How to Keep Your Home Under Control: Getting Started

How to Keep Your Home Under Control: Getting Started

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In the last year, I have made so much progress towards keeping my home under control. I am really proud of myself. Even with the addition of a new baby 6 months ago, my home has been clean more consistently than it was before children. There have been so many moments when I have been getting ready for guests when I have just stopped to appreciate how I am not panic cleaning at the last minute. It is a wonderful feeling. I’m happier, my husband is happier, and our home is functioning so much better. So, what am I doing differently to keep my house in order? Keep reading to find out.

This journey began after my first son was born. Keeping a clean house was always a bit of a struggle, but after having my son it seemed like an impossible task. My mom happened to stumble upon Dana K. White from A Slob Comes Clean and told me about her. I listened to a couple of her podcasts and then bought her book* (check your local library). It was this book that started this journey for me.

The first take away and the biggest impact came from her book/method.

Run the dishwasher every night.

Yes, every night. Dana says. Even if it is not full. Even if you are tired. Even if you don’t feel like it. Treat it like brushing your teeth.

Start here and just do this until you create a habit. There is no shortcut or secret. You just have to do it. And do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And forever. Acceptance (Resignation?) is the first step.

There is no rule as to when you have to unload or load your dishwasher. Find a time that seems to work best with your routine and try to do it around the same time every day. However, if you don’t get it done when “you’re supposed to” doesn’t mean you skip for the day. (More about routine later)

Before long, you realize it only takes 15-20 minutes to clean your kitchen (not just load the dishwasher) before bed and the difference it makes is worth it. It becomes a habit that you don’t even think about anymore. There is no decision. You just do it.

Add cleaning the kitchen floor.

Once you are doing your dishes without thinking about it, add cleaning the floor. Dana would say sweep, but if you have toddlers you know that sweeping just doesn’t cut it under a high chair or booster seat. I would say clean under the children after every meal or at least a couple of times a day as needed/possible.

I know what you are thinking. Twice a day? Is she crazy? I would have said the same thing 6 months ago. Hear me out.

My mom gave me a vacuum mop for my 30th birthday. It was exactly what I wanted. Nothing says 30 like cleaning products, amiright?

What is a vacuum mop, you say? Just that. A vacuum and mop combo. There is a disposable mop pad like a Swiffer that has a compartment that catches everything the vacuum picks up. It also sprays a cleaning solution. While I wish it were reusable, it is pretty nice that all the mess is contained and can be easily dropped in the trash. It has a little release thing and you don’t have to touch it at all. The mopping solution and the disposable pads are affordable and worth it overall for the benefit of consistently clean floors.

This wonderful invention allows you to mop up all the crumbs and stickiness in one very quick step. It is AMAZING!

It does not replace the need for the occasional (rare) real mopping, but it has allowed me to keep my floors clean with minimal effort and make mopping so much easier.

Pro Tip: The pads are disposable, but not one-time use. I use one for a couple of days before I change it out.

The one I have is made by Shark* and I am not sure if anyone else makes them. While this is an affiliate link for Amazon, this is not a sponsored post. I just really love this product and it has done absolute wonders for our home.

Next up is a new thing for me. I have been doing it for the past few months and I am really happy with this system. This is an organizational system, not a cleaning hack.

Keep a planner in a prominent place in your kitchen where you will look at it every day.

Yes, a paper planner. This tip was gleaned from Rosemarie Groner in a talk she did for Get Organized HQ. Here is a blog post she wrote on the same topic.

I use this planner to write down any appointments, get-togethers, birthdays, etc. and, as she suggests, go back and include any action items (such as buying a birthday gift) in my planner in advance of the day. It is not used to make a detailed to-do list for the day.

This has helped me stay on top of things and mitigate the mom brain. I also use pages in it to make a running grocery list, so any time I notice I need something I can quickly add it to a list that doesn’t get lost. I *usually* remember to take a picture on Wednesday mornings before leaving for my bible study/errand day.

Next up, laundry.

Laundry was hard for me to get under control. Dana suggests having a laundry day where you do all your laundry from the week together. I like this idea in theory and I can wash all of the laundry in a day… folding is another story. She recommends folding right out of the dryer, but that is just not possible for me. With two children two and under, folding five or more loads of laundry at a time is close to impossible. I have been experimenting and think I may have finally found a solution that works for me.

I try to do a load of laundry every day. Wash. Dry. Put away. This keeps the loads smaller and easier to actually get put away. However, there are days that this doesn’t happen and it doesn’t help get sheets and towels washed. So, I also do a laundry day to catch up and wash gentles, sheets, towels, and anything else lingering.

When it comes to folding laundry, I have discovered a few things too.

Hanging the majority of my clothes has made getting clothes put away easier. When I go to fold, I go to my closet and pull out empty hangers, hang my clothes on the hangers as they come out of the basket, and then hang them in the closet when I am finished.

Another game-changer is folding clothes standing between my bed and my dresser. Instead of making piles of socks, underwear, and pajamas, I immediately put them away. I also keep cloth napkins in a basket on the table. I will bring that basket to where I am folding and put the napkins right in the basket as I fold them. Apply this to your situation by folding the laundry wherever the majority of that load will need to be put away. Putting things away as you fold means that even if (more like when) you get interrupted you have made real progress.

Folding baby and toddler clothes and putting them away has been a constant source of stress. Especially since they usually end up getting unfolded within seconds anyway. Recently, I learned something from Dawn at The Minimal Mom. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLD YOUR CHILDREN’S CLOTHES! Did you know that was allowed? I didn’t. I stopped folding my boys’ clothes and nothing bad has happened yet. In fact, now my two-year-old puts his clothes away with direction (but needs less and less every time). To make this easier, I have a hamper for each child and wash their clothes separately to keep loads small and so I don’t have to sort them before my two year old puts his away.

Pro Tip: Allow yourself guilt-free Netflix time while you do laundry.

Well, now you know what has been working for me. I hope you can apply some of these methods to your cleaning routine to make your home a more peaceful place.

Here are some tips that have helped me:

Concentrate on one thing at a time. Make it a habit before you move on to the next thing.

If you are anything like me, you have probably written out an elaborate cleaning schedule for yourself multiple times and vowed to keep it up, but since you are reading this I am going to venture a guess that you didn’t stick to it and continue to panic clean as needed. Just me?

Small incremental change is key. Small changes over time lead to big results. I think I heard this in the book Atomic Habits* that I have been listening to while I work around the house this last week. I never would have thought that loading the dishwasher every night before bed would be as much of a habit for me as brushing my teeth, but it is now. I have built on this one small habit and it has led to my home being under control (not perfect, but not a source of stress).

Routines aren’t just good for toddlers…

Don’t get me wrong, I do not live by a strict schedule, but I have noticed that my days go better when there is a general flow to them. When my children know what to expect things tend to go more smoothly.

I’m talking very fluid here. The key features are:

1.) I make it a goal to unload the dishwasher and start a load of laundry before lunch.
2.) Clean up as much as I can after each meal.
3.) Put dishes in the dishwasher as I cook dinner.
4.) Before I go to sleep I start the dishwasher and dry any laundry that didn’t get switched during the day.

What you listen to/watch/read is what you think about and therefore what you do…

I’ve found that listening to podcasts about cleaning, decluttering, and organizing help me find the motivation to keep working on my home. Likewise, listening to finance podcasts helps me be more conscious of my spending and financial goals. This works on anything you want to improve. I have learned to listen to podcasts about whatever I want to work on in my life. It helps me stay focused and motivated.

My house is far from perfect, but it is under control. I am adding in some new layers to my cleaning “routine” and once I “level up” I will write a Part 2.

What are your biggest tips for keeping your home under control with littles?

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn’t have believed you. But, it has been hard to keep track. Caring for a toddler while being pregnant is definitely a game changer. Now that I am nearing the end and counting down the days it is a little easier. I’m 35 weeks today, I think. 🙂 

It hit me recently that I’m getting close to delivery. That made me panic a bit. Why am I panicing? I’ve done this before. I know what to do. Or do I? What if this one is different? What can I do to make it better? I need to start preparing for labor. Yikes! 

If you are reading this, I am sure you are feeling the same way I am. 

How will this labor and delivery be different and what do I need to do to prepare?

What gaps were there in my preparation last time and how do I fill them?

How do I know what I don’t know?

What should I be thinking about?

When you are expecting your second child there are many more considerations when the time comes to give birth. You also have enough experience to have an idea of how it will go (or how you want it to go), but every pregnancy and birth is different. 

Obviously, this will be different for each person, but keep reading below to see how I worked through this stage of pregnancy and what I learned from my first birth and how I am currently handling preparation for my second son’s delivery.

Step One: Make peace with your last birth. 

Think about it. Talk about it. Process it. 

For me, this meant researching what happened to me, and finding out that what I experienced was precipitous labor. Just having a name for it was very helpful to me. When I posted my birth story, I didn’t know there was a special term for it and I didn’t know what it would mean for subsequent births. 

I have been doing a ton of research to try to figure out what it could mean for my next birth. Mainly, listening to birth stories from other moms who experienced precipitous labor, particularly moms who had multiple children. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find many stories (only one I think) of precipitous labor where the mother was induced like me. 

Before my research, I experienced a lot of anxiety around giving birth this time. My biggest fear is not making it to the hospital and having my baby at home or in the car on the way. My other fear was dragging my husband to the hospital over and over for false alarms. 

We live 1 hour and 6 minutes from the hospital. Labor with my son lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes (water breaking) or 1 hour and 41 minutes (starting Pitocin) depending on when you start counting. And second labors usually go faster! Not to mention, this time we have a toddler to drop off on the way.

My first step was to share my fears with my midwives and my doctor. After talking through it multiple times with different midwives, I felt a little better about it. I finally made an appointment to talk to the doctor about it. I wanted her to help me make a plan to give my baby the best chance of being born at the hospital. She told me to just wrap my head around driving to the hospital a lot for false alarms. Any time I start having contractions, start driving, and turn around if they stop. 

This gave me a little bit of peace about the situation. I talked to my husband about it and he understands. It is not going to be fun driving to the hospital who knows how many times, but we both accept that we will have to do it. It is good to be on the same page. 

Next, I started listening to birth story podcasts. I listened to every precipitous labor story I could find, including several car births and unplanned home births. This may cause more anxiety for some people, but it gave me a lot of peace. 

Hearing these women tell their stories was empowering for me. They gave me a description of what to expect if it were to happen to me and what I could do to plan for it. While I still hope to make it to the hospital, I think I will be able to handle a car birth if it comes down to it. 

Having an unplanned home birth is another story. We live 35 minutes from any hospital and 45 minutes from a hospital with a labor and delivery department. If we lived closer to a hospital, I would probably just plan for a home birth because of my history. My husband is glad we live too far from a hospital for this to be wise.

Thankfully, my husband feels very confident in his ability to handle a homebirth if it were to happen. Knowing that he will remain calm and do what needs to be done is a comfort to me. One birth story I listened to was a woman who gave birth at home and her husband and sister were so flustered she had to take charge and tell them what to do while she was pushing out her baby, including calling 911. I know my husband will be able to keep his head and take care of me and our baby. 

Pro Tip: When preparing for my first son’s birth, my husband read (probably skimmed) the book The Birth Partner*, which includes a section on what to do if you give birth in a car or at home. I made sure he read this section and will probably read it again myself before too long. This book was also a great resource when I found out I was going to be induced. It had so much information about what to expect and what the different options were surrounding induction and medical interventions. I read it on the way to the doctor the day I was induced. 

We also live across the street from our family doctor (who is a cousin) and used to deliver babies 30 years ago. So, in a pinch, we will call him over.

Moral of this long rambling story: Process your last birth and work through anything you need to work through to be at peace going into your second birth. Fear is the worst thing for childbirth.

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Step 2: Apply the Lessons You Learned

What did you learn from your last birth that you want to remember for this one? The biggest thing I learned was that if I don’t like my nurse I can ask for a new one. Who knew? I am planning to request the nurse that saved the day with my last birth and pray she is there and available when the time comes. 

Another takeaway is that delayed cord clamping doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. I am going to be more clear in my birth plan that I want to wait longer than the 30-60 seconds the hospital calls delayed cord clamping. 

On a lighter note, my husband learned that he needs a few more things in his hospital bag. He barely packed anything last time and while he still doesn’t have much packed this time, he did make a few additions I’ll talk about in the packing the hospital bag section below.

So, think through what it is for you that you learned and want to do differently this time around and make a plan. 

Step 3: Brush up on your Childbirth education.

Were you prepared for your last labor? Were you able to cope through contractions? Were you scared? Was your partner prepared and supported through labor and delivery? If not, take the time to research the areas you need to improve.

Take another birth class, or if you didn’t the first time, take a birth class. Some options are the Evidence Based Birth Childbirth class or the Mama Natural Childbirth Class, both of which are online if you happen to be giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic like me or if its nearly impossible to get away for an inperson class. 

Reread your birth book of choice or find a new one. I read Ina Mae’s Guide to Childbirth* and it was extremely helpful. I wrote about it more thoroughly in my labor tips post. 

Step 4: Listen to Birth Stories

I have been binge listening to birth story podcasts lately and it has been so much fun! Immersing myself in the birth world again has been rewarding. Hearing other women’s stories has encouraged me and taught me a lot. It is a lot easier to listen to a podcast than to read a book these days. I have also been listening to the Evidence Based Birth Podcast to brush up on any new research out there. 

The birth story podcasts I have been listening to are The Birth Hour, Birthful, Evidence Based Birth, Australian Birth Stories, and Kiwi Birth Tales. I searched the Podcasts App for “precipitous labor” and listened to any episodes related. That is how I found all of these podcasts. I have since listened to many other birth stories on these podcasts, but that is where I started.  

Watch Call the Midwife on Netflix. I find it oddly soothing and empowering when preparing for birth. It may not have the same effect on everyone, but it made me much less fearful when I starting freaking out during my first pregnancy. Seeing birth normalized and women supported is beautiful. I started the series over recently in preparation for this baby’s birth. I am not freaking out this time, but it is still empowering. 

Step 5: Reevaluate the Birth Plan

Say what? Second-time moms know having a birth plan is a joke. I know where you are coming from and I agree. However, there is value in making a birth plan. Maybe it needs a better name? Birth Considerations? 

The value lies in thinking through different things that could happen during your birth and how you would like them handled, if possible. An extreme example would be if you needed an emergency c-section. Did you know there are options? 

Also, having a birth plan lets your providers know where you stand on certain issues. Like I mentioned before, we asked for delayed cord clamping. Now we know we need to be more specific in our birth plan and define what we mean by “delayed”. 

I am all for a minimalist birth plan. Even if you just jot down a couple of things that are most important to you. The rest can just be in your and your husband’s head. Just make sure you’ve educated yourselves on what options you might be presented with and know where you stand. During labor is not the time to try to discuss some of these issues. If the discussions have been had beforehand, your husband will be better equipped to advocate for you and your baby in the moment.

Step 6: Reevaluate the Hospital Bag

I’d be willing to bet there were a few things you wish you had at the hospital or birth center at your first birth and I am positive there were many many things that never came out of your bag at all! I was amazed at how much the hospital provided and how little of my own things I needed. I literally barely opened my bag. 

My toiletries bag, some clothes, phone charger, and baby’s coming home outfit were about all I used at the hospital and we were there Monday – Thursday. I am planning to keep track of everything I use this time and write a post for you all! Stay tuned.

I did have a two very useful items in my toiletries bag in addition to the usual items. 

  1. Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray*

This stuff was wonderful in the hospital those first few days after birth. I kept it in the mini-fridge in our room and it was so soothing after trips to the bathroom. I talk more about it and postpartum recovery in this post.

2. Coconut oil

I used coconut oil for nipple cream after nursing (it doesn’t stain your clothes like lanolin) and on the flanges for pumping (to help my milk come in since my son was born at 36 weeks).

It was also great to apply to baby’s bum after birth and every diaper change until the first poo. It keeps the meconium from sticking and makes that first dirty diaper change a little easier.

Things we didn’t pack last time, but are packing this time:

  1. “Real Clothes” for going home. 

    We live about an hour from our hospital and our peditrician. The last thing we wanted to do was to turn around the next day and go to the pediatrician, so we made an appointment for the day we were released from the hospital and went on our way home. This was great. Except I packed yoga pants for the way home and I’m not a yoga pants in public kind of person. So, I had to wear what I wore to the hospital. We plan to do the same thing this time, so I will definitely pack real clothes to go home. 

2. Clothes for visitors

We didn’t have a ton of visitors (other than my mom and sisters), but when we did, I was not prepared with clothes that made me feel comfortable and presentable. This time I am packing my nice robe, even though we won’t be having any visitors (thanks to COVID-19). 

3. A Blanket and Pillow for my Husband

My poor husband froze every night in the hospital. and all he had was a sheet. We probably could have asked for a blanket and pillow, but my husband would rather suffer than ask. So, this time, the blanket and pillow are all packed. 

*COVID-19 Addition* 

I also packed snacks and drinks for my husband, since we won’t have visitors. Last time, my mom and sisters brought us meals and snacks every day and it was wonderful. There is this great ice cream place within walking distance of the hospital that has this amazing ginger ice cream. My sisters brought some to me after having my son and it was the best thing ever. I was already planning for that to be a post-birth treat again and I am super bummed that won’t be possible.

 Obviously, your experience will be different. The key is to think it through your last birth and make adjustments as needed.

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Step 7: Talk it Out

Have a conversation with your spouse about what went well during your hospital stay and what, if anything, needs some work. I already told you the adjustments we made to the hospital bag, so now I am going to brag on my husband. 

He was completely amazing after birth. He went into “Captain mode” and took charge of everything. All I had to do was focus on bonding with my baby and recovering. He kept track of feedings and told me when it was time to feed again, he managed the breast pump and cleaned all the parts after each use, and kept me on track. It was wonderful. When we had to briefly supplement with formula for blood sugar he handled the bottle feedings while I pumped. He did skin to skin while I ate or whatever else. He even helped me use the bathroom for the first couple of times. I cannot say enough good things about how well he took care of both of us in the hospital. 

This was especially important because I had a really strong reaction to the oxytocin released during breastfeeding for the first few days. The room would spin and make me really dizzy. I was exhausted and in no condition to keep track of feeding and pumping schedules for a preemie. Thankfully, my husband was on top of it all. 

I told my husband I hoped he would do the same this time too. I know not all moms would want or need this from their husbands, but it was exactly what I needed. Whatever it is you need from your husband, make sure to have the conversation ahead of time and set expectations/make requests. 

On the flip side, be sure to ask your husband if there is anything he thinks should go differently or anything he thought worked well. He is in this too and should be considered. I think we moms can get caught up in our roles in the birth process and forget that our men are right there with us playing a critical role as well. They desrve some appreciation and consideration too. They also have a different perspective from you and may think of something that you haven’t.

Step 8: Make a Plan for Your First Child

This is a big consideration that was not a factor first go-round. Who is going to watch your first child while you’re in the hospital having your second? How will you get your child to them or how will they get to your child?

We plan to drop my son at my husband’s aunt and uncle’s on our way to the hospital (it’s on our way) and my mother will pick him up there. It is very rare that someone is not home and this saves us the 25 minutes that it will take my mom to get here, which as you read above could mean the difference in having my son at the hospital or on the side of the road.

Likely, your labors last longer than mine and you will have a reasonable amount of time to get your child settled, but you still need to have a plan in place. 

Pro Tip: A mom friend of mine said that when she brought her 4th child home, her mother offered to bring her other children for a visit and then take them back to her house for a few more days. At the time, she wanted them home and all together. She said looking back she wished she had taken her mom up on it. So, maybe think about this as an option if you feel like you will need a few days at home to get in the swing of things with the newborn before adding in the older children.

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Step 9: Consider How You Will Introduce Your Children

I had a vision of my mom bringing my son to visit in the hospital to meet his little brother. I have a special gift* (the larger version of the one I bought for the baby) for my son from the baby that I was going to give him at the hospital. I wanted a picture of our new family of four on the hospital bed (the boys with their matching rhinos). I can see the picture in my head. 

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this will not become reality. Now, I am trying to create a new mental image of how this meeting will look. Honestly, I am drawing a blank. Anyone have any suggestions for me?? Leave me a comment! 

I know that it will all be fine and however it happens will be fine. My son isn’t even two, so he won’t remember. I am not looking for some perfectly choreographed moment, but a nice mental image to replace the one that’s there would be niee. Missing out on this moment is going to be the hardest thing for me dealing with COVID-19 Restrictions. It would be really nice to replae that mental image with one equally as beautiful before the birth, but I haven’t been able to come up with one so far.  

All that to say, give it some thought. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic and serious moment, but it is a big deal and worth at least thinking through.

 

Step 10: Soak Up the Last Weeks with Your First Born

Adding to your family is an exciting time, but it can also be a little sad to think about having to divide your attention between two children. I am taking advantage of every moment to love on my little boy. Lots of hugs and kisses, playing outside, playing in the floor (which is getting harder and harder), reading books, and savoring bed times. It is so hard to keep up our good bedtime habits, because I just want to snuggle him and savor every moment. 

I see a lot of moms that are worried about having enough love to go around when they have subsequesnt children. It is hard to imagine how I will love another child as much as I love my first, but I know I will. I think your heart just doubles in size and grows to encompass the new little life. I remember the immediate flood of pure love the second they placed my son on my chest. At the time, my husband said “well, are you ready for your heart to live outside you’re body from now on?” How true is that? 

Snuggle your first child every chance you get and savor every moment! 


Well this has been quit the all emcompassing guide. I hope it helps you as you prepare for your big day!

 I will try to do a follow up on the other side of delivery and let you know how this preparation worked for me. 

 You’ve got this, mama!

A Subjective List of Pregnancy Must-Haves

A Subjective List of Pregnancy Must-Haves

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.I'm sure you are tired of hearing how every pregnancy is different for every woman and even each pregnancy for each woman, but it is true! The reality is that what is a...

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Functional and Beautiful Must-Have Baby Items

Functional and Beautiful Must-Have Baby Items

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.I that am not a fan of baby junk; ugly plastic, obnoxious colors, cheesy characters, and so cheaply made that it rarely lasts through one child. When I had my son, I was...

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Gift Ideas for Husbands

Gift Ideas for Husbands

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

Every time a gift-giving occasion rolls around, I try to search for gift ideas for my husband. I never seem to find a list that fits him at all. This year, I thought I would write my own in hopes of helping someone else struggling to find a good gift guide for manly husbands. You know, husbands who aren’t defined by their beard, aren’t into grilling or wearable tech, and are way past basic outdoor gear. 

These are gifts for the hardworking man who comes home smelling like diesel fuel. Gifts for the man who can drive a bulldozer, who spends hours on a bush hog, and who doesn’t take his truck in for an oil change or to get the tires rotated, but does it himself. Gifts for the man who has dirty fingernails and spends the day working outside. If your husband knows more than most employees at Lowe’s and Home Depot, this gift guide is for you. If you never fear for your safety at night because your husband is sleeping beside you and you know nothing can get through him, then this list is for you. If your husband has you so prepared, equipped, and trained that even when he is gone you never get scared at night, then this list is definitely for you! I don’t know what to call men like these, but I sure am thankful for mine! I’m sure you are too!

When I decided to write this post, I went straight to the source. I asked my husband to send me a list of gifts for men like him. The following is that list, plus a few additions of my own he didn’t think of himself. 

To start things off, we have a list of gifts that will fit in his pocket. I call my husband’s pant’s pockets his “Mary Poppins pockets”. They are an endless abyss full of useful gear. 

Tourniquet

This may seem like an odd gift, but it is one that could save a life. My husband has recently been made aware of the Stop the Bleed campaign. We now have tourniquets in all of our vehicles and first aid kits. If your husband is into outdoor activities (hunting, fishing, hiking, shooting, etc.) or has a lifestyle (like farming or construction) that comes with a level of risk, a tourniquet would be a great practical gift. My husband recommends buying tourniquets from North American Rescue, which is located in our state, South Carolina. You can buy their tourniquets on their website, or for a few dollars cheaper on Amazon*. Check out Stop the Bleed and NAR for more information about tourniquets, the current research, and training.

Pocket Flashlight

Behind his pen and Sharpie, the item he uses most often is his pocket flashlight*. You may be thinking who needs a flashlight with a phone in your pocket, but let me tell you this little flashlight is super convenient. My husband uses it all the time. He has given them to pretty much all the men in his life and all of them have been quick converts. Men from all walks of life, not just the farmer/ship’s mate type. His dad is an architect and my brother-in-law is a nurse and they both get tons of use out of this little flashlight*. If your guy likes practical gifts, this is a no brainer. It will quickly become a daily pocket staple. 

Hankies

This one is more for whoever does the laundry in your house. My husband needs a tissue in his pocket 24/7. It wasn’t long after we got married that I got super fed up with picking tissue fragments out of the washer and dryer. My solution? I purchased these tissue sized handkerchiefs* for my husband. They have been great. If one gets washed in his pocket, it’s no big deal, now it’s clean. He bought into using these pretty easily too. He seems to like them better. He tends to carry around one tissue for I don’t even want to know how long (ick) and these hankies hold up a lot better than a tissue. For an added touch, you (or your older child) could try your hand at embroidery and add his initials to them. I ordered my husband a nice handkerchief with his monogram from Etsy and gave it to him at the same time as these. Well, the second batch of these*. We now have quite a collection. 3 sets I think. 

Leatherman Wave Multitool

PSA from my Husband: If the gifts on this list sound like a good fit for your husband, then he probably already has a Leatherman. So, make sure to check before you make the purchase.

Another tool in my husband’s actual belt. Literally, on his belt every day. This Inspector Gadget style multi-tool* has everything a manly man could need. 18 different tools are packed into this “knife”. Check it out*

Side note: If you are looking for a good pocket knife for your man (or yourself), I recommend Kershaw knives. I’ve had this one* for years and love it! 

Continuing on our “gifts that fit in pockets” theme…

Magpul iPhone Case

Does your husband still have an iPhone SE? Not the new one that just came out that is not the same size as the original (really, Apple?), but the old one from years back. Yes, mine too. This has been his go-to phone case* for years and years. He likes that it doesn’t add bulk to his phone, fits in his pockets nicely, and is a little grippy. The fact that it is “olive drab” doesn’t hurt either. He loves it and I can’t imagine him getting anything else, but it doesn’t offer quite enough protection in my opinion. As evidenced by the cracked screen he is sporting these days. However, he has used this case for years and this is his first cracked screen. He buried a phone with the bulldozer, but no case would have helped in that situation. They have cases for newer phone models too*.

Moving on from pocket-friendly items… let’s talk about books. 

I asked my husband for a book recommendation and he immediately said The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander*. It is a leadership book where a former Delta Force Commander applies what he learned in combat to everyday life using stories from his time in Delta Force. My husband has been loaning this book around to all his friends.  

I recently gave him Elisabeth Elliot’s book The Mark of a Man: Following Christ’s Example of Masculinity*. He read it and liked it. Elisabeth Elliot wrote this book as a letter to her nephew, similarly to how she wrote Let Me Be a Woman* (one of my favorites) as a letter to her daughter. 

I could give you a ton more. My husband is a big reader. Let me know in the comments if you would like more book recommendations for husbands and I’ll see what I can do!

Continuing into the practical gift genre…

Quip Toothbrush

I recently converted from a Sonicare toothbrush to a Quip electric toothbrush*. It has been over 6 months, and while there was an adjustment period, I am pleased with the switch. I like the slimness of the toothbrush, the holder/travel case, and the affordable refill plans. For $5 every 3 months you get a new head and replacement battery for your toothbrush automatically in the mail (not required). This is great. No guessing when the last time you changed your toothbrush head, no spending time trying to find the best deals on replacement heads (I think the cheapest I found Sonicare heads was $6/each), and no going longer than you should because you’re waiting on a sale (guilty!). Well, my husband is on his third Sonicare toothbrush since we got married a little over 3 years ago. When his Sonicare gave out this last time, I gave him my handle and I switched to Quip*. It is on its last leg now and I already have a quip toothbrush waiting for him when it does give out. Sonicare provides a superior clean with less effort, but the expense and reduction in quality make Quip my choice. Quip* is an acceptable step down from Sonicare and other electric toothbrushes like it, but a big step up from a manual toothbrush.

Referral Offer: Free $5 Refill when you use my link!

The Necessities: Food and Water

My husband took on a huge project in 2018. It required very strenuous physical labor and a 2-hour commute every day. It took him almost a year to finish it and he did an amazing job. I have never seen him more exhausted and I’ve never been more proud. I will have to dedicate a whole post to this project at some point, but for now, it is just an intro to the next two gift ideas. I purchased the next two items for him during this project and they served him well. 

Lunch Box

What dad doesn’t need a manly lunch box? My husband was pleasantly surprised when I got this one* for him. He had been using my nice lunch box and getting it all dirty. This is more his speed than my floral one. He, of course, got a green one, but it doesn’t look like they sell it anymore. This same brand has this new model that looks good though. This lunch box* spent a year doing its thing and taking a beating and it is still in good usable condition, however, my husband doesn’t use it much anymore now that his project is over. 

Water Jug

In addition to a lunch bag, a large water jug is a summer must-have for the hard-working man. My husband was a slow Yeti covert just like me. He, also like me, thought it was a marketing gimmick. Fast forward 3 years and several Yeti products later and he is a reluctant convert. While we both think most of their products are a little over the top, we do like their drinkware. I got him the big 64-ounce jug and it was literally life-sustaining on his project. We used these big ice cube trays* to fill it with ice each morning. The ice lasted all day and he was able to refill it as needed and have ice cold water all day, even in the middle of a hot South Carolina summer. I don’t think he would have survived without it. He just pulled it out to start using it this summer. We did purchase a straw cap* for it to make drinking from it easier. He didn’t actually use the internal straw though, he just tilts it up to drink. If your husband works outside in the hot summer months, I highly recommend a Yeti jug. Unfortunately, they retired this model. They have a new half-gallon model* though that actually looks more functional. They also have a 36-ounce option* that would probably work well too if you refilled more often.

Pro Tip: I usually order direct from Yeti. They have free ground shipping and sometimes their prices are better, so make sure and check. You can also add an engraving. I won’t get a commission if you do, but that’s ok. 🙂

Now, moving into the spoil your husband category…

Gransfors Bruk Splitting Maul

My husband grew up in Colorado where his family loved having a real fire in the fireplace as much as possible. As a result, he is no stranger to splitting wood. Every year, when we go visit, he still spends a morning or afternoon splitting a huge stack of firewood for his parents. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the need for firewood in South Carolina is mainly for outdoor fires on summer nights. Regardless, every self-respecting man owns a good splitting maul, so he put this particular, really nice, splitting maul* on his gift list. I gave it to him for our first married Christmas. He used it this week actually and commented on how nice it is to use. *Bonus* Watching your husband split firewood is pretty hot. Just saying… 

Scotch

You can’t go wrong with a nice scotch (unless your husband doesn’t like scotch or he doesn’t drink). Is there a nice bottle of Scotch your husband has been wanting to try or own? If you don’t know your husband’s version of a nice Scotch, you could always go to a nice liquor store and tell them what your husband does like and ask what they would recommend. My husband recently tried Lagavulin and wasn’t a big fan at first, but it grew on him and now he would be very happy to have a bottle of his own. Personally, the only scotch I genuinely enjoy is Aberlour. That probably means it is a good one for husbands who are interested in dipping their toes in the world of scotch. 

The next best thing…

I am sure you know of one piece of equipment your husband would love to upgrade. You know, that item that seems to always need upgrading. I wouldn’t go this route unless you are familiar with what your husband has already and what he wants next. These types of items can be like trucks, don’t buy your man a “Chevy” when he is a “Ford” man. Or Toyota in my case. You know your husband and likely already have an idea of what this item would be for your husband.  If not, ask him. He will probably love to tell you all about it. Maybe the gift could be a “coupon” to upgrade an item of his choice?

Night Away

When I asked my husband for ideas for this post, this last one surprised me. He usually isn’t a getaway type of guy. Since he works away from home half the year when he is home he usually wants to be home. I say all that to say, your husband may secretly want a night away with you too. Give Grandma a call to watch the children and see if you can find a nice B&B nearby and get away for the night. This might pair well with the splitting maul. 😉 

Well, there you have it. The gift guide for the man who comes home smelling like diesel fuel.  

What would you add to the list to help other wives? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn't have believed you....

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Gift Ideas for Husbands

Gift Ideas for Husbands

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.Every time a gift-giving occasion rolls around, I try to search for gift ideas for my husband. I never seem to find a list that fits him at all. This year, I thought I...

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How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.If you have read just about any other post I have written then you know how important quality is to me when it comes to buying decisions. Baby clothing, and now toddler...

read more
How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

If you have read just about any other post I have written then you know how important quality is to me when it comes to buying decisions. Baby clothing, and now toddler clothing, is no different. There is no comparison between cheap children’s clothes and well-made, quality children’s clothing; the feel, the wear, and the longevity just cannot compare. Unfortunately, my budget does not allow me to buy high-end baby clothes as freely as I would like. However, I have found ways to outfit my child in quality children’s clothing on a budget. Keep reading to find out how.

Why buy quality children’s clothing?

Let me count the ways. 

1. You will have to buy a lot less. 

High-quality children’s clothing lasts a lot longer and holds up a lot better than inferior brands. This means you will have to buy less and can pass along more to younger siblings (or resale). 

2. Comfort

You know how soft and sweet baby clothes are when you first get them, right? Swoon! So, soft and cuddly and wonderful. Then you wash it and suddenly that super soft baby outfit is rough and scratchy. That doesn’t happen when you buy high-quality baby clothing. They are still soft wash after wash. 

3. Joy

It really is the simple things in life. There is value in feeling good about the clothing you put on your children. Yes, dressing my child in well-made clothing brings me joy. Just me?

4. Style

I am not super into fashion by any means, but I do like the style and cuts of higher-end brands over traditional or budget brands. A more tailored cut makes a big difference, especially for my skinny guy.

Sold on buying quality clothing for your child? Great! Now let me tell you how to afford it. 

I use three main methods to purchase children’s clothing: In-person Consignment Sales, Resale Apps, and Shopping Sales/Clearance.

In-Person Consignment Sales

I am fortunate enough to live right in between two cities that each have very large consignment sales twice a year. There is a good chance you can find these types of sales in your area as well. 

Consignment sales are great places to find great deals on high-end baby items; clothing and gear. Some of my favorite outfits for my son have come from these sales. 

Pros: Great prices, no shipping costs, able to inspect an item before purchase, usually very organized, and no waiting for the mail.

Cons: You have to guess what size your child will be through the next few months and stock up, crowded, have to “play the game”, filter through a lot of junk to find the gems, long check out lines, and makes for a long day.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use Facebook to find consignment sales in your area.
  • Join the Facebook group of any sales you find to stay up to date on when the sale will be.
  • When the sale gets closer, pay attention to the instructions on Facebook Group. See if any early shopping days apply to you (New mom, new grandparent and guest, etc.). Some sales will let you in early on opening day if you bring canned goods to donate.
  • Go to the sale twice: Opening day for the best selection and one of the last days when they usually discount everything 50% or more.
  • Try to go without your child/children if possible. It makes it easier to maneuver and you can stay focused. If you must take your child, opt for a baby carrier over a stroller for easier maneuverability.
  • Only take in a shopping bag and a wallet. This is all most sales allow, so plan for it.
  • Make a list of what you need and prioritize. When you get inside, go to the top priority items first and work your way down your list, even if it isn’t the most logical way to navigate the space. 
  • Look for “Boutique Brands” sections to find higher-end baby items, but check through all the clothing too and you usually find some gems. 
  • Once you start buying quality children’s clothing, you start to learn to tell what is quality just by feel and can find some great items from unknown-to-you brands. I’ve found a few items I love and went to buy more from those brands and found out that they were very high-end brands that just weren’t on my radar. 

A Note on Consignment Stores

I’m not going to lie, I’m not a huge fan of consignment stores. The only ones we have around are Once Upon A Child and the organization or lack thereof makes me a little crazy. I have found some good brands in their 10 for $10 onesie bins, but it took a lot of digging. I usually only go to consignment stores if I am already in the area and/or need something specific and can’t wait. It is probably worth checking out the consignment stores in your area. I know that some are better than others. 

Resale Apps

What do I do in between consignment sales? Resale apps! Kidizen*, Mercari*, and Poshmark are my three go-to apps for quality children’s clothing. They each have their little quirks, which I will break down for you, but I have used all three to buy great high-end baby clothing.

Kidizen

Kidizen* is by far my favorite. It is the only one that is dedicated to children (and some for mama). Children’s clothing is the main focus and they do it well. The community is much different too. Mothers selling used baby clothing to other mothers. Most shops are just selling their own children’s outgrown clothing and are not trying to make a living selling online. This makes the atmosphere supportive and understanding. 

Pros: Supportive community, available whenever, a great activity for insomnia, great selection, usually free shipping, and good deals.

Cons: Potentially time-consuming and addictive and sometimes shipping times can be longer than you’d like.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you see an item you like, add it to your cart. This sends a notification to the seller and asks them if they would like to make you an offer.
  • If you add an item to your cart, go to that seller’s profile and see what else they are selling that you may be interested in as well. Most shops have a discount if you buy more than one item and sellers will usually give you a better offer on multiple items.
  • Unless it is something you wouldn’t be ok missing out on, leave an item in your cart for at least 24 hours to give the seller a chance to make you an offer. 
  • Create filters for each child to make filtering search results quick and easy. 
  • Make a filter of your favorite brands. You will have to adjust the filter for each child (or make a favorite brand’s filter for each child). This allows you to see what’s out there from the brands you love without having a specific item in mind. Just go to “Shop”, choose Boy, Girl, or Baby, and then filter using your Favorite Brands filter. 
  • Set your filters for your child’s current size and next size or two up. 
  • Set up notifications or make sure you check your app daily once you’ve added items to your cart. Offers are only good for 24 hours. 

Referral Offer: $5 off your first purchase if you use this link.*

Poshmark

My second favorite, by a long shot. I have scored some great deals though. I always start my search with Kidizen* and if I can’t find what I’m looking for then I go to Poshmark or Mercari. 

The way you get good deals on Poshmark is the long game. Instead of adding an item to your cart, like Kidizen, you like/heart an item. This allows the seller to send offers to anyone who has liked an item. This means more competition for an item, but you can get some good deals this way. The downside is it can take a while for those offers to come in. My child has grown out of the size before an offer has come back on an item I had liked. 

The other way to get a deal on Poshmark is by making offers. If there is an item that you want that is outside of your price range, make an offer. The worst that can happen is they ignore your offer. I got an amazing deal on a Filson tote bag that I used as a diaper bag for my first son this way. The seller can counter-offer as well. 

Pros: You’re able to easily search by brand, Poshmark is mostly high-quality items, your recent searches are saved and pop up when you click in the search box, and you can get good deals. 

Cons: Sellers can be slow with offers, set (high) shipping costs (although you can get a shipping discount with an offer), I don’t think their filtering works properly, and not as child/mom focused.

Tips/Tricks

  • Like/heart anything and everything that catches your eye.
  • Don’t be afraid to make offers on items you particularly want.
  • Check back frequently or set up notifications so you don’t miss an offer.
  • Accept an offer quickly because it likely didn’t go to just you. I have missed out on some good deals this way.
  • Be mindful of shipping costs. I tend to forget about Poshmark’s set shipping costs when evaluating a price.

Referral Offer: Get $10 when you sign up with my invite code. Invite Code*: SOWEN08

Mercari

Like Poshmark, Mecari* has its uses but isn’t my favorite. The main time I use Mercari is when I am looking for a very specific product. Mercari lets you set up Saved Searches. You can search for an item, set your filters, and then toggle the option to save search. Then whenever you go into your app you can go to your saved searches and see what’s new for that search. You do not have to re-search and re-filter constantly. 

Mercari* uses likes/hearts like Poshmark. This allows sellers to send you, and anyone else who liked the item, to send you offers and alerts you to any price changes to the item. 

I get the best results when I make offers on products, again like Poshmark. 

The community on Mercari* leaves a little to be desired. My husband bought an iPhone from a seller claiming it was in great condition. By the time we were able to get it set up and working, we were out of the window to be able to do anything about it. It was (and still is) very glitchy. He can’t answer phone calls sometimes and his keyboard freaks out regularly. Super frustrating. 

I bought a pair of shoes for my son and, again, it took me too long to figure out that they were two different sizes and the time for getting a refund had passed. I messaged the seller anyway and she fessed up to having bought them on Mercari and thinking her son’s feet were just weird and reselling them.

Pros: Saved searches, you can find just about anything on Mercari* (not just children’s clothes), easy to navigate the app, and good deals.

Cons: Less than desirable community, lots of “professional” sellers, a limited amount of time to report problems, and they send a lot of emails.

Tips/Tricks

  • Thoroughly inspect your products inside the window of being able to return it and get a refund.
  • Don’t be afraid to make offers.
  • Like anything and everything that catches your eye.
  • Turn on notifications or check your app regularly for offers.
  • Set up saved searches and check back periodically for new matches.

Referral Offer: $10 off your first purchase when you use my link*.

Sales/Clearance

The last and most rare way I buy high-end children’s clothing is direct from the company when they have a good sale. Signing up for a company’s email newsletter and following them on Facebook/Instagram are the best ways of knowing when a good sale is going on. It also a great way to tempt yourself to spend money you don’t want to spend. The best sales are extra percent off clearance. That is when I find the best deals. 

Pros: New products, you know what you’re getting, returnable, exactly what you want, fun, satisfying, and you get at least one more generation of wear out of the item.

Cons: Temptation to buy more than you would otherwise, taunting, lots of emails, and Free shipping thresholds encourage extra spending.

Tips/Tricks

  • Use a “junk” email address. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now. I use one email address for email newsletters/signups/non-personal emails. Anything that is not a personal email goes to one email account. I still check it every day, but personal emails don’t get buried in junk emails and it keeps my personal email account cleaner. I highly recommend this method.
  •  Always do a quick Google search for a coupon code before making a purchase.
  • Do a quick search on Kidizen, Mercari, and Poshmark to make sure you can’t get a better deal on the items from there first.
  • Pay attention to sales cycles. You will learn what time a year each company runs their big sales and what is a good deal and what’s not.

Does all of this sound like way too much work for you and you would rather just pay the money?

Then I have an option for you!

 I haven’t been able to try it myself though, but I am counting down the days until my son is wearing 2T clothing so I can give it a try. 

Stitch Fix Kids

While I am not a regular subscriber to Stitch Fix*, I will do an occasional Fix for myself. If you want to find unique high-end clothing pieces for your child without spending the time seeking it out, Stitch Fix Kids* will do the work for you and send you a box of clothing items. Try them on your child, purchase what you like, and send back what you don’t. There is a styling fee that is applied to any purchase you make. If you do try it, let me know what you think in the comments below?

Referral Offer: Use my link and get $25 off your first box*.

Well, there you have it. How to buy high-end children’s clothing on a budget. It seems like a lot of work, but it is actually just a few minutes here and there. 

Happy shopping!

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn't have believed you....

read more
Gift Ideas for Husbands

Gift Ideas for Husbands

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.Every time a gift-giving occasion rolls around, I try to search for gift ideas for my husband. I never seem to find a list that fits him at all. This year, I thought I...

read more
How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

How to Buy Quality Children’s Clothing on a Budget

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.If you have read just about any other post I have written then you know how important quality is to me when it comes to buying decisions. Baby clothing, and now toddler...

read more
Toddler Toy Rotation: What, Why, & How

Toddler Toy Rotation: What, Why, & How

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

Are you tired of tripping over your toddler’s toys? Does your toddler have toys he never plays with because there isn’t enough time to play with them all? Does clutter make you crazy? If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. I was you just a few weeks ago. I was fed up with my toddler’s room always being messy and being too overwhelming to straighten up before bed each night. The solution: toy rotation. Keep reading for the what, why, and how. Toy rotation has made nightly pickups a breeze and because it is simpler, my toddler even helps. It won’t be long before he will be doing it by himself. If you are looking for a solution to the mess, keep reading!

The What

What is toy rotation? Toy rotation is a system where you divide your child’s toys into different sets that are roughly the same mix of types of toys (more on how to do this later). You then rotate these sets out so your child only has access to one set at a time. The number of sets and the frequency of rotation is all dependent on the number of toys you own, your available space, and your personal clutter threshold (a term coined by Dana K. White). If you have a low clutter threshold or small space you will want more sets that you rotate more frequently. Conversely, if you have a larger space or a higher clutter threshold, you can have fewer sets and only rotate once a week.

The Why

What are the advantages of toy rotation? Let me list them for you. 

  1. Less day to day clutter. Fewer toys available means that there are fewer toys to get spread around and fewer toys to clean         up. It’s just basic math.

      

  2. You don’t have to purge your toy collection of the toys you and your child love. For me, I couldn’t bring myself to           
        permanently take away toys my child enjoyed playing with or those with which I want him to play.

      

  3. Toy rotation allows your child more time and attention to be able to play with each toy more intentionally. Before I started toy rotation, my son was never that interested in 
        puzzles. He preferred all the toys with wheels. Now that we have one puzzle in each of his two sets, he has started taking an interest in the puzzles. He plays with each toy 
        longer and works his way through the toys more fully than he did when they were all out at one time.

     

  4. Open spaces are great for play. It is so much easier to play when there is open floor space. This is a lot more possible when
        there are fewer toys out at a time.

     

  5. A simple toy system makes it easier for your toddler to maintain his or her own space. If you can’t clean it up in less than 5
        minutes it’s too much. 

Ok, time to talk about the process. 

The How

This will be a multi-step process that will end with a simple toy rotation and storage system that will simplify your life and save your sanity. 

Step 1: Pack away (or get rid of) toys that are no longer age-appropriate.

If you have younger children or are planning to have more children it will prolong the life of the toy if you store them away until the next child is ready for them instead of leaving it in rotation until then. Even though my son could technically still play with some of the baby toys, he had more than enough toys that were more developmentally appropriate. I did this sorting and storing right after his first birthday when there was a huge influx of toys. 

If you are finished having children, this can be a bit more difficult. I can see how it would be hard to part with the baby toys. Do the best you can. 

Step 2: Get rid of the toys that you don’t like. 

We all have toys in our collection that were given to our children by well-meaning friends and family that we just don’t love. That’s ok. Most of the time it’s ok to let those things go.

I do recognize that some people would get their feelings hurt. My solution to this is to have one basket of toys that you pull out when other children come over to play. Any toys that fall into this category can go in this basket until you can pass them along. 

Do try to limit yourself to one basket. If your basket gets full, prioritize and get rid of what doesn’t fit. 

Step 3: Evaluate your goals, space, clutter threshold, and your child’s abilities. 

What are your goals? 

Think through what you are hoping to get out of toy rotation and how that might affect your system. 

Least amount of clutter? More time for each toy? Go with more sets and rotate more often. 

Less clutter? Simple system? Go with fewer sets and rotate less often. 

How much space do you have to store toys and to play with toys?

If the area in which your child plays is very small, more sets and more frequent rotation would help keep this small area under control. 

If you have a larger area for play you can do fewer sets and less frequent rotations. 

You also have to evaluate your storage space. How much room do you have to store your toy sets? You want the off-rotation toys to be stored out of sight of your child if at all possible. 

What is your personal clutter threshold and what is your child’s clutter threshold?

Meaning how many toys are you personally able to keep organized (Check out this podcast for a more in-depth discussion)? This will be individual to each person and may require some tweaking in the first few weeks. Keep reducing the number of toys in each set, by creating new sets, until it is doable to keep the toys organized and cleaned up each evening. 

Step 4. Determine how many sets you need and how often you will rotate. 

Using what you learned in step 3, decide how you are going separate and rotate the toys.

For us, two sets, rotated weekly, works very well. 

Step 5: Create your sets. 

Ideally, this would be done when your child is not around. It’s not impossible to do with a toddler, I managed, but it would go a lot faster and easier if you had time alone. It took me less than an hour to get this done even with my toddler “helper”. 

Pull out all of your child’s toys and sort them by type. This is subjective, of course, so use your knowledge of your child and your preferences. 

I sorted my son’s toys by Playmobil, tractors, pull toys, animal toys, creative play, musical instruments, puzzles, shape sorter/ring stacker, and blocks. 

Next, I thought about which toys my son typically plays with together. I tried to keep those toys within the same set. Other than that, I went pile by pile and divided them up into two sets. 

It is important not to have an “A” team and a “B” team. Make sure that each set has an equal number of favorite toys. This was the hardest part for me. 

If your child has one or two toys that he/she can’t live without, it is ok to keep them out all the time. Just try to limit the number of toys that fit in this category. 

Once you have created your sets, it’s time to figure out how to display and store them. 

Step 6: Store all but one set out of sight of your child. 

If your child is still young, there will likely be no need to explain what is happening. It is always nice to treat your child like a human being, but before a certain age, they won’t even miss the toys that are stored. If they are old enough to understand what is happening then, of course, explain it to them and get them to be involved in creating the sets.

Make sure they are stored in an opaque box/bin/etc or behind a closed door they don’t access. If they catch a glimpse, they are likely going to want to get their hands on them.

Make sure if you have more than two sets that each set is stored in its own container to make switching sets simple and easy. You don’t want to have to re-sort the toys every time you want to switch them.

My son had six bins that fit on a shelf. I moved the shelf into a recently emptied closet and I pull out three bins at a time and put them under the edge of his bed. The three off rotation bins stay in the closet on the shelf. This has made rotation super easy. I just pull out the three bins from the closet and put the three that were out back on the shelf. 

I understand that this bin/shelf system won’t work for everyone, so you will have to find what works best for your home and family. A simple storage tote would work just fine. Baskets would also work well. You can probably find something you already own to make this work for you. 

Step 7: Set out the currently in rotation toys. 

I recommend a simple system for having toys available to your child. One or more open-top containers (bins, baskets, etc.) make it really easy for young toddlers to not only access the toys but also put them away more easily. 

When I put my son’s toys away in his three bins, I organize them by type across the bins, but if he is helping, I just let him put them wherever he wants.

I do use smaller boxes that fit in the bins for small items like his Tegu block set. He can open and close it on his own and is usually pretty good about putting them away when he is finished playing with them (with prompting). 

The key is that your child can operate/manage/access anything that is used to store his/her toys. This allows them to be able to independently access their toys and put them away. The whole key here is to create a system that is easy for your child to maintain.

Step 8: Make adjustments as needed. 

 This system is very flexible. You can tweak it until you get just the right system down. Trust you instincts and what you know of yourself and your child.

Initially, I left one of my son’s toys out all the time (one he would ask for by name when it was in the other room and out of sight). After a few weeks of toy rotation, I decided to see what would happen if I put it away. Nothing happened. He hasn’t asked for it or anything. He plays with the toys that are available and hasn’t thought about the other ones. However, he does excited when I rotate the toys.

The takeaway for you is don’t be afraid to switch it up and experiment. 

We have determined your goals. If what you are doing is not accomplishing your goals step back and look for ways to adjust to make it work. 

Conclusion

Toy rotation is a great method to keep toddler toys under control, instill good habits in your children, and maintain your sanity. 

If you decide to give toy rotation a try, let me know how it goes in the comments below!

 

Additional note:

If keeping the clutter in your home under control is a struggle for you like it is for me, I highly recommend Dana K. White’s book Decluttering at the Speed of Life*. She teaches her method of decluttering that allows you to make progress, even when you only have a couple minutes, without making a bigger mess, and only making progress. She also has a blog and a podcast where she covers her cleaning and decluttering tips, which are great for motivation, but her book is really the best way to get a succinct overview of her method. You would have to listen to/read a lot of content to get the same information that is concisely presented in her book. I think I read it in 1-2 days. It is available as a book, audiobook, and ebook. This is not a sponsored post, I just found her book* extremely helpful and want to share it with you.

 

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How to Cut Your Own Hair (Without Ruining It)

How to Cut Your Own Hair (Without Ruining It)

*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.

Step away from the scissors. At least until you read this post. I know cutting your own hair is so tempting right now (or maybe you’ve just been looking for an excuse). While you will not be able to achieve top salon-quality results, you should be able to do a decent job to get you through until you can get back into a salon. Cutting your own hair is time-consuming and is not something you can do well without some preparation. So, put down the scissors, settle in, finish this post, and watch the videos at the bottom. 

First, who should cut their own hair? People, like me, who are not super attached to their hair. You know it’s going to grow back and if it has to live in a messy bun for a month so be it. Who should not cut their own hair? People, like my mother, who are super attached to their hair and it would be the end of the world if this didn’t go well. If that’s you, just don’t do it. Just wait. Find a way to style your hair that works for you until this is all over and you can get back to the salon. Also, people with short hair, super thick hair, or super curly hair should proceed with caution. Cutting your own hair is easiest when your hair is longish (past your shoulders), straightish, and a reasonable thickness. My hair is very thick, but it is also very fine and that worked in my favor. It just took forever.

I cut my own hair in August 2019 and then cut my sister’s hair in September. I didn’t do this because I was quarantined at home (Spring 2020) and couldn’t get to a salon, but because I’m a mom with a toddler whose husband works away a month at a time. It had been WAY too long since my hair had been cut. I think December 2018 was the last time it had been cut. Eek. 

When I decided to cut my own hair, I do what I do. I researched the subject exhaustively and, as I do, found some really great resources worth sharing. Allow me to save you the time I spent watching a lot of really bad YouTube videos and just share with you the three you need to succeed at cutting your own hair. 

Surprisingly enough, they are all from the same YouTuber. Brad Mondo. He is not someone I would typically watch on YouTube (mild language and a little over the top), but he knows what he is talking about when it comes to hair. Particularly cutting your own hair! He has made three videos on the subject that you must watch before you pick up those scissors. I will link the videos at the bottom of this post. Go ahead and just skip to them if you want, but I will explain what is in each video and why you should watch each of them. Plus, a few of my own tips and the required tools.

Dear Brad, 
If by some chance you read this, I am sorry for using your content for a post. I was going to just share your videos on Pinterest to help women out, but I felt that all three were critical and didn’t know how to get that across without a post. Forgive me? 
Thanks, 
Shannon

Video 1

The first video is a reaction video where Brad reacts to other YouTubers cutting their own hair. He watches at home DIY haircuts and explains why they went wrong (or right). This is super helpful. It helps you avoid a lot of the common mistakes women make when cutting their own hair. Brad explains haircutting theory and helps you understand what needs to happen to get it right. 

This was the best video I watched before I cut my own hair. He hadn’t posted his two others yet. My haircut turned out pretty well. It took a long time, but I got there in the end and was pretty happy with it. Definitely not a salon cut, but just fine for a mom who mostly wears her hair in a bun.

Video 2

In response to the COVID-19 quarantine of Sping 2020, Brad decided that since a lot of women were going to try to cut there own hair during this time that he would do a video on how to do it well. I wish this video had been available before I cut my hair. It is really well done. He does his best to eliminate the shortcomings of other methods. It is super helpful! I think it would have saved me a lot of time too.

Video 3

He doesn’t stop there. Next, Brad made a video where he reacts to women using his tutorial to cut their own hair. How awesome is that? He was able to address the misunderstandings of these women that you might have too. Don’t get excited and skip this one. It is important.

I do have a few tips of my own.

1. Make sure you have plenty of time to devote to cutting your hair. Wait for the kiddos to go to sleep at bedtime. Do not try to attempt this during nap time. 

2. Don’t go too short. The first time you cut your hair, place your rubber bands (you’ll understand when you watch the videos) about an inch or more below where you think they should be. You can always go shorter, but you can’t put that hair back on after it hits the floor. I also think it turns out a little shorter than you think it will anyway. 

 3. Have the right tools. DO NOT attempt to cut your hair with regular scissors. You only really need 4 things: scissors, rubber bands, clips, and a comb. I swiped scissors and a comb from my husband’s box with his clippers. I had a few hair rubber bands and clips already. If you don’t have these things, a quick Amazon order can take care of this issue. I’ll even do the work for you and find the best reviewed/priced options.

Here ya go:

Scissors*

Rubber Bands*

Clips*

Comb* 

Cutting your hair may be a one-time quarantine activity for you or you may be like me and just struggle to get to a salon (I did finally get to one in March). Either way, this method is going to bring you the best results.

There you have it. The three, and only three, videos you have to watch before you cut your hair yourself. 

Did you watch them? Ok, then take a deep breath and pick up those scissors. You’ve got this!

Let me know in the comments if you decided to cut your own hair and if you did how it went! 

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Labor and Delivery: Preparing for Your Second Birth

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*Disclaimer* This post contains affiliate links. They are marked with an *. See my full Disclosure.How many weeks am I? If you told me during my first pregnancy that during my second keeping track of my weeks was going to be a challenge I wouldn't have believed you....

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