So, first let me say that ok, this $200 did not literally save my sanity, I was still probably on the edge with a 13 hour time change, 3 days of travel and a newborn. But I swear, one of my baby shower gifts really saved me so much stress and hassle that I have to recommend it to anyone moving. Three words (kinda) Pack N’ Play.
Just before it was time to register for my baby shower we found out that our family would be moving over seas for the next four years. We would have about three or four months to prepare and we would be traveling with a one month old and a kindergartener. We did not know what exactly our accommodations were going to be or even when our new home would be available once we had settled on one. On top of that we had a five-year old who was doing to be entering kindergarten two months before the move. I had envisioned this easy trip to the store for picking up school supplies and baby bottles all in a one stop trip and it was turning into a completely different chaotic situation.
I decided that we would need to be really smart about our move and how we did things so that our heads wouldn’t explode simultaneously! The first things that I was already in the process of completing was registering for my baby shower. I knew that my husband was really busy at work and I started the baby registry while he was at work one day. I completed the sign up and questionnaires with the store associate to just get it out of the way. I checked out some of the “must haves” that the store suggested and browsed around before heading home. I knew that my husband would be coming back to help me with the actual decisions for the registry later that day. I knew that many things on my registry were not going to be gifted due to cost and the like so I mentally prepared myself to make this an essential items list for moving a baby across the world as well! Most of the list was just a guide for myself to make sure we were prepaired. I also knew that many of the items on the registry we going to get stuck on the ship from the US to Japan for a couple of months. So anything like high chairs were ok as I wouldnt need them yet, but things like new born size clothes were not going to cut it. She wouldnt be able to wear them anymore by the time they arrived. I ended up registering for bigger sizes that wouold do better in a season or even two as it would be around 3 months after our arrival that I saw anything we packed. Anything she needed must fit in a suitcase because we could only take a bag or two each. Otherwise the price for luggage was going to get way over our budget.
I decided that the most important item on the list was going to be a pack n play. I know that not everyone thinks they are the most cost effective items nor are they best for cleaning purposes (who had the bright idea of putting something like a thick poster board in the middle of bedding that you can not remove for washing…for babies!?) but in this scenario this product was a life saver. I ended up deciding on a Graco brand pack n play. Not the top of the line but not the lowest end either. Our model had a sleeping attachment at the top for the littliest of babies and a changing area as well. After a month or so we could remove the top sleeper and have a longer but still elevated bed and then finally you could remove that and just use as a play yard. It also had a couple bins that were attached at the side for storage. They were small but useful. I am glad that we went with a mid range pack n play as the extra attachment features made life moving much easier.
My family knew that the Pack n Play was my main need while moving with a newborn, so they ended up giving this as a gift at my baby shower. My grandmother and aunt went in together on the cost which was really helpful. They ended up giving us the pack n play before we even had the shower which gave us time to figure out how to set it up and a;; essential “move” items for the baby I actually put inside the pack n play so that they would not get packed or hidden as we were storing many things and trying to gather everything and organize for when the movers were coming.
After our daughter arrived and our apartment was packed up onto a truck we were left with just a few suitcases and a pack and play. We left the apartment and stayed with my family for a couple of weeks for one last visit before we headed to Tokyo. We had a small two door car that we were leaving behind and our luggage hardly fit in the trunk. However the pack n’ play could fit just fine.
After our visit we had to leave the midwest for Seattle for a couple of days in which we stayed at a hotel and meandered through the city until our escape to Asia a few days later. the pack n play did fit between the two hotel beds and it also packed up easily once you got the hang of it.
We checked the pack n play at the airport curbside check in so that we wouldn’t have to lug it around but luckily we knew that we would have one constant device to sustain a large amount of our daughters needs. We had no idea about the housing situation when we arrived in Tokyo and how long the wait would be for our place. We also knew that we would not have to rush out and try to order furniture or have it delivered and figure all that out as well. We were not in the mood to try to find a furniture store and buy anything right when we arrived because we knew that we were also going to be pretty busy registering our older child for kindergarten and buying a car.
After a 12 hour flight from Seattle to Tokyo we picked up our pack n play at baggage claim, hopped on a shuttle and checked into our hotel. Ok, so that was a really short sentence compared to what really happened…. but none of that is really pertaining to this post. We were on jet lag +newborn who never sleeps at night but does sleep on plane when parents can not fall asleep = complete haze and no knowledge or reality. But hey we made it work.
Pack n Play was there to save the day. At the hotel we had it up in a few minutes, had a place for her to sleep, a place for her to be safe from luggage being hauled in the room, a changer ready to go, an organizational bin for diapers and wipes handy and all of that good stuff.
After a few days in the hotel my husband’s job moved us into our housing. We really basic used furniture to borrow until ours arrived off of the ship. But it was going to be about two more months before our furniture arrived. We used the heck out of that pack n play during that time!
And currently even though our daughter is now a toddler she still uses the pack n play. When we travel we take it to hotels and she can still sleep in it (although not everyone’s toddler would probably fit the weight limit). She does ok traveling in Japan because she knows the pack n play and is familiar with it. She is uncomfortable as most toddlers are in strange places and it gives her a bit of comfort. (Spoiler alert, even when she was much bigger we still used the play yard feature as a low bed so she couldnt climb out. We skipped a crib completely and went to a big girl bed after the pack n play.)
We have another overseas move coming and even though she is a toddler now, we will still bring her pack n play simply for the fact that sleeping in a strange bed in a strange country in a strange hotel would keep her up all night crying. The pack n play will easily be packed, unpacked, carried in, and all her belongings that she needs to sleep will be there. Not to mention she can play without touching a dirty hotel floor when she wants to hang out with her Elsa doll for the evening.
If you do not have a pack n play because you use a crib… I totally get it. However if you are moving overseas and it is going to be a juggling act I highly, highly recommend investing $150-$200 in a pack n play. The stress that it will save you is worth so much more! I do not know how we would have gotten through without it and Here we are a few years later and we will be using it on our next international move.