Archive for September 2013

Planning your child's wardrobe

Just as it's important to be strategic with my wardrobe, I find it saves time and money when I apply this to my children's clothing as well. Learning how many shoes, socks, pants, tops, jackets, etc. are needed for each child makes a difference in how and when I shop. It's helpful to pay attention to this number because it gives me confidence knowing that I always have something appropriate for each child to wear no matter the occasion or the temperature outside.

Here are a few examples of my numbers:
1 sweater cardigan per child/ per season (fall, spring)
2-3 dressy outfits per child/per season (fall, winter, spring, summer)
1 pair of dress shoes per child
1 pair of knee socks per child
6 pairs of regular socks per child

Since the Alabama climate is somewhat temperate, I have found that depending on an item's fit and the child's growth in a given year, I can stretch a clothing item over several seasons or for an entire year. I've been able to do this recently with cardigan sweaters. I bought them big enough that the sleeves could be rolled up once and then a year later, we unrolled the sleeves and the fit of the sweater was still long enough to be worn this fall and winter for my 3 year old.

I have little boys so we spend most of our time in play/casual clothing. I have learned that one set of socks (they come in 3s) isn't enough for how dirty my boys like to get. So I buy two packages at a time for each little one when we purchase new shoes. Since the boys dress up usually once a week, I discovered that I only needed one pair of knee socks and dress shoes for each child. They don't get them very dirty since we change out of our dress clothes when we get home from church, and I wash them in a load of the boys' laundry each week.

These aren't hard and fast rules that one has to stick by, but they are a guide to make life simpler and easier when dressing children. Knowing that my boys only need that one cardigan a piece makes shopping less stressful for me because once I find one, I purchase it and mark it off my children's wardrobe plan.

How do you know when you have enough clothing for your children?

Book clutter

Just as we discussed last week how fewer, quality toys can impact your child's creative play, this week I want to discuss how fewer books and quality literature can impact not only your living space but your child's imagination as well.

After I de-cluttered my children's toys, I went after their books as well. If I'm the one reading these books to them then I determined that I wanted to be able to enjoy them as well. So, I donated books that I didn't like or agree with for personal or moral reasons, and then kept the ones that we love the most in a small bin next to our favorite reading spot. I put the rest of the books away except for about 5 chosen ones to be used as our book library. We recycle them in and out of the closet so that our book bin doesn't get overwhelmed with books and so my children don't get overwhelmed with too many choices. An abundance of choice is what Americans are faced with every day and honestly, I'm not so sure that it is all that good for us. I tend to get overwhelmed when I go to a restaurant and the server presents me with a 10 page menu. The same thing happens for children. An abundance of stuff can be stressful for all persons no matter the age. When we reserve a few cherished books set out for our kids to read and learn from, they become committed to memory and heart. Thus, every time we pick them up to read from, it's like being re-united with an old friend.

Here are some of our favorites:
- Goodnight Moon
- Llama Llama Time to Share
- The Little Engine that Could
- Jesus Storybook Bible

What is your favorite piece of quality, children's literature?

Quality versus quantity in the toy box

Probably the best parenting book I have ever read, meaning the most practical and tangible effects after implementation, is Simplicity Parenting (many thanks to The Chic Planner subscriber, Mallory for recommending it). If you have children, I highly encourage you to read this fabulous book; it literally is life-changing.

One of the points so well articulated in the book is to reduce children's toys. Not only reduce them, but to be intentional about the kind you purchase and allow in your home. I have always been a fan of simple, wooden toys, but this book helped me figure out why: it's because they aren't fixed. You can manipulate them and make them come alive. Toys that are fixed are the ones with all the bells and whistles that do everything or have some kind of character or theme attached to them. I love it when I see my children using their imaginations and getting deeply engrossed in their play.

In our house we have reduced the amount of toys that are left in our living space and their bedroom. I bagged up a bunch of plastic stuff and have it sitting in a closet to use as a toy library of sorts. Once I took the majority of toys away, I saw that my children really did play with the same things over and over every day, and the rest of the toys they just made a mess with and didn't really play or engage with them. In our home, the two toys that are played with every day is this wonderful toy kitchen and our wooden Thomas the Train set. We don't have a train table but just some tracks that are built differently each day.

It really was so liberating as a parent when I realized that my children don't need much to keep them happy. Just some good quality toys that meet their interest and that they can each interact with in a different way.

What are some of your favorite quality toys that are played with on a regular basis?

Stay the course

This past week has been by far one of the busiest weeks I have had in a long time. I worked at a client's house, threw a baby shower, hosted a surprise birthday party for my husband, entertained out of town family, attended a child's birthday party and hosted a financial class in my home. It's been a great week and I have had my nose to the grind. That said, this week's post is a little more inspirational in nature to encourage you to not give up living and pursuing a simplified thus more organized life.

This journey into de-cluttering one's home, life, possessions, closets and even cars, isn't an easy one. At times it is very painful and can even cause tears. No one likes to face mistakes they have made or own up to bad decisions, nor does anyone want reminders of dreams or hopes dashed. You may find this happens on your journey, but please don't be discouraged. Tears may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. As you continue to release the past, some good and some not so good, you will find a peace and calm that resides the next morning. A new perspective or fresh outlook on life. It may be an end table that's been so weighted down with mail, magazines and tchotchkes, that once freed from its burdens, you decide it's the exact piece you've been needing to function as your new nightstand. Who knows what's possible or what new adventure you may find in your home. Be ready, be of good courage and don't give up: freedom is here!

What keeps you from giving up in your journey to a simplified life?

A sample of my go-to meal

In my life, it makes things easier when I utilize a go-to meal. This is a uniform of sorts, much like the capsule wardrobe, except that it's food. Just as a few key pieces in your closet make life easier, so does the quintessential meal that's perfect for entertaining or for delivering to a new mom.

In my world, having people over for dinner usually involves our children and their children which means baked salmon over polenta is not going to fly with these inexperienced palates. So, I always rely on my go-to meal. It caters to just about every taste and always gets rave reviews.

Here's my go-to meal:
Baked Ziti
Fresh green salad
Garlic bread
Chocolate cake

This meal is not for the faint of heart or anyone counting calories. But, when I have company over or when a friend has a baby, it's a time to celebrate and enjoy good food. I'm not concerned about my unhealthy choice especially when I'm enjoying leftover chocolate cake the next morning for breakfast (the key is to do this before everyone else gets up).

Since this is my delivery meal for new moms, I have found that I can even split my recipe and deliver it to two small families. One time, I had two moms to deliver to in one week, so I just portioned the Ziti out into 8x8 pans (my recipe makes a 9x13 casserole), and the cake was cut into individual portions and dished into pans as well; it worked out perfectly.

Cost breakdown:
The cost of this meal is something else that I adore.  I once fed a group of 12 women this meal and it only cost me around $16. Since, it's cheaper than take-out (and I personally believe it tastes better) then I will continue making it till all my friends are tired of it and want new recipes. :)

What is your go-to meal?

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