Let’s not pretend–babies and toddlers require a lot of shit. So much so that baby stores push the purchase of not one, but TWO diaper bags–one marketed toward women, the other toward men. Part of this is gender norms, obviously, but another part is a subtle reminder of how much crap you have to carry when you have a baby, and that isn’t including the added weight. The narrative new parents are fed is that, if multiple people will be caring for baby, not having a diaper bag in every car could mean you end up in a fatigued mess.
Confused when I saw these 2 sections, I asked Husband, “Why would we need 2 different diaper bags?” Husband smirked and me and said something to the effect of, “Probably because yours is pink.”
Now let me be clear about one point here because it is, in my opinion, a very important one.
My diaper bag was salmon. Not pink. Salmon.
Salmon is Husband’s favorite food. He wears salmon clothing. I’m all about letting Jack enjoy clothing and toys of all colors. He has a bright pink toy stroller that he picked out for his favorite babydoll (which, by the way, he also chose, and which is hilariously basically Jack in babydoll form. Self-love starts early, friends.)
There’s probably no need to say that Husband not wanting to carry around my salmon diaper bag grated on me. And yet, I bought into the idea that not having a diaper bag in each car would ultimately result in apocalypse. So we bought 2 diaper bags: 1 salmon; 1 black.
It Was Never About the Diaper Bag Color
But what I quickly learned was that Husband’s frustration had little to do with the color of my diaper bag and more to do with diaper bags themselves.
And he’s not alone here. As it turns out, around the same time that Husband was imagining life with a baby, carrying around a giant bag, Jeff was sitting across town, frustrated with the bulky bag he had to carry everywhere he took his girls.
Who’s Jeff? Good question. Here he is.
That’s all you need to know about Jeff for now; he hated diaper bags. We’ll get to the rest. For now, back to Husband.
It Was All About Simplifying
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Husband never sees this crazy popular Marie Kondo show because, if he does, there will be nothing left in our house.
He likes to make things easy. Keep it simple.
You see, as adults, we’re all insanely busy. But Husband is next. level. busy.
A little info about my family I’ve never told you.
Husband is an entrepreneur, born and raised by an entrepreneur.
Father-in-Law built a strong and amazing company from the ground up nearly 40 years ago. I cannot fathom the stress he must have endured in those early years, knowing the success of this endeavor determined whether he put food on his family’s table.
Now, Husband and brother-in-law are partners running this business, where they carry tremendous levels of stress.
Husband is exactly the kind of boss I’d want because he sees every employee and their families as his responsibility. If he doesn’t keep the company running smoothly, efficiently, and safely (safety is a big & difficult part of his industry), it will negatively impact the lives of all of these people.
And he feels that’s all on him. That’s a lot of weight to carry.
Not to mention the fact that, let’s be honest, Husband has a fairly demanding wife. Guilty as charged.
And his family lives nearby, and as his parents age, they require a lot of him, as well. If he didn’t find ways to keep things as simple as possible, his head would probably spin right off of his neck like in a cartoon.
To Maintain His Sanity, Husband MUST Find Ways to Simplify
When we renovated our house before Jack was born, Husband asked for a small cabinet near the door where he could keep things he carries with him. Unlike me, who’s constantly late because I’m running around looking for my computer, phone, charger, etc., Husband knows where his things are. They’re in a specific spot in his cabinet where he puts them everyday.
When I had an epic emotional meltdown because my breast pump broke late at night, it took Husband less than a minute to handle it. Thanks to urban living and Prime Now, there was a manual pump at our door by 11pm. (Not a member of Amazon Prime yet? Get a 1-month free trial here.)
I realize the freakish privilege in saying this, but I’ll out with it anyway. I seriously cannot wrap my head around how people parented before Amazon Prime.
When I lamented how hard it was to go to the grocery store with an infant (despite LOVING my Binxy Baby, which made it so much less stressful), Husband politely reminded me of Amazon Fresh (click here for a free trial!) and Instacart.
“That’s too easy,” I said, as if forcing myself to be stressed while staying home with a newborn were some kind of martyrdom.
But that was exactly Husband’s point. So many things are not easy, so when you have the opportunity to simplify, why wouldn’t you take it?
Where I’ve Seen His Simple Solutions Most Recently are with Travel and Diaper Bags
I’ve written elsewhere about travel hacks to simplify traveling with littles. I’ve also talked about advice for traveling with a toddler in this space, providing 5 actionable tips for making toddler travel easier. One of my best tips is packing lighter and renting baby gear through BabyQuip (available all across North America).
Many of these ideas came from Husband. Remember, he’s the one who’s good at simplifying, not me.
When I take Jack to the park, a restaurant, wherever, I take a full diaper bag. Multiple diapers, a 2-lb. bag of wipes, hand sanitizer, at least 2 changes of clothes, disposable bags for dirty diapers, puppy pads to put under Jack to change him, snacks, toys, sunscreen, bug spray. You name it, it’s in the diaper bag.
99 times out of 100, I need none of these things. But I want to have them, just in case.
But Maybe It Can Be Simpler
One day, Husband came home from an outing with Jack. When he walked in, I noticed the top of a diaper sticking out of Husband’s jean pocket.
Blank, confused stare.
“Why is there a diaper in your pocket?” I asked.
“In case I needed to change Jack” Husband replied, matter-of-factly.
Blank, confused stare.
“You know he has at least 4 in his diaper bag, right?”
“3,” Husband replied. “This is one of them.”
Blank, confused stare.
Here’s what I learned.
Husband, apparently, was fed up with the bulk. ???????????????? I hear you, hubs!
But here’s where we differ. HE DOESN’T TAKE THE BULKY DIAPER BAG INSIDE ANYWHERE! Atlanta is a driving city, so he leaves the bag in the car and just takes a diaper in his pocket.
I’m Torn. This is Both Brilliant and Disgusting.
I love the idea of not having to carry the whole diaper bag, but what if Jack’s diaper is dirty and he needs wipes? What kind of surfaces is Husband changing him on? Does Jack just lie on the changing table in a restaurant bathroom with no buffer?
Now, I’m no germaphobe. Seriously, I’m not. I’m pretty team “sure, he’s going to eat dirt. It’s cool. It’s good for his immune system.” But I don’t even want to know what lives on the surfaces of those changing tables.
Then again, Husband isn’t carrying a giant, heavy bag everywhere. His neck doesn’t hurt every. single. day from its weight.
Well, compromise, and freaking brilliant invention. This is where Jeff and Alison come back into our story.
You see, Jeff had gotten just as fed up as Husband had, and Alison was pretty sick of the bulk, as well. She also happens to be a civil engineer and apparently rather entrepreneurial.
So she did this crazy thing where SHE ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT! What????
She Created Dwypeze, and Parents’ Whole Worlds Change
Seriously. Get this. This girl created a diaper kit that would fit in your pocket. Jeff complained of bulk, Alison agreed, and she almost immediately started prototyping. She tracked down manufacturers, paid attention to specs for thinness along with quality, and found the perfect changing mat (which, by the way, is actually a branded dental bib). She had a freakin’ wipes consultant, y’all! What even is this madness?
Her goal: to create a pocket-sized diaper kit with “everything you need and products you actually want to use.” Tall order, if you ask me, but seriously, she did it.
She wanted to help improve mom life, and make sure that dads were involved too.
Alison really only hit one major snag–she couldn’t find anyone to do the manufacturing of the pouch and final packaging that satisfied her. So she found someone to just make the pouch, then she built her own machine to shrink and seal it!
Now, she has a manufacturer, and they still use her machine. This girl deserves a doting profile of her accomplishments.
She’s amazing, and exactly the kind of strong woman Undefining Motherhood wants you all to know you can be.
The Best Inventions are Those that Solve Problems
Alison solved a huge problem for both of us. And for Husband and Jeff. And for every other parent out there who’s sick of their neck and shoulder hurting because of the giant, bulky diaper bag.
Now, she’s building a sustainability team to ensure every component of Dwypeze is biodegradable. She’s also working with a researcher at Georgia Tech trying to find a better way than anyone has found yet to make diapers fully recyclable or biodegradable. Did I mention badass?
So now, Jack can get changed on a mat and have wipes in the case of poop-splosions, but Husband can still carry all he needs in his pocket. And actually, so can I. Or my purse–even the small one.
The current iteration of Dwypeze has wipes, a pad to put under your kiddo while you change them (remember that dental bib?), a dirty sack for the dirty diaper, and a hilariously brilliant branded card to entertain little squirmers and make the diaper change easier. (Alison credits her sister for the card. It may be the best part).
Jack even loves it when it’s still packed.
Now, Don’t Get Me Wrong. I Still Leave the Diaper Bag in the Car.
Because we all know that poop-splosions are a thing, and it’s just smart to have it there.
But when I’m out and about, I just have this tiny cinched Dwypeze bag chilling in my purse or back pocket. And when Husband takes Jack on his own, I know he can be minimal without being risking a disgusting number of germs. Win-win.
What’s one way you’ve found to help simplify parenting? Tell me more in the comments!
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.