Diaper Bag Essentials

Diaper Bag Essentials :: maximizingdaysblog.com
I live in an ongoing tension between my desire to be prepared for anything that may arise and my aversion to excess.  This was played out in deciding not only what type (and size) of diaper bag to purchase, but also with which  items should go in the diaper bag.  

Diaper Bag Requirements

  1. Plenty of room for the obvious, but also little extras
  2. A compartment for my stuff.  I didn’t want to carry this bag AND a purse, so I needed this diaper bag to do double duty
  3. Not look too diaper bag-y.  In appearance, I wanted it to be father on the purse end of the scale rather than on the typical diaper bag end.
  4. (Seemingly contradictory) Not look too feminine.  My husband needed to be able to carry this around and not feel like he was carrying a woman’s purse.


Thanks goodness for Amazon.  It took a long time to find one that fit all of the criteria.  We decided on the Skip Hop Grand Central bag.  It was a lot more than I wanted to spend on a diaper bag, but more than one person warned me that the cheap bags were not worth it because they fell apart so quickly.  I quieted that cheapskate voice in my head and purchased this bag.  

I have not regretted it once.  

It does exactly what I wanted it to do.  The middle compartment is sizable and fit all of her diaper stuff, a set of extra clothes, ointments, and a pouch with medicine and other toiletries.  One of the outside pockets has a designated spot for my phone and worked perfectly to hold my stuff.  We use the other outside pocket for toys or stuff for feeding.  

One of the reviews I read said that they didn’t like it because it got bulky.  It can get bulky, but that’s usually because we’re stuffing it full.  

One feature that I didn’t think would be a big deal, but that I have come to LOVE are the straps that allow it to easily hang on the handle bar of the stroller.  They are sturdy and easily hold a very full bag, which allows us to use the entire under compartment of the stroller for other stuff without having to carry the bag on our shoulder.  

Diaper Bag Essentials :: maximizingdaysblog.com

My one complaint is that I wish that it had a crossbody strap so that I could carry it across my body.  That being said, I’m not sure that a bag this size would be able to be comfortably worn on my hip.  

Once we had the bag, we had to decide what to put in it.  I handled this much the same way I handled all of these issues that came up with a firstborn – I went to Pinterst.  I found a number of lists that were helpful, but almost all of them had a bunch of things on them that I didn’t intend on even using, let alone carry around in our diaper bag.  

Truth be told, in my tension between wanting to be prepared and my desire to not have a lot of stuff, more often than not, the minimalist tendencies win out.  And if something happens, I make due with what I have.  It is almost always sufficient.

Diaper Bag necessities - maximizingdaysblog.com

Diaper Bag Essentials

  1. Diapers (obvi…)
  2. WipesHint: When our packages of wipes would get low, I would make them the diaper bag wipes so that I didn’t have to lug around 100 wipes.  It was way cheaper than buying the small package
  3. Diaper disposal bags
  4. Travel size diaper ointment
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Travel size bath wash & baby lotion
  7. Medicines: Tylenol, ibuprofen, gas drops & corresponding droppers
  8. Lightweight toys (Sophie the giraffe, fabric books, etc.)
  9. Nursing cover
  10. Single-serve formula packet – We received these as free samples.  I breastfed exclusively, but decided to keep them in her bag in case we were ever in a pinch and didn’t have a way to get her breast milk
  11. Nipple Shield – This was an unfortunate reality for me, but using this was the only way I could nurse.  I heard horror stories of how annoying it was, but I didn’t think it was that bad.  I had two and kept one in the diaper bag, so wherever we went, I had what I needed to nurse her.
  12. Swaddling blanket
  13. PajamasHint: Instead of carrying an entire extra outfit, I always had a one-piece pajama. It accomplished the same purpose as an outfit, but was less to carry.  That, and I didn’t want one of her outfits to not get used because it just sat in her diaper bag
  14. Onesie 
  15. Hat
  16. Clutch purse – I downsized my purse to a clutch so that I had everything I needed in one spot.  The clutch fit nicely in the diaper bag, but when I didn’t have the diaper bag with me, I could grab the clutch and go.

As she got a little older, the only two changes were that I didn’t keep a change of clothes in there for her because she didn’t have blowouts anymore and there wasn’t the need for the swaddling blanket anymore either.  The only addition I made once she started eating solid food was a container of cheerios.  If we were going to need to feed her, I packed the diaper bag for that with food, a spoon and bib.

For the most part, I feel like I found the balance I was looking for.  

We always had what we needed, but haven’t had to lug around a bag that weighs as much as she does in order to be prepared for whatever her little life brings.  

What essentials do you put in your diaper bag?  What am I missing?

Tracking Gas Mileage

I can’t take credit for this one.  This is 100% my Grandpa.  When I got my very first car (my mom’s 1986 Toyota Camry), my Grandpa equipped it with a number of “necessary” driving tools, including, (but not limited to):
  • De-icer for the door locks
  • Maps (the paper kind – Remember those?….)
  • An emergency roadside kit, including flares
  • Tire gauge
  • Flashlight that doubled as a tool box (tools were included)
  • Visor organizer
  • Gas Mileage tracker
It’s the last item that is the focus of this week’s Tuesday Tip.  The Gas Mileage tracker wasn’t something that Grandpa found and thought ‘Oh, Kristin will need this.’.  Nope.  He made it.  My Grandpa firmly believed that you should ALWAYS track your gas mileage on your car, so he created a system to make it as easy as possible.  (Can you tell that my tendencies are genetic?)  He bought a mini-notepad that had the little elastic loop connected to it to hold a pen.  He then glued a calculator on the front flap of the notepad.  Each time you filled up with gas, you wrote the following information on a line:
  • Date
  • Number of miles on that tank of gas
  • Total number of miles on the car
  • Number of gallons purchased
  • Gas mileage for that tank (which was figured – using the very handy, attached calculator – by dividing the number of miles driven on the previous tank of gas by the number of gallons purchased)
My grandfather passed away almost seven years ago now, but I still faithfully track the gas mileage for each tank of gas.  When my husband and I were first dating, I pulled the notepad (I’ve had to buy/make a couple since the original he gave me) out of the glove compartment to figure my mileage.  Josh looked at me with an expression that clearly said ‘What on earth are you doing?’.  I explained that tracking your gas mileage is one of the best ways to keep tabs on the general well-being of your car.  If something starts to go wrong on your car, more often than not, your gas mileage is one of the first things to be affected.  I didn’t actually know if this was true, but Grandpa gave me the same reason fifteen years before when I had given him the same expression that I just received, so I made the same case.  Honestly, Josh wasn’t as easy to convince as I was.  But he knew that it was important to me, and so we track the gas mileage on both of our cars each time we get gas.  
If nothing else, I feel good when I drive away from the gas station knowing that my car got good gas mileage this week.  And don’t we all need another reason to find some joy in our day?
If you don’t want to create your own gas mileage tracking notepad, use this printable and stick it in your glove compartment.

Creating a Cleaning Routine

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I didn’t used to need a cleaning routine.  When something looked dirty, I cleaned it – and by look dirty, I mean a visible pink ring in the toilet bowl or the ability to write a note in the dust on the shelf.  Not ideal.

After my daughter was born the time gap between seeing the pink ring in the toilet and cleaning it grew dramatically longer than it had been before she was born.  I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at my inability to keep up with housework.  I’m sure you’ve never been there.  (sarcasm…)

Once I quit my job to stay home with my daughter, I decided that this was something that I needed to do better.  I looked at all kinds of cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but it was hard because no one person’s cleaning tasks are the same as another’s.  The more I looked at other people’s routines, the more I became convinced that the best cleaning plan is the individualized one.  We all have different homes, schedules, number of people in our homes and hobbies, so it’s very unlikely that one person’s schedule would work for the next.

Other people’s lists are a great resource, however.  Instead of using them as my list, I used them as the inspiration to create my own.

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You :: maximizingdaysblog.com

How To Create A Customized Cleaning Routine

1 – Identify all of the tasks by writing them down

Start at one end of your house and think through everything that needs to be done in that room/area to make it spotless.  Do this for each room/area.

Do not get overwhelmed.  Writing them on the list does NOT mean that you have to go do all of them right now – or even anytime soon.  It simply acknowledges the task.

I was pleasantly surprised by how short (translation: manageable) my list was.

2 – Assign the frequency for each task (Daily, Bi-Weekly, Weekly, Bi-Monthly, Monthly, Seasonally, Annually).

There are two ways to look at this.  If you’re the type of person that likes to stay on top of things and doesn’t easily get overwhelmed, schedule them more than they actually need to get done (for example, I have vacuum floors as a daily task, when in reality, it should be done 4-5 times a week) and just skip it when it’s not absolutely necessary.

If you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed by long lists of to-do’s, schedule your tasks less than they need to get done and you’re more likely to do the things on your list.

3 – Identify the blocks of time you have (or need to make) for cleaning

Make this work for you.  If you’re the type of person who likes to do a little bit at a time, then think through your day and set aside one block of time each day for cleaning.  If you would rather get it all done in one fell swoop, then figure out when that time is.

When I was working full time, I had my lunch hour, a half hour in the evening (while my husband did the bedtime routine with our daughter) and Saturday mornings.  Now that I’m home most days, I break it up between Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  As our family schedule changes, so will my cleaning routine.

4 –  Match up the chores with your cleaning times

I mentioned earlier that I was pleasantly surprised by how short and manageable my cleaning list was.  I was even more pleasantly surprised after I assigned the tasks to days.  When I realized that in order to have my house clean all the time (which it never is, but, if I stuck to this routine, realistically it could be), I had to spend an average of a 1/2 hour a day cleaning, I couldn’t believe it.  I thought, for sure, that it would take a LOT longer than that.  And I certainly didn’t think that I’d be able to stay on top of things by having days when I didn’t do anything but my daily chores.

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You :: maximizingdaysblog.com

The best part of this cleaning routine, for me, has been the freedom from feeling bad about not doing things.

Because my old “system” – or lack thereof – was reactionary, if I saw something that needed to be done and procrastinated it, I just saw it get worse and felt bad.  Now, if it’s mopping day and it doesn’t get done, I don’t feel bad because I know that I just did it last week and I will do it next week.

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Try this out and let me know what works well for you.  Do you have other hurdles when trying to stay on top of this?

And, because I said that other people’s routines can be a good resource, here is my list:

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You :: maximizingdaysblog.com

p.s. Read more about my morning cleaning routine and evening cleaning routine.







At My House……

I got this idea from one of my favorite blogs (Iowa Girl Eats) and thought it would be a fun little break.  Plus, I think it’s good to be real and show all of my shortcomings and not just the few highlights of my days.  So, here’s a little insight into me:

Household chore I actually enjoy……..
People assume that I love to clean, which actually isn’t true.  I do, however, LOVE having a clean house, so I put up with the required housework in order to have the desired outcome.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I enjoy it, but I don’t mind doing laundry.  I think it’s because of all the household chores, this one requires the least amount of work for the end product.  Taking clothes from one machine and putting them in the other doesn’t actually take that long.  But then there are empty hampers, and it’s the best feeling.  Albeit, a very temporary feeling.  Like I presume for most people, the folding and putting away can be the worst part of the process, but if I stay on top of it and fold each load as it comes out of the dryer, then it only takes a few minutes.  My phone timer trick helps with the feeling of accomplishment and the flip and fold gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment when the stacks of shirts are all folded uniformly.

Biggest House Disaster……..
Right now, it’s our basement “game” closet.  I say “game” because it’s the most predominent group of items we have in there, but there is, unfortunately, also so much more. It has become the destination for all the little things in our house that don’t have a spot (yet).  I just can’t figure out what I want in there and how to store the things I do have in there.  It is a continual WIP (work in progress).

Before Company Arrives, I Hide…….
Food garbage.  Before you judge, let me explain.  We have a trash compactor, so food waste that can’t go in the garbage disposal (banana peels, apple cores, etc.) goes in a plastic bag that fills up throughout the day and ends up sitting on our kitchen counter right next to the back door.  I hate clutter on my counters to begin with, but a bag of food garbage is the worst.  If I know that someone is coming over, that’s the first thing to go.  I’ve often thought about starting a compost pile so that stuff doesn’t go to waste, but the ratio of “brown material” (grass clippings and such) to “green material” (food) is way more than we have access to.

Most Recent Music Download…….
I don’t buy a ton of music – we’re big Pandora and iTunes Radio people – but a couple weeks ago, I bought “Great is Thy Faithfulness” from Chris Rice’s Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project Album.  In the last few months, I’ve really been touched by the lyrics in hymns.  I didn’t grow up singing hymns in church, so it’s kind of a new discovery for me.  I bought “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” from the same album a couple months ago and mentioned to my husband more than once that I should have just bought the entire album.  There’s still time.

The Last Thing I Bought Online…….
This bib.  We use these bibs at home, and LOVE them, but they are a little cumbersome for travel.  I had read somewhere about disposable bibs and looked for them, but couldn’t find them in a store.  My husband and I stumbled upon Skip Hop when I was pregnant.  I was having the hardest time finding gender neutral crib bedding that I liked and fell in love with this the moment I saw it.  Unrelated to that, we couldn’t find  a diaper bag that we both liked until I found this one.  It was only after we added the bedding set and diaper bag to our registry that we realized they were the same brand.  We have been huge Skip Hop fans since then.  It’s become our go-to baby brand.  Which is why I follow them on Instagram.  A couple weeks ago, they posted pictures of these bibs and explained that they are made to fold into their own pocket so they are perfect for on the go.  We are working to live more sustainably and not create so much waste, so the idea of having something reusable that could easily travel and, let’s be honest, is so darn cute, was too much to pass up.
In the same order, I also used a gift card my daughter was given for Christmas to get this towel.  She finally outgrew her infant one, and, of course, if I was going to buy a hooded bath towel, it was going to be the adorable Skip Hop owl.

I Hate to Shop For…….
Swimsuits.  I know.  Super cliche.  But I really hate it.  I always feel terrible about myself and they are so expensive.

Favorite Family Ritual……..
Each year, at Christmas, we take a family picture holding the picture from last year.  It started with my grandparents 22 years ago.  My grandma had just got a new camera that had a self-timer, which was revolutionary at the time, and we were so excited to be able to take a picture of the four of us – My grandpa, grandma, brother and me.  The next year, we started the set things up to take the same picture and my brother had the great idea to grab last year’s picture from off of the fridge.  He held it up in the picture, and so began the tradition.  We continued that until my grandpa’s last Christmas in 2007.
My daughter was born in 2013, and we took a picture of our family (no need for a self-timer when in-laws are right there!).  For her second Christmas, I decided to resurrect that tradition.  However, I didn’t plan ahead and print a copy of last year’s picture.  At the last minute, I grabbed the iPad and pulled up the photo.  We decided that it added a fun element to have the piece of technology in there, because in another 22 years, we will laugh hysterically at how out of date the iPad is and see how technology progressed.

I Sleep In……..
This shirt.  I have this weird thing where I need to have my shoulders covered when I sleep.  If I sleep with just straps, I always wake up in the middle of the night with cold shoulders.  I was so excited when I found this shirt because it is (appropriately named) super soft.  And it’s long enough that if I walk out of my bedroom in it, I don’t feel inappropriate (it’s longer on me than it is this model.  Surprise – another affect of having a crazy short torso).

I Have a Style Crush On……
Kate Middleton.  Who doesn’t?  I’ve never seen a picture of her where I didn’t think she looked stunning.  She has this classic, sophisticated elegance that is enviable.  Even at the Olympics in London a few years ago, she was wearing skinny jeans and team jacket, and she looked amazing.  Why is it that when I wear my fleece-lined tights and quarter zips, I don’t look like that?

I’m Currently Reading……
Does Real Simple magazine count?  My husband got Unbroken as a gift for Christmas and I’m hoping to start that soon.

What’s Up With the _____ Trend?
Super bushy beards.  Seriously, I can’t possibly be the only person who thinks they are ridiculous.

How Did I Ever Live Without______ ……..
Smartwool socks.  A good friend of mine swears by them, so when they were 75% off on Black Friday, I tried a couple pair.  There’s no going back.  I own a couple pair of Margaritas, Secret Sleuths and Ski socks.