Have diaper bag (and laptop) will travel…

Finally my office is taking shape. My husband’s DIY skills have amazed me. All I did was choose the ceiling, trim, and wall colours and the next thing I knew I was standing there in wonder. My eyes welled up with tears. I don’t think I’ve ever had an entire space dedicated to me – forget actually being built for me. I can really visualize my productivity now and besides that, I feel like one of my major wishes has been fulfilled because I get to work in a real office (as opposed to the dining room table), and still get to care for Vee at home. I know I technically didn’t do very much to make it manifest, but it feels like a huge accomplishment anyways.

Outsourcing is going really well. So well in fact, that I renewed my VA’s contract for the next 2 months to do a more in depth measure of productivity. So far it’s off the charts. I mean, all those things that were on my back-burner, that I would skim over every night while I checked through my mental ‘deficiency list’ are gone. By the way, that’s a deficiency list I keep in my mind, not a mental deficiency list. That’s a whole other bag of tricks.

I think the only source of stress with outsourcing is managing workflow. I am thrilled with the amount and quality of work, but sometimes I feel anxious about what I’m going to issue as a task tonight, etc.  I know that they’re very flexible – in fact they deferred my hours for a few days while I was away in the Adirondacks on our first family trip. It was great.

We got away for a week as a family and it was amazing. We didn’t abandon work altogether, because well, we’re just not there yet. But taking a few more pages from the 4-hour Work Week and packing our mini-mobile-offices, the 3 of us piled into the truck and drove the 7 hours to Lake Saranac. I love that place. The hubs and I have been going there for a few years now. We discovered the less touristy area on our way to the more expensive and polished Lake Placid. Since then, we’ve been going back to the same little stretch. It just seems to have the right balance of things to offer. A beautiful lake, mountainous terrain, an active community with a great concentration of eccentric boutiques, antiques, and coffee spots;  great little lakeside motels with free secure WIFI, and a business centre on the main street just in case you need more at your finger tips.

Vee and I would swim and splash in the lake while Daddy made trades in the breezy shade. We’d go for long family walks with Vee squealing and testing new sounds (“BOW! BOW!” is a new one) and once in a while I’d have to take a call or tap out a quick message on the Blackberry. No big deal. Which in and of itself is a huge deal. The fact that we’ve figured out how to take family time away from the office and the home renos, enjoying the scenery while still advancing our businesses is massive.

This is definitely a hands-on learning experience, and one which I am excited to learn more of. I think next on the agenda is Kelowna, BC in September. That would escalate things to a whole new level by introducing air-travel to the mix. For the time being however, here are a few things I learned about taking your baby and business on the road:

1. Invest in a portable scanner and a portable printer.
I have used mine countless times, and no longer have to be stuck waiting in a library, Kinko’s, or other random internet place in order to get something printed, signed, and sent back. For entrepreneurs with family, these are amazing tools. Sure you have to pack more, but I have been able to relax with family on the beach while using these gadgets. Fantastic.

2. Do spend the few dollars on some vehicle organization.
Yes, buy the back seat organizer caddy. It’s a great baby utility tool – I’ve got a makeshift diaper changing station there, as well as soothers, teething crackers, toys, etc. And the most important thing is that I know where everything is when sometimes quite literally, the poop hits the fan.

3. Bottle warmers that plug into lighter sockets are a good thing.
They may take 2 hours to warm a refrigerated bottle of liquid, but when you have a screaming baby who is over-tired they are miraculous, second only to the boob.

4. Do not assume that you will be home in time for baby’s feedings.
Embrace the picnic. And bring extras. I found that using 2 coolers worked. 1 was small and stowed all the chilled jars, extra bottles, etc. That stayed in the car out of the sun. The other was an insulated lunch bag I picked up at Winners that was smaller than a purse. That I kept fully stocked for the next meal and it came with me at all times. Spoon, bib, bottle, teething crackers, wipes, teething gel. The other thing that I only found once and I will stockpile if I see again are Pampers Bibsters. I’ve linked up to them for sale on line. These things are awesome. They have a great fit and I have not once had an incident of  ‘yuck-neck’ while using them. That’s where you realize that all the baby food you thought your child ate is actually being stowed under one of their cute little multiple chins.

5. Bring baby’s bedtime routine on the road.
So basically moms, you have to make friends with the idea that your routine with baby will be thrown out the window, but a modified vestige of it will remain if you have patience and remember that your routine has been totally botched too. Some of our lakeside motels like The Adirondack Motel boathouse suite (which I adore) do have a kitchenette, and you can easily whip up some culinary delights for you and your family, and have baby in bed on time. However, assuming that you will eat dinner at restaurants, some of what may be unplanned, always carry some pj’s with you in your diaper bag, along with a ziplock containing a wet baby wash-cloth, and whatever else can be incorporated into your child’s nighttime routine. I would give Vee a good wipe-down, change her into her jammies, feed her some bedtime cereal and let the car rock her to sleep on our drive back to our room. Baby sees cool new things, mom maintains illusion of control.. everybody’s happy.

6. Bring a stash of baby food with you everywhere you go.
I know that I’ve eluded to this, but really I can’t say it enough. You may think, as I did, that driving around NY state is hardly cutting a path through the wilderness, but let me tell you this folks, there is a law of parenting and here it is: The rate of hunger acceleration in small children will always be directly proportionate to the absence of stores and eateries in a 30 mile radius. And you can believe that any store you do find by the time your child is piercing ear drums, will have no selection and exorbitant prices. I fell into this trap at a so-called grocery store. A sample size of formula going for $17US, a baby portion jar of apple sauce, $1.69 US etc. Ridiculous, yes. Again you don’t have to turn your car into a bomb-shelter, just keep a day of food in a cooler that stays there at all times. With regard to formula, keep a big can with you in that supply cooler, and do spend the $3 on a dispenser. The keep a days worth of refills at your fingertips.

7. Water!
Keep a couple bottles of water in the car. Refill often. Hide bottles under your chairs. Trust me. This isn’t just for drinking. This can also be for those ‘aaaah, I have DEET in my eye’ type moments that make vacations what they are. It’s always great to have a little water around for washing sand-covered soothers, topping up formula bottles, rinsing hands and sticky faces, etc.

8. Diapers are super absorbent and are great for messy spills.
That’s right folks. You spill something on the floor, you’re out of paper towel, what do you do? Grab one of those number 3 cruisers and soak up that sucker. Also, hubs and I have decided that where you have a diaper bag, you have a medical kit MacGuyver would be proud of. Leg injury? Abrasion? Contusion? A little wipe, a little zinc oxide, a diaper that wraps around your entire leg and even sticks in place. Genius.

9. Don’t assume that you can’t do something because you have baby with you.
We had such an amazing time learning about ourselves as a family, doing things together. We decided that we wanted to go on a couple hikes and quickly gravitated to the Ausable Chasm. I put Vee in a BabyBjorn and we did the whole Chasm hike, going up and down stairs to see breathtaking views for a good 2 miles. It was such a great adventure! And Vee saw just as much as we did. She got to feel wild moss, and touch the wall of a natural fault.. and she’s only 8 months old. Now we can’t wait to go on more hikes together.

10. Pack your iPod with something for everyone. And your charger. Always your charger.
I packed the iPod with goodies before we left, so we had a bunch to listen to for business and for fun. I downloaded some great kids stuff for Veronica, her new favourite song (Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’ by MJ), 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss on audiobook for Hubs, and a bunch of assorted podcasts for me. Each thing was like a little audio treat, mind you seeing Vee rock out to MJ in the car seat could have taken me through the whole 7 hour ride.