Ah, the newborn stage. It's both a delight and a really hard time. You wonder if you'll ever sleep again (you will), and you also cannot believe that you actually created this tiny human (you did). The first six weeks were a hazy fog of feedings, diaper changes, and sleep, and after that our little girl became more aware of the world.
When I was pregnant and trying to figure out what the heck to buy and add to our registry, I relied mostly on lists I found on blogs. I had a million questions about what products were the best for our family. Do I go with zippered pajamas or nightgowns for sleep? (Pajamas. Easy enough for diaper changes, and don't get me started on my anxiety of trying to get a tiny top over a newborn's wobbly head.) Regular onesies or side snap onesies? (Side snap. Again, no slipping a shirt over the head.)
I quickly learned what we needed, what we didn't, and what was useful. I also chose products that I thought we could get a lot of use out of. I went with all in one sized cloth diapers so I wouldn't have to keep buying different sizes. We got one baby carrier that could be used from 8 to 45 pounds. We chose a stroller that should last us a few years. There are so many baby products on the market, and as someone who tries not to buy a lot of stuff, I wanted to be as practical and economical as possible.
Many of the items we have we got as gifts. I am so grateful for our family and friends who sent and brought us so many wonderful toys and books, clothes and gear. Preparing for a baby can get expensive, and we were so touched by these people in our lives.
Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets. These were recommended by so many people, and now I understand why. We used these as swaddle blankets for the first two months, and I also use these soft, light blankets as nursing covers, as burping cloths, as stroller covers, and for tummy time. I can easily fit one under our stroller or in my diaper bag, and I like to keep one in each room of the house since they get used so much.
Miracle Blanket. This is one item I wish I'd used sooner. Once the swaddle blankets were too loose for our girl, we switched to the Miracle Blanket, which kept her nice and snug.
Cloth Diapers. I'd love to share more details about how we do cloth diapers, but so far we are really happy with them. We started using cloth at seven weeks. I bought a few different brands and styles to start out with, and we now have 15 diapers that we rotate through. We have two BumGenius All-in-Ones, two Bum Genius Pockets, seven Charlie Banana One Size diapers, one Thirsties Pocket, and three Tots Bots (and I'm going to order one more Tots Bots diapers this week -- they're great for overnights).
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes. At home during the day we use cloth wipes and water, but during night changings and when we're out and about, I keep packages of wipes on hand. Seventh Generation is my favorite brand for cleaning products, and their diaper wipes are great. They're perfect for cleaning messy faces and hands too.
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System. This car seat + stroller combo was a gift from my mother-in-law. I almost didn't ask for the stroller, but it has been used a ton. It's so easy to use, and it folds up and fits in the trunk of my car. I use it for walks, and I use it when we run errands (the basket below gets filled up with the goods while baby hangs out or sleeps in her car seat).
Vitamin D Drops. Easy to administer, and only made with Vitamin D and coconut oil.
Mustela Stelatopia Moisturizing Cream. We tried a few different organic lotions and creams but they were all a bit irritating to our little one's skin. Then I tried this Mustela lotion. It is pretty expensive, but a little goes a long way and it works amazingly well. As someone with a lot of allergies, I also like that it's hypoallergenic.
Boba 4G Carrier. This carrier has been a lifesaver. It's a little on the pricey side, but since it can be used for babies 8 to 45 pounds, it can get a lot of life out of it. Once our girl hit the minimum eight pounds for the Boba, I would strap her in and go for walks with Maple around the neighborhood. It's a huge help to be hands-free, and I find the Boba to be very comfortable. It comes with a little newborn seat that can be snapped in, and it has a pocket that fits my phone and a clip that holds my keys.
Patagonia Lightweight Travel Courier Bag. I used this bag as a purse for a few years, and then it became our diaper bag. It's roomy, has lots of pockets, and is lightweight. I'm not a diaper bag person, so I keep this filled with what we need, add my wallet, and I'm good to go.
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• Prepping more food. I've been trying to make big batches at a time of foods for us to eat -- roasted veggies, hard boiled eggs, quinoa with beans and kale. My cooking time is pretty limited these days, so whenever I can prep a lot at once, I feel satisfied.
• Drinking rooibos tea. It's my current favorite.
• Dreaming about spring and summer. I am so ready to go hiking and have picnics.
• Planning our trip to Block Island this June. The more I think about it, the more I can't wait for our vacation. The beach and lots of eating, please.
• Wanting to plant potted tomatoes and kitchen herbs this spring. We have some space on our patio, and I'd love to grow a teeny bit of our own food.
• Finishing up the nursery, finally. For a long time I was searching for just the right piece to hang over the bed, and I found it last week.
• Running again! I've only gone out a few times, and just for fifteen minutes at a time. But it feels wonderful. I love getting my heart rate up again, and it helps to burn any anxiety and stress out of my system.
• Putting a few books on hold at the library: Yes Please and The Wonder Weeks. I spend way too much time scrolling my phone these days and miss reading books terribly, but every one I try just isn't keeping my attention.
• Taking a photo once a week of our girl. I write her a letter via email most weeks too. By her first birthday I'd like to make photo books for the grandparents, and one with the letters included for our family.
• Trying to live with grace. It's always hard as a parent. Right now we're dealing with a major change in sleep -- from five and six hour stretches of sleep to just two hours, or less. I'm exhausted, and I've cried a few times, but I'm trying to hold my head up and be okay with it.
• Collaborating on a new project. Once a month I'll be sharing stories about farmers' markets and summer camps, my happy places. You can find my first post here.
a: ritual observance; specifically: a system of rites
b: a ceremonial act or action
c: an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner
Lately I've been thinking a lot about rituals, traditions, and habits. What are the things we do each day, week, and year that set a tone for our lives?
I imagine a lot of my interest is from being a new parent, and living with very limited "me time". I couldn't be more thankful to raise our baby girl and take care of our home, but at the end of the day, I have very little time for myself. Between staying on top of the laundry and dishes, and feeding, changing, and playing with our daughter, I'm lucky if I can get dinner made (and I think I've done this three times since her birth), let alone spend a little time writing.
But I am finding that it doesn't take much effort or time to create one or two small rituals each day. When Josh and I lived in New York City, I created a morning ritual that consisted of walking Maple by the river, then heading back to our apartment to drink a hot cup of coffee while writing a blog post. I loved how the walking and writing set a tone for my day, with the bonus of getting some alone time. As an introvert, the alone time is a necessity.
Three months ago with a brand new baby in tow, I would have laughed at the notion of having a ritual in place. But now, I do, and it's ever-changing, but I'm okay with that at this point in my life. Time is precious, and my time alone is rare. Any way I can savor it to do something for myself, to have a bit of peace in an unpredictable way, is a huge help.
It's also the new year, when many of us look for ways to revive, refresh, and restart. Any little thing we can do to bring peace, calm, stillness and routine to a day helps a lot.
My current ritual is a cup of tea. I'll take my tea in the morning or the evening; I enjoy chamomile or rooibos, sometimes plain, sometimes with a splash of milk. Sometimes I sip on it while we watch an episode of Parenthood. Sometimes I enjoy it while I write on the computer or scroll through my phone. And sometimes, when the tea gets lukewarm, I drink it while snuggling our sweet girl. However I have my tea, I have found it sets a calm tone for my day.
Looking for a daily ritual to get started? Here are some ideas...
1. Write in a gratitude journal.
2. Go on a walk.
3. Drink a cup of tea.
4. Drink a cup of coffee.
5. Write a letter or postcard.
6. Color in a coloring book. (This one is my current favorite.)