Monday, March 30, 2015

20 Ways to Raise a Baby on a Budget

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1. Breastfeed if you can-- Breastfeeding is the healthiest and most economical way to feed your baby in the first year.  While some mom's can't breastfeed, many can.  It's a great way to bond with your child and provide a free meal.  And if you're having trouble, contact your local hospital to find a nursing consult in your area.

2. Borrow a breast pump (or go in on one)-- If you need a breast pump, check with your friends to see if you can borrow one.  Even with replacing a few parts, borrowing will save you a ton of money. I also know a couple of sisters who chose to purchase a breast pump together, knowing that they were both at the beginning of their parenting journeys.

3. Get a breast pump for free-- Some insurance companies will cover the cost of a brand new breast pump.  Most require a prescription from your physician.  Some will even cover delivery.  Call the number on the back of your insurance card to find out what's covered.

4. Cloth diaper-- Cloth diapering can save you a load of money.  Buy used, on discount, or from a friend and save even more.  While the initial investment is a little steep, you'll save a a ton of money in the long run.

5. Borrow items-- Borrow a jumper, a bassinet, or a stroller... if your friend is willing to lend, be honest with your needs.  Just be sure to be considerate.  Try to return items in the same or better condition.

6. Buy used-- Not everything has to be new.  Kids grow so quickly, especially in the first year.  Most moms (and grandparents) are so excited when they find out about a pregnancy, they go out and over shop.  You'd be amazed at the quality, or even new, items you can find in second hand stores and at yard sales.

7. Shop discount-- Besides second hand store, you can also find quality items at discount stores.  Places like T.J. Maxx, Ross, outlets, and more regularly have nice baby items on their racks.

8. Invest in a quality items-- While it might seem contradictory, sometimes spending more upfront will actually save you in the long run.  Spend your money on quality furniture, car seats, and strollers to save money later on.

9. Buy items that convert--Cribs, strollers, and car seats can all be bought to convert.  The initial cost is higher, but it saves money in the long run.

10. Make your own baby food-- Invest in a Baby Bullet or an immersion wand, some fresh fruits and vegetables, and check out the ideas right here on Creative2xmom.  Making baby food is healthy and easy.  Make a big batch and freeze in individual servings.

11. Ask for freebies--Be sure to contact formula, diaper, and baby care companies with your due date.  Once you're a part of their mailing list, you'll start to receive freebies and samples that stretch your budget just that extra little bit.

12. Use coupons-- As a part of being on these company mailing lists, you'll also receive lots of coupons.  Besides that keep a look out for coupons on websites and in the paper and couple them with diaper sales and the Target cartwheel.

13. Register at Babies R Us--By registering with Babies R Us, you can receive a percentage off the unpurchased items after the baby arrives.  So put some nicer items on your list and receive a discount on items you'll already need to purchase.

14. Keep it simple--Simple is always inexpensive.  Do you need the sound machine that plays 10 sounds or the one that plays 3?  Do you need the full nursery set or a few piece to build at a time?

15. Learn the fine art of photography--Pictures are very expensive.  And if you're like me, you want to have pictures taken every time they breath.  So get your camera out, experiment with lighting and poses, and learn how to take them yourself.  You can do it!

16. Take advantage of tax deductions--Twenty to thirty-five percent of child care expenses can be deducted on your taxes, based on your income.  Talk to your tax preparer for more information.

17. Fight the culture--You don't need every gadget under the sun.  Purchase just a few simple items to get started and see what you need from you.  Babies grow slowly and there will be time to purchase more as you need.

18. Exchange items with a friend--Do you have a friend that's a step or two ahead of you?  Maybe she has some clothing or items you can borrow.  What about that friend that's newly pregnant?  Maybe she can use your maternity clothes before your next pregnancy.  Beware who you swap with, but with the right mix of friends, you can save a lot of money.

19. Buy ahead--For clothing, try to buy a size or season ahead.  Watch for end of the season sales and stock up on basic items for the next year.  Make sure you get on our favorite stores mailing lists for coupons and sales ads.  Skip trying this with shoes.  I've found my children's shoes sizes too hard to predict and I end up loosing money.

20. DIY--If you're the DIY type, why not repurpose old furniture for the nursery?  Older pieces tend to be more durable anyways and you can easy find a variety of ideas on pinterest.  This is also a great idea for room decor, storage ideas, bedding, etc.

21.  Get creative--Is there an item you just have to have?  Jot down the price and a quick sketch.  Then go home and think it over.  Do you already have something that you can use in place of this item?  Is there something that can multi-task or be used in place of something new?

How are you raising a baby on a budget?

10 Goals This Week

Here's how I did:

Parenting:
  • 1 dance class, 1 gymnastics class, 2 swim lessons, 2 baseball practices, 1 birthday party
  • Opening day of baseball and 2 games
  • Take one child on March date
Blogging:
  • Record 3-4 vlogs
  • Finish 3-4 drafts (2)
Homemaking:
  • Prune and fertilize roses and lemon tree
  • Clean out breezeway
  • Host potluck
Personal:
  • Get 8.5 hrs sleep/night (4 nights)
  • Workout 3 days/1 day of yoga
These are My 10 Goals for This Week:

Parenting:
  • 1 dance class, 1 gymnastics class, 2 baseball games, 2 practices, 2 swim lessons
  • Celebrate Easter
Blogging:

  • Record 3-4 vlogs
  • Finish 3-4 drafts
  • Write one review

Homemaking:

  • Fertilize lemon tree
  • Clean out breezeway
  • Purge the kids' rooms

Personal:

  • Workout 3 days
  • Get 8.5 hrs of sleep/night
What are your goals this week?

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 March Bookmarks

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*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for March was Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos.

 These are the books I read this month:



Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink-- Caddie is a young pioneer girl chasing after her brother and refusing the lady-like manners of her mother and older sister.  The west is opening up and America is broadening its horizons.  And while Caddie's family settles in, she finds all kinds of adventures from dismantling canoes to befriending Native Americans to playing pranks on her cousins.  This is a fun look at pioneer life through a young girls eyes.  We added it as a fun piece to our pioneers unit.


By The Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischmann--This gold rush adventure follows Jack and his faithful butler as they leave Boston for the gold field's of California.  Determined to find the money to save Aunt Arabella's home, the two arrive in California to seek his fortune.  Along the way, they meet a variety of characters with their own crazy names and personalities.  This book addresses the adventures and mis-adventures of the California gold fields in a humorous way that is far from outdated.  A fun way to bring history to life.


Favorite Greek Myths by Mary Pope Osborne-- We read a lot of Mary Pope Osborne's books in our house, from the Magic Treehouse series to the Tales of the Odyssey series.  So when I saw this one, we had to pick it up.  Osborne shares these myths in accessible language that flows well and gives enough information to understand the story.  My only criticism that for a book on Greek myths, the author uses their Roman names.  All in all, my first and fourth graders loved it.



Our suggested reading for March was Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos-- Finally a foster/adopt book on the market.  I remember a friend telling me about this one just a few years ago and knew I had to read it.  There's so little in the way of personal stories from the foster world and finally it's getting out there.  Vandals shares her personal struggle with infertility, filed adoption, and finally reaching out into the foster care world.  Vardalos is honest about her struggles while walking the fine balance of not oversharing her daughter's story.  While each story is different, I can identify with so many of her struggles and emotions through the process, worrying about her daughter, worrying if she's making the right choices.  If you're looking for an honest look at foster/adopt, this might be the right choice for you.

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos.

And come back April 24th as we discuss Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

*Linked to these Parties

Thursday, March 26, 2015

10 Toys that Develop Gross Motor Skills

Gross Motor Skills involve the large muscles groups and improve blanace, coordination, crossing the mid-line, and set a child up for an overall healthier lifestyle.  Play is essential in developing these gross motor skills.  These are just a few examples of toys that make developing these skills fun:

1. Tunnel-- We love having a tunnel in this house.  This one is great for toddlers on up through early elementary.  It's a fun day to play tag, hide and seek, building an obstacle course, and improve balance, and weight shifting.

2. Baseball bat and T-- Swinging a bat doesn't just have to be about baseball.  It's also about building up those arm muscles, making the arms and waist work together, hand-eye coordination, and focus.  And you'll love the look on your preschooler's face when they actually connect with the ball.

3. Bouncy Ball-- Large bouncy balls are a lot of fun for bouncing, switching hands, and catching.  Throw them on the ground and kick them around while your child works on foot-eye coordination as well.

4. Balance Beam-- Balance beams are easy and inexpensive to construct.  And if not, pick up a roll or painter's tape and make a balance beam on the floor.  Great of improving balance, muscle development, and a sense of confidence.

5. Basketball Hoop-- What little one doesn't love to throw a ball into a hoop?  Great for aim, working the legs and arms together, and focus.

6. Hula Hoops-- Hula hoops are so versatile.  Swing them on your arm, around your waist, lay them on the ground to hop through, use them for hopscotch, etc.

7. Dancing Ribbons-- We all love to dance.  And adding ribbons makes it even more fun.  How many ways can you swing the ribbons and make them fly?

8. Tossing Games-- Along with basketball, tossing games help coordinate the arms, hands, and wrists.  Toss bean bags in a basket or hula hoops, make a corn hole game, or invest in toss across.

9. Sit N Spin-- Sit N Spin is a fun way to coordinate the arms while spinning.  It requires concentration on the hands and arms as they are always moving.

10. Toddler Riding toys, tricycles, and bicycles--These ride-on toys require the coordination of several muscles groups to propel a child forward.  Additionally, your child is working on balance and cardio vascular health.

What toys have you found helpful in developing gross motor skills?
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