Simplify: Traveling with Baby

standard September 18, 2017 Leave a response

If you’ve ever wanted to simplify your belongings and your life but thought to yourself, “I could never get there” or “I really NEED all this stuff,” then go take a 6 or 8 week trip. There’s nothing like an extended time away from home to make you realize what you actually need every day to not just survive but thrive.

We traveled for 6 weeks with a 3 month old baby. We packed two suitcases, 2 computer bags, a diaper bag, and a car seat. And no, we didn’t even use everything we packed, but it was pretty close. And yes, we bought stuff once we arrived at our destination. Namely, baby necessities and a few household items. Our goal was to make the day-to-day as normal as possible for our daughter, in order to make our lives easier (i.e. NAPTIME). However, despite our best efforts, traveling across time zones and being away during that dreaded 4 month Wonder Week/sleep regression is generally going to be a nightmare. Even our best efforts didn’t do much to help with that, but we survived.

Navigating airports, home rentals, cable car hills, and numerous skipped naps taught me a few things about simplifying travel with a small child. Namely, you really don’t need that much, but the few things you do need, you really will get every penny of use out of.

Top 3 Things to Take When Traveling with a Baby

1. Baby wrap or carrier.

LIFE. SAVER. If you only take ONE thing, take this. Child doesn’t want to nap, and you need to get stuff done? Child is unsure of new surroundings and needs to get used to environment? You desperately need to get out of the house? Babywearing is the way to go.  Especially when going through airport security and a long flight. I prefer my Solly Baby wrap over a carrier, especially at the airport, because I was able to also carry a backpack without the straps from a carrier getting in my way. I also easily got a sweater or jacket on and off without looking ridiculous.

2. Lightweight stroller.

We decided not to lug our beloved BOB stroller with us, just because of its weight. Instead, we ordered a smaller, lighter stroller to be delivered directly to our rental and then flew home with it. And while I missed being able to run on days I was solo parenting, it was really nice to have something that maneuvered easily through city streets and hills without the added weight.

3. Sound machine.

A sound machine was not on my baby registry. It was not even on my radar, until I was reading something online and stumbled upon a blog post that highly praised the NEED for one. I immediately hopped on Amazon and bought that exact one, and its been amazing. It’s just enough white noise to drown out almost anything without being super loud. And no matter where you are, it makes the room your baby is sleeping in sound and feel like home. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without this item right now. Along with my breast pump, it was the only other thing I insisted upon having in my carry on vs checking because I could NOT risk it getting lost in transit.

How have you handled traveling with an infant? Any other must-have items you’ve learned about along the way?

 

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Weekly Menu: Freezer Favorites Round 2

standard September 11, 2017 1 response

Before having my first baby earlier this year, I spent a few weekends stocking up my freezer with breakfasts, entrees, snacks, and smoothies to get me through the 4th trimester with as little cooking as I could. And I am back to report that it was the BEST. DECISION. EVER. If you’re pregnant and reading this, carve out a weekend and cook and freeze all the things you can! Especially things other people can heat up for you. No cooking. No dishes. And no greasy takeout. (YES, takeout has a much-needed place in this season, but especially with breastfeeding, all the nutritious, filling foods you can get are so needed to keep everyone healthy and happy).

Now that my freezer is empty again, I am back to share how I’ve gotten even more efficient at this process, with prep instructions to help anyone tackle this seemingly daunting task in just one weekend. I got almost 2 months of meals made in under 8 hours and for less than $150. And now I’m ready to get through a super busy work and holiday season.

Recipes

Pick 2 breakfast dishes. Add 2 smoothies. Throw in a sweet treat. And then 7-8 entrees that work for lunches, dinners, singles, or a crowd. The more versatile the better. Here is what I made this past weekend:

  1. Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins
  2. Baked Oatmeal Cups (whip up your favorite oatmeal recipe and bake in muffin tins vs the stove for easy single servings to reheat)
  3. Pumpkin Berry Smoothie Bowl
  4. Autumn Glow Milkshake
  5. Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  6. Vegan Enchiladas Verde
  7. Spanish Quinoa & Chickpeas
  8. Cannellini Bean & Broccoli Rabe Meatballs
  9. Peanutty Stewed Blackeyed Peas & Collard Greens
  10. Back Pocket Stir Fry with Noodles
  11. Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat
  12. 1 Pot Lentil Dal
  13. Tofu & Broccoli Curry

Prep 

  1. Make a grocery list. Take stock of what you already have in the pantry and fridge. Shop for all the ingredients you need.
  2. Divide the list in half.  Set aside 3 hours over 2 days or one giant 6 hour day to cook.
  3. Read all the instructions. Soak beans, chop veggies, marinate, freeze, thaw, etc according to recipes. You don’t want to be stuck with dried beans that need soaking overnight when you’re about to cook the recipe.

Plan

If you’re tackling everything in one day, write out an order of operations sheet. Which things get dumped into a pot and left to simmer, allowing you to work on something else in a similar time frame? Which items can cook at same temperature and go in the oven together? What takes the longest and should be started first? What gets put in the slow cooker first thing in the day? If you write out a list and make things one by one, it will make everything go faster and run more smoothly.

Make sure you have freezer containers ready to go. I like to store everything in single serve containers, because most recipes I eat alone when the husband is traveling. Or he wants a separate meat dish, and we can just thaw what we both want without having a whole casserole dish of something sitting in the fridge going to waste. These containers stack great, fit in tight spaces to maximize your freezer, and are super cheap, so if they break or get lost or stained, you don’t feel bad about tossing them. Freezer bags are also a great option for smoothies, baked goods, breakfast burritos, etc.

Most of the dishes I made work well served over a grain, so I also cooked up giant batches of rice and quinoa and froze in single servings. Quinoa cooks rather quickly, but the last thing I want to deal with on a busy night is 45 minutes of brown rice simmering on the stove. You can buy precooked frozen rice, but a bag of dried rice is so cheap, I just add it to my batch cooking list and make my own.

Follow Up

You can either label each dish or make a list of what you’ve made and keep it near the freezer so you can check items off as you eat them. I find this makes it easier to always know whats left without digging through everything.

Now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your evenings again!

 

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Be Present: September

standard September 5, 2017 Leave a response

Happy September! August was a busy month with lots of moving parts, and with Fall and the end of the year fast approaching, things don’t look to settle down anytime soon. Last month’s goals were fairly ambitious, so September is about slowing down, simplifying, and focusing on what is most important. Namely, rest, family, and some big work tasks!

August in Review:

1. Clear out clutter.

This started out in one drawer in my kitchen, and slowly took over cabinet by cabinet, room by room. If we hadn’t used it since we moved in 2 years ago, out it went. So much open space everywhere now! Hopefully it stays that way for a while.

2. Start marathon training plan.

I’ve made progress since our California adventure with completing my couch to 10k plan, but I decided to completely forego a marathon this year. My heart just isn’t in it. And the thought of figuring out how to pump or nurse mid-race solidifies the decision to wait until breastfeeding season is over to tackle this goal again. I have signed up for an 8k in October and am now targeting a December 13.1 goal. Training plan is ready to go!

3. Batch cook meals.

This technically didn’t happen until this past weekend, but I am SO SO glad this got completed! I tacked 12 recipes over 2 days. I spent $140 and made over 50 individual servings for meals for the coming months. The last thing I like to do on busy nights now is cook, especially with trying to get a fussy, teething baby to sleep!

September Goals:

  • Read 4 books.
  • Update Celebration Nutrition services.
  • Carve out time for weekly self-care.

What are your big goals for this change of season? How are you slowing down and simplifying as we move toward the end-of-the year, holiday madness?