Category Archives: cost of kids

Child Care & Illness

Every working parent is warned about how kids in child care centers have perpetual runny noses, but until you get dreaded “sick call” again and again, you just can’t relate to how much stress it causes. We are lucky to have pretty healthy kiddos, but those calls still come far too often. We rotate our on-call parent duties, but it’s a stress on the whole family.

I was fed up this week when my Girly was sent home with a low grade fever and a cough (we’ve also been dealing with dietary issues, so this pushed me too far).  I certainly don’t want my kids spreading diseases, but common colds are called that for a reason.  Our kids attend a wonderful child care center, and I know they genuinely care for their health. But the national accreditation has strict requirements and little room for flexibility.  In my frustration I did a little Googling, and it turns out that a recent study showed that  50% of child care directors sent children home with mild illnesses .  

I consider myself “lucky” enough to have sick leave, and a policy that allows me to use up to 40 hours of my own sick leave for my children year (the quotations are supposed to hint at my disdain that Americans haven’t caught on to the whole European safety net idea!) But I wasn’t surprised that between two kids, my 40 hours maxed out in September (so Hubby’s been on full-time sick call.

Oregon has a better policy than most states, but many families still aren’t using/aware of the leave. I also appreciated this quote about how deep rooted this problem is for family finances:

“The majority of our work force lives paycheck to paycheck; taking a day off is difficult and the fear of losing a job is huge,” said Leslie Hammer, a professor of psychology at Portland State University who is working on a study of how supervisors affect an employee’s health and ability to care for their families. The solution is not just about money, but a combination of training supervisors to support family-friendly policies and give employees control over their work time to solve problems themselves.”

And yes, there are some days where I relish being able to stay home a snuggle a sick child, but I’d rather save that for true illness.

How do you deal with absences due to sick kids?

Sustainable Family Finances  
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Pass It On

Lately I’ve started passing on our plethora of baby and kid stuff. A close family friend is due with a baby girl, and we had fun going through Girly’s clothes together. I also gave her our infant car seat, baby bath tub, bouncy chair and baby moses basket. At that point we were overwhelmed by all the stuff in the corner basement room, so we opted to pace ourselves and go through more another time. But it did remind me of the warm sentimental feeling I also got when I gave/got hand-me-downs from family friends as a kid.

I also offered by breast pump to a co-worker of mine who is planning to pump at work, and she’s also very grateful for my generosity.

At some point soon I’m going to try to muster the energy to do some consigning, which apparently has been very popular in Portland. I was only disappointed to see that I missed a big consignment sale

Do you pass it on or sell your kid stuff?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Little Swimmers

I know that I’m a biased water lover, but I think that swimming is a skill every child should learn, and the earlier the better. So we sign up for swim class on Saturday mornings from fall through spring.

It’s a relative bargain at our local community center for $40.50 per child for 9 classes. We can walk there, and we often sign up with friends to make it a play date too.

My only real tip for signing up for class is to make sure that the class time works for your current routine. I once made the mistake of signing up as our nap time was shifting, and we missed several classes. I’ve heard from several friends about how challenging summer classes can be when they are scheduled for every afternoon. Swimming is exhausting, and it could be too much unless they are used it already. It’s probably an age/experience level thing though, because I vividly remember wanting to swim every single day of the summer as a kid.

Yet, secret extra bonus for me is that Hubby usually uses this time to clean, and the kiddos are always tired enough for a nice nap when we return. So in reality I get multiple benefits from a simple swim class.  I certainly think it’s worth the “investment.”

What classes do you do with your family?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Second Hand

Before our Big Guy was born I bought almost solely consigned clothes in all the neutral frogs and duckie onesies. But as he grew up I realized how much harder it was to buy matching items in the right season and size. There never seemed to be any boy pants, and now I realize that it’s because they all get holes before they outgrow them!

It simply turned out that setting a budget and buying twice a year was just easiest, and not all that much more expensive with Gymbucks. I always shop sales in advance and buy large, so I seem to save…although I would hate to tally up how much we’ve spent on clothing kids.

Yet, I do worry about the precedent that I’m setting, especially when I let our Big Guy pick out his own clothes online when we was sick a few weeks ago. We call him a fashionista and he cares a lot about what he wears. Not always what I would choose, but he cares!

I grew up with a fair amount of hand-me-downs and everything we had was handed down to family friends. I always expected that this would be how we would operate, but as it turned out we’ve just never managed to develop this type of relationship. In fact, now that we’ve decided to not have a third, I need a strategy for swapping/consigning/handing on a wealth of kids wardrobes. More on that topic to come…

Do you have a hand-me-down connection?
Do you buy consigned clothing? 

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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


When our Big Guy was born my extended family was ecstatic to have a handsome little guy to adorn. Since we didn’t know the gender of our kiddos in advance, there was an extra level of excitement to go out and shop when he arrived. So, I was grateful to receive some adorable outfits along with some new Mama currency: Gymbucks.

The way that Gymbucks work is that for every $50 you spend at Gymboree, you get a $25 matching coupon to spend during their sale period over a set period of time a few weeks later. So the basic deal is that for every $75 you spend, you get $100 in merchandise.

Even though I find it to be a pretty good deal, Hubby still thinks that it’s a racket and a way to sucker parents into buying overpriced clothes. I half agree.

I’m pretty strategic about my Gym purchases, and I never buy full priced. When I used to shop in stores, I always asked the sale clerks to ring up the subtotal so that I could see how much I was about to spend. Now I shop almost always online, because it is easily to do when kiddos are sleeping and the shopping basket is easy to reference for budget purposes. You also have a bigger selection than a single store.

Like most kids clothing stores, Gymboree lures families into buying ensembles that only match with one time designs. I’ve learned the hard way never to buy a super-cute sale item that may be hard to match with anything later.

So this gets me to the sustainability aspect. I am well aware that purchasing new non-organic clothing has a high environmental impact, and yet I still can’t seem to help myself. It is truly a weak spot of mine…I do want my family to be as comfortable and adorable as possible. More on this topic next week…

Have you used Gymbucks?
Do you think they are a deal?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.