Living in a Small Space with a Baby

You may recall from this post, that I was pregnant when Tyler and I sold his apartment. When we realized we couldn’t find a rental within our budget and were waiting for our new home to finish being built, we decided to move into my apartment that we had been previously renting out.

small spaceMy apartment was a 525 square foot studio condo with a Juliet balcony. Yes you read that right. We were going to be bringing our baby home to a tiny studio apartment where the 3 of us and the dog, would live for a year.

Thankfully, our new home was finished 2 months early, so we only had to spent 9 months there! Recently our originally projected possession date passed, and we both agreed one of us would have been murdered by the other if we had to have stayed there the whole time.

The layout was decent, which meant that there was a “bedroom” separate from the livingsmall space room. But it only had 3 walls, no windows, and was obviously, tiny. I created a little space that would be Callahan’s bedroom, about 5×3 sqft right next to the kitchen, and turned the track lighting so that it didn’t spotlight on him. We opted to bring in our big couch, ottoman coffee table (toy storage!) and our king sized bed (which took up most of the bedroom). These things might have taken up a lot of space, but considering how much time is spent on the couch or in bed with a new baby, the comfort factor was worth it.

We brought with us a paired back wardrobe; mine being the easiest to pair back since almost nothing fit anyways and I basically lived in my nursing tank and pjs pants for 6 months. The stroller stayed in the trunk of my car as there was no room for it in the apartment, and all of Tyler’s sports gear stayed in his truck since it stunk.

For our baby shower, we asked for diapers or gift cards instead of baby gear/toys/clothes as we were so limited on space (and had been handed down some excellent quality stuff anyways). We kept all the diapers and wipes in our 3×3 storage locker and brought them up, one pack at a time.

In the end, Callahan hated the baby swing and the baby vibrating/bouncing chair that we borrowed from friends, so that kept the baby gear to a minimum.

Some things we did get to save space were:

Babyletto Origami Mini Crib

You’ve probably seen many posts debating the pros and cons of a mini crib and a regularsmall space size crib. This thing has wheels, which allowed us to move him into/out of the bedroom during naps or when we were ready to go to bed. Otherwise he would have been full-timing it in the kitchen/living room when we were trying to eat and watch TV. Callahan still sleeps in it now, and the only trouble we ever had with it was that it only had 2 levels for the mattress. This meant that when he figured out how to stand at 5 months, we had to create our own middle level or risk putting him in at the bottom level and never being able to reach him. I’m hoping Callahan likes the mini crib long enough that we can avoid buying a toddler bed, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Guzzie + Guss Hanging Perch Chair

small spaceThis highchair saved us a ton of room. The only downside is cleaning it. The material doesn’t wipe clean very easily; but you can take it off and toss it in the wash, where it comes out. We were able to attach this to the island, and just tossed a towel underneath him to prevent spilling on his play area and toys. It also comes with a carrying bag so you could theoretically take it to restaurants with you or traveling, I personally think it doesn’t fold up small enough to warrant the effort.

 

Skip Hop Explore and More 3 Stage Activity Center

I waited for a Black Friday sale to buy this and it was worth it. It’s overall footprint is a small spacelot smaller than most exersaucers (or “circles of neglect”) and visually it took up a lot less space, and wasn’t blasting your retinas with the full force of the rainbow all the time. Given the fact it was going to be visible at all times, I wanted to make sure it blended in, rather than stood out. Same concept I used for the crib and highchair. Callahan loved this thing, and its now set up as a table and he still plays with it and the toys. But mostly he climbs on it.

There are a few things I would recommend you not do when it comes to living in small spaces with a baby… don’t do it, being the most important piece of advice. But if you don’t have a choice, or you want to save money, people all over the world live in small spaces and make it work.

My first piece of advice would be to make sure the layout is actually functional. Ours was, and we still wanted to kill each other, so imagine what a poorly laid out space would do to your relationship.

Second, become a minimalist. Or at least something very close to it. I regularly went through my closet and Callahan’s, if things didn’t fit they got boxed up in an organized manner and put away (baby stuff) or donated (my stuff). When we were at the store, even the grocery store, if there wasn’t space for it at home, we went without. We completely stopped shopping at Costco while we were there as nothing “Costco-sized” could fit in there.

Third, get ultra organized with your paperwork/bills etc. This is super hard to do on Mom-brain, especially new mom brain, but it must be done. You can not waste space on a junk drawer.

Baby’s don’t need a crap ton of toys. Keep out a few toys for easy access and every few weeks/months swap out the toys with new ones from storage. The best part about a baby’s development (from a minimalist standpoint), is that they will come back to old “baby” toys and start to play with them again in different ways as they learn new skills. So don’t go overboard on the toys!

Same goes for baby clothes… if you have in-suite laundry and only one kid, you can wash everyone’s clothes in one load every other day and be fine. Just because you get food or spit up on their clothes, doesn’t mean they need to be changed. I only changed them for poopocalypses and if there was enough spit up that he smelled like sour milk.

Keesmall spacep on top of the cleaning. A small spaces gets cluttered and dirty really quickly. It’s not even fair to be honest. But the good news is that its really quick to clean a small space. I could have our place looking like a dumpster fire to a show home in an hour, and barely break a sweat. But we kept our “things” to a minimum and everything had a place.

Our time in this apartment was hard as fuck, but I don’t regret it and I love looking back at the pictures and being proud of us for living in a hard space during the hardest time of your life, the newborn stage. We survived; and even though our families don’t believe it, we have less crap and more meaningful things than before.

I followed 600 sqft and a Baby on instagram and read all her posts when we were preparing for living in the condo. I still follow her, and highly recommend it for thoughtful and tested ideas on living a minimalist life with a family in a small space.

 

Do you have any tips for living a minimalist lifestyle with a family?

 

Tiny Apartment Trials

In 2011 I bought a condo in Abbotsford. It was tiny, but it was all I needed. I had the option to go to the one bedroom with the patio; but since it was my first home purchase, the 20,000 extra dollars sounded like a lot. Man, how short sighted I was.

tiny apartment
What my evenings used to look like

It didn’t take long to realize, I should have spent the extra money. But it worked for what I needed. I was a single gal, with my dog and cat, working that shift work life. My Friday and Saturday nights (or Tue & Wed in the real world) were often just me and the animals; watching TV or reading, and eating popcorn and drinking water. I was tired from the shifts (hahaha, hahaha, oh so clueless).

tiny apartment
The Pet Condo

I had a zebra-print rug in the living room, the “bedroom” was a dark purple and had an Ikea chandelier over the bed. The bathroom was decorated with pictures of my shoes, and hair, everywhere. There was a pet condo, as I liked to call it, in the livingroom; the cat’s carrier piled on top of the dog’s crate. Where each night I tucked them in, because I was tired of suffocating in my sleep from the weight of these furry beasts.

The apartment was great until I got a boyfriend, who had a mutual hatred of my pets and a slight allergy to the fat cat. It was also too damn hot in there to have anyone over in the summer. Since the closets were rammed to capacity, it was clear we would not be able to live here together. I switched places with his roommate, and adopted the cat out to a friend.

For the next 2 years, the apartment was a flop house for a number of the rugby guys. Sleeping on the couch and the floor, I can only imagine what horrors those walls witnessed. Eventually my sister and her boyfriend moved in. They were accustomed to tiny living after spending a year in Dublin, in what can basically be summed up as a wet closet. They lived there for 2 years, until I had to toss ’em so my pregnant ass could move back in; dog and husband in tow.

While we were living in the condo, we experienced a great number of funny, weird, stressful, and of course happy moments. The stress of bringing a baby home for the first time is well documented. Bringing him home to such a small place was bound to make things harder. In the end, no matter how short-tempered or irritated we were with each other, both of us just blamed the apartment.

Honestly, we barely had any arguments while we were living there because every time something pissed us off, we would stop and think; “this probably wouldn’t bother me if we were living in a bigger place, fucking apartment”. And that would be the end of that. It got to the point where we were both a little worried that there were real issues that needed to be dealt with and we were just blaming the apartment and not dealing with them. In the end, it really was just the apartment, or we’re too lazy to remember what was bothering us.

The hardest part about the apartment was the fact that Tyler was still working shift work. When he was on nights, I’d have to leave the house with Callahan for a few hours in the afternoon, because Callahan would wake up from his nap and go bananas; yelling, smashing, you name it, all while Tyler was trying to sleep.

tiny apartment
what my evenings looked like with a baby

For the longest time, Callahan went to bed around midnight. Which meant Tyler would go to bed for his early shifts and leave me sitting in the dark on the couch, TV turned way down, cluster-feeding (hell on earth) for 2 hours. This was the hardest time for me; I was tired, I wanted to sleep, and I just wanted Callahan to sleep. Not to mention the absolute nightmare that is cluster-feeding. I’d sit there silently crying some (most) nights praying he’d fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Eventually he became too distracted by the TV or my phone, and I’d be literally sitting in the dark, with my tired thoughts; questioning my instincts, my skills, my decisions. I would sit there hating Tyler and then feeling guilty for it, because I knew he’d rather be at home with the baby than going to work.

Eventually we were able to get Callahan to go to bed at a regular time and that was heaven. In the morning, I’d push our bed to one wall, and roll his crib next to the bed. That way Callahan could nap in the “bedroom” where it was darker. We’d get him to bed and then we’d eat some dinner; in semi darkness, TV down, whispering, usually drinking something alcoholic to celebrate our success. When we wanted to go to bed, we’d get ready as quietly as possible, turn the lights off, move the sound machine to the kitchen, and carefully roll his crib out into the hallway. Then we’d pick it up and carry it to his “bedroom” 3 feet away in the kitchen. A silent fistbump as we got into bed, after successfully not waking him.

tiny apartment
Odd(fluffy)ball neighbours

Apartment living comes with experiencing your oddball neighbours. Once in a while I would be worried we were the oddball neighbours with the dog and baby in the tiny apartment. It wouldn’t take long before someone would reassure me I wasn’t. One day while the fire inspectors were in checking the alarms, our neighbour (who looked like the janitor from Harry Potter) had a sign on his door, “Fire Inspector Cum inside”. Oh boy.

There was another night while we were up late with Callahan; I was standing there, rocking him and looked out the window to see a young Asian couple spray painting their Mustang GT in the parking lot. They were wearing slippers and face masks. What the actual fuck? This car was brand new, and they had masking tape and newspapers all over it. I’m still not sure what it ended up looking like, and question whether they even lived there.

Because there was only one window that opened, we would regularly crash the in-law’s place for dinner; hoping they were making something delicious, like fish, which was a giant NO-NO in our apartment. Our timing was impeccable, arriving right as the table was being set, and Callahan had fallen asleep in the car. Of course this all worked out because my Mother-in-Law cooks as if there are 6 people in the house. Thanks by the way!!

All in all, living small was a good experience, it was difficult, and if you can avoid it I would suggest it, but we learned some valuable things, like:.

  1. We are really good at compartmentalizing our frustration/anger.
  2. Or we’re really good at laying blame elsewhere, hard to say.
  3. We are amazing.
  4. We love our new house.

I realize these aren’t helpful lessons to anyone else, so stay tuned for my next post with tips, tricks, and reviews of baby gear for small living.

 

 

Dog vs Baby: The Eternal Struggle for Your Love

Dog vs Baby
The one and only Rosko

I’ve had my dog for 10 years; Rosko, The Roktopus, Rokko, Roskolini. I’ve taken 2 million pictures of him over that time. I’ve also attempted multiple training methods, all failing miserably. He loves me unconditionally, and I can no longer say I feel the same way.

 

 

*Cue angry yelling, I’m a horrible dog-mom insults here*

Go ahead, throw ’em at me.

Many moons ago, people would tell me, “you love your dog now, but just wait until you have a baby”. I would scoff at this and think, how could I ever stop loving this little ball of fluff?!

And then, it happened.

The real baby arrived. Not the furbaby. The real, human, I-made-this-in-my-body-baby. Initially it wasn’t so bad; we were on cloud 9, and Tyler was home for the first 6 weeks, so I had help. I took care of the baby, Tyler took care of me and Rosko (arguably, a more tedious job).

Dog vs Baby
Would NOT go near him.

Rosko did NOT love Callahan. His feelings were instantly apparent. When Rosko greeted us at the door, Callahan screaming in his car seat at Rosko’s level, you could see the butt-puckering moment he knew life had changed. That night was an awful one, with so much crying, and sweating (ok, maybe I was the only one sweating). When we woke up the next day, Rosko looked his 9 years. Up to that point he had always looked like a well maintained Hollywood celebrity. You know the ones that are 60 but look 30? He no longer looked like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, and more like a Lindsay Lohan mugshot. It was astounding.

Rosko spent his time trying to be on me, but not touching Callahan. Since I was breastfeeding Callahan basically 24/7 this was impossible and annoying as shit. Suddenly, I no longer loved my dog. It was like a light switch. It didn’t happen the first day, or even the second. But it seemed like overnight; maybe once the fatigue had built up enough and it was decisive.

Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. My. Way.

Why was he so close to me? Why won’t he stop barking?! Why won’t he stop whining? Why does he need to go outside to pee? Why won’t he just go and sit with Tyler? How can he not figure out the baby is sleeping?!

Dog vs Baby
The first time Rosko voluntarily sat next to Callahan, 1 month.

I wasn’t diagnosed with any form of postpartum depression, but I think I was depressed (related to cabin fever in our tiny condo, winter, being fat, and overwhelmed) and my depression came out as unadulterated rage. I fucking hated that dog. He wasn’t doing anything different than he had in the last 9 years of his life, but I was done. All my frustrations about anything came out and were now about the dog. How can he be this old and this dumb?! How can none of our training ever kicked in?! YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIGURED IT OUT?! WHY WON’T YOU SHUT UP?! JUST GO LIE DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!

Tyler also received some misplaced anger from me too, (WHY ARE YOU CHEWING SO LOUD!?) but nothing to the extreme rage I felt having to deal with Rosko.

The first incident that made me think Rosko had to leave, was when I was trying to take him for a pee. I had strapped Callahan into the baby carrier on my chest and was yelling at the dog to sit still. Instead he was jumping around like a fucking maniac and whining the most annoying high pitch sound you’ve ever heard. I couldn’t see him over Callahan, and was struggling to bend down to him. So I stepped forward, unclear as to Rosko’s location and kicked him, sending him sliding into the leg of the crib.

*I should say here, it was less of a kick, and more like my foot went under his belly and lifted him in a forwards/upwards/stepping motion. There was nothing kicky about it. I would NEVER kick my dog!

His ribs hit the crib, and he let out a little yelp, but he jumped back up and seemed fine. I took him for his pee and brought him back inside. I headed out of the house for a couple hours and when I got back, Rosko would not leave his bed. When I eventually coaxed him out, he moved tenderly, and yelped when I went to pick him up.

Cue hormonal new mother guilt.

I decided to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner the next day so my sisters could give him some lovin’s. I had a feeling he was fine, and was just milking it. When we arrived and I explained what happened, I was ridiculed, read the riot act, villianized. Then Rosko got a piece of turkey (I never give him human food, but I was feeling pretty guilty) and suddenly he perked up. He RAN to some more dropped food…. of course no one saw this. So my sister took him home with her for a week to give us all a break from one another. When she arrived home, he ran up the stairs like a spring chicken. He had been playing all of us. That furry little asshole.

The second and deciding factor was a few weeks later, when after struggling to get Callahan down for a nap (like several hours struggling) Rosko decided to start barking 20 minutes into the nap and wouldn’t stop, of course, waking Callahan. This day almost broke me.

For the next few months, until things started to settle down (uncontrollable rage), Rosko bounced around between my in-law’s, my sister, and my grandparents. Once the snow melted a bit, we brought Rosko back home and other than a couple days here and there (when you can tell he needs the break from Callahan) he’s been at home with us.

Dog vs Baby
Callahan <3 Rosko. Jury’s still out on if Rosko loves him back

I don’t hate my dog, the rage I felt towards him has lessened to a mild irritation that can flare up when he misbehaves. I watch now, as Callahan torments him and they play fight over that disgusting piggy; and my rage subsides more, I like him again. Only because Callahan LOVES him. He still drives me batshit crazy and I can’t guarantee I’ll be getting another dog once he passes. Which is saying something. I love dogs. I’ve always had a dog. I want Callahan and our future kids to grow up with one. But I think, maybe I’ll wait until after I’m done having tiny little babies and the hormonal roller coaster that comes with it.

Dogs are truly amazing. Rosko took the brunt of my anger and emotions, and still loses his mind when he sees me. I screamed at him until I cried, and he took it. Maybe he’s smarter than we think, and he knew it was yelling at him, or yelling at the baby. I’m going to go with that, because the only other option is that he’s dumb as fuck.

Going Back to Work Blows

You know that feeling of dread on Sunday afternoon, when you realize tomorrow is Monday and you have to return to that place? Oh, you don’t get that dread? Well aren’t you a lucky bitch?! Anyways, I know a few people who would agree with me; some might call it anxiety, some might chalk it up to the lack of fulfillment when its just a means to an end. Whatever you call it, going back to work blows.

You might be thinking, jeeze, sounds like you need a new job! And maybe you’re right, but I have bills to pay and the benefits are good… some days I’ll tell you I really like my job, others I’ll tell you I’m still there because I like my co-workers… either way, I’ve been doing it for a decade and I’m pretty sure my degree is worthless. Moving on!!

Going Back to Work
The beginning

As my maternity leave was coming to a close, that dread started to creep back. I hadn’t felt it in months and even though I was scrambling my way through the cruxes of (new) motherhood, I never dreaded anything… well, except breastfeeding those first few weeks, but that’s another story. I tried to focus on enjoying the time I had left before work; cramming as much family and friends, and Callahan into my days as possible (and wine, lots of wine).

Going Back to Work
Our first all nighter

The last week was the hardest. The emotional turmoil that comes with PMS hit, which is a relatively rare thing for me as it is (thankfully!). I now had to deal with that and the emotions of leaving my son most of the week, to go to a place I have a just-below-neutral feeling for. Tyler would say things like “he’s going to be fine”, “you’re going to be fine”, “he’s going to love daycare” etc. Trying to be comforting, but they didn’t make me feel better. Sorry Tyler, I appreciate you trying!!

I cried everyday that week, and the days I managed not to cry, Tyler would drop a “you go back to work in x days” in a little sing song mocking voice. Of course he would do this as we got into bed, and I would deteriorate into a lump of snot and sweat. He’d tell me to breathe and I’d gasp for air. It was such a beautiful time….

At some point I realized his comforting words didn’t help me because they Going Back to Workdidn’t hit on what was upsetting me. I wasn’t worried about him at daycare, I knew he’d love it, and had a really good feeling about the place. In fact, I was actually excited for him to go and make friends and learn new things. I was dreading work, but only because its work. Working sucks. I knew I’d be fine, I’ve been doing it for 10 years after all, and my don’t give a fuck meter is at an all time low. I would do my job, bring home my paycheque, and fly under the radar as has been my M.O. for the last few years.

(yes I’m aware this doesn’t sound like a great employee, but I do my job well, and don’t stir the waters, I have like 30 more years of this, leave me be)

Going Back to Work
the last night of mat leave

I was grieving; mourning the end of this tiny little era in our lives. I was sad because I’d never get this one-on-one time again. The next Mat leave wouldn’t be like this, the new baby wouldn’t get that one-on-one. Going back to work meant many new challanges, all of which I would manage with a sarcastic comment, a smile, and a dash of saltiness… but the hardest part was accepting that a year (almost) had gone by. Callahan wasn’t a little baby anymore; he was a walking, (running), babbling, human food eating, little boy. He was a toddler. And while he will always be my baby (yes, barf about that comment) he was no longer a baby.

The anticipation of going back to work was worse than actually going back. And once I had some uniform pieces that *mostly* fit, I was more comfortable and not worried about a seam malfunction. It helps, that I think more than a handful of my co-workers actually do like me (yay); and more than a few have done the kid thing, so they knew what I was feeling. And thankfully no one asked if I missed him… because that probably would have set the waterworks off.

So yes, he’s going to be fine.

I’m going to be fine.

Going Back to Work
getting some cuddles in before work

Work hasn’t changed. But that’s it. Mat leave is done and so is my first week of work. Going back to work wasn’t the end, just the beginning of a new challenge. And guess what? Everything is fine.

Some Shout Outs that made going back to work less crappy…

Hey Canada! Thanks for having year-long maternity leave benefits! A++

Hey labour code! Thanks for having the duty to accommodate! It made finding daycare (somewhat) easier and swallowing the pill of going back to work less unpleasant! A++

Grandmas and Aunts/Uncles- Thanks for all the child care you’re going to be helping us with in the future!! A+++

Mom/Dad friends- Thanks for reassuring us that our kid was normal (or not normal, but not in a bad way of course). That we were making the right decisions- aka whatever is best for us. A++

Tyler- We survived the first year! We have the terrible twos, threenagers,Going Back to Work that annoying stage between 8-13, teenagers, hopefully another healthy pregnancy and baby, a psycho dog, a couple moves, trying to lose that baby weight (blizzard weight tbh), and 30 more working years to look forward too… *silent fist bump* A+++++++++++++++

First Camping Trip with Baby

We took our nearly 11 month old camping. Ya. I’m sure some of Camping Trip with Babyyou are scoffing at us right now. How could they think that would be fun after traveling with him to Crete? Well, to be honest, we didn’t think it would be fun. We thought of it more as a right of passage. It seems like all our friends and relatives have a story about the first time they took their baby camping. None of those stories sound like overly pleasant experiences, but everyone looks back on them with the haze of nostalgia and it seems nice. So ya, we went on a camping trip with baby.

I distinctly remember a conversation with a friend that went something like this:

“We took her camping when she was 1, because you have too.”

“You don’t have to do anything.”

And yet, here we are having gone camping with our baby… didn’t even listen to my own advice!

Camping Trip with BabyTyler had 10 days off, so after we got back from the Okanagan, we showered, slept in our beds for one night and headed 5 minutes down the road to Cultus Lake. Some precautions were taken to try and make this trip as smooth as possible.

  1.  We booked only 2 nights – Why book more when the first night could be hell and you just want to come home?
  2.  We booked 5 minutes away from home – same theory as #1, what if you want to bail out after an hour? Also, what if you forget something ?(formula, for example)
  3. We reserved a site close (but not too close) to bathrooms with running water and showers, just in case Callahan needed a real rinse.
  4. We were sleeping in Ron Burgundy– I haven’t slept in a tent since I hiked the Inca Trail in 2010, and I’m okay with that.
  5. I precooked and prepared everything, (but the bacon and eggs). Nothing needed to be warmed up unless we wanted to be fancy.
  6. We went and got a pack’n’play, there will be no co-sleeping on what is barely considered a full-size bed in the back of the van.
  7. We waited to leave the house and check into our site until after Callahan had his last nap of the day.
Camping Trip with Baby
whatever keeps you from eating rocks

Callahan spent every single minute he was free trying to eat rocks. Not just pebbles though, the biggest, sharpest ones he could find. He was also experiencing real shoes while walking for the first time, so things were a little wobbly. We had brought some of his favourite toys, which got so dusty and dirty that a few of them have now been deemed “outside toys”. To be honest, Callahan was almost deemed an “outside toy”. He was fucking filthy. I didn’t even bother changing his clothes the second day (or third morning). What was the point? He was just going to get those all dusty too.

 

camping trip with baby

I packed a crib sheet for the pack’n’play for naps and bedtime. When he was awake, we had the sheet off and the pack’n’play out on the site with us. Thinking this would be a good way to contain him, with all his toys, and he’d still be part of the group… WRONG. Every second he was in there he was letting out battle cries and chucking his toys overboard, while trying to climb out. This is why it has taken us this long to buy one of these things. He’ll sleep in them no problem, but there is a zero percent chance he’ll chill in there and play.

camping trip with babyOverall, the first day went by without a hitch. Callahan took a little longer to fall asleep than he would at home, but not by much and then slept until 7am!! We were so relieved! He went down for his morning nap with no problems (yay again!!).

 

 

After lunch, we went for a walk, settling on the Seven Camping Trip with BabySisters Trail. We had forgotten our water bottles and decided we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous. Once we were done the loop, we walked about 300m up the horse trail before turning around. We had been stung by stinging nettle. We googled what the dock leaf looked like (thank you cell service!! my memory had faded since childhood) and found some to rub the sting away. Thankfully Callahan didn’t get any stinging nettle spots.

When we returned, he struggled with his afternoon nap, and had a complete meltdown at bedtime. Seeing as he had started teething again over the weekend, I gave him some advil and hoped that would help him settle easier.

He cried until he vomited, and then promptly fell asleep.

We learned some valuable lessons the first night (even though it went well) that we implemented the second night:

  1. You cannot get in and out of the van quietly if all the doors are closed properly. This meant that we had to remember to leave the back door open a crack so we could crawl into bed.
  2. If you close all the doors when you are putting him down, you are locked in until someone can save you. This also applies to middle of the night pees; the door should be closed properly in case a bear comes poking around, but there is no way out in a bladder emergency.
  3. The campsite needs to be “bare” when you go to bed. Which meant we had to shove all the food and food prep stuff in the front seat BEFORE Callahan went down. We kept one small cooler bag out with our evening snacks and beverages in it. It was small enough for us to slide under the bed when we crawled in for the night.

Despite our efforts, he woke up at 3am and wanted to play. We offered him a bottle which he crushed in record time; he then managed to fall back asleep until 6am.

Unfortunately, Tyler could not fall back asleep after the late night wake up; it meant he bailed out of the bed early (more room for me!!) Camping Trip with Babyand had most of the site packed up and breakfast ready to go for when we woke up. I scarfed down my breakfast and then we started loading up the van. We probably would have left earlier, but the van doesn’t really follow the “quiet time” hours when you start it up.

We got home in 5 minutes, unloaded everything, started the laundry, gave Callahan some grub, and had him napping by 8am. Tyler and I followed shortly after.

Camping Trip with Baby
That’s a big ass tree!

All in all, I’d call this camping trip with baby a success. We were riding high after the first night went so well; it was only reasonable to be knocked back down a peg the second night. We’ve already been discussing how the van could be made more accommodating for future family camping trips (bigger bed for mom & dad), but have yet to make any more plans of this nature.

Packing for a Beach Vacation with a Baby

Packing for a beach vacation should be easy right? Well, unless you need to bring 14 different swimsuits and a mankini in every colour. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, 3 different pairs of sandals, suncreen for the face and the body… etc.. you get the picture.

Now, add in the baby’s stuff. Onesies, shorts, pants, jacket, hats, sunglasses they won’t wear, swimsuits, swim diapers, reusable swim diapers, baby sized towels, baby toys for the beach, shade tent, baby sunscreen, stroller, etc.

Let’s pare things back shall we? The more stuff you bring, the more stress you have. You’re probably thinking, what about my diaper bag? I have everything I could possibly need and more in there! I can’t pare it back for vacation, there are so many unknowns!

You’re right. And wrong.

First, scale back YOUR crap to what you know you’ll wear. By that I mean, what items will you wear more than once? What items will you be okay wearing more than twice? Hint- swimsuits should be one of those items.

For 17 days in Crete, this is what we packed:

Clothing

Mom– 2 swimsuits, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 dress, 2 light long sleeved shirts, 2 tank tops, 1 pair of jeans. 5 underwear, 3 socks, 2 nursing bras. 1 pair of flip flops and 1 pair of sneakers with orthodics in them, 1 hat, 1 UV protection swim shirt, 1 beach towel, 1 light windbreaker.

For the plane I had 1 pair of leggings, 1 nursing tank top, 1 pair of socks.

Dad– packed essentially the same as I did; however his last minute packing style meant he brought things he didn’t end up wearing and didn’t bring more of things he needed. Live and learn.

Baby– 2 UV Swimsuits, 2 bucket hats (1 with UV protection), 3 rompers, 3 tank tops, 2 tshirts, 1 hoodie, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of sandals, 1 baby towel, 1 pair of short sleeved/leg pjs, 1 pair of long sleeved/leg pjs, 1 reusable swim diaper.

For the plane he had one onesie and 1 pair of socks. (there was an extra tshirt brought on the plane for all of us, just in case of a poopocalypse or projectile vomiting).

I think we packed pretty well when it came to clothes. I could have used one more shirt, and could have gotten away with only 1 nursing bra. As for the baby’s stuff, everything got used except the sandals, since he wasn’t walking yet.

Baby Gear
I am not sponsored by any of these products/companies. We purchased these ourselves or received them as gifts from relatives. However, the links provided below are Amazon.ca affiliate listings and will provide me a small commission if you choose to purchase an item from the link provided.

I’m going to come out and say it right off the bat; we brought too many toys. We weren’t sure how he’d be on the flight, and the toys failed us, if you’ll recall. Anyways, the toys I don’t regret bringing are his two favourite car seat toys. Those were flawless. As well as his crib stuffies (sleep sheep travel size and a little fuzzy chicken). I also packed his favourite blanket for bed, his favourite fleecy stroller blanket for the plane, and a giant muslin stroller blanket for use on the beach/stroller.

I brought 1 full tin of formula, 2 9oz bottles, 1 teething toy, about 6 disposable swim diapers, just in case, and a full sleeve of 72 diapers (which we still had to buy a small pack of near the end of the trip).

If you don’t own the next few items, look into them!

The My Little Seat : A universal highchair.

This thing is the BOMB! Honestly, almost every restaurant had a highchair, but Callahan was just a smidge too small, and this could be adjusted to accommodate his size. It fit on every chair we tried packing for a beach vacation with a baby(traditional, modern, armless, you name it!) And we could use it at the hotels to contain him (I mean feed him, obviously). It has its own carrying sack, it folds up nice and small, you can just ram it into any empty nook. This thing was nice and light, we eventually didn’t bother with a diaper bag, and would toss this, the change pad, and a bottle into the basket of the stroller and call it a day.

We currently use it on the patio so that we don’t have to haul our perch chair back and forth.

Jolly Jumper SolarSafe Net

This took a try or two before Callahan was okay with it. The trick was to put it on when he was ready for a nap, it would block the sun, and it also packing for a beach vacation with a babyreduced the amount of stimulation he was getting. He could see through this, but I think it distorted things enough that it allowed him to calm down. Plus it creates shade, still breathes, keeps the bugs away, and you guessed it, no sun burns. Did he look a little ridiculous? Yes. We called it the pope-mobile when it was on, but it kept him comfortable and allowed him to sleep!! It also kept nosy strangers from bothering him while he was trying to fall asleep. (It can also be used over a pack’n’play)

It comes with a self storage bag, and it folds up light and small, we had this in the stroller basket at all times.

Tommee Tippee Silicone Bib

I have two of these and use them at home all the time. I brought one packing for a beach vacation with a babywith me, and it worked great. Easy to rinse, no laundry, better for the environment. A+

 

Inglesina Swift Umbrella Stoller

We heard various opinions on bringing strollers… bring the big one, more room in the basket, easier on the cobblestones, car seat adaptability, etc. All valid points. We opted to bring the umbrella stroller. We wanted something small and light, easy to pack up if we were in an area a strollerpacking for a beach vacation with a baby would be too cumbersome. It had been gifted to us second hand by a family member (so the link is to a newer model that looks a bit different, but same idea). This was a good call on our part, as our tiny Fiat Panda would not have fit our big stroller. Like AT. ALL. Callahan also liked sitting upright and facing out to see the world. When we hit stairs (which was often) one of us would go in front and lift from the foot rest, and carry the stroller down like it was nothing.

Since being home, I have only used our big jogging stroller once. Callahan was still a smidge small for this stroller at the time, but he wasn’t able to escape. Frankly, it weighs so much less than the jogging stroller, fits more places easier, you get the drift. Just make sure your umbrella stroller has a shade and a basket!!

Aveeno Baby Sunscreen Stick

This sunscreen stick is awesome! Callahan loved it! I would use it on his packing for a beach vacation with a babyface, and he’d just sit there and relax, like a face massage! I would also use it on the bottoms of his feet. We also had a tube of the liquid form of this for quick application to his arms and legs. The link is to Amazon for this, but its outrageously expensive. I just buy it at Shoppers Drug Mart for $14.

 

We would also highly recommend a UV swimsuit for your baby. I bought onepacking for a beach vacation with a baby from walmart for $12 that was adorable. I got it a size bigger so the arms and legs would cover more, but the body still fit. It even had a hood! This made the sunscreen application game so much faster, and it helped him stay warm so he could stay in the water longer. We brought 2 with us, the other one was from Superstore and had shorter sleeves and packing for a beach vacation with a babylegs, and no hood. But we bought a matching hat with UV protection and he was good to go. Sorry I don’t have a link for these guys.

On a side note, I bought a long sleeve/longer length UV shirt for myself while I was pregnant, and I love it. It helps me stay cool, and keeps the burns away. Also covers that food baby. I got mine online from Coolibar.

Skip Hop Changing Station

We received this as a gift, and its awesome. Especially on this trip. It has packing for a beach vacation with a babyspace for a few diapers and wipes, and then we just tossed it in the stroller basket and we were ready to change him anytime, anyplace.

 

 

Lillebaby Airflow Complete 6-in-1 Baby Carrier

packing for a beach vacation with a baby
finally sleeping during our layover

We did a couple test runs of baby carriers over the winter, having trouble finding something that was comfortable for both of us to wear proved rather tricky. Thankfully there is a Facebook Group V2V Lending Library, that organizes the rental of baby carriers and slings for a week at a time. You can get pointers from other baby wearers in the Vancouver Baby Wearing group (or many like it for your area). Some helpful people suggested we try the Lillebaby. We tested out the Lillebaby and it was a win! I waited for a Black Friday sale, and scored this baby for $130 CAD.

We had this in our carry-on for the flight there, given the 4 hour layover. But we packed it away for the flight home, as we would have the stroller packing for a beach vacation with a babyand it was an overnight, so not too much waiting around. Otherwise we only used it one other time on the trip, when we went hiking. If you are on the fence about packing a carrier, I would bring it just in case. At least for any layovers where they lose your stroller (like us!). The rest of the trip it was just too hot to wear him! And this carrier is one of the more breathable ones! I can imagine using it way more if we had two children. But still, we highly recommend this carrier!

 

That’s it! Those are the things I will never travel without. Do you have any recommendations for packing for a beach vacation with a baby?