Author Archives: Paige Greenfield

How I’m “Doing It All” (Part II—With Two!)

IMG_9140Since George came along, I’ve received some e-mails and messages asking whether I’m working, and, if so, how I’m making it work now that we have two young kiddos at home. I’ve responded to many of these messages individually, but I thought it would be nice to collect all of my thoughts in one place. (And just to be clear, I still believe there’s no such thing as “doing it all” no matter what you do. Just see the bottom of this post for all of the things I’m not currently doing.)

The last time I wrote about being a stay-at-home/work-from-home parent, Miles was 13 months old. Today, Miles is 2 years old (26 months), and George is 6 months old. I started working again when George was about 8 weeks old.

Let’s start with a big dose of honesty: Before George was born I wasn’t sure whether I was going to return to work. I didn’t think it would be possible to continue doing my job as a freelance health writer with two babies at home.

Financially, not working was going to take some major changes for us. We were willing to make those changes. I wrapped up my work when I was around 36 weeks pregnant, and a part of me really thought that I was retired—at least for the foreseeable future.

George was born a few weeks later. About a month and a half after that, a few editors reached out via e-mail asking whether I was taking any assignments. My brain said no, my gut said maybe, and my fingers typed yes. I think a part of me wanted to see whether I could actually make it work. Today, I’m still working and, happily, it’s working.

I also made some BIG changes in the work that I do and how I do it (more on that below–see #4), which has made working feel more pleasurable and less stressful. That’s also made a huge difference in being able to juggle so many things.

So here’s how I’m making it work right now:

  1. I’m working less than before. I’m not working at the same capacity as I was when we only had Miles. Our budget reflects this change. When I first started back to work after George was born, I was writing about 10 articles per month. Lately I’ve been writing about 20, on average.
  2. I do most of my work when the kids are in bed. Besides keeping up with e-mails from my phone throughout the day, I don’t work while the kids are awake. George goes to bed by 6 p.m. Miles is in bed by 7 p.m. I try to get to work as quickly as I can after that. Before Gorge was born, I used to work very early in the morning (5 a.m. to 7 a.m.) until Miles woke up. George is starting to sleep through the night more consistently lately so I’m hoping to add in some early morning work sessions again soon.
  3. I don’t depend on nap time for work time. This is one of the biggest differences from when I was working with only one kid because I used to always work during Miles’ naps. Although I’m usually able to get both of the boys to nap at the same time (12 p.m. to 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.) most days, relying on that time to work is way too challenging. Instead, I use that time to eat lunch, cook dinner, take care of house stuff (like laundry and dishes), and if I happen to have some time left to work (I usually do), then I do it. But any time I need to work during that time—for instance, finishing an article that’s due that day—it ends up backfiring.
  4. I stopped doing the work I no longer enjoyed. THIS. IS. BIG. It was a really difficult decision for me, but it’s made all the difference in how I view my work today. Because frankly? I started hating my job right before George was born and I really wanted to quit. I’ve been doing this work for 11 years. At first, I absolutely loved it—I was doing my dream job! Over the past few years, however, those feelings changed. The type of writing I was doing no longer felt like it resonated with where I was in my life (such as writing another article about a “new” way to lose weight—life is about so much more than what the scale says, isn’t it?) It also killed me that even though I was doing the same job for more than a decade I was getting paid less per article than when I was just starting out. I got real with myself about the work that I enjoyed doing and felt I could do with two babies at home and that’s the work that I mostly do now. The change, while scary, has also been incredibly freeing and rewarding.
  5. My husband helps a lot. I’ve probably made it sound like I do all of the work in our home, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Robert does a million things both big and small and he’s the most incredible dad I know. I couldn’t ask for a better or more supportive partner.
  6. Encourage independent play. This is a topic that could be its own post, but I’ll just sneak it in here. I spend the majority of my day interacting with our kids and we also have playdates with friends almost every day. However, the kiddos (especially Miles) also get a solid amount of solo play. I don’t work on my laptop while the kids are awake, but having them play independently allows me to do some household stuff like unloading the dishwasher and folding laundry so I can get to work as quickly as possible once they’re asleep at night. One thing we did before George was born was help Miles become better at playing by himself. It was actually pretty simple: Any time we’d see him playing independently—often first thing in the morning and after meals—we did our best not to interfere (even if we really wanted to play with him). It has definitely paid off. Give the kid a car, truck, or train and he can occupy himself for a long time. When it comes to babies, I feel like there’s so much pressure to be talking to and interacting with them every single second of the day. Then they turn a certain age and we suddenly expect them to be able to play by themselves. I’ve read and learned that independent play is a skill that they can develop pretty early on and we’re not neglecting them when we allow them to explore the world on their own terms for a few minutes. So, just like Miles, if I see George happily playing with toys on the floor or rolling across the living room as long as he’s safe and content I try to let him be until he needs me.
  7. I meal plan and make quick and easy meals. If a meal takes more than 30 minutes start to finish it isn’t happening. I rely on the slow cooker, one pot and sheet-pan dinners, and anything else that requires minimal prep, cooking, and clean up. I often cook dinner during nap time, but many days Miles helps me cook in his kitchen helper (<– best thing ever) while George takes his morning nap. It’s one of our favorite things to do together. For more on what our meals look like, see @food4tots on Instagram.

 Here’s what I’m not doing:

Just like last time, I thought it would be fun to include the things I’m not currently doing. They haven’t changed much.

  • Exercise. I chase a toddler, haul and wear a baby, and take both kiddos for a 30 to 60 minute walk or hike at least once a day. So I’m active. I’m just not doing any formal kind of exercise at the moment.
  • Cleaning. We try to pick up toys and tidy the kitchen every night and occasionally remember to vacuum. We also have a cleaning person come every few weeks.
  • Getting ready. Let’s just say my “morning routine” takes approximately 3 minutes.
  • Relaxing. If it seems like there’s little time left in the day to put my feet up and watch TV, well, you’re right. This pace isn’t for everyone, but it seems to be working just fine for us right now. I know that life won’t look like this forever—it really is just the phase we’re in right now—and I’m okay with it. I get to spend my day with our kids, I earn income and exercise my writing muscle at night, and we spend time together as a family on weekends. And while I often feel completely exhausted at the end of the day, I’ve never been happier in my whole life.

So that’s how I’m making it work. Do you have any tips for how to be a stay-at-home/work-from-home parent?

New Instagram: @food4tots

Food4totsFeeding kids is hard. I’ve been shocked at just how hard it is. I wouldn’t consider Miles a picky eater and I still feel like it’s one of the hardest things about raising a child so far. Before we started feeding Miles solids I had grand visions of him learning to eat whatever we ate. It’ll be a breeze! I’ll never be a short-order cook! HA. HA. HA.

I do my best to come up with meals that we’ll all enjoy, but this is still tougher than I imagined. Sure, I have to juggle foods I know he will and won’t eat (and even this seems to change on a daily basis), but there are other logistics I’ve discovered I have to think about. You can’t exactly feed a salad to a 16 month old even if that’s what you’re craving. And Miles would rather have meals made with ground meats (turkey, chicken, beef, or pork) than, say, a grilled chicken breast. But I can only eat so many variations of burgers, meatballs, and chili. Miles is still figuring out how to successfully manage flatware, so feeding him soups is challenging, though sometimes we make it work. And while I know that babies and toddlers can gum just about anything (Miles has six teeth), raw veggies can still be kind of a choking hazard.

All of this is to say that even if you’re like me and you love food, think about food all the time, and have the best of intentions, you can still find yourself completely stumped when it comes to feeding tots and the rest of your family. (For the record, food is my responsibility, by choice, and Robert balances that out by taking care of a million other things I never have to worry about. Different things work for different families.) But meal by meal and day by day, Miles and I are figuring this whole feeding thing out together. He’s a good eater, which fills my heart to no end. The reality is that it takes a lot of work—not necessarily time in the kitchen, but lots of careful thought and planning to figure out what to feed him for three meals and two snacks per day. But we’re getting there!

Throughout this process, I’ve also discovered that there’s a careful balance when it comes to the variety of foods that I feed him. Sometimes I laugh at how ridiculous my expectations were before we started this journey. Ultimately, I’ve become far more flexible than I thought I would be, and it really is for the best. I want Miles to love all foods, learn how to eat a balanced diet, and never think of foods as “good” or “bad.” They all have a role to play, ice cream included. There’s also the fact that I’m doing the full-time stay at home working mom thing, which means I can’t spend all day in the kitchen (no one can!), so sometimes I take shortcuts (I’m looking at you freezer waffles, chicken nuggets, and veggie burgers) and that’s totally fine, too.

This is my incredibly long-winded way of telling you about something new I’m doing. I’ve started a new Instagram account, @food4tots. I started taking pictures of Miles’ meals so I could sort back through them when trying to figure out what the heck to feed him. I figured I could do better (and make it prettier), by sharing it with others. So if you’re in the same boat and looking for some tot and family friendly meal inspiration then give it a follow! I hope to see you there : )

 

What Nobody Tells You About 1 Year Olds

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I don’t think I realized it at the time, but looking back now I was really sad about the fact that Miles was turning one. I just loved everything about having a baby and caring for him from the very beginning. I felt like the fact that he was turning one meant that I didn’t have a baby anymore. And frankly, I had no idea what the heck I was going to do with a toddler.

When you have a baby, there’s so much noise out there about how to care for them and what to do with them that it can make your head spin. While I became pretty adept at tuning out a lot of the nonsense, it was still inescapable. But once your kid passes the one-year mark things get kind of quiet. Or, you start hearing about how difficult and challenging toddlers are and it’s enough to make you want to hide from your child for the next few years.

But if there’s one thing I wish someone had told me about having a one-year-old it would be this: It gets even better. I can’t speak for all one year olds, but I can say this about ours: He is awesome. I know other one year olds and I think they’re all pretty darn great, too.

I may only be a few months into toddlerhood and in some ways I’m not even certain I’m truly in it since Miles isn’t quite walking yet (he’s getting close, though!) but I’ve been amazed at just how much fun this one-year-old stage is. And in some ways, it really is better than baby-hood. Here’s why:

No more bottles! This is for my bottle-feeding mamas, but once we ditched the bottles and formula (I went cold turkey at 11.5 months and it went smoothly) I felt such a lightness in our life. (For more on my feelings about bottle-feeding click here.) I felt like so much time in our day suddenly opened up since I wasn’t constantly making bottles, feeding Miles, washing bottles, and anticipating his next feeding.

Fewer, longer naps. Helping Miles become a good sleeper has always been a big priority for us, especially since I depend on his naps in order to do my work. As a result, this meant we had to make some sacrifices like saying no to activities that interfered with naptimes. Now he takes two solid naps per day. Now that he’s one, he’s more resilient if we’re off schedule so I know he’ll still fall asleep pretty easily. And if he occasionally skips a nap because we’re out doing fun things the world doesn’t fall apart—he’s totally fine. Now that he’s not taking as many naps, this gives us longer chunks of time during the day to do stuff without always feeling like the clock is ticking and we need to rush home to put him down for a nap again. Plus, his longer naps means that this mama gets a break (which I often spend working) right when I’m ready for one. It’s exhausting keeping up with a one-year-old!

Personality. I think all babies’ personalities shine through more and more throughout the first year, but there was something about turning one that was like flipping a switch. All of a sudden I felt like Miles became a little human instead of a baby and he just oozes personality. I’m still amazed at the things he does every day. He’s funny, silly, entertaining, curious, gentle, and so incredibly sweet. He’s also becoming quite the ham. When he notices that others are watching (even if it’s just me), he turns on the charm and becomes even more animated.

Cuddles, snuggles, and hugs! I thought for sure turning one meant the end of snuggling (which, to be honest, had ended months before because he was so busy exploring the world around him.) Instead, the opposite happened: He became SUPER snuggly. I’m not sure why, exactly. My best guess is that as he’s become more independent he also needs us a little more (if that makes any sense…) Before, if he was having trouble sleeping at night, holding him didn’t do anything to help. After he turned a year old and went through a really long and tough sleep regression (it lasted weeks), I’d go into his room when he was crying, lie down with him on the couch and he’d fall asleep on me immediately. He loves to snuggle while reading books and will come by during the day and just rest his head on my shoulder or on my leg. When Robert or I pick him up out of his crib in the morning or after naps, he wraps his arms around us and nestles his head into our neck and will stay there for some time. Miles LOVES giving hugs (even to people he doesn’t know very well!) and they’re usually unsolicited. Every time he hugs me my heart explodes into a million little pieces.

Meals. After Miles turned one, we went from feeding him meals to sharing meals with him and it’s the greatest. He babbles and laughs while we eat, does funny things with his food (like spinning spaghetti around his finger), tries to use utensils, or attempts to feed us. It’s an experience we get to share together several times per day instead of always being focused on feeding him.

He communicates. Miles doesn’t have many words yet, but he babbles all day long and I feel like we have entire conversations that way. I can tell he’s trying to communicate and it’s so awesome watching him try to express himself. He’s also becoming more opinionated and discerning about what he likes and doesn’t like.

None of this is intentionally meant to brag about our kid. I like to believe that all parents think their kid is amazing. And sure, we have our tough days, but they’re usually tough for a reason—he’s teething, he doesn’t feel well, or he just needs some extra TLC. So I just do what I need to do to help him out and remind myself that it will pass and it always does. But overall, this phase—right now at 14.5 months old—is so special and one that I truly want to remember forever and ever.

So the next time I know someone with a baby who’s about to turn one I won’t be thinking about how sad it is that her baby is becoming a toddler or how hard things are going to become. I’ll just think about how lucky she is because as far as I’m concerned, she’s in for so much fun and joy ahead.

How I’m “Doing It All”

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Let’s take a quick moment to giggle at the title of this post because we all know there’s no such thing as “doing” or “having” it all and there’s certainly no way to do it all well. We’re all just doing our best. I just didn’t think How I’m Making Being A Stay-At-Home-Working-Mom Work For Me had quite the same ring to it. But that’s the gist.

I’m now four months into being home with Miles full-time while still managing my full workload and you know what? We’re doing great! And frankly, I’m astonished. Before Miles was born–and even when he was a baby–I truly didn’t believe this was possible. I mean, I sat in front of my computer for 8 to 10 hours per day. Certainly there’s no way I could accomplish all of that work and keep my kid alive (and fed, cleaned, entertained, engaged, and happy). But when push came to shove–a.k.a. he was always terribly sick while in daycare, I didn’t want to hire a nanny, and I hated being away from him–I decided to make it work. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Since I didn’t believe doing what I’m doing was possible and I didn’t know anyone else who was juggling a full-time career while staying at home with a baby (and not working while he’s awake or ever plunking him in front of the TV) I hope that sharing my experience and how I’m making it work could help someone else who might find herself in the same boat. And, at the end of this post, check out the four things I’m NOT doing, just to keep it real and highlight the fact that there are concessions we’ve made, tasks we’ve outsourced, and things I’ve had to let go in order to make this work.

Here are my tips for making it work:

  1. Get your baby on a schedule. I have such a love/hate relationship with schedules. But at the end of the day I couldn’t possibly be doing what I’m doing if Miles wasn’t on a schedule with his naps. From 5 to 9 months old we followed Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and put Miles down for naps every 2 hours. Once he turned 9.5 to 10 months old we shifted to a “by the clock” approach (also from that book) where he takes two 90 minute to 2.5 hour naps per day, one at 9 a.m. and another at 1 or 1:30 p.m. He goes to bed by 6:30 p.m. every night. Yes, there’s some degree of flexibility in there if we happen to be out of the house longer than usual or he takes a nap that’s shorter or longer than usual, but 90 percent of the time this is how things go. I believe one of the reasons he’s a great napper is because he’s on a schedule. Being able to depend on his consistent nap times means I know when I can safely schedule phone interviews and get my work done.
  2. Protect nap time for work time. What that means: Sometimes I have to do household tasks while Miles is awake and that’s A-OK. This often includes doing and folding laundry and diapers, cooking (see more at the end of this post), cleaning up after meals, neatening up, walking the dog, running errands, and more. There are times when I feel a little guilty about it, like I’m not interacting with him enough while I do them, but I try my hardest to find a balance. I talk or sing to him while I’m doing them and he usually happily crawls around and climbs on me while I fold laundry on the floor of his bedroom and steal kisses from him. I’ve also found that the times when I’m engaged in other things are great opportunities for him to learn to play independently, which is an important skill and he’s getting better at it. I’ve also convinced myself that it’s important for him to see that these tasks take time and work and don’t just magically happen, though I’m not sure how well he grasps that concept yet at 13 months old : )
  3. Eat when baby eats. This is closely related to the tip above, but I believe it deserves its own space because it took me a while to learn it and it has made a big difference. Before, I’d feed Miles and clean up and then put him down for a nap and fix myself a meal and then have to clean up after that. What a waste of time! This has meant shifting when I eat my meals to much earlier times so I’m usually having breakfast at 7:30 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m., and dinner at 5:30 p.m. It took me a while to get used to it, but I really enjoy it now–I love sharing my meals with Miles, it’s so much more efficient to do it all at once, and I especially love eating dinner much earlier in the evening than I used to.
  4. Keep up with e-mails all day. This is one of the biggest concessions I’ve had to make. I try my hardest not to work while Miles is awake, but keeping up with e-mails from my phone is essential. Otherwise, every time he goes down for a nap or to sleep at night I’d have to spend a big chunk of time responding to e-mails before I ever dove into my work. Being quick to respond to e-mails is also crucial for my job. Editors who are contacting me with assignments could reassign them to another writer if they don’t hear from me quickly enough. And responding to their e-mails lets editors know that I’m responsive and dependable, which then makes them count on me for future assignments. Some editors know I’m with Miles all day and some think I’m at my desk like I used to be. To me it doesn’t matter–they should be able to depend on me just like they always have no matter how I choose to allocate my time.
  5. Set a monthly income goal. Of course this won’t apply to all jobs, especially if you’re salaried, but when you’re freelance like me it can be super helpful. First of all, having a monthly goal helps make sure I’m on target and am bringing in the income our family depends on. (My goal is the same every month). If I’m a little short then it means I need to pitch more, reach out to more editors, and so on. However, if I’ve met my goal in assignments for the month then it’s a sign to ease up. I know that I can realistically manage the amount of work needed to meet my goal while caring for Miles full-time, but once I surpass it things always get hairy. I used to just take on more and more work, but I now know that as I creep closer to my goal I have to think carefully about taking on additional assignments because it almost always means more stress, late nights, working on the weekends, and I inevitably become unhappy with the whole situation and then no one in this house is happy. More dinero is always nice, but the pressure it creates isn’t always worth it. To track my income, I use a Google spreadsheet that Robert created for me that’s made a tremendous difference in how I run my little business.

Here’s what I’m NOT doing:

  1. Exercising. There, I said it. There were so many times when I tried fitting in even 20 to 30 minute exercise videos as soon as Miles went down for a nap, but I just haven’t been able to successfully pull it off and get all of my work done without feeling super stressed about it all. So you know what? I stopped trying and I immediately felt the greatest sense of relief. This just goes under the fact that you can’t do it all and right now my work and my family are my priorities. I take Miles for a walk in his stroller almost every day and our neighborhood is incredibly hilly so I’m still active, but exercise–in the traditional sense–has taken a backseat for now.
  2. Cleaning. Let’s be honest, I’ve never cleaned. I HATE it more than anything and I’m terrible at it. I can keep the house somewhat tidy–as much as one can with an almost-toddler–but I do very little scrubbing. We have a cleaning lady who comes every other week and she’s worth every penny.
  3. Cooking. Okay, okay, I’m still cooking, but it’s just nothing like I used to do. Since I do the majority of the cooking while Miles is awake this means most meals can take no more than 10 to 15 minutes of prep time because that’s all I have before he wants to picked up. I’m the biggest fan of baby-wearing, but I’d rather spend my time playing with or reading to him than lugging him around on my back while I chop onions. No thank you. This means I buy a lot of pre-cut veggies so I can easily toss them with olive oil and throw them in the oven. We do a lot of pre-made beef or turkey patties, meatballs, pre-marinated meats, rotisserie chickens, slow cooker meals, pastas, and other things that are quick and easy to pull together into decently healthy meals. Fortunately, we use Fresh Direct, a grocery delivery service in the area, and they have an amazing selection of prepped items with clean ingredients. Is this ideal? Not exactly. But right now, I’m all about doing whatever works and right now this is what works.
  4. Getting “ready”.  I’m not one of those people who has to take a shower, put on real clothes, and do her makeup to feel ready for the day. I fully respect and admire people who do, but that’s just not who I am. And that stuff takes time. I’m happiest in yoga pants, a comfy top, a ponytail, and no makeup. I’m not afraid to go out into the world like this, either, and you better believe I do it every single day : )

Anything you would add? Any questions? Let me know!! I hope this is helpful.

How To Cloth Diaper A Baby

IMG_0062I can’t believe I’m hitting publish on this bad boy. I feel a little embarrassed. Also, if the Internet still exists in 16 years (I mean, who knows?) all of Miles’ buddies could find out that his mom talked about his business on a blog. Sorry, love.

As weird as it is to say, I love cloth diapering! If you read my last post, then it should be pretty clear there’s no high horse involved in our decision to cloth diaper. There are lots of choices out there, this was ours, and we’re happy that it’s working.

I often receive e-mails and Facebook messages about cloth diapering and I always wish I had something I could point people to when they want to learn more. However, I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to truly write about it until we were a year in. And now here we are.

I think there are three main things I can attribute our cloth diapering success to so far:

  1. We’re all on board. When I was pregnant and mentioned to Robert that I thought it might be a good idea to cloth diaper our baby he didn’t think I was insane. We talked about the cost savings (which have absolutely panned out and will continue to do so), decreased environmental impact, and other benefits and he was on board. He changes diapers when he’s home and does diaper laundry when he’s able to, too. Miles was in cloth even during the short time he was in daycare and it was never an issue.
  2. I don’t mind the laundry. When you cloth diaper you do a lot of laundry (we wash every 2 to 3 days). I describe our routine at the end of this post, but the fact of the matter is it’s just something we do and it’s not a big deal for us. I actually find folding diapers relaxing (#weirdo) and usually do it while Miles happily crawls around me.
  3. Our wash routine works. We’ve never had any issues with stink, stains, or rashes. Our diapers come out perfectly fresh and clean. It’s hard to argue with success!

There are SO many options out there when it comes to cloth diapers. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you first start researching. Different things work well for different families. This is what’s working for us.

1. Our diapers

Cloth-eez prefold diapers, unbleached (aka “Prefolds”)

These are rectangles of thick, super absorbent cloth. We fold them in thirds and lay them in the center of a cover (more on covers below) and then put the whole situation on baby. We decided to make prefolds the majority of our stash because they’re among the most affordable options (about $2 per diaper) and work great. Tip: Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prepping your diapers before you use them. This includes at least four cycles through the washer and dryer to remove natural cotton oils and increase the absorbency. You only need to do this process once.

How many? 24 newborn, 24 small, 12 medium

Cloth-eez workhorse organic diapers (no closure)

These are the same material as prefolds, but wrap around baby so there’s more surface area to absorb. I liked the no closure option, which I secured with a snappi because it let me get a more exact fit than having snaps. However, I wouldn’t say these are a must. I used them and liked them when Miles was a newborn, but I didn’t feel the need to get more once he outgrew them.

How many? 10 newborn size

Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 diaper covers

When you use prefolds and fitteds (the two I mention above) you need waterproof covers to go over them. I adore Thirsties covers. The prints are adorable and they work great. We have the Velcro kind, which are called “hook and loop.”

How many? 8

Flip One-Size diaper covers

Around 6 months Miles outgrew the size 1 covers and needed larger ones. We decided to use Flip covers, which should last us until potty training. Tip: You can reuse covers before washing. I usually have 2 or 3 that I use per day and alternate to let the most recently used cover dry before using it again.

How many? 6

Bumgenius Freetime All In One Cloth Diaper

All-in-one diapers are most similar to regular disposable diapers in how they look and function. There are many different brands and styles of all-in-ones (there’s also something called all-in-twos, but I’ve never used them so I can’t really comment on them). I chose the Bumgenius Freetime because I didn’t want to deal with stuffing pockets (another type of all-in-one). Price wise, all-in-ones are among the more expensive options at about $20-$25 per diaper when purchased new. They’re easier and quicker to change than using prefolds and covers so these are what I keep in my diaper bag. If you’re not too concerned with the upfront cost or you (or someone in your household) is a little intimidated by cloth diapering you could consider doing all all-in-ones.

How many? 8 (This is how many got us through the first year in addition to the other types of diapers we have. However, I recently added some additional Freetimes and Elementals to our stash, which is why we only have 12 medium-sized prefolds. Miles is getting squirmy on the changing table so I expect that I’ll be reaching for all-in-ones more often for quicker diaper changes.)

GroVia O.N.E.

These are our nighttime diapers (plus I add a hemp doubler). We’ve used them since he was about 9 months old, but you can start younger than that. Miles sleeps 12 to 13 hours in them and they work great. Tip: They come with a removable Velcro option on top of the snaps. I didn’t use the Velcro at first and we were getting leaks until I discovered that keeping the Velcro option on gives a much more snug fit and we haven’t had any issues since.

How many? 3

2. GroVia Cloth Wipes

If you’re going to cloth diaper I say go all the way and use cloth wipes (just my two cents!) This way you don’t need multiple bins for wipe trash/diaper laundry or risk mixing up the two. Our system is super simple: We keep a spray bottle on his changing station filled with water and just spray the cloth wipe before using. Then toss it in with the diapers to be washed. For what it’s worth, I’ve never felt the need to have a wipe warmer.

How many? 2 packages of 12 wipes

3. Diaper cream

With most cloth diapers, you can’t use regular diaper cream because they can make your diapers less absorbent. We use coconut oil (the same kind you use to cook with – separate jar of course!) or Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm

4. Diaper pail

Most diaper pails are too small to work for cloth diapers. The opening is too narrow and you’ll fill it up with like 4 diapers. We have a big plastic Rubbermaid garbage pail that I got from Bed Bath & Beyond (I can’t find the exact one on Amazon—this is similar). Tip: It’s counter-intuitive, but you’ll get less stink if you leave the lid of the diaper pail open to allow air to circulate.

5. Planet Wise Reusable Diaper Pail Liners

These fit great in the pail we have. All of the diapers go into the liner. When we do diaper laundry we lift the pail liner out of the pail, dump all of the contents into the washer machine and then throw the liner in there to be washed, too. We have two liners so when one is being washed we have a clean one to go inside the pail.

How many? 2

6. Planet Wise Wet/Dry bag

When you’re on the go, you need something to put your dirty diapers in so you can bring them home to wash. This is what we use.

How many? 2

7. What to do with poo?

We can’t talk about cloth diapering without discussing #2. So here’s the deal. If your baby is exclusively breastfed you don’t have to do anything with the poo. Take the dirty diaper, throw it in the pail, and wash when you do your diaper laundry. There’s debate about whether you can do the same with a formula-fed baby, but I can tell you from my own experience that we followed the same approach and they always came out perfectly clean. Some people prefer installing a diaper sprayer to spray the poo off before adding to the diaper pail. (If a diaper just has pee, don’t do anything–just put it right into your diaper pail to be washed.) When baby starts eating solids, you definitely need to get rid of the poo. I’ve always been able to plop it off of the diaper into the toilet or you could use a diaper sprayer.

8. Laundry

As I mentioned, we do diaper laundry every 2 to 3 days. One thing that people often find surprising with washing cloth diapers is that you actually want to make sure you have enough diapers to make a full load instead of washing every single day. The washer should be about 3/4 of the way full in order to agitate properly and get your diapers totally clean (I learned this from an awesome Chicago-based cloth diaper Facebook group.) If you don’t have enough diaper laundry you can throw a bath towel in there to bulk it up.

Detergent: Tide Ultra Original Scent Powder or Tide Free & Gentle powder This is pretty much the most chemical-filled thing we have in our home, but lots of cloth diapering families swear by it. Getting our diapers absolutely clean is super important so I didn’t want to risk a sub-par job from some more eco-friendly brands. A lot of people also really like Charlie’s Soap and I had success with Country Save (I just didn’t love the smell). Always use powder detergent, not liquid.

Our wash routine:

  1. Warm pre-wash, no detergent
  2. Hot wash with enough detergent for a heavily soiled load (a full scoop when using Tide), cold rinse
  3. Hang diaper covers on drying rack, dry everything else in the dryer (never use dryer sheets). Some people prefer to hang dry all-in-ones, but I find they take forever to dry that way so I put them in the dryer. When everything is dry, I stuff it all into the pail liner and carry them upstairs to fold.

So that’s how we do it! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. And if you cloth diaper feel free to offer your input on what’s worked for you. I hope this is helpful!

 

Why I’m Glad I Couldn’t Breastfeed

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I never imagined that my biggest disappointment would turn out to be one of the greatest blessings. I recently wrote an essay for Refinery29 about the impact not being able to breastfeed has had on me and it went live today. Check it out here.

Miles’ First Birthday in Vermont!

IMG_1228And just like that, we have a one year old! If this year flew by for you, it sure did for us. It’s still a little surreal that our baby is one. I’m not sure I fully believe it yet. The week prior to Miles’ birthday I was definitely feeling all the feels. I didn’t expect to feel sad about it, but I did at times. I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a happy, healthy, funny boy, but there’s something about turning one that makes it feel like he’s not a baby anymore. My mom said it best {because she always does} when she said, “Revel in every stage.” I keep reminding myself to do just that.

We’ve known for a while that we wanted to do something small and simple for Miles’ first birthday. We’d planned to celebrate it with my family at our home in New York, but at the last minute it turned out that we were all {minus my BIL} able to make it up to my family’s ski house in Vermont for the weekend. Here’s how we spent his special day.

At breakfast, Miles had his first taste of bacon ever. He loved it (obviously). IMG_1178

He then enjoyed some bacon, eggs, and blueberries (his favorite!)

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After his morning nap he crawled around in the snow for a little while. He then enjoyed a delicious lunch that my dad made of another favorite food: Turkey meatloaf! IMG_1181

A dear family friend joined us for the occasion. When Miles was born, she sent him a 12-month size outfit and shoes.  At the time, 12 months felt forever away. It was fun for him to get to wear this adorable number (it’s so soft) and shoes for the first time (I’m obsessed with Robeez now). She also brought her adorable pup!

IMG_1208 IMG_1209Finally, it was time to celebrate! My mom made Miles an all-organic, sugar-free, dairy-free coconut-flour cake. Just kidding!! It was a real white cake with white frosting and it was absolutely delicious.

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I hadn’t given much thought to how we’d introduce the cake. Miles hadn’t had any kind of sweet before and I figured he’d just play with it. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the cake! But first we had to sing Happy Birthday and take a few more family photos.

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We offered him a sliver. He scooped it up and went to town! We may have even given him seconds.

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I wanted to make sure he got every last bite.

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Finally, we gave him a bath to wash off the birthday cake (and to play with his new tug boat bath toy) and then he went right to sleep. It was a weekend we’ll always remember. Big thanks to my family for making it so special. Happy birthday, Miles. We love you!