Family Friday: Backpacks for Back-to-School

Kate and I were just discussing this — what are the best backpacks for kids? If you’re looking for a full-sized backpack, you can’t go wrong with L.L. Bean; they’ve been around forever, and they last forever. (I still have mine from 1,000 years ago.) They have tons of solid colors and patterns (paisley, colorblock, camo, flowers, all kinds of animals, the Minecraft-like “pixel,” and more), and you can get them monogrammed for $8 (with returns still possible!). You can choose from three sizes: ages 4–7, 8–12, and 13+. Through 8/27, you can get 20% off kids’ backpacks, clothing, and more with promo code KIDS20 (in-store, too). L.L. Bean Backpacks

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  1. My son starts Pre-k next month, and I surveyed my friends for backpack advice. The overwhelming consensus was LL Bean, and I was advised to get him a regular sized one, not the smallest one. Apparently normal sized folders don’t really fit in the small one. I still have my Bean backpack from high school (that I used in college, then, occasionally, in law school.) It’s nice to know their quality standards are still high. My son picked out the color shown above, and I had his first initial put on it.

    • Clementine says:

      (this might out me IRL but whatever…)

      You guys! We have our licensing visit for Foster Care today. That means that sometime within the next month or two, there may be another kid in my house and I don’t know how old or what gender or what they’re like.

      This is weird.

      • Clementine says:

        Argh. Did not mean this to be a reply.

        Although I am super into the LLBean Backpacks.

      • Cornellian says:

        that’s amazing! Would love to hear more if you have time (or can point me to somewhere else you were talking about it).

      • lawsuited says:

        Woohoo! I have friends going through this and it is a mind warp for sure.

  2. 8-month-old is a crawling speed demon, pulling herself up on everything, and trying to cruise, so it’s (past) time to babyproof.

    Most of it feels straightforward, but our foyer is one step down from the rest of the house. How would you babyproof this step? The problem is that it’s long (6 feet?). It’s framed like a doorway, just a huge one, so we could attach something but I haven’t found a gate long enough. I’d just leave it, except that right beyond the stair is a straightaway to the other end of the house, so I’m imagining her picking up major speed as she runs through the house, and then wiping out when she hits the step down.

    • octagon says:

      My aunt has a layout like this. It took kid exactly one time (er, one fall) to figure out where the step was. If you think yours might take longer, maybe just get some foam mats to help cushion a fall and minimize the depth?

    • AwayEmily says:

      Similar to octagon’s point about learning through experience: I was *shocked* by how quickly my kid learned to fall safely. Really, she got awesome at falling way before she got awesome at walking (and certainly long before she learned how to run). There was only about a month (right at the time you’re talking about — the beginning cruising stage) where we actually had to hover over her and I remember feeling like that stage would last forever. Then suddenly we noticed that when she fell she was…fine. She’s now 16 months and still falls with some frequency (slips on the floor, misses steps, trips over her own feet), but it never results in injury and rarely in crying. She also learned fairly quickly where steps were and how to navigate them. So I would say just hold off for now and trust in her ability to learn to keep herself safe.

      • Thanks for this wisdom from the other side!

      • Yes this. We live in a split level, so we had to teach stair safety very early. It was just too cumbersome to work with a gate or barrier every time we moved rooms in the house.

        We taught them (before they could even walk) that you turn around to go down the stairs. We had to reinforce for about a week, literally picking them up, putting them back at the top of the stairs, and waiting until they turned around and scooted down. Then they were pros and could navigate the house with ease. (We still gated their bedrooms at night just in case, but during the day stairs were free reign.)

        Once they got the hang of walking, then we taught them to go down on their butt. And now they know to go slow and keep one hand on the wall.

        • +1 my son (18 months) learned this seemingly on his own. I don’t think it was at daycare because they have no stairs. He just turned and started going down the stairs one time. He also falls a decent amount, including trying to “walk” down the last two stairs recently, and I would cosign that they learn to “fall” safely.

    • CPA Lady says:

      My kid goes to a daycare where the room they eat in is up a flight and a half of concrete stairs. They start teaching the kids to go up and down the stairs when they are 18 months old. It’s amazing what kids can do and how fast they can learn. I wouldn’t worry about child-proofing one stair.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      We have a room with a double-wide doorway that we simply couldn’t babyproof, so we got a retractable baby gate. I can’t remember the branch, but it was something like this:

      But you’ll have to double check the dimensions and make sure you can find one long enough.

    • Our home has a carpeted room two stairs down from the rest of the home. We were able to babygate it, however we removed it fairly early during crawling. For a short while (a few days to a maybe a week) we practiced and taught her how to go down safely. Afterward, we closely monitored. Then we added a soft blanket to cushion the landing. And, finally, we just let her figure the details out.
      When she learned to walk, there have been maybe two walk-down-the-stairs attempts at various points, but she knew to crawl down. The carpet helped cushion the landing, I’m sure.

      Good memory: she took her first toddling steps after gathering her balance holding these stairs.

      • This is so helpful. My husband is so, so worried about her falling and hurting herself, and I’m all about letting her figure it out, so these steps will help me suggest a middle ground. Thank you!

        • I think those squishy, foam alphabet letter tiles for the floor would look odd, but be very functional as a landing pad.

          • PregLawyer says:

            We had those – we duct-taped them from behind so they didn’t come apart. Our house looked very odd for a long long time during babyproofing. Oh well. Eventually we’ll be sophisticated.

          • CLMom says:

            The duct tape is a good idea

    • Teach her to go down safely! This applies to everything else a kid could possibly crawl off, like climbing frames, steps, the bed. When DS started trying to crawl off the bed, we started teaching him to ‘turn your butt around and slide down to the ground’, bum first. It took a month or two to click, but by the time he was 12 months he had it down pat and did it till he was tall enough to slide feet-first off the bed.

    • Also, regarding her building up steam down the hallway before reaching the step….perhaps you can put down some red or yellow tape as a warning one and two feet away from the stair? (watch for the tape becoming a trip hazard…maybe there is a better alternative than tape, but I hope you get my point).

  3. EB0220 says:

    Every child at my daughter’s bus stop has the LL Bean backpack. She has the small one but I think we’re going to have to get the larger one. A folder and her lunchbox barely fit. We have had it for at least 3 years and it’s held up well.

    • mascot says:

      We have this one too and are looking at an upgrade to the next size (kid is 7). It’s been a great bag, though, and several classmates have the same one.

  4. KateMiddletown says:

    We got a Lands End backpack (they have a Kindergarten/Pre-K one) for my daughter while in preschool. Kindergarten we had a cheap Minnie Mouse one from target (which is now her camp/travel backpack). Last year we did the LL bean thing and I just got the regular not Deluxe (aka 1 main pocket not too.) She typically has a full size agenda, 1 folder, and 1 reading book, plus a sweater, water bottle, and LL bean lunchbox in there (plus whatever rocks and sequins she found at recess…)

  5. AwayEmily says:

    After we lost out on our dream house a few months ago, you all reassured me that we would find something even better…and we did! Our offer was accepted and the inspection is on Monday. We are first-time homebuyers…any advice for things to look out for? I have a fair degree of confidence in the inspector (he’s very well reviewed) but this is just such a big purchase that I don’t want to miss anything…

    • mascot says:

      Are you attending the inspection? It’s a good learning opportunity especially if you don’t know much about houses and maintenance. I’d also ask him to point out where various shut-offs and mains are for things like water, power, etc. Also, have a plan for how you want any needed repairs to be handled – do you want money, do you want seller to take care of, some combination? Your real estate agent can help with this.

      • Take notes.

      • Blueberry says:

        Yeah, definitely recommend this. I wish my husband had attended the home inspection along with me, because I am really useless with this stuff, and two sets of ears are better. My home inspector helpfully put tags on various shut-offs etc.

      • Spirograph says:

        +1 . Our home inspector also gave us a giant binder with all of his findings and notes on maintenance recommendation/requirements. It is an invaluable resource!

    • anne-on says:

      Attend the inspection if you can (and if you’re allowed – owners may fight you on this). Ask to inspect the garage and any other buildings (tool sheds, etc.) that are part of the property. You don’t want to find out after that the garage is full of termites and it’s going to cost you $$ to fix.
      Be aware that inspectors can’t look within the walls, so you may want to pay (on your own dime) if allowed to have a structural engineer also come take a look at the place. Our home is very very old and I really wished we’d done that one just to know what we were getting into. Make sure all taps are tested, and all appliances are put through a cycle (dishwasher, washer/dryer). Have them check venting hoses/fans if they don’t to ensure they are clean of debris. Not sure if our inspector did this, but I’d also try to have them pull out the air filters – dirty (like, super dirty, not at the end of 3 months dirty) air filters are not a good sign that the owners have been maintaining things and may indicate a need for duct cleaning.

    • Do you have any concerns about mold in the house? Ours hadn’t been lived in for over a year, so I paid extra for a mold inspection since we were TTC.

      If you have any plans to take down walls or otherwise rearrange the house, this is your time to get info on whether the walls are load-bearing and if there are any structural issues. Pay close attention to the foundation, and ask about any crack or mis-alignment you see in walls or ceilings or the basement.

      Understand the property lines and any encroachments or liens and what that means for you.

      Check the outlets and make sure they’re up to code. Make sure there are outlets in the bathrooms, kitchen, and outside the house, and they’re all properly protected.

      Run a cycle of the included appliances and have them test the AC and heater. You’ll want to note if there are vents that don’t work.

      Run all the faucets and flush the toilets and run the shower. After each one, listen for dripping water. If the basement ceiling isn’t finished, you can visually check to see if any water is leaking.

    • AwayEmily says:

      These are extremely useful pieces of advice; thank you. We will definitely be attending the inspection and taking copious notes. Apparently the inspector will give us a 50-page report at the end so I’m hoping that will be helpful as well. Great points about running cycles on the appliances. Sadly there’s no air conditioning, but I guess at least that means there’s one less thing to break?

    • Bean74 says:

      Sewer inspection. We got hit with a nasty surprise and a $10,000 new sewer line shortly after moving into our first home.

    • ElisaR says:

      Congratulations! All good advice here. I just have one other addition: our inspector said “there may be an issue with the roof, you need to get a roofer in here to look at it”. The results of the home inspection were made to the owner immediately and we had the roof looked at a few days later. So what happened in the end was the owner refused to pay for roof repairs because it wasn’t part of the original report. Maybe we could have approached it differently but we got kinda burned on that…..

  6. anonanonanon says:

    Looking for some encouragement about delays. At first, daughter was just a bit behind in her milestones, but now she’s really behind and docs, PT are classifying it as developmental delay. We have follow ups and genetic testing ahead of us, but in the meantime I’m just so discouraged. Every time I log on to fb some friend’s kid (always younger) doing something we’re not close to doing. There was encouragement from one doctor that she could still catch up and I guess I’m looking for any anecdotes from those of you who had kids who were behind and caught up. It’ll be a month or two before we have any genetic results and I’m just looking for something to give me hope in the meantime.

    • Hugs! It is hard. I just want to say that childhood isn’t a race to see who can grow up first. Everyone develops at their own time. So just because you see someone younger than your daughter coloring the neatest picture(fine motor skill,) it doesn’t mean that she can walk on a balance beam (gross motor skill.) And, as I learned from here, FB is a highlight reel of all the best things people want to portray. No one wants to brags about needing PT or OT or challenges getting out the door with a screaming, independent toddler – at least not on my FB feed!

      For us, we had significant late talkers — like my son was well past three before he was talking. He started the early intervention process at his second birthday and was in the program for two years. And he did catch up! Don’t worry but don’t wait — you are doing everything you can for her right now, and that is the best you can do. Get the PT ball rolling & start working with her at home. Early intervention can work wonders!

      • NewMomAnon says:

        My cousin didn’t start talking until age 4, and then in really strange, mixed-up syntax. Turns out he’s really bright and was just so intensely learning other things that he didn’t bother with language patterns. And when he decided to figure out language, he became a tiny poet overnight. He is now a completely functional, employed, happy adult with a wife and a beautiful baby boy. Also very artistic.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Hugs. I’ve had co-workers go through the delay/genetic testing process. Regardless of the outcome, you should make sure you know as much about your health insurance and your company’s leave policies (intermittent, short-term, etc). Even if everything ends up fine, it might take a while to get to that spot.

      Also, does your school district offer early intervention programs? I had some friends use those types of services for super-preemie babies, and they learned so many cool parenting tricks and developmental play stuff (which they shared with me! yay!).

    • My niece is 16 months and she was born at 5 pounds full-term. She always seemed several months younger than she was, but her doctor wasn’t worried until her 12-month appointment and had her schedule an appointment with a developmental therapist and get tested for Prader-Willi Syndrome. The test was negative and by the time she met with the therapist, she had made so many strides that the therapist said she was really surprised the doctor referred them at all. She’s still small and still behind, but she’s getting there. Good luck, but even if she does have some issues, it seems like you’re addressing it early and have lots of options going forward!

    • No experience on this specific thing, except that the unfollow–even a preemptive unfollow for someone who has a much younger kid but shows signs of being the braggy type–is a beautiful thing. You can always refollow once you have some answers/clarity. But no need to see everyone’s highlight reel (absolutely love this phrase) in the meantime.

      Big hugs to you–sorry you’re going through this.

    • anonanonanon says:

      Thank you, all! For what it’s worth daughter is still pretty young (8 months). Been in PT for several months already. We are going to look into early intervention though her delay (fortunately!) seems borderline and we’ve been told she might not qualify. But thank you all for the encouragement. I’m so grateful for to be able to find some support from internet strangers when I feel like I can’t talk to anyone in real life about this.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        My daughter was really slow to move. She had good core strength but didn’t roll over until 8 months. She didn’t crawl until about 10-11 months, and started pulling herself up shortly thereafter. But she didn’t walk unassisted until about 15-16 months (she would cruise or walk holding someone’s hand). I was really worried because other friends babies were rolling at 3 months, etc. Our pediatrician took our concerns seriously – especially as she got older and still wasn’t rolling and then wouldn’t walk without help – but also was reassuring that her core strength was solid and she might just need some PT help if things didn’t improve.

        FWIW, a lot of people said to me (and I do think it’s true), that by the time kids go to kindergarten, you don’t know or care about who talked at 8 months or started walking at 10 months because it’s irrelevant.

      • Blueberry says:

        Especially this young, I agree — sounds like you are doing the right thing by aggressively speaking up for her and that you should try not to worry, although that’s easier said than done. Babies change so much during the first year, and each month is such a large percentage of their lifetime, that it’s hard not to get caught up in comparisons. I was irrationally proud that my first kid was an early walker, which, looking back, is a really strange thing to be proud of — it’s not like he’s any better at walking than his other preschool classmates at 4 years old! Hugs!

  7. My DH is an elementary school administrator, and part of his speech to incoming K parents in the spring is to not get the tiny backpacks. His words, “Your kindergartener is small, but their snow gear is not.” We do LLBean as I still have my LLBean backpack from elementary school and the company will absolutely fix anything of theirs if it breaks.

    On another note, I get to start working from home 2 days per week starting Monday, and I am so excited! Two days a week of not having to do the 45 minute commute each way!

    • Clementine says:

      OMG CONGRATULATIONS!!! That’s 3 hours of your life back!!!

      Plus, I find that my lunchbreaks on work from home days turn into the most productive 30 minutes/hour EVER.

  8. I’m not sure if the “Reply” function is working appropriately, but this is intended to be a reply re: home inspections. If you are in New England, have the home and water tested for radon. If the home is on a well, have a full test of the water (not just if it is potable).

    • AwayEmily says:

      thanks! yes, we are definitely doing the radon test. Not worth the risk to skip that.

  9. PregLawyer says:

    I’m 10 weeks pregnant and my 2 year-old is having a sleep regression — he woke up 3 times last night screaming “I want Mommy!” We’re trying to let him CIO, but it’s hard. After I got to work, I stayed in my car, pushed the seat back, and slept for 25 minutes. It was glorious.

    • My 2-year-old, who has always been a rock star sleeper, recently went through a few weeks of that. We handled it by going in once each time to he woke up, telling him it was time to sleep, and tucking him back in. Most of the time, he went back to sleep pretty quickly. I think he wanted to know that we were there and would come if he needed something. He started sleeping through the night again pretty soon afterwards.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        Yes – my 2 year old has been doing this too (and I’ve posted about it here a few times!). First, it could be 2 year old molars. Second, barring that, I’ve actually found it to be reasonably successful to go into her room, comfort her, put her blanket back on her and sleep in the glider in her room. It’s a horrible night sleep for me (or DH), but she seems really comforted by our presence. We don’t pick her up anymore. I want to now start experimenting with ~not~ sleeping in her room. When we were traveling recently my daughter wanted me to stay in the room with her while she fell asleep and I told her that I wouldn’t, but that I would come back when she was sleeping, and she seemed okay with that. She woke up in the middle of the night crying “Mommy come back” (cue heartbreak), but I went over to her crib, tucked her back in and shushed her and she was okay.

      • PregLawyer says:

        Thanks for this! I’ll give that a try. We’ve been going in every night for the past 5 days doing that, but he still wakes up. I was wondering if just letting him go would nip it in the bud. Ugh.

        • PregLawyer says:

          Should clarify – we’ve been going in every night for the past 5 days doing *more extensive consoling, including picking him up and rocking him in the chair*, and I like your advice of just saying it’s time to go to sleep, tucking him back in, and leaving.

          • Yes–we want him to know that we’re there if he needs something, but it’s bedtime, not play/cuddle/reading/singing time. Picking him up and extensive consoling means he’ll be upset again when we put him down.

            If he’s sick or teething, that’s different. But even then, we do what we need to do to take care of him (medicine, snot sucker, clean up, teething stick, or whatever) and put him right back to bed without much fuss. He’s a great sleeper though, so once he’s feeling better, he’s usually reaching for his crib.

        • Anonymous says:

          Have you had him checked for an ear infection? If he doesn’t have his two year old molars yet, you can also try some advil at bedtime.

  10. Birthday Party Gifts? says:

    We’re sending out invitations for my soon-to-be 4 year old’s party soon, and I’m wondering what other people like to do about birthday party gifts (when you are parent of the birthday child). We got a ton of stuff that we didn’t really want/use at last year’s party. I’m tempted to say “please no gifts” or “please only books” on the invitation but don’t know how that will come off — is that gauche? FWIW, we’re expecting about 10-15 kids in attendance, we’ve given gifts to some of the other kids at their birthdays, and kiddo will get gifts from family at a separate party.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I love it when parents say “no gifts please” on the invite, because it very much simplifies my life as a party-goer and I completely understand the desire to limit the amount of plastic noise making things entering one’s house. I don’t know if it’s gauche, but I enthusiastically support the practice.

    • AwayEmily says:

      I think it’s totally fine to say “no gifts please.” Some people will ignore it, but most people (like me and NewMomAnon) will deeply appreciate it!

    • We say “please no gifts” for all birthday parties. Some people might bring something anyway (I literally keep a wrapped Lego set in my car in case we’re the only ones without a present) but you can discretely set it off to the side. Open it after the party and then send a thank you note.

      Kids have SO MUCH STUFF that it’s really overkill to get 10 more presents. I’m not particularly bothered by material things, but the excessive consumption really gets to you when you sit and watch a 5 year old open 15 presents in the $20 range all in a row, and know that doesn’t include any of the family gifts (or holiday gifts) either. It’s just so much money spent on things that they don’t really need or want.

    • Pigpen's Mama says:

      +1 on the no gifts.

      We (I, let’s be honest) invited a lot of people to kiddo’s upcoming party and the last thing I want is 15-20 more toys in the house. Also the no gift thing seems to be the norm for the larger parties where the entire daycare class is invited.

      Now that I have a toddler, I actually listen to the no gift request on invites, pre-kid I just thought the parents were being mean. :-) That being said, I don’t listen for the kids of very close friends.

      • anonymous says:

        Why do you do that? It makes the people who actually followed the instructions feel bad about showing up empty-handed.

    • Maddie Ross says:

      +1000 to the please no gifts. And while I conceptually love the idea of asking only for books, as a parent of a 4 yo going to lots of 4 yo birthday parties, please don’t actually do that. I have a closet full of gifts (playdoh, craft kits and legos) that I pull out for each party. I don’t generally keep books and that would require a special trip to get one. I would view it as an added burden.

    • octagon says:

      I heard recently of a party where the invitation said something like “in lieu of gifts, [birthday boy] would like each of his friends to draw on the attached triangle.” And then enclosed triangle-shaped paper that the parents turned into a bunting at the party. I thought that was a really sweet idea and it solved the issue of kids feeling like they were showing up empty-handed.

      • ElisaR says:

        i love this idea

      • avocado says:

        That is adorable.

        Last year we tried requesting items to be donated a charity my daughter likes in lieu of gifts, copying one of her friends who has done this successfully. It was a total failure. The only people who showed up with a donation instead of a gift were the kids whose parents had asked me bewildered questions about it. The rest showed up with a gift or both a gift and a donation, which totally defeated the purpose. We will not be trying this again. “No gifts, please” might work better because it is clearer. You will still get people who bring gifts, but not as many.

    • I think it is fine. I read an article once about how a mom didn’t take her kid to birthday parties because she couldn’t afford to buy a gift. It broke my heart a little. I also love the trend of not opening gifts during the actual party.

    • EB0220 says:

      As a parent whose child just had a birthday, I am doing “no gifts” from now on. I’ll just have to talk about it with my kids beforehand. My 5 year old is at the point where most of her friends are opening their gifts at the party (which I think is kind of gauche, but whatever) and I’m thinking, “PLEASE NO MORE STUFF!”. Love the “draw on a triangle” idea.

    • Spirograph says:

      Definitely “no gifts, please.” This is the norm for birthday parties for kids at our daycare, and I enthusiastically support it. I’ve seen some invitation that say “No gifts from our [daycare] friends, please,” which I think is a bit odd. It feels like it’s specifically instructing people who aren’t daycare friends to bring a gift. I also ignore “no gifts” instructions from family and very close friends, but I typically don’t bring that gift to the party unless I’m not going to see the kid any other time.

      I also don’t do non-edible party favors, because I figure if I hate having little bouncy balls, erasers and noise-makers around the house, so does everyone else.

    • Blueberry says:

      Not at all gauche to say “no gifts, please”. Recently, families in our circle have been doing a book exchange, where each kid brings a wrapped book and each kid takes one home. Nice way to do presents without ending up with more stuff, although I also feel fine with no gifts, period, which means fewer panicked trips to the toy or bookstore for poor planners like me.

    • I appreciate “no gifts” on invitations. We have a tight budget, and it’s a relief not to have to buy toys for daycare friends.

      Also, Kiddo has so many toys, mostly from relatives! I started thinking about Christmas the other day (I know, it’s months away), and we’re going to have to clean out Kiddo’s room this fall just to make space for anything new. I can’t imagine what the clutter will be like if we also received gifts from 15-20 daycare friends.

  11. blueberries says:

    +1 on appreciating “no gifts please” on invitations. One fewer thing to do is really nice.

  12. pumpingquestion says:

    How does everyone handle pumping on the road? I might have some day trips at work soon and I’m pumping for my 5 month old. The problem is that I’ll be with a colleageue or two and we’ll be in the car in and out of several meetings, rather than staying in one spot. I can’t imagine finding a place to pump and we all share a car typically.. should I decline the opportunity to travel? I’d really like to not have to do that, but do not see a good alternative..

    • Cornellian says:

      If you’re okay with pumping and dumping, I’ve had great luck sneaking in to a bathroom with a hand pump and pumping each side literally for 3 or 4 minutes. I have a medela hand pump (Harmony) that is actually more efficient than my non-hospital grade electric. It cost literally 20 bucks on amazon and works with all my normal bottles, flanges, etc.

      Obviously 4 minutes twice a day is not ideal in the long term, but I’ve made it work for a day here or there.

      • AwayEmily says:

        Ditto to this — if you’re okay with not saving the milk, it can be fairly easy. Just pop into the bathroom and express enough to keep yourself comfortable. It also means not worrying about lugging around a cooler, etc. I actually found that hand-expressing was faster than the hand pump, but YMMV.

    • AnonAnon says:

      Could you request your own car?

    • Maddie Ross says:

      Don’t decline to go. I see several options, based on my experience: (1) hand-pump as Cornellian says. My Harmony disassembles so that it can be placed in a small makeup bag and it’s easy to throw in a purse. It’s actually pretty efficient, too. You can sneak into a bathroom a couple of times to pump and dump. (2) take your own car and pump on the road or in parking lots. (3) ride with them and either stay back in the parking lot briefly during lunch or before a meeting starts. (4) take your pump into the client site.

      • No need to dump even, if you have a small ice pack and a ziplock bag to keep it all contained, it could stay in your purse.

        • Maddie Ross says:

          Very true. With just a little more baggage/planning, you can definitely pack the pumped milk home.

    • Can you take a break during the meeting to go out to the car and pump while your colleagues are still inside? I’d tell them what you’re doing just so you don’t get someone coming back to the car, and I’d use a nursing cover for privacy. You can get an adapter to plug it into the car and just keep the milk on ice during the day.

    • TXCPA says:

      I travel regularly with colleagues, long day trips for meetings as well as multi-day trips, and have pumped for two babies. If you can be the driver it makes things a little easier so you’re not loading up someone else’s car with stuff. I usually found people were understanding and I would sneak out to the car during a lunch stop or a break in the meeting for a quick pumping session. Nursing cover + sun shade for car windshield + car adapter for the pump made this much easier. A cooler bag can then be used to keep your pump parts and pumped milk. Yeti coolers work great in hot TX summers! Good luck. It’s a PITA but you can do it!

  13. Pumpingquestion says:

    This is all so helpful, thank you so much.

  14. EB0220 says:

    My family is totally frazzled. We need a vacation! Where would you go in October, for maybe 5 days/4 nights? We like mountains and outdoorsy things.

    • Spirograph says:

      Any state or national park with pretty Autumn colors — October is the best month of the year to be outdoors, in my opinion! What region?

    • Mrs. Jones says:

      Asheville or Highlands, NC, if you’re at all close.

    • octagon says:

      Mohonk mountain resort in NY.

      • Anonymous says:

        WOW that is expensive. Is it worth it for a family vacation with a 6 and 4 year old? (Not the OP)

    • EB0220 says:

      We’re in NC, so Asheville would be convenient. I’ve never been to Highlands, looks cute. Mohonk mountain does look AWESOME as well. I looked it up when it was mentioned on the resorts thread. Wondering if I can talk my best friend and her family into joining us….Great ideas.

      • Beans says:

        Highlands is great, but IMO, not the best vacation for very small children. It would be fine for older kids and teenagers. A lot of the restaurants are geared more towards retirees or adults and I’ve felt uncomfortable taking in small children.. Renting a house is fun and if you cooked at home a lot, it would be fine.

      • Strategy mom says:

        High Hampton inn in Cashiers? (very close to Highlands). They are really great with kiddos. Feels like family camp

        • mascot says:

          We spent a week in Cashiers last year in mid-November. Did plenty of waterfall hikes, day trip to Cherokee, day trip to Asheville, and went gem mining (my 6 year olds favorite activity). We stayed in a house which was fine. It was the end of the season by that point so a lot of things were closed in town- something to keep in mind.

  15. Artemis says:

    Just another option for a backpack if you’re a sucker like me . . . . my kids have the Pottery Barn Kids backpacks. Granted, they don’t have the warranty that LL Bean does and you can’t return them if they are monogrammed, but they hold up EXTREMELY well under preschool and elementary school conditions, have different sizes, and have fun patterns plus licensed characters that are fun but tasteful (Marvel, DC, Star Wars, etc.). My oldest just got a new one after using his original one for four years, and frankly his old one isn’t really totally worn out and will probably be used as a weekend/trip backpack–he just needed the next size up for school. My middle has had his first one for a year and it barely looks used, despite going through both school and summer camp.

    They get backordered starting around this time in certain patterns but go on sale several times throughout the summer so if you keep an eye out early on you can usually get what you want on discount without a problem.

    • Those are really cute! I was trying to figure out how licensed characters could be tasteful, but I agree, these are much less “in-your-face” than other licensed stuff I’ve seen.

  16. Mrs. Jones says:

    We got the Land’s End small backpack for kindergarten, and it’s going strong for first grad now. It holds lunch box, jacket, folder, and change of clothes easily.

  17. Patty Mayonnaise says:

    Any advice on daycare near home vs. near work? After being so nervous about getting a spot at all, we were offered 3 different spots at daycares for my almost 5 month old son. Two close to work, one close to home. We’ve decided on the one close to home, but I really loved the one close to work! The idea of stopping by to breastfeed during the day was so nice. What I didn’t love was the idea of taking public transit with him every day to get to/from. With the one close to home, it’s a 10 minute walk and my husband and I can both do it. Any thoughts? Ugh this stuff is so hard.

    • Spirograph says:

      I think you made the right choice. My husband and I split drop-off and pick-up duties, which would not be possible if the daycare were close to the office I worked at when we first started there. And for that matter, I’ve changed jobs since my kids started daycare, and my new job is nowhere near my old one. We would have had to change childcare, and I’m glad I didn’t have that as an added stress.

      • mascot says:

        Yes, all of this. Also, unless your daycare is basically at your workplace, you’ll need to build in the extra time to walk/drive to daycare, feed baby, and then walk/drive back. Add in other schedule disruptions where you can’t get there on time, need to work through lunch, or baby gets fussy as you are trying to leave and you may find it not as helpful as it seems.

      • Anon in NYC says:


    • octagon says:

      CLOSE TO HOME! I say that picking daycare walkable to home is the single biggest contributor to our quality of life. It means that I don’t have far to go when I work from home or take a sick day. It’s a nice idea to stop by to nurse, but you’ll be thankful that you don’t have a long commute with a kid. A friend is at her wits’ end because she has a 20-minute drive each way and her kid just screams in the car seat the entire time. So much so that she is changing daycares to one by their house.

    • ElisaR says:

      hands down: close to home.

      • ElisaR says:

        i should add: i can’t tell you how many times I drop my son off at school to run home and straighten up before the cleaning lady arrives (impossible with my son around undoing everything i straighten up). I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten something for him and love that I can run home and get it. I try to be organized but it happens anyway. And if you’re sick and staying home (and so sick you can’t take care of your baby all day!) it is totally necessary to be close to home. Also – if you have family nearby that may pick up the baby in an emergency, it’s better that its close to home. Plus commuting with a baby probably is the worst. I haven’t done it but I don’t want to…..

        • It is the worst. Take it from someone who sang “The ABC’s” 87 times on the 20-minutes drive to daycare this morning so her son wouldn’t scream bloody murder.

    • Cornellian says:

      I will second everything everyone said. Hands down the best choice.

    • Patty Mayonnaise says:

      Thanks so much – this is really helpful! The one near work is literally across the street, so it would be easy to stop by, but the public transit to/from just seems so overwhelming. Thanks, ladies!!

    • Close to home! For all the reasons listed above. My job and DH’s job have changed since Kiddo started daycare, we can share drop-off/pick-up duties and fill in during emergencies, it’s more convenient if you’re not going to the office that day (sick, working from home to meet the repair guy, or traveling for work), and it’s more convenient if you forget something at home. I’ve never tried commuting via public transit with a baby or toddler, but I won’t miss that life experience.

      Plus, in the big scheme of things, the concerns about nursing on-site (vs pumping or combo feeding or whatever) are (probably) a matter of months, whereas the logistics of drop-off and pick-up are as long as your son is at that daycare.

  18. I’ll be the voice of dissent here – if my child was at daycare close to home, he’d be there 11 hrs a day and we’d have an hour of time with him in the evening. We’d also be frantic trying to make it before the 6pm pickup time. He goes downtown with me and is close to my work. We sing in the car, or when we take transit, we can read books and look at trucks out the window. Now that he’s 2.5 he can have actual conversations in the car. It’s not always great but it is an extra hour and a half of time we have together every day.

  19. Anonymous says:

    If you have a chimney, get a separate chimney inspection. It’s a specialized thing and a lot of people don’t maintain chimneys if they don’t use them.

  20. PregLawyer says:

    Yep, we chose close to work (as in, 2 blocks away). It means we’re never late for pickup, and we have an extra hour and a half together during the day. I honestly don’t know how we would able to manage picking up in time from a daycare close to home. But I guess it depends on your commute and when you intend to drop your kid off and pick up each day.

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