Casey’s Camping Themed Nursery

Seven months later, we’ve finally decided on a theme for Casey’s bedroom: Camping and the Wild Outdoors! While the space theme has swept many parents away, I wanted Casey to grow up grounded. Instead of chasing the stars, I want him to look around and appreciate Mother Earth. We are hoping that by putting an emphasis on the great outdoors, he will grow up grateful for what he has rather than look to the future all the time. I know that sounds woo-woo, but I believe there is something in teaching our children to connect to nature and the world from which we came. Wonder at the stars instead of trying to capture them. Let someone else live out the future. Be in the present. That kind of thing.

We gave a preview of his bedroom a few weekends back when we posted an Instagram Reel of the Photowall wallpaper we chose. It got an astonishing reception, piquing many of your interests. While the room is still unfinished, I decided to share with you the products we are using to create his themed bedroom. We are converting his play gym into a tent and creating a library corner so he can have a space to pore over books. We are buying those stick-on Glow In the Dark stars so he has something to stare at on those nights he has difficulty sleeping. A hot air balloon ceiling light mimics Japanese paper lanterns to remind him of his first international trip. And a Long Live Boyhood sign over his bed reminds me to cherish these fleeting moments that only last a few years more. I hope you like it!

Building a Camping Themed Nursery

+ The wallpaper

+ This Play Tent

+ A Hot Air Balloon Ceiling Light

+ Glow In The Dark Stars

+ Galaxy Projector

+ Long Live Boyhood Sign

+ This Lantern

+ Oranges Play Mat

+ This Mushroom Pouf

+ Bunting

What It Was Like Traveling with A 6 Month Old Infant in Japan

A fellow mom-traveler once told me that six months was the best time to travel with an infant. This was after I had voiced to her my fear of giving up our favorite hobby (traveling to international countries) when I found out I was pregnant with Casey. When Japan reopened to the rest of the world Fall 2022, I knew that we had to go. Japan has been a bucket list destination for Mike and I for YEARS. We literally had plane tickets March of 2020. For three years, my biggest regret was not getting on that plane. So we decided to book a trip and I am so glad we did! These are my thoughts, tips, and gripes with traveling with a 6-month-old infant. The trip, by the way, was nothing short of amazing.

What Age Is Best for Traveling with Infants?

My mom-friend recommended six months but we booked our flight at 5.5 months. Why? Because we wanted to fly to Japan before starting solids at six months. It made meal-times with our little one easier, as he was 100% fed on baby formula, and we didn’t have to worry about exotic foods and microbacteria from another country causing sickness during our trip.

However, if I could have a re-do, I would choose to travel to Japan at 4 or 4.5 months because we set ourselves back with sleep-training. I felt like Casey was getting the hang of sleeping through the night around 4.5 months. Unfortunately with this trip, it took two weeks to set back his clock. At which point, Daylight Savings time occurred, so we are still adjusting.

Also, at 4.5 months, Casey was less energetic, mobile, talkative and demanding. At around 5.5 months, he could already voice his discontent, hunger, and tiredness with banshee shrieks and temper tantrums. We had to cater more to his desires. I think at 4.5 months, we would have to cater to his needs, but not so much his wants.

On the flip-side, I am SO happy we went to Japan at this age. Mike and I agreed that at 1 years old, we would have to worry about a toddler starting to walk (or run?) away from us. This would be a nightmare to manage with Japan’s heavy foot-traffic and metro crowds. And if he were a bit older still, we would have to deal with whining, complaining, and general resistance. Odds are a toddler would not be keen on hours of site seeing, miles of walking, and the general shopping and food scene. I could see Casey begging to go back to the hotel where there’s at least a pool! So next time we go to Japan, we already decided that Casey will be staying home with the grandparents.

What Items Did We Bring?

Let me start by saying that we brought way too much stuff. I heard that it was a bit difficult to secure baby items such as diapers and formula in Japan, so we decided to bring those with us. I was glad we did because we didn’t have to waste time trying to find these items on our trip. Since we travel much slower with a child in general, wasting time was not something we wanted to do. But for a ten day trip, I brought 100 diapers and 2 containers of Similac. We could have probably gotten away with 75 diapers (with enough to spare!) and 1.25 containers of formula.

We also brought an umbrella stroller. This was a great decision on our part. The umbrella stroller we had was this one and costs $40. It is lightweight at less than 5 pounds, which was useful for me. When we experienced rough terrain (aka cobblestone streets or temple hikes), we carried Casey and folded up the stroller. Mike carried Casey in a dual-facing carrier (another MUST!), while I lugged the stroller. It folds up into a slim profile and is similar to carrying an umbrella around! Plus it doubled as a staff when we were hiking up Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Mikey preferred to use the ErgoBaby Omni Carrier and I prefered to push the stroller. This worked out well, since we needed to do a lot of adjustments if we shared the same carrier. He is 6’3″ and I am 5’1″. There is one thing the carrier did better than the stroller! Casey loved to sleep in the carrier. The stroller was upright and uncomfortable for him to sleep in. The bumpy roads didn’t help either. So whenever it was nap-time, or when we wanted to stroll through a busy market, we popped Casey into the carrier and called it a day.

Other than that, we brought ten days worth of day-time and night-time outfits for Casey. In my opinion, we could have probably cut the night-time outfits in half and reused some of them, as he only really slept in them. We brought bibs, and socks. At this age, he could care less about shoes and accessories. And we brought three jackets, which was two too many in October. Japan was fairly warm during our entire stay, raining for only 2 of the 10 days.

How Was Transportation with an Infant in Japan?

In many ways, Japan was the perfect place to travel with an infant. Japan is one of the few countries where we do not have to bring a carseat or rent one out. Their public transportation system was simple, easy, and clean! We bought a Japan Rail Pass ahead of time, but to be honest, you can get by fine without one. One app that we downloaded that really helped was the SUICA app. It lets you direct transfer from your bank account funds to use for trains and metros.

There was a train every few minutes so you didn’t have to stress if you missed one. And they were reliably on time too! If you hop on a bus, no worries. They let you as long as your small infant is in a carrier. And if you are worried about crowded trains, I never once experienced the horrible videos that you see online. Part of that could be that October is not one of their peak seasons for visitors. Either way, I wouldn’t worry too much. Just avoid the peak hours if you do go during cherry blossom season!

What Are the Best Things To Do With An Infant?

There were definitely some things that were great activities for parents with infants, and others that were not. My favorites could be different from other moms, but I wanted to share them here. In general, the best activities involved being outdoors.

I loved walking through markets in Japan with Casey. There were many things to look at and he was enthralled by the lights and colors at the stands. We carried him in the carrier for the markets, so if he ever got tired, he would just fall asleep. When he got fussy, we would just point at an object in the stand and curiosity would get the better of him. He would stop fussing right away.

The same goes for temples. Because it was a lot of strolling through gardens and mini hikes outdoors, temples and shrine sight-seeing was wonderful. We avoided going inside the temples and shrines because it was fairly crowded and because indoor spaces got Casey riled up in general. We did not want to disturb the peace in the sacred spaces. But I greatly enjoyed seeing shrines and temples in Kyoto with Casey and Mike. Just like the markets, we carried him in the carrier for most of the time and he would fall asleep as he got tired.

As far as indoor activities go, one of my favorites was shopping. Japan has so many different stores to see. I had a blast just learning about their culture, seeing handcrafted items, and shopping at some of the most futuristic stores I have ever seen. We did not even BUY a ton of items or souvenirs, but walking around was enjoyable. For these adventures, Casey was mostly in a stroller. The best part about Japanese stores and temples was that they had many clean public restrooms specifically for infants, mothers, and handicapped persons. I never had an issue finding a place to change Casey’s diaper in these spaces.

What Were the Difficulties of Traveling Japan with an Infant?

In general, being in a restaurant in Japan was tough. The restaurants were typically small spaces, with counter seating or tiny booths. Some could only seat 8 people. Most of the time, the cooking is done directly behind the counter or at your table. Because of these facts, restaurants tended to be crowded, loud, and smoky. We hardly had a place to put the stroller, and the carrier was no good when we sat down and ate. So most of the time, we had to take turns holding and occupying Casey, who wanted to nab whatever was on the table.

This meant that sit-down meals were usually not that enjoyable. Our coffee dates also required us to be mindful of where Casey’s flailing arms and legs were. I much preferred to pick up food from a convenience store, at one of the train stations, or from a market. Eating standing up, outdoors, and on-the-go was a much more enjoyable experience for me than going to a restaurant. There WAS one evening where Mike and I were able to enjoy an omikase sushi meal for two. We hired a baby sitter and if I had known that that would’ve made dinners more pleasurable, I would have hired a sitter every night we were in Tokyo!

How Was It Hiring a Baby Sitter?

When I posted about hiring a baby sitter on Instagram, everyone and their mom wanted to know what that experience was like. Mostly, everyone was concerned about the safety of leaving Casey with a stranger at a hotel in a foreign country. But let me tell you, it was the best thing we did and I would 100% do it again next time.

Our hotel managed the booking of the nanny. We went to the concierge one morning and inquired. They reached out to a babysitting agency and found that none were available for that evening but one was available for the following night so we booked it. The minimum time was 2 hours of baby sitting. The price came out to $30 per hour. And if we went past 10pm, we had to pay a little extra for the sitter’s fare home (because it was pricier late at night to get a cab). Everything was paid for and managed through the hotel.

When the sitter arrived at the hotel, they called our room and asked to escort her upstairs. She came dressed up in a black dress, and promptly took off her shoes when she entered the room. She put on a white apron and slippers. And then she told us to have a great night, bowing until we were out the door.

Casey was easy to watch. His bed time was around 7pm. We had the sitter arrive at 8pm and went to dinner from 8-10pm. We stayed out a bit later, which the nanny did not mind. Casey did not wake up during the entire time she watched him. Which meant it was fairly easy for her, too! We felt comfortable and relaxed with her. Because it was through an official agency, and because the hotel concierge was aware of her presence, we just felt safe. Japan, in general, made us feel safe. I would 10/10 recommend doing this for young parents who want time to themselves.

In Conclusion

I hope this post was helpful for those who wish to travel to Japan with an infant but have reservations about doing so. I am so happy we did it as Japan was on our bucket list for a long time. It was a great trip. Of course, you have to be prepared for baby melt-downs and slowing down in general. But otherwise, go have fun!

If you want to know how we travel hacked our way to Japan using credit card points, this post is for you! We booked 8 FREE hotel nights in Kyoto and Tokyo. And we had our flights partially paid for too. In order to live our frugal life, we have travel hacked our way to 10 countries and all over the USA. If you want to save money but still live out your travel dreams, definitely check that post out!

My Favorite Top 5 Newborn Items

In an effort to help other first-time moms know what they NEED to raise a newborn, I decided to curate my top 5 favorite newborn items. Minimalism is a challenge. But trying to limit stuff while raising a human is much more difficult. When I was expecting, I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed and what I didn’t. I made-do for the first few months and learned as I went along. Luckily, I didn’t buy most of Casey’s things. Rather, I leaned on the community to provide for my growing boy. I know that isn’t available to everyone, so I hope this list helps discern what’s useful and not. Of course, what worked for me may not necessarily work for you. Please cater to your family’s situation.

My Favorite Top 5 Newborn Items

  • Car seat that clicks into a stroller. We both took leave when Casey was born. Which meant there was lots of opportunity for adventuring for our new trio. A car seat that clicks into a stroller may seem bougie, but it was a life-saver. Mostly because babies sleep… A LOT! And we didn’t want to disturb him after he fell asleep during the car ride (which is his favorite thing to do). So it helped to avoid multiple episodes of melt-downs and crying fits. We personally were gifted the Nuna Pipa Lite RX car seat which clicked into the Uppababy Cruz V2 stroller.
  • Glider Swing. Ours was a Graco Swing which was handed down to me by another mom. It was bulky and ugly to look at, so at first, I deemed it as something that belonged to my grandparent’s house. It turned out it was the best place to set him down when he was awake. And it would also do the work and rock him to sleep for us. He loved that little cocoon. And I couldn’t survive the first few months without it.
  • Bassinet. We were gifted a Baby Bay bassinet and it was crucial for those late night feedings. I loved having him by our bed which eliminated the need for us to get up in the middle of the night. Ours also had wheels which allowed us to wheel him around the house without waking him up from his naps. Therefore he kept on sleeping while I went to the kitchen to cook dinner. He was always in our sight, even when he had to sleep. You cannot do that with a crib!
  • Cloth Diapers. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I only knew that my parents raised us that way, and that it was good for the environment and our wallets. I ended up loving cloth diapers. We only used disposables when we were out of the house or traveling. Cloth was super easy, thanks to Esembly. You can read about my experience with cloth diapers here.
  • Baby Brezza. A mom of twins asked if I would want this formula mixer gifted to me. Initially, I thought I would 100% breastfeed. I so wanted to. But after realizing within the first few days that the supply was not there (and it never really did catch up), this baby brezza quickly became our best friend. Thanks to this machine, even dad could help with night-time feeds. And there is nothing more concerning than a wailing baby. This machine allowed us to mix formula with our eyes closed. It was our most used item, when I thought I wouldn’t use it at all!

How about you? What are your favorite newborn items?

This post contains affiliate links. The Debtist may receive commission shall you choose to purchase any of these items. As always, thank you for supporting this blog.

Creating a Magical Nursery

I’ve been pondering how to decorate Casey’s nursery in our new home. I want to be intentional with creating the environment wherein he will spend most of his time. To be honest, it’s a bit overwhelming making all the decisions for someone else. But after much consideration, I’ve decided to create a magical nursery to foster his imagination.

As parent’s, we are honored with the task of creating our children’s spaces. We have a choice. We can choose to design it from a practical perspective, providing the necessities for them to grow and transform into little adults. Or, we can tap into our inner child. In our adulthood lies an opportunity to introduce wonder and magic to the future generation. Although I have historically chosen the path of less, I choose the opposite when it comes to instilling wonder and beauty in Casey’s life. 

I once wrote an ode to bare white walls. It’s a piece I am proud of writing, and my thoughts and emotions towards white walls stay much the same. However, I cannot say I believe these things for kids. I think that kids need to be exposed to ideas in order to foster imagination and creativity. They know not what to think of white spaces. Therefore, I think it appropriate that we treat the empty canvases of his room as a starting point from where his imagination can run wild.

I am currently obsessed with wallpaper from Photowall for Casey’s space. Photowall sports plenty of options to choose from, each one transforming kid rooms into dreamlands and faraway places. There are so many that I like. It is difficult to just choose one. Thankfully, Photowall offers their wallpaper at affordable prices. At such a great price point, we might change the wallpaper in the future as his interests become more clear and change.

In the end, we had a few requirements for how the wallpaper looks. We want the print to add whimsy but at the same time keep the room tranquil. It is a big ask. Photowall’s children collection includes neutral palette options. In general, I stand by the rule that loud colors cause stress to our thinking minds. Likewise, small and busy prints add overwhelm. Perhaps this is a personal reaction? Nonetheless, I want his room to be a space where he could have fun during the day but sleep well at night. In order to achieve this, I recommend sticking with soft colors and at least 50% of empty background space.

In terms of balancing out the wallpaper, choosing the right furniture helps. The crib we are putting in his room will be Babyletto’s Hudson 3-in-1 crib-to-toddler bed. It was gifted to us by a mother in the community. The thick, blocky legs are imaginatively placed at an angle. The thick borders of the crib will prevent it from getting lost in the room. The crib is all white, which helps demarcate it in the space.

We also paired it with the matching Babyletto Hudson 3-Drawer Dresser with a changing table top. We chose the smaller dresser over the 6-drawer version to prevent the room from feeling cluttered. Lastly, a gray glider chair completes the room. It was also handed down from a different mum in the neighborhood. To learn how to utilize the community and build a nursery for nearly free, check out this post.

I want Casey’s room to be a reflection of the person he is. While he is too young for us to tell his preferences, a parent could hope for a few things. We wish for our Earth Day baby to be in love with adventures. I want to gift him curiosity and a love of learning. I also want him to be equally happy outdoors in nature as much as indoors curled up with a book in our laps. In his youth, I wish for daydreams and experimentation. I want to foster an environment without limiting boundaries. If he could approach life without fear, then I would feel at peace with my role as a parent.

Meanwhile, he is OUR greatest adventure. Therefore, his room would be the epicenter of our family’s quality time. Memories are held to the spaces in which they are made. This is why the look and feel of his bedroom is so important to me. At the end of the day, I keep returning to this quote:

We are the gatekeepers of our homes, the guardians of our children, the warriors of our own existence and, also, the builders of our love. 

The SAVE Program Presents a Reason Not to Pay Back Student Debt

I am staring at my Marcus HYSA account. If we wanted to, we could pay off my student debt when it resumes next month, and be done with it. However, a new student loan repayment plan recently replaced the REPAYE program. Known as the SAVE Repayment program, this new and improved loan forgiveness program presents a reason not to pay back my student debt. It is an AMAZING program. Because of it, we are choosing to hold onto the student debt. Here is why!

What to Know about the SAVE Repayment program

  • The SAVE Plan significantly decreases monthly payments by increasing the income exemption from 150% to 225% of the poverty line. Income exemption means that if you earn less than 225% of the Poverty Line as determined by this chart, then you do not owe anything for your debt. To calculate this, determine the number of family members in your household. Match it with the poverty income level using the chart. Multiply the income level by 2.25. If you make less than that number then you don’t have to make payments.
  • 100% of remaining interest is eliminated after a scheduled payment is made. This is the most important reason why we aren’t paying it off. As long as you make the minimum monthly payment, the interest will not be added to your loan total. This works in the favor of those with massive student debt. Let’s assume you earn $100k per month and your total student debt is $400k. Then you’re monthly payment is around $834. Meanwhile, your interest is $2,267! That means your monthly payment doesn’t cover the interest of the loan. Under the new program, the interest is eliminated! That’s a huge difference! Before SAVE, the loan continues to grow if only minimum monthly payments were made. In fact, when we calculated it back in 2017, my loan would have ended up at $1, 400k after the loan repayment program. With SAVE, my loan will remain at $405k unless I miss my payments!
  • The SAVE Plan excludes spousal income for borrowers who are married and file separately. This is another great change. Especially for whose spouse earns a decent income. Before, the monthly payments were determined using both the borrower and the spouse’s income. Since SAVE only uses the borrower’s income, that minimum monthly payment is decreased! Meaning you need to put in less money in order to keep the loan amount the same.

More changes are promised to take effect July 2024.

I changed my mind again.

In this post, I wrote about how we changed our minds. We chose to take a majority of our savings and put it into a single-family residence for our growing family. I am a homebody who needs a homebase. Currently, there are no plans to pay off the student debt. We will prioritize other assets as we did during the pandemic forbearance. If the repayment program changes once again to something that would cause my debt to grow, I may reconsider. For now, I changed my mind.

I am pivoting based on the information I have. I am not giving up on building wealth. At the same time, it would be foolish to stick to my original payoff plan for the sake of identity. I was The Debtist. I was afraid of money. My debt defined me. But it is safe to say that I’ve found a way to walk away from that past. No longer will I let debt define me. I am letting go, and finding a way through.

I wanted to pay off my debt because I psychologically needed to. But I reached financial independence when I walked away from a job I hated, facing uncertainty during the pandemic. It was the best decision I have ever made. I chose myself and my values over money. By giving myself the space to grow, I changed the way I viewed myself and money. I am not just me, and money is just money.

It’s nice to learn that I can choose over and over again.

The First Few Months of Cloth Diapering with Esembly

Casey was born on Earth Day, something both me and Mike are proud of. As a couple attempting to live sustainably, we felt that his birthday was somehow symbolic of what we hoped for our son. Someone who appreciates nature, understands ecology, respects our place in biology and becomes a tenant of this planet we love. In line with all that, we made the decision to use cloth diapers years before we even planned on having children. I remember vowing that if we ever did have kids, we would opt to reduce our contribution to the landfills. I remember his skepticism. But what I love about Mike is his openness to new things. By the time we decided to start a family five years later, he was totally on board.

I read about cloth diapering via Erin Boyle’s blog back in 2017. It was the first time I considered an alternative to disposable diapers. I didn’t realize at the time that my siblings and I were all reared on loincloths wrapped around our bums, pinned with a clothespin. But cloth diapering has (thankfully) come a long way. Cities like the Big Apple can tout cloth diapering services wherein they pick up used cloths at your doorstep and launder them for you. But where we live has no such services. So it’s a godsend that Esembly created a diapering system that can be done at home.

The First Few Months of Diapering with Esembly

Of all the questions I’ve received as a new parent, I have not gotten as many inquiries as I have with cloth diapering. Moms all over the web are asking how it’s going. As if they couldn’t believe it could be done. But as my mom said when I showed her our Esembly diapers, “it’s as easy as cake!”. Esembly has gone above and beyond to take care of the logistics. “I wish we had something like this when you were a baby,” my mom said as she gleefully analyzed the thick, cotton inners in her hands.

To be honest, I had my doubts too. But let me tell you, I love using cloth diapers! It is just as easy as disposable diapers, but better for the environment. For the first few weeks, we solely used disposable diapers. We couldn’t use the high-waisted Esembly inners since it would rub the umbilical cord. It took 10 days to fall off. Because of this, we have something to compare Esembly to. Those who argue that cloth diapering is too much work is wrong. Yes, you need to wash the diapers, but you never will run out of them or have to dash to the store to get more.

Changing nappies are a breeze thanks to the button closures at the front. Multiple snaps make the diaper customizable to your growing child’s size. No wasted diapers that your baby outgrew. The outer fits snugly and keeps wet inners from soiling clothes. Yet the elastic band around the legs and waist make these comfortable to wear. Plus the outers have cute designs, to boot! We have six different outers and we can change them based on his outfit for the day.

How to Clean Esembly’s Cloth Diapers

People always ask, “What do you do with the soiled diapers?” You remove them and toss them directly into the Esembly diaper bag. Since Casey isn’t eating solids for now, there is no need to remove anything from the nappies. Poop, pee, nappy – all of it gets tossed into the bag. You don’t get your hands messy at all. The diaper bag, by the way, fits into this Dekor Diaper Pail pretty well in case you are searching for one. However, a pail isn’t necessary as you can hang the bag on a hook quite easily.

To clean, all we do is toss dirty diapers and bag into the wash. We use Esembly’s washing powder with their agitators (the best invention ever!) and run a normal cycle, followed by a heavy duty cycle. It takes 40-60 minutes to dry in the dryer and voila! If you wish to reduce your footprint even more, laying them under the sun works wonders. It actually results in a neater looking nappy.

To my surprise, the inners haven’t stained one bit. They haven’t shrunk in the wash and they don’t stink. They haven’t caused diaper rash (whereas the disposables started to) which goes to show how nice they are for your baby’s bottom. They store nicely in a basket on our changing cart, and take up less room than a box of disposable diapers.

Some Caveats

To be completely transparent, there are a few caveats. We bought the fewest amount of inners and outers needed to sustain us. We have 21 inners and 6 outers. To be honest, I think we could have survived with 3 outers. Meanwhile, 21 inners could have been 24. Minor changes aside, one caveat is that no matter how many you buy, you have to do laundry every 2-3 days. For us, 2 days seems to be the number. Of course, not everyone has the time. Balancing laundry amongst other chores and working full-time is a difficult feat. The privilege of having job flexibility cannot be ignored.

Second, it is an investment. We bought the diaper system, agitators, wash powder, and diaper bag. We were gifted 3 inners and one outer. We nabbed the rest during a sale. (Check out their clearance section for awesome deals on outers.) The total cost was $250. I would recommend adding it to your baby registry if you want to save money. For the curious, this is my curated baby registry list.

Lastly, Esembly works for most situations. Whether you are at home or away, it isn’t much different from disposable diapers. However, the cloth diapers aren’t as absorbent as disposables. Meaning, if you want your baby to sleep through the night, using disposables in the evenings may be better. Likewise, if you’ll be out of the house for a while with nary a changing table in site, then a disposable diaper will make your child more comfortable. There is always the option of purchasing overnight liners from Esembly which absorbs more. We opted not to go that route and still use disposable diapers part time.

Trying is Better Than Perfect

Let me be the first to say that we aren’t perfect, and Esembly isn’t either. But trying is better than being perfect, so don’t let the caveats stop you. Don’t let perfection get in the way of reducing your landfill contribution, even if its a little bit. Using Esembly half the time still reduces 3,000+ disposable diapers per baby! So give it a go. Their try-it kit is a great place to start.

Esembly is a partner brand for TheDebtist. I try to promote companies that I have tried and love. Whenever I choose to partner, I consider the ethics and values behind the company. This is no different. The thoughts and opinions in this post are mine own, as are the experiences. Thank you for supporting the brands that support my post.

Simple Things: Newborn Clothes

I am staring at a pile of clothes Casey has outgrown. There’s a pang in my heart when I realize he was once so small. He entered our lives only four months ago, but it seems longer. At the same time, how could he grow so fast? Luckily, we acquired all of Casey’s belongings as gifts. A handful were new, but most were hand-me-downs from moms in the area. As I await to pass along Casey’s stuff to the next wave of expecting mothers, a wave of thoughts come to me. Companies produce so many newborn clothes and so many mommas buy them for their little ones. But Casey outgrew his in weeks. (Caveat: Our son is on the taller side and is pulling off 9 month clothing before his 4th month-day.) Regardless, how many newborn clothes does a minimalist momma really need?

I believe ten clothes demarcated with NB is aplenty. We were doing laundry frequently enough that seven might have been enough. A few things to note: we did baby laundry with our own laundry (saves water!). And we hardly experienced blowouts with our re-usable Esembly cloth diapers. I heard that disposable diapers runs the risk of more frequent blowouts. And if you wish to launder baby clothes separately, then you’ve got an argument for more. Still, you don’t need much.

I write this post for a few reasons. If you are a family living in a tiny space, count your lucky stars that 10 onesies will get you by. Alternatively, if you are hoping to stay frugal, then ten newborn clothes is easy to gather for free. If you wish to buy the fanciest attire, you’ll save money in your pocket knowing you only need a couple handfuls. Ultimately, know that whatever path you choose (ten or fifty), you will eventually be where I am at. With a bit of guilt, knowing that he didn’t wear any of them nearly enough while realizing that your child is growing up too fast for you to notice until you’ve got a box of clothes at your feet, ready to depart for someone else’s.

If you want to see what we considered for our baby registry, check out the post below.

Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

Scheduling Around An Infant

I sat down during a miraculous bit of down-time to do my weekly planning. Immediately, I felt a wave of laughter bubble up from the abysmal depths of this tired momma. At the beginning of each week I set aside time to write down my to-dos. At the end of each week, I cross off half of them and pray that I have the wherewithal to address the remaining half NEXT WEEK. It drives me bonkers. There is no schedule around an infant. I always think I have enough time to do something, and then realize that that version of me is long-gone. But the part of me that remains is still fighting to stay alive.

This time of my life has been an interesting combination of what was and what I hope to be. I feel like a floating ghost, in limbo between two alternate universes. Nothing is grounding. Nothing is simple. And certainly, nothing is controlled. It’s like riding waves. At some point, one needs to go limp to avoid being drowned by the tide. “Go with it,” I tell myself. “Stop struggling.” Easier said than done.

So here I am, spending what precious me-time I have, writing down next week’s hopes and dreams. Trying to create a schedule for myself. My goals have dwindled from spewing five blog posts a week to finding time to drink water. My husband tells me I should just take this time to rest. But I can’t rest when I feel unrest. Peace for me is balance and structure, boundaries and predictability. I continue to fight for my space, lest I lose my sanity.

Anyone else?

At least I’ve learned some things. That the house doesn’t burn down if things don’t get checked off. That there is always tomorrow. Others, I have re-learned. Like how sleep reigns supreme. And exercise fixes things. I don’t know how I am staying afloat. My parents, for one. A job I love. My sweet husband. Otherwise, I couldn’t keep on.

Speaking of scheduling, I find that the best method is to simply write a laundry list. Check it off as I please. Forget calendars. There isn’t time to look at those. Perhaps a cursory prioritization each morning also helps. There is only so much time in the day. I’ve missed a few crucial tasks. It’s okay. Life goes on. Be forgiving new mamas. You are doing good , I remind myself.