Category Archives: Mommydom

5 Tips for Smoother Summer Outings with Kids!

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We’ve been waiting for you, summertime! Even though my kids are little and we don’t have to adhere to a school-year schedule yet, there’s something magical about this time of year. We love to play hard and take advantage of everything that our beautiful corner of the world has to offer, but this is my first “real” year doing summer fun with two kids (last year P was a newborn and so we were sort of in hibernation for a good part of June and July) and getting the hang of getting out of the house is still tricky. Not to mention keeping everyone happy and safe for more than fifteen minutes wherever we choose to actually go. It’s not an easy feat! No wonder sticking in our backyard and running through the sprinkler looks pretty alluring.

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Nursing-Friendly Dress Roundup!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Utah in the summertime is HOT for this Alaskan transplant! As much as I love a good pair of mom shorts, dresses are probably my favorite option for looking cute while still staying cool. However, as I discovered last summer, dresses are not always compatible with breastfeeding! Ella was born at the beginning of October, and we didn’t make it too terribly long with nursing, so my wardrobe options weren’t really limited as we approached the next summer. P, however, was born May 31st and, being the world’s biggest mama’s girl is every way possible, is still going strong with nursing a year later. Which, I mean, I’m grateful for, but I’ve been wearing the same three outfits to church for the past year as a result!

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Penelope’s Birth Story

Five months after the fact….I’m finally getting around to writing down Penny’s birth story! Honestly, neither of my girls have the most dramatic or noteworthy entries into this world–I mean, they are obviously precious stories to ME–but, I feel like everyone likes to hear about the day they were born, so it’s worth documenting for posterity’s sake. I also love reading other peoples’ birth stories so on the extremely slight chance that this overly-detailed account will be entertaining to someone….here we go!

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Making the Sabbath a Delight….with a Toddler

 
Most of you who read this blog probably know that I am a member of the LDS church. We believe in the commandment that the Lord gave in the Old Testament to keep the Sabbath day holy (as many religions do), and set Sunday aside as a day of worship and rest, and a day dedicated to doing activities that will bring us closer to God. In return, we are promised that we will be blessed:
 
I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.–Elder Russel M. Nelson
 
But to be totally honest, in spite of how they should be, Sundays have not exactly been my favorite day of the week since I had Ella. It just didn’t really fully sink until she was born that, when you’re a parent, there aren’t any days off! While the Sabbath used to truly be a break–from school, work, and other activities that I was participating in–with time for learning at church, personal study, contemplation, spending time with loved ones, resting, etc., now it’s a little nuts.
 
What I wish was a reflective, peaceful day is usually comprised of: trying to get to church on time (when Dave and I both sometimes have assignments for our callings that take us away from home before our meetings), wrangling Ella and trying to get her to be somewhat reverent at church (aka shoving fruit snacks at her and hissing empty threats),  missing naptime (we have church from 1-4 this year–LDS congregations rotate meeting at different times annually), and trying to keep Ella happy and entertained all morning when we aren’t really doing our normal routine. Needless to say, we are all a little frazzled and out of sorts by the time the day is over. If you have young kids, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, because I’m sure it’s similar for you too (if not way harder depending on your circumstances–I mean, we only have one kid!)!
 
If I sound like a big fat whiner, it’s because I have been. I’ve truly had a terrible attitude toward Sunday for the past little while, and sadly, I’ve sort of just accepted that it would be a stressful, frustrating, chaotic day while I have young kids, and I’ve been going through the motions rather than really consciously dedicating my day to the Lord.  In the talk that I quoted above (read the whole thing, it’s really good!), Elder Nelson quoted this scripture:
 
“And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, … the fulness of the earth is yours.”–D&C 59:9-16
 
What an amazing blessing we are promised if we use our Sunday to rededicate ourselves to our Father in Heaven–and view it with gratitude instead of as just a day where our baby’s routines get thrown off. 🙂 So, like President Hinckley once said, I’m going to try a little harder to be a little better.
 
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
 
1. Prepare
 
What’s the old saying? If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail? While that’s usually reserved for those pseudo-inspiring posters in school hallways I think it has some application here. If I really want Sunday to go smoothly and be a day of rest and renewal, I need to work harder to get ready for it. Things like planning dinner, making sure church assignments like lessons and talks are taken care of before Sunday morning, and even getting the diaper bag packed so Dave doesn’t have to get it pulled together if I’m gone in the morning. Plus, then we will have more time in the morning for constructive family activities, rather than scrambling to get out the door in one piece. Getting enough sleep is a huge one too! Since we started having church at one, I am totally guilty of thinking, “Oh, we can stay up late tonight because we can sleep in tomorrow.” Well, with alarm-clock Ella that doesn’t really happen, so then I’m tried and grumpy, and not really in a good frame of mind to get a lot out of church!
 
2. Communicate
 
This kind of goes along with preparing. If Dave and I both have responsibilities for our calling, home or visiting teaching appointments, and family plans (his parents Facetime from their mission and my sisters come over for dinner quite often) we need to talk that through and make sure we know who needs the car at what time and where Ella is going to be. Just talking through our plans and responsibilities for the day goes a long way.
 
3. Learn to say no
 
Reading through this, I’m realizing that I sometimes overextend ourselves on Sunday. Therefore, I don’t really make it a day for strengthening my relationship with Heavenly Father, as much as a day to get any church-related responsibility accomplished, or making plans with loved ones.  While there definitely is room for those things on Sundays, I think I could be better at saying no sometimes. Often home and visiting teachers want to come by, or people want to schedule presidency meetings, and I always feel bad saying that another day would work better for us because I want to be accommodating. But I am realizing that crowding Sunday with too much is the fastest way for me to resent it instead of it being a day I look forward to, and pretty soon there is no time for the quiet time that I think should take place.
 
4. Embrace reality
 
Like I said above, before we had Ella, there used to be a lot more time on the Sabbath for relaxing, reading General Conference talks, writing in our journals, etc. As nice as those things are, and while I think we can still find time for them, the reality of our lives right now is that we have a toddler and she doesn’t really care what day of the week it is, and she needs to be fed, entertained, and cleaned up after–that’s just life 🙂 And, we need to think about how we can use this day off from school and work to teach her about the gospel too. So, here are a few things we are going to try, to make Sunday a special day for everyone in our family:
 
-Family drives
-Walk around the temple grounds (we are lucky that we live close to two!)
-Have special toys/books/movies that are Sunday only (my mom gave us some of her Living Scriptures videos because….let’s be honest Ella would freak if she couldn’t watch a show after waking up in the morning. It’s just the truth of the matter).
-Family home evening (Dave usually works Monday nights so Sunday works better)
-Just having pretty hymns on in the background as we get ready
-Visit extended family/members of the ward who might like company
-Trade off Ella duty with Dave so we can each have some personal time (that should probably be communicated early in the day, though, if it’s going to happen).
 
5. Change your attitude
 
Admittedly, there have been a few Sundays where I’ve wondered what the point was of even bringing Ella to church.  But when I started to think about what I was teaching Ella by showing her that we attend church even when its inconvenient, things got a lot better. And when we were at our peak of hall–pacing (probably from months 10-18), I would just try to think of ONE thing I had learned or felt at church that week. Dave and I would usually trade off having Ella so there was at least a little time that I could sit quietly and listen or learn (I know that’s not possible in some people’s situations and I commend you!). And there’s always light at the end of the tunnel….she’s in nursery now and it’s awesome!!!
 
Elder Nelson also said that we should think about what sign we want to give God, in relation to our activities on the Sabbath. I think just carrying that thought in our hearts as we go about our day makes our priorities and what we are doing fall into place naturally.
 
So there you have it. These are a few things we are going to try to do better at in our family. I really hope that in a few months I can honestly say that Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I’d love to hear any ideas for Sunday activities with little kids or how you keep them happy at church!

August 2015 Monthly Snapshot

This month started off with a bang for me with NYC (if you haven’t seen my painfully drawn out recaps….here) and then the day after I got home, Ella and I hopped on a plane for a quick weekend in Wyoming for my grandpa’s 90th birthday party! We wish Dave could have come, but he had a test the day after the festivities, so if we had driven we would have made such a long trip to stay such a short time. So Ella and I decided to just make it a quick girl’s trip and fly one last time before we have to pay for her 🙂
                 
Ella got to see Grandma and Grandpa which she (and I) loved. My mom let her have any and all junk food and TV that she wanted. She’s not above buying Ella’s love.
This was the only group pic Ella was in, as she promptly melted down beyond consoling after this wonderful shot. But here are my grandma and grandpa with all of their great grandkids! I told Ella she was crazy to cry because she got the coveted spot on the birthday boy’s lap!

 

Ella got to hang out with her second cousins Kinley and Truman who are her exact same age! PS–I’m realizing that in every picture she has the same stone-faced, non-expression. I promise she is a happy girl! She just doesn’t emote for the camera.
I loved comparing these pics that are pretty much exactly a year apart. I think that high chair was my aunt’s as a baby! Gotta love the treasures you find at Grandma’s house!
I love my Grandma and Grandpa Hopkin. They seriously have so much energy for people of their generation! My grandpa still has a huge beautiful garden and sent me home with some fresh corn. We had a conversation about family history and he had all kinds of names and dates he was throwing out off the top of his head. And my grandma couldn’t be busier. She volunteers to do hair for the ladies at the nursing home, and many of them are younger than her! I hope I can be as spry as they are when I’m their age! It was a really fun weekend, seeing my parents and all of my cousins, some of whom I hadn’t seen in probably like eight or ten years. I’m so glad we could make the quick trip and celebrate my grandpa.
We got together with some friends who just had babies! These guys were all roommates before we all got married and it’s so fun to see everyone’s families growing. I think they were laughing because Evan asked if I have an iPhone 4 (I do) with the most incredulous voice.
Dave had some time off of school between summer term and fall semester so we tried to squeeze in some fun family outings during the day before he went to work in the afternoon. My sister in law Marcy mentioned that she had taken her nephews and little girl to Chuck-e-Cheese and they had all loved the little rides (“rides” is used loosely…like the little cars you put a quarter into….but they are the perfect size for Ella and Marcy’s little girl) so we thought that would be something fun and indoors since it’s so hot right now. Well….Ella freaked out on this one truck that rumbled and it was kind of a lost cause, until the very end when she decided she loved this trolley. I felt pretty classy hitting up Chuck-e-Cheese on a Monday afternoon but man was it a trip down memory lane. I used to LOVE that place.


I already posted this on insta, but we picked raspberries and I tried my hand at freezer jam! I was intimidated by the whole canning process but freezer jam was quick and easy so I’ll totally be making more. And Ella went nuts in the berry patch. We will most definitely be going back! She was literally running from bush to bush, frantically shoving berries in her mouth. Thankfully she didn’t make herself sick, and I thought it was a cool opportunity for her to learn that food grows from the earth (here I’m having this hippy dippy nature moment in my head and I can pretty much guarantee that Ella learned nothing of the sort). And don’t worry, we paid extra at the end since she ate so many berries before we weighed them.

Another day was spent up north, visiting our dear friend Christine and her new baby and then eating our way through Salt Lake. If you live in the area and haven’t already, PLEASE try Oh Mai. Seriously, the best sandwich of my life. And super cheap, too, for the quality. I’m salivating thinking of it right now!

 

We also grabbed donuts, hit up Trader Joes (it was a food-themed day, ok?) and took Ella to Liberty Park. I remember going there as a small child but had heard it was a great place for summer fun and I wish we lived closer because it was awesome! Splash pad, creek, aviary, huge playground, little rides, etc. Ella heartily approved.
And we finished things off with a morning at Bartholomew Park. I’m almost reluctant to mention this place because I am so in love with it and don’t want it to become over run and gross, but who am I kidding, I’m not exactly the informant of the masses on this blog, so what the heck. It’s this awesome man-made lake/pond that a benefactor built and donated to the city and it’s awesome!!! Nice shallow water, groomed sand, nice walkways, bathrooms, parking lot, etc. Ella can just putter around in the sand forever. I think it just opened this summer and I am already excited to go back next year.

And it wouldn’t be a true recap of our month if I didn’t mention that August 2015=naps from h***. Seriously, Ella probably napped like four times this month. Instead of falling asleep, she entertains herself in her crib with such tricks as taking off her diaper, climbing out of her crib (thankfully she hasn’t hurt herself and I think mostly scared herself from doing it again), chucking board books and her water cup, tearing her quilt off the wall, and prying her dresser drawers open from between the slats and putting on all varieties of clothes. It’s impressive, really. Good thing her mom thinks she’s got the face of an angel, or I’d be mad 🙂 I don’t think she’s old enough to give up naps, and she definitely falls asleep in the car/is crabby, etc. which leads me to believe she needs the sleep, so I’m not giving up yet.

#boardbooks #parenting #kids #babies #childrensliterature #readtothem

9 Board Books That Won’t Drive Parents Nuts!

#boardbooks #parenting #kids #babies #childrensliterature #readtothem
 

Before I had Ella, I don’t think I realized how many weird children’s books there are out there. I had images of us happily reading for hours, tickled pink by the wide array of stimulating prose and lovely illustrations we would encounter (ok, that’s a little much). I was mostly thinking about the classics, like “Goodnight Moon,” or “The Runaway Bunny.” While we have had a lot of fun reading together, I’ve realized that a lot of kid’s books are just plain boring or annoying! And of course, those are often the ones they decide to become obsessed with, right? Ella had this book about cupcakes (my fault….I bought it for $.50 at a library sale) which was her favorite for months, and I’m pretty sure it was just because there was glitter on the cover. If I never read the words “You Are My Cupcake” again, I’d be happy.

So….how do you sort through the mindless puppies behind flaps and TV show adaptations and find the stories for your little one that are truly witty, educational, and sweet–books that you, as a parent, can happily stomach night after night and aren’t tempted to hide or “accidentally” drop into the trash? Well, this is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are a few board books that we really love (as you can tell by the wear and tear on the spines in the pic above!) and I feel like have really helped her learn a thing or two. I’ve just stuck to board books, as currently, if you try to read a normal picture book to Ella she will very calmly take it from you and toss it across the room. So board books it is.


1. My Big Animal Book
: So, think isn’t so much a story (though it does have little questions on the bottom of each page which are a little over Ella’s head) but Ella LOVES seeing the huge pages of animal pictures, and I fully attribute the fact that she knows “owl” and “guinea pig” to this book. Because I certainly didn’t think to teach them to her. Cat and Dog is about as complicated as I get.

2. Olivia: This one is a bit of a cheat because the original isn’t in board book form (though the story is simple enough thar it works well), and chances are you’ve already read it because these books are adorable and have won all kinds of awards, but it deserves a mention because Ella and I both love it. Who isn’t charmed by a spunky little pig who loves ballet? And Ella is always very interested in the part where Olivia gets time out. Probably because she can relate.

3. Pride & Prejudice: If you haven’t seen these BabyLit books already, you need to! They are the cutest little “babyfied” versions of classic literature. This one is a counting book (5 sisters, 2 handsome gentleman, 3 country estates, etc.) but as a parent who loves the original story I find it witty and the brightly colored illustrations are perfect for toddlers. I kind of thought this one would be more for me but Ella really loves it!

4. Barnyard Dance! : Sandra Boynton is no newbie on the board book scene but this one is our favorite! The rhyme and the rhythm are really pleasant and the image of barnyard animals having a hootenanny is cute. I probably read this to Ella like 400 times between July and December of last year. Hence, my ability to impress everyone at Christmas with my recitation by memory, complete with actions (they were…not actually that impressed).

5. First 100 Words: I love this book because long before Ella was really into characters and storylines (ok….at 22 months I don’t think she’s really there yet, even now) she really loved books that had actual photos instead of illustrations. While this book might not seem that exciting, I actually think it did great things for her language and recognition skills. It’s still one of her favorites and we go through it and point out things or ask her to point to the ball, the airplane, the boots, etc. Maybe not the most creative book ever, but really worthwhile.

6.Good Dog, Carl: I remember reading this as a kid, and I’m so glad Ella loves it too. It’s mostly word-free, which makes it fun because we can kind of just talk about what’s happening on each page, or now, we’ve started having Ella tell us what’s happening (because she basically knows it by heart). It has pretty illustrations and the idea of a baby and dog getting into mischief while mommy is away is charming (though, one has to wonder what kind of mother thought leaving a black lab in charge was a good idea).

7. Mommy Loves: I think I found this on a book list somewhere (I can’t remember where!) and ordered it on a whim. It’s a really sweet little book about how all mommies love their babies, with a counting element thrown in. And it highlights the names for different kinds of baby animals (mice are “pinkies,” etc.) which is always kind of fun.

8. Baby Faces: Again, like First 100 Words, this isn’t going to win any awards for innovation, but Ella loves books with photos (especially other babies), and this one shows babies feeling different emotions: nervous, happy, scared, etc. You know, I thought talking about feelings might be a good thing. Empathy is nice. Although at this stage, every baby is just “sad”–even the laughing one. We’re working on it.

9. The Mitten:  I thought the story might be a little complicated for a not-quite-two-year-old, but Ella loves it–and the idea of these different woodland creatures squeezing into a mitten is sweet. Plus, the illustrations are killer, as they are in all of Jan Brett’s books, so I can be entertained by the gorgeous Scandanvian vignettes as we read 🙂

 

So there you have some of our current favorite board books! I’d love to hear some of your family’s favorites in the comments! I’m particularly looking for ones that teach letters and colors, as I’m realizing we don’t really have many of those. So suggest away!



I’ve linked to the books I mention on Amazon. These are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase through them I make a  small commission, so feel free to shop around for the best price!

Making Exercise Part of Your Routine (After Having a Baby)

The other night Dave and I were chatting with a group of friends, and one couple, who are expecting their first baby, asked us what the hardest part of adjusting to new parenthood was. It’s a tough question but I said that the most difficult part for me was definitely feeling like my old life was over and there was this vast unknown of what a “normal” day as a mom looked like. Not to mention what a normal week, month, year, etc. would entail…..needless to say it’s a huge life change and can be a little overwhelming.

The happy side of this is, you are still yourself after becoming a mom! Granted, you will have to reshuffle your schedule slightly, and let some less-important things go, but life doesn’t end after having a baby–it’s a whole new wonderful world!

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Childhood Unplugged

 

I have to start by saying that I borrowed the title for this post from an Instagram account that I love called Childhood Unplugged (not affiliated in any way, just a humble, no-name fan). I’m not sure how I came across the account (probably trolling the “explore” section, let’s be honest), but I have been inspired by their mission to make “a conscious effort to encourage our children to get back to the art of play.” The gorgeous pictures they feature of kids playing sans any sort of electronic device have stuck with me for the last few weeks. I have nothing against technology, obviously, as I am sitting here typing away on a laptop. And I don’t even expect that our kids will never use an iPad or watch TV, I just don’t want technology to be their definition of fun. I know it’s a big part of our world today, but I don’t want it to be our whole world.

Last weekend was our annual family reunion with Dave’s side of the family, and this year we gathered at Bear Lake right on the Utah/Idaho border. As we approached the lake the weather was getting stormy and cold and I was internally lamenting that it probably wouldn’t be much fun to play outside that day, which was a shame since that was our only scheduled day to actually be on the beach. Well, I guess I was wrong because sun or no sun, Ella was completely and totally enthralled from the second her little toes hit the sand and she made a beeline for a bucket and a shovel.

This was her first time on a beach and we could barely drag her away to eat a lunch that included Doritos (so you know she was serious).

I love these pictures because you can see the succession of the weather/her filth level. Thankfully, what started as a super cold. windy, rainy day got progressively warmer and played through the entire thing.

Finally, swim-suit level warmth.

I don’t know if there has been another activity in Ella’s 21-months of life that has kept her this interested for such a stretch of time with no interference from me. She played for four and a half hours, through lunchtime and nap-time. I was totally in awe that she was just doing her thing, totally oblivious to the fact that she would be totally expected to be in meltdown mode at this point under typical circumstances.

 

As the afternoon wore on and she got dirtier and dirtier I couldn’t help thinking that these are the sort of classic kid moments I want her to experience as she grows older. No electronics, no manufactured stimulation, just a little gal, outside, exploring the mud and water. Childhood at its finest!

 

More on the reunion later, I just wanted to get these pics up while the thoughts were still fresh

Lit Love Preview: Tantrum Edition

I’m posting about a book before I finish it because I want to see if anyone has any more recommendations for me! Parenting books are something I’ve been a little intimidated by, so thus far in my parenting journey (all 19 months of it) I’ve avoided them. I guess it’s just such a vast category of reading that I was overwhelmed, and up until this point, most books that were aimed at Ella’s age level were about sleep-training and she’s (thankfully) been a pretty good sleeper since around 6 weeks. So I figured ignorance was bliss as to how much I was screwing up my child, and we went on our merry way. 


But in the last few months, Ella’s become……a toddler. And man was I woefully under-prepared for what that would bring. Refusing to eat, refusing to nap, refusing to stay in a stroller or a shopping cart. And the meltdowns. Oh, the meltdowns. I knew that terrible twos was a thing, but terrible ones???


I finally realized I needed to get things under control when we noticed that we were bending to Ella’s every wish and order rather than rock the boat and cause a potential tantrum. I think it was the night I realized that I was actually putting jelly beans on her highchair tray as part of her dinner that did it for me.


I don’t mind being flexible, but Ella can’t grow up thinking that she’s the boss. That has to be one of those “entitled generation” traits you keep reading about that will make your kids unemployable. So I’m waving the white flag. Or not white, what color means, “I don’t give up but I admit that I don’t know what I am doing?”
I can always count on my friend Lauren for some toddler solidarity and she recommended, The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp. It was published originally back in 1970, so it’s been around for a while but it seems to be reasonable stuff so far. The premise of his book is that toddlers are not just mini adults or mini versions of older kids; they have primitive brains that are dominated by emotion and impulse rather than balanced by reason and logic (that seems very accurate based on a 30-second observation of any toddler). So the way that we communicate with toddlers needs to take that into account. So when you hear parents say things like, “Johnny, you need to share with your friend. It’s his turn. Give the ball back and say you’re sorry,” that does pretty much nothing except make the parent feel like they tried. 

I am still in the portion of the book that explains toddler’s brain development (which is actually really interesting) and have yet to get to the part that actually explains how to communicate, but the author keeps referring to toddlers as “little cavemen,” so I felt perfectly reasonable telling Ella, “cereal. good. eat.” this morning. If she ends up entering kindergarten talking like a caveman you’ll know that I never actually finished this book.
Anymore recommendations for me? I’ve already got How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, And How to Listen so Kids Will Talk,” on my list. Help me help Ella turn out to be a kind and pleasant adult who doesn’t demand fruit snacks as a bribe for everyday tasks!

Clothing Kids on a Dime (Without Sacrificing Style!)

Am I the only one that gets serious green-eyed jealousy when I see kids all over social media in clothes and shoes that cost more than anything in my OWN closet??? I practically salivate over baby Zara or Crewcuts. And then there are those moccasins. You know the ones. It’s almost like a trophy of mommy-hood if your kids own a pair! But at full price, most name-brand children’s clothes are WAY outside of our current budget! Plus, do I really need to spend $40 on a pair of shoes that will get worn for six months, even if we could afford it?

That being said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking enjoyment out of finding cute clothes for your kids, as long as it doesn’t become a status symbol or something that’s taking up undue resources. You have to clothe them, so you might as well have fun while you’re at it, right? I have learned a LOT about getting deals on cute, name-brand kid’s clothing since Ella was born, and I thought I would pass on a little of what’s worked for me. Hopefully with these tips save you a little time, sanity, and moolah while you’re at it!

Keep in mind that Ella is only 19 months old, and while I have bought some clothes for her to grow into, I don’t have a ton of experience with buying anything over 5T. So these tips and the prices I cite might be more applicable to baby/toddler sizes! 🙂


1. Shop frequently: Now this may seem like the worst tip in the world! Obviously, this has to go hand in hand with a lot of self control, because you could probably fill a closet with stuff you want every time you enter a store/check out a website. A lot of people feel like they don’t even want to browse unless they have a chunk of money to spend, but unless you are checking in frequently, you won’t find the best deals. Shopping frequently allows you to watch items you want and wait for them to go on sale, and be the first to spot the sizes and styles you want when prices do drop. I find that Gap, Old Navy, Gymboree, Zara, and Boden have pretty good sales.

I have also found that shopping frequently helps me have a better idea of what price is actually a great deal for something, versus just ok, since I have seen prices rise and fall on a variety of products and brands. So I try to just check in at my favorite stores and sites, even if I am not looking for something specific, a few times a month just to see what they are offering and what I would be interested in when it goes on sale. Therefore, being picky and patient is an important aspect of this habit!

2. Have a budget: This seems obvious, since I am talking about shopping with meager funds 🙂 But what I mean is you need a system for setting aside money for kid’s clothes. Some people do monthly, some do it a few times a year with new seasons, etc. I recommend monthly, since that allows you to browse throughout the year as things go on sale at the end of a season, etc. However you want to do it, I recommend against just holding off for a long time and then spending money as you notice your kids really need new clothes, because then you tend to go out and just buy whatever is available, rather than what’s actually a good price. We did this for a few years but I have noticed a huge difference in the prices we pay for things now that it’s worked into our monthly budget.

3. Buy a few sizes ahead of time: This probably seems duh for seasoned moms, but this was something I had to learn the hard way! When your new baby is small, the 12-18mos size seems huge and SO far away. But before you know it your bundle of joy is a crazy toddler that has absolutely nothing to wear and you have to scramble to throw together a wardrobe at full price! So I have really tried to think ahead and buy things that are a few sizes too big as I happen to see them on a killer sale. And ONLY when they are truly a really good price!

Everything here is 2T or 3T for Ella to wear in the next year or two. And it was all $2-$5!

The best items to do this with are seasonal things like coats and swimsuits. Last year I didn’t even think about getting Ella a swimsuit until it was summer and we really wanted to hit up the pool! Thus, I went to Old Navy and paid $20 for a moderately cute swimsuit just because I wasn’t going to wait until I found a sale to take Ella swimming. Same thing with coats this fall; everything was full price because it was the beginning of the season but we really needed something warm for her, so $$$ went out the window. Thankfully I learned my lesson and I got her current swimsuit for $7 at the end of last summer, and she has a brand new down coat in her closet waiting for this winter that I scored after Christmas for $16. So BUY AHEAD OF TIME!

*I would just advise against being a crazy hoarder with boxes upon boxes of clothes for their kids 10 years down the line. Don’t buy anything crazy trendy ahead of time either–we really don’t know how long chambray is going to be a thing!

4. Buy used: this one is kind of “duh” as well, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. But I think it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of great reasons to buy used besides saving money, like reducing waste and supporting a good cause (since most thrift stores are charities of some kind). In case you think there’s only nasty junk at thrift stores think again! While there is plenty of that, with a little digging I just found this the other day:

This is a little Crewcuts (J. Crew) shirt-dress! It was only $4. I was totally amazed to find it, and it has made me a thrifting believer.

My one caveat with second-hand shopping is just to have realistic expectations! It can be extremely hit or miss, so you have to shop frequently (see tip #1!) and be prepared to leave empty-handed. Therefore, if you don’t enjoy shopping, this might not be a pleasant option for you since it takes time. Also, items that get a lot of daily wear and tear like leggings, T-shirts, and pajamas, are usually pretty beat up by the time they get to this point–so don’t expect to only shop used because some things are super hard to find in good used condition. But things like dress clothes, sweaters, jackets, winter boots, etc. can be really great to find secondhand!

5. That being said….avoid children’s re-sale shops: I have nothing against the good people of Kid to Kid, but they are ripping you off. The same thing probably goes for other similar places (It was “Once Upon a Child” where I grew up). Think about it: they have to pay the people that sell them their used stuff, and then pay for the brick and mortar location, and to keep the place staffed. So a markup has to happen for them to keep their doors open and make a profit. These places DO have some cute merchandise, and it’s usually in good condition, but I really think you’ll find way better deals with new clearance items, or at other second-hand venues with a lower overhead.

Take the following for example:

I found this dress at Kid to Kid recently. The wrinkles could obviously be ironed out. It’s a cute enough dress but it’s not new this season or anything (obviously this is just my taste….I hope this doesn’t offend anyone!).
Ummm…..$15??? I like Gymboree, but I think that is wayyyy overpriced for a used dress that has obviously been washed and worn and isn’t super on trend. 
I found this dress at Gap on clearance for $10 (I would put Gap and Gymboree on the same price/quality level). And I’ve seen cheaper than that many times. So if price and value are your only considerations, re-sale shops aren’t your best bet. 

6. Don’t discount quality: There’s something to be said for buying something that is slightly more expensive, just because it is really well-made and will stand up to frequent wear, even if it isn’t the absolute cheapest thing you can find.

I have always been a huge fan of Boden–their kids stuff is adorable and classic. It IS much more expensive than I would usually be able to afford, but they have decent sales and if you join their mailing list they will sometimes just sent random $10 coupons. I used one of those on a two-pack of these leggings and so the final price was $14 for two pairs. That wasn’t as cheap as I could find at Old Navy or Target, but I get sick and tired of how dingy and pilly cheap leggings look after a few wears (not to mention see-through–I hate seeing a diaper through leggings!), and these ones have been worn SO MANY times and they are still so soft and thick! We are finally retiring them, only because they are now capris on Ella,

My point is, I DO think it’s worth it to spend a little more upfront for an item that will stand the test of time (and possibly make it through more than one child)! That being said, we all know that with kids, you can count on things getting stained, torn, lost, etc. So I practice this principle with caution and never pay full-price on anything, no matter how durable.

7. Finally….kids don’t really need that much stuff anyways: I saw this article floating around Facebook recently and I loved it. We have this perception that kids are crazy expensive, but the author is so right: we succumb to this pressure to provide our kids with a ton of “stuff,” when what they really need is love, one-on-one time, fresh air, trips to the library, time to be creative, etc.

Obviously we need to provide sufficient, seasonally appropriate clothes for our kids, but I don’t think they need as many outfits and options as we feel like they do. Ella has about one week’s worth of outfits, a few church dresses, a coat, swimsuit, a few pairs of pajamas, and two pairs of shoes. That’s it. We do laundry as needed and try to buy things that mix and match. At the end of the day, it’s just “stuff.” When we are old and our kids are grown up we really aren’t going to remember the outfits they wore (unless it’s something hilarious and cute like a swimsuit with a pioneer bonnet or something), but the moments we shared as a family.

See those cute robin’s-egg blue shorts? That St. George red dirt stained them beyond repair approximately 30 seconds after Ella wore them for the first time. It happens! But she had a fun time in the process of ruining them!

I have a really fun time shopping for Ella, so I hope these tips are helpful to you and help you avoid the stress and $$$ that can come with the constant turnover of clothes that kids bring along. BUT, at the end of the day, it will all be faded, stained, torn, or outgrown eventually, so don’t sweat the small stuff too much!

What are your favorite places to find deals for your kids? Any tips I missed? Tell me in the comments!