24 years and over 20 kids later, I got to thinking…
“Remember when you were a new mom? Remember how overwhelmed and inundated you were with information, consumerism, and comparisons? Remember how desperate you were to make it ‘appear’ you had it all together, when in retrospect you felt up to your neck with flaws and insecurities?”
I started to ask myself, “Hey, what if I knew then what I know now about products and parenting children?”
As my mind started reeling, I started listing the products from my own, “MUST HAVE” list in my mind. Then, I started writing this list, what has worked for me and my family, products I hope will help make your life easier too.
Please know, these products aren’t items I was asked. bribed, or solicited to post. These are things I literally found scrolling down through my own “purchased” Amazon shopping cart. Other items I have used for twenty-four years of parenting, and well, I just thought it might be helpful to list them here.
Before you start thinking I am some genius, please know, over the years I have purchased some real knock-off brands that didn’t work. Bows have fallen off, sizes weren’t as they were labeled on products. Let’s face it, some of the things I purchased sat new, never opened, and honestly were more hype, than useful. Hopefully, by starting this list, my mistakes will help you from falling into similar traps of buying uneeded, or useless items.
Please enjoy my own, personal MUST-HAVE products for families! They are in no particular order.
We had a break in having babies for a few years, and when we started taking infants again, I was packing a diaper bag one day and realized I was missing something vital to my mama outings! A storage dispenser for formula. When you are out for the day, you don’t want to make a bottle and have it get cold, or let milk pre-prepared sit in the bottle and spoil…So, with this, you can measure out the required amount of formula and place it into these tiny compartments, add hot water, and you are good to go! I like the smaller dispenser too! Great for a second diaper bag. The lid comes off for easy cleaning, and they are mess free, which I LOVE! This combo pack is only $8.26. You can also purchase these singly, or similar disensers like these in different colors. This is definitely a MUST-HAVE if you have small infants that aren’t nursing.
We have had more babies than I can name; preemies, healthy babies, sick babies, fat and skinny babies, drug exposed babies, & difficult to sooth babies….Yet, in twenty-four years of parenting infants, the one thing we have found consistent with all our newborns was that they absolutely LOVED this pacifer. This product truly is a MUST HAVE for new moms! Just as proof of that, presently, we don’t just have one or two of these exact pacifiers in our home, but FOUR! Yes, we love these pacifiers THAT much! And my guess is, your baby will love them too! At Amazon Prime you can get TWO of these miracle-working pacifiers for only $3.99
I honestly feel like I am allergic to everything; shellfish (including shrimp), grasses, whey….all the things usually added to most protein drinks as “healthy”. Other times, I have found an affordable protein drink, yet discover they sneak in fillers or other ingredients that trigger upset stomach, fogginess, or some other side effect. As a busy mom, and after purchasing many protein drinks for added energy, I have found this is the only protein drink that works for me. Plus, it tastes good (No chalky flavor)! It’s only a handful of calories and is packed with 22 grams of protein. Need to keep up with your kids!? This will help fill you with added nutrient needs! GLUTEN-FREE and SUGAR-Free! It also comes in vanilla. Love this product! $32.89
Oh friends, all carseats are definitely NOT the same! We have had many carseats for this age group, that have had their pros and cons. But this carseat has recently been my personal favorite. It comes in many colors and has a comfy, cushioned seat. What I love most about it (especially compared to other carseats) is that it is LIGHT!! Not sure about you, but my husband and I are like a circus act, juggling one seat in a car, another one out…putting two in one car, then needing to move them both back and adding another here. Foster parenting means no year has the exact amount of carseats as the last. Now imagine doing this parent thing 24 years! This seat is for rear facing infants from 5-40 lbs. and forward facing toddlers from 22-40 lbs. Tribute LX meets or exceeds all applicable Federal Safety Standards, has a 5-point harness system with 4 shoulder strap positions allow this convertible car seat to accommodate growing children longer. The pads are removeable and washable. But again, my favorite thing about this carseat is that it is LIGHT!! I mean, super light! (Especially compared to some of the other carseats we’ve had, which take a heavy-weight champion to move them) But before you worry about safety, did you read about the excellent crash-testing. I mean, I am a girl who LOVES research, and I did mine on this seat. (Don’t trust me, check for yourself) And…This seat is only $59.99, with a variety of colors, including pink and blue. Again costing only $54.99. With Amazon Prime, that INCLUDES tax and two-day shipping! How can you beat that?
Just bought matching sets of these! And honestly, pajamas are kind of our thing! I love these pj’s because they are “Fleece” and “Blanket” sleepers, meaning they are soft and THICK, not those pajamas where babies are up all night freezing, or you have to put layer after layer on your kids to keep them warm. What I REALLY LOVE about these sleepers is that they are generally $12.99 for TWO pairs of blanket sleepers, on Amazon Prime! That is way cheaper than what you can find in a store for even ONE of these sleepers! And, these pajamas have feet, so you don’t have to dig for fresh, matching sox after a warm bath (Because I don’t know about you, but that alone takes a good 15 minutes at our house) Last, they zip up instead of snap, which means, no trying to wrestle with snaps after a late night changing, groggy eyes, trying to allign buttons. These come in tons of fun color variations, and have sizes ranging from 6-9 months to size 7 (So if you want, you can having matching kiddos, like we had so much fun doing!) Oh ya, and there are also boys sleepers, again with tons of wonderful colors and sizes. Here’s the link if you’re a boy-mama. Gerber Baby Boys’ 2 Pack Fleece Blanket Sleeper
I know, it looks strange, right? But, this little heap of metal has come in handy, more times than I can count! I have used it in all of my houses, (From our first 1,000 square foot home, to our present, 3200 square foot country house) and just bought a new one, even though we now have huge walk in closets! With kids, sometimes there can be so much waisted space between the bottom of your kids’ carefully hung clothes and the floor. But, here is a way to save space and make room for more clothes! This bar dangles from the existing clothes bar and adds a convenient second-layer for clothes that is removeable and won’t damage your walls. (Want another tip? If you place one hook facing forward and the other backwards, the bar won’t swing and you will have an even more secure, solid grip) I don’t care whether you live in a tiny, little apartment, or a huge mansion…this rod makes sense for space, tidiness, and just for generally keeping your babies, or older child’s pants, shirts, dressed, and suits in order. $14.29 for one of Amazon Prime makes organizing clothes just one less thing to worry about.
Another older kid suggestion! Screens in some families can be like an invisible lion, silently, without warning, devouring our families time, time to play, talk, do homework, or even spend time with God. Circle monitors your family’s internet use, blocks inappropriate viewing (including pornography) and has a shut-off access, to block useage after certain hours, when friend’s come, or during meal-time. We have boundaries around our relationships, our time, our health, and our homes….why let something like the internet slowly creep in, taking more than it needs to unnecessarily? Isn’t it time we set boundaries, around internet too? No price is too high for peace of mind. Get Circle by Disney, on Amazon for $99.00.
We have tons of little girls at our house, and honestly, I am a wee bit obsessed with cute hair bows, ribbows, and anything girlie for the hair. I have bought a ton of different products online, but sometimes the size is wrong, or the bow will fall off, the clip isn’t strong enough, or the material will separate from the hair and the bow will fall out later in the day. And so, (O.k. Maybe this isn’t a “must-have”) but from one girl-mom to another, I just want to save you the time and trouble of digging around the stores or scanning Amazon for bows that simply do not work, are pricey, or are advertized different than they actually come in the mail. Best part? Instead of paying $12.00 for one bow, here are actually 28 bows for only $8.99 on prime! That means they will be at your front door-step in 2 days! You can thank me later!
You might be thinking, “Why did she put a trampoline on this page, no-less a small, adult trampoline?” Well, after you have had multiple school-aged kids with ragging ADHD, stuck in the house for weeks because you live in the “Great Northwest”, and it rains constantly, you start to appreciate things like small trampolines. This is not the exact trampoline we have, but almost identical. I like it because it is small enough to use in the house, but still compactable, and storable, unlike some of the other products you might find in stores. There are also trampolines with handles, but I kid you not, my kids have spent HOURS at a time, not only jumping, but leaping across our trampoline during “Follow the Leader”, doing dance moves on it, and creating fun tricks that, to be honest, a bar would create problems. In all the years of us having a smaller trampoline, none of my kids have gotten hurt. However, please don’t trust me, use your best judgement. (Special precaution: If you think your kids wouldn’t be safe because of size or motor ability, get one with a bar, look around for a larger one, or even just exclude this recommendation all together.) I also like this product because an adult can use it. During nap time or early mornings, you can set up a workout DVD and get your own time excercising on it. More unbelieveably, this trampoline is only $31.89 on Prime. And to me, hours and hours of uninterrupted fun are worth WAY MORE than, $31.89. That’s why it’s on my MUST-HAVE List for school-aged kids.
This isn’t an Amazon product, but honestly, my husband and I have loved it so much, I HAD to share! Again, over the years, and with tons of babies, we have tried, what seems to be, every kind of sling, wrap, and carrier. What we found is some would hurt our backs, the strap would dig into our shoulders, they were impossible to assemble, attach, or the child themselves, didn’t really love being in them. But THIS! Magic!! Our babies went straight to sleep, loved being tucked back into that fetal position. This sling was soft, has elastic sides and a velcro strap to position and keep your child safe from sliding downward or out of it. Also, the buckle in the back conveniently makes it a “snap” (quite literally) to attach your child to your neck. My favorite thing however, is that it doesn’t hurt our neck, shoulders, or back. (And we are not exactly young parents) The price is just an added bonus. Honestly, I would buy this again for $100.00 if I knew how good it works! Nothing like a fusy, colicy baby that curls up and is asleep in two seconds flat once it’s nestled tight close to your heart, in a sling! And it’s only $9.89 folks! Can’t beat the deal!
If you have toddlers who love to dance wildly to Disney, like I do….or have teenagers that want music blaring, but you don’t want to blow your main speakers…or maybe you like to sit through naptime and listen to a podcast, or a simple sermon, but the fuzz of your phone speaker, or the dullness of your laptop speaker just isn’t cutting it…this is for you! I actually had this purchased for me years ago, by my kids. They saw I struggled playing worship music with just my phone, and I have found, hooking up bluetooth to my phone, or plugging this speaker into my computer has worked perfectly! It’s small, compatable, easy to use (Even for this technology challenged mom) and only costs $9.99. Can’t beat it! Go ahead and let your girls wear tutu’s and dance around like princesses. Music makes everything better!
Keep checking back for more products in the future!