Posted 08-5-2015 at 10:02 PM by Agla
Once again, it is the time of year where moms are hitting the stores, searching everywhere for back to school deals. One of the biggest expenses is the inevitable money that needs to be spent on clothing, after the growth spurts that take place in the summer. Here are just a few ideas on how to make your back to school clothing budget stretch:
Buy in the Previous Season
One of the best ways to save is to plan in advance. Many basics can be purchased for great prices during clearance sales and then put aside for future use.
A few years ago, I found basic navy hooded sweatshirts for $3 a piece during a clearance event. I purchased the sweatshirt in a couple of sizes and stored them. The sweatshirts have gotten lots of use and since it was a basic non-trendy item my kids will be wearing those sweatshirts for years to come.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Local Thrift and Consignment Stores
I happen to have several thrift and consignment stores in driving distance. I have seen the traffic in these stores rise exponentially as living costs have increased. Unfortunately, prices at these type of stores have also risen but they still beat traditional stores for some items. However, you have to be familiar with the cost of quality items because in some instances it is more cost-effective to buy new.
At a national chain children’s consignment shop I found a pair of boys dress shoes that retail for $75 or above. The shoes looked as though they had never been worn, and they cost only $8. I also found a brand new, with tag, Janie and Jack boys shirt for $4. The full retail price for the shirt was $34.
There are many stores that specialize in selling off season clothing. Sometimes the only reason an item is considered off season is because full price retailers have introduced the items in different colors for the new season. The older colors are then moved to discounters.
Recently, I purchased a pair of men’s pants at a department store. I bought the pants while they were on sale and I applied a coupon I found online. Later that day I found the same pair of pants at Marshall’s in a slightly darker khaki color for a few dollars less than the price I paid without the hassle of waiting for a sale or coupon.
Watch for Sales and Coupons
There are coupon experts out there that can make a “dollar out of fifteen cents.” I am not one of those people, but I do search out coupons and sales before going out to make any purchases.
Many retailers mail out or email coupons periodically and waiting for those coupons can make the difference between saving money and overspending. Combine your coupon with sales or by buying items that are on clearance to extend your back to school budget.
Despite my planning ahead I sometimes find that I have to purchase a last minute clothing item. I recently needed to buy shorts for my son before a trip. I walked into the store and immediately suffered from sticker shock. I looked around some more and I found shorts that were actually closer to my price range. Once we figured that the shorts were a good fit and decent quality I calculated that the sale price combined with a store coupon. The combination of the sale and coupon bought the shorts down to exactly the amount I had budgeted to spend.
Use the Diaperswappers FSOT Forum
The Diaperswappers forum has a section of the sale and trade forum dedicated to children’s clothing. Members will often list clothing that their child has outgrown that is good quality and a good price point.
For example, there is currently a pair of Mini Boden lined cargo pants listed in our forum for $15. These pants retail for $54 new.
Back to school clothing shopping does not have to break the bank. By planning your purchases carefully, and familiarizing yourself with the various ways that clothing costs can be reduced, you will be able to hopefully enjoy your back to school shopping instead of worrying about your budget.
Posted 08-4-2015 at 06:08 PM by admin
Sibling Rivalry Happens | Tips To Get Through It
Sibling rivalry happens in almost every family. It doesn’t matter the kids ages, from toddlers to adulthood, siblings will have days of jealousy, arguments, and some will compete with one another. This is normal. However, it can get out of control.
Coming from a family of 9 kids, I’ve had my share of sibling rivalry. And, I’ve seen it crop up in my four children as well. Below are some tips to help:
One on one time – It’s very important for kids to feel independent and loved by their parents. Consider taking some alone time with each child to do something special. Choose an activity that the child likes or is interested in and spend the day one on one together enjoying that activity. Once a month or every other week is a great place to start.
Acceptance of feelings – It’s normal for siblings to get angry or jealous of one another. That is normal human behavior. Let your children know that you understand their feelings. Validate them. And listen instead of constant reprimanding or punishment. Open communication is just as important for children as it is for you and your partner.
Family discussions – Discuss issues as a family. Let each child speak openly and help them problem solve. They will need these skills for life. Allowing them to talk it out with one another with the parents facilitating the discussion will work wonders.
Family Praise – Encourage your children to compliment each other starting at a very young age. Encouraging and complimenting one another as young children will continue through their teenage years, which tends to be very hard years.
Role Model – Be a role model. The way you and your partner treat one another is seen by everyone in the house. If they see positive relationships they will model your behavior as well. Keep heated discussions away from the kids eyes and ears if possible.
Posted 08-3-2015 at 09:05 AM by admin
Easy arts and crafts for toddlers and preschoolers
Are you looking for easy and inexpensive crafts to do with the kids? Below are a few that our family have enjoyed over the years. They are great for toddlers and preschoolers, and a few of these are still enjoyed by my 2nd and 4th graders!
Pasta Necklaces – Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. Wheels and tubes are two pasta shapes that make amazing necklaces (or bracelets). This teaches great motor skills and is easy for toddlers and preschool age kids.
Paint with water – Out of paint? Grab a big paint brush and bucket of water and let the kids paint the driveway with water. If you’re in Florida or other very hot states, it may evaporate before you can paint a picture, so consider doing this before the sun is at it’s hottest. Best part – no cleanup!
Finger paints – This can be messy but so much fun for the kids. As toddlers, I would put my kids in their diaper only and we’d head outside with finger paints, newspaper, construction paper, and our folding table. Cover the table with newspaper (tape it down). Set out pieces of construction paper, and let them go wild with the paint!
Rock painting – grab the paint and a few brushes and head outside to find some rocks. The kids will have a blast painting rocks and once they dry they can make great decorations in their room.
Cereal bracelets – Very similar to pasta necklaces, but much tastier. Have the kids string Cheerios or Froot Loops to make delicious necklaces and bracelets they can wear and then snack on. Fun!
Paper Bag Puppets – This is another inexpensive craft. Grab a pack of paper bags for around $2. Washable markers, yarn, glue, construction paper, child scissors, and anything else around the house that will help make faces. The kids can make multiple “puppets” and put on their own puppet show. This will work with socks as well. Sock puppets are so much fun.
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.
Posted 07-24-2015 at 08:00 AM by admin
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.
Posted 07-23-2015 at 12:51 PM by admin
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.
Posted 07-20-2015 at 12:41 PM by JPMP
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Posted 06-27-2015 at 11:42 AM by Agla
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.