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Parenting In 300-Square-Feet Or Less

This is the post where all of you reading decide to nominate me for sainthood. Are you ready?

Our New York City apartment is a whopping grand total of 300-square-feet. Can you even get over that? It is small. Teeny! Like, legitimately a human rights violation.

As Huck’s due date grew closer and the amount of baby stuff we were accumulating grew larger, we had to really sit down and think about what all we needed, and what all we didn’t need.

Turns out, we didn’t need much.

Right now we are getting by with just the following. I am calling it: The Bare Necessities Of Life When You Have No Space. Catchy, right?

1. Stroller

NYC mamas live and die by their stroller. When I was 32 weeks pregnant with Huck, a woman stopped me on the street and asked me in an urgent tone, “Honey, have you found your stroller yet?” like it was some life and death matter. Turns out, it is! In the city, your stroller has to be everything. Rugged, sturdy, but lightweight and foldable, comfortable for baby, with lots of storage, and tricked out with all manner of accessories (rain guard! foot muff! cup holder! organizer caddy! diaper bag carrier! hooks for your groceries!), but not requiring so many accessories (adapters, bassinets, and toddler seats) that you need an extra closet to hold it all. For a while the idea of picking a stroller was so daunting that I had convinced myself we didn’t really need one at all. I was so wrong it’s not even funny.

After much prayer (you only think I’m kidding), we bought the First Year Wave stroller. Had we the budget (and storage space) for something heftier, we may have gone with the Uppa Baby Vista or the Bugaboo, both very popular strollage options in my neighborhood. (Since strollers out here really get used, it justifies the insane price.) I wonder if I were living in the ‘burbs and had a car if a stroller would have even have entered the equation? As it is, this stroller is our SUV.

My Huck prefers to sleep in his stroller, thus making his crib a fantastic place for storing folded laundry!

2. Front Pack

Okay, so what do you do with your kid when you’re jonesing for a shopping spree in SoHo and you don’t feel like folding your stroller into a taxi/hoisting your stroller up the stairs at the Prince Street station? You toss him in a front pack, of course! There are a ton of options here: wraps, carriers, backpacks, forward-facing, rear-facing . . . it can be a little overwhelming. We have a Moby and an Ergo. Covering our bases. We really love our Moby, and you can’t beat the price!

(From what I hear, these front packs are popular outside of urban areas, too. Do you have one? What do you think?)

3. Changing Pad

I will occasionally look longingly at changing tables in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and wonder what my life might be like in a house in the suburbs with whole rooms dedicated to babies and entire closets to hold their gear and accessories, but most times the idea of it makes me laugh. A changing table? A whole table just for changing yo baby? Clearly I have lived in the city too long. We bought this changing pad from Giggle and have been pleased as punch with it. It cleans up easily and makes a great backdrop for off-the-cuff photo shoots.

See what I’m saying?

4. Swing

We debated and debated on this one, because our floor space is precious unto us (300 square feet! Oh, did I already mention that?), but when we finally took the plunge and brought a baby swing home to live with us, our arms got infinitely less tired. It was like magic! He was so happy in there! He’d drift off to sleep peacefully and we could eat dinner–with two hands! I know every baby is different and some like the swings better than others, but the next time we have a newborn in a cramped space I will be buying a swing right away, even if it means doing without a couch. Serious as a heart attack.

(We recently swapped our swing for a floor mat play gym, and I wonder what we’ll swap that for next. Any suggestions?)

5. Walk-In Closet

The right sized closet opens up a whole world of possibility. Why, the right sized closet can turn your  cramped 1 bedroom apartment into a spacious 2 bedroom palatial estate! We are talking privacy! And another room where you can talk above a whisper! Have you seen this closet-to-bedroom makeover? She has two kids in there, people! The Holbrooks are currently on the hunt for the perfect walk-in closet, might you pray for us in our search?

(This last one may be negotiable:)

6. Crib

We have the Alma Bloom mini crib. It comes in at a whopping 19.5″ x 37″–seriously small. We measured and remeasured and every time the results were the same: there is just no room for a traditional crib up in this joint! When we found the Alma Bloom it was like the clouds parted above and heavenly choirs of angels sang and sparkly confetti rained down upon our heads. Hallelujah! He will have somewhere to sleep! (I sewed my own crib sheets. Mini crib bedding, despite being smaller than the average crib bedding, is PRICEY.)

In the beginning I really thought a crib would be a non-negotiable, but it turns out I could have skipped it all together so far, because convincing my Huck to sleep anywhere but his stroller is a lesson in futility at this point.

So let’s discuss this right proper now. What baby items have been most useful to you? What have you found you could do without? What am I going to do with my kid once he starts to crawl? Did I mention I have two dogs? Sainthood, yes?

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