What are your thoughts on babysitting and how do you manage it? (i.e. how often do you use one, where did you find her, how much do they charge, do you have things you check about them first, how do you know the kids are happy with them, do they manage three kids ok, is it better to have someone older or do younger babysitters work ok too, etc.)
Whew! Now THAT was a question! :) A really good question. Babysitters are an absolute necessity in my opinion (unless you are lucky enough to live by grandparents who take over that duty!).
We don't have a set amount of time that we use babysitters. On average, at least once during the weekend so Kenny and I can go on a date. Date nights are a huge priority for us. Especially since baby #3 came along. It's the only time we can actually talk without interruptions! Regular evenings after kids are in bed don't count - we are both plopped in front of the TV with our laptops completely exhausted from the day. Kenny makes sarcastic comments about whatever show we're watching and I roll my eyes at him and blog the night away. We need our weekend date night to hold hands, focus on each other, and feel like a couple again. Other than that we get a babysitter whenever we need one. Lately because of the new house stuff - a lot! Right now we are averaging 2-3 times a week that we need a sitter. If it's just for an hour or two after school, I have used girls age 12 and up. For an evening when kids need to be put to bed, I always get a sitter at least 15 years old. I just feel better about someone a little older at night time. I'm lucky because I know so many darling babysitters in my ward (church group). I know their families - I'm friends with most of their moms and know those moms are close by if there is an emergency. I have a list of about eight girls I can call who I know and trust and who my girls LOVE. My girls are at the age where getting a babysitter is like Christmas. Seriously. They get SO excited for a "teenager" to come over and do nothing but play with them. Kole always cries when I leave, but is over it two minutes later (I always ask!). All three of my kids handle sitters well because we use them a lot. Obviously I talk to my girls about their sitters (did you like her? what did you do?) - if there was ever a time they didn't like someone or I didn't feel good about someone I wouldn't call them again, but that hasn't happened yet. I usually hear - "when can we call HER again!?" As far as what we pay our sitters - we pay a generous hourly rate for two reasons: 1 - we live in an area where everything costs more and 2 - I want my babysitters to know that I value them and I want them to WANT to babysit for me. :) I think it's best to ask other moms in your area this question because fees vary so much depending on where you live. My Utah friends pay a lot less than I do, but San Diego is an expensive place to live which unfortunately means everything costs more (including babysitting).
I have a question for you - do you keep any of your kids' clothes? I know you are a master organizer, and through posts, it sounds like you send a lot to your niece, but everything?
"Master organizer" eh? I don't know about that but I'm certainly not going to stop you from calling me one. ;) Ok - kids clothes. Man! I've said this before. Kids' clothes are the HARDEST thing for me to get rid of! Seriously! I do so well with everything else - including a lot of their school work, but the clothes get me every time! I always think ... "oh I have to keep this! It's the shirt Addison wore for her first day of pre-school, or those were the pajamas El slept in every night at age 3, Kole came home from the hospital in this one. I can't possibly get rid of it..." I'm a sucker for the memories that come with their little outfits!
So here's what I've been doing with kids' clothes. Every season I go through my kids' closets. (I actually have this on my current to-do list right now for the summer.)
Anything I just can't part with, I don't. :) I keep the clothes in boxes that are currently in a storage shed we are renting. Once we're in our new house I'll find a place for these clothes. I'm sure I'll go though them a time or two again and get rid of a few more things. This is the box of what I've saved so far. Addie's first boots that she didn't take off for six months, the cupcake pajamas both girls lived in for years, first ballet shoes, hospital hats, etc. It's not the cutest outfits I keep - it's the ones that take me so quickly back to a special time or moment. After I round up some to take to the storage shed box, I take the clothes that are too small for Ellie and put them in Addie's closet. A lot of clothes that are too small for Addison go to this cutie:
Yes! I still send a lot to my niece (isn't she a doll). :) She is one year younger than Addison so size wise it works out great. I also have some friends with daughters younger than mine who I give clothes to from time to time. And I take a lot of stuff to Goodwill. I swear I'm there at least once a month! I have to admit though that right now I have three HUGE bags in my garage full of too small kids' clothes. A lot of them are too small for my niece now because I've waited so long to get them to her. I need to figure out what to do with them. Some people have suggested selling them on eBay? The clothes are all nice and in great shape (mostly from Gap and Gymboree) but I don't know if it's worth the time to try to sell them? I'd love to hear what some of you do with kids' clothes!
Erin, what do you do with all of the doll clothes and accessories and shoes??
When you have little girls this kind of stuff can take over your house! I used to have one drawer that held doll clothes, shoes, and accessories --
but with new dolls came new stuff the girls had to keep so this drawer is now for doll clothes only. And it doesn't look nearly this neat. All the doll clothes get taken out and stuffed back in on a daily basis as dolls attend a variety of social events and functions. :) As long as the clothes end up in the drawer at the end of the day, I'm ok with the messy drawer. As far as doll shoes and accessories go...
when I re-did Ellie's closet? All of that little girl stuff that is so small and gets all over the place was driving me crazy! So I bought some clear plastic bins, organized all of their small toys, slapped some labels on them, and called it done!
What do you do with all of your kids' little creations and notes and such? I have boxes and boxes of it all, and more keeps adding to the collection. Do you take photos of some and then toss them out?
Project Life Organization Update
What I do with kids' school work
Hutch Organization (where I keep my keepsakes)
If one of your children makes you a really special mother's day card or something, do you include that in their album or do you keep that in a keepsake box for yourself?
Similar question to the one above. If it is something that my kids have made for me, I keep it in my "Erin's Keepsakes from the kids" box. Kenny and I each have our own. (See my hutch organization post I mentioned above).
If it is something that I want to keep for me AND I want my girls to have it in their albums, I usually take a picture of it for their books, and I keep the original. Here's an example:
I blogged about here) I actually took out of her album and put into my keepsake box. If you look at the bottom right of her book, I took a picture of it for her to keep. I wanted this story in her book, but had to keep the original for myself. :)
If one of your children has a special event like a birthday party, a baptism, etc. do you put a few photos of that event in all of the siblings albums too, to show the different things that happened that year? Or do you stick strictly to that child's own events in their album?
Another great album question! Let's say I'm developing Ellie's 6th birthday photos. I develop a bunch for Ellie (usually a two page layout in her book with my favorite pics from the event - hoping from now on to limit this to a one side layout). Addison will get one maybe two pics from the party. Probably one of her and Ellie on El's b-day and then a general pic of all the party guests or something. For Kole's book I would include one picture - maybe Ellie blowing out candles or something and write in his album "Ellie turns 6!" So yes - I do try to document important sibling events in each album but the child experiencing the event gets several pictures while the other children get one maybe two. This is one of the many reasons I like to do separate albums for each child (even though it is a major time commitment!). I like the focus of their albums to be about their childhood, but this of course also includes what is happening with siblings.
I have been following your blog for several months and love it! My question is what is your workout and diet plan? --- I agree with the last person, a workout post would be great. How do you stay in such good shape? --- An idea for your new Q & A section, could you share your workout routine with us??!
So many questions about exercise this time around! (And thanks for the sweet comments that went with them!) My exercise routine changes with the wind. Seriously! I have to constantly adapt to the current schedule/situation with my kids. Only one thing remains certain: I always exercise! It's great to look good, but it's even better to feel good. I feel so much better when I exercise and I'm a big believer that something is better than nothing. When I started therapy with Kole in our mornings it ended my walks/runs with friends. So this is what I currently do: I pack lunches and lay out clothes the night before, kids are up at 6:30 and I get them all dressed and fed and me in my workout clothes. Around 7:40 Kenny heads out to take the girls to school and Kole and I head out on our walk/run. Therapy starts at 9:00 (they come to my house) and I need a little time to pick up the house and wipe the sweat off of my face before the therapists come so I have 45 min - 1 hour to exercise. (This only works if I have everything ready the night before so we are ready to walk out the door with the girls.) I put Kole in the jogger and we're off! I walk the first half of our route (usually mentioning and pointing to everything along the way "see the dog Kole! woof woof! say dog!) and then the second half I jog. I say to Kole "ready, set, and he says GO!" His first word he learned in therapy. :) So workout routine isn't anything too special. Just a walk/run with my boy in the jogging stroller. Here is my diet plan (if you can really call it that): I maintain my weight by eating a lot of the same things. Usually Bran Chex for breakfast (because it's fast and easy and I like them), and my turkey sandwich, baked lays and strawberries for lunch...
I don't eat all of the strawberries at once. :) Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good turkey sandwich! Sometimes I mix it up and eat my salad in a tortilla for lunch:
Additional posts I've written about exercise and healthy eating:
My #1 priority
Kicking it in gear
I hope those answers helped some of you! I didn't have time for all of your questions, so I'll do another Q & A post soon. If you have any of your own answers to these questions that might be helpful to others or a question for me please feel free to comment!
Have a great week! Love that it's a short one. :)