International flight for Baby – Infant Bassinets

We had a very easy trip with baby Z in his first flight. While it may sound like a long flight (east coast to west coast), it’s a piece of cake compared to the international flights that we are going to embark early next year.

I spent a whole week weighting pros and cons on whether I should book baby Z his own seat as I couldn’t imagine how to hold a 20+ lb baby for 15 hours. I totally understand that the safest place for baby Z on a flight is in his car seat. By buying a seat for him, I can possibly strap him up. However, I really don’t think it’s possible to pin him down in his car seat for 15+ hours. Somehow, when he is placed in a new environment, baby Z is a lot more clingy and he will want to be held more than staying in his own car seat (it’s proven in our last trip). Therefore, the increase level of his safety can be quite minimal. Plus, a lot of international flight has extra seat belt for lap child. That child seat belt attaches to the adult’s seat belt making it safe for the lap child in case of emergency.

Since I have a lot of friends flying international, so I know that there are bassinets for babies available in those long flights. I was counting on that for baby Z’s first international flight. In fact, I was looking forward for it. I saw so many families having that privileges in my previous international flgiths. so I was excited to be one of those families. Yet, I didn’t know that there are weight and height limits for the baby to use the bassinets. And apparently, baby Z is quite a big baby, so even now at 9 months of age, he will not fit in most of those bassinets.Not to mention by the time of his first international trip, he will be way over the limits.

Therefore, I was seriously consider buying a seat for baby Z so that I have a place to rest him. However, for the time we want to go, buying a seat vs having him as a lap child makes a difference of $750. That’s quite a lot of money which can be used in other expense during the trip. Plus, like what I mentioned before, I’m not sure how well baby Z can stay in his seat.

Fortunately, after much research, I found ONE airline that baby Z probably can still fit in their bassinets by the time we fly. YEAH … Now, I have a place to put baby Z down to lay flat to sleep. In fact, that probably is much more comfortable than the cramped economy seat.

Here is my findings on infant bassinets after my whole week of research. It was an frustrating experience as there are not a lot of people sharing their experience on this. I was searching everywhere for reviews as well as consulting travel agents. I hope my summary below will be helpful to other parents who want to bring their babies to a long flight.

Bassinet – this is only for international flights. Most international flights have bassinets available for lap child. Basically, the bassinets hang at the wall in front of the bulkhead seats. Bulkhead seats are generally reserved for families, and you have to call customer service to be assigned to the bulkhead seats. To score a bassinet, that can be tricky. Here are the details I found out as I reserve one for baby Z in his first international trip early next year.

  • Each airline has a different weight, height and/or age restriction. In particular, most of them will not fit a baby over 12 months old and a lot of them restricts the use to babies under age of 6 months. Here is an overview chart that I consulted when I booked our flight. However, always check the airlines’ official website for their policies before making your final decision.
  • Some airlines allow reservation of bassinets and confirm with families that they will definitely have a bassinet. Some airlines only makes a note of your request in your reservation, and can only confirm your bassinets on the day of departure. Some airlines assigns the bassinets in first come first serve basis while some give priority to younger babies. Some airlines do not even make any note of your request and you can only register your request to the gate agents on the day of departure.
  • Regardless, most airlines only have 2-4 bassinets in each flight for economy class. Therefore, for those 10+ hours long flights, try to book your tickets early.
  • Usually, even if your reservation is confirmed, you are still required to call the customer service to confirm your baby’s height and weight within a week before your flight.
  • I can imagine such a godsend to have a place to put a baby down to sleep for the 10+ hour flight! We are going to have a 16 hours departure flight and a 10 hours return flight. Definitely try to get a bassinet. Once you get your reservation number for your flight, call the customer service right away. For example, our flight in Feb 2018 has only 2 bassinets in the economy class, and they are all taken already (with one under baby Z’s name).

Baby’s First Flight

Isn’t that exciting for baby’s first flight? Mr. G and I were surely very exciting but also super anxious for it. Baby Z is, in general, a very easy baby. But how would he react to his first flying experience? We heard stories of problematic ear pressure or non-stop crying babies. With baby Z’s first flight at a little over 8 months old and some of the preparation for baby Z’s upcoming flights, here are our findings and hopefully our experience will help other parents as well!!

  1. There are a lot of baby packing lists in many parenting blogs. I would like to pinpoint a couple of things.
    • Pack more diapers than you think you need: baby Z’s first flight was delayed for a total of 4.5 hours!! We timed out flight at 5:30 pm counting that baby Z would sleep right after cruising. Yet, we eventually flied out at 10 pm. And in our return flight, baby Z pooed twice in his 5 hour flight including one big blowout!! So be prepared!!
    • Don’t panic if you miss some of baby’s favorite toys. Of course, some babies are very particular. But in general, babies are curious creatures, so even if you give them a paper cup, they can play with it for a while.
    • Pack a variety of clothes so you can have choices if it is too hot or too cold. Avoid putting baby into some very warm outfit such as a fleece onesie; instead, dress him in layer so it’s much easier to adjust.
    • Remember to pack a warmer blanket. We usually pack baby Z’s Aden and Aanis Swaddle blanket to everywhere. We are glad that we did pack his little giraffe blanket as it is so much warmer for him than the thin and breathable swaddle blanket.
  2. Buy his own seat or let him be a lap child – in general, kids under 2 can fly free as a lap child. For international flight, you will be charged 10% adult fare plus tax and fee. There are a lot of pros and cons on both options. We had baby Z as a lap child without really thinking much when we bought the tickets. Yet, after my experience of holding a 20 lb baby for over 5 hours, I will consider buying him a seat in the future. if it will be only you bringing your baby on the flight, seriously consider buying him a seat.
  3. Ear pressure – everyone is talking about ear pressure being a significant issue for babies when flying. In our experience, it really did not seem to bother baby Z at all. We did give him water during takeoff and landing and that’s enough for baby Z.
  4. Benadryl or Tylenol route – A lot of people suggest giving babies Benadryl or Tylenol so they will sleep through the flight. I strongly recommend consulting your doctor before taking this approach. Our pediatrician is strongly against this practice as that interferes with baby’s routine and can potentially backfire if baby is fighting the urge to sleep and gets really frustrated. Plus, eventually, baby will be more tiring after the medication’s effect wears out. Personally, I would try to give baby Z as little medication as possible.
  5. Security check – for both of our flights, we took read-to-feed baby formula with us, and we did not encounter any issue on getting those though the gate. But I also heard some of my friends had issue bringing any liquid for the baby. Just be prepared.
  6. Documentation – For domestic travel, TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18. For international travel, your baby definitely needs a passport. Regardless, it’s always a good practice to bring a copy of the birth certificate especially if your baby is a lap child. Some airline requires proof of age before you can board.
  7. Scoring an empty seat – An empty seat right next to you on your flight is always nice. If you have a lap child, that’s the best thing to happen for your flight. Try to get to the gate earlier and check with the gate agent to see if your family can be moved to some empty seats. Or, maybe, one of the travel partner can move over to an empty seat leaving another person with the baby so the baby can occupy a seat. However, if you want to have your baby occupies a seat, some airlines require an FAA approved car seat or a Safety Restraint System.
  8. Airplane leg rest cushion – A friend of mine highly recommends the 1st class kid travel pillow. It basically fills the leg room between the two seats so that a single seat becomes a bed for a child to lay flat. I plan to get one for baby Z’s thanksgiving trip. Even though we did not purchase a seat for him, we hope we can score an empty seat. However, some airline does not allow this kind of leg rest cushion. Some airline does not allow this pillow, so check the company’s website for more details.
  9. Stroller/car seat – Your car seat can be checked at the check-in counter for free. However, keep your stroller with you. It’s very nice to have a stroller to push the baby and all his carry on items so that you will not be worn out before boarding the plane.

Be my own boss

I chose my major based on various external factors, i.e., job prospects, types of jobs available in my local area, as well as my personal academic strength. Yet, I never really put in the time to ponder what I really want to do for a living. Not that I regretted my choice. I made an excellent choice in a way that I have a highly flexible work environment and a well compensated job. Compared to a lot of people at my age, I know that I’m doing pretty well financially. Not to mention that I actually met Mr. G at work.

Yet, I always wonder if I will be happier doing something else. Sometimes, I lack the motivation to really excel in my job as I was bothered by those “what if” scenarios. As I vented out my frustration to Mr. G, it opened up some opportunities for us to discuss vocation and how we should look at our work. In fact, no matter how glamours other vocation paths may look like. All jobs involves hard work and a lot of not so fun moments. Unless I really have a real desire to change my career path (which I actually don’t), I should just kick away all those distracting thoughts of “what if”, and focus on my current situation.

Yes, most of us are employed by a company, and we are obligated to meet the deadline and deliver the product/service as expected. However, we are always working for ourselves too. The knowledge we developed and skills we learned will be always with us. This new mindset really helps me to clarify my plan going forward. Yes, my project will have downtime. But downtime is not for me to relax but to acquire new skills or deepen my current knowledge set. I should work as hard as I can in my 40 hours work week to challenge myself, be productive, and be more marketable in the current employment market. Keep an eye out for what skills other companies are looking for. Learn new skills if that’s important to stay in my career. Always remember what I learn is what I can keep. Just literally imagine that I’m my own boss!!

Let’s work for ourselves!!

 

 

New Baby Must-haves for First 3 Months

When I was expecting, I asked a lot of my friends for their lists of baby must-haves. After my 8 months of firsthand experience, I would like to share my list. Hopefully, it will be useful by other parents-to-be.

  1. Bassinet – For the first few weeks to months, your baby is probably more comfortable to be in a bassinet. We got a hand me down like this pretty one, but if it’s my choice, I probably will get the BRICA Fold Go Travel Bassinet for its ease of transport. For your reference, we graduated baby Z from the bassinet at around 2 months.
  2. Mattress Protector -instead of taking the route of fitted mattress protectors, we use the Priva High Quality Ultra Waterproof Sheet and Mattress Protector  with a generous size of 34″ x 52″. I originally purchased this to put under my bed sheet in case my water broke in the middle of the night. That didn’t happen; instead, I threw up as I was laboring at home and this protector totally saved my mattress. Now, it’s being used under baby Z’s bed sheet. The size, 34″ x 52″, is slightly larger than typical crib mattress, and it is easy to put it under the bed sheet. Yes, you can skip those expensive crib mattress protector. One Practical tips from my SIL: to avoid the middle of the night bed sheet changing episode after blowout, spitting up etc etc, you can put layers of mattress protector, bed sheet, and then protector and bed sheet. If the top level bed sheet get soiled, you can simply take it and the protector layer out. And right under, you will have the clean bed sheet ready for your baby.
  3. For changing accident – This disposable underpad is so useful when you have a diaper blowout as you can imagine how messy that can be!! Keep several in the diaper bag esp. when you are flying out!! This Kushies Baby Deluxe Change Pad is reusable and holds up well after many washes. We always put the waterproof layer under baby Z when changing him in case he wants to pee on us. The Kushies pad also serves well as the mattress protector for the small bassinet.
  4. Gerber Birdseye Flatfold Cloth Diapers – These cloth diapers are really the best burp cloths. They are inexpensive, compared to the fancy/cute burp clothes. They are also big and can hold an incredible amount of spitting up. For baby Z, he doesn’t use pacifier, but as he uses this burp cloth since day 1, it somehow becomes his security blanket. He can soothe himself to nap with this little blankie.
  5. Nursing pillows – Both My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow and Boppy Pillow are good pillows and serve well in different phases in your nursing journey. My Brest Friend is excellent for the first few weeks of baby’s life. It is firm so it’s extremely easy to position a newborn without baby sinking into the pillow which is exactly what happens when a newborn is on the Boppy pillow. However, after the baby is bigger, I like the soft and comfortable Boppy. Plus, the Boppy is double duties as a good cushion to pop baby up when baby is not mobile. Or, it can protect a sitting baby from hitting his head when falling backward or sideways.
  6. Glider – Maybe, you have the same dilemma, after all the purchases of nursery furniture, do I really need the glider? While this is really an optional item, get it if you have the space and budget for it. When you’re so tired nursing every 3 hours, you will be glad that you have a nice seat for feeding. Even if you are not nursing, the glider helps to soothe a crying baby. I can also see myself cuddling with baby Z in the chair in the next couple years for bedtime stories. For your reference, I’m 5’3″ and Mr. G is 5’8″, and we both found that the Shermag Alexis Glider Rocker & Ottoman Combo is extremely comfortable. I remember the first time baby Z had a big spitting up and the cushion were all soaked up. We put the cushions into the washer with gentle circles and dry the cushions at tumble dry low setting for 30 minutes and then let it dry thoroughly under the sun. And the cushions turns out just like new!!
  7. Changing diapers – Changing table is really optional. We have the Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad which can easily convert any surface to a changing table. We first put the changing pad on top of the dresser with a changing top frame which is also optional. Now, we change baby Z on any surfaces with or without the changing pad.
  8. Swaddle – Swaddling a baby really helps him to sleep well in the first few months. For this purpose, we love the Aden and Anais swaddling blanket. Sadly, baby Z wiggled out of it after a month. But the blankets are easily re-purposed as tummy time blankets, nursing covers and stroller/car seat covers. They are very durable, and the designs are adorable. We got a pack of 4 as hand me down from my SIL. Now, after 8 months of baby Z’s usage, the set is still like new. We bought another set of 4 so that we can keep one in each room in the house. Do not buy the Aden by Aden and Anais. It’s a secondary line and the quality is subpar. Once baby Z wiggled out of the swaddling blanket, we put him in the SwaddleMe Original Swaddle. It worked like a gem for baby Z’s second and third month.
  9. Transitional to Swaddle Free – When our doctor recommended us to phase baby Z out of swaddling at his 3 month check up, we were worried that baby Z could not sleep through the night without swaddling. Yet, at the same time, we couldn’t keep swaddling baby Z especially that was too restrictive for his motor skills development. Love To Dream Swaddle Up 50/50 totally comes in for rescue. It allows baby to sleep arms up which is what baby Z loves. It is just tight enough to keep baby  Z from waking up by the startling motion, but is very stretchy so that baby Z can still move his arms pretty easily. Baby Z can sucked his thumb in this swaddle. The A-line design is tight on the tummy to give baby a sense of security; yet, it’s wide from the waist down so that the hip can move freely and the legs are not tightly bundled in the SwaddleMe or swaddling blanket. I unzipped his one arm out one night and then two arms out in another night. In no time, baby Z no longer needed swaddling to sleep through the night at around 4 months. Since then, we still keep using this Swaddle Up 50/50 until today (well, we have to buy the next size up). In the summer, Baby Z is all sweaty even in the TOG 0.5 sleep sack, but he is comfortable in the swaddle Up. The Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit seems to be all over the Internet these days as a transitional suit to swaddle free. We ordered both the Merlin’s suit and the Swaddle Up at the same time, but we ended up returning the Merlin’s suit as baby Z would never be able to sleep in such a think suit in the summer. However, if it’s in the winter, I definitely would give it a try.
  10. Nail Scissors – One of the very first challenges for new parents is to cut your baby’s nail. It is very difficult, and a lot of our friends reported cutting their babies’ skin accidentally. That never happened to us, as we were using baby nail scissors instead of clippers. The scissors are easily to position precisely where you want to cut the nail.
  11. Medicine cabinet – you probably want to have things ready as it is no fun rushing to CVS when your baby shows first signs of sickness. We used the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer couple of times, and baby Z never showed any discomfort. While the touchless thermometer sounds like a good idea, the rectal one is the most accurate reading for temperature. For clearing baby Z’s nasal passage, we used Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator a couple of times already. It’s very easy to use and got the job done well. The booger sucker we got form the hospital really didn’t work as well as the NoseFrida. Per our pediatrician’s instruction, we also stock up the the Windi Gas and Colic Reliever. I heard a lot of good reviews on it, but never need to use it on baby Z.
  12. Skin care – Keep a jar of Aquaphor to apply generously to the skin when it shows the first sign of diaper rash. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream  controls the mild eczema of baby Z pretty well. For baby laundry, just use something that has no dyes and perfume. We have been using All Free and Clear for laundry. There are many other more expensive choices of laundry detergent specially formulated for baby. Unless your baby has super sensitive skins, that may be unnecessary.
  13. Bathing – Bathing is a very fun time!! We got an older version of the Fisher-Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub. When baby Z was tiny, the “seat” popped him up perfectly and safely. Now he is older, he just sits on the bigger side and playing with his bath toy. The seat in the new version can be taken away so that the tub becomes one big open space. We used the California Baby Calendula Shampoo Bodywash. It’s mild and baby Z never has irritation from it. For bath toys, we have the Finding Nemo Squirt toys and baby Z really likes the colorful companion.

For baby to have fun at home, here are some of baby Z’s favorites:

  1. Bouncer (0 – 3 months) – Once baby Z got home, he started using the Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer. It is supportive for even the very small newborn. We moved baby Z around to different rooms in the house throughout the day so he could always be with us and be able to see us easily. Some babies love to sleep in the bouncer. But that’s not the case for baby Z.
  2. Swing (1 – 4 months) – We got an old and simple swing as hand me down. Baby Z loved it, and it rocked him to sleep for so many times. By 4 months though, he always tried to push himself up so it was no longer safe for him. The new and fancy version, i.e., the Fisher-Price My Little Snugapuppy Cradle ‘n Swing have side-to-side cradle or traditional head-to-toe swing motion which probably is even better to rock baby to sleep. A friend of mine claimed that her baby only slept in the swing. So if you have a sleepless baby, this may be a necessary items for you.
  3. Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity (1 month to now) – Love love love this activity mat. The color scheme from Skip Hop is just so much more harmonious than other brands that features bright red/yellow/green/blue. Until today, baby Z still loves to play in this activity mat. Every time I put him there, he kicks his legs and is super super excited.
  4. Skip Hop Playmat (1 month to now) – PVC mat is very toxic, so I want to buy the non-PVC mat for baby Z. I settled the Skip Hop for its lowest possible score, <2ug/m3 (less than 2 millionths of a gram per cubic meter) for Formamide emissions. I know babies should be stimulated by bright color, but most toys are already in bright color, so the mat which is more like a background can have a more subtle color scheme so that the toys can stand out even more!! My friends also recommend the CreamHaus mat. If you want a more cushioned mat, that will be a good choice. For me, over the price/value tradeoff, I chose Skip Hop over CreamHaus.

For baby going out, here are some of our favorite items:

  1. Carseat – There are many choices of travel systems where the infant carseat and stroller come as a set. But I somehow has a negative opinion on the concept of bundling items. For example, I don’t like a TV with build in DVD idea, or the 2-in-1 shampoo + conditioner. That’s really just me. For carseat, don’t go down the route of buying a used one. If it’s from a trusted friend or family, make sure it’s accident free. Once a carseat is in an accident, its integrity is questionable, and it’s safer to get a new one. Also, carseat expires, so check the manufacturer information on the carseat before use. We have the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat from my SIL. However, the carseat will be expired early next year. By then, baby Z will move on to the bigger convertible car seat. If we are blessed with baby #2, we probably will get the KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat for its incredible safety rating.
  2. Stroller – We have the Baby Jogger 2016 City Mini Single Stroller. For strolloer, I have the following requirements: 1) easy to set up, 2) easy to put back, 3) super good steering, 4) relatively lightweight, 5) can be steer with one hand, 6) can easily put baby down to sleep and 7) a good canopy. After trying out strollers in buy buy baby, we settled with the City Mini. Then, we ran into a used one in the tot swap consignment fair. We got it for $90 including the adapter to put our carseat on it. Best purchase we made for baby Z!!
  3. Diaper bag -We have the LeSportsac Ryan Baby Bag in zoo cute, and we love it. The print is so cute that I couldn’t resist getting it. It has a lot of compartment for organizations. Plus, it’s super light weight. You will stuff tons of stuff in your bag, so it’s not a good idea to have a bag that is already weight a couple of pounds. But if we end up having baby #2, the backpack style diaper bag may be a better choice. I’m currently eyeing the Ju-Ju-Be Be Right Back backpack.
  4. Diaper Clutch – you already have a diaper bag, why do you still want a clutch? The diaper clutch just makes the trip to the restroom easier. Instead of digging into the diaper bag for wipes, diaper, rash cream and changing pad, you can simply take the clutch and have a peace of mind that everything you need will be found in the clutch. Well, only if you remember to refill!! We have the Skip Hop Baby Pronto Portable Changing Station, and we like its size, think cushion for baby Z to lay on it, and the number of compartment. Sometimes, for quick trips out, we only bring this clutch without the diaper bag.
  5. Cover for shopping cart and high chair – instead of wiping down the shopping cart and high chair each time before you put your baby in. Consider the Crocnfrog 2-in-1 Cotton Shopping Cart Cover. This particular one is big enough for carts in Costco or Target. We have washed and dried it many times now, and it still looks like new.

Financial Game Plan for New Parents

We are all animals of habits. We visit the same restaurants, grocery stores, repeat our morning routines daily and take the same route to work. We didn’t aware that those are not decisions but habits. Habits are hard to break because they are not really conscious decisions. But life events can really shake us up and provide the golden opportunity to break our routine (of course, break the bad ones!!). For me, there are so many changes that baby Z brought into my life, and I’m sure there will be many more to come. In today’s post, I would like to share some of financial moves that new parents should really consider.

  1. Term Life insurance: I highly recommend term life insurance that cover 20 years and with an amount that’s enough to pay off all the debt in the family and support your kids to college. Term life is surprisingly cheap. Personally, I will not buy whole life, universal life or any insurance that carry the notion of investment because those are a lot more expensive, and I can get the added benefits in other investment options with much lower fees.
  2. College fund: I seriously don’t understand why people invest for college without contributing to their state 529 plan especially if that immediate qualities for state tax deduction. That is an automatic investment gain right there!! Or, why people use saving accounts to save for college, especially given the almost 0% interest rate nowadays. If you are already determined to invest, why not use the best investment vehicle for the purpose?
  3. Keep funding your retirement: your kid will have multiple ways to finance his/her college, but you will have much less options to fund your retirement if you don’t act earlier.
  4. A will: everyone should have a will regardless if you’re single, married, with or without kids. How should your estate be divided? Who should be your kids’ legal guardians? Who can make decision for you if you become incapable of making any decision?
  5. Family Budget: regardless of how you raise your kid, there will be impact on the family finances. Get the clear pictures on total monthly expenses (don’t forget those annual or semi-annual payment), total income and financial planning on maternity leave. And should one of you stay home?  A tip for new couples: even if you have two incomes, live as if there is only one income. Then, whatever life prepares you for, you can always easily scale back to one income.
  6. Short/Long term disability insurance: most workplaces provide both short and long term disability insurances. Check the coverage and make sure that’s enough to cover your expenses. If not, consider supplementary disability insurance.

oh no!! business trip

Today, I’m back from my first business trip after my maternity leave. It’s tough, as you can imagine. After a whole week separated from baby Z, I want to share some tips for working mothers (fathers as well) to manage the “separation anxiety”.

  1. Trust your spouse. He/she can do it. Totally. All parents are full of potentials, and when circumstances comes, we can be solo on parenting responsibilities. After all, it’s just a few days!!
  2. FaceTime/Skype. Technology definitely enables virtual face to face time. Take advantage of it!! During my trip, I managed to see baby Z once I woke up, during lunch (I sneaked back to hotel or found a quiet corner if no business lunch) as well as after dinner to say goodnight if baby Z was still up by then. In principle, we don’t let baby Z to have screen time, so we keep it very short (~ 2 minutes max), and sometimes, we don’t even let baby Z sees the camera. Yes, I can see baby Z but baby Z can’t see me. After all, as an 8 months baby, he didn’t seem missing me much so seeing me or not does not matter much to him. While it’s sad that he doesn’t miss me much, this is much better than he keeps crying and calling for mama, right? If you are absolutely 100% no screen time, ask your spouse to take some video and share with you.
  3. Photos/videos on your phone. I bet every mom and dad has tons of videos and photos on the phone. Just watch them as often as you can when you terribly miss your baby.
  4. Be productive and enjoy your free time. Do you like to read, but in general don’t find the time at home? Business trip is a golden opportunity to do so. How about exercise? The list can go on and on. I finally started this blog at the first night of this business trip after pondering the idea for over 6 months. Being busy with something interested you really distracts you away from the sadness of not seeing your baby.
  5. Don’t forget to pack well for your trip. This sounds like a no-brainer!! Who do not know how to pack for a trip? However, when you are distracted, you can’t pack that well. The night I left was difficult. I was upset by the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see baby Z for a week and worried that Mr. G was not ready to take the full responsibility. Once I arrived at the hotel, I found myself without any makeup brushes, toothpaste, jewelry, sunscreen and other miscellaneous items. This never happened to me before. Fortunately, Mr. G packed the accessories for my electronic needs, so I didn’t end up without chargers to my phone, Fitbit and laptop.

Of course, focus on your work and do a good job!! And don’t forget to FaceTime/Skype your spouse after baby sleeps to give a big thumb up, or else, he/she will feel so left out!!

 

Grandparents Daycare

 

Unlike a lot of friends who were juggling day care options, Mr. G and I are blessed with grandparents willing to take care of our baby to let us both working full time. While our parents are retried and semi-retired, I totally respect their decision if they would want to enjoy their lives instead of committing to taking care of a baby. After all, they had already raised their kids, and they should not be expected to be the primary caregivers to grandchildren.

After eight months of grandparents day care, we were all very happy with the arrangement. If you’re also considering grandparents day care, there are a couple of things you should be carefully considered before committing to the arrangement.

  1. Do you have a healthy relationship with parents? If you and your parents are not in good terms, i.e., not getting along well, having drastically different value systems, and not having an open communication, you may better off not involving grandparents in taking care of your baby. Adding a baby to your relationship with your parents will only complicate the situation 10 times more. Somehow, when a matter involves the well-being of a little baby who still can’t make any decision, everyone will be super “passionate” on their ideas. Conflicts and arguments are almost inevitable if you don’t have a healthy relationship to begin with.
  2. Do you have a very firm belief on certain parenting styles? If you’re not flexible in this aspect, you should seriously consider taking on the role of primary caregiver. No one in the world will be able to take care your baby exactly the way your want it. With a lot of new researches on child physiology, the best practice on how to raise a child has already dramatically changed from our parents’ generation. For us, we only communicate one specific requirement to our parents before enrolling baby Z to their day care – do not let baby Z have any screen time – TV, iPhone, iPad etc etc. And they truly respect that. My dad even said, “definitely no TV!! TV will hurt his eyes because his eyes are not fully developed yet!!” Alright, for me, there are another reasons to avoid TV, but if my dad says so, I comply. But if you have 100 rules that you would like grandparents to strictly obey, that may not work out the way your want it to be.
  3. Should this arrangement involve any monetary exchange? For some families, it’s unfair to grandparents if you do not pay them for taking care of grandchildren. For some families, it would be considered a taboo to involve direct monetary exchange between family members. Even if grandparents are not willing to take any money, you can find other ways to express your gratitude of their help. Instead of “paying” them, you can take care of the expenses when you are dining out together, or taking care of some of their monthly expenses, i.e., Internet, cables or grocery.
  4. Is it only one grandparent helping out? If it’s really only one grandparent every day as the primary caregiver, it can be very stressful and physically challenging for aging parents to help out with a baby no matter how willing they are. If taking care of baby will take a toll on grandparents’ health, it’s a big no no. For us, since we have two sets of grandparents, they actually take shifts to take care of baby Z so that no one will burn out.
  5. Try to take care of baby full time outside of your work hours. Your parents should have weekends and weeknights for themselves. After all, you are the parents and spend as much time as possible with your little ones. They definitely grow up fast.

While you may be a bit guilty to trouble your parents for taking care of your kids, rest assured that latest research actually shows that taking care of grandchildren linked with surprising health benefits.

Whenever I see my parents and baby Z together, I am always moved by how much joy baby Z brings to them. Their eyes sparkle and their mouths always carry big smiles. They loves him to pieces and have so much patient with him. At times, I seriously doubt if I’m less in love with baby Z than my parents. But Mr. G believes that we love baby Z with a clear mind but grandparents are simply crazy with baby Z!!

One time, I mentioned to my mother that it is good for baby Z to read daily as researches show reading helps baby to concentrates and pick up language faster. It was purely just chit chat with my mother, and I didn’t expect her to take any action. After all, in my whole life, I never saw my mother read anything. Couple days later, I found my mother putting baby Z on her lap and reading to him. That was really one of the most beautiful pictures in baby Z’s life.

Getting Ready for Parenthood

As a first time parents to be, Mr. G and I were very nervous about pregnancy, the labor and delivery (this is probably more on me as obviously Mr. G can’t really feel the pain), and the actual responsibility of being parents (with an eight months baby, we still can’t really grasp the scale and scope of the responsibility). Our focus was getting through the pregnancy without complication, carrying our baby to full term, eating healthy foods to give baby nutrition, and of course acquiring baby items. We started family later than a lot of our friends and family. Therefore, we were very fortunate to inherit a lot of baby items as well as a lot of tips and advice. Our version of the ultimate list of baby items can be shared on another post. But we would like to share one very important tip to get ready for parenthood that we wish someone had reminded us earlier.

Simplify and Streamline your Life.

This can mean different things to different couples. For some couples, it may mean freeing up time from their busy schedule or resolving existing relationship issues. In our case, de-clutterring and building habits to take care of house chores systematically would fit the bill. The clutter and the fact that we did not have a good system and schedule to tackle house chores (not to mention the new chores related to baby Z) really made the first few months with baby Z not as enjoyable as it could have been. And that also builds up stress daily. Think about the piles of paper that need to be properly scanned and filed. While I hates the many useless items at home, I simply couldn’t find the time to go through them for donations or re-purposing the items.

The tips and advice we got from friends and families emphasizes getting ready to take care of baby physically: sleeps training, breastfeeding, bathing, preventing diaper rashes etc etc. Those are important, don’t get me wrong. But for us, if we nailed down the house and managed our physical and computer spaces well before baby Z, we would be able to spend more quality time and eliminate some unnecessary stress for our first few months with our first baby.

Nevertheless, it’s never too late to start tiding things up and building up good habits, and that’s what Mr. G and I are working really hard on now!!