It’s common knowledge that babies need a lot of stuff. There are hundreds, even thousands of blogs, forums and books out there that will tell you the ins and outs of what you need before the baby arrives. Changing tables, baby monitors, nappy bins (more essential than you can ever imagine), buggy, car seat, the list goes on and on.
I am going to try and cover the things those baby books don’t tell you about. The little things that are not essential, but have come in handy over the last month.
Todoist is your run of the mill task manager. For the most part it is not a whole lot different from the Reminders app on iOS. Except for where it is different.
Todoist sets itself apart with a handful of extra features, the best of which is its collaboration feature. Anna May and I have had a “Project” for Elle for months now. If one of us thinks of something we need to do or buy, it gets noted in Todoist. This came in particularly handy while Anna May was in hospital after the birth. If she was up in the middle of the night and thought of something she needed, she just stuck it down in the app. Then before leaving the house to visit I could check the app and tick off the list. Simple but effective.
Collaboration is the big feature here, but other features such as natural language support and the ability to assign tasks add a lot of value to the service.
Day One is a tricky one to describe. The best I can come up with is a cross between a digital journal, a notes app and the timehop feature on Facebook. I’ve been using it for years to jot down notable memories. Usually just an image with a caption. This kind of app is the type that you don’t really see the rewards until years down the line. I have been using it since 2014 as a kind of private social network and its only in the last year that I have really started to appreciate it. I hate Facebook, but there is no denying its value when you see an image of some gig you were at six years ago with your friends. Day One gives you that value without having to share the memory publicly.
Google Photos & iCloud
Google Photos is was going to appear further down my list but it is worth mentioning twice. Google has kindly offered everyone the ability to back-up every photo on your phone for free*. It’s simple to use and as most people have a Gmail address, it’s also pretty easy to make an album and share those hundreds of photos you’ve taken of the wee’un. Google Photos offers a lot of other great functionality but the real value is the quick and easy syncing of photos you've taken to the safety of the cloud.
If you are on iOS, the iCloud Shared Album feature allows you to be more selective as to what gets uploaded and shared. Anna May and I have one for the photos we take of the baby. I particularly enjoy this now that I am back in work and missing out what is happening at home. The main drawbacks of the iCloud solution are the ecosystem itself. It works great but only if you have an iOS device. If you are a household with a mix of Android and iOS, Google Photos is the right service for you.
*photos do not take up storage space as long as you allow Google to compress the larger files.
Go out and get yourself a long charging cable. It might seems trivial but a six foot charging cable comes in very handy. When find yourself trying to charge your phone from an awkwardly located socket in the hospital or when trying to use your phone while plugged in with a sleepy baby in one arm a longer cable is worth having..
A decent battery pack will also go a long way when for all that waiting around you do over the few days you will spend in the hospital. You’re going to need your phone charged up at all times trust me. You think you use your phone a lot… and then you have a baby.
This is a pretty big one and it is really down to how much you are willing to spend. Anna May and I were lucky enough to received a great present of a mirrorless camera from our siblings a couple of years ago for our wedding. It’s easier to use your phone but in the long run you might want to consider something better.
Phone cameras are pretty great these days but they are optimised for viewing on device. Most sensors in smartphones are around the 12MP mark. While megapixels aren’t the measure of how good a camera is, when you go to print that image later you might wish you had taken the photo on something with a larger sensor.
In saying that, 80% of the photos we’ve taken since Elle was born have been taken on either on an iPhone X or iPhone 7 Plus. These have great cameras but you can see the difference on the bigger screen when compared to our Olympus.
It comes down to the old adage; the best camera is the one you have on you. If you have the means, having that be a higher quality camera is going to be worth it in the long term.
All this talk of photos brings me on to some very important you should be doing with all those photos. It doesn’t happen often but every now and then you hear a story of someone dropping their phone or laptop and loosing years of data. Don’t be that person.
It is relatively simple these days to keep some sort of back up. I'll admit, I am on the more extreme side of things. I use iCloud and Google Photos to keep an online backup of the photos I take from both my camera and my phone. In addition to this I also transfer the photos onto a Network Attached Storage device I have, which in turn backs up to a separate hard drive (one is none).
In total I have four copies of each photo. Two local backups, a copy in iCloud and a lower quality copy in Google Photos. I am actually a bit uncomfortable with this set up as I am putting a lot of faith in my hard drives not getting destroyed in a fire or electrical surge. Some form of offsite backup of the full resolution images on the drives is something I am planning on adding in the future.
It's all well and good planning to use the above. When it comes to it, that baby is going to arrive when it feels like it whether you are ready or not. Most of what I've talked about above are services which Anna May and I have been using long before Elle. They might be a help but it's more likely that they will be afterthoughts.