Monday, June 11, 2007

Keep It Simple

The topic is "Having the latest baby everything", which will be particularly relevant to today's young mothers. There is such a variety of baby products available in stores that it can be overwhelming. Add to that the pressure you often feel from your peers to have the latest and greatest of baby equipment. Add to that still the bombardment of products that promise to make your baby smarter, faster. When you want to be hip AND have those things that make mommying a little easier, how do you keep from breaking the budget?

I must not be very hip. It's either that or I'm a cheapskate. Because I don't give a darn about acquiring the newest, coolest, whatcha-ma-do-dad, make your baby the smartest on the planet do-hickey. Oh, no! What am I doing to my kids? Well, I'm letting 'em be kids. Letting them use their built in imagination and creativity. You can't tell me it's more fun pushing colorful buttons on a fancy toy to make it light up and play music than it is to create your own symphony using pots and pans and a good ol' wooden (or metal) spoon. Have you ever been to the moon riding in a space shuttle made from a large refrigerator box? Or crawled around on the floor with your one-year old, mooing like crazy, while your 4 year old ki-yips you into a 'corral' for branding?

My philosophy on child-rearing is to keep it simple. Babies love nothing more than a mother's soft caress, and face-to-face human interaction. I know you've all seen it - how a baby's face lights up with an adorable, gummy smile when his mother walks into view. But, of course, mommies need their own "me" time. So here's a few basic staples of baby equipment and toys that I've used, and my children have loved or benefited from.

#1 Crib - skip the cute little bassinet that only safely works for the first few months. Our first crib was bought at a yard sale for $40 and lasted for six children. We've had to get a new one for Ira. The old one just totally fell to pieces when we tried to set it up. I honestly don't know whether that was because it was old or unduly worn out from Dad getting in it when playing hide and seek with the girls.

#2 A bouncy seat - worked for half of my kids. The other half didn't care a bit about it. So I suggest borrowing one to try it out.

#3 Car seats- At first we bought Eve's car seat at a yard sale. But after two years I realized this was an area I didn't want to skimp in so we bought our car seats brand new. And with laws now dictating that a child be in a booster seat until eight years old (at least in our state) we've had up to four car seats or booster seats at one time in our Suburban.

#4 Quality clothing - I love yard sales. But I am very, very picky. I only buy brand name clothes because they really are the only ones that last. My favorite brands are Old Navy, Land's End, and Gymboree. Children's Place is pretty good but their clothes have worn out faster than the others. Having seven children I firmly believe in hand-me-downs for play clothes but for 'going out' clothes they each deserve their own brand new pieces. Now we live 1/2 hour away from the nearest town and yard saling really isn't a good option anymore. So here's my little secret for getting brand-new clothes for free. I use my Discover card for all purchases.
(Note: This will not work if you don't have good self-control and pay off your credit card in full every month) And I mean all purchases, groceries, Wal-mart, hardware store, internet shopping, etc. And I rack up my cashback bonus points. Then I use my points for gift cards from Land's End and shop their overstocks. And it doesn't cost me a cent. Especially when I take advantage of their free shipping offers.

#5 Cloth Diapers - This is honestly just a matter of preference. I used disposables with my first but switched to cloth with my second child and have used them ever since. And, no, I don't waste my time on laundry away from my children. I bought enough cloth diapers to last a whole week so I only do one extra load of laundry a week. That's what, 5 minutes total to throw them in the washing machine and then into the dryer after that? I don't even bother to fold them. They get placed in a nice $5 wicker basket from Wal-mart and put on a shelf. But like I said, this is just a matter of personal choice. You can read all about my cloth-diapering here.

#6 Baby Carriers - I LOVE baby carriers. They free up my hands to do things while still keeping the baby with me and happy. I have used two types: my Baby Bjorn for when they are little (up to six months) and my Mei Tai for when they are older. The Mei Tai gives me flexibilty to hold them in the front or the back.

#1 Stacking Toys - Wooden blocks, large legos, and Wedgits have real kid appeal for ages 6M on up.

#2 Exersaucer - Bought used of course. Great for keeping the pre-walkers occupied and sitting up to see all the action.

#3 Any household item big enough to not be a choking hazard. Creativity and imagination required.

#4 Books, books, BOOKS! I love books - board books, pop-up books, touch and feel books, quiet books, story books. What child doesn't love snuggle time on a parent's lap reading a good book?

Okay, there you have it. Montse's views and recommendations. Thanks for bearing with it!

If you are interested in reading more women's views on this topic visit Lei or Morning Glory to see who's written posts.


Morning Glory said...

Very useful suggestions! I like your reasonable approach to the whole idea of what to have and not have.

Julie said...

Amen to all of that! I love your attitude!

Susie said...

You have such wonderful suggestions!
I totally agree about the child safety seat, and echo you 100%+ on the books! Great post!

Jen said...

It sounds like we have a lot of the same thoughts! Interesting post!

Mommy Dearest said...

I like your ideas: kids should be kids. We're another big family - we have eight!

Corrie said...

I believe in quality too. When you give up the quantity, you can afford to get quality staple *toys*.

Calandria said...

amen and amen! when I had just my first two children, a friend came over with her kids. "You hardly have any toys!" she gasped in amazement. Whatever. Most toys are not worth much. They are best for stretching your hamstrings when you bend over to pick them up.

MommyK said...

In addition to my sling, I also have a Baby Bjorn, and I love it. Although now that my baby is almost 7 months, it's starting to hurt my back a little. I love toys that can be used more than one way...legos, blocks, train sets, and of course, BOOKS!

Tigersue said...

I bought a sling/carrier and I never used it. How funny is that. I can say some of your list is so different from what I would do, but I love the fact you put why it works for you!

I think I strayed from cloth diapers years ago. I cut my finger and I couldn't use the pins. (it was a bad cut!)

Anyway. One other thing on car seats, you never know if they have been in an accident if they are use, they are not to be reused if they have been. Also there are expiration dates, they should be replaced after so many years.

Retha said...

You are such an organized person!

An Ordinary Mom said...

You really do just have to find what works well for you and your child :)!! We love books and imagination in our house, too.

Craig said...

Great post! We also used cloth diapers, and had people comment all the time about how it would be to much work and to messy for them. I must say we loved them! Not a big deal at all. Of coarse I didn't do the laundry! ;-). But cloth diapers are sure not what they use to be! No pins to use any more. They snap! Also we did the same, threw them in a basket and didn't worry about folding them all

And the savings $$$ are tremendous!

Belladonna said...

I carried my son everywhere in a backback from the time he was tiny till he was almost 2. I never did have one of those snuglie things - they look cool, but on my back seemed more "hand's free."

Love your perspective and I'm enjoying exploring your blog.

PJ said...

Whoot! I first liked the colors on your blog, I then liked that you have a collection of daughters, I do as well!
Then I love'd your: "Because I don't give a darn about acquiring the newest, coolest, whatcha-ma-do-dad, make your baby the smartest on the planet do-hickey.",
and thoughts on this subject! So "Whoot" came to mind.

My girls have lived without all the finest, and are doing quite well. All three have learned to read before Kindergarten, and just as important they are good little people.

Inga said...

I love the suggestions for the Discover Card and kid clothes. I am going to try that. I only try to shop for name brand as well because they do last lots longer. I have a son that just plows through the knees of anything except Old Navy jeans. Your suggestions for toys and child raising were perfect thanks for putting it out there.