I know I already wrote about traveling with a baby, and I recommend it for anyone who can. With summer upon us, and family vacations on the horizon, I figured now would be as good a time as any to talk about packing for your littlest family member. I'm splitting this post into several parts because it makes sense to me to do so, that way you aren't overloaded with information. Just lookin' out.
I'm a list maker. I make lists for to-do's, for groceries, for events, and more than anything, for packing. Before I was married, I used to go on trips with my girlfriends, and all of our significant others made fun of us because we prepared "trip folders" with lists, schedules, itineraries, and printouts of anything and everything we thought we would need. And at the front of every folder I've ever made for myself? You guessed it. Packing lists.
Lists just make me feel like I'm in control of a situation, when honestly, for the most part, I'm not. I find, especially for longer trips, that lists made well in advance of my trip make for a much smoother experience.
For our big Paris trip, I had a stack of lists (pictured above). It helped me insanely to divide my lists into specific bags: diaper bag, carry-on, checked luggage. Within the list there were additional lists: toiletry bag, accessories, medications, etc.
I do have a few items that are always packed and ready for a trip. When we return from any vacation, I replace whatever was used and leave it ready to go for the next one. It makes it much easier to just grab that and toss it in the bag, especially since packing medications can be so tedious. The biggest thing for me to have packed always is a medicine bag, especially when you are traveling to remote areas or foreign countries. For travel within the US, I don't usually stress about having every little thing, because most places will have some variation of what I need. I don't usually carry an entire packet of the medication, but I do make sure to have enough on hand where if we need it, we have it. I don't keep prescriptions in there for obvious reasons, but that is something I usually throw in my purse or carry-on to make sure it's on hand at all times.
In our medicine bag we keep the following (I use individually wrapped as much as possible - if they come in blister packs I just slip one sleeve into my medicine bag):
For Mom & Dad:
I find that these can kind of get us through most ailments, at least until we have time to be seen or get to a pharmacy. I am also a user of essential oils, and I usually carry those with me as well, so they do not stay in my pre-packed bag.
Another thing that I keep ready to go, also because it can be tedious work to pack, is a toiletry bag. This one is pretty simple, and the older Caleb gets, the less I feel like I need to take, but it's still easier to have it ready to grab than it is to repack everything each time we go somewhere.
Each time I come back from a trip, I refill whatever needs to be refilled, replace what needs replacing, and leave it ready to go for the next one. It really makes life easier.
So there is the first part of my advice on packing for a trip with a little one! I hope it is helpful to you in preparing for your own travels!
Do you ever feel like you're living life for the next big thing? I never realized it more than when I had a child. I remember now, looking back, at always having a countdown for something: 52 days until summer vacation, 75 days until my birthday, 365 days until my wedding... You get the point. But I feel like, after having a baby, that was magnified by a thousand. I was constantly checking every app I owned, and saying, "I can't wait until he starts talking," or "It will be so nice when he can feed himself."
I don't even know how or when this realization hit me, but somewhere along the line, I felt like I was rushing things with this precious little human and that I wasn't living in the moment - I was living for the next moment. And that wasn't fair to me or to Caleb. Why should I be rushing him along?
I remember analyzing every bullet point in the "This Month Your Baby Should Be Doing..." sections of every app. Some things were silly, some were big and important. And every app had a notation that read something like: "The skills noted in this section are listed at the earliest age that they should be occurring. All children are different and most will not complete all of the items within this age range."
Being a former Type A personality (more on that some other time), I was determined that MY kid would meet all of those skills. When he crawled at 6 months, I was ecstatic! He's going to be an early walker, this is amazing, he's going to be so advanced. Caleb then proceeded to laugh at his mother's enthusiasm and say, I'm gonna take this real slow. He cruised pretty quickly, somewhere around 8 months, and then decided he was quite comfortable with hanging on to something at all times. For nearly four months, he refused to let go and take steps on his own. And you know what? That's perfectly fine, and completely NORMAL.
But I was not having it. I was freaking out. Why isn't he walking more quickly? Is he delayed? Did his development stall? Not fair. Not fair to me. Not fair to him. His pediatrician never had any concerns and assured me he was a "typically" developing child.
It must have been somewhere around this time when it hit me. He's not going to be little forever. Every single person I know who has children that are grown has told me that. "They won't be little forever." And you know what? I'm realizing it. It's not just something they say. Time really is whizzing by. That super cliche saying - "They days are long but the years are short" - never rang truer than a couple weeks ago, when I realized it had been two years since I had found out I was pregnant.
It truly jolted me. Some days I feel like nighttime will never come. Like he will never fall asleep and I will not have time for a hot shower that day. But it always comes. Night always falls and today becomes tomorrow faster than we can enjoy every second.
So I'm slowing down. I'm savoring everything. From the trips to the grocery store, to the diaper changes, even to the moments when I don't think I can take the whimpering and the tantrums anymore. Because it will be tomorrow before I know it. And I can't live today again.
I read an article recently on Stephen and Ayesha Curry (he's an NBA basketball player whose daughter gained some fame for prancing around and grabbing his attention during a press conference after a basketball game). They have matching tattoos of two arrows pointing to one another. One arrow represents the past, the other represents the future. And the space in the middle is now - it's a reminder to them to always live for the present.
Live for today mommas, enjoy the moment. Now I'm going to go snuggle on my baby boy, who won't be a baby for much longer.
Thank you for making me a mom. You are the best parts of your daddy and I, rolled up into one tiny human being. A human being who shows me that my purpose here on earth is far greater than any purpose I had ever imagined for myself. You are my living proof that God creates miracles every day, and that he allows us to have a glimpse into the love that He has for us. You are perfect. From your thick, long eyelashes, to your sensitive skin, you are the most perfect manifestation of the love your daddy and I share.
I've been reflecting on being a mother on the days leading up to Mother's Day. Being a mother is something that is truly indescribable. When I was pregnant, people used to tell me, "Get ready to know that your heart is walking around outside of your body." And that might be the best way to explain it, but it's still no explanation. No explanation is great enough or sincere enough to make anyone understand the depth of emotions that come along with being a mom.
To be a mother means to be living in a constant state of paradox.
To fear the world we live in and your place in it, but also to have more hope in the good that you can possibly achieve than I ever have hoped for anything.
To feel pride in the perfect creation that you are, while also feeling wholly unworthy of being charged with your care.
To simultaneously want to protect you from every harm that can come your way but also want you to experience life and learn your own lessons.
To desire so deeply to make sure that your every want is ever met, but to also know that telling you "no" is one of the best lessons I can teach you.
To wonder how I can ever divide the love I have for you with another child, but to know that the bond of siblings is one of the greatest gifts I will be able to gift to you.
To despair at the injustices of the world, but to rejoice in your innocence.
To feel awe at every moment, and disbelief at every second.
But being your mother, that is the best gift I have ever received. And with all of its insecurity, and paradox, and the trepidation in my heart, it is the most incredible legacy I could think to leave on this world.
So thank you, little one. Thank you for allowing me to release my heart out into the world, and for giving me the perfect vessel to do so.
I love you.
Photos by Karla Garcia Costa
When was the last time you, as a mom, did something for yourself? If you can't remember, I'm going to tell you right now to stop whatever you are doing, including reading this, and go do something for YOU, Momma.
I've already written about how important it is to maintain your relationship with your husband or significant other. But it seems to me like the moment we become mothers, we become martyrs. We feel like we have to sacrifice everything for everyone and we forget that we need a little bit of time for ourselves, too. Think about it - if you haven't done something for yourself lately, you are probably starting to feel run down, tired, and exasperated about everything. Taking care of yourself isn't an act of selfishness, it's a necessity.
I felt myself slipping a few months ago. I hadn't been taking good care of my hair, or of my health, or of my mental state. I was kind of just getting by. I really noticed it during the holidays, since I was looking and feeling so run down and eating poorly. So in January, I made an appointment for myself to get a hair makeover. Armed with confidence and a little bit of chutzpah, I sat in the chair and said I wanted purple balayage. During the process, I thought to myself that maybe I was crazy. But I let my colorist do her thing, and when she was done, I was blown away. How had I let myself go unkempt for so long?! And WHY hadn't I been this brave sooner? Now I'm back every six weeks or so for touch ups and trims to my hair. Caleb goes to grandma's, and I get a few hours to myself. It's a win-win for everyone, except maybe Eddie's wallet. ;)
I found that in taking care of something as simple as my hair, I started to feel better about myself. I wanted to feel better in more areas than just my hair looking good. I started watching what I was eating on a more regular basis, and I stopped eating when I was full. I started taking care of my skin. I started putting on makeup again!
I took up running. I have never been a runner, but a couple of months ago, we were in Disney. It was one of their big marathon weekends, and I looked around at all these people prepping for races, and looking so happy after they had run their races, and I said, "I want to do that." I'm nowhere near where I need to be to run a (half) marathon, but I'm excited for the training and I'm quickly realizing just how important that time to myself is. Some days I run alone. Other days I run with Eddie & Caleb. Other times it's Caleb and I. I needed an outlet of some kind - to make myself feel better, and surprisingly, running ended up being what I needed. I never thought that would be the case, but it's quickly becoming something I crave.
At the end of the day, our needs are all different, but we all have needs. If we neglect ourselves, we aren't the best version of ourselves. How can we be great at caring for those around us if we don't take care of ourselves. And sure, some of the things I mentioned require some cash, but there are ways to do things that don't require a lot of money out of your pocket. Here are five things you can do that don't require much (if any) money.
The point is, take care of YOU. Your kids and your husband need the best version of you around. Not the martyr. Not the neglected one. Not the mom who thinks she's doing what's best for her family by denying her needs.
Take care of yourself, momma.