Category Archives: Family

Why You Need a Routine

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Have you ever noticed how exhausting a week off is? Needed a vacation to recover from your vacation? I know I have.  We have this week off of school, and I tell you I’m beat!

It’s from all the fun activities and extra projects, right?

NOPE.  Haven’t done a single honey-do, catch up or special treat.  We’ve been surfin’ the ‘net, watching too much tv, eating at weird times and flopping around the house.

It’s been the perfect week for an epiphany, because somewhere in all the hours of “free” time, I read about something called Decision Fatigue. And so much of what I’ve always believed about the power of a routine clicked on an even deeper level.

You see, whenever my kids lose their minds, or are just generally turds, I can almost always trace it to a deviation from the routine.  You’ve seen it.  The first week of summer break, Christmas, a new sport, whatever it is, it exhausts your kids and they turn into beasts, until you return to your regular routine or the new norm is established.  But I never extended that to myself.  I’ve been impatient, cranky and exhausted this week, even though I’m not “doing” anything extra.  Or am I?

Here’s the deal.  When you stick to a routine, you get into habits.  The joy/curse of a habit is it is effortless. When I let my good habits (in this case it’s following the school routine -with built in household chores) run my day,  the decision is already made.  I don’t have to think about every little thing.  I’m going to get up, space out and drink two cups of coffee, then the screens go off and the music comes on. Breakfast then chores then math, copy work, circle time, literature and lunch.  I don’t even have to think about it.  I get no push-back from the kids.  It’s EASY!  

Here’s what some smarter-than-me folks have said on the topic.

“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  – Samuel Johnson

“We are all mere creatures of habit.  We think our accustomed thoughts, make our usual small talk, go through the trivial round, the common task, without any self-determining effort of will at all.  If it were not so– if we had to think, to deliberate, about each operation of the bath, or the table–life would not be worth having; the perpetually repeated effort of decision would wear us out.” – Charlotte Mason

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.”
–Charlotte Mason

I know you’re wondering what my point is and it’s this:  If you’re exhausted for “no reason”, and you’ve ruled out health/sleep issues, it may be Decision Fatigue.

Here’s what you can do :

  • Set up a routine to follow until you don’t have to think about every little thing all day.  (I know, setting up the routine initially requires some decision making, but it will lighten the future load on your decision making muscle, so it’s going to pay off!)
  • Use a checklist for your new routine until you no longer need it.
  • Make your decisions ahead of time, or early in the day if you know you’ll be going off your regular routine.
  • If you don’t like the idea of living by a timer, at least decide what you’ll do first, next, then, last.  (Notice my list earlier in the post didn’t say “8-8:32, drink coffee, 8:32-8:45, chores” etc.  It’s just knowing what to do next)

As for me, I’m planning now for the rest of my “days off”, and looking to Monday with eager anticipation.

And that is something I never thought I’d say!

 

Teaching Multiple Ages, One Room Schoolhouse Style

One thing that initially drew me to homeschooling, and especially the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education was the idea that “school time” should not take all day. I love the idea of being done with our sit down work by noon, freeing up afternoons for “a scamper on the lawn”, nature walks, and handicrafts (translation: afternoons are mostly free time, with occasional input from me).  Learn more about Miss Mason’s Methods here.

But I have three kids. The Baby is very busy, and requires a lot of attention to keep her out of trouble. The middle girl is a struggling reader (we’re pursuing the possibility of dyslexia) and will need me to read everything except her reading practice to her. Finally my oldest is a voracious reader, holds her own in math and is a self-professed nerd. But she is also a video game addict who tends to think she already knows everything, so I have to watch her to make sure she isn’t rushing or skating.

If I were to work with each of the school aged girls separately while also attempting to juggle the toddler we’d be at it all day.

My solution is to combine as many subjects as possible and have my oldest read for the younger two as necessary.

In practice that means we combine everything except math and language arts (reading practice for the 7yo, spelling/vocab for the 9yo).

Since we follow a literature and narration based curriculum rather than a traditional textbook/fill in the blanks type curriculum found in most public schools it hasn’t been a problem starting them at the same level.  Levels in this system don’t necessarily correspond to traditional “grade level”, and students generally graduate somewhere between level 9 and 11, with a few outliers finishing up in level 8 and some moving onto level 12.  Parents who have used this program and sent kids on to college have reported that level 8 is approximately equivalent to grade 12.

We read great literature, live with art and music, and observe nature. Each student makes her own connections and takes from the material at her own level.  Again we are doing math and language arts separately, so they are getting skills practice at their appropriate “grade level”.  (As a side note I’m finding that my 7yo struggling reader is able to retain and narrate at a deeper level than my 9yo voracious reader.  Both comprehend well enough, but I suspect that the 9 year old is deeper ingrained in the fill-in-the-blanks mentality.  It is hard for me to resist asking pointed questions rather than let her struggle to retell the selection in her own words.)

How does it work out on the daily?

Monday – Thursday

Each kid has a spiral notebook with the day’s work laid out for them.  It’s really just a checklist. If they are up early enough to finish #1 before I’m coffeed up they may have some electronics time.

Next comes Bible and Breakfast. (Reading, Music and History, for the record)  While I’m making breakfast I play either hymns or Seeds.  We eat breakfast together and then my older girl reads the day’s bible story.  I’m not following the AO Bible rotation this year.  Instead we are reading together from The Story For Children.

Next is Morning chores. (This is Occupational Ed, for the record) They get dressed, make their beds and feed and water the animals.  We try to keep it to 20 minutes, but sometimes I have to crack the whip to get them back inside after they feed and water.

After Morning Chores comes math.  (You guessed it…this is math) We haven’t settled on our Math curriculum yet, so for the time being the younger one is practicing 2nd grade math using worksheets printed from the internet, and the older one is doing Khan Academy.  I try to keep Math to about 15 minutes.

Now it’s almost 9:00 and up next is Copy Work.  (penmanship, grammar, spelling) This looks different depending on the age of the child, youngest students start with letter formation, then move onto short words etc.  Right now both of my school girls are working on developing the habit of always making their best effort.  I require either five minutes of perfect effort,  or perfect execution, whichever comes first.  Right now they are using printed handwriting worksheets with short phrases, but will move on to copying selections from their reading freehand when they consistently produce nice work.

“A Child should Execute Perfectly. No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course…Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on to-morrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of painting, drawing, or construction he sets himself–let everything he does be well done… Closely connected with this habit of ‘perfect work’ is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished.” – Charlotte Mason

After Copywork comes our daily “circle time”. (Music)  We stretch, wiggle, and listen to/sing a folk song (usually a new one each week) to break the tedium of seat work. I also give each kid a chance to share something.  I usually ask a leading question such as “what was your favorite part of…”? We finish up Circle Time with a poem.  This week we are working on memorizing “Foreign Lands” from A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Up next we move onto our literature selections for the day. (The Literature selections cover History, Geography, Natural History/Science, Social Studies and of course Reading, but not necessarily all every day) We are following Ambleside Online Year One, with a few modifications for books we happen to have already read, or that I’ve chosen to substitute something else for. We are skipping Aesop, because we had already heard most of them, and Trial and Triumph because I didn’t manage to get it purchased and also because some other mothers on the AO forum thought it was boring and skippable. (how’s that for honest?) I’ve also added some independent reading for my older girl.  More about that later. The folks at Ambleside have been kind enough to lay the readings out in a 36 week schedule and allow each family to break the weekly readings up in whichever way works best for them.  I find that it works out to about two literature selections per day.   I try to pair a shorter reading such as one of Fifty Famous Stories Retold, with a slightly longer one such as a Parable from Nature, so that I don’t end up reading for ten minutes one day and 40 another.  This way it works out to about 30 minutes of reading and narrating each day.  Some readings have to be broken up over multiple days.  For short stories, I read the whole selection and then listen to narrations. For longer ones I’ll find a natural stopping point and have them narrate before reading more and having them narrate again.

Next is language arts.   I work directly with my middle girl on reading practice, while my oldest reads independently.  Reading practice with the middle girl is phonics flashcards, word building puzzles, and her reading aloud from beginning readers.  The older girl is reading from Lamb’s Shakespeare.  (Two Gentlemen of Verona, at present) Each day she narrates to me what has happened so far in the story and looks up the definition for one word that I have selected from the passage.

We finish up before lunch (around 11:00) and after lunch we have a mandatory Quiet Time/Reading Hour.  I put the baby down for a nap, put on some spa music, and the older two take books to upstairs for an hour.  I hope they read, but honestly as long as they don’t bother me, wake the baby, or burn the house down I don’t care if they doodle, daydream, gossip or sleep.  (Translation: Mama either gets to take a nap or get some writing done)

After quiet time they have free time – I strongly prefer and urge that they play outside in the mud, trees or water- (Nature Study) until 3:30 when we listen to classical music while doing afternoon chores. (More Music and Oc Ed) Afternoon chores typically include a quick clean up of any dishes, toys and books that are lying out, then sweeping and vacuuming while I tidy the kitchen (read: scrape off the top layer of mess) and start dinner.  At 4:00 they are given a snack to take outside so that Daddy doesn’t come home to a messy house full of loud children.  In September Gymnastics will start again, so whichever afternoon that ends up being on will also end up being our library/town/errand day, in which case we’ll head for town right after Quiet Hour.

Friday is reserved for making up anything we missed during the week (we haven’t had to do any catch up yet–there seems to be plenty of time M-TH), Nature walks/Nature Journaling, Art Study (Science, Art, and PE, for those keeping track of subjects), visiting friends, and planning for next week.  More about Friday later.

So far keeping the kids on the same AO year has worked well even given their different reading levels.  I love the simplicity of the approach, and the flexibility of being able to add, sub, or skip where needed.  Most of all I love being “done” by lunch and the structure that having a daily checklist has added to our home.

All that said, we’re a whole 4 weeks in here…give me some grace if I have to change things up later 😉

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Sensory Toybox

Lately I’ve been noticing a trend in parenting.

We’re convinced that our children aren’t getting enough “sensory play”, so we manufacture opportunities to feel a new texture, hear a new sound or absorb a new odor–yeah, I said absorb a new odor.

You know you’ve made the essential oil play dough.

Me too.

With Sparkles.

We’ve all seen the Pinterest boards. We’ve all made the busy bags, paint squishy thingy-dealys, and pop bottles full of beans. The’re fun. And they’re super handy for the plane ride, or for seriously inclement weather, or for preschool rooms where a dozen sets of fingers must be kept out of mischief.  They have serious applications in occupational therapy.

While they definitely have their places, and may be very important for kiddos who struggle with various sensory disorders, it’s been slowly dawning on me that for most kids these things are almost completely unnecessary (I say almost because there will always be waiting rooms and airplane rides).

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But how will you make sure your child is adequately stimulated, you ask?

Friends, I’m here to tell you, there’s something better out there.

You know, OUT THERE.

Where there is no electrical outlet for your glue gun.

If we all just let (or even force) our children outside in good weather, AND in bad weather, with and without shoes, coats, hats and toys, EVERY SINGLE DAY, I promise they will get all the sensory stimulus they need.  They will even learn some stuff.  They will learn how much water makes a mud which will squish sloppily through the fingers. Maple leaves smash into a delightful green slime.  Water from a hose laying in the sun is HOT!  Falling on the rocks can hurt.  Balancing on a slippery log, or steep porch rail requires concentration.  Twigs from the cherry tree are bitter.

Who needs a playhouse?

When they are new at playing in the actual world, it may take practice and getting used to, but before long the little tykes run, jump, climb, squish, smash, sniff, and build until their little sensory banks are full.

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Then they come in the house (hosing them off before you let them in is optional) and probably take a nap.  Do you know what that means?

YOU can take a nap too!  

You don’t have to seize the opportunity to bedazzle a rain stick for them, because they went out and heard, felt, tasted the actual rain.

Am I saying you should toss your busy bags?

NO!  Like I said before, they have their place.

But let’s also not attempt to do the job of nature with any number of clever doodads.

It’s just too sad.

Getting Out Of The River

Hold on, it’s a wordy one!

One of the things I mentioned in my last post about letting go of things that are no longer working for us, was bringing our girls home for the upcoming school year.

My long-time readers , all three of you, (Hey Paul, Lisa, Denise, how are you? ) already know that Homeschooling has been on my heart for about a million years. Honestly, before we even had our first kid, I was trying to dream up a way to convince Nate that it was a good way to go.

He had some reservations, because he’s a good Dad, and naturally didn’t want anyone turning his kids into “those weird homeschoolers”.  Also he knows me, and if we’re honest I will have be very diligent against laziness. You know the stereotype where homeschoolers wear pajamas all day? That’s a thing because of people like me.

Then there was the argument that we both attended public schools and turned out fine. Which is true, and our kids would probably turn out fine if we left them in school, too. In fact, our school is a very good one, as public schools go. The kids even like it, so why rock the boat?

For me, the ultimate reason is that I want to raise my own children, and from day one, sending them to school felt like shared custody.

I want to let them sleep in because we stayed up to see the Aurora Borealis, but they’re not ill, and we didn’t plan ahead, so that’s an unexcused absence.

I want them to learn at their own pace, but that’s disruptive to their class.

I want them to have mental energy for gardening, nature walks, Bible study, and really great literature.  As things stand now, they just don’t have much left at the end of the day.  I know how I felt after a long day in the classroom, and it’s not hard to understand why they want to stare mindlessly at screens when they get home.   Of course there are great days when the sun shines down from heaven, and angels sing, and we all still have something left after homework, so we go for a walk or visit neighbors, but more often than not, we just lump.  I have nothing against a relaxed evening mind you, in fact, I prefer them.  I just wish there were time for all the things.

As it turns out there is; it’s between eight and three.

When I was working in the school one thing that bothered me was the amount of what I called shuffle time.  Time students spent  being shuffled from one place to the next,  one activity to the next, inside, outside, lunch, gym, music.  All noble and necessary, but so inefficient.  They did the best they could, of course, everything just takes so much longer with thirty kids.  It drove me crazy, and added up to a lot of time when kids are at school, but not actually in the classroom.  Not that every moment has to be spent at a desk to be useful, I’m a firm believer that not all learning takes place in the classroom.  I’d also argue, however, that anything they need to learn from standing in a line, silently walking from place to place, can be accomplished by the end of kindergarten.

The point is; we can get our “sit down” work done in a fraction of the time they’d be away at school, and have the rest of the day for the rest of the things.  Does anyone else hear that Chorus of Angels?

And then there was the lice. . .

And the common core. . .

And the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  .  .

And a couple hundred conversations where my husband said, “They just need to. . .”

And I replied, “Yes.  But they aren’t going to.  This is the way it is.”

And the stark realization that we were swimming against the current, when what we needed to do was get out of the river.

So that’s what we’re doing.

 

 

Letting Go

As I started the new year, I had one major goal in mind: Getting Dressed.

I’m only half joking.

For the past year or so I’ve pretty well been living in the same crusty clothes, because I’m not going anywhere, and let’s face it, someone is going to snot on me.    From a purely laundry-logistics point of view it makes perfect sense to not get dressed.

Unfortunately it lends to also not doing other things, like uh, leaving the house, or showering, and let me tell you, things can start to stagnate.  When one hops out of bed and gets dressed right away, she is ready to face whatever the day has to offer.  Sunshine beckoning a walk?  Ready.  Friends heading to the library?  Ready.  Need to run to the grocery?  Ready.  UPS man at the door?   You get the idea.

Getting dressed is a pretty good resolution, so I’m keeping it.

Lately however, I’ve been slowly coming around to something bigger, something that could seriously change the direction of daily life, long term goals, and maybe even this blog.

I tend to hold onto things.  I hold onto tupperware lids, I hold onto old jeans, I hold onto big ideas.  I hold onto physical clutter, mental clutter, emotional clutter, despite the fact that they all bog me down and ultimately make me unproductive.  So this year, in addition to getting dressed, I’m going to work on letting go of things that no longer work for me.

Some examples of things I’ll be working on:

  • de-clutter closets
  • get rid of unused kitchen stuff
  • keep an ongoing Goodwill box by the back door
  • not plant foods in my garden that my family won’t eat
  • use disposable diapers for night and travel
  •  bring the kids home for the upcoming school year
  • butchering and replacing layed-out hens
  • replace/enlarge chicken run
  • evaluate weather I really want to keep blogging
  • not comparing our life/ garden/ ideas to yours
  • quit extracurricular activities we don’t enjoy

I’ll keep you posted!

Unwelcome Critters! The unofficial scoop on head lice.

Let me start this post with a rant.

We are farmish people. We like critters. We consider a certain amount of dirt good for our health. We like the idea of our kids digging in the mud. You can tell by looking at us. We are almost never totally put-together and spiffy. But there is one little line I just have to draw when it comes to filth.

Head lice.

I hate those guys.

They are constantly going around in our kids school, and we’ve caught them more than once.

Naturally, we treat our heads, wash all of our clothes and bedding, vacuum all the rugs and furniture, comb, comb, comb for nits, and repeat. It’s a lot of work, taking all the necessary steps. It’s exhausting for me, painful for the kids, and absolute murder on the drain field, not to mention the pocket book.

When we’re sure we are lice free, we re-enter society. We send our kids back to school, where they pick up a fresh case and bring it back home.

AAARRRGH!

Okay, it’s not that they bring it right back. It’s usually a while before we make the fatal mistake of forgetting the anti-lice detangling spray, but It’s maddening. It’s embarrassing. It makes me itch just thinking of it.

Most schools have abandoned the “No Nit Policy” citing information such as this.

So we’re just supposed to be OK with our kids getting lice on a semi-regular schedule? I’m not.

In case you’re new to the wonderful world of cooties, here’s the scoop.  This is not the official scoop, which I happen to think is part of the problem, but the real dirt.  This is what I’ve learned through our own experiences and by talking with other moms.

  • Your children may complain of itching for several weeks before you can visually see that they have lice.  This has been true both times my kids have had it.  They started itching, and I checked, and re-checked,  but saw no evidence of lice, then one day BAM, full scale visible-to-the-naked-eye infestation.  GROSS
  • Your child may not itch at all…ever.  You may just stumble upon the grisly discovery when you decided to do a french braid.  GROSS!
  • When another parent lets you in on the news that there is lice going around (because your school probably won’t) you’ll do a check, naturally.  But again, you may not see any lice or nits.  They are very hard to see, especially in the early stages of an infestation.  I’ve had parents tell me that they never would have seen the lice or nits if it hadn’t been for using the comb “just in case”  Here’s what they look like by the way.
  • You may see red dots, but no lice or nits, and think to yourself, oh no wonder Junior is itchy, he has a nasty rash.  News Flash: that nasty rash is lice bites.  Sorry.
  • Whichever treatment you use, the comb is KING!  The plastic ones are just okay, the metal one is the one you want.  (not an affiliate, but maybe I should be.)Since the majority of the OTC treatments do not kill nits, you will need to do several nit-checks with the comb after your initial treatment.  I’ve taken to doing them every single time I wash my kids hair.
  • Sitting outside in the bright sun is your best hope for seeing the nits.  Yes, that’s right.  You’re going to have to go out on the front porch and let all the neighbors watch you nit-pick your kids head.  HOORAY!
  • Don’t forget, we now have super-lice!  That’s right, many of the lice in our communities are now resistant to treatment. Please refer to “The comb is KING”.   HOORAY!

I’m well aware that this is something most families with school aged children will deal with at least once, but I’m pretty annoyed at the frequency with which it’s happening in our neighborhood.  I feel that the treat and return policy is a major player here, and could very well be responsible for Super Lice.  It makes perfect sense that if you can’t return your child to school, and get back to work yourself, until your child is nit-free that you will be extra vigilant and make darn sure you’ve gotten every one of the buggers.  On the other hand if you can treat your kid and get back to school and work the next day, it’s very easy to get swept back into being a busy parent, and forget the subsequent nit-checks.  Now you have the most resistant nit hatching into a new stronger louse.  I agree with the folks at the National Pediculosis Association;   a couple years of this and it’s easy to see why we now have Super Lice.  GROSS.

Please people, when the cooties come to town, whatever your school’s policy, I’m begging you to check, treat, and make darn sure your kids are lice and nit free before you send them back to school, daycare, sports and church.

Thank you.

What have I missed, Mamas?  Please feel free to add your advice in the comments.

Holy Cow, There’s a Baby Coming Soon, We Gotta Get Busy!!

Just in case any of you were under the silly misconception that we “Have It All Together” around here, I’ll spend this week sharing the things I’d still like to accomplish before the baby comes, which I feel will be soon.

Some are things that are directly related to bringing home a baby, and others are regular housekeeping, and turning of the seasons projects which we’d like to take care of before we’re outnumbered.

Here’s what I’m up to today:

AM:

General tidying of the house

Start some laundry (work on this all day–try to get in a few loads)

Start making space for the crib in the girls room.

Monday PM:

Go around the yard with a wagon, picking up garbage (we had a party over the weekend, plus we have kids and it’s always windy here, so if anything is left out it gets blown all around)

Start a pile for a dump run.

Also there is Camp Fire tonight, and the usual meals, and getting ready for tomorrow to be done.  I usually babysit a neighborhood kid or two in the afternoons, which is why I try to do the outside stuff then.  They love to play outside, as they should, and I want to let them soak up the sun while we have sun to soak up.

See you tomorrow for a progress report and a new to-do list!

 

Packing The Hospital Bag!!

It’s hard to believe that it is week 35 already, but here we are! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m starting to get that “I don’t think I can get much bigger” feeling.

Unfortunately, we all know that’s not true.  I can, and probably will, get bigger. Baby Hazel with be making her appearance sooner or later though, and since her big sisters both came in the 37th week, it’s time to get the hospital bag ready to go.

We tend to be light packers, as if packing light will ensure us a short hospital stay.

So what’s in my bag, you ask?

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Bath Towel
  • Flip Flops for the shower
  • Moisturizer
  • A fresh set of contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Eyeglasses/case
  • Hair brush
  • Hair elastics
  • Undies
  • Robe
  • Yoga pants
  • Nursing top
  • Nursing bra
  • Pads
  • Jammies for Baby Hazel
  • Going home outfit and hat for Baby Hazel
  • Camera

What are your Must Haves for a planned hospital stay?

Since one big sister has expressed an interest in coming with us to the hospital to welcome baby to the world, we’ll pack a bag for her too.  We want her to have some comfort items in case things drag on longer than we expect.

Both prior labors and deliveries were 5-ish hours, start to finish, so that’s what we’re praying for this time too.  If only these things could just be predictable!

Alas, they cannot so we’ll be packing a Big-sis bag too.

  • New coloring book
  • New crayons
  • A chapter book
  • ipad and charger
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Small blanket
  • Cash and change for cafeteria or vending machine purchases

She’ll also have her own support person (Daddy has to stay with me) in case it’s too much for her or she just gets restless and wants to leave.  Have you had your older children in the delivery room, and if so what do you recommend we bring or do for her?

I’m having lots of contractions whenever I’m on my feet, which is often.  I also feel tired, but very motivated, so I may just be pushing myself too hard to get loose ends tied up before baby comes.  Nothing major, mind you, just little trivial matters like, oh, say cleaning the entire house, setting up the crib, organizing baby clothes, shopping for last minute stuff, like a car seat.  No big deal.  I’m sure I can make it all happen as long as she isn’t any earlier than her sisters were.

Hubby has been home with me for the past week, which has been a tremendous help.   I’ve had him running things up and down stairs, as well as getting the girls on the bus in the mornings.  It’s nice to be able to settle down for a cup of tea as soon as the “Get Out The Door Rush” is over.

Between lots of rain, and lots of contractions I’m woefully behind on getting the garden cleaned up and put to bed for fall.  That may be one for the Honey-Do list.

All in all, I have to admit I’m getting pretty antsy over here!

Baby On A Budget: Diapers

If you’ve been following Baby On A Budget, you know that we were surprised this spring to find out that we have baby #3 on the way, and that since I quit my “serious” job last fall, we need to keep the baby related expenses to a minimum this time.

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In the first two parts of the series I shared a little on how we’ve taken care of our baby gear and clothing needs very economically.

Now we move onto what is, for many families, a large and ongoing cost associated with having a baby.  Diapering.  Ah, the joys of motherhood!

There are three main choices when it comes to diapering your baby, disposable, cloth or hybrid.

You can all-out disposable diaper, and I’ll never judge you for it.  It is by far the most popular way to diaper for most parents today.  We mostly used “‘sposies” with our first two kids, even though in my heart of hearts I wanted to be a cloth diaper mama.  More about that later.  If you do choose to disposable diaper your baby, plan on spending around $40/month for a budget diaper.  We loved Kirkland Signature from Costco, and Up and Up from target.  There was a time when I loved Luvs, but the quality declined to the point I couldn’t justify the savings any more.  I did some internet research today and was surprised to see that diaper prices haven’t really increased since we had our last baby nearly six years ago.  At least something is holding steady!  If you choose to go the ‘sposie route, you’ll probably also buy wipes, at around $20 for a two or three month supply, and you may or may not need to upgrade your garbage service.  We typically use the smallest can available from Waste Management, but had to upgrade while we were disposable diapering our girls.  The cost of upgrading will vary by your location.   Assuming you choose to disposable diaper, using an economy brand, you’ll spend around $1620 to diaper each child for three years, not counting the cost of added garbage service.

Another option is to cloth diaper, and it’s what I plan to do with this newest baby.  The cost of getting started in cloth diapering is, for many, a little off-putting.  If you go with brand new, name brand, all-in-one or pocket diapers you’ll spend between $15-$25,  PER DIAPER (EEEK!) and you’ll need about 24-36 diapers depending on how often you want to do diaper laundry.  A brand new basic diaper and cover system will cost more like $140, and should be almost all you need from 8-30lbs.  I’d add a set of newborn sized covers and prefolds, for around $42 because in my experience the “infant” sized diapers and covers are way too big for a newborn, and the longer you use the adorable, trim, tiny and (no denying) convenient newborn sposies, the harder it will be to make the transition to cloth.

Last of all there is the hybrid route, or as some call it the “gateway diaper”.  The hybrid has a washable, reusable diaper cover, much like you would use with cloth diapers, and a “flushable”, biodegradable insert.  The start up cost for these diapers is similar to that of cloth diapering, new or used, respectively. Unfortunately you also have the ongoing cost, which is similar to disposables, and they may or may not actually be flushable depending on your system.  These downfalls are why many call these “gateway” diapers.  People get tired of buying the inserts and start using cloth inserts, or they get tired of unclogging their toilets, and start tossing them into the trash, and then figure since they’re tossing them anyway, they might as well save themselves the laundry and go full ‘sposie.

Our cloth diaper stash is a combination of (barely used) leftover prefolds and Bummis Super Whisper Wraps from our last baby, some prefolds from a local second hand store, a ton of receiving blankets we had around and from thrift stores, and a couple of good ebay/facebook purchases of 4 newborn sized covers and 4 one-size pocket diapers.  I also recently cut up a bunch of stained and worn out cotton tee shirts into newborn sized flats, and upcycled wool diaper covers out of a sweater I had gotten at a yard sale and ended up never wearing .  I’ll let you know how well those work.  🙂

Not counting what I spent on the diapers left over from our previous baby, (It was 6 years ago, I can’t remember what they cost!) I spent $54 on the above stash which, very likely, would have covered our needs.  Then I saw another great deal that I couldn’t pass up on a Facebook group!  For another $50, I scored 10 brand new, still-in-the-package, Fuzzi Bunz perfect sized pocket diapers!  Those of you who follow cloth diapering know that was a steal.

What about the cost of all that extra washing?  Good Question.  I make my own laundry detergent and have stocked up on extra supplies to continue doing that for around $20. That’s more than double what I spend on a typical 6 month supply of my homemade laundry detergent.  Depending on where you live, the cost of extra water, and electricity to run the washer and dryer may make cloth diapering cost prohibitive.  We are thankful to have a well, and some of the nation’s least expensive electricity, so for us it makes sense.  You’ll have to do the math to see if it works for you.

Grand Total for diapering (unless I find another impossible-to-pass-up steal): $124  (plus the cost of doing an extra 2-3 wash loads per week…I’ll let you know after we see a power bill with the diaper loads included.)

Now that we have our poop catching situation in hand we’ll move onto poop making.

That’s right, come back next time and we’ll dig into how to feed your little guy without incurring an entire new grocery budget.  (Most of you probably already know the short answer, right?!)

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This post will be shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link-up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday.  Links go live throughout the week.

External links in this post are NOT affiliate links, just wanted to give examples of available choices.  

 

 

Baby On A Budget: Clothing

Welcome Back for the second installment of my Baby On a Budget Series: Clothing! If you missed the first installment of this series you can find it below.

Baby On A Budget: Gear

When we left off I had most of the gear I need for the new baby. I had spent $46 dollars, and budgeted $200 for a car seat. Since I have a few months to keep looking before the baby arrives, I’m holding out hope that I can find the perfect used car seat, but keeping that $200 budgeted in case I have to purchase one new.  ***Update*** I’ve discovered that a less expensive, but also highly rated car seat actually measures better for my car and costs $100 less brand new!  HOORAY!  Still keeping my eyes open for a good used one, but for now I can budget that extra hund-o somewhere else.

For now I’ve moved onto clothing our sweet little sugar bean.

Everyone knows how hard it is to resist the adorable little pink and blue outfits at the clothing stores. They are so precious. Go ahead and let yourself buy one or two. Get a “going home from the hospital” or “first Christmas” outfit. After that, reign yourself in and think long and hard about what your baby actually needs on a daily basis.

Let me tell you up front, in case you didn’t already know, babies grow FAST! That means good quality and gently worn baby clothes can be had for next to nothing if you’ll only take the time to look.

A winter baby with a stay at home mom (who actually intends to do a lot of staying home) will be perfectly happy in onesies and sleep-and-play outfits.  Let the Grandmas and Aunties have their fun by buying a few cutesy things to dress baby in for outings.

I’ve been thrift-shopping for several warm rompers, some onesies and a few pairs of cozy pajamas in a couple sizes.  It’s so easy to go overboard and buy, buy, buy all those adorable little outfits.  Rest assured though, when you have a baby (especially a girl) bags and boxes of adorable and barely used clothes appear on your doorstep, as if by magic, at regular intervals.   Keep what you can use, and bless another family with the rest.

If some weird twist of fate leaves you bereft in the Magic Clothes Fairy department, don’t despair.  You can still find plenty of great deals.  If there is a lack of good thrift and consignment stores in your area, take a quick look at Craigslist.

A craigslist/baby and kids search of the term “LOT” today yielded me a full page of baby clothing lots ranging in price from $10-$100.  Of course one would have to narrow the list to the appropriate gender, season and size for the baby in question, but the savings are definitely out there to be had, particularly if you start looking long before you’re in need, and take your time.  It’s totally okay to be extra choosy when buying used.

Another great option is yard sales.  Baby clothes are often priced at fifty cents or a quarter at yard sales.   I’ve mentioned before that I don’t frequent yard sales very much, because I don’t live near where they tend to take place.  When there is one in my neck of the woods, I always try to stop by, especially if they’ve advertised baby and kid items.

Here’s the thrift store newborn layette so far:

WP_20140828_009I’ve spent $26.42 on clothes, about half came from my all day thrifting trip a couple weeks back, and the rest came from local thrift stores.  This includes some wipes, and receiving blankets that I plan to turn into newborn sized flats and more wipes. The prefolds and diaper covers you see were part of the original $46 from part one.  I’m keeping my eyes open for  a few more sleep and play outfits since we’re going to be cloth diapering, and I expect to have a few leaks, complete with resulting extra outfit changes, until I figure out which diaper/fold/cover combo works for our (typically skinny) newborns.

Now, because we’ve been thrifty, patient and willing to accept the generosity of our friends and family we are nearly ready to bring our baby home.  Next on the list of things we need to think about for our baby is diapering.  Stop by next week to see how we plan to keep our baby clean and dry without breaking the bank.

Total so far: $72.42.

 

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Sharing at The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Life Sunday, What You Wish Wednesday, and The Homemaking Link-up.  Links go live throughout the week.