Planning to Have a Big Family?

Some Random Tips to Save Time And Money

Planning to Have a Big Family?

My cousin's baby, Nevaeh, sporting the pineapple look.

Got a girl child? Don’t cut her bangs.

Once you start cutting bangs, you’re a slave to trimming them. I grow out bangs right from the get-go. Sure, my daughters wear high pony tails on the tops of their heads, making them look remarkably like pineapples, but it’s better to deal with the outgrow blues early in life. Not only did I avoid the dreaded bangs trim every few weeks, I continue to save a bucket load of money on haircuts. My three little ladies have their hair trimmed annually!

Don’t buy bikes with white wheels.

My first kid was a boy. It positioned us well in the hand-me-down department. I’ve noticed that families who have a daughter first indulge them in the girly stuff, without thinking about future hand-me-downs. The problem is, if you get your princess a pink bike with white wheels, little brother may be reluctant to take it on when sister outgrows it. That puts you back at the cycle shop buying another bike the EXACT same size. Painful, I know. The same goes for rollerblades, ice skates, baseball gloves, and other sports equipment. Don’t get all caught up with the girl stuffyour son might not be too happy heading off to little league with his sister’s old pink baseball glove. I’m willing to sacrifice glitter and fancy handlebar ribbons for a good hand-me-down situation.

Have your babies close in age.

I know there’s nothing civilized about having babies very close in age, but it pays off in the long run. Now that I’ve got some bigger kids, I’m reaping the benefits. Aside from the companionship/friendship piece, there are advantages when they start doing sports and other activities. This year, I had three kids on the SAME hockey team. You got itthree hockey bags, but it means only one rink at one time. I also have two on the same baseball team, three going to soccer at the same time/same field, and several in the same dance classes. Piling more kids into the same activity saves you time and, occasionally, you get cut some slack with the registration fees. I know the thought of having three kids in diapers at once is less than appealing, but it’ll be worth it in a few years.

Don’t cheap out on big-ticket items.

If you buy your first kid a cheap bike, it’s not going to get through the rest of your clan. You’re better off buying top quality baby products and sports equipment from the get-go. The alternative is buying several junky bikes or strollers that you run into the ground. If you cheap out, you end up replacing things and, at the end of the day, you’ve spent the same amount of money, but on crap.

If you were planning on having a big family before reading this and are now put off, just hit delete and we’ll pretend this post never happened.

After twelve years and six kids, my single stroller at the curb, ready to go where over-used strollers go to die.


Playdate Etiquette

Find out what you're doing wrong

Playdate Etiquette

most of our playdates end with a few little guests looking like this

A friend recently suggested that I blog about playdate etiquette. At first I felt panic—there’s playdate etiquette? What social rules have I been breaking that I didn’t even know existed? After a moment of thought, I felt sudden relief—with a crew my size, we tend to do the playdate hosting so my opportunity to commit such offenses is fairly limited. Phew.

But then I got to thinking—why haven’t I noticed some of my visitors participating in behavior that might not be acceptable? Surely I have been annoyed by guests at some point? Twelve and a half years of playdates went running through my head and still, I came up empty.

This left me scratching my head—what are these unwritten rules around the playdate and why haven’t offenders annoyed me? I chatted with some mamas and discovered what the annoyances are and can now explain why they don’t bother me.

Annoyance #1: playdate guests who overstay their welcome

Some mamas reported that guests can make them feel anxious when they’re still lingering around as the dinner hour approaches. For a couple of reasons, this has never caused me stress. Firstly, I’m happy to have someone hanging about to chat with while I’m getting dinner organized. Just think of them as someone to watch the kids as you get dinner on. Another option would be to throw some snacks out and delay dinner so the fun can continue. Alternatively, invite your playdate guests to stay and just make more food. We perform the “fishes and loaves” miracle daily at my house. When I really do need to cut a playdate off, I simply say “Great to have you guys but I gotta get these rugrats fed and out the door to soccer/ballet/taekwondo/whatever.” So whether you feed your guests or chuck them out of your house—there’s no need for stress.

Annoyance #2: older child comes for playdate and doesn’t want to do the activity you planned

Don’t make plans. Let the playdate take whatever direction the kids want it to. The very best playdates are the ones where I don’t even see the little visitors—they disappear into the pack playing outside or doing dress-ups in the basement. Ditch the activity planning because you’ll be surprised by how well they can entertain themselves. Besides, playdates often free up some time for a busy mama—just ask the mothers of singletons. Take advantage while you can.

Annoyance #3: they leave and your place is a dump

Admittedly, big messes don’t get my knickers in a knot, but as the play is winding up, I tell kids (mine or not) that it’s time to tidy up. Sure, I sometimes discover a hidden mess in the basement, but that’s what basement doors are for.

By keeping the focus on the “play” part of the playdate, you should find your stress levels decreasing. But what am I missing here—what other playdate offenses are being committed out there?