Tag Archives: Minimalist Kids

How to Go Places and Do Things With Kids

Bringing children along anywhere complicates things. They are still not totally independent or competent at everyday tasks, let alone whatever it takes to make a journey or explore an activity. So what I try to do is this: make everything else (within my control, of course) as simple as possible.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t Bring Snacks. Plan proper and fulfilling meals, whether you bring it yourself or buy it out, and nobody will go hungry. Snacks entail more to pack, more time to consume, and more to clean up. Our family doesn’t ever snack so not having snacks at an outing isn’t a big deal. If your kids are used to snacking, hopefully the change in scenery will keep their minds off of snacks. Otherwise you may have to remind them that they will survive until the next meal.
  • Drink Only Water. Preferably in reusable bottles. (I am still hunting for the perfect child-friendly, spill-proof bottle myself.) Water is the most thirst-quenching and body-nourishing liquid there is. If water is spilled, it doesn’t stain, get sticky, or smell – it just dries, easy-peasy, with little or no clean-up. A properly hydrated family is a pleasant family. Just remember those potty breaks!
  • Don’t Bring Anything “Just In Case”. There are things you know you will need for any given outing. Skip the things you don’t actually need and would just bring for peace of mind or to feel a bit more comfortable. Lugging around and keeping track of extra items adds stress and physical bulk. Most of the time, you won’t even notice you are without those “just in case” items. Other times, you might be a bit less comfortable. Instead of lugging around extra things, you could practice getting comfortable with being a little uncomfortable. You will survive.
  • If Bringing Toys, Only Bring a Few. Ideally, bring simple toys, without batteries or small parts, that the whole family can use – like a Frisbee, ball, a bucket and a couple of shovels. I wouldn’t bring favorites that would cause a tragedy if lost. And bring no more than 1 toy per child – adventure time is perfect for discovering nature and different towns and finding fun in them without toys that can be played with at home any time.
  • Dress Simply. I believe in dressing nicely. I don’t like wearing sweatpants out of the house or overly graphic shirts or whatever. But I also believe in dressing comfortably. Trust me, a balance can be met, even with children. I like shopping at Primary.com for simple, versatile clothing for my children. (I myself prefer Pact and Levi’s.) No fussy straps or broken zippers or shoes that pinch. Just simple clothes that let you live your life comfortably while also looking nice.
  • Prepare to Be Patient. Sometimes things do go wrong and break-downs happen. If you are prepared to go with the flow and to explain any unexpected changes of plans to children, they will catch your vibe and be more likely to go with the flow. Patience is key. As long as children receive the attention that means their fears or disappointments are being listened to and respected, they will be more capable of moving on. Not everyone can control every situation and it will do your children good to learn that truth early.
  • Don’t Listen to Me. You know your family better than anybody, especially me. If any of the above just sounds like it would be bringing hell along in a basket, just ditch it. Try some new things if you’ve got the curiosity and the courage, but if things are going well, just do you.

If you’d like to share any tips of your own, leave a comment.

Bon voyage!

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

The New Era of Shopping for Children’s Clothes

I found a children’s clothing website that I’m super excited about. I haven’t bought anything from there yet, so maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself by doing a post about it, but I’m just really excited and haven’t posted in a while so here it is.

It’s called primary.com and the reason I’m so excited is because the clothes are so simple. I found it from Simple Families and her post about creating capsule wardrobes for kids. Since I know the benefits of having a simple wardrobe myself, I would like to extend that simplicity-induced bliss to my children’s closets as well.

Okay, first let me go into my frustrations with children’s clothing.

  • Gender stereotypes – 90% of the children’s clothes we have are hand-me-downs. Which is great because 1) it saved us a lot of money and 2) re-using second-hand clothes is better for the environment. But this means that I didn’t have a lot of say in the styles that got passed down to us. And since we have boys, people passed “boy clothes” down to us. I have no problem with tractors and cars and blue and sports, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to emblazon them onto boys clothes to let people know that they’re boys. Our children are super young and are still learning about the world around them, let alone forming opinions about what they like and how they want to represent themselves. Clothes need only be functional, not ornamental, at any age. And I’d rather my sons play with tractors or race their bikes or draw bears and lions than have <cough> ugly <cough> cartoons cluttering the tiny spaces of their bodies on their clothes. Conversely, my sons and I like flowers, hearts, rainbows, unicorns, and colors like pinks, yellows, purples, and aquas, and they just aren’t available in any way on “boys” clothes. Not that I would want to use any daughter I might have as a billboard either. I just don’t like the walk-into-a-store-pick-a-side-and-those-are-your-options model. Which brings me to…
  • Trends – I don’t care about clothing trends and I doubt my 1- and 3- year-olds do either. But most children’s stores seem to follow or propagate them and I just can’t be bothered keeping up. Simple, comfortable clothes are classy and versatile. I don’t like how I have to dig, dig, dig to find a plain shirt, just to find that they’ve discontinued it the next season when I need another one. I’m trying trying to impress anyone with the clothes my kids wear — I just want my children to be comfortable, clean, and presentable (i.e. no cartoon monster trucks or corny slogans in hard to read fonts).
  • Sizing – Finding clothes to fit my small, slim children is hard enough, but adding in the likelihood of a different store’s sizing measurements being completely different is infuriating. I have a 15 month old wearing a 3-6 month onesie right now. That makes no sense to me. I’d like to have 1 store that can satisfy all my needs to keep sizing simple and accurate.
  • Seasons – Stores’ clothing seasons are annoying early and trendy. Not only am I not interested in the ’80s day-glow trend for children’s swimwear this year, I am especially not interested in January when the shelves are lined with flip flops and all I need is a couple of long-sleeve shirts to keep my kid warm from the 30°F weather. I’m lucky if I can find a few pieces of on-season clothes, in the size I need, that isn’t hideous in the clearance section. Whoo-hoo clearance prices, I guess, but boooooo clearance pile hassles. I want to be able to buy what I need, when I need it — not 4 months in advance. Because kids can grow a whole lot or not at all in any given 4 month period. Guessing future sizes and buying in advance has rarely worked out for me (even when picking through the clothes handed down to me).

Those are the reasons why I’m so excited to start shopping at Primary. The company was founded by mothers who were just as frustrated as I so they get it. They offer simple clothing in consistent sizes in a spectrum of colors year-round. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to find what we need when we need it. I look forward to all of the children’s clothes I collect over the years being mix-and-match compatible and last through multiple hand-down transitions (again, I haven’t bought anything yet so I can’t attest to the durability, but Simple Families seems pretty happy with it so that’s a start).

I’ve had the flitting idea to start an un-gendered clothing store myself, but am super glad that these lovely women have done it already. Oh, and they sell every item for under $25. Oh yeah, I’m excited. Welcome the new era of shopping for children’s clothes!

9 Easy Ways to Watch Less TV

I don’t like everything about tv (as you can see here), but I think watching some is okay. In addition to making sure we watch “good” tv, we would probably benefit from watching a little less of it, too. So here are a few changes we can make to our lives or homes to make tv-watching a mindful event instead of a mindless habit.

  • No televisions in the bedrooms – here are 18 good reasons why.
  • No televisions in the kitchen – cooking shows are impossibly fast to follow along with IRL anyway. Plan the meal first, cook following written reminders if needed, and eat together if possible. Even if we need to eat alone, we can be more aware of tastes, flavors, and textures, thus enjoying the meal better than if we were distracted by a screen.
  • Better still, have only 1 television in the house – even if you have room for more televisions in your home, consider keeping only 1, and don’t make it the focal point of the room. Living rooms and family rooms are for living and family. Design a room around social interaction and it’s more likely that memorable social interaction will happen. And then, even when we’re watching tv, we will be doing it together, cooperating about what to watch, and sharing the experience.
  • Turn the television off when you’re done – just makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • No televisions in the car – long drives are great opportunities for conversations, listening to music, enjoying silence, or letting the mind (and imagination) wander. Traveling is an experience — enjoy the unique surroundings.
  • Go to restaurants that don’t have televisions hanging everywhere – I really don’t like televisions in restaurants. Nobody’s really watching them (there’s too much noise), but their flashiness can be huge distractions, even to someone who is trying to ignore them. Restaurants without televisions are getting harder and harder to find where I live (especially without paying $20+ per plate) and I think it’s a shame.
  • Don’t stream videos to distract children – children need to learn how to occupy themselves, be patient, be pleasant around others, and be present. The only way they will learn to do all that is by practicing. We need to let them have lots of opportunities to practice.
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching – the other options are more decide-and-be-done, whereas this one takes some self-discipline. If you have the willpower, create guidelines for yourself, such as: only 2 movies per week, only 2 hours tv per day, only 3 episodes per day, or whatever.
  • Cancel your cable or streaming subscription – You don’t have to cancel all of them of course, but if you have less to watch, you will watch less. Getting rid of cable also gets rid of commercials (win!). And having less subscriptions means you’ll save money.

Just imagine all of the other things we will be able to do now that we aren’t spending so much time watching tv.

Children and TV | Minimalist Kids

I limit the amount of tv that my children watch. With my firstborn, Wingnut, we waited until he was 2 years old before letting him watch any tv. With my second, Pigpen, it’s been harder. If Wingnut wants to watch some tv and it’s a good time, I don’t want to deny him just because Pigpen is around. If our tv was in a different location where I could keep them separated, that would help, but that’s just not the situation in our house right now.

At first I was worried about Pigpen being exposed to tv before he was 2. After all, that was the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (now you can see that it is 18 months). But in reality, Pigpen really didn’t end up watching that much. I would set up the tv for Wingnut with some “high-quality programming” and Pigpen would sometimes hang around and watch. But he usually only watched for about 10-15 minutes before wandering off to hang out with me or play somewhere else.

I understand the purpose to limit time spent watching tv. There needs to be time for family interaction, for quiet, to be alone, for creative play, music, reading, etc. But the more I think about it, the less I agree with forbidding it altogether.

As I’ve said before, I am not an expert on children and I am not an expert on television. But I do think that it’s hard to prove that tv is totally detrimental. There are studies that conclude that children under 2 years old should not watch tv because it may inhibit their learning and development. But by the nature of this activity, we could only compare children to other children. We could never compare how a child turned out after watching tv to how he would have turned out if he didn’t.

No two children grow, learn, and develop at the same rate. Add in the millions of external factors that could influence a child at any moment during their day to day life and extrapolating the effect that something like tv watching could have seems impossible. I’m not saying that these studies are completely invalid. I’m saying we should watch and monitor our own children and how tv effects them, be mindful, and decide how extreme to be with the regulations we place on them.

Some researchers have even found that watching tv can be good for toddlers. Even accepting that children may learn less from tv than from live interaction, it doesn’t mean that that learning isn’t worth it. The stories children hear and see from tv can enhance their lives, just as much as books I would say, depending on what is understood and how the rest of their life experiences grow and build on them. Hearing stories and seeing different parts of the world expands the mind, opening it up to more curiosity and acceptance of differences.

Perhaps that is where the idea of “high-quality programing” comes in. What is high-quality programing and who decides what does or doesn’t fit the bill? I have a few of my favorites (that I will list below) and I have a few that I really don’t like (here’s one example). This is a totally personal choice I have made, though, and the views you may have for your children may be different. As parents, we need to pay attention and be involved with our own children, deciding what tv — if any — is best for them just like we decide what is the best for them out of everything else.

Too much tv, like too much of anything, is not a good thing. But balanced well into a week full of diverse, stimulating, and restful activities, I think tv is okay for children.

Also, I must add here, that I benefit from the hour Wingnut is engaged watching tv. It gives me a much-needed break (2 year olds can be very attention-demanding) where I can rest and recharge or be productive, where I can concentrate completely on something for a whole hour. This is very important for my sanity — a stressed-out mama is not pleasant for anyone. When I am able to receive the self-care that I need, I am better equipped to provide the care my family needs, and that is better for everyone.

 

Some of my favorite “high-quality programming” on tv:

  • Puffin Rock -A young puffin and her ever-curious little brother explore an island off the coast of Ireland – Netflix
  • Mouk – Young Mouk and Chavpa discover the world on their bicycles, making friends along the way – Netflix
  • Kazoops – A imaginative young boy and his pet pig explore home life and encourage children to challenge the workings of the world – Netflix
  • Stella and Sam – Sister and brother have many adventures, mostly outside, because they know they have more fun when they’re together – Family Channel and Netflix
  • Wild Kratts – Follows the adventures of animated versions of brothers Chris and Martin Kratt as they encounter wild animals during stories of adventure and mystery – PBS Kids 
  • Sesame Street – Bridges many cultural and educational gaps with Muppets teaching children numbers, colors and the alphabet, set on a city street full of valuable learning opportunities PBS Kids
  • Peg + Cat -Inspires preschoolers’ natural curiosity about math and helps them develop new skills and strategies for solving problems creatively in their daily lives – PBS Kids
  • The Muppet Show – A medley of sweet and mischievous, a weekly variety show with songs, dances, and comedy featuring a range of famous guests – DVD

3 Easy Breakfasts

I don’t like to think too much in the morning. And I wake up really hungry. So I eat these breakfasts roughly 87% of the time. They are easy with the children, too.

  • Cereal with Fresh Fruit. I usually buy Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Life, or Shredded Wheat. The fruit is usually a banana. Strawberries and blueberries are a special treat from the grocery store. Raspberries are a special treat from our garden.
  • Yoghurt with Muesli. Plain, whole milk yoghurt. I buy Bob’s Red Mill Muesli.
  • Oatmeal with Nuts and Dried Fruit. Quick oats cooked on the stove. Usually chopped walnuts or almonds. Usually dried cranberries or raisins. I’ll usually drop in a little swirl of honey, too.

And that’s it.

When I’m feeling ambitious and have the time, I like to pancakes. I make them from scratch because it’s really easy — and then I just use stuff in my cabinets instead of buying another product. I usually serve them with eggs fried over-easy. Sometimes I serve them with chocolate chips. ^_^

Other times I will do eggs with toast. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts, actually, but I really don’t make it that much. It’s a little tougher to the little kids to eat. Maybe that’s what makes it so special for me. Because my favorite favorite is when Andrew let’s me sleep-in in the morning and he makes breakfast for everyone and it’s over-easy eggs with toast. Delicious.

Yes, but usually I keep it to the three listed above. I don’t get tired of them because there are lots of ways to change it up with each item. Easy preparation and clean-up is a big plus-side, too.

A Simple Cloth Diaper Set-up

Once Wingnut started eating solid foods, we started using cloth diapers. We wanted to save some money and reduce the amount of waste we were contributing to landfills. We supplement with disposable diapers for overnight, travel, hot weather, and when the cloth diapers are in the laundry. We now use the same cloth diapers with our second child, Pigpen.

Our simple set-up includes:

We have two types of prefold inserts because we were gifted the burp cloths and then supplemented by buying some Bummis. The burp cloths are much thinner than the Bummis so we have to stack 2 or 3 before folding them into the covers to provide enough absorbency.

I like the Flip covers because they can be reused throughout the day by just swapping out the dirty insert. They are usually quite good at keeping in wetness, but we do have to change cloth diapers more frequently than disposables. I like to change them after about 2 hours and really try to avoid letting them go longer than 3 hours.

During a typical cloth diaper change, I usually just switch out the soiled insert with a clean replacement. If there is just pee, I put the insert in a covered garbage pail lined with a laundry bag. If there is poo, I dump it (and/or scrape with a clean corner of the insert) into the toilet before putting the insert into the pail. If the cover is wet or soiled, I toss that in the pail, too, and use a new cover.

I know 4 covers isn’t that many, especially for 2 boys. But now that Wingnut is learning to use the toilet and (disposable) pull-ups, he doesn’t wear the cloth diapers as often. Having fewer covers means I wash the cloth diapers in the laundry every 2 to 4 days (depending how much we also use disposables in that time). I think that’s pretty often to have to wash laundry, but it is a small load. And I don’t like the diaper pail with soiled cloths to sit longer than that anyway because it can get smelly when opened.

This cloth diapering system cost us about $110. If we had had to buy the burp cloths, too, it would have cost us about $140. By the money saved as opposed to buying disposables, this system had paid for itself within 2 months.

This system isn’t perfect, but it works for us. I did most of my research to figure out the products and system I wanted by watching YouTube videos by people who have done cloth diapering themselves. If you are looking for more information, I definitely recommend checking them out.

Good luck with your own cloth diapering adventure and bon voyage!

Over 45 Baby Things We Didn’t Need

Expecting a baby can be scary because you may not have any idea or frame of reference for what to expect. I know I didn’t. So when Andrew and I were expecting our first baby, we did a Baby Registry. (I also hadn’t heard of minimalism yet.)

We were the first of our friends and semi-extended family to get pregnant so we couldn’t expect a lot of hand-me-downs. Without knowing what having a baby would be like, we followed the big box store’s Baby Registry Buying Guide to make sure we had everything we could possibly need to care for our hypothetical baby. Two actual babies later, I’ve been able to see that we didn’t need a lot of what the store said we would.

Sleep/Bedroom Nursery

  • matching furniture – we were gifted a beautiful crib and glider that we use everyday. We got a secondhand changing table, bookshelf (for toys), side table (which we don’t really need, but is nice for holding a plant and a glass of water for me during nursing), and toddler bed. The closet attached to the room is more than ample for their clothes.
  • matching crib bedding – we used a breathable crib bumper (only from 0-9 mo.) and just 2 sheets per baby. We were gifted so many blankets we donated a bunch. We kept only a lightweight and heavyweight blanket each (we like homemade crocheted blankets from family the best).
  • waterproof mattress covers – most crib mattresses are waterproof anyway. Ours is. So we got rid of the covers and cut down on a lot of laundry.
  • sheet saver – again, just another piece of laundry to wash. And I worried about it as a suffocation hazard.
  • wearable blankets/sleep sacs/structured swaddlers – muslin blankets satisfied the purposes of all of those things. And don’t worry, with practice, you will get better at wrapping a swaddle.
  • table lamps – our ceiling fan/light is extremely useful and out of the way; a nightlight is nice for late-night feedings or diaper changes; but table lamps can be a space-eating hazard
  • any decor – babies don’t care. They want to see their parents’ faces, and that’s it… well except for some breasts or a bottle. We have decorated our boys’ rooms over the years with posters that have come with books or DVDs.
  • mobile/white noise machine – yes, the mobile is very cute, but we only used it a handful of times and didn’t really need it.

Diapering/Bathing

  • wipe warmer – superfluous
  • wipe dispenser – extra-superfluous. Wipes have their own dispensing mechanism built-in. I’ve never had wipes in the pack dry out on me and I’m not even careful.
  • changing pad cover – we used these because we had them, but the changing pad is waterproof so it is easily cleaned without the extra piece of laundry
  • changing pad saver – again, just more laundry
  • 6-8 baby bath towels – we have 4 (for 2 boys), but now I’m thinking we could have just used our regular bath towels.
  • 10-12 wash cloths – we have 6 and don’t need that many.
  • grooming kit – we only used the baby nail clippers
  • air purifier – I believe that babies should learn to breath the same air as everyone else; it builds strong lungs
  • baby bathrobe – cute on the hanger, but I don’t even know what it would’ve looked like on my babies… we never got it on them. Being wrapped up in a towel was always good enough. And just easier.
  • dental care – wait until your baby has teeth, then your dentist will give you what you need for free
  • tub faucet cover – I don’t understand why this would ever be needed. Because it’s cute? Look at your baby – I bet he or she is 1,000x cuter.

Travel

  • car seat saver – I’m not even entirely sure what this is exactly, but it sounds like more laundry
  • sun shade – We use a blanket with little babies and sunglasses for our toddler.
  • mirror – We registered and received one, but it did not work out very well. First, it was hard to find a good place for it in our car. Then, it didn’t stay in the correct position so it reflected things like feet or just seat. Finally, it kept falling down. Much more hassle than it’s worth.
  • bunting and foot muff – Infant carseats come with enough safety padding for infants. For warmth we just used blankets.
  • booster seat – we will probably need this, but we didn’t need it in our pre-baby preparation. We will buy it when our boys outgrow the carseats they already have.
  • car seat travel bag – Another thing to carry around more things? Definitely not essential.
  • any stroller accessories – We just used blankets for extra shade and brought a toy or two from the house when needed.
  • fancy expensive diaper bag – We’ve used backpacks, totes, and duffels we already had laying around the house. Keep your travel accessories simple and a simple bag will do. I like using my small canvas “gym” duffel the best.

Feeding

  • more than 6 bottles – that’s about 3 small bottles and 3 bigger bottles with 3 slow nipples and 3 fast nipples. I breastfed for the first 6 months with Wingnut and 10 months with Pigpen with some combination feeding before going solely formula (a little over 4 months with Mo and 2 months with Pigpen). Wash your bottles daily or twice daily — preferably without a dishwasher — and you’ll be fine.
  • infant positioner – We used our laps and arms for the infant stage and the high chair when the babies could sit up on their own.
  • 6-8 pacifiers – pacifying is a totally personal choice. We allowed it. We got buy with 2 to 4 pacifiers.
  • bottle warmer – Used a mug filled with warm water.
  • bottle sterilizer – A pot with boiling water.
  • special bottle drying rack – Our plain drain board in the sink worked fine.
  • dishes and bowls – we use our Corelle flatware for our children. Some times we let the baby eat off of his tray; we taught Wingnut to be careful and he has proven to be quite responsible with with porcelain and glass as early as being 1.5 years old.

Clothing

  • baby shoes – annoying and useless. I like getting shoes when the baby (toddler) is standing and starting to walk around — the shoes are good for outside when they want to be a part of the action and explore on their own.

Playtime

  • door jumper – we were excited for this classic piece, but our babies are small so the sizing never worked out. They were either floating and sliding around the big bucket seat, or old enough to walk around and very unhappy about being trapped in a hanging seat.
  • play yard – We have a small house and let the babies explore most of it on their own.
  • play mat – Replace with a blanket and toys.
  • seat walker – Like the door jumper, it wasn’t a good size for our boys. They prefer(ed) the standing walkers. We were lucking to receive one that did not require batteries or have too many bells and whistles.
  • DVDs – We limited screen time until Wingnut was 2 years old. Even when Wingnut watches now (we use a streaming service), Pigpen isn’t interested. He’d rather play with toys or people.
  • a lot of toys – We keep the toys limited to 3 shelves on a bookcase in their room. We rotate the toys a few times a year to cooperate with the seasons and keep things interesting.

Wow. That was a lot of stuff. And I’m sure there’s even more stuff you don’t need out there that stores are trying to sell to you and your baby. Maybe I should have made a list of all the things I actually did need and find to be useful, ha.

But anyway, maybe some of my little stories and tidbits will help you decide you don’t need a few things you were considering after all. You’ll save yourself and/or your loved ones some money. And you’ll save the planet the cost of more consumerism and waste. It’s a win-win.

Cheers!

Simple vs. Simple – Cosmetics and Toiletries

I like things simple.

For the past year and a half or so, I’ve been trying to simplify in all sorts of areas in my life. One of those areas is cosmetics and toiletries. And there are several ways in which one can do this.

1 Have less. An easy way in which I did that was to get rid of everything I wasn’t using. If it was something that I thought still had value, I made the effort to use it until it was gone, and then never replaced it. If I no longer found any value in it, and was really only keeping it around because I had once spent money on it, I just threw it out.

2 Use fewer products. This is made easier if step 1 is already done. Get rid of stuff you don’t use, then get rid of stuff you don’t need to use. An example of this, for me, is hair conditioner. I always used hair conditioner for as long as I remember bathing myself. I used it because my mom did, because they sold shampoo and conditioner together in the store in matching scents, and because beauty magazines recommended it. But I have the type of hair that just doesn’t need conditioner so I stopped using the product. My bathroom is less cluttered and my wallet is plumper.

3 Choose only a few brands. Instead of having multiple brands of lotions for different occasions, buy one that satisfies all of your needs. I find this helps reduce mental clutter, as well. If you choose one brand of toothpaste, for example, decision-making in the toothpaste aisle at the store is simplified immensely. Fewer choices equals more brain power for other, more important, things.

4 Use active ingredients. Choose products with only the simplest ingredients. Cosmetics and toiletries are filled with, well, fillers, when only a few ingredients actually do the job of the product. You can simplify your medicine cabinet by stripping away products that have a lot of useless, and sometimes harmful, fillers.

Now, number 4 is where things got a little crazy for me, hence the “Simple vs. Simple” title. I wanted to use products with the simplest of simple ingredients so I made some products myself. I made deodorant out of baking soda and corn starch and oil, lotion out of coconut oil and essential oils, and used plain baking soda as toothpaste.

It seemed simple because there was so few things in what I was using, but it actually complicated things. I did a few trials, but nothing really worked as well as products I could buy in the store, save for the baking soda as toothpaste. The deodorant made my underarms break out. The coconut oil lotion was alternatively solid or liquid, instead of a nice thick cream, making it difficult to apply.

And since I was using different toiletries than the rest of my family, it actually increased the amount of products in my house. There was toothpaste in the medicine cabinet and on the counter. There was yet another container of lotion (we got a lot as gifts for the babes).

To streamline going forward, I am finding effective products made with natural ingredients that my entire family can use. I have found a lot of nice stuff — for men, women, adults, babies, and children — so if you’d like any recommendations you can just ask. I’m still looking for a good, natural shampoo to satisfy everyone in the house, so if you know of any that you’d like to share, I’d appreciate the info.

Cheers!

Rotating Toys | Minimalist Kids

We switched out my son’s toys this past weekend and, although he’s had most of these toys for most of his life, it seemed a Christmas-like event for him.

We pick just enough toys to fit on his dedicated shelves — trying to keep a nice balance of wheels, balls, stackers, stuffed, and small — and the rest go in a storage bin that stays in the attic for the next three months.

They go in the attic because there is no temptation. We don’t have to keep track of or clean up any of those toys. We don’t even have to think about them for three whole months. We kind of forget about them. So when they make their way out into the rotation again, they are like new, and, thus, exciting again.

Rotating every three months is an arbitrary amount of time. It seemed to make sense because it lined up with the changing of the seasons. I like to do something, even something small, during the changing of the seasons to commemorate them. It makes me notice them more and then I enjoy each one more. And I’d be going in the attic for seasonal clothes at those times anyway. The timing also works well around holidays for us — Christmas and Mo’s birthday each fall near the a solstice and an equinox.

We keep Mo’s toys on the bottom three shelves of his bookcase for a few reasons. 1. The shelves are a nice display. They are open and within his reach so he can see everything that is available, get it himself, and also put it away himself. There is no rummaging in toy boxes where things can get lost or broken. 2. The shelves act as a boundary. We can’t accumulate too many things without also thinking of what we would get rid of to make room. 3. The shelves were available. He has only two shelves of books. They are at the top because they are delicate and are only taken down to be read together.

We don’t keep many toys out at a time and Mo is perfectly happy with that. He enjoys what’s available when it’s around and explores new places and things when those opportunities arise. It works for us. And, more importantly, it helps to keep our lives a little simpler, less stressful, and more enjoyable.

Enjoy.