Many moms out there are professional shoppers; they take their time to research just about every purchase they make, especially those related to their baby boy or girl. Some of these same moms are also quite amazing when it comes to being thrifty where needed but splurging with items that warrant it. I am not nearly as practical, probably because I never had anyone to show me how, but I have found a few tricks of the trade, which you probably already know.
Don’t Buy on Impulse
It’s no secret that stores know how to arrange their products to encourage people to buy, whether it is the overpriced candy and sodas as you are checking out to putting brightly colored tags showing a significant cut from the original price. It isn’t much different with ecommerce sites like Amazon.com, or BabysRUs.com where they have carefully studied what parents are looking for, what to place on the front page and how to sell products that truly aren’t necessary but may seem as such, especially to new parents. It isn’t just these enticing, frivolous items that people get roped into buying but the diaper bag that is oh-so-cute but not very functional. Maybe it is the more expensive version of a crib set that looks great on screen, yet isn’t crucial to a baby’s sleeping comfort.
More and more moms and parents are taking their time by opening up as many websites as possible to compare and contrast as many features, prices, reviews and ratings as their poor computers can handle. The plethora of opened tabs is the complete opposite of shopping for the here and now. Even something as simple as a changing pad may take a couple of days to decide upon based on how waterproof the pad is, does it clean up or stain easily, does it fit the changing table top, or does it contain any harmful materials in it?
However, even the best of us can be caught up in the frenzy of a sales, clearance items or a revamp to an old way of doing something. We hit that “add to cart” and “checkout” buttons so quickly, that we don’t truly understand what we may be purchasing. And, when it comes in the mail, the disappointment is palpable. Most ecommerce sites and even brick-and-mortar stores realize this and hope that you won’t have the time and energy to return the items. This can all be no big deal with small goods, but we don’t always control our impulse buying to just items under $10.
Keeping up with the Joneses – Baby Style
Going along with the impulse buying is the I’ve-gotta-have-what-they-have syndrome. I think I have seen this more with strollers, toys and clothing than anything else, and most of the time it never ends well for the people trying to have the newest and greatest things for their babies. All too many times that Bentley of a stroller has less functionality than a good run-of-the-mill one with a few less bells and whistles (or tassels and ornaments). Understand that your baby won’t be in it forever, so was the cost really worth it in the end?
Clothing and trendy outfits are one way that many moms tend to express their interests, wealth and style. Again, out little ones don’t stay little for long and those $200 leather jackets for 6-month-olds won’t get much wear-time. I look for articles of clothing and accessories that last a long time, may be passed down from child to child and have multi-purpose types of quality. One such example of this is the baby headband with bow from BabyBlingBow.com. This is a dress-up and dress-down sort of thing that makes a little girl look adorable, and has some longevity in its fashion statement. They are also amazing for little girls that have a lot of hair that keeps getting in the way.
Fretting the Small Stuff and Neglecting the Big
When a child gets a cough or a fever, mommy-mode kicks into overdrive; every search result for like symptoms are pulled up and the list created of all possible illnesses, diseases and catastrophic maladies. I’ve even known a parent or two that has called 9-1-1 to report their child throwing up (mind you that there was no blood, no fever, no underlying chronic condition, just a lot of throw up).
Some parents won’t go near a child that has a runny nose, and has hand sanitizer on the ready for right after playing on the jungle gym. Remember, many of our parents had chicken pox parties so that we would all get it and be done with it. Something like this nowadays would probably be reported to Children’s Services; I guess it is just a reflection of the changes in expectations.
What is truly disheartening in all of this is that other important and ongoing factor of life are neglected. Too many marriages are strained with focus being placed heavily on the child, lack of sleep, financial strains and inward feelings of inadequacies. You can probably tell that I am speaking from personal experience on this. My husband works a 50+ hour week, has a commute and then has me nagging at him when he gets him. It isn’t so much that I want to complain to him, but I don’t have a huge group of people that I can turn to, and I wouldn’t let loose on them all of my mommy complaints, anyway.
“Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult.” Nadia Boulanger
Long after the kids are grown and raised, it will be just me and him. Every moment matters, and to makes sure that everyone is getting most of what they need, I need to find a balance. This also goes for taking care of me, too. I have found that getting out of the house, even if it is just a quick walk around the block with the baby either in a sling or in the stroller, I feel like I’ve hit a reset button in myself. This is also true about house cleaning: if a do a bang-up job on the kitchen, but do something easy like a soup and sandwich night for dinner, I have accomplished something significant, and not stressed myself out too much on the meal prep. As for time with my husband, that balancing takes real creativity and planning: maybe it is getting a babysitter for an hour while we drive around and get a milkshake to share. Other times it is staying up a little past our bedtime to talk and snuggle (and …) as we make sure to be aware of one another’s feelings.
None of this is easy, not all is purely instinctual and you are never going to do everything perfectly. As long as you know this, and as long as you are truly trying to grounded in all that you are doing, it will work out. I don’t say this as a mom of a 19-month-old, and someone who has all her ducks in a row, but as someone that calls my mom often for advice, turns to the internet every-so-often, and makes a lot of decisions on the fly. When you fall down, get up. When you fail, you don’t try that again. When you succeed, write it down and revel in it. And when you feel like you can’t do it any more, take a deep breath and turn to someone that can give you a big hug and a shoulder to cry on. There is always a new day around the corner, so make the most of every new one that you are given!