PatPat Logo

PatPat

Click To Open Navigation Menu

Good Cop, Bad Cop Parenting: How to Make it Work for You

1

There’s good news and bad news for families having vigorous rounds of Good Cop, Bad Cop with their children. A study in the journal Social Science and Medicine shows that playing with these extremes in your household can eventually lead to unhealthy levels of inconsistency for your child. That could indicate the whole Good Cop, Bad Cop routine simply doesn’t work and can be unhealthy for kids.

Meanwhile, another study finds that when one parent intervenes during an episode of Bad Cop, it can possibly be healthy. The idea is it shows your kids what type of behavior should not be tolerated. It sounds confusing, until you consider what it’s talking about in terms of harsh parenting. In the long term, the study sounds more like a warning that harsh and condescending parenting has a negative impact on kids’ self-esteem and self-worth well into adulthood.

 

So where’s the middle ground in all of these parenting studies? Should parents always be nurturing, patient listeners? In an ideal world, that is probably your best bet. However, this isn’t an ideal world by a long shot, and kids are relentless in their pursuit of getting their way at all costs. The answer lies in playing to your strengths and staying firm and consistent, all while keeping Good Cop, Bad Cop within the realm of healthy boundaries. Here’s how to do it.
2

Call in the Heavyweight

 

Not all parents can pull off the heavyweight role and rule with confidence and firmness. On a stress-free day, you can probably stay consistent and stick to the rules like a pro parent on a mission. You’ll probably feel smug about raising well-behaved and respectful children that other parents on the playground secretly envy. But on a day with chaos and no sleep, you’re likely to want to just give in and call this whole parenting thing a day when your toddler informs you they will be wearing their mermaid tail and bikini top to preschool. In the freezing cold. On a Saturday.

 

This is the ideal time for the Bad Cop parent to step in and reinforce whatever it is you’re trying to instill in your child. For example, it’s okay to ask for parental backup to get your toddler to stop climbing the furniture while you’re holding a screaming infant, or to give you some peace and quiet while you finish cooking dinner. Just don’t say something like, “Uh-oh, here comes Bad Cop! Now you’re in trouble!” Otherwise you’ll just create a divisive household where neither of you are playing to your strengths. The idea is to have each other’s back, not be the parent everyone dreads seeing walk through the door.

 

Focus on Empathy

 

Parents prone to falling into Bad Cop mode even on the sunniest of days should take a step back to focus on empathy as their first line of defense. Sensitive children in particular need more empathy and understanding when things go wrong and frustrations spiral out of control.

 

Focus on their feelings instead of barking orders to get past whatever is bothering them. Same goes for restraining yourself from barking a command for them to just move on. Try something like, “I can hear how frustrated you are, and I understand you’re upset we can’t destroy the entire house with a granola bar today. But the answer is still no.” Stay consistent without raging out of control. Letting your kids know you actually understand how they feel, while continuing to stay firm, is a positive step towards a healthy relationship with them.

 
3

Use Simple Statements

When your child comes running to you because Dad said they couldn’t go outside barefoot on the rocks with five suckers in each hand, the point isn’t to shrug and suggest that Dad is harsh and they better do what he says “or else.”

 

Instead, back up the Bad Cop role by playing the deputy. “I know you’re disappointed you can’t run through the house, but I agree with Dad. It’s the rule.” Focus on simple statements that reinforce the discipline of the Good or Bad Cop in question.

 

Get Your Child to Respect Both of You

 

Good Cops don’t have it all good. Kids may want to play with them and run to them for giggles, but aren’t necessarily going to respect them when the answer is “no.” They’re more likely to push this parent over, and keep questioning their discipline until they give in. Good Cops are also often the fun parent, but not the one the child wants approval and advice from.

 

Show your kids that even a laid-back, more lenient parent still deserves their respect. When you ask them to clean their room and they refuse, don’t automatically threaten to enlist the Bad Cop to step in and set things right. Stand your ground and focus on consistency when requesting that they do as asked. The sooner your child realizes you’re not going to be pushed over, the sooner they’ll stop questioning everything you say until you slowly but surely go insane.

 

Learn from Your Mistakes

 

Set aside the boxing gloves reserved for beating yourself up over every infraction and mess-up. No parent is perfect, no matter which role you’ve naturally fallen into. Take the Good Cop, Bad Cop situation to heart to see your share of the mistakes in the relationship. Are you too lenient with the kids? Is it creating tension with your spouse? Maybe you’ve inadvertently undermined their parenting by bending the rules after they’ve already said no. Or maybe you’re so harsh that you scrutinize and criticize your spouse for not doing more to discipline the pack of roaming toddlers in your home.

 

Take personal inventory of what you could do better in your parenting role, and create a more consistent and reliable environment for your child. You can still naturally gravitate towards the role you usually play, while focusing on correcting your own mistakes to empower your parenting style.

 

Blend Different Parenting Styles

 

It’s actually possible to blend Good Cop, Bad Cop together and come out with something more like Firm But Fun Cop. You can still refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to your child cleaning their room before playtime, but think about how your spouse would approach it and turn it all into something more fun. Tell them they must clean their room, but set a timer. If they get their cleaning chores done before the timer is up, then they earn an extra 10 minutes outdoors before dinner time. You can also build up to an extra-special incentive after a week, like extra screen time.

 

Meanwhile, the parent most prone to looking the other way can focus on firmness for a change and try out a new role altogether. Tell your child that if they don’t finish cleaning their room before the timer is up, they lose the privilege of spending time reading before bedtime. Pose it as a consequence that they are intentionally choosing for themselves. “If you choose not to clean your room, then you’re also choosing the consequence of no extra reading time.”

Appreciate Your Partner’s Strengths

4

Have you ever looked at what your partner brings to the table in the co-parenting role? Their ability to be strong and firm may fill you with awe and wonder over how they stay so consistent. Or their endless patience with the horrors of potty training could make you envious of their carefree nature.

 

Take the time to truly appreciate what your spouse has to offer, and let them know what inspires you in their parenting. They’re more likely to respond in kind, and show you more patience and respect for how you choose to parent. Hopefully that all leads to accepting your strengths as well as weaknesses as a parent, and asking for more help from your partner.

 

Unify as a Team

 

At some point in the parenting journey, your natural cop roles fall apart in the midst of stress and crisis. That’s the time to unify as a team and put down your badges as Good Cop, Bad Cop. Work together to squash the after-school meltdowns, the terrible twos defiance, and the teenage sass, and appear as a united front.

 

Carry that new unified front as parents on a mission with you whenever your child decides to divide and conquer. The next time they tell you that Dad knows best and they don’t have to listen to you, just share, “Dad and I are a team, and you can’t divide us.” They’ll eventually get the point and stop testing the waters so often. They might even appreciate that their little worlds are safe, predictable and delightfully secure. One day they may even thank you for it…when they become parents themselves.

 

How does your household play Good Cop, Bad Cop? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay,

 

Toxic Playdates: How to Cut Free of Friendships That Aren’t Working

Picture1An article about motherhood in New York Magazine hit the nail on the head when the author wrote that new moms make terrible friends because they’re tapped out. Parents can be prone to overextending themselves and their resources to get it all done in a single day, from shuttling kids to preschool and soccer practice, to wrapping up a day at work.

 

But there is a backdoor way for moms to keep up with friendships: the playdate. A cup of coffee and kids playing on the floor can make for a fun afternoon where your kid is occupied while your mind is focused on adult conversation. Win-win.

 

But what if the friendship turns toxic? Maybe you realize your mom friend is an energy-sucking vampire who complains about everyone and demands all your time and attention. Or it could be the tiny tot friend who has decided biting is all the rage.

 

Either way, playdates turned toxic need to be cut out of your life and left by the roadside. Life is short and doesn’t need to be spent fending off disasters in friendship. Here’s how to cut free of friendships that just aren’t working.

 

Assess What’s Really Going On

 

Take a deep breath and figure out what’s really going on in the toxic friendship. Is the mom driving you crazy a lifelong passive-aggressive drama queen? Or has she recently gone off the deep end because of a new pregnancy or stressful situation at work, or is she going through an episode of postpartum depression and anxiety? You may need to move into the slow lane with your friendship, but not end it altogether.

 

The same type of thinking goes for any kids responsible for the toxic friendship. Your child’s buddy may be a hot mess in an adorable rainbow dream dress right now, but won’t be in a few months. Consider if they’re going through a tough time transitioning into their new school; or maybe there’s a new baby in the house. If it’s none of the above, grab a parenting book and see if their behavior is typical.

 

Discovering that there may be more at play than just a toxic person can help give context, but it doesn’t mean you have to keep scheduling playdates. Make yourself conveniently busy or only meet in safe areas where you can escape, like a playground, until the friendship crisis passes.

 

Start Leaving Not-So-Subtle Hints

 

There’s not always a need to come right out and say that you think this mom and her kid are highly toxic personalities who are infecting your household. Some not-so-subtle hints may do the trick and put the brakes on the friendship.

 

Jot down a list of convenient, rock-solid excuses so you’re always prepared. “Oh, Tommy is under the weather today,” “We’ve got a million things going on,” and “We’re committed this afternoon,” are solid excuses that are usually more true than not, regardless. But it’s also easy to get taken off guard and leave yourself vulnerable to getting sucked into a playdate without meaning to.

 

Questions like, “What are you guys up to this weekend?” can easily turn into a forced playdate if you admit you’re just hanging around. It’s harder to come up with an excuse on the fly if the friend already knows what you’re up to. Instead, try something like, “We always have lots to catch up on, and enjoy spending solo time together as a family without anyone around and no one stopping by.” They’ll get the idea.

 

Find a Compromise with the Kids

Picture2
Maybe your kids adore each other, but you find the mom completely vile. It’s possible to save the pint-sized friendship and still cut ties with the mom, but it will take some creativity.

 

Start trying to plan group playdates with mutual friends who have a friendship with this person. You’ll end up with a buffer so you can focus on having fun without getting sucked into a one-on-one toxic conversation. More than likely, though, a scenario where you’re removed from the mom in question will work best. Mention that you have heaps of work to get through, and would she like to drop off her child so they can entertain each other while you wrap things up?

 

And then there’s always the chance you could schedule playdates when you have a sitter around. If the other mom is okay with it, you can get out and run errands and catch up on work while the kids play. Soon you’ll be coming up with new and inventive ways for your children to play while keeping a safe distance from Toxic Mom.

 

Be Honest if the Kids are the Culprit

 

Pounce on any opportunity to cut off playdates by seeing what the kids are doing. Maybe your child is in a pushing phase, or is prone to meltdowns after school and needs more space. Or maybe the kids just don’t like each other lately. Just explain you’re taking playdates off the table for a while until the phase passes, and you’ll get in touch at a later time. Hopefully the mom will have moved on by then and found new families to invade.

 

There’s also a chance you could politely let the mom know your child has a problem with hers. This isn’t always easy, but can be done. Let the mom know your child is a little oversensitive lately, and hasn’t been looking forward to playdates because her child is loud or demands to be in charge. Suggest a break, or resuming sometime down the road. This way you’re dividing the blame without alerting her to the fact that you secretly can’t stand her kid.

 

Get Overscheduled

 

Deciding to cut off toxic friends is a perfect opportunity to get ridiculously busy. If your child has been whining about wanting to do gymnastics or soccer, take them up on their request to turn into professional athletes and get them enrolled. Spend more time visiting grandparents, look for free family-friendly events in your city, and take up a new hobby.

 

The idea isn’t to participate in things you don’t want to do, but to occupy yourself with things you’ve always wanted to do. It may also help you develop some warm and fuzzy feelings for the toxic friend who pushed you to finally join the Botanical Gardens so you have an excuse to be committed to an afternoon of fun several times a week.

 

Have an Emergency Card in Your Back Pocket

 

Your child may catch wind that the toxic friend’s child is having a birthday party that they just cannot wait to attend. This is when you pull out an unbelievable offer only reserved for moments like these. It needs to be enticing enough to give up the prospect of goodie bags and cake.

 

Tell your child you’re visiting his favorite cousin that day, going hiking to a waterfall, or seeing a kid-friendly movie. There’s no need to outright bribe, but sometimes you need a special go-to alternative for moments like these.

 

And the same goes for mom. If you find out a girl’s night is in full swing, get busy with an old friend or date night. Meanwhile, if it’s your own birthday outing, invite close friends and ask them to keep posts off social media. There’s nothing worse than a mom who leaves passive-aggressive comments on why they weren’t invited for the whole world to see.

 

Commit to a Breakup

Picture3
At some point, you may have no choice but to cut the mom friend and her child off at the pass. If nothing else works, chances are high she doesn’t care about your less-than-subtle signals and requests for a break. There’s no option but to initiate a breakup without looking back.

 

A break-up letter or email might work best in these circumstances, instead of getting sucked into the opportunity for a verbal attack. Let her know you simply don’t feel the friendship is working, and feel free to blame a lack of common ground or different schedules.

 

It’s also okay to tell her if you were offended by something she said, or if her child did something egregious, but remember to think about the big picture. Will it resolve anything? Or will telling her that scrutinizing your old-school parenting techniques or career is obnoxious result in her proclaiming that you’re too sensitive and you’ll talk it out the next time you’re together?

 

At the end of the day, the only way to truly cut free of a toxic relationship is to commit. Stick to your guns. If you don’t want this mom and her child in your lives, then make it abundantly clear that you will never be meeting each other again on purpose. Then focus on being civil when you do run into each other to send the message that there are no hard feelings from your end. Unless there are. In which case, you’re free to give a half-hearted wave and leave the room at the first sign of advancement.

 

Have you had to cut off friendships and playdates that weren’t working? What worked for you, and what backfired? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pexels, Pixabay, Pixabay

8 Styles That Will Flatter Every Mom’s Figure

According to HuffPost Style, the Fall 2016 fashion trends were all about “Mom Style.” That’s right, for a fleeting moment, mom fashions, from high-waisted jeans to tank tops without bras, were totally in.
1
But you don’t have to embrace ironic mom style circa 2016 to be fashion-forward. Start by letting go of the nostalgia of those carefully-staged photos of your belly protruding from underneath a button-up shirt. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t translate to a postpartum body with your belly guiding the way.

 

Instead, embrace styles that actually flatter your figure and play up your best assets – whether curves, or a back-in-shape frame. Being a fashionable and confident mom is all about being comfortable and feeling great in what you’re wearing. From wrap dresses to multi-functional scarves, here are 8 styles that will flatter every mom’s figure, even if you’re fielding melt-downs and potty training at the same time.

2

1. Own Your Empire

 

We’ve all done it. Are you holding onto maternity clothes just a little too long to help you get over the post-bump and transition into “real clothes”? There’s nothing wrong with that – unless your youngest child is out of diapers and currently having a conversation about refusing to eat anything but marshmallows while you read this article.

 

Get out of the maternity clothes and slip into something a little more womanly and empowering. An empire waist dress creates the illusion that your waist is bragging about how slim and sophisticated it is. The magic isn’t actually magic at all; an empire waist transforms the area near your rib cage to resemble a mock waist. For a double-threat combo, choose an empire waist doubling as a wrap dress to draw attention to the leanest part of your body.

 

2. Get the Right Shape

 

There’s nothing wrong with a little shapewear to put your mom-style in forward motion. And if Oprah says it’s okay, then you know it’s law.

 

It’s time to break out the modern-day Mom Jeans and revolutionize your influence in the fashion world. Look for jeans that incorporate spandex or stretch-defying fabric right into the denim to hug your body, while leaving plenty of room to chase your little ones around the house.

 

Choose from the many offerings in shapewear jeans to give your body an extra boost. There are sizes for the moms who need some extra help with problem hips and thighs, and options for plus-sized moms looking to shimmy out of their old jeans for a sleek look. And for the moms who have no idea where their belly and arms are headed, pair your new jeans with a shapewear shirt for a seamless fit that keeps everything in place and you looking like a new person.

 

3. Wrap It Up

 

The universe collectively rejoiced when fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg released her wrap dress creation into the world – and for good reason. Von Furstenberg updated, modernized and popularized the 1930s and 40s wrap dress to perfection. Fill up your closets with your favorite wrap dresses for a day at the office, hanging with your toddler or a coveted date night.

 

Part of what makes a wrap dress so special is how inexplicably flattering they are on just about any body type. They celebrate a woman’s curves instead of apologetically trying to hide them under piles of fabric. They also radiate magic with their versatility from day to night without missing a beat. Dress up your new wrap with bangles, hoops and a draping necklace for a night out, or opt for a comfortable knit version for daytime fun in the family trenches.

 

4. Get a V for Victory

 

Flattering mom styles can come in many forms and colors, including simple T-shirts and pullover sweaters. Just make sure to choose a top with a low neckline or similar effect. While there’s no need for plunging necklines, a polite little V showing off some neck creates the appearance of a longer physique that flatters.

 

Pair your favorite V with brand-new slimming jeans, and a dainty necklace to get that “Oh this? I just dropped off the kids at school, did a workout, got errands done and am now launching my side hustle gig” look you crave. You’ll appear put together, yet comfortable and casual at the same time.

3

5. Love Your Layers

 

Layer your favorite T-shirts, camisoles and tanks with a colorful cardigan or form-fitting jean jacket. Layers can help tuck away problem areas while making you look light and airy as you walk the mom runway. Or in this case, the carpool line.

 

Year-round layers are both fun and functional, no matter the occasion. A light cardigan helps keep the sun off vulnerable skin in the summer, and a wooly zip-up warms you up in cooler months. But there’s another reason layers always rank high on the mom fashion lists: they easily hide spit-up gone awry and crumbling granola bars without any fuss. Meanwhile, the world around you thinks you’re just terrifyingly stylish and wishes they could emulate your fashion sense.

 

6. Look Hip

 

It’s easy to get a little too comfortable in well-worn fleece jackets and fraying workout gear as a busy mom on the go. But instead of reaching for your favorite hoodie, pull out a hip-length, tailored jacket that hits your waist. This look turns a blah dress or tired jeans into a hip ensemble. Add some flats or comfortable heels, and your friends will start asking if you’re headed to an appointment or jury duty. Tell them it’s just another average day of looking fabulous at home.

 

Solid-colored jackets with shirts paired underneath are a fine look, and can still look hip, but aren’t the end of this story. Make it even livelier by choosing bold, striped shirts or graphic tees to layer under your tailored jacket to jazz up your new look. And if patterns and bold shirts aren’t your thing, stick to traditional and reach for the accessories instead. Even a solid and subdued look can come roaring to life by adding a bright red, chunky necklace and will bring some color to your day. You know, besides the juice box explosion on your white chair waiting for a deep clean.

 

7. Get a Leg Up

 

Don’t throw out those leggings and workout favorites just yet. You can still embrace your leggings as a flattering mom staple in your wardrobe if you do it right.

 

Black leggings are like the Swiss Army knife of your closet, and can be worn with just about any combination of long sweaters, shirt dresses and tunics. Grab your favorite pair of form-fitting black leggings and throw a jersey dress over it for an early evening dinner out with the family. During the day, try a lightweight and casual shirt dress to keep things free-flowing and comfortable.

 

But here’s the real figure-flattering trick: slip into high-waisted leggings to pull in your tummy and keep that unwanted visitor at bay (no muffin tops allowed). You also want your leggings to fit snugly at your ankles. And most importantly, leggings are supposed to be fitted, yet comfortable enough to spend the day in. That means if you can’t feel your feet, you picked the wrong size.
4

8. Feel Free with Flowing Scarves

 

Tent dresses live up to their name by making you look like you got caught in a tent and are now fumbling through life with your head sticking out of it. That’s not a flattering look on any body type. But we give them credit for conveniently covering you up in a hurry and keeping your body under a shroud of mystery until sunset. So instead of going tented, try an updated look with a fashionable, oversized scarf.

 

Just think of the possibilities that await. Wrap yourself up in a colorful scarf to discreetly nurse, drape over your shoulder as a cozy accessory when heading out for lunch with friends, or toss across your lap while hanging out on the lawn with the kids. Save it for a day when you’re feeling a little less than aspirational in the tummy area to keep it out of sight and out of mind.

 

And remember, a scarf isn’t just a fashion accessory. It’s an emergency everything, from extra blanket in the car on an errand gone wrong, to a clean-up-in-Aisle-7 kind of disaster. You won’t want to leave home without it.

 

What about you? What is your favorite mom style that’s super flattering and fun to wear? And which one needs to be retired ASAP? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pixabay, Pexels, Pixabay, Pexels

Terrible Potty Training Advice That Doesn’t Work

1Children expressing an interest in the toilet might be ready to unleash the wonderful world of potty training upon their parents. Or they may just be fascinated that tiny toys can be flushed down the toilet in a swirling tunnel of water.

 

The University of Michigan reports that most children are ready to potty train at 24 to 27 months, but some children will be ready earlier or later than that. So all the science really tells us is that at some point in toddlerhood, your child will start using the potty in its intended form, and not just as their new favorite toy.

 

There are tomes of advice on what to do when potty training, but there’s really not much that says what not to do. And because no single method works best for every family, we think it’s more important to call out the terrible potty training advice that flat-out doesn’t work.

 

Here’s the type of advice to run away from while screaming in terror.

Ask for Public Feedback

Every parent needs a shoulder to cry on after cleaning plenty of big kid underwear for the second week in a row. But resist advice that says you should poll success stories on social media.

 

Don’t crowdsource your potty training advice from Facebook. Otherwise you’ll face hundreds of heated comments ranging from, “Rule with an iron fist! Show them who is in charge!” to “Let them potty train themselves! Let them run naked and pee everywhere until they get it!”

 

You’ll also end up with ongoing pressure to comply with the advice, or face a lifetime of unregulated peeing: “Trust me. If you don’t do it this way, your child will not be potty trained until college.”

Heap on the Rewards

There is an argument for incentivizing your child to use the potty with a special reward, like a new toy or brand new Panda Bear panties once they’ve used the potty for a few weeks in a row. But heaping on constant rewards can actually backfire in a few different ways. For starters, your child may decide that stuffing their face with candy while on the toilet is all the rage and insist they have to go all the time. You may also find yourself stress-eating that same candy as you beg your toddler to just use the toilet, and forever associate it with peeing in the potty.

 

Meanwhile, rewards can also prompt potty training regression. Give your child one too many stickers, toys or treats, and when you gently take them away once they’ve mastered the potty, they could decide to just turn their underwear into a diaper until the rewards return.

 

Teach Your Child to Hold It (Tight)

Potty training should ultimately be about your child recognizing when they need to head to the bathroom and take care of business. But it’s easy to accidentally teach a child to just hold their urine indefinitely and refuse to go until they explode all over their designer duds.

 

Focus your potty training efforts around body awareness instead of accident avoidance. Talk about what it probably feels like when they need to go potty, that they need to head for the toilet the moment that feeling occurs, and how to clean themselves up afterwards. But this advice comes with a warning: be prepared to hear the play-by-play of what their little bodies are doing. Just smile in response, and pretend the details don’t make you want to vomit.

 

Become a Potty Scholar

How many books, YouTube videos and digital courses about potty training can you really consume before slowly going insane? Our guess is one.
2
Keep yourself from succumbing to potty scholar fatigue, and only read up on what you truly need answers to.

 

Fortunately, children and grown-ups alike have been going to the bathroom since the beginning of time without the need to read up on the subject to figure out how to do it. So instead of trying to become the foremost expert on potty training, focus on setting up your bathroom to be a fun and comfortable space.

 

Get a child-sized potty or cushioned seat that’s comfortable to use, keep the toilet paper within reach, and set up the sink for convenient hand washing. Show them how to do it a few times, then let your child figure out the rest.

Start Early

Ever read about those parents who insist their infant has been potty trained since they were six months old? Or the ones who insist that 18 months is the perfect age and waiting any longer will turn your child into a pants-wetting freak until adolescence? There’s a pretty good chance that all these parents are really doing is teaching their child to hold their urine, or to only go in their presence.

 

However, early potty training isn’t necessarily a bad thing if your child is actually ready to start. Maybe they’re showing an interest in the potty and want to sit on it and actually go on their own sometimes. If that’s the case, then get them started, whether they’re 18 months or 3 years. Just don’t make a mad dash for the potty finish line while dragging along a diapered child who really couldn’t care less.

Start Late

Ever read about those parents who refuse to do anything to encourage potty training, even if that means just placing a step stool next to the toilet for easy access? Instead, they want their kids to pee freely in any location they choose. It’s true some kids do well just deciding when to train themselves, while others will get comfortable sitting around in their own diapered mess. These same kids are likely to decide dealing with the toilet is an unbearable chore.

 

There’s nothing really wrong with waiting until your child is ready to start going to the bathroom on their own, even if that means they’re older than their peers. But your bathroom should still be designed for potty training success with a kid-accessible potty and maybe a book to help pass the time. Then, just encourage them to use the bathroom when needed without turning it into a high-pressure situation.

3

Turn Potty Time Into an Epic Party

There are resources floating around the digital world that insist on turning potty training into the biggest bash of your child’s young life. Balloons? Check. Cake? Check. Copious amounts of gifts? Check!

 

Maybe your child will feel so inspired and loved that they’ll somehow get the abstract concept of celebrating their potty time and just start going on their own. Or they could end up crying in disappointment over the lack of fireworks and confetti every time they go, and demand justice. Instead of an epic party, consider working towards a fun celebration once a month that celebrates their hard work as a big kid.

Use Toddler Friends as Aspirational Examples

Glorifying toddler friends as shining examples of what should happen during potty training is just intense peer pressure in disguise. Your child may understand that their friend has a handle on dry pants and toilet time, but they are more likely to see your praise for what it is. Shaming your child into hopping on the toilet doesn’t work if they’re not ready and aren’t motivated to do it.

 

Try talking about what a big kid their potty-trained friend is instead of using it as a shaming resource. Comment on how their pants are nice and dry, and how they got a special trip to the park or toy store a month after mastering the potty. Talk about it like you’re just genuinely happy for this kid, and not at all incredibly jealous that his parents are done spending hundreds of dollars on diapers that stink up their house.

4

Get it Done in Three Days

We’ve all seen the Facebook posts celebrating potty training in three days or less. Sure, this works for some motivated and ready kids, but for others it’s just a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. The timetable you’ve set surely isn’t your child’s, because their concept of time is measured by how long it will be until their favorite show is on, and the last time they saw Grandma.

 

In reality, potty training on a schedule creates unrealistic and frustrating expectations for child and parent alike. Your child may show an interest one day, and absolutely none the next. And they’re also very likely to embrace full toddler mode and resist whatever it is you actually want them to do.

 

Successful potty training is really all about becoming a potty advocate and facilitator for your child. That means communicating how to use the potty, and, when giving them the tools to do it themselves, largely leaving them alone. They don’t need you to tell them when to go to the bathroom and when not to. They just need to know you’re there for them.

 

What’s the worst potty training advice you’ve ever gotten? And what did you do that actually worked? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay

8 Ways to Frugally Clothes Shop for Your Kids

According to the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics. Meanwhile, a survey by Parenting.com, Women & Co, and Citibank found that parents spend an average of $131 on back-to-school clothing alone.
1
You may have the resources to splurge with $131 once in a while – until you factor in multiple kids and their impressive ability to outgrow everything within a month. Or maybe you just want to splurge on the little fashionistas in your life who require pea coats and light-up shoes to start trending the charts in preschool.

 

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help prevent you from overspending on kids clothes while still finding fun and fashionable looks you and your kids will love. Here are eight ways to start your on-budget shopping spree.

 

1. Kick Back and Shop Online

 

There’s no need to battle the mall when you’ve got a tablet or laptop waiting for you with a glass of wine nearby. Put the kids to bed and start price comparing online to find all the ridiculously adorable kids’ clothing you’re secretly addicted to.

 

Amazon has great deals on just about everything, including kids’ clothes, but so do its brick-and-mortar competitors. For example, you can buy kids’ clothing directly from Target, Walmart, and Costco alike. Look for free shipping options to keep your costs down, and hold onto your receipts in case you see a flash sale pop up. You can also place orders and pick up directly from the store if you can’t wait to get your hands on your latest finds.

 

2. Hit Consignment Sales

2
Consignment sales are now hot-ticket events where moms battle it out over gently-used Boden and Crewcuts hand-me-downs. The thrill of the bargain hunt is as exciting as stocking your children’s wardrobe on the cheap. Come ready to shop with oversized bags to snatch up coveted fashions and complementary accessories. Keep an eye out for clothing for upcoming seasons and stock up for the entire year.

 

Consignment sales are also a great place to find coats and boots from brands like Patagonia and North Face. And if you’re so inclined, you can resell your finds at next year’s consignment sale and hope to break even, then use the cash to supply your next wardrobe haul.

 

3. Price Comparing is Where It’s App

 

All self-respecting frugal moms use multiple apps to ensure they’re getting the best possible price on their wardrobe wish list every time they leave the house. Avoid app fatigue and start with Paribus. The app takes a look at your receipts in your email inbox, then figures out if the online stores you shopped at guarantee a refund if you find the item somewhere else at a lower price. Paribus takes it a step further and actually helps get that money back into your bank account so you can spend it somewhere else.

 

Your next line of app defense is the WikiBuy app to tell you if there’s a cheaper priced item on Amazon before you hit “Buy.”

 

Even big-name retailers like Target are getting in on the branded app game with Cartwheel. Look for limited-time deals, and save on everything from clothing to shoes and plenty of other coveted items you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. But fair warning: it gets addictive to start scanning prices all over the store to lock in your savings. You’ll feel like an undercover Target employee before the day is done.

 

4. Make a Date with the Clearance Section

3
It’s time to head to the back of your favorite store and get ready to hunt down bargains. You know what we mean. Go way, way in the back where the clearance items are hiding on a forgotten rack.

Dig in and pull out forgotten corduroy pants from a quickly-fading winter season, and stock up for next year. Remember that retailers also offer clearance items online with limited availability and last-minute sales. But a word of warning: not everything on clearance is actually that great of a deal, and it’s sometimes just a way for retailers to  offset extra inventory. Do a quick price comparison online before buying to see if that sale is as good as it looks.

 

5. Buy Secondhand

 

Everyone loves a good deal on a totally awesome, beloved wardrobe find like jewel-encrusted baby jeans and fuzzy jackets. But there are more places to find secondhand deals than at garage sales, consignment pop-ups, and thrift stores.

 

It’s also possible to shop secondhand right online with sites like Amazon, where individual sellers are also competing for your wallet’s attention. You’ll see multiple sellers’ offers right below the sale price of the item you’re looking at, and some even offer free Prime shipping. Or you can shop the world’s largest consignment sale with Swap. The site carries thousands of brands for men, women, and children, ranging from adorable baby dresses, to gear like baby bedding – with lightning-fast turnaround.

 

6. Organize a Clothing Swap

 

There are plenty of other parents in your neighborhood and preschool drop-off line that are dying to get rid of their old stuff and pick up new things to cycle through their household. Turn frugal shopping into an inspired community event by organizing a clothing swap. Open up your home, or just meet in the park with picnic blankets ready to spread out your goods and start swapping.

 

But your swaps don’t have to be outfit-for-outfit. Offer more items for a prime jacket or dress that would be perfect for your toddler. Keep your eye on the prize. Get rid of everything you don’t need and pass it on to someone who does, all while picking up a few great finds.

 

7. Shop Off Season

4
Shopping year-round can actually save you money on your kids’ clothing instead of prompting you to overspend. Start by working out a careful annual budget for all your family’s essential clothing needs, and then figure out needed inventory, from play shirts to dress clothes. It’s also wise to leave some breathing room to replace torn outfits or splurge on an unexpected party or holiday outfit.

 

Keep your clothing list handy as you hit the last-minute sales, overstock surplus, and coveted off-season discounted merchandise. Look for classic pieces and outfits that won’t immediately go out of style, and layer with fashionable finds from your online shopping hunts and clothing swaps. Soon, you’ll have an entire year’s worth of clothing stocked away in your storage bins and ready to go.

 

8. Shop on Facebook

 

Most of us do a lot on Facebook, from consuming cute kids and puppies, to arguing over current affairs – so why not shop, too? Shopify teamed up with Facebook to allow users to open up shops right from their Facebook pages. But there are also Facebook groups devoted to selling used baby clothes and unused products at a discount.

 

Roll up your sleeves, and do a search in your area for Baby/Toddler Swaps right on Facebook. These groups open up their virtual doors so you can sell all your unwanted stuff and earn enough money to buy someone else’s unwanted stuff. It’s a win-win for everybody! Another great place to look for frugal finds is Facebook Yard Sales where people are selling everything from clothes to baby gear.

 

Buying kids’ clothes doesn’t have to be a tedious chore or break the bank. Sometimes being forced to stay frugal opens up new, creative possibilities you never would have considered before. And it just may inspire you to start clearing out your own junk to make room for your latest finds.

 

How do you frugally shop for your kids? And how do you stay sane while doing it? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Pexels, Pexels

10 Sanity-Saving Tips for Clothes Shopping with Your Kids

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), consumers make purchases at shopping centers an average of 7.5 times per month. Shoppers also spend an average of 54 minutes in brick-and-mortar stores. That means that in any given month, you might be shopping with your children for nearly an hour on seven different occasions. That may spark dread – or fierce determination – in parents gearing up for another round of shopping.

1

We’re confident you haven’t made it this far as a parent without a few tricks up your sleeve to tackle the grocery store and weekly errands in a calm and collected style. But what about clothes shopping? It’s true that clothes shopping with your kids isn’t for the faint of heart. But it doesn’t have to cost you your sanity, either.

So the next time your little diva announces she hasn’t got a thing to wear in her closet and you realize she’s right, brace yourself. You can do this. With nerves of steel, some preparation, and extra caffeination, we know you can turn your next shopping trip with kids in tow into a success. Here are 10 of our own sanity-saving tips for clothes shopping with kids.

 

1. Set the Ground Rules

 

Tell your kids exactly what to expect before you head out for those 54 minutes of clothes shopping that ICSC cited. Create a list of what items are needed, and what you’ll buy. But perhaps just as importantly, focus on what you won’t buy. Include anything on your list from toys to that ridiculous kid-sized car in a window display that’s tempting you to drop a few hundred dollars to stop your kid’s meltdown.

 

Set iron-clad ground rules and stick to them, and explain any consequences. For example, tell your kids if they have a meltdown or repeatedly demand items not on the list that you will leave the mall without buying anything at all. The more your children see that your shopping agenda is absolute and unwavering despite their demands, the less likely they are to push the boundaries for next time.

 

2. Avoid Temptation Overload

 

Stop and ask yourself if your shopping trip is even realistic for your child to accompany you on, or if it’s temptation overload just waiting to spiral into the most epic meltdown you have ever borne witness to. If it’s the latter, consider going when your child is at school, at a playdate, or with a relative. Not all kids need to learn to behave while shopping; you just need to learn to shop without them until they get a little older.

 

Choose shopping locations that are deemed kid-safe and parent-approved. For example, toy stores masquerading as clothing stores probably aren’t the best place to take your child and expect a wave of calm. Pick a store your child will consider boring, like an out-of-the-way clothing warehouse with no toys at all. Then stock up so you won’t need to return until next season.

 

3. Make it Fun

2
Suffice it to say, not every kid enjoys clothes shopping. They quickly burn out on browsing woodland animal shirts and pint-sized royalty-inspired dresses and want to do something else. And that means the whining about the injustice of boredom comes next.

 

Schedule in some fun on your next shopping trip to rejuvenate your kids. Some malls have indoor play areas where kids can run and unwind. Bring a pack of crayons, paper, stickers, and small toy cars so your child can have a relaxing break in the middle of shopping. The more fun you infuse into your trip, the more likely your kids are to let you shop in peace.

 

4. Readjust Your Expectations

 

What exactly are you trying to accomplish while clothes shopping with your kids? You may need a reality check if it’s to outfit their entire wardrobe for the next four seasons. Instead, focus on the absolute priorities and wardrobe essentials first, and lower your expectations for everything else. The upside is that anything else you get accomplished will feel like an unexpected bonus round. And everyone loves feeling like they’ve come away from shopping a winner.

 

Remember to also adjust your expectations for your child’s behavior. If they’re prone to meltdowns and sensory overload, then you should be prepared for such behavior and stay committed to remaining calm and rolling with the punches. Then remember that you can’t expect to be a wonder parent while under shopping duress. A few hours of shopping with cranky kids is likely to turn you into an impatient mom with mascara streaks where you rubbed your face in frustration and anxiety. Give yourself a break.

 

5. Come Ridiculously Overprepared

3
Shopping with kids is no time to forget the extra snacks and diapers. Come ridiculously overprepared with extra contraband snacks you rarely let them get their hands on, extra diapers, a change of clothes, gadgets, and toys.

 

You need anything and everything in your arsenal that’s ever worked to entertain or calm your kids down. For starters, pack something special you haven’t let them play with in a while, like pipe cleaners or activity books they can doodle on while you shop.

 

6. Recruit Reinforcements

 

There’s no hard-and-fast rule that you can’t join forces with another mom to hit the shopping plaza. If all else fails, you’ll have someone to commiserate with when your child throws a pink yogurt cup across a rack of white clothes.

 

Team up and compare notes on what you want to shop for first. Figure out a strategy for who goes where, when to split up, and even who takes all the kids to unwind with some fun while the other sneaks off for a hurried game of “Will This Almost Fit Me?”

 

Your kids are likely to see the outing as an adventure with a buddy, and will entertain each other. Just remember to team up with families with similar or complementary temperaments. The last thing you want is to have to integrate a completely opposite set of clothes shopping preferences and methods with your own.

 

7. Plan for a Break

 

Shopping for clothes can be a fun adventure, but also completely draining for kids and grown-ups alike. Kids need breaks from the overstimulation of shopping plazas and malls. Find a quiet corner to either stretch out in and look at a book, or find a table for lunch or a quick snack.

 

Let your kids unwind, and look the other way once in awhile. They don’t need to be policed over every little thing they do, and they’ll want to blow off steam after some time debating about the need for multiple pairs of toddler jeans and corduroy pants.

 

8. Go on a Weekday Morning

 

Time your shopping trip to perfection and avoid the eager crowds. That means skipping Saturday afternoon sales and instead showing up the moment the store doors open for business. Try a weekday morning, or better yet, call ahead and ask when the quietest time to shop is. Your kids will be calmer without all the extra people pushing by, and you’ll get more accomplished faster than you thought possible.

 

It’s also wise to scrutinize the mall hours. Many shopping plazas open their main doors hours earlier than the stores actually open. Employees mill in, senior citizens start walking laps around the building, and the odd straggler comes in for the seemingly-always-open Starbucks. While peaceful, you could be looking at hours to kill before ever grabbing that pair of light-up sneakers off the shelf.

 

9. Bring the Really Big Stroller

 

Pick your shopping battleground equipment carefully. After all, a dainty umbrella stroller isn’t sturdy enough for some serious clothes shopping.

 

Instead, bring out the big guns. You know what we mean. You need that really, really big stroller that resembles a baby Winnebago complete with toys, cushy seat, blankets, safety straps, snacks and snack tray, and diapers to deal with an adventure at the mall. Tighten the straps, and choose a shopping time that stretches into naptime for a few hours of reprieve. If all else fails, at least you know your child is a captive audience.

 

10. Go Online

4
Not all shopping needs to be done at a brick-and-mortar location with copious amounts of sensory overload and kid distractions. Instead, curl up on the couch and go online in the safety of your own home.

 

If your kids are old enough, get them involved by showing them pre-vetted items that you’re willing to pony up for. And if your kids can’t deal with the screen time, or you can’t deal with them near your screen, then we say find a hiding spot where you can shop in peace. The soft glow created by your laptop or tablet in the back of the closet as you shop is always satisfying.

 

What are your top tips for saving your sanity while clothes shopping with kids? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pixabay, Pexels, Pixabay, Pixabay

8 Old-School Parenting Techniques That Still Work

1The internet is rife with less-than-nostalgic reflections on old-school parenting that would get parents into a heap of trouble today. Do any of these things sound familiar? Riding bikes without helmets, pushing kids out the door after breakfast and telling them not to come home until sundown, and taking a passive approach when they’re fighting it out with siblings? The winner was whoever wasn’t lying useless on the floor or crying in their room.

 

But that doesn’t mean modern parenting is necessarily any better. In the case of helicopter parenting, the studies look bleak. According to the research on parenting from Psychology Today, anxiety-driven parenting compromises children’s autonomy, mastery, and personal growth. We’re raising children to be overly-dependent adults who still need us to tell them what to do, and when to do it.

 

So maybe our old-school parenting counterparts weren’t all bad. There are many old-fashioned techniques that still work today, and would put our modern helicopter style to shame. Here are eight techniques to consider the next time your child announces they can do whatever they want after demanding you deliver the world to their feet.

 

1. Don’t Play with Your Kids

 

Our parents and grandparents weren’t sitting on floors playing tea party and monster truck rally. Instead, they were usually on the floor cleaning up bits of Play-Doh permanently mashed into the carpet. If pressed to play, they would have told us to beat it and that playtime was not for adults. You can make a case for playing with kids once in awhile if it’s something you both enjoy, or if your interaction can help them learn a valuable skill – like how to build a 4-foot tower out of Duplo blocks.

 

However, Psychology Today recommends that parent-child play be lead primarily by the child. After all, children learn through repetitive playing, which is usually not how parents want to play. Parents are more apt to grow bored after the 18th game of blocks, and want to stare at a white wall in silence instead. There is an exception: if your child has turned you into a human prop with a strict script to follow, then you’re doing them a big disservice. After all, no self-respecting kid would sit around waiting to be fed lines in between games of fairies and superheroes.

2. Slow Down and Under-Schedule

 

Past generations weren’t stressed out over chauffeuring their kids from school to soccer to playdates and birthday parties. Their lives were not controlled by the whims of parents, school and extracurricular activities. Kids were expected to entertain themselves, and were perhaps on one or two sport teams.

 

Slow down and take a step back from the hamster wheel. Why are your kids involved in so many activities? Are you afraid they’ll be left behind? Or are you just succumbing to the peer pressure of the rat race society seems to be advocating? Talk to your children about which activities they like best, then consider which ones foster their learning and development. Our advice is to ditch the rest.

 

3. Be the Parent, Not the Friend

 

The persistent trend in today’s parenting dictates embracing friendship with the kids instead of taking traditional authority roles. But your child probably has enough friends to choose from, and if he doesn’t, you can push him out the door and tell him to go play at the neighbor’s house instead.

 

The problem with parents and kids being best buds is that your little ones no longer take your advice and guidance with the respect it deserves. They also have no rock to lean on that is unwavering in its boundaries and direction. Kids need firm boundaries to navigate life with confidence, and they need a solid support system to do it. That’s probably not going to come from the person they see as a friend that they can listen to one day, and shrug off the next when they’re not allowed to eat an ice cream sundae with seven fruit snacks on top for dessert.

 

4. Encourage Mistakes

 

All the advancements in education and technology may have turned your children into little prodigies in comparison to their 1950s counterparts, but kids are behind emotionally. They need to fail and absorb life lessons in order to grow and pull themselves back up to do it again.

 

Stepping in to shield kids from failure and mistakes renders them powerless to take control of their lives, and can damage their long-term well-being and self-esteem. Kids need to experience the art of failing and then succeeding to grow confidence. Not to mention, you could end up raising a child who can’t make mistakes as an adult without falling to pieces or calling you ten times a day. Where will you be when your kids are still calling, asking you to give them the final answer on everything from which job to take, to what kind of coffee they should order?

 

5. Foster Independence2

The ultimate goal in raising kids is to make them independent enough to live happy and healthy lives. Sure, they need firm boundaries so they don’t jump off a cliff and turn their siblings into indentured servants at their whim. But kids also need room to grow and set their own goals.

 

Encourage kids to play by themselves, make their own decisions, and support them when they stumble. Talk through decisions they’re making, or feelings they’re having to give them the tools to deal with similar situations down the road. Remind them that they’re making choices that have consequences, whether that’s painting the dog’s nails sparkling purple, or lying about an altercation at school.

 

6. Follow Through Like a Pro

Children rely on boundaries to test the world around them and feel safe and secure. And in case you somehow didn’t notice, kids will push boundaries as far as you will possibly let them before completely losing your temper. But know that setting firm boundaries actually fosters confidence and stability in your family life.

 

Lay a foundation for what everyone in your family should expect in terms of behavior, consequences, and any punishments. Offer a warning in advance and tell your children exactly what will happen. Then back that up by following through the exact same way every time. Over time, it will actually make it easier to parent your kids, who already know what to expect instead of turning everything into a negotiation.

 

7. Lighten Up

3
Past generations weren’t sitting around wringing their hands over the latest advancements in baby swings and car seat attachments, whether or not to play with their kids or let them roam free, or scrutinizing whether their kids were too sensitive or not sensitive enough. At some point we all need to lighten up as parents and remember we’re doing the best we can.

 

Focus on being practical and reasonable, as opposed to super-parents vying for the trophy as Best Mom and Dad Ever. You will end up resenting that trophy if you set aside your entire well-being for that honor. Employ your common sense, ask for help when you need it, and relax once in awhile. Raising kids isn’t for the faint of heart.

 

8. Shift the Center of Your Universe

 

Kids may be the best thing that ever happened to you, but they don’t need to be the shining center of your universe. That means letting them mope when their favorite white slice isn’t mandated as the only type of pizza to grace your kitchen table. It also means continuing to foster your own life and interests beyond your children.

 

Studies also show that mothers are more depressed when they make their children the center of their universe. Moms who pressure themselves to be the best are literally sacrificing their mental health to embrace their children’s emotional outcomes. Ultimately this backfires as the entire family becomes depressed and off-balance.

 

And we get it. We all think our children are the most wonderful creatures to grace the planet (unless they’re having a meltdown). But that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own life, too.

 

There’s a time and place for old-school parenting techniques that never age. We think they work best when incorporated with your family’s own unique needs and dynamic to give them a modern twist. But at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to make our kids happy and not give them too much to talk about in therapy one day. So let’s give them a big hug, listen intently as they tell us how their day was, then push them out the door to discover their own fun.

 

What about you? What are some of your old-school parenting techniques that still work? And which old-school parenting methods were you lucky to survive when you were a kid? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Pexels

Designer Toddler Clothes: Are They Worth the Price?

1
Ever wonder where those magazine-worthy, pint-sized fashionistas got their start? Who was the brilliant person who figured out that we would drop hundreds – or thousands – on those can’t-live-without-them looks for our tiny tots?

 

Fashionbi reports that Dior was the first designer to realize the potential in the children’s clothing market, and unleashed the wonder of ultra kids’ fashion on the world. Not to be outdone, Ralph Lauren soon followed suit. Let’s say thanks to these industry giants for these outrageously adorable and fashionable kids’ clothes, as well as the hefty price tag that comes with them.

 

Today, we’ve got lots of choices for toddlers and big kids alike. Just take this $1,300 Girls Gold Brocade Cape with fur trim Dolce & Gabbana jacket. It’s definitely to die for, especially when the bill comes. On the other end of the spectrum, the price of that jacket could probably buy the entire clothing department at Target.

 

But let’s face it: it can be confusing to navigate kids’ fashion when half are bargain-basement priced and the other half are as much as your mortgage. Are designer toddlers really worth the price? Or is this just another excuse to open up our wallets and let the fashion world bleed us dry over fur-lined boots and diamond encrusted pacifiers? Yes, they exist too.

 

Before you take out a small loan for your child’s wardrobe, here are a few things to consider as you walk down the runway of designer toddler fashion.

 

Think Quality

 

According to an article in The New York Times, designer toddler clothes can often actually offer better quality than their bargain counterparts. Of course, not all fashion-worthy garments are created equally. The New York Times article asked fashion and garment experts to evaluate a selection of designer kids’ clothes. It turns out that several showed evidence of shoddy craftsmanship and mismatched seams. Other pieces, including those from Oscar de la Renta, proved to be high-quality, trend-setting fashions that were worth the price.

 

So it’s possible you’re getting an heirloom-quality dress or pea coat that will turn your little one into a tiny fashionista. But your kids are also likely to outgrow those clothes before you finish reading this blog post, and suddenly you’re left with a closet full of designer duds.

 

Think Longevity

2
How long do you actually want to hold onto your toddler clothes? If you’re planning to have an army of little toddlers one day, then you can pass down these quality pieces over and over again. You’ll be that obnoxious, perfectly-dressed family on the block that everyone envies.

 

Otherwise, it may be best to focus on just a select handful of special occasion dresses, darling little suits, and dashing outfits. Once your wardrobe base is complete, you can furnish the rest of your kids’ wardrobes with less-expensive options.

 

However, for some Moms, the point of designer clothing is all about fun fashions that change in the blink of an eye. They want to indulge their little ones and have fun dressing their kids like models. In this situation, it’s really not about holding onto your most precious pieces for years to come. Depending on your budget, you can achieve the same thing simply by keeping an eye out for less expensive brands that emulate the eye-popping pieces you love.

 

Think Quantity

 

Your own parent-sized closet may include a handful of work clothes, one or two fancy outfits, and enough comfortable clothing to withstand a week’s worth of milk stains and yogurt disasters. Meanwhile, your own kids need several week’s worth of clothing that they will likely tear through in just a few days. And we suspect a steady stream of crumpled laundry is probably the norm at your house.

 

Consider just how many shirts, pants, special occasion outfits, shoes you can’t live without, and drop-dead cute leggings your child needs. And that count doesn’t even include jackets, swimsuits, and undergarments. Stocking an entire closet with the latest designer clothes is probably akin to throwing a few months’ worth of preschool tuition out the window. Parents on a budget – or those who just don’t have an emergency budget for fashion disasters – can find select designer pieces and weave them into their kids’ everyday wardrobes.

 

Think Social Proof

 

At the end of the day, it’s actually pretty difficult to figure out if those designer toddler clothes turning your kids into reality-star divas are worth it. After all, you have no idea how the clothing was actually made, or how it will stand up against an entire pouch of raspberry applesauce being squeezed onto it.

 

But you can at least figure out what everyone else thinks and how they fared. Let them make the investment first and learn from their successes and mistakes. Act like an online super sleuth and turn to friends, family, and online reviews to hunt down the social proof you need. Put on your detective fashion hat. Are people talking about how completely adorable the clothing is? Or are they complaining about tears, fraying, and fading within just a few washes? Collect all of your evidence to determine which pieces make the most sense for your budget and style sensibilities.

 

Think Fashionable Alternatives

3
Fashion is a cutthroat and competitive industry, and the children’s clothing market is no exception. Imagine the designers battling it out to create a fresh new look featuring rompers and overalls.

 

Let those fashion industry giants vie for your attention. Take advantage of what’s out there and look for pieces that emulate the looks you love. Walmart has no shortage of cute and bargain-priced kids’ clothes. Or go online and hunt down that gorgeous fairy dress at a fraction of the price. It may not feature the same quality material as its fashion-industry-giant counterpart, but it still provides that look you love.

 

Remember that adding in shoes, hats, and accessories can also make or break your toddler’s fashion-forward look. To achieve that designer look you want, pepper in the very best headbands, fedoras, and sweet little coats to set the tone. And that tone is that your toddler commands the fashion corner of the playground.

 

Think Special Occasion Splurges

 

We’re going to assume you’re not feeding the family ramen to offset the costs of your toddler’s designer wardrobe. If you have enough disposable income, go ahead and buy a few fabulous designer pieces. Soon you’ll have a wardrobe full of cute finds that suit your toddler’s sparkling personality.

 

But remember to make those special occasion outfits count. Playdates at the playground require comfortable and durable clothing. Patterns and colors don’t really matter when it’s all about mud pies and climbing. Instead, save those special pieces for dinner with relatives, family photography sessions, and a trip to a kids’ show. Of course, when it comes to your fashion-forward kid, they are the show.

 

Think Fashion Swap

 

Don’t keep fighting the toddler fashion urge if you’re waking up in a cold sweat over the latest Dolce & Gabbana kids’ runway show and how you can emulate that style. There are always ways to fund your fashion lifestyle without breaking the bank. Start by sharing the wealth and getting more moms on board in your quest for recreating the runway.

 

Get friends together every season for a fashion swap, and mix and match old favorites and new finds. Soon you’ll have a brand-new wardrobe that’s already been vetted by the most fashionable moms in your neighborhood. And best of all, there’s no need to take a small loan to fund your fashion dreams.

 

Think High-End Consignment Shops

 

Toddler consignment shops and sales have hit their stride, with some only catering to name-brand clothing and big-ticket items. Scour your community for upcoming sales, and vet which ones are worth your time. Some sales even offer volunteers a preview night where they can snatch up the best items at a discount. The thrill of beating out those suckers who wait until the public sale day is as exciting as the loot you pick up.

 

Remember you can also consign some of your own fashionable coats, shoes, and dresses to offset the costs of picking up gently-used fashion finds. You’ll leave with a bagful of new pieces and the smug satisfaction of knowing you paid half of the retail price. If you’re still coming up empty, start your own sale and create a toddler frenzy in your community.

 

Do you think designer toddler clothes are worth the price? Or are they a ridiculous indulgence? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay

8 Wardrobe Essentials Every Stylish Toddler Must Have

Mom2moMIf your child is totally obsessed with the wonderful and wacky world of toddler clothes, you’re not alone. Just take it from one mother, profiled in Parents, who was concerned her 3-year-old might forever dress like she’s headlining a cabaret with her undying adoration of ruffled tutus.

 

Well, we say don’t fight it. Instead, embrace your toddler’s signature style as a tastemaker-in-training in this $10 billion clothing industry. But you can certainly help along the little fashionista in your life by building a wardrobe that’s both stylish and sensible. The sky’s the limit with looks ranging from precious ruffles to dinosaur dynamo, and from amazing winged shoes to mermaid-inspired swimsuits.

 

Overwhelmed with choices? Here are our picks for 8 wardrobe essentials every toddler must have.

 

Classic Dress or Suit

2
Every toddler needs a dressy outfit for family gatherings that announces you have complete control and order over your home. No one has to know you actually put that outfit on them the moment before the event started, and that your toddler rode over in just a diaper.

 

Flowing princess dresses are all the rage, but for a real style-stealer, try a Sleeveless A-Line Evening Dress in red for style-discerning little girls. It’s a gorgeous look for the sophisticated 3-year old. Or for more of a “Madeline meets Eloise” look, a Girl’s Ruffle Trimmed Long-Sleeve Dress in black paired with knee socks screams for a day exploring the city.

 

Suits and baby ties are always a crowd-pleaser, but they don’t have to require five adults to get your child safely inside his new outfit. The Baby’s Cotton Sapphire Tie Gentleman Suits Pants Bodysuit is perfect for little boys up to 24 months, is 100% cotton and works as a bodysuit that you can easily slip on and off – well, as easily as it is to dress a feral toddler on any given day.

 

Formal Play Wear

 

Formal wear can also translate into playtime without missing a beat. Get the party started with a Fancy High and Elastic Waist Yarn Tutu Skirt in hot pink. Just slide it over a pair of leggings and top with a colorful shirt. It’s easy to remove the tutu for playtime, and then whip it back on when grandma comes to visit. Bonus points if you grab a matching colored shirt with sequins or sparkles.

 

Meanwhile, toddlers and bigger boys can get ready for a day of romping with friends in a Little Sportsman Shirt and Shorts Set. They’ll look like they’re ready for an afternoon on the polo course, but still stay comfortable enough to run wild.

 

Colorful Ensembles

 

Casual clothes don’t have to come packaged as static one-colored ensembles or blasted with generic appliques announcing their birthright as Daddy’s Little Girl. Instead, grab colorful shirts with fun graphic designs and patterns for everyday play. This Cool Raccoon Graphic Tee and patterned pants set is perfect for active little toddlers ready to take on the world. Music lovers can show off their little man’s style with this classic Beatles ensemble.

 

For girls, a Pretty Girl Tee & Bow-Accent Skirt transitions easily from playtime to dinner out (and, of course, that means they get to drive parents crazy simultaneously screaming for crayons and French fries). Toddler jeans are also a must-have for any pint-sized stylish wardrobe. These Toddler Girl’s Bowknot-Accent Rabbit Denim Pants feature a super soft lining, trendsetting jean style and rabbit accents.

 

Comfortable Dress Shoes

 

Dress shoes can embody that classic black patent leather look or take a step into trendy style with tassels, cowboy-inspired boots and runway-worthy looks. For either boys or girls, try these Winter Waterproof Plush Lined Boots in Solid Black. You can also cheat this patently precious look and choose black, soft baby shoes instead. The lovely texture and bows mimic that classic black look with gracious style.

 

Meanwhile, Trendy Pink Fringed Cotton Soft Boots are perfect for a day at the grocery store, Mommy and Me music class or for a visit to Grandma and Grandpa. Little boys obsessed with diggers and trucks can slip their chubby little feet into these Kid’s Cute Cars Patterned Canvas Soft Anti-Skid Shoes. They may be sneakers ready for play, but their design style tells a bigger story.

 

Durable Sneakers and Play Shoes
3
Toddlers grow lightning fast, and their shoes must be durable enough to hold-up to wear and tear on the playground and backyard. Try Khaki Canvas Plaid Soft Anti-skid Shoes for a classic sneaker masquerading as an uber sophisticated shoe. But for over the top style, these Baby’s Gold Wings Decorated Soft Antiskid Toddler shoes in Pink will stop people in their tracks to get a second look. They’re that amazing.

 

Don’t worry, there’s also an equally spectacular winged shoe for the little boys in your life. These toddler’s Gold Wings Decorated Soft Antiskid Toddler Shoes in Black feature stylish gold wings and laces that commands respect on the playground and leaves kids feeling like they’re ready to fly off in superhero fashion.

 

Jacket

 

The best part about a trendy jacket that evokes “oohs” and “ahhs” is its ability to cover up the dried yogurt stains on your kids’ clothes. Kids look like pint-sized adults ready for the ski lodge in these Glacial Fleece Half-Zip Jackets.

 

But for something a little more snuggly bunny than ski bunny, grab this precious Animal Ears Hooded Jacket in pink for a fashion-forward look that feels more like a soft sweatshirt. A slight flair at the bottom turns your little one into a ballerina as she twirls. And for 3-year-olds on up, try a more formal look with this floral-accent jacket in red. It’s a seriously fun look that announces her credibility at both the art table and snack table.

 

Little boys always look adorable in woodland creature wear, but we’re here to up the game. A Cotton Top Color-Contrasting Jacket in red transforms them into the star ball player at school while still complimenting their spirited personality. This look is also unisex, meaning that it can be passed down to brothers or sisters who want to keep the athletic legacy in the family.

 

Sweatshirt

 

Every kid needs some snuggly sweatshirts in their wardrobe repertoire, but that doesn’t have to mean leaving your style sense falling flat. A Cotton Coat with 3D Dino Horns in green turns your little tot into the playground dinosaur. Or, if your kid is the one who always strips down the moment he gets anywhere, skip the zip-up sweatshirts and head straight for an Organic Cotton Basic Cable Knit Pullover Sweater in Navy instead. Just slide it over a lightweight t-shirt, and they’re ready for their next play date.

 

Meanwhile, girls can drape on this gorgeous Girl’s 3D Rabbit Detailed Knit Cape in pink that turns the idea of an everyday sweatshirt on its head. She’ll love demanding that people treat her as the adorable bunny she is while hopping her way across the preschool courtyard.

Swimsuit

You can’t make it through summer or a road trip to the beach without an adorable swimsuit designed for spirited and stylish toddlers in mind.

 

Little girls can embrace their inner Ariel with a Mermaid Princess Colorful Hot Pink and Green Swim Suit. This 3-piece set comes with a fashionable seashell inspired top and shiny green bottoms. When your daughter is ready to show her magic, she can shimmy into the mermaid tail that matches the bottoms. Bring your camera; this look is photo-worthy and ready to be plastered on your next holiday card.

 

Boys don’t quite get the same fanfare in swimwear fashion as their mermaid-loving sisters, but there are still fun and stylish options. This rockin’ Flaming Feathers Swim Diaper is ready for the serious fashionista. And if your little guy needs something a little calmer on the deep blue sea, try the Ocean Theme Swim Diaper in blue.
4
Remember that at the end of the day, stylish toddler wardrobe essentials should complement their unique personalities, whether as artists-in-training or rough and tumblers. But you should love them too. When else will your kids let you dress them exactly the way you want? For now, parents’ style still reigns supreme.

 

 

 

What wardrobe essentials do you have for your trendsetting toddler? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pexels, PatPat, PatPat, Pexels,

Confessions of Toddler Moms: 10 Things That You Never Knew Could Drive You Crazy

1To parents of toddlers everywhere, we want to wrap you in our arms and whisper, “It’s not your fault.” It’s okay to start weeping while we explain that you can be a wonderful parent and still find your toddler completely and utterly annoying. It’s normal, and no, it doesn’t last forever.

Eventually they will be able to have a normal conversation with you without falling into a heap on the floor in a meltdown because you declared you liked the red fruit snack more than the orange one.

Also know that your genes may shape your children far more than your actual parenting. That means there may literally be nothing for you to do but love your child and make sure they don’t end up killing themselves. Let’s cling to that when we see our toddlers consuming leftover food forgotten in a corner of the floor, or when they inform us we are mean for not letting them jump off their bed and into a cardboard box full of packaging.

Just know you can’t force your toddler to stop being annoying and driving you crazy. Instead, try to ignore it and stock your house with more wine while commiserating with toddler moms around you.

Here are 10 things about toddlers and their habits that you never knew could drive you crazy.

 

1. A Single Snack Can Destroy Your Entire Home

You may not have realized this before, but a single fruit snack or granola bar can actually destroy your entire home and render your basic sense of organization and cleaning senseless. Suddenly sticky bits of snack can be found in every crevice, from kitchen chairs to grooves in your hardwood floors. Crumbs are stuck in high and low places, including inside the bathtub, and nothing you seem to do actually cleans it.

In other words, your home will look like borderline hoarders live there and can’t fathom parting with snack wrappers and bits of food. Suddenly that princess fruit snack is the most important thing in your toddler’s life, and she won’t put it down or throw it out for any bribe in the world.

At some point, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. If they’re not endangering themselves or others, it may just work best to let them clutch that sticky snack until bedtime and then pry it out of their hands when they’re passed out after hours of arguing about why they have to go to bed in the first place.

Either that, or you can embrace French culture and not let your kids snack at all. Maybe they know something we don’t.

 

2. They’re Always There

Toddlers can be sweet and fun, with imagination and giggles to spare. But toddlers are also always there. And we mean always. When you close the bathroom door for a moment of quiet to relieve yourself, toddlers have somehow slipped in and are ready and waiting to help you wipe and clean your hands – despite the fact that they won’t do this for themselves.

These tiny humans are also there when you’re ready to sit down quietly while they’re enraptured in a game. Suddenly their game is stupid and they want you to play with them or chase them around the house while balancing a book on your head. They’re also there when you want to go to sleep. They’ve somehow snuck into your room and are waiting under the covers, ready to pounce.

 

3. Your Life is Ruled by a Tiny Dictator

Your will means nothing when living under the tiny iron fists of toddler dictators. Whatever they say goes, and if it doesn’t go, be prepared for an epic battle of wills. We all know the point of parenthood is to make our kids independent and ready for the world, but unfortunately, our idea of what that means clashes with our toddlers.’

Every moment must be micromanaged by your toddler. For example, you must first ask permission to open a yogurt tube and squirt it on top of no more and no less than eight pieces of cereal. Then and only then will your toddler eat it. If you don’t follow the rules, then you must throw out said yogurt and cereal and start again.

The same goes if you dare say that it’s a sunny day. Your toddler will yell at you for uttering such an injustice, tell you it’s awful, and they wish it were raining. After all, the weather is somehow your fault. The list is endless, and soon every sentence uttered is an invitation to battle it out.

4. Epic Tantrums are the New Normal

Communication goes out the window when you’re living with a small dictator wearing a robot jumper or princess tutu. Instead, a request to put their toy in their room before dinner results in a full body epic tantrum where screams can be heard next door.

Toddlers seem to feel that communication is best served up in the kind of escalating meltdown that lasts a bare minimum of six minutes. Anything less would not get their point across.

 

5. Playtime Involves Scripts

It’s no longer okay to watch your sweet little baby play quietly and occasionally come over to engage with smiles plastered across their little faces. Instead, imaginative play involves complete scripts. “No, you’re supposed to say ‘Pony is here to play’ when I pick up the pink pony! Not the blue one!”

Every move you make is carefully scrutinized, and it’s definitely your own problem if you don’t understand the rules. Rules are not fixed guidelines, but rather the whims of toddlers that everyone should know. Dare to break the rules of the game, and face the consequences of meltdowns and accusations that “you’re not doing it right.”

 

6. They Never Listen (Ever)

We all know kids don’t really listen unless they want to, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you’re the parent of a toddler. You can tell a toddler they may have one more cracker before heading out, and as soon as the sentence has left your mouth, they will ask if they can have another cracker.
2
Toddlers also suddenly can’t hear you when you’re shouting at them not to climb up the grandfather clock. Same goes for when they’re racing around the house with a broom stick underneath their legs and playing witches while destroying everything in their wake.

However, be forewarned that you must hear your own toddler at all times. Whether they’re whispering from bed, talking above noisy music in a restaurant, or simply thought they told you something, you must listen. The punishment for not hearing a toddler is epic screaming and grievances that you never listen or do anything for them.

 

7. Whining is the New Talking

Babies are cute when they’re babbling and stringing two-word sentences together. Meanwhile, toddlers have entered into a stage where whining is all the rage. And there seems to be bonus points involved if your toddler can sing-whine throughout the entire day.

Experts tell us the best thing to do is ignore the whining, and gently let our toddlers know we can’t understand them when they whine. In reality, the whining seems to only grow in both high-pitched scale and frequency until parents are left deaf and rendered useless to any other challenge in their day. So if you’re lying on the couch with a cold compress on your forehead, you’re not alone. You’ve just gotten served.

 

8. Food is Suddenly the Enemy

3
Remember how your tiny tot use to eat apples and healthy food? Those days are gone as your toddlers demand an endless supply of snack foods, treats, and anything that suits their fancy.

Toddlers are also wildly inconsistent about their dietary demands. One day they may adore grilled cheese sandwiches, whereas the next day they are horrified that you would serve such a monstrosity.

And you’re not alone if you’re convinced your toddler cannot possibly subsist on three raw baby carrots, five crackers, and one cheese wheel on any given day. Eventually they will in fact eat, and complain loudly about whatever it is they’re eating.

 

9. They Have Horrific Timing

It’s not that toddlers don’t have any sense of time, they just have really horrific timing. They will definitely need to poop or decide to just go in their pants the moment you’re about to leave the house for the airport with a stressful day ahead. They’ll also decide to announce you retrieved a pair of dirty underwear out of the hamper for yourself at the moment of your niece’s christening.

A toddler’s sense of timing is whatever suits their needs. There’s no avoiding it, so just be prepared with changes of clothes, snacks, and coping mechanisms to deflect humiliation. It’s the only way to survive.

 

10. They’re Incredibly Gross

4

Your child is dirty and gross. There’s just no way around that. Toddlers love to be sticky, muddy, and simultaneously picking their nose. They have little regard for bath time or soap and water. That is, unless it’s their idea and plenty of bribes are involved. Keep telling yourself their filthiness is good for immunity building and will stave off that next cold.

Being gross is a rite of passage for kids, and your household will survive. And if it doesn’t, you can always file to have your home bulldozed and start fresh. Just remember to wait until they’re grown and out of the house, because you still have the teenage years to get through, which we hear can be pretty similar to having a toddler.

 

 

What about you? What other kinds of things completely drive you crazy about your toddler? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay