Posts filed under ‘baby’

Nesting Progress

baby baskets

As I clean out the house in preparation for our new little bundle of joy I am perpetually amazed by the sheer amount of stuff that exists within the confines of our walls. Every time I revisit the closets, dressers and drawers in my house I find something else that can be dragged off to the donation center.

Although I love reorganizing I absolutely hate seeing how much money I’ve wasted over the years. After moving things from room to room one too many times I finally decided to get rid of a box full of dishes, platters, plates, vases and candle holders. I hate to admit it, but most of these items were gifts from our wedding ten years ago. If I could go back in time I would definitely register differently.

In my mid-twenties I pictured entertaining quite frequently on all the fine serving pieces I selected. Now in my mid-thirties I cannot remember a single get-together that involved formal dinnerware. Most of our parties occur outside with disposable plates and party supplies. For the time being I kept the fine china, but everything else that hasn’t been used more than once in the last ten years was sent out the door. I cannot say for certain, but I believe I just piled hundreds of dollars worth of gifts into my car. For the record I cringed each time I pictured the sticker price of those items.

Some rooms have certainly been easier to organize than others. While the kitchen and dining room were relatively quick and painless; the craft bins have been a whole different story. What’s a girl to do with all that paint, gift wrapping supplies, thank you notes, colored pencils and a whole host of other miscellaneous stuff that seems to sit around in drawers just waiting to be used? I didn’t have the heart to get rid of any of it. It definitely feels like I will use these items some day and I like having some of these things on hand for last minute gifts bought and received. I got rid of a number of things, but kept quite a bit. I moved them to a new location, sorted and labeled everything.

Although I’m able to recycle my son’s artwork, (thank goodness he doesn’t get attached to those), I also gathered two plastic containers worth of play-doh, art projects, construction paper, markers and crayons. At least I know these will be used at some point in time. Then there are the bins of brand new toys I purchased for future birthday parties and baby showers. While I like saving the money for each event I hate storing everything for months on end. As our space becomes more limiting I believe the gift closet is officially coming to end. I’ve made similar statements in the past but this time I’m sticking through with it. Thanks to stores like Marshall’s and Ross nearby it’s always easy to find toys at bargain prices.

In digging through my son’s old baby clothes I was amazed by just how many little outfits I’d gotten rid of over the past three years. I gave two bags full of onesies and sleepers to a friend who delivered fourteen weeks earlier than expected and purged a few more things here and there along the way. The final count in the 0 to 6 month range is rather pathetic; just a handful of sleeping bags, onesies and sleepers. I certainly don’t regret giving those things away and since this child will be born in the opposite season, (spring versus fall), I have a feeling most items in the three to nine month range wouldn’t work anyway. My first child could wear the same outfit all day, which meant we didn’t much in the way of clothes. Let’s hope the second baby doesn’t get reflux either.

It wasn’t all bad news. I decided to return a few maternity items and unrelated office supplies. I found a number of maternity shirts on sale at Old Navy last week and decided to return the more expensive items I purchased at Kohl’s. I file the receipts to everything I buy so I just dug through my handy-dandy organizer and returned them to customer service this morning. I also found a bunch of unused pens and shipping labels that have been sitting in the drawer for a month or so. I located the receipt and returned them too; between the two transactions I recouped $75.

I still have a long list of nesting tasks I want to accomplish. There are quite a few closets, cubbies and plastic storage bins to process!

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November 18, 2014 at 9:04 PM 8 comments

Nesting: The Second Time Around

nursery shelves

I love second trimester nesting! I’m currently twenty-one weeks pregnant and suddenly feel a compulsive need to clean the house, remove all the clutter and organize everything. I started in the kitchen, moved to the dining room, tried my best to wrangle the chaos that is our living room and then moved upstairs.

I don’t feel as anxious about getting everything ready this time around. Before my son was born I wanted every little detail to be complete. I asked my husband to paint the nursery, I assembled the crib and dresser and applied jungle themed decals to the walls. Long before he arrived everything was washed, dried, folded and hanged. This time around I’m taking a much more relaxed attitude to preparing, especially as it pertains to the nursery.

The truth is my son didn’t sleep in his room for a full six months. Since he was exclusively breastfed I kept him in the same room with me. I didn’t see the value in keeping him in separate quarters when I could just walk three steps to lift and feed him. For the first month or so he slept in a co-sleeper, but after that his little body grew too long to fit comfortably in there. We disassembled the crib and reassembled in our room. It was a tight fit, but we managed to make it work. I couldn’t access my dresser for four months, so I moved everything I needed to a small nightstand.

My post-pregnancy wardrobe included a bunch of pull-down nursing tops. They are the kind that pull down in the front so you don’t have to lift your shirt to nurse. I added a couple pairs of pants, bras and underwear and had plenty of room to spare in those drawers. This time around I’m considering adding some of the baby clothes and blankets to that same dresser. That way everything we need will be in one general area. I might even toss the changing pad on to the top of my dresser so I don’t have to leave the room to change the baby.

I moved all of my pre-pregnancy clothes to the basement for the time being. I did this for two reasons. First, I don’t want to move them out of the way every time I reach for something to wear. Second, I figure it will give me the opportunity to further purge my wardrobe after the baby is born. Things that fit will come back upstairs; everything else will be gathered for donation. Pregnancy has forced me to revisit my wardrobe on more than one occasion. Whether I like it or not various parts of my body changed while I was pregnant and even after I delivered. I got rid of anything that didn’t fit well and decided not to hold on to things that might fit again one day.

My son is still sleeping in his crib, (converted to a toddler bed), and I’m not certain when he’ll give up the comfort of that cozy spot for a larger bed. I don’t need to rush him out of there for quite some time. We still have 19 weeks, (technically I think it’ll be closer to 17 or 18), until the baby arrives and then another two months of the new one using the co-sleeper.

We still own most of the baby equipment my son used, so we just need to find, assemble and figure out where on earth we are going to put it. With only one child in the house we seemed to have plenty of room for that giant baby swing, rock-and-play and bouncer. This time around my son’s toys can fill the entire living room floor, so I’m not quite sure how we’ll squeeze everything in.

Since I haven’t touched the nursery yet, the majority of my nesting seems to revolve around all the other stuff contained within the walls of our home. I’m taking a closer look at the items we actually use on a daily basis. When I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets I removed anything we don’t use regularly. In the past I would have moved it to some other location, but this time I dropped it off for donation. I was more hesitant than I would have preferred. I kept thinking “we might need that one day” and then decided we would just buy again if and when that time came. I got rid of a few storage containers that cannot be stacked even though they were in perfectly good condition and a couple of vases and pitchers that have barely been used.

Unfortunately, I find myself moving things around much more than actually disposing of them. My days of bargain shopping for office supplies are long over, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of all the printer paper in our home. A two foot stack has been moved to the hall closet where it waits to be turned into drawing paper and printable coupons. The same goes for a mound of thank-you notes, ribbons and wrapping supplies.

My hope is to corral all of these miscellaneous items into one place for the time being, then make a second pass through a few days or weeks from now. Everything other than clothing is getting stored away in labeled bins and drawers in one small room. I’d like to reduce the pile by half. I’ve also decided that anything that cannot fit into this space will be purged.

I feel like I have a long way to go to get everything sorted and organized, but I love that I have the energy and desire to make things better. The first step is to clean out the house, the last step will be to work on the nursery.

Photo Credit

November 13, 2014 at 5:12 PM 10 comments

How to Save Money on a New Baby: Wait to Find Out the Gender

reveal

I’ve been to quite a few baby showers in the past ten years. For the majority of those parties the mother-to-be already knew the baby’s gender. In the case of baby boys light blue invitations with sailboats and puppy dogs were mailed, for baby girls sparkly images of pink ribbons and sprinkled cupcakes.

As a guest at these events I’ve noticed an interesting trend. When the gender is known and revealed prior to the shower the number of baby outfits and clothes provided as gifts increases exponentially.

From my experience knowing the gender seems to increase the odds that guests will avoid more functional presents in favor of cute little clothes that make women oh and ah.

As I mentioned in my last post my husband and I chose not to find out the gender of our first born child in advance and will do the same this time around. At our baby shower we received a plethora of practical items from our registry and very few clothing related items.

In comparison I attended a baby shower last February where the mother-to-be was inundated with gift bags full of clothes. Other than a box or two of diapers and practical items from one or two family members she received very little from her registry.

It was a HUGE shower with a room full of guests and almost each and every one of them opted for something cute over something practical. As someone who is ridiculously prudent it pained my heart to see so much money wasted on teeny tiny baby clothes that would be outgrown within a matter of weeks.

I’ve witnessed similar scenarios time and time again particularly from moms expecting baby girls. When the mom is finished opening the gifts the room is overflowing with pink dresses, dainty shoes for a baby who won’t be old enough to walk in them and barrettes for a child who may not have hair.

From my personal experience it seems that the temptation to buy cute outfits is avoided when the gender is unknown. I’m not sure why that happens, perhaps it’s just harder to find clothes in gender neutral colors.

Of course, gender isn’t the only predictor of what types of gifts moms-to-be might receive. Some moms don’t take price into consideration when registering. If you choose too many high end items or too many inexpensive ones you won’t get what you want either. I wrote a post back in February explaining this in more detail. If you really want friends and family to buy what you want it’s important to consider price points and store locations carefully.

In our case we received play mats, strollers, nursery items and bath toys in neutral colors. Even the guests who chose to avoid the registry picked gender neutral items like sheets with jungle themed prints and sorting toys. Not a single gift was wasted and each one can be used the second time around regardless of whether baby two turns out to be a boy or a girl.

My son currently sleeps in a yellow room with green sheets. The next baby can easily move into that same room without changing a single thing in it. In fact, even at age three, with the exception of his Thomas trains, most of his toys are gender neutral.

I think having a boy first gives us an overall advantage in the clothing department. A little girl can wear blue much more easily than a little boy can wear pink. In general I find that the girls clothing is quite girly, while the boy’s clothing is much more gender neutral.

Most moms I know that had a daughter before a son agree with me. They said the majority of their little girls clothing was donated or sold and that whole new wardrobes had to be purchased or borrowed for their second child.

While we didn’t receive many clothes at our shower I did purchase quite a few in the span of that first year. I took a peek in the box today and found that the majority of clothing in 0 to 9 months can be worn by either gender. If my children were born at the same time of year I don’t think we would need to buy anything new for the first six to nine months. Of course that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t want to buy a few feminine outfits, but more importantly that the need wouldn’t exist.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic. If you knew the gender in advance of your baby shower did you receive a lot of clothing? If you waited did you find the majority of guests purchased practical items directly from your registry? Also, since girls can wear boys clothes do you think there is an economic advantage to having a boy before a girl?

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November 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM 12 comments

The New Addition To Our Family

I can’t believe I’m typing up this post, but here it is, after nearly a year of trying to conceive I am happy to announce that our little family of three is expecting a new addition to the family. The new bundle of joy should arrive next March!

I’ve been hesitant to write about my pregnancy or tell people about it. I was the same way with my first. When I got pregnant with my son I waited until I was fourteen weeks to tell anyone other than my husband and massage therapist. This time around I told one or two people early on, but still waited to tell my family until the last possible minute. To be honest I only spilled the beans, because I was afraid my growing belly would reveal the truth on my behalf.

foot

I had a few minor complications in the first trimester, but we have just reached the mid-way point in this pregnancy and everything is now looking great!

I do not plan to find out the gender of this baby until the day of his or her birth. We did the same thing three years ago when my son was born and it was so exciting to wait!

A lot of friends and family members think I want a girl this time around, but the truth is that I will be thrilled with either gender. I love my son with every single ounce of my being and I would be blessed beyond belief to receive another little boy into my life!

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November 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM 9 comments

Creating a Baby Registry: How to Get Friends and Family Members to Buy What You Want

Many expecting parents pour through websites and baby stores in search of perfect, must-have items for their registries. Mothers and fathers-to-be create long lists in the hopes that everyone will buy items they want, but many parents don’t receive the things they selected. I’ve watched many expecting parents receive a room full of gifts, most of which were not on the registry.

While every gift should certainly be appreciated there are a couple of things you can do to facilitate the gift giving process and ensure you receive more of the items you want and need.

First, register at two stores. One should be an online site, preferably Amazon. The other can be a major retailer like Target or a baby store. There are a number of reasons to choose two.  First, online sites like Amazon typically charge much less than the big name baby stores.

Before a baby shower attendee goes shopping, either online or in store, she will probably have a target price range in mind. The price will vary depending on how close the person is to the parents-to-be, how long they have known each other and how much they can afford. This isn’t always the case but most people pick a specific number before they start shopping. The common price points are $25, $50, $75 and $100.

Let’s start with an example; you want to register for a play yard/playpen/pack-n-play. At the baby store the item costs $115 which is just out of reach of the person who is willing to buy you a $100 gift. At Amazon the item costs $95 and includes shipping, which might make it the prefect present.

Think carefully about the price points of items on your registry. Think through the list of people you would like to invite to your shower and how much each might spend. Your favorite aunt might be willing to spend somewhere between $100 and $150, but the coworker you’ve known for two years might not want to spend more than $25. Make sure you include a number of items on your registry within each range.

When I registered, which was over two years ago, I found the biggest price differences on big ticket items like strollers, car seats, high chairs, bouncy seats and pack-and-plays. Brick and mortar stores were consistently higher and the price difference ranged from a few dollars more to nearly $40 for a few items. A few dollars here and there don’t sound like a lot, but it could be the difference between matching someone’s price point and going over.

Another reason to register at Amazon; most people who are buying big ticket items won’t need to see or touch these objects in person. They’ll be happy you registered online so they do not have to lift and drag it these large, cumbersome items through a store and into their car. You actually save them a whole lot of hassle by providing the means to have it shipped directly to their door. A lot of brick-and-mortar stores have websites, but not all of them offer free shipping. Many of Amazon’s larger baby items ship for free. 

So if Amazon prices are cheaper why register at brick-and-mortar stores at all? There are two main reasons. First, the baby shower attendee may want to go shopping. She may want to touch the soft baby blankets and look at the sweet, pint-sized baby clothes. Second, the world is made up of procrastinators. You would be amazed by the number of people that receive an invitation a month before an event and actually buy the gift only a day or two before attending.

If you register solely online you discourage the people who want to see and touch things in person from buying what’s on your list. You will also ensure that the procrastinators who put off shopping until the last minute will go rogue. They will quickly realize that the gifts they order will not arrive in time and will randomly buy something else for you.

Okay. So now you know you should register at two places, compare prices for all big ticket items and consider price points when registering. What else?

Try to put aside your urge to pick the cutest things. Prices for the same item in a different pattern or color can vary dramatically. Take the rock ‘n play sleeper as an example.

The SnugaMonkey version costs $75.99 SnugaMonkey

The Rain Forest version costs $44.99. Rain Forest

Now the person who was going to spend $75 for an item can easily buy the more expensive version, but by choosing the less expensive item you create a new option for someone willing to spend less than $50. One version might be slightly cuter than the other, but the truth is your baby is going to lay in the middle of this contraption so you won’t be able to see that snuggly monkey design anyway. Another piece of advice, if you know you are having a boy or girl, still consider gender neutral colors. When I registered I noticed a lot of items were cheaper in green and yellow.

Also, keep in mind the age range for certain items and the amount of time your child may spend using it. You may think you need the cutest, most expensive baby apparatus, but realize your child will only use it for a few months. I’m not suggesting that you always register for the least expensive item, but rather that you weigh the decision to choose pricier items. If you cannot live without the snugamonkey and it’s not in someone’s price range you will be forced to buy it yourself. Would you rather have a slightly less cute design or pay $75 out of pocket for something you find irresistible? I’d opt for choosing something less adorable if someone else was willing to pay for it. Maybe you wouldn’t. That’s fine, just think about your price points and what matters most when selecting.

This doesn’t mean you should always register for the cheapest item. If you plan to jog with your baby or take long walks with him or her you will want a comfortable stroller. I registered and received a less expensive stroller at my baby shower and grew to hate it. In my case it turned out that the stroller handle was not high enough to fit my 6 foot stature. I kept that stroller for a year but absolutely hated it. I ultimately purchased a new one, but I disliked the fact that a close family member spent good money for one I disliked so much.

Think carefully when you select items and be extremely cognizant of prices. Unless you have wealthy friends and family members don’t register for a $50 sleep sack. No one wants to spend $50 for that. Register for a good quality, but less expensive brand and you might receive three or four. Your child is bound to spit up or pee on them and you’ll want to have a couple on hand for late night changes. Remember that items like this can be purchased at Marshalls, Ross and similar stores at a fraction of the price. Last week I spotted ten or twelve hanging from the clearance rack for four dollars. In fact, I suggest walking through non-baby stores to see what’s available and how much things cost.

Another key piece of advice. Do not register for clothing, wash cloths, bibs, burp cloths, hooded towels or baby blankets. I can pretty much guarantee that you will receive these anyway. Women love to buy soft, cutesy things like these and the expecting parents will inevitably receive a bunch of them. If you have friends or family members that knit you may also receive handmade booties, blankets, hats and even mittens. I have never been to shower where a mother-to-be didn’t receive at least a couple of these items.

Also keep in mind that some baby sized gear is cute, but certainly not necessary. Full sized towels work better than the hooded baby versions and extra soft wash cloths will work perfectly fine for a baby. In other words you can find work arounds for these types of items so it is not crucial that you receive them. They may not have baby motifs on them, but they will last long beyond the baby years.

Lastly, make certain people know where you are registered. If your friend or family member is hosting the shower ask them to include the details on the invitation. If people don’t know where you registered you are bound to get a whole lot of stuff you really don’t need or want.

Do you have any other advice for creating a baby registry? If so, please leave a comment below.

February 3, 2014 at 10:45 PM 2 comments

Reader Advice: Would You Lend Out Your Baby Stuff If You Intended to Have More Children?

rock

I could use a little reader advice. Here is the scenario. I currently have a two year old son and would like to get pregnant again. It took nearly a year to get pregnant with my first child so I have little hopes that it will happen sooner for us this time around. I don’t really want to go around telling people that I am trying for another. If you’ve never suffered from infertility you might not relate to that sentiment, but if you have struggled month after month to conceive you probably understand where I’m coming from.

A member of the family recently announced that she is expecting her first child next year. As soon as the announcement was made another family member immediately offered up all of my baby clothes and baby equipment.

I was offended that someone offered up my stuff without asking me first, but overall I wasn’t too worried about lending things out. My first thought was ‘no problem,’ I’m not currently pregnant so I’d be happy to share many of the things my son used throughout his first two years. But when I mentioned this to a friend she said it was a horrible idea for the following reasons:

  • Babies ruin things. These days baby equipment is covered in cloth and materials that can easily become stained and damaged. I keep things very neat, clean and orderly and there is no way to know that the family member I am lending to would do the same. Also, since babies generally make a mess this may not be something the mother can control.
  • The family member is pregnant with her first which means someone will throw a shower for her and she’ll get all new stuff. If I give away my stuff and it gets ruined, broken or otherwise damaged odds are that I would be left holding the bill to replace things for my next child.
  • It’s generally difficult to ‘lend’ baby items, because moms can’t keep track of everything you gave them. If you hand over a pile of clothes, the mom receives clothes from other friends and family and buys additional items she won’t be able to keep track of everything.

She said it wouldn’t be considered lending, but rather giving and that if I gave her anything I shouldn’t expect to receive a single thing back.

I completely understand my friend’s point, but it seems awfully stingy to keep things stored in my attic when I don’t know if I’ll ever be graced with another child.

So what do you think? Would you lend out your baby clothes and items if you knew you wanted more children? If you lent them out what would you say to ensure that the items are returned?

December 4, 2013 at 2:06 PM 16 comments

For the Women Who Want Baby Girls

Baby

I know a lot of women who dream of having baby girls. I suppose the same is true in reverse. I’m sure there are a lot of men who want a baby boy, though it’s more unusual to hear them speak of it.

Unlike most American couples we decided not to find out my son’s gender before he was born. Shortly after I became pregnant I bought a journal with the word “BELIEVE” on the cover and in it I wrote “I want a baby.” I know it sounds absolutely crazy but I believe in telling the universe what you want in life. Writing it down seemed like an official declaration of my desire.

After awhile I changed my declaration and declared “I want a healthy baby.” This later changed to “I want a happy, healthy baby.”, and finally “Dear God please help me receive a happy, healthy baby.”

I kept that journal in my closet and wrote in it before every doctors visit and every sonogram. I never added a gender to that request. I never wrote “baby girl” or “baby boy.” My only hope and dream was that my child would be happy and healthy.

This post is not meant to sound judgmental. I certainly understand a woman’s desire to have a daughter. Just as I would understand a man’s desire for the same.

I was unbelievably curious about our baby’s gender, but I was not drawn to a specific gender. When I worked in daycare, many moons ago, my most beloved child was a three year old little boy. Every afternoon when I arrived he would climb into my lap and tell me stories like all three year old children do. I’m not sure why I connected to him, but I guess there doesn’t need to be a reason for bonding to occur.

Before my son was born a few friends and family members said, “I think you’ll have a girl.” They said it in a way that really meant, “I sure hope it’s a girl!” Other friends told me they would have been “devastated if they never had a girl.” This frustrated me beyond belief. Having a child growing inside of you is a miracle in and of itself and I did not want to think any less of this child because the gender was not what someone else wanted or expected it to be.

Whenever I heard these comments I replied “I will love it no matter what” and I meant that with all of my heart.

A few hours after my son was born a nurse came into the room. My husband was passed out on the couch after a 5:00 am deliver and I was snuggling with my newborn. She asked me what gender my child was and when I told her he was a boy she said, “Isn’t it funny. Once a baby shows up in this world you can’t imagine any other baby laying in his place.” In my life I have found few other statements to be so true. Before your child is born you may create mental snapshots of what color his hair or eyes might be. If you don’t know the gender you may think it’s going to be a girl or a boy, but once your child is laying in your arms you suddenly can’t remember that child you previously pictured.

I can’t speak for every mother out there, but I can tell you from the deepest region of my heart that I could not imagine loving a child any more than I love my son. Once you hold that baby in your arms you will completely forget that you dreamed of a different gender. At least I hope that will be the case for you.

September 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM 7 comments

The Excitement of a New Baby – A $700 Clothing Bill!

Gymboree

I am a sucker for children’s hats. I typically buy at least two or three for each season. That enables me to keep one in the car, one in the house and sometimes one in my diaper bag.

When my son’s favorite sun hat was stolen a few weeks ago I went shopping for end of summer hat sales and found a few for less than $5 at Gymboree. I wasn’t exactly sure what size my son would wear so I bought a couple in varying sizes and planned to return the ones that didn’t fit as soon as I returned from the beach.

I went to a Gymboree store in a very run down mall not too far from where my parent’s live. Most of the stores in the mall have closed, but the Gymboree store still appears quite profitable.

Every time I go there I end up behind someone who appears to be buying every available outfit in the store. Yesterday I stood behind a woman who was eight months pregnant with twin girls. She was buying matching outfits in every shade of pink and purple you could imagine. As the cashier rang up her purchase the woman kept asking the price of each item, but no matter what number the cashier said she answered “yes I’ll take that one too.”

In total she purchased over $700 worth of items and walked out with three large bags and an online order for all of the items that were not available in store.

The clothes ranged in size from 0 to 3 months, which means in a very short period of time those tiny babies will outgrow $700 worth of clothes! She paid for the bill using two credit cards and asked the cashier to split the total, which is probably not the sign of a healthy financial situation.

After the woman left I got into a conversation with the cashier. She mentioned that it was not unusual for a new mother or father to pay $500 or more on outfits for a newborn. In fact, she said that particular woman had been in the store with her husband a few days before.

During certain times of the year Gymboree offers Gymbucks to consumers when their spending threshold reaches $50. Spend $50 and you’ll receive $25 in Gymbucks. Spend $100 and you’ll receive $50, etc.  She said parents get hooked on the game of getting these coupons to spend on later purchases. Of course, the store wins, because they buy a ton of merchandise upfront and then return a month or so later to purchase more.

I tried to think back on the initial purchases for my son. We didn’t know his gender in advance so in that first month a lot of his clothes were green and yellow. We did need to buy some newborn clothes, because I thought for sure he would fit directly into size 0-3, but initially I only bought three or four tiny outfits.

I’m not sure how much I spent on those first few sizes, (newborn, 0-3), but it wasn’t close to $700. In fact, I bet I didn’t spend $700 for the entire first and second year!

I certainly understand the excitement of your first child, or children as the case may be, but I wanted to tell this particular customer that children grow so quickly. That my son wore size 0-3 for such a short period of time and that $700 is a ridiculous amount of money.

Of course it’s not my place to say anything. So instead I congratulated her on her pregnancy and told her she was in for the most amazing ride of her life.

Do you remember how much you spent on your children’s clothes before they were born?

September 21, 2013 at 2:55 PM 8 comments

Doing the Best I Can

Sleeping Baby

My mother-in-law likes to tell me that she rocked her children to sleep every night and never laid them down crying. I cannot confess the same. At some point before my son’s first birthday I laid him down awake on his crib mattress and walked out of the room.

It may very well have been the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. After holding my son so closely for so long, after rocking and bouncing him to sleep for months on end, after never letting him cry or fuss at night or in the daytime, I laid him in his crib and shut the door behind me.

I sat on the couch with my husband and watched the baby monitor without blinking. I was anxious and fearful. Was I ruining my child? What if he cried for hours on end? What if he remembered this event for the rest of his life? What if I caused permanent psychological damage?

My son was never a rock in your arms type of baby. When he was small he nursed himself to sleep, but once he outgrew that stage it took quite a lot of work to convince him to close his eyes. My husband and I would bounce him ever so gently, we’d dance around the room with him, sing songs to him and turn on colorful nightlights for him. We tried everything and anything to get him to sleep. I once turned on the shower and sat beside the tub thinking the sound of the water and the steam might soothe him.

What worked one night rarely worked the next. And although our son laid in our arms he did not do so peacefully. He cried and whimpered on his way to dreamland. Eventually he would give in to sleep, but it was certainly not an easy process.

I exclusively nursed him for the first 20 months of his life. He took only one or two bottles very early on and then rejected those plastic nipples. I stayed home with him, and for the most part, didn’t mind being at his beckon call all hours of the day and night. I began to love waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning when the world is silent and dark and it felt like we were the only two people left in the world.

As I shut the door that night I remember thinking what if he rejects me? What if he hates me? What if he refuses to nurse again? But in the back of my mind I kept thinking that he really wasn’t happy. He wasn’t quietly drifting off to sleep in our arms, he often cried as we tried to soothe him.

My husband stood beside me every time we laid him down awake and crying. If it was not for his support and urging I would have rushed back in and scooped him up every evening.

Lucky for me he fussed for just a bit those first few nights and then quickly began to put himself to sleep without any problem. He didn’t scream in his crib for hours on end or throw up from the trauma of being left in there. In the beginning we went to check on him every few minutes and eventually he realized that he could put himself to sleep without us.

Once he learned to put himself to sleep my son stopped waking every few hours. He went to sleep in his crib all alone and woke only once or twice to nurse in the wee hours of the morning. Eventually he dropped his nighttime feed entirely on his own.

I sometimes miss those middle-of-the-night feedings. I certainly don’t wish to start them back up again, but it was in the silence of the night that I took note of how much I love him. I would slide my fingers along the side of his face, I would outline his cheeks and nose. I would rub circles across his little belly and drop kisses on his forehead. I would admire the miracle of having him in our lives and tell him over and over how much I loved him.

I cannot claim that I never put my child in his crib without crying. I can tell you that I love that child with every part of my being and hope above all else that he knows I always wanted the best for him and made every decision with that very thought in mind.

September 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM 4 comments

Spending Less on Kids Clothing

Every time I turn around it seems that my son has grown a little taller. He is no longer that tiny baby who can fit in the crook of my arm. I recognize his growth spurts by watching how far his legs dangle past the highchair or how high up the backseat his feet can now reach.

As he grows his clothes inevitably wind up in transport to the donation center, into a box waiting for consignment, (I have yet to drop this off anywhere), or placed into plastic bins labeled by size in my basement. His rapid growth is apparent in the stacked boxes labeled 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-18 and 18-24.

I have rules about how much clothing I’ll keep. The bins are relatively small and contain only items in the best possible shape. Anything with stains, worn out knees or that I don’t find super cute make their way out of the house. I’ve considered donating or selling everything at one time or another, but constantly convince myself to hold onto them a little longer.

I’m not sure if we’ll have another child and if we do I have no idea if they will be the same size, born at the same time of year or even be the same gender, but if all those things do fall into line then it certainly won’t hurt to keep them in our basement a little bit longer.

Over the past year and a half I’ve learned quite a few things about spending less on toddler clothing.

  1. I accept all hand-me-downs I’m offered. I comb through the boxes and bags and pull out anything that is too damaged to keep. I also take out most pants that don’t slip on and off easily. (This is a personal preference, but I find that my son wants to dress himself, and the fewer buttons and zippers he has to deal with the easier it becomes.)
  2. The items that remain are sorted and placed into bins by size. By sorting in advance I can pull out the appropriate items as soon as my son reaches the next size. Then I can determine what items he might need.  For instance, I’ve received a ton of shorts and pants, but no shirts or sweatshirts. This helps me figure out what I need to buy.
  3. When my son reaches the next size I buy a limited amount of clothing at the start of the season. For example, when summer began my son primarily wore size 18-24. Clothes are always most expensive at the start of the season, so I aim to buy as little as I can at that time. I can walk into the same store in the middle of the summer and buy items for 50% less then I could in late spring. Prices are cheaper as the season wears on, but buying less also ensures that the clothes will actually fit my son. Children grow fast and what fits one week might not fit the next.
  4. When I do need to purchase clothing I head straight to the clearance section. Most of the time I find clothes that are just as cute as the ones currently selling for full price. If I shop at Gymboree I ask the cashier if they have any sale items in my son’s size. Sometimes they have additional merchandise stored away in their stock room and on more than one occasion I paid as little as $2 or $3 for brand new items. My local thrift store lists prices for $2 or $3 so I can buy new items for the same price as I would pay for used ones.
  5. I keep an eye out for anything my son wears year round. My son swims year round so I know he’ll need swim trunks and rashes and constantly keep an eye out for new ones in larger sizes. I scour the discount racks and buy one, two and even three sizes larger than he currently wears. This is a bit of a pain in terms of storage, but I feel the cost benefit is worth it. These items don’t take up a lot of room and buying swimsuits off season can be unbelievably expensive.
  6. Stained clothing isn’t discarded until it’s outgrown. My son loves to play outside and I am often amazed by just how dirty one little boy can get playing in the back yard. He is often covered in dirt, mud, grass and a whole host of other stains, so any clothes that are accidentally stained and damaged immediately become play clothes.
  7. I try to avoid feeling guilty for making my son adorable. I take a lot of pictures of my son and I must admit that I do like to dress him in adorable little clothes. Since I buy items at discounted prices or receive them as hand-me-downs I try not to feel guilty about spending money to buy them. Toddler clothing is quite cute, but in a few years the clothes really do become quite mundane. I’m willing to spend a little money to make my son adorable.
  8. I gauge the needs of my son’s wardrobe. I know how often we wash clothes, how often we play outside or complete crafts or anything else that gets messy, how often it might be hot outside (requiring sleeveless shirts) and how often we might have cool evenings. While none of this is set in stone it does allow us to have fewer items on hand. I don’t want to look back on my son’s wardrobe and find a bunch of unworn items hanging in his closet with the tags still attached.
  9. I rarely buy discounted items that my son doesn’t wear them year round. I haven’t actually figured out whether or not this is a wise technique. Items that are truly seasonal like shorts and pants can be difficult to size in advance. I never know exactly what size my son may wear, so I feel this is hit-or-miss and usually skip the bargain for fear that the money will be wasted. I can usually find discounted items when the need arises, so I try to avoid spending too much in advance.

How about you? Do you have any tricks for spending less on clothing for your kids?

July 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM 2 comments

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