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Girl Talk: How to be Packing-Efficient

Q. I feel so loaded down with the ton of baby stuff I have to bring everywhere. Do you get used to it, or is there a better way of packing?

A. Both. You'll get used to it  -- just like you get used to finding old Cheerios in your shoes  -- and you'll get better at packing  -- just as you get better at checking your shoes before stepping into them. It's simply a matter of practice making perfect.

Meanwhile, I have a few tips that may help you lighten your load: Don't just pack things  -- stash them. An emergency cache of wipes, diapers, and outfits in the car or in the stroller means that you don't have to pack or carry as much each time you leave the house. Also, if you visit the home of a friend often, ask to leave a kit bag there (ask your mom if she'll let you make her house a home away from home, with bigger items such as a bouncy seat or portable crib left there for visits). Finally, pack your own stuff as if you were a tourist: Ditch your purse and just carry a credit card, cash, keys, and driver's license in a zippered coat pocket or in the diaper bag.

Other than that, try to enjoy your well-toned biceps and take heart that diaper-bag days don't last forever.

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