Secrets To a Diaper Stockpile

As a mommy-to-be, there is no way for you to fathom the amount of diapers you are actually going to need, just in the first year of your child’s life. However, as any seasoned mommy veteran can tell you, diapers are, by far, the most essential must-have on your baby registry. When we were expecting little man, we were very blessed to receive diapers in such a great quantity. I don’t think I actually needed to buy any until he was about 6 months old. That, in fact, was when I discovered the joys of couponing and just how much it can save your budget when it comes to diapers.

 

Here are a few tips to get you started and help you save a bundle on your little bundle!

  1. Join a Facebook group.  There are tons of Facebook groups devoted to couponing and you can usually find a group dedicated to one particular store. I have found that CVS is the BEST place to find diaper deals, followed by Target and Walgreens. It can be quite challenging, especially in the beginning, to research the weekly ad and coupons that go with it to find the best deal. That’s why these groups are so helpful. You can see what deals everyone else have been getting and any problems they may have run into. Usually, your fellow couponers are willing to help you if you might have questions or problems. WARNING: Since most couponers are women, these groups are full of DRAMA! Not much can be done about that, so just stick to the facts and avoid the conflict. Another great thing about these groups is that you can post your own deals, which will definitely boost your ego as a couponer. 
  2. Start printing and clipping coupons. Find a good coupon database (My favorite is here at Southern Savers.) and start searching for your favorite brand. I am a loyal Pampers mom but I will tell you, Huggies does have the best deals and usually has better coupons. The general rule is that every IP, or Internet Printable, coupon can be printed twice per device. My advice is to print every Huggies and Pampers coupon (or your favorite brand) that you come across. You might not need it today but you will probably need it soon. Huggies usually has a pretty great deal somewhere every few weeks. If you buy the Sunday paper, check the coupon inserts for diaper coupons as well. Let your friends and family know you are in need of diaper coupons if they come across any. Get a good coupon organizer for your purse (I got mine at Target. Here’s a link.) to keep yourself organized. I always have mine with me, just in case! 🙂 Trust me, this will help your sanity! 
  3. Know Your Store. It is very important to know the coupon policy at each store where you coupon. Also, become familiar with their rewards programs, so you can use them to their fullest benefit. For example, CVS has an Extra Care Card that keeps track of your purchases and will give your coupons based on your shopping habits. Every Sunday (the beginning of the weekly ads), you can go to your local CVS, scan your Extra Care Card at their Coupon Center (also known as the redbox) and in store coupons will automatically print. Next, you can download the CVS app and link your Extra Care Card and on Monday mornings, new coupons will be added to your card (you can also see these on their website). Both of these are CVS coupons that can be combined with manufacturer coupons. It will be slow going but after a few shopping trips for diapers, you will start to get coupons just for a diaper purchase.
  4. Be Prepared. Make a list before you go shopping. Write down what items you will be purchasing, the coupons you will be using and any rewards you should be getting back from your purchase. That way, if you know what to expect and how much to expect. It may seem like a lot of work, but this will keep you organized and make the trip quick and painless.
  5. Be Organized. You have to understand what goes through the cashier’s mind as you walk towards her with your coupons. Let’s face it, people are rude! And couponers are the worst! So, number one rule is to be nice to your cashier because she can make or break your deal. Before you enter the checkout line, make sure you have all the products you came for, get your rewards card ready (if applicable), get your coupons together and have your phone ready for any mobile coupons you may have.
  6. Pay Attention. Watch as your cashier rings up your products and scans your coupons. Make sure everything come up for the correct price and that your coupons all scan correctly. And because you are organized, you will know if something is wrong if the total is not what you expected. Remember, if you see something wrong with your receipt after the fact, you can always go to customer service or back to the cashier and try to figure out what happened.

Anyone can do this with a little work, so don’t be intimidated, be determined. You don’t know just how good you will feel to save money on something so necessary. I posted a few of my most recent diaper hauls in another post here, so go check them out to get a feel for how this work. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to help! Happy Couponing!

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How My Dogs Prepared Me For Motherhood

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These are my Velociraptors, as my mother so thoughtfully nicknamed them.

 My husband and I hadn’t been married a year when we adopted Casey,  my now 4 year old Blue Heeler. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her at the animal hospital where I worked. She had been bought for an older lady by her daughters who thought their mother needed a companion. If you know anything about Blue Heelers, this is not the dog for just anyone! (This speaks a lot to breed research before you adopt, but that’s an entirely different subject.) A few weeks after her first appointment, she was brought in to be surrendered by this dear lady. As luck would have it, I was the one who helped her that day. The rest is history.

As for Shelby, well…she was a necessary addition to our family. As I said, Blue Heelers are a special breed and poor Casey was driving us nuts being an only child. So, we went on a hunt and found a little black and tan shepherd mix on PetFinder.com at a local animal shelter. Funny thing was, when we made the 1 1/2 hour trip, we were actually planning on adopting Shelby’s sister. We brought Casey along to make sure they got along. Unfortunately, Casey and Shelby’s evil twin did not get along. Shelby, however, sat quietly on my lap and watched her sister run laps around the front desk of the shelter. It was meant to be.

Anyone who has met my dogs knows how nuts they are. They’re misbehaved, too hyper and when talked to in a high enough pitch, will pee all over your shoes. They escape from the yard, they chase the mailman and eat the strangest things. But they are like my children and I love them. I’ve always told my mom that my dogs were preparing me for having children. However, until I had a child, I didn’t realize how right I was.

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For the last several months, I had become acclimated to rocking my little baby to sleep, ensuring plenty of tummy-time to strengthen his muscles and rejoicing when he discovered he could roll over. We had waiting for a long time to see him crawl for the first time and tried to help as much as we could. Unfortunately, I was unaware of what these milestones were leading us to. My epiphany came as I walked into the bathroom this afternoon, following the trail of Puffs and spilled sippy cup, and discovered my son standing up at the toilet…PLAYING IN THE WATER! I immediately thought of my  dogs. I had scolded them numerous times about drinking from the toilet. “Get your head out of the toilet!” had now turned into “Get your hand out of the toilet!” Same problem, different species. I then began thinking of all the ways my dogs had been conditioning me for motherhood.

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1) Sleep Deprivation. I was a first time doggy mom and had never raised a puppy on my own. (I didn’t quite realize how much my parents had been helping me.) Casey was less than 3 months old when I brought her home. The first few weeks were filled with sleepless nights and midnight walks that eventually led to her sleeping in our bed. Sounds familiar, huh? Yep. Honestly, I think I had better sleep with my newborn than a new puppy. And no matter how bad it got, my son has never slept in the bed with us.

2) Cleaning up. Dogs are naturally messy. I’ve cleaned up more dog pee, poop and vomit than I care to admit. I’ve disposed of dead squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits after they met their unfortunate end in my back yard. I’ve scrubbed butts, brushed squirrel-breath teeth and spent hours picking burrs out of the fur of a dog who insists on exploring. NONE of that, however, could have prepared me for baby messes. Humans are supposed to be cleaner than dogs, right? Well…apparently, not in the beginning. Our first week home with little man, he peed on my Grandmother, my bed, the dog and his own head. Not to mention the spit up (thanks to our few weeks of supplementing formula). And there have  been a few times (explosion, rather) that required an immediate bath (clothes and all) and then a GOOD bleach-scrubbing to the bathtub.

3) Discipline. Two things that apparently fascinate both boy and dog are dishwashers and toilets. The first spanking my son got was because he continued crawling onto the dishwasher and pulling things from the utensil holder. My dogs also are constantly in trouble for trying to clean my dishes as I put them in the dishwasher. Same thing for the toilet. I guess to both hem, water is water. You would think I’d have learned how to prevent this behaving by now…

4) Food. Sadly, my dogs have failed me in this department. From squirrels to insulation, my dogs never meet an object they don’t at least consider trying. Whereas my son is a challenging eater. I’ve already blogged about our disastrous nursing experience but his food aversions don’t stop there. He refuses to drink formula unless it’s warm (almost hot). If it gets the least bit cool, he won’t touch it. He does not like slimy things (i.e. sliced apples in juice, packaged deli meat) or oddly enough, potatoes (mashed or baked). He has discovered how to make his food disappear when he doesn’t want it. And I wondered why the dogs were getting fat!

5) Picking Up After Myself. I have had dogs all my life and one thing you learn quickly is to never leave something valuable in a dog’s reach. One of my dogs loves to eat socks, another underwear. Trash is always up for grabs if available and unless there is a force field around me, there is no personal space when I’m eating. As my son has now become mobile, I find myself finding more things everyday that need to be moved out of his reach. Remotes and phones are his favorite but if there is a cord in sight, he is all over it. Another difficulty is his fascination with the dog bowls. Now, my dogs are pretty good about their food. Shelby has actually let him get food out of her bowl while she is eating without complaint. This leads to chewing on the dog bowls (gross, I know!) and what had become an almost weekly occurrence…dumping the water bowl. Still learning here!

6) Mommy guilt. That’s right. I feel so horrible when my dogs get in trouble, which is probably part of the reason they are such a mess. This has, however, taught me to be consistent with punishment. But there is no greater guilt than punishing your child for doing something dangerous and making him cry. I now understand the phrase “This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.”

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As my son grows and I continue to learn how this mommy thing works, I’m sure I will find more lessons I’ve been taught by my dogs to handle my son. And when I have another, I will know how to handle sibling quarreling. You can break up a fight with the broom, right? Unfortunately, I do realize I will not be able to make them sleep outside!

Onto a New Chapter

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Week one of being a Stay-At-Home Mom has come to an end. While I did stay home for 12 weeks on maternity leave, I knew it was just temporary (we decided before I had Lucas that I would be staying home) and I counted every day that brought me closer to going back to work. I made the most of my days and my time with my new little miracle. But now, there is no expiration date on my time here. So, after two days of digging myself out of the disaster my house had become during my brief time back at work, I settled comfortably into “lazy couch potato” status. While I might have been able to do this when I was on maternity leave, when the baby slept most of the day and could be left on a blanket in the living room floor while I ate breakfast and watch the Today Show, I now have a “crawler.” Not only that but a “cruiser” which has quite rapidly turned into a “bruiser.” I am honestly beginning to worry that with every tumble to the ground and thud I hear of his head hitting the hardwood floor, the more brain cells are escaping his brain and we can’t have that (because my son is going to be a doctor, of course!).

But nevertheless, our time at home has already been full of excitement. First day home – Monday morning. (Who said the dreaded Monday morning curse can’t strike those of us at home too?!)  He had spent the whole night awake (we had a very busy weekend and he was quite restless) and when he doesn’t sleep well, he wakes up EARLY! So, here comes 6 a.m. and my child is standing in the crib, looking at the monitor, waiting for me to come and rescue him. I sat him in the floor at my feet and began fixing his bottle, while chasing him from one side of the kitchen to the other. First, he stood himself up at the stove and was making his way to the kitchen drawers (which had not been baby-proofed yet). Next, on to his favorite activity…playing in the dog’s water bowl. He proceeded to turn the bowl completely over and soak my kitchen floor and himself, which scared him. So, I pick up this crying child, soaking wet from his belly down, his cereal and bottle and head for the living room. (He likes to watch VeggieTales while he eats. 🙂 ) I sit down on the couch and place the not-yet-mixed cereal down on one side and the baby on the other side with my arm around him. The next 15 seconds are a complete blur – I am still not quite sure what happened or how. First, the cereal ends up falling off the couch and is being licked up by an anxiously awaiting dog. As I reach for the cereal bowl, arm still around my son, he lunges for the high chair. He falls head first, hitting the high chair and then the ground with his forehead. He only cried for a few minutes, but almost a week later, still has a bruised knot on his forehead and a scratch on the side of his head.

Day One: Failure

Day Two started at 1:30 a.m.  I had stayed up late to shower and do some laundry (because, yeah right, when would I have time to take 5 minutes of my day to shower?!?), so I had not been asleep long when  little man woke up. As soon as I walked into the room, I could hear him breathing through an incredibly stuffy nose. Sick again. Great. I picked him up and pulled his paci out of his mouth. (He hasn’t quite figured out that he can breath though his mouth when he can’t though his nose.) Between the hours of 2 and 4, I cleaned out his nose (not so fun for either of us) and tried to put him back to sleep IN HIS CRIB multiple times. We ending up sitting on the couch, watching Gilmore Girls until we both fell asleep. That’s the way daddy found us when he got up at 6. Thankfully, I was able to put him back in his crib then and sleep until about 8:30. However, the day did turn out pretty good – a lot of wiping noses and cuddling.

Day Two: Not a Totally Failure

The proceeding days were not too exciting but something different everyday…which also usually brought a new scratch or bruise. And while, sometimes, I feel kind of like a zombie wandering from room to room, I know I have made the right choice. Because when my son falls down and begins to cry, I can be there to kiss his boo-boo and hold him until the sniffling subsides. When he learns something new, I can see it firsthand instead of hearing about it from someone else. I want to be there for every moment I can.

Now to follow this somewhat controversial topic, I know all the feminists in the world shudder to think of a woman actually wanting to stay home, with her husband, kids and household as her job. I mean, after all, look at how far women have come and how much has been sacrificed for us to be treated more equally with men. But here’s the thing…we are NOT men! We ARE women!

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Now this is, of course, not what I meant! But it is time that we, as women, stop thinking we need to constantly prove we are no different than men. God made us to be different. So, if you want a successful career and a family, you can do it! And if you want to stay home and have an equally important job, do it! The important thing to remember is that we need to support each other, as women, with whatever decision is made. Now, I know there are some who would like to stay home but can’t and I will admit, it was a difficult decision for us to make. And it doesn’t come without sacrifices. Just know that you never have to feel bad or guilty for your decision or circumstances.

When I temporarily went back to work after maternity leave, I felt the pain of leaving my child with someone else. For the first week, I cried every night when I got home because of how little time I actually got to spend with my son. And from talking to full-time working moms, I understand the difficulties of trying to do everything and make money to pay the bills. I will share a little insight with you, though. Being a stay-at-home mom comes with its share of troubles. For me, it’s a struggle to stay motivated to get things done (I work much better under time constraints!). And you would be surprise to find that you do need a little alone time occasionally. However, the hardest part of it all is the lack of support from family, friends and worst of all, other moms. To some, they simply cannot understand how you don’t lose your mind being home all day with no one but a 9 month old who isn’t the best conversationalist. Others automatically assume you must be wealthy. My favorite response – “Must be nice. We can’t afford to do that.” Yes, I know that for many, it really isn’t an option and some situations can’t be helped, but cutting your household down to one income is a scary and sometimes, painful thing. We dropped cable and opted for cheaper options like Netflix and Hulu Plus. We don’t have a home phone, only cell phones. We try to limit our restaurant eating to once a week. I also started couponing to save on our essentials. And those are just a few…

I apologize for my rant. I spent too long feeling guilty for picking the “easier” route and worried about what other people would say. In the end, I want what is best for my child and I will do whatever it takes to give it to him. I look forward to the memories we will make and also expect the difficult days we will have. I am accepting the new path I’ve been given and intent to make the most of it!