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Q&A with ‘Young House Love’ on having a beautiful home—and kids inside

“The best kids rooms are flexible so they can evolve as your child grow.”

Q&A with ‘Young House Love’ on having a beautiful home—and kids inside

We caught up with John and Sherry Petersik, the duo behind the crazy popular Young House Love blog (and authors of the new book “Lovable Livable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You.” The parents of two shared their tricks for keeping your home beautiful while raising little ones, what they learned about raising kids and sharing lives through social media, and what’s next for their little family.


Decorating a nursery is one of the most fun parts of pregnancy. How can parents choose a theme? Any tips you tried?

Nurseries are definitely one of the most fun rooms to create because they don’t take themselves too seriously and you can have some fun!

We love starting with one item we love - whether that’s a big colorful piece of art or a cozy and playful rug - and working out from there. When you find that one “this is it!” piece to start with, it seems less intimidating to choose a wall color or curtains that go well with that item and it all starts to come together, piece by piece.

We also like to keep in mind that the best kids rooms are flexible so they can evolve as your child grows (and forms their own little personality and opinions). So sticking with themes like whales or flamingos on smaller accessories (like pillows, bedding, or art) can make it easier to switch them out later.

Meanwhile larger harder-to-change choices (like a curtain fabric or cozy armchair) will be more versatile if they’re neutral - so they can work with many different evolutions of that space over the years.

Soaking up the last lazy Sunday before we hit the road next week. �����

A photo posted by John & Sherry Petersik (@younghouselove) on

Renovations + children sounds like a recipe for disaster. How have you managed to handle the constant-evolution of your home and having kids inside?

I wish we had some magical formula, but we usually just work while they nap or sleep for the night if it’s a truly messy or detailed project.

There are definitely tasks like painting a side table or building something simple out in the garage that we can get away with doing by occupying them with something they love to do nearby (like drawing with chalk) but we know that window isn’t very long, so we feel less tugged in a thousand directions when we choose times that they’re sleeping to work on things that need all of our attention.

What do you recommend to stay on top of the constant cleaning of new parenthood? Do you have strategies to stay ahead on bottles, dishes, toys, laundry?

We just try to clean as we go.

Washing dishes after that meal, vacuuming the downstairs in one small pocket of time and then the upstairs a day or two later if there’s a spare moment, etc. That seems less daunting than trying to do one big marathon day of cleaning that might leave us tired and cranky.

The one thing (activity, product, habit) that helps keep our house in order every day. . .

We take our shoes off at the door, which does wonders for cutting down on dust, dirt, sticks, and sand that might otherwise get tracked all over. You’d be amazed what our kids can smuggle inside their shoes! It’s a jungle in there!

The cleaning product we can’t live without. . .

Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castille Soap! It’s a big bottle of concentrated soap that lasts for ages since it can be watered down before you use it. It does it all, from wiping down the counters and mopping the floors to washing hands. It’s organic and plant based so we love that it’s safe for the kids and pretty much every surface - we even wash the dog with it!

Our favorite way to reconnect as a couple is. . .

John & Sherry: Getting outside! We like to go for long walks or take a swim in the river with the kids. Anything for fresh air and to take a break from whatever crazy project we have going on at home! We’re also a big fan of the occasional dinner-and-a-movie date night. We’re pretty easy to please!

We have loved watching your family grow—and grow up—online, and yet you decided to take a break from blogging and social media in order to make more space in your lives for each other. What can other new parents learn from your experience?

It sounds a little cheesy, but that whole “if things aren’t working, change them! Nobody is going to do it for you” thing is so true.

It felt more than a little crazy to take a step back from such a flourishing business that we had worked incredibly hard to create for the past seven years, but we knew that it was the best way to move the needle on a lot of personal things that were much more important to us than website hits and Facebook likes.

We had been trying to accomplish a better work/life balance for years without much success since we had been making tiny changes instead of one big definitive choice - and suddenly taking this big risk helped us get there within weeks instead of years. It was definitely terrifying, but we’re in such a good place now- and we owe it all to taking a step back and reevaluating our goals for our family.

Everyone wants to know what’s new and what’s next with you! How is life with two little ones, and what’s on the horizon for you both?

We are excited that Young House Love has continued to live on in a way that we never imagined when we took that step back!

Our second book, Lovable Livable Home, just made The New York Times Best-Seller List, and we are continuing to design products for companies like Home Depot, which is a ton of fun.

We also occasionally drop in on the blog to share our latest adventures, and we spend our days working more “normal” jobs behind the scenes, which allow us to truly unplug on nights and weekends, which is definitely making us feel more inspired, creative, and happy. We are so grateful for what this past year has brought!

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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