is still my “mom” compartment and this pocket really hasn’t changed much over time. I still keep the same items as before: my wallet, checkbook, 1-2 pens, headphones, chapstick, hand sanitizer, a snack, hair tie, gum, and a sunscreen stick for LJ and I.

IMG_20190418_082252_863.jpg

The back compartment remains exactly the same as before and is still used exclusively for diapering needs. I keep 4-5 diapers, wipes in my wipes clutch, a changing pad, diaper cream, and a diaper bag dispenser for super stinky ones.

IMG_20190418_082416_663.jpg

The main compartment is where the big changes happened. I do still carry a burp cloth because every now and then he will throw up (usually just if he’s straining hard to poop – TMI?) and it’s handy to have. I changed up the books/toys to be ones he is more into as an active toddler. I have a bib and a silicone placemat that we can put on a table at a restaurant so he could pick up food and not be touching the surface of the table. I also now carry around a spoon in a case which is super helpful. Also, there is nothing worse than a hangry toddler so I always carry around a variety of non-perishable snacks like food pouches, a dry snack in a container (goldfish, animal crackers, Cheerios, etc) and a straw sippy cup.

IMG_20190418_082515_298.jpg

In addition to these items, I still carry a muslin blanket and a flannel blanket (although once the weather warms up for good, I’ll probably nix the flannel blanket). I  still roll my items and store them vertically so I can see almost everything at a glance and grab what I need without much rummaging. In the back pockets of this main compartment I keep the food pouches, spoon +case, bib, placemat, and a pacifier on a clip.

IMG_20190418_082536_141.jpg

You’ll notice I don’t carry around a change of clothes anymore. I honestly can’t even think of the last time he actually had a diaper blowout or ruined his clothes while we were out and about. The bib prevents most food spills and I’m not really worried about it if he gets dirty while playing outside. It just felt like a waste of space to carry around extra clothes that literally never got used. Once we start potty training and expect accidents, of course I’ll start carrying extras again. But for now, it makes sense to use the space for other things.

A few of my extra tips:

  • I try to regularly check the diaper bag at home to make sure it’s ready to go. Having extra space in the diaper bag means there is room for other things to get put in there (such as an item we bought while out and about or maybe LJ’s sweatshirt we took off or something). I try to leave the house with the diaper bag back to ‘baseline’ if possible.
  • When I check the bag, I also check the diaper compartment. I try to always have at least 4-5 diapers and plenty of wipes so we never have an “oh no!” moment when out and about and we realize we’re out of these crucial things. I love my wipes clutch because I can easily and quickly add more wipes at home.
  • When the bag is back to ‘baseline’ and ready to go, I store it in the same spot in our kitchen. That way I know I can grab it on the way out the door and not have to worry that I might not have everything I need.

For me, taking less has actually helped reduce stress because I have everything I need and can access it quickly and efficiently without sifting through a lot of extra stuff. The last picture shows that I can really see everything in one quick glance and grab what I’m looking for easily. If you have an toddler and feel like you’re carrying around half of his or her earthly belongings every time you leave the house, I hope this post gave you a few times for simplifying the diaper bag!

What are your diaper bag essentials?

Calm & Quiet Mornings

Mornings. All is calm, all is quiet. There is nothing quite like a peaceful start to my day!

Today I want to talk about how waking up early (translation: before LJ wakes up) has made a really positive impact on how my days have gone lately. I have always been a morning person, but I’m also someone who does not function well on little sleep. Motherhood and the subsequent sleep deprivation threw a bit of a wrench in my early-bird lifestyle but I feel like right now I’m back in a season where I can get up early again and it’s made a big difference!

A disclaimer: when LJ was a newborn or going through a sleep regression, waking up early was the very last thing on my mind. In those days I was sleeping in as long as possible and would not get out of bed until he woke up. If he woke up at 4:15 I woke up at 4:15. If he slept in until 8:00, I slept in until 8:00. If you’re a mom to a newborn or baby who isn’t sleeping through the night yet, do not put the pressure on yourself to wake up early. Girl, you need sleep! Take care of yourself and listen to what your body needs.

IMG_20190319_090407_239_2

For the past 3 months or so, LJ has been consistently sleeping in until 8:00 am, give or take 15 minutes. I was still waking up when he woke up but my mornings began to feel more groggy and disheveled, like I was actually over sleeping. I was going to bed at 9:30 and getting up at 8, which was exactly what I needed when I was being woken up multiple times each night to breastfeed, but not what I needed now that my baby slept through the night. It also started to feel like I was waiting for my morning to wake me up and the days didn’t start on my terms. Since I knew that 99% of the time, LJ would wake up sometime between 7:45-8:15, I started setting my alarm to get up a little earlier. My mindset changed from letting my day wake me up to purposefully waking up and greeting my day. My mornings have significantly improved since I’ve done this!

I typically try to get up somewhere around 6:30. I put on some clothes, splash cold water on my face (I stopped using face cleanser in the morning about 6 months ago after reading multiple dermatologists recommend not over-cleansing your face), apply moisturizer, swipe on deoderant, and put in my contacts. I head downstairs to let the dogs out, fill their bowls with food and water, and pour myself a bowl of cereal. I then jump straight in to my devotions. During the school year, I participate in a Bible Study Fellowship so I’ve been completing each day’s lesson while I eat my breakfast.

0319190727a_2.jpg

If nothing else, my goal is to get through that entire routine and brush my teeth before LJ wakes up. Some days that’s all I can do but even then it still feels like I’ve started the morning out on the right foot and I feel ready for the day. As long as I get up by 7:00, 99% of days I can get through all that before LJ wakes up.

On the mornings where I get up by 6:30 and LJ sleeps in, I am able to get much more accomplished. Typical things I’ll try to do in this time might be empty the dishwasher (when it’s full, we run it at night so the dishes are dry and clean by morning), start some laundry, wash any dishes left in the sink from the day before, straighten up a room that was left in disarray, or take care of my one cleaning task for the day. I might spend time finishing up a blog post (like I did today!) or get a little work done for my job. Sometimes I will even just light a candle and curl up with whatever book I’m reading and get a few chapters in before LJ wakes up. It feels SO GOOD to be able to start the day off with a sense of calm and accomplishment. Even if nothing else “productive” gets done for the rest of the day, I still feel like I at least have it a little bit together because I had a smooth and relaxing morning.

Of course there are still days where I sleep in. Just the other night, Justin and I stayed up late so I slept in until LJ woke up. When I was in my first trimester with baby #2, I respected and listened to my changing body. If I felt extra fatigued, I just turned that alarm off and kept on sleeping. Sometimes I’m only up for 10 minutes before LJ wakes up. Other days, I get a great night of sleep and wake up on my own at 6:00, ready to start my day. I don’t stress too much about having an exact time or plan but really try to listen to what my body needs while also knowing my days do start so much smoother and happier if I get a little time to myself to start the morning off in the calm and quiet. Just like I said in my self care post last week, I’m a better mom, wife and person when I take care of myself, and waking up early to start the day my way is a form of that.

If you’re feeling like your day wakes you up instead of you waking up to greet the day, try setting your alarm a little earlier and see how you feel. Even just 15 minutes to drink a cup of coffee in silence may make a big difference for you!