Category Archives: Organization

Unconventional must-haves for new parents

As rookie parents, Brian and I relied on books, blogs, and advice from fellow parents to navigate the maze that is a baby registry. Thanks to these aforementioned resources and the generosity of family and friends, we had everything Bridget could possibly need and then some when she arrived.

Aside from the obvious necessities, there are other must-haves for new parents; those items that can’t necessarily be wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow.

Here is my ever-growing list:

Thank you cards and stamps: I was overwhelmed by the generosity of family and friends when we brought Bridget home. Meals, clothes, baby blankets, etc. Since it’s difficult to get out of the house during the first few weeks, keep thank you cards and stamps on hand to easily pop in the mail.

Vacuum cleaner: The loud, obnoxious buzz of a vacuum cleaner works wonders against crying. I caution that there are two downsides to this remedy: 1) you have to turn it off eventually, and 2) your electric bill.

Fan: Not only does a fan produce the best form of white noise, but studies have shown it also reduces the risk of SIDs by as much as 70 percent.

Darkening shades: Our nursery is decorated in gray, white, yellow, and green, so to coincide with the color scheme, we bought white blinds and light green curtains. Cute, right? Yes, but not practical when you have a baby born in May! Until our trip to Lowe’s for darkening shades, a dark blanket and tape to hold it up did the job.

WD-40: There is no better sound to wake a sleeping baby than the creak when opening and closing doors. Buy a can for a quick fix.

What To Expect – Baby app: The What To Expect – Pregnancy app was fun and informative during pregnancy, sharing health tips and estimated weight and size of your baby at each week. The What To Expect – Baby app is even better. At the hospital, you’ll track your baby’s feeding times and diaper changes on paper. When you get home, a paper and pen isn’t always handy, but your iPhone probably is. The app tracks feedings, diapers, sleeping, and vaccinations. If you were in a normal state of mind, you might be able to remember this information, but when your days and nights run together, it’s a welcome help.

Three sleeping bras: Fellow new Mom and friend of mine, Carrie, told me to have plenty of nursing bras because breastfeeding Moms wear a bra 24/7. During the first few weeks, I rarely got dressed during the day (sorry, Brian!), so wearing a normal bra with snaps and straps was unnecessary. I found sleeping bras at Babies-R-Us for $12.99 and they’re like cotton sports bras but more comfortable and much easier to maneuver. Having three has served well: one to wear, one in the wash, and one clean for back-up. Save the real bras for when you venture out of the house.

Ambiance iPhone app: While this app didn’t cut it for Bridget when it came to the vacuum cleaner or fan, it mimics the “sshhhh”-ing sound relatively well and lends a break to your exhausted lungs. There is a free version of the app but you can upgrade for access to thousands of sounds for $2.99.

A fully stocked medicine cabinet: Although there isn’t much you can safely give a newborn, there are a few must-haves that you should have handy. Our first use for all of these required a late-night run to the corner CVS. Save yourself the hassle and extra stress when your little one is sick:

Gas drops
Tylenol
Nasal saline
Nasal aspirator
Thermometer
Humidifier

Pinxav: I had never heard of this nor seen it since, but for our baby shower, a guest bought us this diaper cream. It works magic on a diaper rash. Which is why we still have most of the original bottle left because we haven’t had to use it very often.

What are your must-haves for a baby?

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Organizing my most cherished possessions: Pictures

If you had to leave your house suddenly and could only grab one possession, what would it be? The common answer is photographs (aside from family members and pets, of course).

I hope that I am never faced with that dilemma, but if I was, I found it unacceptable that, thanks to organization inspiration from Pinterest and months of nesting, I would know exactly where to grab the hand towels and brown sugar but wouldn’t even know where to begin for my pictures. My pictures are everywhere: albums, frames, phone, storage containers, Facebook, and flash drives. I needed to dedicate the same effort to organizing my pictures as I did to my laundry room and pantry. Especially now that another life is depending on me to document it.

Below is how I got organized for day forward (older pictures will have to wait until I come up with a plan for them).

  1. Organize the digital mess: Previously, I would save pictures in a folder consistent with its Facebook album name. However, I don’t post all my pictures to Facebook (even less so lately), so this naming convention wasn’t sufficient. After moving the pictures worth keeping from my phone to our computer (via email), I created very specific folder names (event, date, etc.), so I could easily locate pictures when needed.
  2. Clean up: As difficult as it was, I deleted all the “so-so” pictures. I decided that it was better to have a small number of quality pictures than dozens of average ones.
  3. Create the album: I dabbled in scrapbooking in high school and college, and while I appreciate the time and effort that goes into making one (a few of my best friends are scrapbooking experts and have beautiful books to show for it), it’s just not realistic for me.
    Custom Path by Shutterfly

    I opt to archive my pictures in a photo book. I created a few photo books in the past using Shutterfly but fell behind. Thanks to a LivingSocial deal for 60% off an 8×11 photo book, I revisited the site and was pleasantly surprised to find that they recently upgraded the experience with a new tool called “Custom Path” that offers thousands of digital scrapbooking assets: themes, pages of all colors and patterns, fonts, stickers, frames, etc. It’s just like scrapbooking without the add-up-quickly costs for embellishments and mess to clean up.

    I created my first photo book using the new tool to share the story of Bridget and absolutely love how it turned out. I am already onto the next one.

    Tip: Since May, Shutterfly has offered two LivingSocial deals for the Cleveland area. A hard cover, 20-page full color photo book is regularly $34.99 plus shipping. The deal is $14 and the only additional cost is $8.99 for shipping. I encourage you to sign up if you haven’t already.

  4. Associate the album with the digital files: The size of the photo book is great for a coffee table to share with guests or a bookshelf to have on hand for reminiscing. But then I thought about what I would do when Bridget’s class is hosting a “Guess the classmate by their baby picture” game. How would I get a physical copy of a picture without cutting it out of the book or “digging” through folders of pictures on a computer we may no longer have? (Yes, these are the type of questions that go through my mind.) So, I transferred all of the digital files that were used to create the photo book to a flash drive. Again, because I named the folders very specifically and only kept the pictures worth putting in the photo book, this was quite simple. I then put a small label sticker in the back of the photo book with a number and put the same numbered label on the flash drive to associate one with the other.
  5. Secure the pictures: Finally, I store the flash drives in a fire safe box for safe keeping.