The STUFF That Helped Simplify Life After Kids

posted by Andrea | 04/27/2015

favorite baby items

Normally, I don’t blog about accumulating more stuff — but I will admit that there is definitely some STUFF that has helped me to majorly simplify and organize my life (a.k.a. stay sane) as we continue to add more babies to our family.

But before I type even one more word, I want to make it very clear that NONE of the items listed below are in anyway 100% essential in order to survive with multiple babies and toddlers in your home. We could get by with SO much less stuff if we really had to… and I certainly don’t want to cause any of you to think you absolutely must buy everything on my list!

However, since I’m regularly asked what STUFF helped me to simplify after Nora… and then Simon, and/or what I’ll be doing or buying before and after baby #3 arrives, I figured it was time for a blog post 🙂

When it comes to navigating life with multiple little people, this is some of the STUFF than has helped me to stay organized and simplify everyday life.

A really organized diaper bag:

I never actually had a “real” diaper bag until after Simon was born — and I can’t tell you how much simpler it has made getting out and about with 2 little kids.

Here’s a link to the review I did of our amazing PacaPod diaper bag — you can read that post for TONS of more details on our bag.

Since that post, I’ve also started using the PacaPod Hastings backpack diaper bag which is equally amazing as it can be worn as both a backpack and a cross body bag so both my hands are free to deal with kids.

diaper bag

I was fortunate that both bags were given to me by PacaPod… but I seriously can’t say enough good things about how much these ultra-organized diaper bags have helped me to quickly and easily get out the door on time.

I know that everything is stocked and ready to go, and since everything is nicely organized, I can find what I want when we’re in the middle of a meltdown. Definitely a sanity-saver for me!

A video monitor:

Never in a million years did I ever expect to be advocating for an expensive video monitor… but after 2 years of using a cheapy monitor from Craigslist… and now 1.5 years using video monitors, I can not believe how much simpler they have made our lives.

If you’ve never used a video monitor (or if you’ve never had children who are difficult sleepers) you are most likely rolling your eyes right now — and that’s totally fine. They are really expensive.. and as I mentioned above, none of the things on my list are necessities in any way.

The video monitor has actually been more helpful with Nora as we can see what she’s doing without actually going into her room.

She makes A LOT of noise when she’s sleeping and frequently starts crying for us… but often, when we look at the monitor, we can see that she’s still laying down and probably just crying in her sleep.

Other times, we can see that she’s up, walking around in her room, or has turned the lights on and is playing… so we can tell her she needs to go back to bed (there’s a walkie-talkie feature on these monitors).

The video monitor has also been really nice for Simon as he is exactly the opposite of Nora. He’ll sit and play quietly in his crib FOREVER and I wouldn’t even know he was awake unless I had the monitor.

Normally, I wouldn’t care if he sat in his crib for hours (as long as he was content) but he’ll often poop when he’s sitting there, and he gets pretty bad diaper rash if I let him sit for too long. So once I see he’s sitting up and playing with the toys in his crib, I’ll usually go in there within 10-15 minutes.

Here’s a post that talks more about the Angelcare video monitors we have (we really like them) — although I’m fairly confident almost any video monitor would be very useful.

A double stroller:

So many people told me never to “waste” money on a double stroller because I could just “wear the baby”. Well, what happens when the baby weighs 24 pounds at 8 months old, and you’re pregnant again?

I held off buying a double stroller for about a month before I knew that I most definitely needed a double stroller with all the walking we do.

Over the past year, we have walked miles and miles and miles with our double stroller and I can honestly say I don’t know what I would do without it.

The kids love it, Dave and I love it, we use it multiple times a week (often daily) for extended walks all around town, running errands, visiting parks, etc. Nora has already told me how sad she will be when she needs to give up her spot to the new baby 🙂

Here’s the post I wrote about our specific double stroller — and honestly, EVERY time we go out with our stroller, at least one person comments on how neat it is that the kids can face each other while we walk (yes, that’s my favorite feature too!)

If you have 2 (or more) kids under 4, I would most definitely say you would benefit from a double stroller — and you can find a bazillion of them on Craigslist or at garage sales if you don’t want to spend too much!

Netflix + ChromeCast:


I know, I know… there are some of you reading this who “never” let your kids watch TV.

But I do — and to be perfectly honest, they watch a fair amount of TV. Well, Nora does. Simon basically has NO interest in TV 🙂

Since Nora has never really been a napper, TV was the only form of “down time” I had — and even still, when she’s tired but just WON’T give in and rest, sitting quietly and watching a few episodes of Curious George or going for a long walk are just about the only things that she can handle without a complete meltdown (and long walks aren’t always possible in Michigan).

You can read more specifics about why Dave and I chose the ChromeCast + Netflix combo here, but the bottom line is that we can now watch almost any PBS show with no commercials or interruptions on any “screen” in our house at any time it’s convenient for us.

That means Nora can watch a show on my phone when we’re waiting an extra long time at the Dr. or she can watch a show on the iPad when we’re on vacation and don’t have regular channels, and of course, we can stream everything directly to our TV for “regular” TV watching without commercials or time limitations.

And yes, Dave and I definitely benefit from the ChromeCast / Netflix combo as there are several shows and movies we’ve enjoyed over the past couple of years.

This “on demand” TV was especially helpful when Simon was very little and needed to eat and sleep all the time. I could turn a quick 10 minute show on for Nora when it was time to feed Simon and put him down for a nap and she wouldn’t “bug us” or accidentally wake him up by playing loudly outside his room.

Definitely a life-saver for me 🙂

A white-noise machine:

We have a white-noise machine in every bedroom of our house because we are ALL light sleepers and because they help us sleep better, longer, and more soundly.

Even though our Spring Break room sharing went better than I expected, I’m still a little nervous about having Simon and Nora share a room once #3 arrives (we want to keep our guest room set up as a guest room for now). However, I have a feeling our noise machine will help the transition to be easier since it will hopefully drown out any noise the two of them make in their sleep or by moving around in their beds.

I would say that a noise machine would be very useful even if you just have one child, but definitely more useful with multiple children.

Here’s a link to the noise machine we use. It’s very reasonably priced compared to many of the other ones I looked into (only $15 at Bed Bath & Beyond with my $5 coupon)

A baby carrier:

I actually hesitated to put this on my list because there are a bazillion different types of baby carriers and I KNOW the ones I use won’t necessarily work for all of you.

I also didn’t use my baby carriers as much as other moms I know (because I preferred the double stroller route as I mentioned above) but at the same time, I used them enough in those earlier months that I think they warrant a spot on this list 🙂

With Nora, I only had the Moby Wrap (a BRAND NEW garage sale find for $5!!) It worked OK, but definitely wasn’t nearly as comfortable after 3 or 4 months — plus, she really only wanted to look out (see image above) and I know that’s not the best way to wear the babies.

When it came to Simon, I got a Boba 4G Carrier. Simon loved it and I loved it — and I could almost always get him to sleep within a few minutes of wearing him around the house or around the grocery store 🙂

The Boba was SOOOOOOO comfortable for me to wear.  However, Simon got so big so fast that it was kind of awkward to wear him in the front, but he did NOT like being worn on the back. So around 7 months, we stopped using the carrier. By that time, he could sit up in the shopping cart anyway, and Nora was more willing to walk with me (or we just used the massive carts)

I still have both carriers and plan to use them both with baby #3. Who knows, maybe he will like them for longer than my other two did — or maybe I’ll just keep him in the carriers regardless of if he likes them or not, simply out of necessity to have both hands free for the other 2 munchkins 🙂

Either way, I definitely DO think having some sort of baby carrier was super helpful for me with both babies so far.


That’s my list for now. 

I would also add things like a camera phone to take pictures and videos, a dishwasher, a reliable vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment, and a super-capacity washer and dryer… but many of you probably have those regardless of if you have children or not 🙂

Again, I just want to make it super clear that NOTHING on my list is an absolute necessity in order to raise functional or happy babies — they are just “extras” that were really nice for me to have.

I’d love to know…

What STUFF would make your list?


Filed under: FamilyParentingChildrenMisc.

Leave a comment


  1. Liz


    In addition to your list, I would add a Rock N’ Play and a good swaddle blanket. I have the same noise machine in the kiddos room and LOVE it! We have 4 children, 6 and younger in a 3 bedroom house…needless to say, our noise machines have been a lifesaver come nap and night time. Plus, they are easy to transport if you are headed out of town on vacation or a sleepover and grandmas!!


    Andrea Reply:

    yes, SOOOOOOOO many people have told me I need a Rock ‘N Play… so I’m hoping to borrow one from my neighbor with baby #3 🙂


  2. Heidi


    We have a monitor for each of our girls, but I didn’t use it consistently until they were potty training and getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. We don’t live in a large house and they were both VERY loud if they needed to be! They’re 3 and 5 now and will get up and play in their rooms on a Saturday morning so my husband and I can sleep in (sometimes!), so I use the monitor now just to hear if they get up in the middle of the night or if they’re destroying the house on a weekend! 🙂


  3. Kelly Hess


    I’ve used the noise machines, but for my third we used a small fan. I actually put it right by her heat register to help circualte the air in her room a little better. She is almost 3 now and I still run it every night. It is especially helpful in keeping her asleep in the mornings when I get the older kids off and on the bus!


  4. Michelle


    I got a Fisher Price rock and play for my 4th baby, born last summer, based on the recommendations in a moms group I am part of. It is my new must have item for new moms. It holds the baby a little head up, which is nice for the middle of the night feelings if they have reflux, and holds them snug, without needing to be swaddled. My baby was sleeping 6 hour stretches at night at 6 weeks old. I have since recommended it to other moms, and when they couldn’t get their baby to sleep other ways, this worked. It is small, so it doesn’t take up much space, and she was able to sleep in it until about 7 months old.


    Andrea Reply:

    That’s amazing!! I’m thinking of asking a friend if I can borrow her’s for baby #3. Thanks for letting me know!


  5. Katie


    I can add one to the list that has been awesome for 3 small children…..Radio Flyer make a triple wagon! 3 seats with belts, 6 cup holders, and a large bag on the back for carrying things. I found after we had 3 kids that I couldn’t go out for a walk by myself because my oldest ones (twins) were still too young to walk very far. Also very nice for taking to the zoo, etc. My husband and I just took turns pulling. 🙂


  6. Melanie G


    My sister wisely recommended borrowing or getting a few big-ticket things used to test to see whether our kiddo would even like using them (swing and carrier among them). Fortunately, we have a good friend who lent us both, and happily, Eleanor likes both! The swing is a total sanity saver at home, especially when she is tired but fighting sleep. The carrier is a sanity saver away from home.

    I’ve also been really thankful for a good nursing pillow (you need one that fits you and your baby; boppy works for us). We use it for nursing, bottle feeding and propping her up in place for a brief minute to go to the bathroom or pick up the phone (she’s not mobile yet).

    Oh, and a good insulated mug with leak-proof lid. For me 😉 Keeps drinks hot or cold for hours (no adding ice or microwaving), and prevents spills when I inevitably knock it over in my sleep-deprived state!


    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we borrowed all our swings, etc. — and lucky we did because our kids didn’t like anything except the bouncer (which I found on Criagslist). Funny, I never really used a nursing pillow (even with 21 long months of nursing Nora!) and I’ve never had an insulated mug, but I also don’t drink cold or hot beverages — just room temperature water 🙂


    Katherine Reply:

    We just got a carrier given to us by a neighbor and it is great! I see why people get so into babywearing. This is our fourth (and final) baby, so I am bummed I didn’t find a good carrier earlier. I tried one wrap and two slings and didn’t particularly like any of them so I gave up trying. Then our neighbor was finished with this one and I happen to love it!

    All that’s to say- I agree on borrowing and testing things.


  7. MrsD


    My list is almost exactly like yours.
    A double stroller, too! Ours is a side-by-side and they hold hands 🙂 Adorable.
    A baby monitor…our house is old with thick walls so you can’t hear a thing in the next room.
    A baby swing. The only way I could get very, very short naps out my babies.
    My sling carrier. I love that thing. I used it for forever with number two. Number one HATED carriers!
    Cloth diapers. Once I started using all cotton…the laundering became really easy and I loved never running low on diapers and having to run out to buy more.
    Our baby walker was a life saver as well. It would buy me at least 30 minutes of time to do something without holding a baby. My babies wanted to be held almost constantly…which I love but also drives me bananas some days. Are most babies like that…or just mine??


  8. Stephanie


    Double strollers are very handy when kids are 14 months apart. I didn’t use it for the 3rd because the second child didn’t want to sit in it anymore but walk with his 1 year older brother. Expecting number 4 and won’t be getting one either. We usually do bike rides over walks but I can make my single stroller work as a double if I have to. (Kid in the extra large basket under or riding on the cup holders on top with me holding on to them.
    Have a monitor. Used for first child and haven’t used again because our house is tiny and I know instantly when they are awake or not falling asleep. Like you said not a necessity but I could understand some convenience. I keep it for vacations. (If I remember to take it with me)
    No TV here but Dvd’s in the computer or YouTube provide some screen time here.
    I have a baby carrier I use when they are in the first few months. But then they get kind of heavy. But since I am home most of the time I haven’t had to use it too regularly. It was a lifesaver for trips to the beach though. Baby on me, arms loaded with stud and the other kids walking beside me.
    We use fans for white noise. I need to buy a new one because our last one recently broke. We try not to use them on a regular basis because we don’t want to be dependent on them. 😉
    So, yes each “simplified my life with kids” is definitely unique to each family.
    And you may be pleasantly surprised how well Nora and Simon will do together in a room. I have 3 in one room and the 4th may possibly spend time in there as well. They soon learn how to sleep through the noises and interruptions of the the others. The hardest time is getting them to go to sleep sometimes. But I think of the memories they are making and how fun it was for me to share a room as a child and I think of individual rooms as a luxury not a necessity. I know a family who has 6 children and a 5 bedroom house. By their own choice, the 2 boys share a room and the 4 girls share a room. The other rooms are empty.


  9. beth


    Amazon prime memberhip- so I don’t have to leave the house to run errands. Roomba- robotic vacuum that does it’s thing while I do something else.

    It’s funny how personal all of the choices are. I have 2 kids 25 months apart and never had a monitor of any kind or a double stroller. Also, I was so, so terrible about remembering a diaper bag!

    And I am a total believer in the use of a well-timed TV show when you need it.


    Andrea Reply:

    wow — I can’t imagine life without a double stroller — did you just stay home all the time?

    We go for walks almost every single day — sometimes more than once a day. We go to the bank, the grocery store, the hardware store, the post office, the parks, neighbor’s houses, local restaurants, the library, etc. all with our stroller!

    And I’m guessing you had good sleepers (or bedrooms very close together) if you could get by without monitors!


    beth Reply:

    I work full time outside the home so I don’t go as many places during the week with the kids. I think tha tis a key difference. I can imagine that if I did stay home I definitely would have had a double stroller. On the weekend we would put the baby in a stroller and the older one in an umbrella stroller and I would push one and my husband would push the other. Or my older one would walk. Both of my kids were done with strollers at age 3. (A side benefit of having 2 extremely energetic boys?). The are 5 and 3 now and can walk several miles. Like I said- high energy boys!

    LOL on the good sleepers! My first was so much like your Nora. He cried so loud and so often that I decided that I did not need to hear it in stereo. I was stressed enough just listening to it without the monitor. He was so loud you could hear him screaming even if you were standing outside. He didn’t start quiet and get loud. he started at full volume. There was no chance you weren’t going to hear him. My second was much more “typical” but by then I was used to the no monitor thing. Most people look at me with both horror and fascination when I mention the no monitor thing.


    Andrea Reply:

    ahhh… that makes sense then. Yes, if I were gone all day, we wouldn’t have a huge need for a double stroller 🙂

    Also, I laughed about your monitor comment “people look at me with both horror and fascination” — I was kind of thinking the same thing. Like “how could you?” and also “wow, that’s amazing!”


    Julie Reply:

    We have four and have never used a monitor, either. A good friend gave me advice when I was pregnant with my first: If your baby needs you, you’ll hear her/him. And that has really been the case. I also sleep so much better when I can’t hear every time the baby turns or sighs. It also helps that we’ve never lived in very big houses. 🙂

    I have also loved our Sit’N’Stand stroller. Our three youngest can fit on it, along with assorted baby gear. I scored it for $15 at a yard sale, and it is quite possibly the best money I’ve ever spent on baby gear. It’s a workhorse!


    ShellyL Reply:

    I understand where you’re coming from with the ‘no monitor’ thing. I actually got rid of mine. I got one as a gift and used it about five times maybe, if that. My house is fairly average to small and all on one level and I felt like I could hear the children wherever they were. If I had a multi-level house, then I could definitely see the need. Also, I slept in the same room when mine were small babies. Some people cringe at that but it worked for me. 🙂

    I enjoyed reading your list, Andrea, even though my youngest is 2 and we are not planning any more.