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Organizing the Chaos: Create a Baby binder.

When it comes to work, my files, projects, and papers are ordered and systemized with military precision…but I have to admit I’m not the most organized person on the homefront.

Besides, has anyone ever looked back at life and regretted not keeping a neater home (Hells no!) My philosophy is not to let life pass you by while you’re vacuuming (this is why I bought a Roomba). As a general rule I clean enough to keep a healthy and presentable home…but choose to live life rather than clean it. (Plus anytime I invite my mother over, she takes it upon herself to scrub, clean or dust anything she feels is sub-par – which is basically everything!) This used to drive me absolutely crazy. But when “Dr. Strangely-loves-to-clean” comes for a visit I’ve learnt to stop worrying and love the Mom.

Before Sweet Pea was born I knew things at home were going to get a little crazy so I decided to bring some of my work-life organization skills home. This included making a Baby Binder – a great way to keep all the baby’s papers, medial documents, schedules, recipes, keepsakes and thank-you card lists organized and close at hand.

In those sleep-deprived first weeks when you’ve got tons of hospital, doctor and government paperwork to deal with, gifts to keep track of, appointments to make and feedings to log, this binder comes in really handy!

What you’ll need:

A binder

Tab dividers (I used large ones for the major categories and smaller tabs to divide items within a category – see below) Here’s a great site for free tab and label printables

Sheet protectors (good for holding official docs, brochures or other items you want to keep in the binder)

Plastic ring binder envelopes or zip pockets (good for holding blank thank-you cards, vaccine books, keepsakes etc…)

Table of Contents:

Here is the table of contents I came up with for my binder – (I admit, a lot of this was overkill – but it will come in handy eventually) You can expand or contract this list to fit your own family’s needs. You can also take each section and make it into a series of smaller baby binders. To make things easy, I’ve included links to where I found free printables that you can use…I’ll also add free downloads of some of the sheets I created custom graphics for – feel free to use them for your own binders.

Contact Info: 
This section includes a series of lists such as: Emergency Contact Info (info-sante, poison control etc.), Family Contact Info and Babysitter Contact Information. Here are some free and stylish contact lists that you can fill out and print.

Baby Care Logs: 
This section includes things such as: A Baby Care tracker (We took this to the hospital with us and used religiously the first couple of weeks to track our baby’s eating, diapering and sleeping until Sweet Pea regained his birth weight.) You can also include items such as a Pumping Log and Solid Food Log for once you start introducing foods and need to take note of any allergies or adverse reactions to foods.

Medical Info: 
In this section I put things like my insurance information, Baby’s vaccine book, medicare card, Doctor’s visit log, Immunization/medical records, a growth tracker, tooth chart and medication log. (I take this section out of the binder and with me to all medical appointments)

You can find various medical log printables in these places:

http://www.printablebabyplanner.com/preview/Medication_Log

http://www.freeprintablemedicalforms.com/category/children

http://alphamom.com/parenting/baby/keeping-track-of-baby-teeth/

Caregiver Info: 
This section won’t likely be needed until later – but it is a place for eventual babysitters or the daycare. In this section I added babysitter notes for us to put any info the sitter would need, While you were out notes for the caregiver to report anything back to us, baby favourites list where we can list songs, toys, food or activities Sweet Pea likes to make things easier for caregivers, a morning routine list and bedtime routine list.

Recipes: This section is pretty self-explanatory. I keep my crock pot freezer recipes here, baby food recipes for once Sweet Pea begins solids, and organic Baby Product Recipes here.

Baby travel: 
Here you can keep things like baby’s passport handy and well as packing checklists for the suitcase or diaper bag so you don’t forget anything vital when leaving home

Milestones and Keepsakes:
Here I placed a baby’s firsts log sheet to note when the little one hits certain milestones (sleeps through the nighs, turns over, takes first steps etc…) I also included a zip pocket for various keepsakes (hospital bracelets, first lock of hair, ultrasound pics etc…)

Important Docs:
Here you could put things like government docs (Social insurance card, Birth Certificate), Maternity leave documentation, or daycare wait list info.

Miscellaneous section:
This was kind of a catch-all for anything that didn’t warrant its own section. I put a baby gift log here so I could keep track of who gave what and who I needed to send thank-you cards to. Manuals and warranties for the baby car seat, stroller etc., a website password log for all the baby-related sites I signed up for, a lullaby cheat sheet, baby coupons etc…

Another great idea is to put pens, scissors, tape, markers, glue, etc. in a zip pocket at the front of the binder so these things are always close at hand. I also have a monthly calendar placed at the beginning of my binder so I can see any upcoming baby appointments or events at a glance.

Anyway, there is also lots of online inspiration for creating your own baby binder. You can purchase adorable graphic templates on places like Etsy. Pintrest is also a great ways to source free binder printables. And tons of helpful blogs that offer free downloads of family binder sheets or talk about how they organize their baby binders.

If you’ve got a couple moments before the craziness begins, a baby binder will help you stay organized amidst the chaos.

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4AM Feeding on Baby Island

Secluded, dim and calming – like the waves from my white noise machine, I’ve been adrift on Baby Island for 5 weeks now. It can be a lonely place, where the days float by but minutes also last an eternity.

Sleep, eat, poo, repeat. The rhythm of my day.

Blurred naps in between.

Trying to catch my breath before the next wave engulfs me.
The riptide both terrifying and overflowing with joy.

Diapers and spit-up the landscape of this withdrawn place.

From the outside it seems like a prison.
But one smile – and I know I’m home.

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Don’t bring two babies to the Mom & Tots Group!

photo 4In our area we have a local nurse who visits you soon after taking baby home. The nurse checks to make sure the baby is gaining weight, gives advice and helps to ease first-time parents’ jitters and concerns.

My husband, an admitted hypochondriac, was full-on into his “protective-sleep-deprived-nesting-father” phase and loved the nurse visits because he could ask her about every disease, infection, or affliction he was convinced our baby had somehow contracted. He could show her the baby feeding and pooing log we kept to make sure our baby was feeding properly and even saved soiled diapers for her to examine – “Is this the right colour poo?” Anyone who has been a first time parent can likely relate.

To be fair, my husband’s excessive hypochondrium was coming from a good place. At the time of Sweet Pea’s birth, he had a work contract three time zones away and would only be around for the first week before leaving on a 3-week work stint. So he was trying to cram-in as much fatherly love as possible into 7 short days.

Recognizing my husband as a very eager father, the nurse suggested he attend the first meeting of the local mom & tots group that was set to start when he came back to town.

Fast-forward three weeks and my husband is finally home for another week off. So off we go to the Mom & Tots Group – me thinking what a great opportunity for Dad to bond more with Sweet Pea and for me to meet other local mothers who understood the daily issues I would be facing.

This is the point where a “great idea” goes terribly wrong…

Just as the group was getting started Sweet Pea decides to throw a screaming and crying fit. We rocked and tried to calm him as our rather “new-agey” group animator demonstrated a series of baby exercises to the tune of lullaby music and talked about how the space was “non-judgemental” and we should all let our babies “be who they will be” (read: we hear your baby screaming…but will pretend that it doesn’t bother us and that we don’t think you are terrible parents)

Sweet Pea could not be calmed so we figured he must need a diaper change. We proceeded to get out our portable baby-changing mat as the group progressed to the “introduce yourself and your baby” phase. As each mom introduced their angelically silent and happy baby, Sweet Pea’s cries got increasingly intense while my husband spent what felt like hours rooting around our diaper bag for the ever-important Purell to clean his own hands for the imminent staph infection he would no doubt infect the little one with if, god-forbid, he change a dirty diaper with hands that had not first been sanitized of the potential germs he had contracted on the three-block walk over to the mom & tots group.

When it was our turn to make introductions I did so over my husbands no-so-hushed comments about how our little one would no doubt pee everywhere because we forgot to put the “pee-pee tee-pee” in our diaper bag.

The diaper change failed to console Sweet Pea so I proceeded to breast feed him and was finally able to lull him to sleep on the play mat. Phew crisis solved just as the group moved onto “sharing-time” where mothers would talk about their anxieties of getting babies to sleep or the importance of having supportive partners etc. It was at this opportune time that my husband also decided to fall asleep in the dimly lit room. So there I sat with one baby sleeping before me on the play mat and my other “big baby” snoring away on my shoulder as the moms continued to “non-judge” me in their sharing circle.

By the time the group animator moved onto the “recognizing baby facial expressions” part of the programming, hubby finally decided to awake from his slumber and proceeded to make not-so-silent comments about how the group meeting was too long/boring and how the topics being covered were irrelevant for such young babies. Had he actually been awake during the part where they passed around photos of the various facial expressions he might of recognized the look on my face as the “shut the f%$#k up” look.

Group time was finally over and off we went back home. The biggest take away I got from the whole experience being don’t bring two babies to the Mom & Tots Group!