Simpler Is Sometimes Better

Posted 07-24-2015 at 04:02 PM by Agla

I spent three days making one batch of rolls this week. Each day there was another step in the process to complete. Once the rolls were baked and everyone had a chance to taste them I asked, “Were these rolls better than the rolls that take me only a few minutes to prepare?” My husband admitted that he liked the taste of the simpler rolls. Like other areas of our life I realized that I get better results when I stick to a simple routine. Here are some ideas on how to simply things in any household:

Simplifying Your Wash Routine
In a family, the laundry beast can get overwhelming. There were years that I refused to buy any white clothing, because during that time I felt like I was constantly swimming in laundry and separating whites and darks was just too much to deal with. As well as buying no white clothing, I also simplified the laundry by reducing the number of items in my family’s wardrobe.

For my diaper laundry I realized that after trying several cloth diaper specific detergents and different laundry additives I found that the one that worked the best for me and my machine was basic Tide detergent with a couple of extra rinses,

Simplifying Your Menu
I love to cook and try new recipes but I know that there are people that struggle with menu planning and meal preparation. I see the same people attempt to elaborate recipes with several ingredients in an attempt to improve their cooking. Once while watching a TV cooking show I watched three different chefs gasp with delight. What caused their reaction? One of the contestants had placed a fried sunny side egg on top of the meal he was being judged on. Good simple basic ingredients can go a long way to making a meal taste good. Good basic cooking technique are also important and can elevate most ingredients from ordinary to delicious.

Keeping Your Home Tidy Simply
Simply put, “The less you have the less you have to clean.” This seems obvious but many people spend a great deal of time dealing with the clutter that has accumulated in their home. Get rid of things that are not being utilized. Have proper places to store things so that anyone can pick up something that is out of place and know where to put it. These are small steps that can help keep a home neater and less cluttered.

I would love to hear from DS blog readers about the ways they have learned to simplify. Please share your tips and tricks in the comment section below.

Diaper Swapers

Shopping for Car Seats Again

Posted 07-24-2015 at 12:27 PM by Agla

Once again, I find myself in the market for another car seat.  Although the choices can be overwhelming, changes in the industry have not only made car seats safer but also made it easier for a parent to make a well-informed purchase.

 

Seat Size and Weight Limits

There is no such thing as a “one size fits all car seat.”  Since kids come in all types of sizes the car seat that works for one child may not sit another child comfortably.  Manufacturers provide weight limits and height limits but sometimes it takes actually having your child in the seat to evaluate if the seat is going to work for your child.

 

Extended Rear Facing

Car seat manufacturers have responded to the parental demand to ERF older children and the AAP recommendations to rear face at least until age 2.  I was able to sit my child rear facing comfortably up to age 5 by purchasing a seat with a higher ERF weight limit.

 

Expiration / Manufacturer Dates

Car seats have expiration dates.  I’ve heard people scoff at this as a money making ploy by the car seat industry.  Actually, expiration dates protect children from seats that have possibly warped or become brittle. Largely made of plastic, car seats are exposed to the fluctuations in temperature day in and day out for years.  Weight is placed on it daily and tension directly on the plastic is required for a proper installation.  Personally, I think that the addition of manufacturer and expiration days will go a long way in keeping unsafe and outdated seats out of the hands of unsuspecting users.

 

LATCH

Car manufacturers have made the Latch (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children Restraint System) car seat system even more convenient to access in newer model cars.  The LATCH system has makes proper car installation and removal easier for parents. The development of the system has for the most part reduced the sweat inducing struggles with a seat belt and a locking clip for a safe car seat installation.

 

Research, Research, Research

The information that can be found about cars seats online can be overwhelming but there are several well established sites that give thoughtful reviews and recommendations.  There are also forums where parents can ask specific questions about car seats and their installation.

 

Good Return or Exchange Policies

Most retailers have very good return policies that allow parents to return a car seat if the fit is not good for the child. When looking for a car seat make sure you ask what the exact return policies are before purchasing.

 

Shopping for a car seat can be daunting, but newer developments and continued research has now made it easier to buy and install car seats.

 

Five Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer

Posted 07-24-2015 at 08:00 AM by admin

beat the heat

It’s summertime and that means it’s HOT outside. But that doesn’t mean we have to stay cooped up in the house with nothing to do. Moms and kids alike can get stir crazy being inside all day long. Below are some fun options to beat the heat this summer (with kids!):

Hit the mall: This fun outing is sure to make mom and kids happy. Many mall locations have a children’s play area. And I’ve also noticed that quite a few have a coffee shop next door to the play area. How convenient is that? Not to mention air conditioning!

Cheap Movies: Check your local theater for $1 or FREE movies during the summer for the kids (parents are free/discounted too!). If your area does not participate, consider viewing a matinee at a discounted price.

Water Play: Head outside with the kids for a water balloon toss. Or flip on the hose for a fun afternoon of water play. Fill a baby pool and splash around to cool off on a hot afternoon. If you’re in an area with a local splash pad, you’re in luck! Have a beach or lake nearby? What a great way to cool off and the kids will spend hours playing in the sand!

Morning/evening walks and bike rides: Head on out as the sun is coming up or setting. Avoid the hottest parts of the day, yet still have sunlight for safety. We take morning walks and evening bike rides as a family during the summer months to burn off some energy.

YMCA Pool: Check local listings for your community pool or YMCA. Even if you’re not a member, you can pay a small fee to utilize the pool and/or gym for some fun!

For more options, go online and find a local moms group and/or playgroup. Local play groups tend to be even more active during the summer months. Some will take turns hosting play dates at each members home, head to the movies together, visit local museums, pools, libraries, and parks as a group. The options are endless. Also, as a group, many local venues offer a discount because so many people are attending together at once. So, joining a group has multiple benefits – finding new friends, keeping busy, and saving money.

 

 

Road Travel With Toddlers

Posted 07-23-2015 at 12:51 PM by admin

road travel with toddlers

Car Travel With Toddlers

Are you hitting the road this summer with a little one in tow? If so, there will definitely be some planning involved. Over the years, I have learned how to pack and travel efficiently with babies, toddlers, school aged kids, and now teens. And each age requires something different. Today I’m focusing on traveling with toddlers.

Pack heavy:  I know this seems like overkill, but I promise you, you will thank me. If you have the room in your vehicle, pack heavy for the toddlers on your trip. Games, snacks, change of clothes, their favorite pillow, animal, sippy cups, wipes, napkins, toys, snacks….yes I mentioned snacks twice! They are important to having a happy toddler. I highly suggest checking out a local dollar store for new toys that will keep your toddler engaged, without breaking the bank.

Independence: Toddlers love their independence. Consider packing their own separate backpack full of their own things.

Break it up: Back in my college years, my goal was always to get to my destination as fast as possible. Which meant, little to no stops. This is very hard with a toddler. They need to get their energy out. Plan stops at parks, restaurants that have play areas, or just open fields so they can stretch their legs (you too!) and get some exercise.

Avoid rush hour: No one likes to be stuck in traffic, including toddlers!

Sleepy Time Travel: Leaving at night so your toddler sleeps through most of the drive is a great idea. As long as the drivers are not drowsy too. Make sure if the driver is drowsy, you pull over immediately. If it’s a short trip, driving through naptime is a plus as well.

Electronics: While we try to discourage too much time on electronics, long car trips is the exception in our home. Investing in a TV/DVD Player combo is definitely worth it. You can stop at Redbox machines along the way for cheap movie options. If the TV/DVD Player is not in the budget, there are options. Pick up a fun CD full of singalongs or stories for your toddler to enjoy on the trip.

Clean up: Do not forget all the clean up supplies. Pack plenty of napkins, wet ones, disinfectant, plastic bags, and more in case of spills.

 

 

HAPPY TRAVELS!

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Questions You Should Ask Before Buying Used Diapers

Posted 06-27-2015 at 11:42 AM by Agla

prepping

There are some that would never consider buying a used cloth diaper, but those that frequent Diaperswappers.com know that buying used cloth diapers is a great way to save money and make less of an environmental impact.  However, before leaping into our For Sale or Trade (FSOT) forum, it would be wise to do a bit of research.  Here are some questions that might assist you in narrowing down what you are looking for:

Questions To Ask Yourself

What size baby will you be diapering?

Which diapering system currently fits your needs?  AIO? Flats? Prefolds?

Are there particular types of closures you prefer?  Snaps? Aplix? None?

Do you prefer natural or synthetic diapers?  Wool?  Bamboo? Cotton? Microfiber?

How much do you want to spend for a particular item (this figure should be based after researching the current retail price and the current demand)?

Questions to Ask the Seller

Sellers should be very clear about disclosing any imperfections or issues.  Unfortunately, sometimes descriptors such as EUC (Excellent Used Condition) and VGUC (Very Good Used Condition) don’t give enough information about the condition of a diaper, as these ratings can be very subjective.

Can I please see pictures of the inside and outside of diaper?

How are the closures?  Is the velcro sticky?  Do all the snaps work?

What fabric is this made of?

How is the fabric?  Is the PUL still waterproof?  Is the wool felted? Are there any snags?

What detergent has been used to wash this item? Is there any staining?

Is your home smoke free? Pet free (if you have pet allergy issues)?

It might seem daunting to ask questions, but most sellers on Diaperswappers are more than willing to answer questions and provide pictures.  The great thing about buying cloth diapers, new or used, is that once you are done using your cloth diapering purchases you can recoup some of your money spent by reselling your items right here on Diaperswappers.

 

Like the Brady Bunch but Not Really

Posted 06-19-2015 at 11:33 AM by Agla

As a child I watched the Brady Bunch and dreamed of being part of a big family.  I didn’t realize that I would eventually become part of large family but, unlike my childhood fantasies, I ended up playing the part of the mom instead of one of the fun-loving kids.

Having a larger family isn’t exactly how it is pictured on television. I’ll go over some of the major differences between my family and the Brady Bunch:

I don’t have a maid.  Alice on the Brady Bunch was an awesome maid that cared for the children as if they were her own.  The house was immaculately clean and there was never a stray toy in site.   I get to clean everything on my own until the kids are old enough to pitch in.  But unlike Mr. Brady who was always too busy working in the office for housework, I have a husband that does help clean.

I don’t have the equally gender balanced family.  The Brady’s had exactly 3 boys and 3 girls.  My household is boy heavy.  I’ve been living toy cars, wooden trains, and Lego for over a decade and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  Luckily, I had one daughter so that I at least had a small window of shopping in the girl’s section.

My kids weren’t already potty trained when I got them.  The Brady’s became a family by blending two families with older children.  I had to diaper and then potty train all of these kids.

Our problems don’t come in increments of one that are easily resolved in a half hour period.  In the short time I’ve been sitting down to write this piece I’ve had to deal with a broken lightbulb, lost sneakers, fighting over snacks, helping put on socks, and a toilet that won’t stop running.

Even though my life doesn’t match that of the Brady Bunch I will always appreciate the show for leaving me with the impression that a large family could be loving and supportive of each other.   Even when we have our worst days I have never wished for a smaller family.  I’m grateful that I was able to get positive messages about larger families as a child. Thank you, Mrs. Brady!

 

Help! I Want to Cloth Diaper but I Have No Money!

Posted 06-19-2015 at 10:35 AM by Agla

One of the most asked questions that we get on our forum is how to cloth diaper on a very limited budget.  While many people choose to cloth diaper to save on diapering costs there are many who struggle with the initial investment needed to create a stash.

Here is a sampling of some of the most popular inexpensive diapering options available:

Flats

Flat diapers are an inexpensive but useful diapering option that can be used for a large range of sizes.  There are now “elite” flats that come in gorgeous fabrics but the budget minded cloth “diaperer” can make their own flats by using fabric that might already be in the home.

T-Shirt Flats-  Old t-shirts can be cut and made into flats.  T-shirt material will roll at the edge when cut but will usually not fray, which makes the t-shirt flat one of the best inexpensive options for those that do not feel comfortable sewing.  If absorbency is a concern an inexpensive doubler can be added for extra wetness protection.

Receiving blanket flats-  Thin receiving blankets are also an inexpensive solution.  They can be purchased new for as little as $2 a blanket and usually they can be found at tag sales or thrift stores for even less.

Flour Sack Towels- These are an option that have gained some popularity as people realize how versatile they can be and how easily they can be found.  Once you are done using them as a flat diaper then you can use them pad folded in a cover, as an insert or even as a doubler.

Covers

There are now cover options available to fit every type of budget.  But if those options are still out of reach there are some basic and functional cover options that require minimal investment.

Upcycled Wool- Wool sweaters can be used to make soakers and longies (wool pants.) With my fourth child I got busy recycling old wool sweaters to make longies to wear over CDs.  It was surprisingly easy and I ended preferring some of my upcycled wool to wool that I purchased new or had made.  Several soakers can be made from a large sweater and absorbency can be increased by sewing an additional layer of wool into the soaker area.

Fleece-  Fleece soakers and longies can be made inexpensively by upcycling old sweatshirts or buying yards of fleece while on sale.  Fleece can also be used as a stay dry liner.

Training Pant Covers-  Otherwise known as Gerber pull on (although I’m sure there are other brands) are a basic no frills pull on cover.  They cost about $2 a cover and are now being sold in prints as well.

The cloth diaper industry has gone through a transformation in recent times, but the changes and innovations have come with increased prices, or, in some cases reduced prices but questionable business ethics.  Fortunately, there are still ways that a parent can choose to cloth diaper while keeping out of pocket expenses to an absolute minimum.

 

Cding: The Quest for the Perfect Solutions

Posted 06-19-2015 at 10:22 AM by Agla

I came across the word “skincaretainment”  used to describe the enjoyment that skin care enthusiasts take in finding, testing and sharing information about skin care products.  I found the term amusing not only because the word fit exactly the concept of what draws people to skin care forums but because I felt that the concept had so much in common with our cloth diapering world.  We already have created the word “Cding,”  which is not only an abbreviation for cloth diapering, but is also a term that covers the experience, enjoyment and sometimes frustration of finding products that fulfill our specific cloth diapering needs.  While skin care enthusiasts look for the perfect facial wash or nighttime cream, cders look for the following perfect solutions:

The Night Time Solution-  This would be the perfect combination of diaper, soaker/insert and cover that allows baby to wake up in dry clothes and bedding.

The True AIO-  This would be the all-in-one diaper that would ideally take your child from the newborn stage all the way to potty training.

The Perfect Wash Routine- The perfect ratio of water: detergent accompanied by the most efficient number of rinses.

The Best Fitted- The fitted diaper with the most absorbency and the best fit.  This diaper would contain most blowouts but would not so bulky that it would be distracting.

The Best Cover- The cover that would be the most pleasing to the eye that lasts through repeated washings without losing efficacy.  It would also have the most effective closure system and the best fit so that they are comfortable to wear while still keeping everything in.

A parent may find the perfect solution only to have to start the quest again when the solution doesn’t work for the next child.  Still we continue our research and eager trips to the mailbox because for many of us cloth diapers are more than functional, they are also an entertaining hobby.

Preparing A Toddler For Financial Changes

Posted 06-3-2015 at 06:44 AM by Matrivine

Financial change is hard on most people, but it’s hardest on smaller children They don’t quite understand what’s going on and why things are changing. They want old luxuries that are no longer available to the. It can be hard on mom and dad too, as they try to help their toddler accept the new reality of their life. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you should ever find yourself in such a situation.

Talking About It

Toddlers don’t understand the concept of money. What they will understand is that some of the things they are used to will be taken away. That’s why it’s important to take away as little as possible. For example Netfilx and cable may be downsized and with them shows your child likes to watch, but you could find some free shows on Hulu. You could also have DVDs or downloads of favorite shows or activities so there isn’t an expense attached to the luxury.

Look On The Bright Side

Rather than saying that you won’t be able to afford pudding cups, talk about how you will get to make pudding together. Instead of saying that you will spend less time at museums or water parks talk about discuss how you will spend more time in the back yard working on the new garden or at the local public park. This can introduce a sense of calm to your child and the assurance that they will not be giving up all the fun in their life.

If Changes Require A Move

Try to keep the things your toddler owns. Use the same bedroom furniture, stuffed animals and night light. Make sure they keep their special toys on hand, so they know it’s not being left behind and make a big deal about it. This won’t just save money. it will give you child a sense of security when they are on the move and settling in to a new place.