If you are like me then you have–or attempt to have–your days measured out to a tee (ooh that rhymed!). I’m not saying things can’t go sideways, but a schedule gives me this lovely comforting illusion of control. For that reason, our days can be quite redundant. I am not complaining though (not today anyway). The schedule is necessary, trust me. The schedule is my friend. Still, within the boundaries of it, I do try and keep each day–or at least portions of each day–as fresh as I can.
It is a delicate balance, as they say.
While attempting to keep things interesting, I also need to prevent my household from imploding, get the dog some exercise and occasionally get some personal stuff done too, like writing say or showering. That kind of luxurious me-time is primarily designated to Leni’s nap these days though. I do, however, need to drag the babe around to get errands done more often than not. Them there’s the breaks.
For dog walking and anything local, I love our Phil and Ted’s Metro Carrier. It’s relatively light and compact, keeps my hands free and it gives Leni a great view. I find it comfortable, although it did take a few outings before I found the perfect settings for my height and size. Though the carrier itself is on the lighter side (at least where hiking carriers are concerned), you’re still carrying a 20-odd-lb person plus their essential gear, so it’s pretty good exercise which doesn’t hurt. Well it does, but in like a good way. I have also become pretty adept at taking it off and putting it back on on my own in case Leni wants to stretch her legs. It has a rain and sun cover and a ton of storage space in the back and underneath too. My only criticism is that I wish the carrier had a small pouch accessible from the front for my money, keys and phone. Otherwise, this carrier has really worked for us.
When we have the car or we’re trekking a little further, we use the Maclaren Triumph. It’s light and folds up fairly compact so it fits well in the car without taking up all the trunk space. It also has a handy strap to make carrying or lifting while folded less awkward. For an umbrella stroller it has a decent-sized basket and ours has a pocket in the back to carry smaller items like a wallet, phone, money that sort of thing. We also got a cup holder, which is ok. Cup holders on stroller generally aren’t amazing, but it’ll do in a pinch. The stroller has a great rain cover and though the canopy is pretty useless if you’re walking into the sun, I’ve discovered that throwing a muslin over it keeps the rays from blinding the wee one without blocking her view.
Leni still takes one big nap midday, so we have two allotted times in the day to get creative and get shit done. Before noon and after 2pm or so. Although I have never professed to be a morning person, I find pre-nap to be our most productive. It’s hard to say exactly when Leni will be up in the afternoon and by 5pm I like to be home planning or starting our evening meal so we usually have about 3 hours tops. Do I sound extremely OCD? Oh well, it’s working for us right now.
We often have to get out rain or shine, otherwise it means one restless toddler, an unproductive mama and a totally anxious dog. If it’s raining or muddy after a storm, the Tuffo Muddy Buddy is the most amazing coverall in the universe. It’s totally waterproof, covers her head to ankle, it’s easy to clean and it is so damn adorable to boot. We just throw on some rain boots and go. This thing is brilliant! And it fits nice and loose so that she’s totally comfortable. Although it won’t be warm enough pretty soon, you could probably fit a few warm layers underneath too.
Even though we try to adhere to the schedule, we do occasionally get thrown off and have to plan as we go (we’re not complete shut-ins!), and for those times we love our Phil and Ted’s Lobster High Chair. True, many places have their own high chairs, but when they don’t or you’re at someone’s house or out of town, this baby sure is handy. And it’s nice to know exactly what the crusty stuff on the strap is from or at least who left it. We keep the lobster in the boot of our car at all times, just in case. Actually, if you hadn’t already gathered, we are huge fans of Phil and Teds in general. We even have their Poppy High Chair at home. All their products are stylishly designed at an excellent price point, are durable and totally practical.
One essential when we’re on the go is a straw sippy cup. For a while we carried around our Lollacup. Although we still love it and use it at home, it has a tendency to leak if you throw it in a bag. Not ideal. We tried and failed to hunt down a ZoLi BOT Sippy Cup, which a fellow mama had recommended. We got a bit sidetracked in our search and ended up with the Thermos Foogo. It’s pretty sturdy, holds its temperature, it’s easy to clean and most importantly it doesn’t leak! Yay!
An honourable mention to the Skip Hop Central Park Outdoor Blanket & Cooler. This baby made our daily visits to the park this spring and summer just that much more comfortable. The water-resistant blanket folds up into a square that attaches to a strap with a zip up pouch that converts into a separate shoulder bag. I still use the messenger bag everyday when I’m out and about. It’s the perfect size for a few diapers, a pack of wipes, a changing pad, my wallet, Leni’s sippy cup and a small snack. What more could you ask for?
Are all these things completely necessary for us to function? Probably not. But they do make a big difference in our lives. There are just so many products out there, it can be really overwhelming. There’s a good chance you will waste some money on things that don’t work for you before you find what does, sadly. Hopefully this list will help other like-minded parents in need of some direction. It’s also definitely worth checking out second hand children’s stores for some of the bigger ticket items. I think most stores of that nature allow you to exchange your lightly used things for store credit or a little cash money. We just bought a gently used Columbia snow suit for the peanut at Bumbleberry Kids for $15! You never know what you might find!