This being our second trip to the baby rodeo hopefully means that we’re a bit wiser going in. We can cherry-pick from what worked well with Clara while trying to improve on some things that might need fine tuning. Of course every kid is different and what worked for baby #1 may not apply for #2 – so we’re just waiting for those curve balls to come flying towards us – but since you guys have been asking, here are five things we’re planning to redo (as in do again or use again) and five things that we’ll do new. And because they pair up nicely, we’ll look at ‘em side-by-side. Note: None of the links in this post are affiliate links.
AGAIN – Angel Care Monitor: This was one of 5 newborn “lifesavers” that we shared after Clara was born – just for the peace of mind that it gave us (no getting out of bed to watch the baby breathe). It’s not for everyone, but we found it really comforting, and it soothed a lot of our new-parent anxiety. It’s basically a sound monitor with a motion-sensitive pad that slides under the crib mattress to detect when baby’s breathing (and sound an alarm if it stops). We ordered an attachment (by calling Angel Care directly) with two pads to minimize false alarms once Clara got a bit wigglier (she’d roll out of the single pad’s detection area) and were really happy with it, so we’ll be reusing it while the baby boy snoozes. We’ve also gotten the free cord cover kit that fixes the recent recall issue.
NEW – Video Monitor: We never used a video monitor with Clara, but now that we’ll often be on a separate floor during nap times (along with occasionally having two kids sleeping at the same time, so an audio monitor might be confusing in that “which one is crying?” way) we decided to add a video monitor to the mix. We got the Levana Lila (bought with a trial membership to Amazon Mom) and we found an awesome spot in the nursery where it can peek out from behind the curtain, making the monitor and its cord nearly invisible in the room (there’s an outlet right beneath it that also hides behind the curtain).
AGAIN – Crib Sleeping: You already know that we’re using Clara’s crib again, but we also plan to reuse our technique to start crib sleeping from the very beginning. Our first house didn’t have much room for a bedroom bassinet and Clara’s nursery was just steps away, so she slept in her room from the moment she came home. We have a more spacious bedroom here, but baby boy will just be on the other side of the wall (about ten steps away) – and crib sleeping from the start worked so well with Clara that we’re gonna try it again. We liked that it spared us an extra transition from bassinet to crib down the road, and she was a pretty epic sleeper so we don’t want to change much up in that arena.
NEW – Sound Machine: We used a sound machine with Clara and we will most definitely use one again. But since we can’t steal Clara’s (she still wants “the ocean on” every night) we had to get something new. For her nursery, we had chosen an iPod dock with Sherry’s old iPod loaded with a CD called “Natural White Noise for Babies” on a loop (we thought the iPod would be nice so we could use it to play music down the road too). But rather than splurge on a new iPod and dock, we decided this simple $20 standalone sound machine would work well for the bun (we can always get him a music player down the line if he misses that perk).
AGAIN – Ergo Carrier: Baby-wearing was our preferred method of Clara transport in the early months. Sherry had a sling, but since Clara often took that as her cue to nurse, I mostly wore her in our Ergo Carrier. It held up great and we just recently broke it out and gave it a wash so it’s ready to go again.
NEW – Double Stroller: Clara rarely uses a stroller anymore (day-to-day she either walks or shopping carts it) so we debated whether we’d even need a double stroller at all. But we still like to take long family walks/hikes using our jogging stroller (longer than Clara can last on her own) and she also likes to hop in beside her younger cousins in their double strollers when they’re around, so we took the plunge. Well, Sherry’s mom plunged for us as a new baby gift. We jumped right to a jogging stroller (the double-version of the single InStep Safari we got when Clara was 1) instead of getting a lighter-duty model since that works well for longer hikes without smooth paths as well as long neighborhood walks. I don’t anticipate jogging with both of them often, but it’s nice to know it can do that too. And for the day-to-day stuff we’ll probably just use the Ergo with Clara walking (or in her single stroller if there’s a ton of walking to be done).
AGAIN – Cloth Diapers: The BumGenius cloth diapers that we bought for Clara have held up really well, so for now we plan to use the dozen that we have, and might add six more to our stash as we need them. Like Clara, we won’t transition to cloth until he grows into them (it took Clara a few months but then she could use the same one-size-fits-all diapers for 2+ years). Also like Clara, he won’t be exclusively cloth diapered. We found with her that mixing in the occasional disposable (mostly for extended periods away from home or overnight towards the end of her diapering time) was what worked for us, so we’re going to try that again.
NEW – Honest Diapers: We’re gonna give Honest Co. diapers a try this time before the bun fits into our one-size-fits-all cloth ones, instead of sticking to Seventh Generation ones like we did with Clara. We’ve heard lots of good things about them from a few friends and I’m liking the idea of signing up for a bundle that arrives without having to think about it (we’ll take all the help we can get in those bleary newborn days). Plus, I can’t deny that the designs on Honest diapers are pretty sweet (dude, they have bikes).
AGAIN – Car Seat: Baby Barnacle will also be using Clara’s infant car seat, since Clara’s Chicco KeyFit 30 is in great shape, still meets all current safety standards, hasn’t been dropped or in an accident (you definitely want to replace a used seat that has), is a neutral gray & green color scheme, and shouldn’t expire until the bun outgrows it (Clara hit the length maximum surprisingly fast). Is it wrong that I’m kinda looking forward to the days of snap-and-go seat again?
NEW – Car: He won’t be riding in a hand-me-down car though. Yup, we got a new ride. It hit us that our family of five would have a hard time taking road trips in our Nissan Altima (and I very intentionally include Burger in that number, because his crate takes up a whole seat – let alone all the pack & play/baby gear we’ll be toting along). So we traded it in for a 2014 Toyota Highlander because, after some research and test driving, it felt like the best mix of family hauling & DIY hauling for us (it has a collapsible third row). It was a bit of a splurge for us, but having saved by only buying used vehicles before (we drove our first Nissan past 170,000 miles and our second one over 100,000) it still fit into our budget and got us some features that we lacked before: back-up camera, Bluetooth, and (Sherry’s favorite) heated seats. Plus, Clara’s digging the little book caddy I rigged up for her.
I’m sure every family has different scenarios and needs, so I’d be interested to hear what you guys reused or redid vs. what you changed or upgraded when baby #2 came along. Did anyone else feel a huge relief in that their “to do/buy” list was a lot shorter with their second child? It’s nice to have a lot of the basics covered already.
Psst – For more baby/kid related posts, there’s newborn paraphernalia we liked, keeping baby stuff simple, cloth diapering, battling kid clutter, saving money on baby stuff, baby led weaning, 14 months of breastfeeding, being a stay at home dad, baby toiletries, and kid clothes.
It seems our excitement for the plans that we’ve been cooking up for the showhouse office has spilled over to our own office. Well, that and the fact that ours is looking pretty sad lately, having recently pilfered both its armchair and Expedit for the nursery. It doesn’t help that our chalkboard still says “Merry Christmas” on it. So basically, yeah, this office screams “I’ve got my ish together.”
We’re excited to be thinking about the office because it’s one of our favorite full-of-raw-potential spaces in the house (so much space! so much light!). And with the baby’s impending arrival (six weeks!) we’re feeling the urge to consolidate our business life so it’s less likely to infiltrate family time. You know, like making “no more laptops on the diner table” rules. Another example of our completely not-contained work spread is that all of my accounting stuff currently lives in a kitchen cabinet because my desk wall lacks storage (but apparently not holiday cheer).
This is a room where we’ll skip the Phase 1 stuff and jump right to Phase 2 (like we’ve done in the sunroom, for instance) because it doesn’t require the amount of planning/saving/splurging that a kitchen or bathroom makeover does (no pricey appliances, new counters & tile, etc) and we’re fairly confident that we can end up with a space that works for us for the long-haul (the kitchen & bathrooms tend to take more percolation time – we’re still changing our minds everyday). Note: There’s more on how/why/when we tend to do Phase 1 updates here.
We actually think this space has a ton of potential to not only be functional, but to be beautiful, thanks to the fact that it’s one of the most light-filled rooms in our house, and it has that pretty bay window in the back.
We want the bay window to remain a focal point, since it’s so nicely centered in the room – but we’ve thought it through, and officially nixed the idea of adding a built-in bench seat because:
- we don’t see a bench seat as being super functional for an office
- the window is actually really shallow so it would be a very narrow seat
- it might get in the way of our current Christmas tree spot (is that really my third X-mas mention? Geez) – although I’m sure we could find another tree spot if necessary, so the tree isn’t a deal breaker on its own
But what the room giveth with the bay window, it taketh away elsewhere. As in, we’ve got some other challenges to work around, like the less-than-centered doorway on the other side of the room. I guess we can only have so much symmetry in our lives…
The front window wall is also great for light, but not so great for furniture placement. Since the windows are so close to the floor, they really make it hard to put anything on that side of the room without blocking a lot of light (and making for a strange view from the street).
With those challenges in mind, Sherry and I brainstormed a list of priorities for our office. Some are just carried over from our last office, but some are new given the larger, more light-filled space.
- Two Desks: Duh, right? Sherry usually works at the kitchen table (more on that here), but we’d love to create a dedicated space in here for her to really spread out. And my small parson’s table could definitely be improved by more space and more drawers. So there’s a lot we can do to improve on this.
- Storage: We don’t have a ton of paperwork, but we’d love to expand our file storage. Mostly to bring in some of the stuff that we have shoved into other rooms – like tax documents and side gig paperwork – rather than having that stuff spread randomly around the house.
- A Big Meeting / Craft Table: We don’t have a ton of meetings here, but we’ve had enough recently (mostly showhouse related) that we’d like to stop having them in our kitchen or dining room. Plus, it would serve the double function of an area for completing/shooting smaller projects (with all the natural light in this room, it’d be a great spot for photography).
- Whiteboard / Pinboard / Magnetboard: We want a nice big wall where we can organize our to-do list, calendar, future project ideas, etc, etc. where we can both see everything. Right now we both keep ourselves organized on our own phones and notebooks, so some communal organization is needed to get us both in the same loop again. We’re not sure exactly what this looks like yet, but we’re already brainstorming a few options that we could implement.
- Doors: Partly because this room seems made for some nice french doors, but also because it would be great to get some added soundproofing in here – especially during conference calls or other times that one of us really needs to concentrate.
- Kid-Friendly Space: It’s been nice to have Clara’s drawing desk in here (so we have the option to “work” together during less intense moments of the day) – so we’d like to create a flexible little area that works for smaller kids but also can transition to work for bigger kids (so it’s not something that we outgrow in a few years).
With priorities set, we started floor planning (I took a few new apps for a spin to plan the room, so I’ll share more on those in another post). Here’s a rough representation of the current furniture plan. Yes, it’s pretty sad.
We started by just expanding on our current layout to include the things we wanted and bring things up to scale for the room. We’ve liked having the table centered in the bay window, so maybe just upgrading to a bigger table and some curtains could work? And then we could wrap an L-shaped desk around that corner to give us some built-in desk storage (kinda like our last office) and make room for both of us to sit.
But we weren’t crazy about the corner-desk in that option since it seemed kinda cramped. And since that’s where we’d likely be spending most of our time, it felt weird to not give it more priority in the room – and to take advantage of all the windows by actually getting to see out of at least one of them.
Then we went crazy and tried making the desks “the stars” of the room by keeping them symmetrical with the bay window. The most logical version of this was two separate desks sort of flanking the window. But even that attempt wasn’t very logical because it put one desk right in front of a too-low window (so you’d see the side of the desk from the street) – and it also would require us weaving around the big table every time we wanted to get to our seats.
So next we tried mocking up an idea that was actually our original concept for this space. It includes office storage along the entire back wall, with desk areas that are integrated into them. Here’s our inspiration picture, complete with a friendly looking feline.
We originally discarded this idea because we thought it’d screw up the symmetry of the window – which was something we really liked about the room. But as we played around with the floor plan, we realized we could maintain the symmetry by putting something in the bottom right corner too, so the bay window still feels centered. Plus this plan would leave the middle of the room pretty open for a big table, which we could move around – or even move completely out if the need arose. We also could move our laptops to the meeting/craft table to get a nice view out the window if we ever feel too wall-locked at our desks (Sherry currently unplugs and works at the kitchen table everyday, so that shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment).
Update: We’re getting some questions about where the Barnacle will go, but Clara’s desk actually has two chairs and is long enough for two kids (we’ve even had four kids at it if we pull it away from the wall) so it’ll accommodate the bun as well as the bean.
Update #2: We’re also getting questions about window glare from working along that back wall, but John has worked there for the past 9 months without an issue (the sun streams in but the room is wide enough for it to hit the floor about 5′ from his chair – so it’s not up at screen level).
We’re still letting the concept simmer in our heads, but we’re fairly confident that we’ll start heading in that last layout’s direction since it feels like it makes the most sense for the way we work. Although “start heading” involves painting a whole lot of blue trim first (sixty six window mullions to be exact). And it takes four coats… so that’s a whole lot of painting.
What’s on your priority list when it comes to a home office? Do you have a desk tucked into the corner of your den (we totally did that in our first house)? Is there a little work area in your kitchen with a laptop hookup? Or do you have a dedicated home office? Does anyone have work stuff in the bedroom? Growing up Sherry’s dad had a computer and all of his paperwork in there, but that doesn’t seem to be something most people do anymore.