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Working Mama 101: What to Pack for Daycare + How Not to Run Late in the Morning {Our Family Roost Style}

as promised last week in my post all about the adjustment to being a working, pumping and breastfeeding mama, i’m back to share two lists of sorts: a list of what we pack for Q for daycare {and, to keep it equal, what we pack for L as well} and a list of morning and evening “farm chores” {thanks for the term, Emily Ley!} that Jord and i have taken on to ease the task of our mornings of getting two parents and two kiddos out the door.

first up, a little background: when i was prepping to return to work, i Googled my heart out to find out what items that parents are sending with their babies and kiddos to daycare. as i’ve mentioned before, i was an at-home Mama with L for the first fourteen months of his life, which means that when it came time to send four-month-old Q to daycare, i was at a loss of what to pack in a diaper bag for him {apart from the essentials like diapers and wipes, of course}.

what’s interesting, though, is that despite my Google-loving heart, i wasn’t really able to track down a list of “what to bring to daycare” that proved helpful. so, i’m hear to share my own list, which has about five-ish weeks of trial-and-error success:

here’s what you’ll find in Q’s diaper bag {which, for the record, is this one from Thirty One Gifts, which i LOVE because it’s HUGE}:

  • diapers {we’re using Pampers Swaddlersright now for Q; instead of bringing in diapers every day or every week, we send about half of a large box (probably around 70-80 diapers) whenever he needs them}
  • wipes {we’re big fans of the Pampers Sensitive wipes with the pop-top}
  • extra clothes {since Q is still in the diaper-blowout stage of nursing – two words: loose stools {eww!}, i send two onesies, two pairs of pants, and a pair of socks}
  • a blanket {since we live in South Dakota, we typically send a fuzzy + warm blanket along with Q each week}
  • SwaddleMe swaddle with Velcro{we LOVED these with L, and we are still big fans now that Q’s wearing them!}
  • at least three bibs {apart from the consistent drooling that Q is doing now at nearly five months old, Q is also a bit of a spitter after he nurses or takes a bottle, so having extra bibs on hand is key}
  • a burp cloth or two {see above}
  • two to three pacifiers with clips {while L never took to a pacifier at all, Q prefers theJollyPop brand, which is what they gave to him in the NICU to help to promote sucking; i like this style of pacifier clip= easy on/off}
  • coat + hat {again, since we live in SD, Q often wears one or both of these to school, but even if it’s a nicer day, i still send these items with him each day, just in case the temperature dips}
  • sunscreen {last summer, we used the California Baby brandwith no complaints}
  • bottles/baby food {depending on age; since i’m still nursing Q, i pump breast milk on a regular basis and send it – defrosted, if it was frozen – in bottles, so that it’s ready to go for his caregivers; i use this pump– LOVE IT – and these bottles, which we also LOVE}

for reference, here’s what we send for L, who’s almost 3 years old, in this much-beloved backpack:

  • diapers {while we tried cloth-diapering L, he eventually needed a more absorbent diaper, so we’ve been using Pampers for him for about one year now. we’ve been working on potty-training for a few weeks, but L is not quite ready for full-time Pull-Ups, so like we do with Q, we send a bulk package of Pampers Cruisers in size 4 to school}
  • wipes {Pampers Sensitive, like above}
  • extra clothes {while a diaper blowout is rare for L, he does get dirty and/or wet a lot, especially during art time or when playing outside or at the sensory tables at school, so we always send one complete outfit – shirt, pants + socks – to school with him}
  • a blanket {L prefers a soft, fuzzy blanket, too – his favorites are a green Minky blanket that his Grandma Patty made for him and an Elmo blanket that is big enough for me to use}
  • coat + hat + mittens {see above}
  • winter gear {if necessary; in addition to his coat, hat and mittens, we send snow pants and boots with L each day during the winter months}
  • sunscreen {see above}

lastly, i wanted to share what Jord and i have dubbed our “farm chores.” the fun name = this super-helpful post by Emily Ley {who makes AMAZING day planners, which are on sale VERY soon – you must check them out here!}.

here are the chores that we check off each evening:

  • wash + sterilize breast pump parts, bottles
  • fill bottles for the next day {Fridays: freeze breast milk}
  • pack Jord + Sara’s lunches for the next day {refrigerate if necessary}
  • set out clothes for the next day for Lionel + Quincy {the back of the living room couch is a great spot for outfits to lie in wait in our home}
  • put away toys around the house {for my sanity, this NEEDS to happen each night}

and the chores that we take on each morning:

  • Jordan: dinner prep {take out meat to thaw, etc.}
  • Sara: make the beds {i took this one from Emily Ley’s list, and i can’t tell you how wonderful it is to come home to made beds!}
  • Jordan: change Lionel + Quincy’s diapers
  • Sara: make coffee
  • Sara: nurse Q when he wakes up {typically around 6:15AM}
  • eat breakfast {L’s typical breakfast in the morning is one piece of peanut butter toast and apple juice}
  • put away toys around the house {after a morning of play, this is absolutely necessary!}

finally, we have a few special Sunday night chores to help the week to flow smoothly:

  • Sara: select my work outfits for the entire week + iron my clothes {it works so, so well not to have to think about what to wear each morning!}
  • Jordan: ready garbage + recycling for the next day
  • thaw breast milk + fill bottles for the next day
  • pack up breast pump bag

i hope that’s helpful to those of you who, like us, are full-time working parents. or, perhaps you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of your second {or third! or fourth!} child and wondering how you’ll ever get out the door in the mornings? either way, i hope this list helps you to know that all things are possible with a plan and prep work!

life as a breastfeeding, pumping, working mama {one month in}.

Q-19-Weeks

this week marks week no. 4 of my return to work after welcoming sweet Q into our lives in November, so i wanted to share a bit of a status report.

specifically, i want to spend time updating you all on a few things, including:

  • how i’m emotionally coping with my return to work;
  • how Q {and L, too!} have weathered full-time daycare;
  • and how pumping breastmilk + breastfeeding is working out for Q and i.

this is a doozy of a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat!

emotionally, my return has been relatively wrinkle-free. my supervisor has been a complete dream, in that he’s provided a space in which i’m able to pump breastmilk multiple times each day {more on this in a bit}. my colleagues have been wonderfully supportive of my need to slip in and out of the “lactation lounge,” which is located in a separate room in the midst of a communal space of cubicles, at various times throughout the day to pump. lastly, my students have been, by and large, welcoming and accommodating as i learn their names {a task which feels so peculiar, given that we are already past the halfway point of our semester} and as i get my “sea legs” back as an instructor of English and communications.

personally, i worked hard to prepare myself for the emotional gamut of feelings as related to experiencing time away from Q. in the weeks prior to my return, i soaked up moment after moment with Q; we snuggled, we napped, we nursed, and i gave thanks to God each and every day for the time {nearly 16 weeks!} that i was able to spend at home with him. i also became obsessed with making morning and evening to-do lists, crafting a game plan to clean and sanitize my breastpump parts after each of my middle-of-the-day pumping sessions at work, and executing seemingly endless edits to my hourly work schedule and to Quincy’s nursing schedule. in short, i was obsessively, absolutely, totally FREAKING ready for my return to work logistically. and, apart from a few hiccups, which come naturally {and often} with a baby and a toddler in tow, things have gone quite smoothly.

what’s also wonderful: Q has adjusted quickly to daycare. he took to the bottle without much fuss {apart from a bit of an adjustment during his first feeding session on his first official day}, and continues to be a champion eater, both while he’s at daycare and when he’s at home – he’s even increased the amount that he eats at daycare from three to four ounces of breastmilk per feeding! by his third day at daycare, he was napping well {and napping anywhere, from swaddled in a crib to snuggled up in a blanket in a bouncy seat}. he enjoys being around the other babies in his “classroom,” and thanks to having an older brother who makes noise constantly, he doesn’t seem to have any trouble sleeping with other babies and children around.

Q-L-March-2015

L is also enjoying being back at school full-time. as a reminder, we continued to send him to school two days per week while i was on maternity leave, so that he could continue to progress and learn, and to continue building relationships with his teachers and his friends. plus, his days at school allowed me time to soak up Q a bit more, which was perhaps the most unexpected blessing of it all! now that he’s back at school every day, his vocabulary is continuing to blossom at record speed, and he’s demonstrating more and more that he’s ready for potty-training, a task that we plan to jumpstart over the long Easter weekend. he’s used the potty with much success as of late, so we’re hopeful that we can work on these skills over our four-day weekend and then send him to school next week in “big-boy pants” {Pull-Ups}. it’s our goal to have him reliably potty-trained by mid-to-late summer, so that he’s ready to go to five-day-per-week preschool in undies in the fall.

finally, i wanted to share a bit about my adjustment to pumping breastmilk at work. like i said above, my supervisor and colleagues have been amazingly supportive of my role as a working, breastfeeding mama. overall, i couldn’t be happier with what it means to be a working mama, both in terms of pumping breastmilk and in terms of continuing my nursing relationship with Q when we’re together.

i do want to say this, though: please know that i realize {and that i give thanks to God each night} for all of which i’m about to share. as a faculty member at my institution, i have privileged access to excellent care for my children. not only is the daycare center only available for use by employees and students at the college at which i teach and its surrounding school district, the center is located right on the campus on which i teach. Jord and i feel remarkably grateful for our children’s teachers and the daycare facility itself.

here’s what my work days look like, in general:

  • arrive at daycare with the children 30 minutes before i need to be in my office. at this time, i drop of L {typically without much fuss or objection from him, although sometimes he needs a little more time to adjust to the day}.
  • after i drop off L in his classroom, Q and i enter his “classroom,” and i nurse him at daycare before heading into my office.
  • after some office time, i teach one class that’s 75 minutes in length. this is where my schedule varies: two days per week {Mondays and Wednesdays}, i take my lunch break and pump breastmilk {and eat, of course}. but the other three days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, i spend my entire lunch break hour with Q, which allows me to nurse Q onsite {and eat, of course}. i’m sure that i don’t have to tell you how wonderful this is, but i did want to mention that i think this is what has helped me to have absolutely no problems whatsoever with milk supply. and yes, i realize how fortunate i am to have a robust supply; trust me, i don’t take it for granted!
  • after my lunch break and/or my time with Q, i teach another class that’s also 75 minutes in length. then, during my office time at the end of every day, i pump breastmilk again.
  • as my work day comes to a close, i return to daycare to pick up my children. i tend to pick up Q first most days, unless L sees me and excitedly runs up to greet me :) i often nurse Q at daycare before driving the boys and i home, to ensure that sweet Q doesn’t have an “i’m hungry!” meltdown on our 20-minute commute home.
  • on the days on which i don’t spend my lunch time with Q {Mondays and Wednesdays}, Q has two bottle feedings at daycare. on the other days {Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays}, Q only has one bottle feeding.
  • on Mondays, i teach a night class that’s three hours in length. this means that on top of the two bottle feedings that Q receives at daycare, he also has another small {i.e. 1-2 ounces} helping of breastmilk from Daddy while i’m teaching. this dinner-time feeding has actually been our only difficulty in adjusting to my return to work; Q doesn’t like to take a bottle from his Daddy for some reason, which is maddening for all of us {and for Q himself, as he lets us all know through his angry cries and his voracious appetite when i return home on Monday nights}. we’re still working through he’s refusing the bottle from Daddy and what we can do about it; our current thought is that he likens home with nursing right from the breast, so we’re exploring ideas of Daddy taking the boys to the park {or elsewhere} and feeding Q outside of our home to see if that helps.
  • when Q and i are together {in the evenings and on the weekends}, i nurse from the breast exclusively. in other words, we don’t give him bottles unless he’s at daycare or is with another caregiver {if we’re on a date, for instance}. this helps Q and i to remain closely bonded, and i’m sure it helps to keep up my supply as well.

Mama-Q-March-2015

i’m also incredibly pleased with my breastpump; it’s a workhorse! it is comfortable to use and comes with everything that i need {and more} to pump discreetly at work. i have this one, and it was partially covered by my insurance {i think that we paid $45 out-of-pocket for the pump, which is amazing, since it retails for $270!}. i had my doctor write me a prescription, and Jord picked it up from a medical supply store near the hospital after Q was born.

we’ve tried new baby bottles with Q as well. with L, we used these Avent bottles whenever we needed to leave a bottle with a caregiver {which was rare; as a reminder, i nursed L for fifteen months, and i was home with him for fourteen of those months and then nursed only at night for the final month, when i started my teaching job}. but with Q going to daycare so much earlier in his life, i wanted to try Tommee Tippee bottles for Q, since they mimic the shape and the feel of the breast more. we’ve been very pleased with them so far! we have this set {which we used when Q was little and was feeding more frequently and drinking smaller amounts each time} and this set, which we use exclusively now and LOVE.

i’ll post another update shortly, including what we pack in Q’s diaper bag for daycare each day {i searched and searched for helpful “what to bring to daycare” lists in preparation for my return to work, so it’s only fair that i share my own!} and what Jord and i do each morning and each evening to help the morning rush to work and school flow a bit easier. stay tuned!