Friday, May 23, 2008

Keeping Up Appearances

Okay, so I am coming to the real but somewhat sad conclusion that it is much easier for me to love my children (as in the small, day to day patience kind of love, not the more abstract God is love kind of love) when they look cute.

They are not well dressed all the time, by any stretch. A lot of it comes down to energy, those sorts of clothes are high maintenance. Also, I am not just talking about fancy clothes, a cute, stain free white polo shirt and jeans would be adorable, too. But so few of our clothes are stain free, and in the land of hand me downs I am now putting the Lion into stained, pilled clothes and sometimes don't even fit, or are pink.

Is this odd? I am finding MaryB's whine fits much easier to manage appropriately now that she has a cute haircut. Also, clean babies in nice (expensive) pajamas get cuddly bedtime stories from me, I have a harder time loving them with snotty noses in clothes from BoxMart.

This is your chance either to criticize me or to confess that you feel the same way, I am praying daily for my shaved-headed godson and his mother!

Also, any tips for keeping them looking nice on the cheap?


4ddintx said...

We do lots of hand-me-downs with 5 daughters. One thought is that more expensive brands (Land's End, Gymboree, Gap) wear really well child to child. So if you buy these or are blessed to be given these, or find them used you can get your (or someone else's!) money's worth.

As for stains. They are unfortunately a part of life with little ones. My youngest has some clothes that have been through 5+ children, so you can imagine (but the best brands are holding up without pills).

I have a "magic" stain treatment that I got from The Tightwad Gazette books by Amy Daczyzyn. Not environmentally friendly, but it has saved so many clothes that would have hit the landfill that I think it's worth it. I save stained clothes until I have a decent sized load for this treatment:

1 cup clorox 2 (the color safe kind)
1 cup powdered dishwasher soap such as cascade.

Put clothes washer on Hot water, soak cycle. Use just enough water to cover the clothes. Add the detergents. The agitation should dissolve the detergents (or you get funny blue and white spots). Let soak overnight, wash the next day. I usually change the washer to large cycle, add some more clothes, maybe some more regular laundry detergent and go from there. If the stain doesn't come out, try a second and third time. Works best with food stains. Gets formula stains out, even and is a must with a reflux-y baby (even breastfed makes a mess of clothing).

Hope this helps someone!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 4ddintx. I LOVE Gymboree brand clothes for my 3 girls. We also do LOTS of hand-me-downs and their clothes hold up unbelievable no stains so pills!!

Also I have found by purchasing the more expensive brand of clothing, I get two seasons out of their clothes. My girls love dresses so I buy a tad bit big and then pair the dress up with a cute pair of leggins for the following season. the kids look great and I am happy because I am getting my $$$ worth :)

How to get expensive for CHEAP....
1. sign up for their emails, they offer friends and family discounts of 30% off your entire purchase even sale items!!!
2. Watch for their BIN sales in June and January. It is pot luck, but I always buy for the next year. I have gotten beautiful church dress and skirts for $5 bucks!!
3. shop when they are offering gymbucks and only buy items on sale. This is a great way to get 50% off your next purchase!!
4. there is always ebay :)

Now for the STAINS!! This is for you Mary Alice my fellow Earth Friendly Girl :)

check out this company,

The company was started over 50 years ago by a chiropractor. They offer all natural cleaning, beauty/skin, and health supplement products.

The best product for getting stains out is called NATURE BRIGHT~ Laundry booster and Stain remover. Put your stained cloths in the washer with HOT water and a half of scoop of this product let it sit overnight, the next morning wash as usual and YOLA the stain is GONE!! I have been using this company's products for some time now...even before Oprah endorsed the products as one of her most favorite products, so you don't have to take my word for it...there is always Oprah :)

good luck and i hope this helps.

Alex said...

I just want to second the support for Shaklee products (of all kinds, from cleaning to nutrition). My mother has been using them in our household for the past 25 years and they have yet to let us down. Their products are also great for any family with allergies or eczema-prone skin (or hoping to avoid them).

Anonymous said...


Which Shaklee products do yo recommend for the eczema prone child? I would love to know what works best for you . thanks!

ps sorry to change the subject, but i am always looking for an all natural alternative for my child's skin.

Kat said...

I know what you mean, Mary Alice! I guess I should expect that if looking presentable myself helps tremendously in boosting my mood for the day, the same would apply for my children. At the same time, I think that I need to relax a little bit when it comes to "messy" children - I have a hard time with this especially at mealtime. Of course, this makes sense with a 4 year-old, but I should not be expecting my 7 month-old to be clean at the end of an attempted meal of pureed peas and sweet potatoes! I must look ridiculous, wiping her mouth, hands, and high chair tray after every bite!

Joanne said...

One of my favorite things about my job as a SAHM is picking out my kid's clothes, it definitely makes them like me better when they look cute. I like to make my son's socks match his shirt and my daughter was just born and she has NINE MILLION pink outfits for me to choose from.

I like to buy stuff from the Children's Place on giant sale at the end of each season. I also buy stuff at Target on clearance.

You know, when I think about it, my children always look better than I do. Since I am home with them, I care much more about their appearance than I do mine! So maybe that's why it helps so much, it helps me feel as if I've already accomplished something early in the day if I just get them looking nice.

Right Said Red said...

Merry looks so cute in this photo!

Sadly, I agree that it is easier to like my children and deal with their bad behaviors when they look nice. Clean is really essential...but cute clothes matter too!

It wasn't until this past week that I realized how important hair was to their overall appearance!

Melinda said...

You should have seen my kids this weekend, both with nasty cases of pink-eye and covered in dirt from the garden. Love was an act of the will!

I have no cleaning secrets. I am always amazed by how fast a cute outfit becomes rag-like in our house. My one success has been cotton play-dresses sold by Lands End and LLBean. They come in cute, brightly colored prints that don't seem to show dirt or stains. They have handed down well. They dress up and down. They also are great for sensory-type clothes issues (everything else is too tight, too scratchy, etc).

If you go to Sears at the end of season, you can get the Lands End stuff really cheap.

texas mommy said...

This may sound silly, but I really like the way baby clothes look on hangers as opposed to stuffed into drawers. Since we have more space in our new house, I am trying to put more kids clothes on hangers, which I like to look at and am thus inclined to dress my kids better.

However, Dash only wants to pick out his own clothes right now, which hardly ever match. Right now I think it's more important for him to go to his drawers, pick a shirt/shorts and close his drawers even if it doens't match. I just don't have the heart to criticize his choices!

Courtney said...

Dreft also makes a stain remover that works well...I think they sell it at Babies R' Us.