Moving across the US with two babies
by Kimberly Huebner
The last few months have been a blur. Uprooting our family of four plus our trusty dog from Denver, CO to Cincinnati, OH has had its benefits and downfalls. One may say we took a tumble down the mountains of Colorado and popped right back up the mole holes of Ohio.
Let me begin our epic moving story by providing a quick background of my family. My husband Ben and I have been together since undergrad when we met on a cruise ship during Spring Break (that’s a fun story we can explore another time). Ben took me from undergrad on the West Coast to Omaha, NE where he began his medical journey. Love can lead you places you never thought you’d go, folks. After four years of med school, his training to become a surgeon began in Cincinnati, OH. In a surprise turn of events we moved to Denver, CO mid-training for Ben to conduct trauma research…I was 8 months pregnant at the time. We welcomed not one but TWO babies in Denver during those two years, while surrounded by many family members from my husband’s side. This time we would be moving with an almost two-year-old boy and a four-month-old baby girl. Oh my!!
Huebner family in front of our home in Cincinnati two days after the move.
Now this wasn’t our first road trip with a baby in tow. My husband and I logged around 5000 miles with our son in April - May 2016 on a National Parks Tour, so I like to think I learned how to survive long periods of time in the car with a baby.
And so it began… My husband had the luxury of riding in our U-Haul with his brother. Adult music, no crying, and less frequent stops…Sounds like a vacation to me. My angel of a mother decided to cram into my Subaru with two babies and everything that entails for the three-day trek, while my always-loyal stepfather followed us in his Suburban pulling a trailer that acted as my personal breastfeeding mobile along the way. Oh, and he had the company of our dog plus their own two pups. When you look up caravan in the dictionary we would be the shining example.
I have to admit, I was very spoiled having my mother along for this car ride. She allowed me to drive the whole time while she tended to my children. Luckily my mother is quite agile for her age, because there was quite a lot of moving back and forth from the front seat to the tiny sliver of a middle seat left in between the two car seats. By day three we were road trip pros…or maybe we just thought we were because we hadn’t driven off a cliff …either way here are some tricks of the trade!
Rules of the Road Trip: The Mom Edition
- Have all the necessities on hand – DIAPERS, WIPES, BURP RAGS, CHANGE OF CLOTHES!!! My first stroke of genius hit me the night before our move. I filled up my trusty diaper caddy from The Good Baby with all of the essentials. This caddy saved us too many times to count. From blow-outs to spouts of car sickness, we were ready. The caddy is small enough to fit in between the front seat and the feet of the back seat but still big enough to encompass everything we needed in a well organized manner. It also makes all of your needs easily mobile for rest stops or in our case trailer stops.
- New toys, new snacks, new games – Imagine how bored you get on a road trip. Combine that feeling with a toddler’s energy and attention span…This equals one easily agitated little human! Have a go-to bag of things you little one hasn’t tried yet to liven things up on the road a bit. (i.e. holiday themed stickers, a fun low-choking hazard new snack, play I Spy)
- Don’t leave anything on top of your car, EVER – My husband and I learned this the hard way on our epic NP road trip… we lost Keen sandals, a sunshade for our Kelty backpack, etc. Guess who followed her own advice and didn’t lose anything to the highway during our move… this savvy Mama!
- For goodness sake use the i-Pad – I am all about limiting screen time. Before having children I was one of those people that said, “I will never shove an i-Pad in my child’s face to distract them.” Fast forward two years later and I have the i-Pad locked and loaded with all my son’s favorite mind numbing favorites and guess what? It saved us from blowing our brains out multiple times.
- Set a realistic intention for each leg of the trip – The most important thing is arriving to your destination safely. Although you may have mapped out three days it may take four. Re-evaluate each day based on the amount of sleep everyone got the night before, weather conditions, and your general sanity. I can’t tell you how many times Priceline saved us on the road when we needed a decent hotel in a hurry in an area we knew nothing about.
Amelia freshly changed using The Good Baby diaper caddy on the road during our most recent road trip this October.
Thanks to some solid preparations, useful tools, and what I believe to be spectacularly, well-adjusted kiddos we made it peacefully to the Queen City. Now the real test of surviving while raising two little ones with no extended family around and a father who is a slave to the hospital begins!
As some of you may know, Sam and I have twin two year olds (Ava and Eleanor) and a two month-old (Greta). Ava and Eleanor were pretty fussy babies (or maybe it was just that there were two of them). Either way, it lit a fire under us to quickly learn how to calm them before it got out of hand. Same goes for Greta now. With 3 kids that are constantly needing something, we need a few things ready to try to help calm Greta down before one of the twins hits the other and a single fuss turns into a trifecta of meltdowns. It's all a juggling act, isn't it mommas?
I have made a list of the 10 things Sam and I always try when we have a potential newborn meltdown situation.
I am getting the easy ones out of the way. I usually try this one first. The sucking reflex is extremely relaxing for newborns. If it’s been over an hour since baby last ate, she could be cluster feeding or going through a growth spurt. Either way, feed that sweet baby!
- Diaper change
Another easy one. Sometimes I will change Greta even if she’s not too wet. Something could be uncomfortable - the straps could be rubbing, the lining could be riding, etc.
- Skin to skin
I personally love this one! Strip baby down, take your shirt off, lay baby on your chest, and put a blanket over the two of you. It’s so great for your milk production, your heart and your baby’s connection with you. Babies and parents LOVE a good skin to skin session.
Another favorite of mine that works so well! Get a velcro swaddle and swaddle baby’s arms to his sides, super tight! Most babies will LOVE this. Bonus tip: sometimes we incorporate the “double swaddle.” Use a traditional swaddle with a lightweight blanket, then “double swaddle” with a velcro swaddle over the top.
I don't know what it is, but taking sweet baby Greta outside almost always makes her stop crying! Maybe it’s the sun shining in her eyes that takes her by surprise, or the wind that gently blows across her face that kind of 'wakes' her up. But ALWAYS try this one!
- Bicycle kicks
Sometimes babies get gassy. Holding his feet and pushing his legs like he is riding a bike can help pass some gas he may be holding in. Lovely thing it is being a mommy :)
This is my husband’s go-to. Even if it's been an hour since eating, he will pat baby’s backs until something happens. And usually it does. I think it’s a sympathy maneuver for Sam ;)
- Stroller or car ride
This was our “go-to” for our twins. When I was home alone with Ava and Eleanor and I couldn't hold them both, I would put them in the double stroller and push them around the block. When the weather didn’t cooperate, I pushed them around our house (desperate times!). Car rides are great to try, too! But sometimes the screaming baby in the back makes for a super-stressed driver.
- White noise
Get a white noise machine! Just do it. Or you can turn the vacuum on and stand right next to it. Or download a (free!) white noise app on your phone. If none of these are at your disposal, try putting your mouth right by your baby’s ear and shushing.
- Walk around
I never stopped walking when the twins were newborns (okay, I still don’t). They HATED when I would sit down. Especially when about 6:00 pm hit. I would just walk circles around the island in my kitchen.
There have been times where I have tried every single one of these and finally something works. It's all trial and error until they can communicate!
Guys, you are doing so great! Mommin' (and Daddin’) ain't easy. If you are reading how to help your baby, you are probably already doing a really awesome job.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good deal. Having twins opened so many deal opportunities, so many opportunities to save money!
Diapers are a costly necessity for babies. Some will argue that reusable diapers are the most frugal option, but we didn’t even consider it in anticipation of the craziness of being new parents. Here are a few tips to save money (and time!) on buying diapers.
1. Buy diapers on sale (duh.)
I’m an active user on SlickDeals.net. If you haven’t explored SlickDeals, I strongly recommend doing so. I also strongly recommend doing so with your wallet in another room. Buying something you don’t need, just because it is on sale, doesn’t save you any money. But you need diapers, so always scan SlickDeals for diaper deals. Always compare diaper sales on a cost per diaper basis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on SlickDeals, there are a lot of helpful members.
You’ll find that a lot of the deals require and Amazon Prime membership. If you don’t already have a membership, I recommend getting one. When things get crazy in your house (and they will), having diapers delivered to your door is an incredible convenience.
Pro tip: Set an alert for Pampers, Huggies, Up & Up, “diapers”.
2. Stock up before your baby arrives
Now some of you might not agree with this one, but hear me out. Emergency diaper runs are expensive. You don’t have time to compare costs. You buy a small pack (even more expensive) to hold you over until they go on sale. We were guilty of this, and we paid for it. When our girls were using Pamper’s Swaddlers, we paid a whopping $.2803 a diaper on an emergency run, compared to the $.1441/diaper we paid on sale. That’s almost 2x as expensive.
If you are going to follow this piece of advice, here is a rough idea of how many diapers each of our daughters used the first 9ish months of their life:
- Size N: 190 (+ more at the hospital). Keep in mind that our girls were born early at ~6 lbs. Singleton babies will require MUCH less Newborn diapers (if any at all). I recommend getting one pack initially.
- Size 1: 290
- Size 2: 225
- Size 3: >400. I stopped keeping track here, but my girls were in Size 3 for a long time.
- Size 4: >500. Same situation as Size 3, it feels like the girls have been in Size 4 forever.
- Wipes: We went through more than 1,500 for each baby during the first 9 months. Don’t be afraid to stock up. We had good luck with Pampers, Huggies, Amazon brand and Kirkland.
Pro tip: Stock up on wipes, too (when they go on sale!!).
Bonus pro tip: Take all the diapers you can from the hospital. You are already paying for them, you might as well bring them home!
3. Try different brands (in small quantities)
A wise mother (mine, to be exact) told me that every new parent makes the mistake of buying the cheapest diapers once. But it is a mistake they only make once. It’s painful to have to throw away or give away diapers because your baby got diaper rash from them or had blowout after blowout. But that’s how you learn.
We started with Pamper’s Swaddlers. They are the Cadillac of diapers, and they are more expensive. But they are a great starting point, because I’ve never heard of parents having issues with them. We moved the girls to Pamper’s Baby Dry when they were Size 2. We then moved them to the even cheaper Up & Up brand diapers when they were Size 3. We have only had great experiences with Target’s Up & Up diapers, we only wish we would have tried them sooner! That being said, every baby is different so I recommend trying small packs of cheaper diapers to see if they work for you.
A brief review of some brands we tried:
- Huggies Snug & Dry – We mostly used these in the hospital when the girls were born. They worked well when the girls were really young, but we’ve had issues with blowouts when we used them more recently.
- Pamper’s Swaddlers – See my comments above. I consider these the best your money can buy, but they might be a little overkill.
- Pamper’s Baby Dry – We used these for a long time as they are much cheaper than Swaddlers. We never had any issues with them. They do not have the wet stripe like the Swaddlers, but we never missed it because we change the girls’ diapers regularly.
- Target Up & Up – Our new “go-to” for diapers. Cheap and effective. We have never had issues with blowouts or diaper rash.
- Kirkland – We love everything Kirkland, but (sadly) we haven't tried their diapers. We will probably try them in the near future because we've heard good things.
- Parents’ Choice – Stay away if you can. We had some gifted to us, so we tried them once. Never again…
Pro tip: Dad’s – throw a diaper party. I’ve seen guys do this around a sporting event (Super Bowl, March Madness, etc.) and set the entry fee at one (or more) packs of diapers.
I'm sure we are missing some valuable tips, so please comment below with your tips for new parents!