How to Save on Baby Necessities

Babies sure do cost a lot, but don't worry there are plenty of ways to save on necessary baby gear!

If you spend any time with babies you quickly realize that they require a LOT of stuff. And much of it isn’t cheap! And besides the necessities like car seat, stroller, crib, clothes, diapers, blankets and more. There are so many cute and wonderful extras that many new mommies (myself DEFINITELY included) feel like are needs. I have become addicted to looking through all the adorable baby items on Etsy, Target, Babies R Us, and Buy Buy Baby! Its how I pass my time along with browsing through Pinterest while I am stuck in a hotel room day after day.

But with all the cute baby items I am finding myself trying to sort through everything and put them in categories: “the must haves,” and the it “would be nice to haves.” And “just plain old wants that aren’t necessary”. Unfortunately, it seems like all the adorably cute items seem to fall into the “it would be nice to have” category, or just a more basic version that is less expensive would serve the same purpose. So how can you make sure you have everything you need for baby, and stull get to indulge your mommy fantasies of a perfect baby set up?

Since we are preparing for this baby on a single income, budgeting and finding deals have been a priority for my hubby and me. There are several resources I have utilized extensively to help get everything we Need for little Miss without breaking the bank! Here is everything I have done to help prepare for our new little girl on a budget so that I can still indulge in some of the frilly “un-necessary” items!

    • Consignment shops– I know I am not the only one who has a problem not buying baby clothes. Like most moms, aunts, grandmas, and friends of new mommies, baby clothes are just so irresistible! But the can also add up quickly! So hitting the consignment shops can be a great way to get cute baby clothes without breaking the bank! Also shop clearance racks at the end of the seasons. I am lucky enough to only have to buy one season of baby clothes for the first year of her life, so as the fall clothes begin to hit the racks, I am scouring the summer clearance items! Not only can you get clothes at a discount at consignment shops, they also have strollers, high chairs, baby bath tubs, and toys for baby at discounted prices. Just wash and disinfect and you’re ready to go!
    • Cartwheel by Target– Target is one of my happy places! In high school I lived within walking distance of a target and so I spent many Saturdays or Friday evenings walking through Target with my mom. And much to my husband’s dismay, long pointless walks through Target are still a favorite pass time (he often chooses not to accompany me anymore!). But what better way to stock up on diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials than checking out the discounts and coupons that are available through this wonderful app. If you are going to be buying these items anyway, might as well look for all the discounts you can! In the last week I found discounts on- bath items, swaddles, diapers, wipes, bottle accessories, and so much more!
    • While on the subject of Target, take advantage of the gift card deals! I love finding deals at Target when I buy so many of certain item I get a gift card. I have gotten gift cards ranging from $5 to $20. You can get them on items all over the store. Most of mine have come from stocking up on diapers/wipes, or hygiene items like shampoos and such. They will come in handy when completing my registry or last minute run on diapers once the baby gets here.
    • Ibotta App- Ibotta app offers rebates on items you typically purchase anyways. You can find rebates when shopping at stores like Walmart, Publix, CVS, Target, Amazon, Groupon, and many many more. Just by scanning the items and my receipt I can earn money back on purchases. It can come in handy as often there are rebates on baby items. If you are interested in signing up for a free Ibotta Account click here.
    • Register (and Register at multiple places)– Register for baby items you want, even if its your 2nd, 3rd, 4th baby. Many places offer a completion discount for items not purchased off your registry. SO even if you are not planning on having a baby shower, taking the time to register. Also, places like Target  and Amazon offer welcome gifts when you set up a registry. These welcome gifts often include samples, coupons, and full size products- You never know what you might get! Currently Amazon is running a promotion!  If you Register with them you can earn rewards for diapers and wipes (What new parents don’t need those!!)

Click here to learn more ~ Baby Registry – $100 credit towards diapers and wipes

  • Take advantage of sales– Once you register you know what products you will specifically be looking for. Then take advantage when they go on sale, buying them in piecemeal. For example, the car seat we picked out was on sale during Amazon Prime Day recently. Baby Tula had Christmas in July sale, I got my carrier for $75, rather than $150. Or look for manufacturer sales. Recently Graco has had 20% off their products, so I bought the pack n play during that sale. By keeping your eyes peeled you can take advantage of periodic sales. And it certainly is easier on your budget to buy one item at a time.

 

These are my top money saving tips for any mom who is looking to save money on the baby necessities. By shopping sales, using coupons, and being strategic with my purchases I have money left in my budget. I can get  items from the “it would be nice to have” category like cute bibs.

Babies sure do cost a lot, but don't worry there are plenty of ways to save on necessary baby gear!

How did you decide when to tell kids about Deployment?

There are two lines of thoughts when it comes to telling children about an upcoming deployment: (1) immediately, as soon as you find out so they have a long time to prepare; or (2) wait until just a couple weeks out to reduce concern and worry in the children?

Neither one of these way are the right or wrong. Each family is different and each family is different and we all  have to do what is right for our own family. But this can be difficult, what if our friends disagree and let it be known publicly?

Here are some Pro’s & Con’s of each:

As with many things the age and development of the children plays a huge role when deciding how and when to tell children that their parent is deploying. Toddlers might not understand and so it is difficult to tell them too far in advance, because they just don’t have the developmental ability to comprehend and remember that.

School aged kids and teenagers (especially those who have been through a deployment before) will be able to notice the signs of beginning of the pre-deployment cycle. Things such as frequent training, gear vomit, and tense/anxious parents are all warning signs. Because they will be able to sense that something is happening, they will not appreciate being deceived.

You also have to take into account that units typically deploy together. Chances are someone else knows they are leaving soon and you don’t want someone else to spill the beans. Especially because others might tell their children right away and as we all know children have no filters!

So how have you done it? If your spouse has never deployed how do you think you would handle it? Let me know it the comments, and join the debate!

Encouraging Positive Behaviors in Your Children: Using Behavior Charts Effectively

Behavior charts are one of the most effective methods of encouraging positive behavior in our childrens

Do you struggle to encourage good behaviors in your kid? Do they do what you ask them to do?

It can be difficult to encourage and reinforce good behavior because so often we are employing the wrong strategy! We are more likely to discipline negative behaviors in our children then we are to encourage and reinforce the positive behaviors.

SO how do you encourage those positive behaviors you might ask? By reinforcing them! A great way to do this is with Behavior Charts, you know like the ones they have in the classrooms! Every kid wants to be on “green” or whatever the top category is, and often feels ashamed when they fall below. But time and time again I have clients come back to me telling me the behavior charts just aren’t working for them.

The trick to behavior charts is rewarding good behavior, and rewarding it often! Behavior charts are not used to punish bad behavior. The more we reward positive behaviors, the more they will engage in desired behaviors. As much as we might think otherwise, our kids want to please us! They want out praise! And so, when they get our praise and attention for completing good behaviors they will continue to do so!

This is not to say we shouldn’t punish our children, but that is another post for another time!

Children are extremely visual operators. As much as we can praise them verbally, hug and kiss then when they listen, having a visual, tangible reward can be helpful. We will have an even greater impact when our verbal praise is paired with a concrete tangible reward. That is exactly what a behavior chart does.

But why do so many people come back saying it isn’t effective? Because sometimes we are over ambitious with the number of behaviors we start with. Or we are inconsistent with rewarding the good behaviors. So here it is:

My Simple Instructions to Rewarding Good Behavior Using Behavior Charts
  • Use separate charts for each child
  • Only start out with 3-5 behaviors
  • Consistently give them praise and marks when the complete or preform the behaviors listed
  • Agree when starting: ___ # of checks/stickers = 1 reward (i.e. ice cream, a dollar store toy, a special outing, 15 minutes extended bedtime)
  • When they master those behaviors, add in more behaviors slowly
  • All behaviors stated positively
    • Example: Do ________. Instead of Don’t do ___________.
  • Do not remove checks for bad behavior!

 

I have created a behavior chart that you can download here. Print one for each child. Then sit down with your kids and decide on what 3 to 5 behaviors you want to address first! Remember these are things you want your child TO DO, like pick up their toys, eat dinner, stay in bed at night. Then both you and your child should sign it, it is a contract. They are agreeing to do the behaviors, you are agreeing to reward them for doing so. Each time they do one of the behaviors listed, praise them verbally and give them a check mark!

Depending on the age of your children I recommend between 10-15 check marks equal a physically reward. You want them to be able to earn the tangible reward every week to two weeks. They younger they are the more frequent the tangible rewards should be.

The key to behavior charts are: consistency, reinforcement not punishment, and follow through. When we get lazy and stop praising our children and giving them check marks, we will most likely see a decline in the good behaviors we desire. Eventually these behaviors will become habits, but we should always keep a sharp eye out to praise our kids. Have you ever heard of the movement catch them doing good? This was developed to encourage parents to keep an eye out for the good behaviors kids do.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



Have you tried behavior charts to encourage positive behavior in your kids? Did it work? Let me know in the comments below!

Behavior Charts are an effective method for reinforcing and rewarding the positive behaviors we want to see more of in our children. Having trouble using them? Here is my simple explanation for behavior charts used effectively!

Parenting Toddlers: More than the Terrible Twos

Parenting toddlers can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! Here are some ways to help keep the toddler years more fun than stressful!

I had a client come to me once, and they told me, “Whoever labeled it as the terrible twos, clearly never had a three year old! My toddlers has it out for me!”

The toddler years can be some of the sweetest, most fun, and hilarious times of your child’s life. But they can also be one of the most frustrating and exhausting stages of parenting. After all we have all read those hysterical stories of why toddlers are crying. My niece was because she wasn’t allowed to eat dog food! With their new found vocabulary and growing sense of independence, the most commonly heard word out of their mouths (and their mother’s) is “no!” Sometimes that “no” can be cute ad you can’t help but giggle and grin as he says it. And yet other times it is downright infuriating, using every last ounce of patience to stay calm.

As trying as it is I promise you, your toddler is not out to get you! They are just trying to assert their own space in the family. Up until now the baby was so connected to you, she didn’t need or occupy her own space. As she grows and turns into a toddler she starts to need more and more of her own space. If she does not get it, she will begin to demand it. As parents our goal should be to raise children to be happy and healthy individuals who are productive in society. We want our children to be kind and strong people who can take care of themselves. So if that is our goal we can’t stifle their independence right from the beginning.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for giving into every tantrum or toddler whim that blows their way. Part of raising strong independent people comes from knowing the boundaries and understanding that every decision has a consequence for good or bad. But we do have to find ways in our daily lives to allow our children to begin making their own decisions and supporting them in that, even our tyrant toddlers. Here are some ways we can help our toddlers gain some control over their surroundings.

The Never Ending Questions

Toddlers will question you about everything and anything they can name – what they wear, eat, do, see, hear, anything. They are trying to control their surroundings by gaining more knowledge. While the endless questions get old fast, by answering them we are giving them more and more pieces to the puzzle they are constructing in their heads. When they don’t know something and you won’t answer they get incredibly frustrated and begin to tantrum. This is not manipulation so much as lacking the ability to articulate clearly what they want or need. So answer their questions the best you can, they don’t know any better.

Channel their desires to make Decisions

            One way to help them gain more control is to allow them to make their own decisions. This can be from what they play with to what they eat. I am going to talk mostly about dressing themselves and meal times because those are the biggest struggle for parents to relinquish the control while still remaining in authority. I say this because, unless they are playing with something harmful we don’t particularly care, and it is easy to allow them to make that decision.

            Dressing themselves.

Being allowed to dress yourself is a lot of freedom. As parents we can control what they are allowed to choose from by only putting out things you want them to wear. This means putting up or away all seasonal wear so that everything is weather appropriate. As much as we might hate it, if they choose to wear three different patterns, it isn’t going to hurt them. They can be proud that they made a decision about something that you can support.

         Meal times.

Meal times are another area of struggle for many families. One way to let your toddler have control over meal times is by giving them several options and allowing them to eat freely from their plate however they choose to do so. Now please hear what I am saying, do not make your child 3 different meals, just present them with a few options you already have prepared. If they choose not to eat, that is their choice. But the consequence of that choice is not eating, so they don’t get to go directly to the pantry and demand fruit chews.

Work with your Child

            Working with your children instead of against them will make everyone’s life easier. Giving your child your attention prevents them from having to demand it from you in negative ways (i.e. tantrums). While they are growing in their independence, parents are their safe harbor. They want you to be right there with them every step of the way. This means answering their questions, playing with them, instead of watching them play. Remember in just a few short years they will want nothing to do with you. So soak it up now!

Set them up for Success

As you work with your children give them every opportunity to success and make you proud. That means catering your schedule to theirs. Don’t go out during nap times or right before nap time. And be prepared for the expected and unexpected when you leave. If you set them up for success from the beginning there will be fewer tantrums along the way. Because as much as they want control, they still rely on you to help them.

So see, toddlers don’t set out to make our lives more chaotic. They just want your love and attention as they begin fully exploring their world and claiming their independence and place in the family. As parents we begin to learn the art of slowly giving more and more freedom along with more responsibility as we pull back control a little at a time. Parents are resistant to this process because somewhere deep inside they know it means they are losing their baby. So they hold on tighter. If we learn to allow our toddlers to make their own decisions, we will be surprised by how much happier they can be. Find the areas you can give them some freedom and praise them when they succeed. And then you will be well on your way to raising those happy, healthy, independent adults you dream of.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! Age affects how children react to all of these events, as development plays a huge role in behavior and ability to process change.

If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



What areas do you let your toddler have more control?

Toddler years can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! But here are some simple ways to help make them more wonderful than stressful

10 Ways to Help Anxious Children Calm Down

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids pinnable image

As much as we adults get stressed out, so do our children! And military life provides lots of opportunities to create anxiety in our children- deployments, field time, training, frequent moves, changing schools, and constant fluctuation of friends. Or things such as adding new children to the family that many families face. As their parents, teachers, babysitters, or other family members we need to be prepared to help them calm down and relax when they are stressed and anxious.

Here are my top 10 tips for helping calm down when they are feeling stressed and anxious!

 

  • Blow Bubbles! Having a little kid sit there and just take deep breaths in and out can be hard, as most parents know! But blowing bubbles is so fun and cane help the child visualize the deep breaths by watching the bubbles.

  • We’ve all seen the pretty calm down jars like these ones! Watching the glitter move through the jar can still the child, which can have a calming effect, especially if the child is visually oriented in other tasks, such as learning.
  • Give them a big hug! Wrap your baby up and hold them tight. Knowing they are secure and safe in your arms can relieve a lot of anxiety for little ones.
  • Pop some bubble wrap. This is great for children who are kinesthetically oriented. Having something active, constructive, and nondestructive can help relieve anxiety. Doing something with your hands can help swap the mind from the emotionally over-charged center of the brain to the calmer logical part.
  • Coloring. We have all seen that adult coloring books are all the rage right now for decreasing anxiety, well if it works for us then it works for the little ones too! Sit down with them and spend some time coloring together. Maybe put some soothing music on in the background for an extra effect.
  • Put on their favorite Disney Jam and sing it out with them! Singing out loud has been shown to release endorphins, which lifts the mood! So have a dance party while you’re at it and shake those worries away!
  • Put the kiddos in a nice warm bubble bath and have them splash and play their worries away! What momma isn’t relaxed by a nice warm lavender vanilla bubble bath! This means what works for us, typically works for them. If you have more than one, and bath time is normally full of conflict, maybe bathe them one at a time tonight!
  • Got play-dough in the craft room? Give some to your kid and let them squish it between their fingers, roll it around. Playing with something in their hands can be a grounding effect. For people who suffer from panic or severe anxiety one of the most suggested ways to ground oneself is find things you can see, smell, touch, hear, taste. Squishy play-dough is something to feel.
  • Get some exercise in! Go for a bike ride, play tag, jump rope, just get outside and run around. Exercise in any form can release endorphins to have a calming effect.
  • If you notice that your kid still suffers from anxiety and have tried a variety of calming methods perhaps it is time to look into counseling. One of the main modes of therapy for kids is play therapy and incorporating expressive art therapy. Both of these modalities is helpful for children who struggle to express their feelings verbally or who express most feelings physically, in a more negative manner as it allows them to express their feelings in any form in a safe, contained area.

I hope you find these methods helpful in your household! I know the struggles of living with children with anxiety, as it often feeds our own anxiety which feeds theirs and we end up in a never ending cycle. These methods have been shown to break the cycle! If we can calm our children down it will reduce our own anxiety as well.

Military parents, we know how stressful military life though for our kids! Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing our kids are placed under so much stress! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: Behavior Chart & an Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children.



What are the best methods you have found to help reduce anxiety and stress in your kiddos?

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids

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