3 Simple Back to School Tips #HappyBalance

It’s amazing how fast the luxuries of summer can fade, only to be replaced by the sudden onslaught of organization and the need for structure. It seemed that the hours of the day were short enough during the summer, and now a majority of daylight hours are consumed at school for the kids and catching up on all of the projects I procrastinated around for the entire summer…and early fall.  Are you in the same boat? I’ve put together a few tips that have helped me to get back in the swing of things.

3 Simple Back to School Tips

back-to-school-tips-parents

 

Organize a Command Center:

If you don’t already have one, this would be a great time to create it. A command center can look how ever your family would like, but the purpose is essentially the same across the board. It should be a central area where your family can pass notes, pass off papers, store keys, and have a collaborative calendar. The concept of this, and even the location, will be different for every family. Whatever works best for yours! Ours is below. We are actually adding a weekly calendar for each kid in the breezeway for them to remember library, gym, activities etc.

organization board

Have Quick Meals On Deck:

While it’s fun to spend a day in the kitchen whipping up some comfort food, it’s important to be realistic during the school year. Some days will call for a much quicker approach to nutrition, and it’s helpful to have some ideas in mind beforehand. My kids are very active so we love McDonald’s kids meals. I love they are adding healthy options for my kids that are quick and easy.

happy-meal-gogurt

Did you know that since July, kids can choose between a go-gurt and apple slices in their meal? There will even be clementines available later this fall. Ever since 2013, when they partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, McDonald’s has made a commitment to nutrition. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to fruit, veggies, and low-fat dairy.

Establish Morning and Bedtime Routines Early On:

How your day starts and ends plays a major factor in what happens between. Setting a schedule early is the best way to keep things flowing smoothly. It’s a great idea to have clothes, backups, lunches, and more in place the night before. Scrambling for things in the morning is not fun and puts everyone on edge.

Likewise, a consistent routine at bedtime is comforting and makes it much easier to fall asleep. Both for the kids, and the parents.

While I’m not COMPLETELY done pouting about the end of summer just yet; I do have to admit I’m quickly adapting to the sweaters, boots, fallen leaves and football!

What’s hardest for you to adjust during back-to-school season? You will be entered to win a $25 McDonald’s Arch Card by answering this question with a thoughtful response. Good luck!

 

I received compensation from McDonald’s in exchange for writing this review. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Who’s on your team? #GoodNeighbor

I’ll be honest… when I had my first child I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing. I think most new parents feel this way. My anxiety was increased by the fact that everyone…EVERYONE  felt the need to give me their unsolicited advice about what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I quickly learned to just ignore the advice I didn’t find pertinent, and found no shame in harassing  reaching out to, those whose advice I wanted.

 

My best friend fell into that category.

 new parent

Since she had her first child before I did, I highly valued her opinion and tips and tricks of the trade that she’d picked up along the way. That didn’t stop with the baby phase. Since her first child is older than mine, she reached many new milestones and experiences before I did, and I love hearing her insight on things.  In all of these years, she’s always had my back. I can’t stress how special I feel to have someone that I can count on for advice. Now that we’re further along into adulthood, I still turn to her for advice and insight.

new baby crying
So, when I called her in hysterics because #1 the baby’s umbilical stump was gushing blood had a speck of red blood, and when I turned around to grab a wipe she rolled herself (which probably means her heavy for her body head turned and she was so tiny, her body turned too) off of the couch and plummeted to the floor managed to land on the rug beneath the couch which was low to the ground anyway, she didn’t laugh. At least, I didn’t hear her. She was gentle. She was kind.  She was firm.  She gave it to me straight.  And I believe straight went something like:

Brett MARTHA! You are the mom, and you cannot go into hysterics at every single speck of blood. She’s going to fall down. She’s GOING to get hurt. I promise you that.  But she’s going to sense you are upset and you will make it worse.  Take some deep breaths and get hold of yourself.”

new baby

And you know? It worked. I’ve never ever been hysterical again, not once.  I mean, except for a few major times, but those don’t count.  They were exceptions and not the norm. But her unfailing love for me was enough for her to not coddle me and give me a kick in the pants.  Yes, sometimes the umbilical stumps do bleed.  No, most of the time, it is not anything serious. Yes, babies have rolled off of a couch onto the carpet before and been fine. (Mind you, the baby never cried.  Not once. It was all me). She may not be giving me advice about newborns or first time parenting, but she sure does kick me in the seat of the pants when I need it. Which is probably reason 3424326 that I love her so much.

That advice has stayed with me for 9+ years. I’ve passed it along to others. It’s important to remember, in those moments when the unknown happens, especially as a parent. It’s not our turn to freak out. We had our time.

 

State Farm is another resource I can always count on. I’m sure you’re thinking “what in the world could insurance possibly have to do with your best friend?” The answer…. Lots. Becoming a parent has also left me a much better planner than I was before. Not to mention a worrier. I often worry about the “what-ifs”, and what will happen in the event that the unexpected becomes reality.

 

With State Farm, I have confidence. Confidence that I’m covered in the case of an unexpected event. Confidence that I will be respected and treated well if I have a question or concern. And most importantly, confidence that my insurance company places as heavy of an emphasis on my families well being as I do.

 

Throughout this journey of life, I’ve  added a few more people to my team of trusted resources. I’m sure I’ll add a few more over the years as well.  My team is made up of a doctors, teachers, mentors, friends, and of course… my husband. They say it takes a village… I think it takes a team! 

 

state farm logo

 Like a good neighbor State Farm is there.

Who’s on your team?

 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by State Farm via Mode Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of State Farm.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by State Farm via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of State Farm.

5 Things Your School Nutrition Director Wants You to Know

Earlier this year, I was invited to attend the School Nutrition Association Conference in Boston. It was, to say the least, a very eye opening experience for me. I had so many questions I didn’t even know I had, and while it was just a short experience (one day), really enlightening. Right after the conference, I shared 5 Things to Know about School Nutrition Programs.  Today, I’m sharing a little bit more with you about school nutrition programs.  But this post is coming from a School Nutrition Director- specifically, the woman who runs the program in our little town here in Connecticut.  While some specific details may vary, it’s my understanding from reading and talking to others, that this is pretty much across the board.  Carrie was just kind enough to answer some of my questions so I can help educate parents like myself!

 5 Things Your School Nutrition Director Wants You to Know

5-things-school-nutrition-director-wants-you-know

What would you like parents to know about school lunch programs? Both in town and or a larger scale, if you want.

The USDA is in charge of formulating child nutrition requirements for food that is sold as part of the National School Breakfast/Lunch Program. The child nutrition food is geared towards specific ages and Townville Public Schools food meets the nutritional requirements for elementary, middle school and high school students.

How much leeway do food service directors have in determining what’s served in a school? How is that determination made?

The Food service director has very little leeway in determining what’s served in a meal. The Federal Government has set requirements each meal must meet. Leeway exists at the level of which day to serve a starch or which day to serve carrots and which day to serve broccoli, for example but the amount of vegetables is preset.

How can parents get involved so that they can support the food service program in schools and make it a partnership that works for everyone?

Parents and students of Boy/Girl Scouts could pick apples at a local orchard and donate them to the schools breakfast and lunch program.

school lunch tray salad

(Note from Brett: There are likely lots of ways for parents to get involved. This is one example.  Work to get a garden started… form a committee and make things happen.  Talk to your nutrition people and see HOW you can help.  Get to know them, and your local program, and be proactive in seeking answers to questions- and in educating others).

How do you select venders for ingredients and food sold and prepared?

The Eastconn Food Coop is available to every school district in the state of Connecticut which Townville is a member. As a collaborative group we select vendors/distributors with products in compliance requirements such as CN labels and of course discount pricing.

Can you explain in simple terms how the food service budget runs?

All revenue comes from purchases and federal reimbursements. Revenue covers all costs of running the program. To clarify “all costs” means food, paper products, equipment, equipment maintenance and repair, supplies and my salary and staff payroll. The Town of Townville does not contribute.

tray talk logo

 On Facebook? Be sure to like Tray Talk– a site that provides hot topics articles, success story profiles and facts on school meal programs nationwide. 

What ways do YOU think parents can get involved with the school nutrition program local to them?

 

 

Thanks to SNA for inviting me to the conference and for sponsoring these posts.  It’s definitely been an educational experience for me!

Fisher Price Smart Stages Laugh &Learn Chair


This post brought to you by Fisher-Price. All opinions are 100% mine.

Recently I received a Fisher-Price Smart Stages Laugh & Learn Chair for my boys to try out.  One thing I can say for sure is that there has been a lot of laughing and learning in our house these last few days!

Fisher-Price Smart Stages Chair

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn products reward curiosity and encourage experiential learning through play. Your baby develops dramatically in the first two years of life, so this fall Fisher-Price is introducing Smart Stages, the first line of toys that evolves with age-appropriate learning con-tent as your baby grows. The Fisher-Price Smart Stages technology enables you to easily in-put your child’s age for automatic content updates in certain toys or you can manually change the learning stage with a switch. Smart Stages keeps your baby engaged as they develop, and offers longevity of play value.

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Setting up the chair for my child’s age was easy!  Just a few simple buttons to push and we had it ready to go.  We were able to easily determine the right level of play for Orin using the cards that come with the chair.  He’s a pretty sharp little guy and knows his alphabet and numbers and is all about pretend play.  It’s such a fun stage!

Smart Stages Chair Level 3

Once we determined his level, it was simple to set the chair to the level that is appropriate.

Levels on the chair

With so much to explore on the Smart Stages chair, it keeps Orin engaged for long periods of time.  In just a short time I have seen him develop more and he’s learning new things as he plays.

Orin Plays

You can set up the chair for different children when more than one might be playing and learning.  Essian is Orin’s brother and is a year younger.  He isn’t quite at level 3 but plays and learns more at level 2.  Setting it for him is easy to do!

essian level 2

I love that there is as much for little Essian to learn as there is his big brother.  They take turns (not always so willingly) playing and learning and Orin loves to show his brother new things as they continue to explore.  I can tell there is a long life for this toy.  With our little guys all at different stages they are getting a lot of play out of it now but I can see it will grow with them for some time.

Essian Plays

Our older kids are back in school all day now and while they are learning so much at school, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of the toddlers needing to learn at home.  Your baby develops dramatically within the first two years of life, and while older kids are back in school, it’s never too early to introduce your younger kid(s) to learning content during these key years of development.

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Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages products can be purchased from major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Target and Toys R Us. Visit Coupons.com to print a money saving coupon for the Smart Stages products!

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Visit Sponsor's Site

Pull-Ups and Potty Training

I recently returned from a quick trip to beautiful Wisconsin and the first ever on-site event at the Kimberly Clark headquarters.  Kimberly Clark is located in Neenah, Wisconsin and the great people at KC make Pull-Ups training pants as well as many other products we all know and love.  I was so fortunate to travel to Kimberly Clark and meet with the Pull-Ups team as well as other mom bloggers and the extremely knowledgeable Dr. Heather Wittenburg, developer of BabyShrink and mom of four.  I participated in this event on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Pull-Ups Big Kid Academy.  In return for my participation, I received free samples and a promotional item. #PullUpsAcademy

pull ups meeting

The other mom bloggers, the Pull-Ups team, and Dr. Heather were a wealth of information and we all spent a lot of time talking about kids, potty training, and being moms in general.  We learned and talked about signs of potty training readiness, different potty training personalities, tips for successful potty training, and products for making potty training easier.  Here is a photo of our group after getting a behind the scenes look at Pull-Ups.

pull ups moms and team

I have 5 little ones, 2 of which are big kids and mastered the potty training thing years ago.  Two of the three little boys are now at the age where we are ready to tackle the potty training process again.  We’ve determined that they are physically ready and emotionally ready (or independent) and we’ve stocked up on the right gear to get started.

I learned some really great tips and ideas during my visit to Pull-Ups and I’m not only excited to share them with you all now, I’m excited to have some of my potty training mom friends over for a play date soon and share these thoughts with them as well!

Potty Training Is As Unique As Your Child

Potty training is a unique experience with every child, one that is as different as their personality.  While there are some basics that work or apply to every child, it is never exactly the same from one to the next.  Potty training might happen quick for one child and take months for another.

Give Your Child The Right Tools Feel Confident

Potty training is a huge milestone in your child’s life, one of the biggest but it isn’t the only big change happening to your toddler.  They learn and experience so many new things every day and sometimes this can be really scary.  Stock up on all the things you and your toddler need to make this a fun and exciting experience that will help them feel secure.

A potty seat that’s just the right size or designed with one of their favorite characters is a great thing to invest in.  If your toddler has to go potty on a grown up size toilet it may be a scary and intimidating experience.  A potty chair that made just for them will make them feel safe and their favorite characters will give them something familiar to associate with.

While a potty chair that’s designed for them is important, it isn’t the only important item for helping the feel secure during this new adventure.  Accidents will happen and while some children won’t seem to be at all upset by and accident, others will feel frustration and fear from the experience of having wet or messy pants.  Pull-Ups has a great line of training pants that help your child feel like a big kid but protect them from embarrassing accidents.  The Pull-Ups training pants are designed specifically for boys and girls with extra protection in just the right spots for your little man or little miss.  They off glow in the dark pants for night time training and a cool alert product that helps your child be more aware and uncomfortable when an accident has happened.  Again, the Pull-Ups products are designed with many familiar characters your children know and love.  They’ll be excited to put on their new big boy/girl pants!

pull ups for boys

 

Pull Ups for Girls

Tips For Potty Training Success

Don’t start potty training unless your toddler is showing signs of readiness and you are ready.  Remember that potty training isn’t convenient and it isn’t easy.  It takes a lot of effort and time on your part.  When you decide you’re ready to start training be prepared for frustration and accidents.  That means having someone to turn to with questions or websites to turn to for ideas.  It also means being prepared for accidents when you’re away from home.  Put together a “potty pouch” and fill it with a change of clothes, an extra Pull-Up, wipes, and other things you may need in the event of an accident.  You and your toddler will both be happy that an accident can be handled without a lot of extra stress.

Rewarding your child for success and for trying can be an effective way to help your child get the hang of potty training.  Whether rewards are in the form of a little treat, a special prize, or great big hugs and high fives.  Research shows rewards are a big part of successful training.

Build body awareness with your child.  Help them learn to connect how their body feels inside when they have to go potty.  Teach them to place a hand on their belly and think about what they might be feeling inside when it’s time to go.  Getting them to listen to their body helps them become better planners and makes getting to the potty without an accident more likely.

Make it fun!  My husband always tells me that no matter how old a boy is, farts are always funny.  I’m not sure how I feel about this but the fact is that potty training needs to be fun and funny.  It will make the experience better for everyone.  Tell some jokes and have fun activities for your child to do when they potty.  Speaking of activities for your child to do….

The “Time To Potty” App & Big Kid Academy 

There  is now an app for just about everything and potty training is no exception.  The Pull-Ups Time To Potty app is a great tool for moms and dads and a fun tool for your toddler.  The app allows you to customize information about your child (or children) and lets you set a timer that will remind you to have your child use the potty at regular intervals.  When your child is successful, whether that means having dry pants when it’s “time to potty” or successful at using the potty, they unlock a fun activity on your phone or tablet as a reward.  The activities feature familiar characters your child will be excited to see.

Time to Potty App

The Big Kid Academy is a great tool filled with information on products, tips and advice, activities for parents and toddlers, and special offers.  Speaking of the Big Kid Academy, have you seen the advertising for this?  Big boys and big girls are excited to show toddlers and newly potty training kids the ropes of becoming a big kid.  I LOVE this.  My 8 and 10 year old get so excited when it’s time to help their little brothers go potty.  They are so encouraging and this makes the experience fun, exciting, and will help our little guys be successful.

Big Kid Acadamey

 

Remember when potty training that doing it right vs. doing it fast is what’s most important!

Follow Pull-Ups

on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/pull_ups/

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#PullUpsAcademy

 

Healthy grab and go lunch kits make for #lunchingawesome!


I try to make healthy lunches for my kids. I do. I even try to send them with non packaged, made by mom fresh items for lunch every day. But you know what? Some mornings- well, they are those mornings, and we’ve all had them… and making that perfect, from scratch healthy lunch just isn’t going to happen. Perhaps we’ve slept late, perhaps we’ve lost track of time. Perhaps half an hour was spent hunting for a library book someone suddenly remembers was actually LEFT AT SCHOOL. It doesn’t matter. Perhaps I haven’t slept enough and really just want more time with my pillow.

Because really, most of us have had or will have those mornings. Or afternoons. Or evenings. I’ve even had those entire days… and weeks. Every day isn’t filled with from scratch meals, snacks… I’ve yelled from frustration and we’ve gone to start our days angry. I’ve also spent 10 extra minutes in bed trying to sleep (or avoiding waking up) instead of making those perfect lunches. I have. Confessions of a real life mom.

It’s THOSE mornings (afternoons, evenings, nights, days, weeks…) that make me so thankful that there exists grab and go products that will give me peace of mind while filling the kids’ bellies. Applegate Organic has teamed up with Stonyfield and Annie’s to offer a natural, healthy grab and go lunch kit option for kids. The name of the team? HALF TIME™!

lunchingawesome-healthy-lunchables

Applegate Organic’s HALF TIME™ comes in three varieties: Turkey & Cheese, Ham & Cheese, Bologna & Cheese. Snacks from partner brands Annie’s and Stonyfield are in all three. My five year old staked her claim on these awesome lunches and was very specific in telling me which day she was having which flavor. You can see the TH in the corner of the box. She got a marker and had me put the day she’d asked to have that flavor so I wouldn’t forget (ask my kids- I’m a good forgetter!) She took the blank lunch bag that came with our samples and got right down to work making it hers in every sense of the word. The super cute bird lunchbox I got her for school? It’s gathering dust. Tossed by the wayside for a one-of-a-kind mini Martin original piece of art.

My kids are big fans of cracker sandwiches. They get downright excited because it’s a change up from the routine and a kind of DIY lunch. Applegate Organic’s HALF TIME™ let’s them make their own cracker sandwiches, or maybe your kids like to enjoy each component of lunch separately. It’s their lunch, let them live a little. You can rest assured knowing that they are having natural, organic, nitrate free foods for lunch (literally…. I totally would. Did you know that 33% of parents admit they’d sleep in longer if it wasn’t for the lunches that need to be made?!)

 

My little one is enamored with these lunch kits. I’m kind of smitten myself. I don’t do convenience foods daily, but I’m always up for healthy options for my family and this dream-team of brands, so to speak, has offered me a whole new way to get eleven more minutes of sleep every week (I’d say every day but I only give myself one “pass” day a week at most).

All the sleep, friends. Sleep easy. This stuff is nitrate free, hormone free, and good for them.

And, well, if you decide to give them a try for yourself, I won’t judge. Three fave brands in a box together are hard to resist!

Enjoy the extra sleep. I know I will.
halftime-prize-pak

Or you can use the extra time to enter to win an Applegate Organic’s HALF TIME™ Prize Pack including the following:

All three varieties of Applegate Organic’s HALF TIME™: Turkey & Cheese, Ham & Cheese, and Bologna & Cheese

A draw-your-own lunch bag

A set of permanent markers

Coupons

Activity book

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Applegate via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

Fun ways to spark conversation with your kids

How many of you have asked your kids a question and gotten a one word answer?

 

How many of you have carefully worded your question so that the response will clearly need more than a one word answer?

 

How many of you have kids who can still turn any question into a one word answer?

 

That happens here far more often than I care to admit.  It used to be that I could ask 2-3 questions and it would almost breeze into them sharing detail for a moment or two about their school day.  Like ” Who did you sit with at lunch today? What were you playing at recess?” and quickly I’d know a good amount of information about how at least part of their day played out.

fun-ways-spark-conversation-with-your-kids

My kids are, however, smarter than I am and I have to really work to get them to talk (to me) at times.  Sure, they talk incessantly, but often it’s to one another (in talk or screaming, or both), but to mom and dad?  Not always.

kidq screenshot

 

Well, I found an app to help with that.  An app from our friends at Scholastic that offers fun ways to spark conversation with your kids.

kidq q

What I like about this app is that it’s FUN stuff about things that kids and adults can be and often are curious about or want to know more about.  Little factoids, answers to those questions that pop up in the middle of nowhere that are relating to something mom and dad haven’t ever studied not for one single second of their lives. Stuff like that.

kidq answer

Questions and facts to ward off boredom, to spark conversation, or further dialogue. Sadly for some of us (me), you won’t find answers like “Hair turns grey when kids don’t listen” and you may find many parenting myths dispelled.  I’m so sorry. 😉

 

Scholastic Parent & Child believes that one of the best ways to connect with your child is through conversation. The KidQ app for iPhone and Android facilitates conversation via fun Q&A’s about the things that kids (and parents!) are the most curious about, like Why is the sky blue? And Why do we say “ears” of corn? Each day, users are notified of a new playful question that serves as a conversation starter along with the official answer. Families will have a blast as they compare their explanations to the facts!

 

Download the free KidQ app from Scholastic Parent & Child by visiting http://www.scholastic.com/apps/#/kidq and see where your conversations go now!

 

What are your favorite ways to spark conversation with your kids?

 

I received compensation from Scholastic Parent & Child in return for your agreement to post on behalf of this program

 

Nutrition Support for Kids

I’m writing this post about nutrition support for kids because I’m a PediaSure sponsored blog partner.  

 nutrition-support-kids

We all want what’s best for our kids.  I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t. I can safely say that just about every parent I’ve come across in my life has wanted to offer their kids advantages in life- not material advantages, nor monetary advantage, but physical, emotional, and mental advantages. When our kids struggle, we try to help them overcome their obstacles.  When they do come out victorious, no matter how big or small, we celebrate those moments with them.  But what do we do when it’s their nutrition that’s hanging in the balance? What about when our kids need nutrition support?

PediaSure is the kind of enrichment children need to succeed every single day in their world. It Optimal blend of essential nutrients: a unique (patented) combination of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids that allows for enhanced digestion and metabolization of essential vitamins and minerals complete and balanced nutrition. It promotes ongoing growth and development during a critical time of life, which is the first 12 years.

My kids are all where they “need” to be in terms of weight. When my daughter stopped eating meat early this year, we were concerned about her keeping UP her growth and weight, largely because we’re not vegetarians, and haven’t ever lived as such. We sought out advice from family and friends, as well as her pediatrician, for meal suggestions and general advice.  She’s held steady, and doing well so far.

There are kids in my little town who are not where they should be in terms of their weight.  For some, it’s due to illness, for others, they simply seem to be unable to gain weight. We have kids in our extended family circles who are also unable to gain weight, regardless of what they eat, and it’s quite frustrating for their parents to try to feed their kids a balanced, healthy diet and still not see results.  Several of their parents have talked with me about using PediaSure to help their kids to gain weight.

pediasure-chocolate-shake
For parents’ peace of mind and their kids’ growing bodies’ needs, PediaSure Shakes (which come in several kid-friendly flavors like Berry, Strawberry, Chocolate, Banana, and Vanilla) are clinically proven for weight gain for children ages 1 to 12. Kids do most of their growing and development before they are 12 and their growing bodies need certain things. The shakes include 25 essential vitamins and minerals, including DHA Omega-3 for brain and eye health and antioxidants to support the immune system. There are formulas for tube feeding, higher and lower calorie shakes for different needs, and other formulas to help give your child the nutritional support they need.

Be sure to head over to CafeMom’s PediaSure hub for some great nutritional info and a fun giveaway!

PediaSure partnered with bloggers such as me for its PediaSure Fridgworthy blogger program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. PediaSure believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. PediaSure’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Save on Kids Clothes

The thing about kids is they never stop growing. Ever. As soon as you get them all stocked up with the clothes they need, they either choose that moment to have a growth spurt or the seasons change. Either way, the conclusion is you end up buying more clothes. And more. Maybe even more again. With three kids to dress, I’ve found a few parenting hacks to keep them dressed in style and in season without breaking the bank.

5 Ways to Save on Kid Clothes

ways-to-save-kid-clothes

Shop Off Season:

 

Once clothes are out of season, you’ll notice the prices drop dramatically. Take this opportunity to stock up on clothes your children will need for that season, in a size or two bigger than their current size. If you’re having a hard time estimating what size to buy for the next season, try sticking with things like shoes and coats that don’t usually get outgrown as quickly. (If the kids aren’t in that size, you can always sell or consign those steals!)

 

Pair Coupons With Sales:

 

Have coupons? Take an extra moment to match them with the sales advertisements, before you stick them in the recycle bin. I’m not saying you need to go extreme couponing or anything (although I’m all for it if you’d like to), but that extra few minutes of glancing it over can save you some serious cash in the long run. End of season sales paired with coupons make THIS mama very, very happy. ( I really get giddy when I find steals on winter pajamas and outerwear).

 

Consignment:

 

Consignment is a great way to score new items, while making money off your current ones. Packing your things up and taking them to a consignment store can be a major hassle, I know. Try going an online consignment store, like Moxie Jean. They add hundreds of new outfits every Monday and Thursday and are a great avenue for purchasing high-quality gently used kids clothes. Their postage-free prepaid mailer bag included with your order will allow you to easily send back clothes that your kids have outgrown, and make some money from those!

I love that this is a company run by two mothers who totally understand the struggle, with 5 kids between them. They believe in the reduce, reuse, and recycle philosophy and I’m right there with them. “Waste not, want not,” my grandma used to say. Moxie Jean is an upscale resale site for kids clothes that features a ton of great brands like Gymboree, Gap, Tea Collection, Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, Baby Lulu and Ralph Lauren, plus designer brands like Oilily, Mayoral, DKNY, Burberry, and Juicy Couture, all at 75% or more off retail prices. PLUS, and this is one my favorite things about the awesome that is Moxie Jean, unsold items are donated to Kid’s Pantry in Chicago.

You can also find the brands and styles kids WANT to wear, at a fraction of store prices. Who doesn’t want to maximize their hard earned dollars? And… the best part?

wait for it…

a little more….

you don’t have to go INTO a store. You don’t have to get in the car or on a bus, nor hop a plane or catch a train. Gosh, you could even shop from the ‘loo if you want. I won’t judge. I would recommend popping in to Moxie Jean on Monday and Thursdays because that’s when you’ll find the new selections available for purchase. :)

moxie-jean-justice-shrug

 

 

Swap With Friends:

 

You can find some pretty awesome deals swapping with friends. Especially when your pink loving daughter who’s refused to wear denim for five years decides one morning she hates pink and only wants jeans. That’s definitely a good time to talk to friends!

moxie-jean-gymnastics-pose

If you don’t have friends with children that fall into your range, check social media for groups in your area that promote selling/exchanging children’s clothes. My area has a mom’s group where you can easily post your items for sale or trade with other mom’s in the near area. As always, err on caution and use your best judgment went meeting up with strangers.

Repurpose/Accessorize:

 

Before you completely write off an item of clothing in your child’s closet, get a little creative. Stop and determine whether the outfit can be repurposed or spruced up with accessories to change it up a bit. Jeans, for instance, can often be cropped to make some adorable capris. Favorite short sleeve shirts that are getting short can sometimes be layered over a long sleeve shirt in the cooler months to create a completely new look! Got an adorable sundress that still fits? Grab a cute shrug or sweater and poof!

moxie-jean-gymboree-dress

You’re into the next season. Dollars stretched. (Seriously, I LOVE this dress. Clearly she does too!) Also? It was new with tags at Moxie Jean. I bet a parent like me fell in LOVE with the fun colors and the circle print and grabbed it for a steal- only to find their former dress wearer no longer had interest in dresses and refused to wear it. Their could-have-been loss turns into b

moxie-jean-heartstrings-gymbore

 

Do you have your own method of saving money when it comes to clothing your children? Share in the comments below!

From this year’s press release from the National Retail Federation about Back to School spending: “shoppers will spend an average of $231.30 on clothes, up from $230.85, and $124.46 on shoes, up from $114.39 in 2013.” That’s $355 each family will spend on Back to School clothes! We will be giving away a Back to School Wardrobe gift card for $177.50 – the winner will be able to get a full back to school wardrobe for HALF of what it would cost new – even with all the BTS sales.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Moxie Jean. The opinions and text are all mine.

Alex Morgan wants Smiles Across America #HealthySmiles #Giveaway

When you think of fresh breath, what comes to mind? For me, it’s Trident. One of the worst things is getting approached by someone wanting to speak with you, after you’ve just downed your morning coffee. Since I’m pretty sure there’s nothing appealing or socially acceptable about my morning dragon breath, I always store a pack of Trident in my purse. One of the times I MOST feel like I have dragon breath? When I work out or play hard.

trident-alex-morgan This post is part of a sponsored partnership. Opinions are my own.

Trident changed the game when it comes to gum. I remember growing up I was warned about the dangers of chewing gum, and how it would wreak havoc on your teeth. Luckily, this is not the case at all with Trident. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Trident, the leading sugar-free gum in the US, is actually quite beneficial to your teeth. Chewing Trident for 20 minutes after eating and drinking helps clean and protect your teeth! This is great for those times when brushing your teeth just isn’t an option after eating. Now we have famous athletes like soccer star Alex Morgan partnering with brands like Trident to promote healthy smiles!

Trident has partnered with Olympic gold medalist and National Women’s Soccer League star Alex Morgan to raise awareness for the importance of keeping pearly whites healthy and happy. Alex’s personal oral care tips are:
a.Brush teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time: The first thing I do each morning and last thing I do before I go to bed i brush my teeth.
b. Floss: It’s annoying to have food caught between your teeth, so I make a point to floss once a day to remove food where a brush just can’t reach.
c. Visit a dentist regularly: To keep your mouth healthy it’s important to visit a dentist regularly. d. Chew Trident sugar-­free gum: I always keep a pack of Trident sugar-­‐free gum with me. Four out of five dentists would recommend Trident – they must know what they’re talking about…
e. SMILE! Confidence is everything: I get to meet a lot of amazing fans at games, so I have to practice my smile. Everyone looks better when they flash a smile!

trident-smiles-across-america

 

I don’t mind when my kids spend an hour trying to blow a bubble with gum- if it’s Trident. Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing mint flavor like Spearmint or a delicious fruit flavor like Tropical Twist, Trident has you
covered.

trident-healthy-smiles

My kids love to chew gum, all three of them, although… bubbles are a long way off. They’ll keep practicing – with the Trident.

trident

While I’m blessed to be able to keep my family’s smile’s healthy with good dental care and hygiene, it’s no secret that many underserved youth don’t receive the dental care needed to keep a healthy smile. That’s why I love that Trident supports Oral Health America’s Smiles Across America, and has for the last 10 years. They’ve donated over $2,000,000 to help millions of kids have a healthy smile.

smiles for america

You Can Help Too!

 

During the week of September 15th, every pack of Trident gum purchased will spur a donation to Smiles Across America, up to 200,000. What a great way to give back, while receiving the benefit of Trident yourself! Just pick your flavor! Whatever you’re in the mood for, Trident has you covered. You can choose from a refreshing mint flavor like Spearmint or a fruity flavor like Tropical Twist!

 One reader will win a soccer ball autographed by Alex Morgan and a selection of Trident gum!