Diapers down and dirty

I consider myself an expert in diapers having changed most of them for both kids, using both reusables and disposables, and having tried almost every brand under the sun. Oh and having dealt with my fair share of poop explosions, leaks, and other baby bowel related disasters. Here’s the nitty gritty, down and dirty:

 

 

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REUSABLE DIAPERS:

I tried so many brands including Charlie Banana, Grovia, and other popular ones, and I tried sized ones and one-sized ones too. I have to say, personally I am not a big fan.

Skin Problems:

For both my kids they only got diaper rashes with reusables, and boy did they get rashes. It was so bad that the skin would come off and it was raw and bleeding for days after I switched to disposables. When their skin got better I would go back to reusables but I found that on average, after a few days I would have to switch back again.

The Smell Factor:

I tried keeping them in those washable airtight bags that you can buy for reusables and I found that keeping them in a bucket with lid was the best for keeping the smell at bay. I also had to rinse them before soaking in the bucket with Vanish (a stain removing chemical) because otherwise the ammonia smell was way too pungent. Even after all that prep though, man oh man every time I opened the lid to throw another one in, I would get hit with that smell. And then I had to smell them for a couple minutes while I wrung each one dry and loaded them into the washing machine.  I think above everything, the smell is what put me off cloth diapers for good. You also have to rinse the poo off in the toilet which is pretty nasty business. I know some people who told me they just dump the whole bag straight into the washing machine without any handling whatsoever- yeah tried that, didn’t go so well. I found that skipping these steps just didn’t cut it. Don’t believe me? Try for yourself what works. But whoever tells you that you will keep your hands and nose clean? They’re lying- unless you are wearing gloves and a face mask every time you handle them.

The Environmental Impact:

You are doing loads more laundry that if you are using disposables so you are kind of affecting the environment either way- arguably less so than diapers in a landfill though, will give you that. I am trying my best to embrace a zero waste lifestyle and make the environment and climate change a priority, but I will say that the diaper thing is the hardest to let go of for me. I keep thinking yes, I will do that, for everything else I promise. And I tried,  I really tried, with both kids. I just can’t anymore. Even my husband can’t stand the smell and he is barely even here.

Time and cost:

You don’t really think about it, but you actually spend way more time with cloth diapers, all those extra minutes rinsing and washing add up. Time is money people. Also you think you save money with them, but they’re actually very expensive, and are way more leaky than disposable so you end up doing way more other laundry besides that- bedsheets, clothes… And laundry is time and money that you may not necessarily factor in. So unless you use them for the long run, often it can be more expensive to try this because of the initial cost. Something to consider. Also if you do buy, get the one sized and maybe some xs for until they grow enough to fit the smallest setting. Even better though, use disposables in NB size until they get big enough because newborn poop is super hard to wash off.

DISPOSABLE DIAPERS:

I found that personally the brand doesn’t matter much- they generally don’t leak if you change them at least every few hours. I always go for the cheapest ones. And compared to reusables, they are a dream. Especially for overnight it saves you a lot of time and headache because doing all the bed sheets and covers is a pain in the arse. That being said, you should definitely buy some waterproof bed sheets because cleaning a mattress is even more of a pain in the arse, and generally not even possible (we tried and eventually ours went mouldy and we had to chuck it). Be careful though on a day out when you get carried away and forget to change their diapers for like hours and hours- we’ve all been there (or maybe just me?). After they get really full, they will tear and little gel balls that absorb all the pee will come out and get all stuck in your baby’s nether parts. It’s generally really nasty and shocking and hard to get out. Happened to me once, shocked me so bad it has never happened again. I looked it up, happens with all the diapers, not just the cheap ones that I used, so beware. Signs to look for: if you haven’t changed them in ages and you see the diaper sag so badly that it’s going to fall off and it looks like they’re swinging a bowling ball between their legs as they walk? Yeah time to change that baby lickety spit. Oh and always bring a set of extra clothes, or at the very least an extra pair of pants/shorts and a zip lock bag to carry the dirty clothes home in case of an accident. It always happens when you least expect it. One thing though, when you buy wipes, don’t go el cheapo- the cheap ones have a weird texture and are ineffective. I found Huggies wipes to be generally found everywhere, fairly affordable, and wipe effectively. They are sooo good at cleaning, I occasionally use them to clean the floor. Somehow it’s very satisfying to watch them turn black- none of my actual floor wipes seem to work quite as well.

So in conclusion, based on my personal experience I recommend disposable diapers for your convenience and sanity. To me it was worth it. I do feel a little guilty for the trash aspect, but I try to use less by changing them only when they are really full or when there is poop. It’s only for a few years and I can make up for it later. For a while I made a compromise and only used one per night and only when going out for the day, but I had to draw the line with the awful rashes. For me, baby safety and health are paramount, so I stopped using them because that kept happening. Remember, it’s your kid, your wallet, your day, and your decision. If people judge you or heck, if you judge yourself for taking the easy way, you can choose to ignore it and do it anyway. What’s important for you determines what you should do. Hope these tips help!

 

 

 

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Soul Full Buckle Review

I have tried nearly every type of carrier under the sun and although I haven’t found one that I’m 100% satisfied with, Soul comes pretty darn close. I have the imperial jacquard full buckle in standard size. I picked this carrier predominantly to carry my 1 year old through winter but I am still using it this summer as she hasn’t yet grown into the toddler size. The fabric is thicker, warmer, and heavier than pretty much any other in their range, but it’s not suffocating even in this warm weather. I chose the imperial also for the pattern. It’s dark and classy, and instantly dresses up whatever I’m wearing. It was papa’s favorite pattern also- the only one we agreed on together. It provides great cushioning for the baby’s under thighs and mama’s shoulders, though I find the waist band cushioning a bit lacking in length. The strap that goes over the waist padding digs into flesh where the padding stops. That’s a minor issue, but there is one major issue that I’ve found with all my Soul carriers is that the straps slide in the buckles at an angle and get twisted up nearly every time I tighten. Every single strap without exception, which makes tightening by myself very difficult. I check all the straps to make sure they are on the right way before putting on the carrier and tighten very very carefully and slowly. This takes a bit of time and I won’t lie, it’s pretty annoying. That said, the fabric, design, and price point of the carrier are phenomenal so I would still highly recommend this carrier. I have given this feedback to Soul and I believe they are looking into how to fix the strap problem already as several customers have commented on the same thing. Also note that shipping and tax can be expensive, and since they are a relatively new brand they don’t have retailers in a lot of places. The retailers they do have charge the same price as ordering directly from them and paying the extra tax and shipping. I paid about 30% of the price of the product in shipping plus tax to Hong Kong, just to give you an idea. It does become more cost effective to order a few things, but not too many as shipping goes up astronomically after a certain threshold. They have loads of lovely accessories. I can spend hours drooling over their carriers and other products. It actually took me hours to even decide on this carrier because I had sooo many must haves on their site. I have since ordered again and again more products as I couldn’t resist. This was my first purchase on Soul and it remains my favorite. As I said the fabric is gorgeous, light, and supportive as it was made to be a woven wrap. They are the only brand that does wrap conversion full buckles at this accessible a price point and it really is a game changer for babywearing. I hope you will give this brand a try!

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Papa Babywearing Power

Grana Review

So a while ago I went to a yoga event in Hong Kong that Grana held to introduce their new line of activewear called Grana Move and I have been in love with their clothes ever since. I have replaced my entire wardrobe with their clothes and have almost every women’s item in their store. Even my husband wears their activewear shirts religiously for yoga every day. I am a busy mama so I will be posting photos of individual products later when I can figure out how, as I am terrible at selfies. So please excuse the rather wordy review- you will just have to trust me for now.

GRANA ACTIVEWEAR

Let’s start with the activewear leggings. I love the feel of fabric and the support it gives, especially for my post-birth muffin top. The high waist keeps everything in without squeezing. I would say it’s like a warm comforting hug. I have both the 3/4 length and full length leggings in large and for a petite person like me (I’m 5″2), the 3/4 length is pretty good as it stops above the ankle. The full length I need to get hemmed. I love the price point and the quality that you get for it. Note: the fabric for the port and black colours are thinner and more cooling than the grey, teal, and rose. Personally I would say two improvements on this product for me would be complimentary hemming like lululemon does for full length leggings would be a great bonus, and way less seams. The leggings have a bunch of seams that presumably make the fabric hug you in a more technical way but my experience is that the seams start to pill almost right away and they are a bit annoying and uncomfortable. I am a big fan of the minimalism of say some of lululemon’s yoga pants that just have an inseam- i.e. only where absolutely necessary to hold the fabric together. That said, for quality price point ratio Grana wins, and they look great for this mama bod.

Continuing on the subject of Grana activewear,  the crossback sports bra makes my boobs looks amazing. It supports the post-breastfeeding mama boobs in all the right ways, making them once again the youthful plums they once were. I even wear this bra with normal clothes because it creates cleavage par excellence. Beware that the crossback part moves and tends to ride up during exercise, making the straps choke uncomfortably on the back of the neck. I was constantly re-adjusting them but then I hacked it by sewing the cross firmly in place where I needed it. Also, the bra pads tend to ride up over the edges of the front part of the bra which creates an unattractive different colored semi-circle over the v-neck. Again I had to hack this by either removing the padding or sewing it firmly in place near the armpits. My advice with both leggings and bra is to size up. I did (usually I am a medium for Grana clothes) and it was STILL on the small side.

I tried on the rest of the activewear line at the fitting room and personally I recommend going with the above two options. Especially unflattering was the racerfront crop top and racerback tank top as the front was cut way narrow, meaning your shoulders look immensely broad which works in my opinion only if you are very lanky and tall like a model. What I would love to see is a loose top sports bra combo like at lululemon for more tummy and/or shoulder coverage but with the bra still being almost fully visible. Right now, with my far from perfect abs, I finish off my sports bra always with a low cut loose or sheer t-shirt. But as I said, I wear Grana activewear A LOT and it’s great for both actual sports and for running after your kids outside which is arguably also a sport. I own a lot of Grana silk clothing which I will go into next, but I don’t muck around with the kids in it as it’s more troublesome to clean. The activewear is comfy. I don’t worry about dirtying it, and it makes me look hot. AND, it costs less than half the price of most popular activewear brands. I kind of like that there are just a few colors and options, so it’s not such an excruciating decision process. Just simple solid colors in classic cuts. And this goes for the entire Grana range, not just activewear.

As a final note on Grana activewear, as I said my husband LOVES their men’s active crew neck tee. It’s not form fitting which he likes, because his other technical shirts are too hugging and he feels only comfortable wearing them as undershirts. The colors and cut are classic and flattering and the fabric feels great on him. As with the women’s, the fabric varies by color: the blue and black are thinner and more cooling than the grey.

GRANA SILK

I discovered the beauty of silk with Grana and I will be eternally grateful to Grana for introducing this material to me at an amazing quality and affordable price point. I either tried on or bought almost every single silk item available on Grana and I have to start this section by naming my favorites: the silk culottes and the silk v-neck camisole. These two are the backbone of my wardrobe, and I own nearly every color available. These are both in georgette satin which I prefer to the crepe de chine that is used in most of the other Grana styles in silk- you can check the fabric in the description of the product. The satin is smoother, not as sheer and delicate, and thicker. Be careful with matching as both the look and feel of crepe and satin are substantially different. I had ordered a cap sleeve top which is my favorite cut with the culottes of the same color, but put together it looked odd as the material was different. I am hoping that Grana will offer the cap sleeve in satin one day as it provides more shoulder coverage. The v-neck camisole is very low cut with thin straps so I tried wearing it without a bra which didn’t work out as my nipples were very clearly visible despite the double layer of satin silk. I had to buy bras with matching bra straps for each of these tops that I own, but now they look amazing. I was able to find the perfect bras for these at uniqlo, one in each color EXACTLY. The bra is wireless beauty light and it feels and looks amazing. So for me, that was the saving grace with these tops because my husband was about to forbid me from continuing to wear them as men were constantly staring. Phew. The silk culottes are meant to hit the ankle but as I am petite, they are perfect as full length wide-legged pants. They are extremely flattering to my build as my legs are standard to short length in relation to my torso, and tight pants tend to make my legs look shorter.  And as a beautiful added bonus, they are breezy and have an elastic waistband so they are cooling in the humidity and don’t cinch my muffin top even after a meal. I do own the silk ankle pants in white, since I am a huge fan of white and they don’t have it in the satin version. I find the silk ankle pants cut unflattering and the crepe is as I said, too sheer, but I kept them because white is a great summer color and goes with everything so it’s my go to pick for easy matching. I don’t tend to wear black or navy in summer because those colors absorb way too much sunlight and I bake in them. I do like the silk v-neck slip dress as it’s the dress version of my favorite Grana silk top, but I don’t like the billowy silhouette. It would be nice to have a waist on it like their tailored silk dress. I also own the silk classic shirt in both off white and black which I use as an outer layer, sort of like a light cardigan for air conditioned restaurants.  It looks even more flattering when cinched with a belt and it’s versatile because you can use it for more formal situations like the office or the opera (neither of which I am attending at the moment, but you never know what the future holds). It’s much more affordable than the silk blazer and not as long, so it’s my pick for a silk outer layer. It is crepe, which is not ideal for me, but for lack of a better alternative…. I would love it if Grana would make the silk shirt in the cut of the binky blouse with puffed long sleeves and boatneck. I think that cut/style is gorgeous. I have their silk pyjamas in rose beige both shorts and short sleeve shirt because I am petite and the long pyjamas are too long for me. It would be great if they made a 3/4 version of the pyjamas both for top and bottom. I do love to wear the pyjama top just like a regular top as well. The black trim gives it a more dressed up look and emphasises the cut. I am kind of in love with their blossom/rose, cool grey, and stone blue silk colors. I like the silk tank a lot, even though it’s in crepe de chine, it’s very flattering and a great piece for layering. Size down on that one. I am usually medium but I wear a small. Don’t really like the concept of crop top for mama bods because it tends to showcase the muffin top so I don’t recommend that cut at all. On my wishlist is to try their silk cashmere, though I am less a fan of the sweater and more a fan of the cardigan. They currently only have merino in cardigan form though. Merino and cashmere make me itch so I would love to see more selection for layering in silk cashmere or cotton. The silk blazer looks lovely but it’s significantly more expensive than the other options so I’m holding off on that for now. Similarly, I love the breton stripe limited edition, but my preferred cut is boat neck, 3/4 sleeve, and fitted like Kate Middleton’s fave shirts so I haven’t bought it because the price is also much higher than their other other comparable sweaters.  I hope they will make the Kate Middleton version of breton stripe in silk cashmere or even in pima cotton, which brings us to the next fabric. I think I might get the grey silk cashmere boyfriend crew or v-neck next to try. I’ll let you know later. One last note about the silk- it IS a very delicate fabric and wrinkles easily so you have to hand wash it, DO NOT wring dry, and steam it which is a bit of a pain for busy mamas. So be warned, but Grana has a great post on how to care for your silk so please please read that before you buy and again before you attempt to do anything to it. I read it once and thought I remembered everything, then I accidentally wrung dry and ruined it so there you go. Read it again before washing- can’t hurt.

PIMA COTTON

I have the pima crew neck t-shirt in all my favorite colors, and they’re alright, though I am not a huge fan of the high neck line and the tee is a tad too long for me. That said, they are a good solid base and comfy for every day use. However I have found comparable t-shirts at a lower price point in fast fashion so not sure that it’s worth it to get these from Grana. Size down on this one. I also have the modal slouchy tee which is soft and comfy but HUGE and only stretched huger with use, so I don’t recommend it unless you size way down.

That said, I have their oversized long sleeve tee in white with navy stripes and that is both comfy and gorgeous. Completely worth it! The cotton feels thinner and lighter, possibly because it doesn’t have the stiff uncomfortable neckline of the crew neck and the pattern/cut is flattering. It’s good for summer because it’s so light and airy but gives you good coverage for sun or air conditioning. It’s my favorite piece in Grana pima cotton hands down. I only wish as I said before, that they would make a fitted version of this in 3/4 sleeve, boatneck, and breton style or with the sleeve stripe starting at the shoulder.  Next up, jeans.

DENIM

I have tried both the Japanese and Turkish versions in high and regular rise,  and I have to say, the Turkish denim high-rise cropped skinny jeans are the clear winner. I have it in white and it’s amazing. The length hits just like a full length for my petite legs. Silky smooth, soft like butter, more luxurious than any pair of jeans I have ever slipped on. It’s a bit stretchy so I would size down on this one. For example for the Japanese Denim in high waist I have to wear 29 but a 29 in Turkish is too big. This one is a must have for summer. If only they would get this in black the collection would be complete. Nuff said. Get one and try, you won’t regret it.

UNDERWEAR

I have their lace triangle bra and lace brief in red. The hubs and I are very happy with the set. It is red hot french style in our bedroom, whoo-ee! The light pink looks washed out unless you have dark skin and I already own too many pieces of black lingerie so I went with red which stands out nicely. I own a few of the Italian sensitive briefs and they’re pretty nice. Overall I think Grana underwear is nice and good quality but price point and quality wise I have found cheaper and similar quality in fast fashion outlets like uniqlo. Similarly with lingerie the quality and design are great but I have found other similar ones at the same or lower price point. Perk by Kate online has some kick-ass lingerie as well if you’re looking to expand your repertoire. The bodysuit by Grana I got it in black, size down on this one, it’s pretty loose on me. Not particularly flattering and the neckline is too high in the front for my liking, BUT it’s great if you squat down in skinny jeans to scoop up your kids, you don’t show the top of your butt cheeks by accident. Don’t you hate it when that happens?! I do like their simple black one piece scoop back swimsuit, been meaning to try it but waiting for it to be back in stock. Also need to have their silk sleeveless shirt in white but again waiting for it to be back in stock. My advice? If you see what you like, grab it because it sells out and then it’s gone, especially in popular styles and colors. If you are dissatisfied you can also return or exchange it later, they give you 30 days. I have to say, their customer service is great and I LOVE that they call themselves the Cheetahs. I had some detailed feedback I wanted to give and they referred me to their product department which they called the Unicorns. How amazing is that? I’m a sucker for names and empowering employees with rocking names is just the coolest thing in my book. Good service is hard to find in Hong Kong and I have to say, the cheetahs rock it!

I hope you DO take the plunge and try out Grana for yourself if you haven’t already discovered it and I hope you enjoy these clothes as much as I do. Once you go Grana you never go back! And they do have good customer service. I have given them some feedback on their products and service and they seem willing to accept it so I hope to see even more great things on their site in the future.

Use this link to shop, get a discount, and help me to continue to fund my Grana wardrobe. Cheers mamas!

Here is the link address again: https://www.grana.com/r/42418/

Bath time

I love bath time. It is hands down, in my opinion the best “easy” way to spend quality time bonding with the kiddos. You just have to sit there and smile and enjoy a bath while the kids giggle and splash. AND it gets them ready to go down for bed. I fill the bath with non toxic bubbles and toys and they are happy for the next half hour or so. Now for some advice on bath time.

Word of caution: Do NOT buy squeezable bath toys second hand, and if you really must, clean them very thoroughly first. I got a shocker when I took a bath with my kids and our “new” bath toys. After a few minutes in the bath there were nasty green black mouldy bits floating around. Nasty. Tried to clean them but there was so much build up that they were impossible to completely clean. Bought new ones. Fast forward a few months I got tired of cleaning them after every bath (it’s super time consuming and you have to upkeep the cleaning or you will end up with the too much build up situation). My husband suggests we throw them all away and I agreed. Conclusion? Just don’t buy squeezable bath toys if you can avoid it. There are plenty of other bath toys that you can clean easily. Store in a hangable mesh bag so that you can just throw everything in there after the bath to air dry and you are good to go for next time.

Another good thing to keep in mind is that bath tubs are super slippery so make sure you put a suctioned bath mat inside so your kids don’t fall and bump their heads. Make it a habit to take it out right after bathing and hang dry because again mould tends to build up under and around the suctions and then you can basically throw it away because it’s impossible to clean after 1 day of not letting it dry properly. Same with the shower curtain if you have one. I hang it up high during bath time so it doesn’t get pulled in and get sopping wet but it’s important to pull it out so it can air dry after every shower and bath to avoid mould buildup. In Hong Kong , even if you are super careful to hang everything and allow air to dry things out, air by itself is not enough. To tackle this, I put the dehumidifier in the bathroom at least once a week with all the cabinet doors open and the window closed so that I can suck out the remaining moisture. If your husband (or anyone else) likes to take super steamy showers, you should consider dehumidifying every day. There are a lot of simple steps and habits like airing stuff out that can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run that you would have spent on cleaning.

Another tip is if you have an electric water heater in the bath room that you can turn on and off you should turn it on when you need it and turn it off afterwards as a habit if you want to save on your electricity bill. It is a significant consumer of energy if left on constantly.

I only recently moved into an apartment with a spacious and lovely bath tub and let me tell you, one of my biggest regrets is not having had one since the minute I got pregnant. I would say this is something to keep in mind when apartment hunting if you are even thinking about having kids.

Happy bathing!

 

Making kickass Hummus- a must have snack for hungry little buggers

So I already had a batch of hummus in my fridge, which is basically a staple in our household. Makes a great healthy snack. Then I came across a new recipe on theflexiblechef.com, hummus with sun-dried tomato! My husband and daughter LOVE sun-dried tomatoes. Like LOVE them so much, they both gobble them down. We then save the oil and use it on everything like a sauce until it runs out. So I happen to have a jar on the counter (and 10 more stashed in my cabinet), so I think, why not, let’s add it in and blend. AMAZING. What a combo of flavours. Highly recommend.

The other thing I found with hummus recipes is that the product tends to be quite dry. If your hummus is dry don’t be afraid to add some ice to fluff it up, or a little filtered water, then blend again. If you keep adding oil it will get a bit toooo oily. I did that a few times.

I rarely have random fresh ingredients at home because I’m a busy mom and stuff tends to go bad. So I improvise A LOT and it still turns out great. I want to share some tips with you about how to make hummus on the fly with minimal hassle. Ok- don’t have lemon juice? I always have a jar of apple cider vinegar lying around as a health drink that you can use for loads of different things (google it) that you can substitute. Failing that, you can use plain white vinegar that you have for washing greens and cleaning the house. Don’t have any fresh parsley? Keep a well stocked spice and herb shelf and substitute the dried one. I always add some red pepper flakes and black pepper for extra spice and flavour. In Asia, tahini is expensive and not always available, so I substitute either Japanese Goma (sesame) salad dressing or just actual white sesame blended. Don’t have garlic? Use the powder. Have garlic but it’s about to spoil? Mince and keep it submersed in oil in the fridge for when you need to use it, and scoop out with a spoon as needed.

Ooooh and random side note, bananas are also a great healthy snack staple that tends to go bad in a split second and come on, we can’t be always making banana bread and banana pancakes…peel those babies, fill up a tupperware with them and freeze. They can always be blended into green smoothies or made into vegan ice cream later!

And here’s the really awesome secret that makes your hummus soooo much more delish. Toast some sesame seeds and pine nuts in the oven or in a pan (careful to monitor them very very carefully because they burn almost right away- happened to me so many times when I got distracted). Reserve some sun-dried tomato oil and put it with the nuts, seeds, and spices on top of the final product and it will taste amazing.

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And another side note on blenders, food processors, baby food makers etc. I have tried them all, and IMO the best purchase you can make in Hong Kong for a reasonable price is the hand blender. You can get one at Fortress or any appliance store and it comes with a million attachments (including food processor, measuring cup, and whip). It’s cheap (around 300 hkd or less for a basic one), easy to clean, and takes up virtually no space. Of course if you can afford it, have a beautiful and large countertop, and have lofty needs, the Vitamix or a powerful blender like that will be more effective most certainly. I blend soups, make baby food, smoothies, hummus, pancake batter, whipped cream, you name it, I make it all with my hand blender and it works out pretty well.

Lastly, if you live in Hong Kong and you are reading all the way to the end, here is your reward. Top tip: you can buy really great and really cheap canned chickpeas, spices, herbs, goma dressing, and sun-dried tomatoes in glass jars at the discount store 759.

Mom bags

So today’s theme is what to do about the diaper bag situation. I found that buying a special “diaper bag” is kind of a waste of money. I’ve had all manner of mom bags and today you are in for a treat. I had the super expensive skip hop one that clips onto the stroller handles and includes a diaper changing mat, which is pretty handy, but do these features merit the hefty price tag and weight? IMO no. Key things to look for in a bag:

  1. Zips closed so stuff doesn’t fall out.
  2. When open, stays open so that you can see and reach everything inside with little to no manoeuvring required. Picture an old school doctor bag.
  3. Lightweight. You are already carrying a child, believe me, every ounce counts.
  4. Sturdy material. Don’t get something flimsy that will tear or come apart. Waterproof on the outside a plus and machine washable is important. Get a neutral dark colour with a pattern so stains are not so noticeable. And don’t get too attached to it because permanent stains do happen, on most EVERYTHING.
  5. Stick with a backpack that preferably has a feature that can clip onto a stroller handle. There is nothing more annoying than a bag that keeps slipping off your shoulder, or a cross-body bag that slides around and gets in the way. This is key.
  6. It’s helpful to have bag organiser with compartments that you can insert inside. You can buy those separately, but get one that is sturdy and has firm walls, otherwise the compartments will very quickly squish down into nothing and you will pretty much just throw it away. I bought a cheap one that did just that.
  7. Just remember that you don’t just need diaper stuff. There are loads of things that I kept forgetting so the best way to keep track is to make packing lists on your phone for every occasion and just do a last minute check before leaving the house. Take some time to make all the lists in one sitting. Here is my every day list for example: diapers, wipes, a small towel for drying their bums, change mat, bib for drooling, bib for eating, sippy cup or bottle (milk or pump if needed), baby spoon, an extra set of clothes, a few zip lock bags for wet and dirty stuff, socks for you and baby (indoor playgrounds require them),  blanket (clips for the stroller if you have them) and pillow for a/c environment and nap time, reusable shopping bags (you never know if you can squeeze in a trip to the store and they ALWAYS come in handy for throwing miscellaneous excess things that you can’t stuff back in your main bag), stroller rain cover if the weather looks iffy and stroller liner for hot weather if applicable, small lightweight umbrella, baby carrier (even if you have a stroller sometimes you need it to put baby to sleep or if they are fussing and you need to carry them with your hands free), tissues, healthy snacks and or packets of baby food, running shoes for the kids (if they are in the carrier sometimes you forget), a bottle of water, small fan, sunscreen and bug spray, and lastly all your adult essentials (coin purse, wallet, keys, phone).
  8. Whew, that was a lot of stuff just for a typical day. If you think that was a lot, you should see my beach checklist…Lastly I want to share with you what I did because I found a bag that met most of my criteria at a very reasonable cost. I bought a knock off anello backpack (japanese brand) for 60 hkd. I bet if you were better at bargaining than I am you could get it cheaper. I took the fake label off and sewed on some pompoms and fabric flowers to make it my own. All of these things including the bag were purchased in the streets of Sham Shui Po. Take a look. I hope this inspires you to look for a mom bag that is right for you, or if you can’t find one, improvise. Good luck! 13936595_10157214234960048_1771624467_n (1).jpg

Coping with forgetfulness and subsequent panic

I used to have a near photographic memory and I am a perfectionist in certain ways. I am very particular about things and I obsess over stuff that I can’t remember or things that I may have lost and I find it extremely difficult to let go of worries and recurring thoughts. Since I got pregnant for the first time, my memory has steadily gone downhill and it was and continues to be one of my greatest sources of frustration. Here is what I found helped me cope with it. When I get a worry and obsessive thought, write it in my calendar. If I can’t address it the following day, I move it and move it, like a snooze button.But at least if it’s written down (or if I have no hands, record it with my phone onto a note or task list to deal with), then I can let it go. I delete it once I take care of it. I also find it extremely helpful also to put the highlights of what you are doing any given day in your online calendar. So that if you are trying to check something you at least have an inkling of what went on that day. I mean as a mum I don’t have time to write diary entries but when I have a moment I insert what happened that day if I remember- key events that I know I might obsess over later. For instance, I might wake up in a panic thinking, oh did I forget to submit my daughter’s application on time? Um bam, open google calendar and check: I put “submitted school application” on the calendar. Now I can relax and go back to sleep. Score!

Be meticulous and keep records of everything and organise it timely. I know I was just advocating the KonMari method that advises throwing away all your useless paper work because it brings you no joy, but if I can’t find something it stresses me out, so if you’re like me, file everything away but in a very organised fashion. I have started to carry around a zip lock with me where I keep all my receipts for the month, and I insert each receipt on top of the last so that it’s all in chronological order. Then I have an event in my calendar every month telling me to check my statements and discard the receipts. Of course, there are apps for this, but I recommend this method because with kids on hand you barely have time to shove the receipt somewhere, let alone enter something into your phone on the go. If I don’t have time to put it in the zip lock bag I just shove it in a designated spot in my purse to be dealt with later that evening. Download your bank statements when they come out and save them on a cloud drive where you will remember where they are in case you have a panic moment about something finance related. I just had one a few nights back where I was like, “Did we ever get our deposit back from our apartment 2 years ago or did my husband assume I checked and I assumed he checked? Arghh!” And I found that we deleted or threw away paperwork that was “over and done with”. Well believe me, I wished I had kept better records just so that I can check and ease my mind about stuff. Not to say that you are as obsessive as me, but I find that since becoming a parent I have so many panic attacks about messing up or forgetting something that keeping records and organising your stuff is gold. Everything has to be put away logically, like thing with like thing. Before you put something away, you have to think, where does this live? And make sure your partner and any other adult putting things away in your house is on board. This is really important. I have spent days, weeks looking for stuff, and trust me, it’s frustrating not to be able to find something when you actually need it.

My husband really wanted me to get into using the app Toshl for keeping track of finances and in principle I think it’s great, it was just too hard for me to implement, see above. I  use plastic as much as possible because it’s easier to keep track of. But Hong Kong is largely a cash bases society so when I do have to resort to cash I keep track of the cash flow in my wallet because I tend to panic about this stuff too. I have a note in my phone with plus or minus cash transactions with date and purchase item and the new balance that is in my wallet so I know how much I have in there and the expenses I make that are not trackable via statements. I find this really useful and simple. The latest balance is on top going back all the way to when I started keeping a record. And yes, I realise my methods probably sound like a granny’s for all you younger generation people but I find it works fabulously.

I learn from my mistakes and panic attacks. After every time I brainstorm a way to improve my methods to see what I can do better so that it won’t happen again. Of course there will be other problems, other things I cannot foresee. But it makes me feel better to deal with what I have on hand. I feel really proud when I use my creative thinking to problem solve even mundane things. Just like when you apologise to someone, you acknowledge what you did, the effect it had on the other person, that you’re sorry, ask them what you can do to make them feel better, and lastly what can you pay attention to in the future so that you won’t hurt them again.  That last step is important. You will make mistakes again, but hopefully of a different nature.

And finally, no matter how much you try to streamline and improve your organisation and record keeping, sometimes you just can’t check or solve all the problems that are in your head. That is when you make the important step of acknowledging the thing you are obsessing about (it helps to write it down in your actual journal) and mentally let it go. The serenity prayer works well in this situation. Repeat like a mantra with your breath: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” Exhale let that sh*t go…