Budget Thursday: Pencil Skirt in Double-Serge Cotton

Readers were recently complaining about J.Crew — their inventory, the fact that they’re getting rid of suiting, and their website — but as much as J.Crew may have some issues right now, J.Crew Factory has a lot of reliable workwear basics, including this double-serge cotton skirt. I love the raspberry color that we’re picturing here, and in general it looks like a great basic for an affordable price — $39.99 to $41.50. It comes in regular and petite in four colors in sizes 00–20. They also have the schoolboy blazer, if you’re a fan, and a bunch of other old J.Crew classics. Pencil Skirt in Double-Serge Cotton

Here’s a plus-size option.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Working mamas with husbands who travel or are in the military – Tell me I can do the next two weeks with DD (10 months old) on my own! I was totally telling myself “I got this” but then last night she was up for 2 hours (which she never does, of course) and I started getting panicky that I’m going to be at my wits end by the end of these two weeks. We’ve done many weekends with just the two of us so that’s OK, but I need some reassurance.

    • You can do this!! You will find your groove and quickly adapt. In some ways, I think solo parenting can be a bit easier, at least in my house, because it’s easier to stick to a routine and kids love routines.
      Good luck!

    • mascot says:

      Plan a kid friendly dinner date or saturday coffee run with some friends. It will give you something to look forward to (conversations! with adults!) and help break up the time. Also, find things that you want to do that don’t get done when your husband is around. I rarely turn on the tv when my husband is gone because I’d much rather read a book or go to bed crazy early.

    • Mama Llama says:

      I’ve never done two weeks, but my husband does travel frequently for shorter time periods. Have you thought about ways to make things a little easier on yourself? Grocery delivery instead of going to the store? Stocking up on frozen meals for yourself? Asking a friend to come hang out with your DD for a couple hours on the weekend so you can get some things done? Making some kind of social plans so you can have some grown-up interaction? This is the time to proactively ask for help from Team You.

      • My husband is out of town (much shorter trip!) this week and I have been asking friends for help, which is hard for me. But we had a plumbing emergency, another house emergency, my stepdaughter is with us, and I had to be at work for a longer day than usual yesterday, so I told myself I was being silly and called a friend to lend a hand. Don’t be afraid to do that!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yup – definitely getting grocery delivery! And MIL is coming next weekend…so that’ll help.

    • Sabba says:

      Can you get a mother’s helper to come hang out for a few hours a couple of days? Like a high school student? Shouldn’t be that expensive and you will be there so you can intervene in anything if necessary. But that should give you time to get some stuff done, or nap, or retreat to read a book or whatever in a quiet corner of the house.

    • You’ve got this! I am cheering you on. When DS was 6 months, husband went on a 2-week work trip on the other side of the world. I was new to the neighbourhood, trying to get a small business off the ground, had sticker shell-shock and stress from the cost of daycare, and almost had a nervous breakdown after friends flaked on our weekend plans. If I could’ve done it differently:
      – There is no shame in eating off paper plates for a few nights.
      – Or getting takeout.
      – Or frozen entrees from Trader Joe’s.
      – Or grocery delivery.
      – Or being the last one to pick up your kid from daycare.
      – You only need to clean up just enough that the baby doesn’t kill himself; the rest is good for his immune system.
      – Even friends without kids might be happy to spend an hour or two entertaining the baby so you can get a few things done.
      – Or just an hour at the library in the children’s section while baby crawls all over the place.
      – And of course, coffee is your best friend.

    • You can do this. We do this every month and I actually look forward to the sweet solo time with baby. You’ll probably feel burnt out by day 7, so have something fun planned now for that. Call friends if you can’t actually see them. Get out with the baby on the weekend – outings make the days much better. I like to have a big movie night for myself on one weekend day – popcorn, snacks, movie of my choice. Try to be gentle with yourself – it’s a ton of work, but you will get through it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve come to really love when DH is out of town because it means I will:
      – order takeout from a place he doesn’t like to eat from;
      – go on a dinner date during the week with DS;
      – have a friend over to hang out on my couch while DS sleeps, AND I WON’T CLEAN THE HOUSE BEFORE SHE COMES OVER! (at-home hangouts with DH are always preceded by a cleaning session, which sucks all the fun out for me);
      – purge/reorganize some aspect of the house without DH’s “helpful input”.

      you probably have a list of similar things that DH’s presence interferes with, so revel in doing all of it.

      • EB0220 says:

        Haha, this is exactly the same thing I do except I clean the house more when he’s gone (no coats/shoes/gym bags in random places to worry about).

        • +1. I can clean the house once and keep it clean all week if DH isn’t home. It’s not just that he’s messy (he is), but that I drastically simplify my life when he’s gone.

      • Mama Llama says:

        Yes, Chinese takeout and watching my trashy reality shows is the only reason a kind of look forward to my husband’s trips.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Do you have any friends or family who might help you at night? For me, that was the hardest part of solo parenting; kiddo was a terrible sleeper, and going night after night on fragmented sleep was so hard for me. I relied on my mom and a couple close friends to spell me when it got overwhelming. It could be comforting to just have someone on call for overnight relief.

      The rest of it will all fall into a routine; you’ll find a way to manage morning routine and dinner/bedtime. Keep it simple, reduce the number of steps, and try to find some time to be alone in the house without kiddos. For me, I drop kiddo off at preschool and then come home to get ready, unload the dishwasher, throw dinner in the crock pot, etc.

    • Do not hesitate to have a sitter come every third night or on weekend afternoons for a few hours so that you can get in some work hours, run errands, have a civilized meal out, or just sleep.

  2. These cotton pencil skirts wrinkle like crazy. I’d never buy one again. It’s a shame because they fit well and look great until you sit down.

  3. Talk to me about bedtime routines. My three-year-old went to bed at 11pm last night! She is usually tired by 8:30 but fights it till around 10pm. 11pm was an all-new low. We have had a hard three months with lots of travel, illnesses, and a new baby so our night time routine has totally slipped. How do I get back to our normal? I was thinking of talking with her about our night time routine and creating a chart, so that we can all be on the same page. I run into trouble at the end of the night when she asks for one more book (or equivalent), because saying No really triggers a fight in her. I try to redirect instead of saying no, but that only works with moderate success.

    • Try the bedtime pass to give her one chance to delay but no more? Sometimes you just have to stick to it, make the room boring and safe, and then shut the door at bedtime and just get through the one or two nights of screaming. Like cry it out all over again. Let the “No” trigger the fight but stick to what you said. You can talk about it beforehand if you think it will help. (“Tonight we are going to take a bath, sit on the potty, read 1 book, sing 1 song, tuck you in, and then it is bedtime. I’m telling you now because I don’t want a big fuss of it. If you still decide to make a fuss, I am going to leave the room without finishing our routine. Sleep is important and we need to get back to routine. You can kick and cry if you need to, although I rather you not. I am not coming back in the room after bedtime unless it is an emergency.”)

      • Yep. One night last week, Kiddo wouldn’t brush his teeth. I did pretty much what Sabba described–“If you do not brush your teeth or let me do it, I’ll think you’re too tired for the rest of bedtime routine, and we’ll go straight to bed.” I ended up having to follow through, which meant I didn’t read books to him. I felt like the meanest mom ever as Kiddo screamed and howled that he wanted to read books from his room. DH reassured me that I was doing the right thing, at least after I had decided to threaten him.

        One deviation–I went back in and helped Kiddo calm down and told him I loved him and tucked him in, and he settled down and went to sleep, although he was pretty sad about it. YMMV with this one, but my son really needs help to calm down. If we leave him in his room to cry and scream, he’ll get more and more worked up and has hurt himself in the past just hitting his head on the wall or door or floor (we can’t pad the whole room).

        Anyways, the next night, he was an absolute angel with teeth-brushing, and we read books before bedtime. Since then, he’s just needed a gentle reminder about brushing his teeth in order to move the process along.

        • I really believe that people react to crying differently. Based on the popularity/success of CIO and Hallmark, I assume most people calm down after a cry and use it to sort of release emotions. I am the opposite. Crying makes me feel worse and I spiral into craziness. My kids both appear to be the same way, as they’ll get more worked up when they cry and end up puking or violent or other destructive behaviors.

          Since I’m this way too, I’m working to teach them methods to cope, like sticking your face in a sink of cold water, or deep breathing exercises, or talking through feelings before they get to the point of tears. But they absolutely need help to calm down if they get to that point of no return. They will never ever be the kids who cry themselves to sleep. I envy everyone else who is like that, though.

        • Sabba says:

          I actually do the same thing! When reinforcing consequences results in a screamfest, DH or I have to go back into the room and say a word or two to help child calm down. If she lost the chance for a book, story, or song, we don’t back down” But we will tell her something like “We love you. You need to calm down so your body can sleep. You lost your story tonight, but tomorrow you can make better decisions and we can read X or Y book. We’re looking forward to having breakfast in the morning and reading with you tomorrow night. Good night.” This is said rather stoically and we don’t give in to delay even if she starts acting out for attention again, it is just a 1 minute reminder to help her calm down. Usually once or twice in a 10 minute span will do the trick. Only once did she keep screaming and we just ignored it for 10 or 20 minutes. Enforcing the boundaries is crucial.

        • That’s an interesting point about people reacting differently to crying, Anon. We actually used the Ferber method for sleep training very successfully, but thinking back on it, Kiddo usually calmed down when we went in and didn’t start crying again after the first or second pat-down.

          Now that he’s a toddler, we work a lot on coping with big feelings–deep breaths, stomp three times (thanks, Daniel Tiger), talking through feelings, etc. Sometimes, though, when I start, he screams at me, “NO I DON’T WANT TO. I DON’T WANT TO CALM DOWN.” It’s actually a little funny–I’m not sure what the parenting books suggest when your kid actively resists the techniques.

    • We are super consistent with our routine and I think that nips a lot of the fight in the bud. There is no (successful) negotiating around bedtime routine, so if kiddo asks for one more book, she knows the answer will be no. I think it’s much harder for them (or anyone, really) when you’re not sure if the answer will be yes or no– the no is a let down from the possibility of a yes. If you take away the possibility of a yes, there is less disappointment. It will be a rough transition, but after a few days she’ll get it.

      Our basic routine after dinner is short play (usually a puzzle or a coloring book), pjs, brush teeth, comb hair, book, story, bed. The whole thing takes about 40 minutes, including play time. We narrate and count down a lot. 5 more minutes of play and then pjs, 2 more minutes and then pjs, time to put on pjs, while putting on pjs we say up next is toothbrushing, while we’re toothbrushing we say after this is coming your hair, etc. etc. It helps our kid to know what’s next and reinforces that there is an order of things that we do not deviate from.

    • bluefield says:

      Second what everyone is saying about consistent bedtime routine. We struggled with this until we very recently instituted a 2 books, 1 song, bed routine. My husband, who is a pushover, would entertain all requests, read that “one more book,” sing one more song, etc., until it was like a 2 hr ordeal to go to bed. So I instituted regiment. Any requests for bathroom, water or milk have to be made before we sit down for books, otherwise it’s not happening. There’s no deviation and I keep reading the book over her attempts to distract. She wants to ask questions? Ignore, keep reading. She wants to run out to the kitchen to see what’s going on out there? Fine, but I’m going to keep reading and once I’m done I’m done. Once the song is over we leave the room (sometimes I have to physically drag my husband out). It’s helped tremendously and now she usually protests when we leave for like 30 seconds and then passes out.

    • I really like your idea of a chart! I think that would give her more autonomy and let her know what’s coming next, but also like Redux said it would take away the possibility of negotiating for more, hopefully bringing her reassurance instead of disapointment/holding out hope for a “yes”. My LO is only 10 months but I find that if I put him to bed EARLIER, in your instance say starting bedtime at 8 instead of 8:30, I can avoid the overtired delay til 10-11PM. I realize your LO is older so this may not apply. Good luck!

    • EB0220 says:

      We did a chart for a while when my kiddo was around that age, and it did help. I took a picture of her doing each step in the bedtime routine. Then I printed and laminated the pictures. I put two strips of velcro on half of a file folder and then put the opposite velcro piece on the back of each picture. Everything starts at the top for “not done” and then moves to the bottom as she does each item. Bedtime had gotten better so we stopped using it so much, but may be time to go back (see below, ha).

  4. Dishwasher Baskets for Bottle Parts says:

    Anyone have a favorite model, or one to definitely avoid? Are they worth registering for before you know what type bottle / nipple you will be using? Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just my own personal experience…We never use these because we don’t run the dishwasher daily. But the bottles need to be cleaned nightly so they can be loaded up for daycare for the next day. So we handwash and then put in a bottle sterilizer. I would consider how your family functions on a daily basis when deciding whether to get these/not get them.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m *amazed* and jealous that you don’t need to run your dishwasher every day. DH and I ran it every day, sometimes even twice a day pre-kid, and now that we have bottles and pump parts we run it every morning and evening and sometimes on weekends we will do a third load in the middle of the day.

      • so buy more bottles? this is a ton of extra work for no reason. Spend the $12.

    • We did use one but I bought it later, when I went back to work (12 weeks). At that point, I had a clearer idea of what we needed. Plus, the one I got (Munchkin, I think) was about $3 on Amazon, so I don’t think it’s worth registering for. What I loved much more was our Boon grass drying rack, which I got from the local independent baby store on their recommendation. That thing is awesome!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, get the cheap one on Amazon for like $3, don’t worry about registering for it (but you can, of course), and it’ll probably work for pump parts too.

      • I use the munchkin one. Seems fine. I have two sets of pump parts so I run those through every other day.

        I am incredibly lucky in that daycare doesn’t need bottles made up ahead of time – I literally send just the Medela ones I’ve pumped in, she keeps a couple Dr Browns bottles at her house which she washes daily and refills for each feeding, which means zero milk is wasted. I’m spoiled. I thought from reading this s i t e I’d need like 700 bottles, but really, we only need like 3.

    • AwayEmily says:

      Our strategy was to buy a fair amount of extra bottles and pump parts and put the dirty ones into a plastic bin on the counter at the end of each day. Then, every three days or so we’d do a “bottles and parts only” wash on the sterilize setting. For some reason doing one big wash every few days felt more manageable than constantly worrying about whether we had bottles for the next day.

      We used the OxoTot dishwasher basket and had no complaints.

    • We use both a Born Free one and the OXO Tot one–they’re both good at different things, but I don’t think either would work very well if you’re using wide-mouth bottles, just because the nipples etc. are so much bigger. I agree with everyone else that it probably makes more sense to wait and see what kind of bottles you end up using and then just buy one yourself, since they’re under $10.

    • We had the Munchkin one, and even though my kids are well past the baby stage, it still gets used for plastic straws from their water bottles and other small bits and pieces.

    • I wouldn’t register. We used the Munchkin (and it’s still used with our toddler) but if you use the Dr. Brown bottles, there are so many pieces that their specific dishwasher baskets are the best, even if they’re expensive and a waste of space. They only fit 3 sets each, but we had 4 and they were totally worth it.

  5. EB0220 says:

    Please help me deal with having 2 kids. I adore both of my children (3 and 5) and am glad to have two BUT when they both want attention at the same time I have no idea how to cope. Bedtime is especially challenging. #1 is trying to tell me something while #2 needs help in the bath. I don’t meet either need, they both get upset and end up crying/yelling/etc. It’s awful. Give me your best strategies! We do “special time” at bedtime which is 5-10 minutes 1:1 with each kid talking about their day, so I am trying to give each of them dedicated attention that they can expect…but maybe they need more than that. Help?

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Is your spouse around during this time? Can you divide and conquer? If not, can you give both kids a bath at the same time? Or can you have the older one sit in the bathroom while you give the younger one a bath, so you all can talk?

      • EB0220 says:

        Whoops, should have mentioned this is specifically when he’s traveling (about twice a month).

    • Can you stagger their bedtimes (3yo going down first) and let 5yo have screentime while you do that as a reward for getting in his pjs and brushing his teeth all by himself?

      I know screentime before bed is supposed to be bad, but this is how my SIL does it and seems to work really well.

      • EB0220 says:

        Hmm good idea. She’d probably be fine w/ playtime on her own honestly. Worth a try!

      • Anonymous says:

        Conversely, I have a 3 and 5 year old, and I found that lumping them together for all things bedtime ended the struggles. YMMV, of course, but I do a lot of solo bedtimes, and for me, at least, spending solo time with each kid prolonged the struggle. Both kids were fighting for their solo time with me, and I could feel their anxiety heighten when it was time to switch kid. Or, when my husband was present, they’d fight over which parent they got. We found ourselves running back and forth between their rooms and everyone cried, the whole time. Staggering bedtime didn’t work b/c my 3 year old never fell asleep by the time I started bedtime witht he 5 yr old, and she’d cry for me when she heard me come upstairs.

        It was an extreme measure -but we threw up our hands, and put them in the same room. Now, I try to sneak in their 5/10 minute solo time before we start bedtime routine. Then, they get a bath together (or sometimes 5 yr old will shower first), then they brush teeth together, then we all read stories together in rocking char in their room, and they both go down at the same time. I sit and rock in the chair for a little longer with the lights out. It honestly made it easier for me b/c I never have to tell one that I’m with the other, and I think it honestly made them closer. The 5 year old loves to get the 3 year old’s toothbrush ready and they sing silly songs together. Caveat that we also start bedtime pretty early b/c this whole thing takes a while.

        • Mine are 5 and 2 (opposite genders) and we did the same thing – put them in the same room and lump them together for the entire bedtime routine. With bath, it takes about 45 minutes. Around 25 minutes without. They clean up together, change into pajamas together, brush teeth together (we have a double sink with two stepstools), take turns pottying, read books together on my lap, and then sing the same songs from their beds.

          I can’t tell if it’s age-related or bedroom-sharing-related, but I also think it made them closer and it’s freaking adorable. After we leave, the oldest “teaches” the youngest ABCs and words and what to expect in preschool. “In Miss X’s room, you have to sit criss cross applesauce, like this. Yeah, move your foot. Okay. Now sit there quietly while I show you this book. Then you get to go to stations. But the sensory table is closed today, okay?”

        • Do you have a regular size rocking chair or an extra large one? i’m pregnant with twins and we are in the market for a chair/glider that will fit both

          • We have a regular sized cheapo glider and both kids still fit on my lap (one on each leg) at 5 and 2. It might help that we’ve read to them like that pretty much every night since they were born, so by now they know which leg they sit on, and to keep still so they don’t fall. Twins might be different since I only dealt with one floppy baby at a time, but I am definitely able to make it work with two kids.

            I can’t find our exact one but it is similar to this:

        • I have three kids (each 2-2.5 years apart), and we always ran our bedtime routine like this. All the kids took a bath together, read stories together, changed etc. My husband usually did the bathtime/changing part (and he is much better than I am at it), but at least when he traveled, I could slot myself in relatively smoothly. I also heavily encouraged doing things on their own (which worked well for the older two, not so much for the youngest), so I could be encouraging them while helping another kid.

        • +1 this is what we do as well with a 2yo and 4yo. Everything is together, and they now share a room. It works great for us!

        • EB0220 says:

          HA! Well maybe they need to share a room! Right now we do everything in oldest kiddo’s room and bathroom. #2 has her own room and bathroom. I wonder if always doing it in oldest’s room is contributing to the struggles. Maybe my switching off between them is making them anxious. I typically do “special time” with one kid while other one plays in the bath, then switch. I can keep an eye on the bath kid while also talking with the “special time” kid….hmmm…so many ideas to try!

          • If one is in the bath the other is not really getting “special time”, since you are keeping an ear (maybe even eye) on them. Special book, art project, screen time – something really engaging for the other kid is needed. It might even vary per kid. Perhaps 5yo is independent enough in the bath that she can do that, and 3yo gets TV during 5yos ‘special time’.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I have only one kiddo, so fwiw. How do you feel when you have two kids demanding things from you at the same time? Do you get flustered? Because I know I get really flustered when kiddo barks conflicting orders me at and I try to do three things at once.

      My response now is to say, “Kiddo, I can do one thing at a time and right now I’m doing [X]. When I’m done, I’ll help you.” And sometimes I distract her by doing a silly dance while I do X or asking her to do a helpful thing (clear the table, get a towel, put her shoes on, etc) so I can get a bit more breathing space.

      And hugs. Solo parenting is hard.

  6. deceptive husband says:

    My husband has been deceptive about some things and I don’t know what steps to take. We have two toddlers, and he is a wonderful, very doting father and husband. He does more than half the housework, spends virtually every evening and the entire weekend with us, and by all accounts is happy. But–
    A few months ago I found out my husband spent $1,000 on a painting. It was something he never discussed with me. He’d paid for it with a credit card. We haven’t yet received it and I don’t know how he would have explained it away to me – possibly would have lied about how much it costed. I found out after having seen that the payments to his credit card from our shared bank account were more and more, and I made him show me his statements. We are in our early forties and have a ton of grad school debt, childcare for two, and don’t even own our own place, and wouldn’t have a fighting chance of owning until our kids are out of daycare.
    I also saw he bought some weird devices for pot. We’d done some drugs when we were much younger – I’m talking college and in our twenties – but that stopped about 15 years ago. He still smokes pot very occasionally – perhaps every couple months- and I’m okay with that. I still wasn’t a fan of his making these purchases.
    Yesterday an email popped up on our shared computer. I can’t believe I’m typing something so ridiculous, but — my husband ordered psilocybin mushrooms, from some company in Canada. To be delivered to our home.
    I asked him about it. I said where on earth were you getting this delivered, WHY are you doing this. WHEN would you even do this? He looked shamefaced but also said, basically, what’s the big deal.
    I don’t feel like I know him. It is such a violation. Illegal, expensive – and worst off, we have kids. On top of everything else – I’m a lawyer. I can’t imagine the consequences if it was discovered that illegal substances were delivered to our home.
    I’m honestly in shock right now. Any words of wisdom or advice would be so appreciated.

    • Mama Llama says:

      Wow, that’s all really troubling. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. Unfortunately, I think the only answer right now is therapy, ideally both as a couple and individually for you. You need to grapple with what it means to be married to and raising children with someone who you don’t trust to tell you the truth and whose judgment you don’t trust.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.
      I see two issues here:
      1. “Financial Infidelity” as Dave Ramsey calls it. It sounds like things are tight financially and you thought you were working towards some shared goals (paying down debt, owning your own place) and he was working against that without your knowledge. That violates the trust that exists between you and involves deception and lack of communication on his part, so that’s a big deal.
      2. The other issue is the illegal substances. Outside of whether or not you view the substances themselves as an issue, he’s breaking the law in a way that could jeopardize your family’s future (if he were caught and had to go to jail or pay a substantial fine, or even substantial legal costs) and also your career, and is doing so without your consent. Again, this is a violation of trust, because it’s your home too and he’s involving you in illegal activity without your consent.

      I’d think step one would be to frame his actions in this context (if you agree) and discuss with him. He may be viewing it as “no big deal I splurged a bit on a painting and bought some weed” not “you committed financial infidelity, put our family at risk through illegal activity, and lied to me about it through the process”. If he doesn’t agree when you discuss, maybe marriage counseling is in order, in addition to individual counseling for him. Sounds like he’s going through something that is causing him to take these risks.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        Also, not to encourage further deception in your marriage, but if it were me I’d strongly consider starting a personal emergency fund. You can either tell him you’re doing it (because you can no longer trust your financial future with him and would feel more secure with a safety net for you and the kids) or keep it quiet, but starting a savings account only you have access to may be a good idea

        • Anonanonanon says:

          OK last comment-
          Also, just as you would get yourself checked out with a doctor after a physical infidelity, check your investment accounts and run a credit check on yourself if you don’t already have credit monitoring, to make sure he hasn’t been withdrawing from joint investments or opening cards/taking out loans in your name.
          If these actions or future conversations reveal a larger debt issue or pattern of spending, consider discussing the idea of a post-nup in marriage counseling to protect yourself from being responsible for his debts should something happen in the future…

    • CPA Lady says:

      I’ve had the best luck having difficult “big picture” conversations when I’m coming from a place of calmness and curiosity. What is it in his life that makes him want to do this? Does he want more adventure and excitement? Does he feel trapped in a mundane life? Does he miss having fun? Does he want to explore? Because there are ways to approach these issues that don’t involve blowing money irresponsibly and doing illegal drugs and hiding things from you. I would guess that the more you freak out the more he’s going to be ashamed and shut down.

      Also, spending all your time together as a family with a couple of toddlers sounds kind of stifling (maybe not to you, but definitely to me). My husband and I both have outside interests that we pursue several times a month. Maybe your husband should take a painting class and you could go do something on your own too?

      • Anon in NYC says:

        I 100% agree with this comment. While I totally get what you (OP) are feeling, I also wonder why he’s making these purchases. He has an ostensibly good life and takes on a lot of responsibility – based on what you’ve described, it seems so out of character for him to be secretly spending a lot of money on paintings and drugs. I wonder what emotional need he’s trying to fill here.

        • Anonnymommy7 says:

          Yes, my first reaction was, when will she find out that her husband has a girlfriend? As with little kids, if you want to get the truth, I think you need to stay very calm. Get a support network NOW, start an emergency fund, review your credit report, and get to marriage counseling. Something is going on here and it doesn’t sound good.

          • Anon in NYC says:

            Although, I will say, it really could be nothing more than him feeling a need to be “more” than just a husband, father, and employee. He could just honestly need something else in his life. I don’t think that’s unreasonable (I need that). Of course, secretly spending money on unnecessary items and drugs is not the way to do it.

      • CPA Lady says:

        I wouldn’t let him “get away” with this, to be clear– his behavior is not okay and I would absolutely bring up your concerns. But if he’s not too far down this road, a calm conversation, commiseration, and a few changes could help immensely.

    • POSITA says:

      The deception is certainly serious. Aside from that major issue, however, it sounds like your husband is really struggling with having two toddlers and his life. My husband actually ended up on blood pressure medicine for about a year after we had our second. He found the two kids really stressful and was having serious physical symptoms. We ended up making several changes in our lives to reduce stress (e.g., I left Biglaw, we got an au pair instead of daycare, we used meal delivery services, etc.). Life has gotten easier as the kids have gotten older and we’ve adjusted, but it is still hard. Finding a way to address the stresses in your shared life may go a long way towards addressing the deception and rebuilding trust.

    • deceptive husband says:

      I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for all your kind replies and advice. Thank you so much. I feel calmer but (appropriately) still angry, and will discuss. I will make an appointment with a counselor as well.

      • I really hope this works out for you OP. I felt for you reading these replies. I hope the counseling works out and that your DH can find healthier outlets for whatever his emotional need is right now.

        • deceptive husband says:

          This was so sweet. (like everyone else who was lovely enough to reply.) Thank you.

  7. Ugh. Yesterday I had a really stressful day – two separate home emergencies I needed to leave work to meet people for, piano lesson for stepdaughter, started my day at work 2 hours earlier than usual for an early meeting, my husband is out of town so no splitting daycare or other toddler duties. I was hoping to pop out before 5 to pick up my son from daycare before the plumber arrived, and my boss walked in and reminded me of a priority she wanted me to take care of – at 4:45. So I did a quick start on that and finished it up this morning.

    Then she walked in and pointed out I had done it in the wrong order. (Think something that needed to be done by priority group, and did it alphabetically, therefore doing some first that should have been later.) I don’t think it will matter in the long run, but it might, and this is an important project and feel hella stupid. THEN five minutes later she emailed me a response to something I sent earlier and forgot an attachment.

    And I have to leave early today for my son’s doctor appointment, which I feel like is a bad scene after having to leave yesterday for an appointment in the middle of the day (see aforementioned home emergency). I wanted to come in early today but only made it in a half hour early instead of an hour (getting kids ready solo took longer than I thought). I’m so tired I have the twitchies in both eyelids. And I just feel like a big idiot for making a mistake that was clearly because I was not paying attention to details. UGH. Please tell me I’m not going to lose my job for being an idiot who has to leave work a lot this week. (And I was out sick Monday with a non-negotiable migraine that wasn’t responding to my rx.)

    • I feel you. I’ve been in and out for several appointments over the last week, plus with pumping I feel like I’m NEVER at my desk.

      I think the best advice is to think about others – do you really notice when they’re out that much, as long as they respond to emails and get things done? Do you mentally mark them down for forgetting an attachment?

      As long as you’re on your game 99% of the time, no one will care. When I think about seriously underperforming coworkers, it is never a one-off and has zero correlation to whether they’re in the office. In fact I have a coworker who is part time, teleworks, and has a special needs daughter going through a lot with school/IEP/etc so she constantly has meetings at the school – and she’s definitely one of the most competent, thorough people I work with. If she’s not around I just assume she has a good reason!

      • Ahh thanks. I need to just be kind to myself, and you are right – I’m not normally the worst employee ever. I needed to hear that.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Hugs. I think everyone is in that boat – re-entry after the holidays has been rocky around my office and for most of my clients. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about other peoples’ perception of your performance though. Wait until someone says something, and then address it in the moment.

    • Sabba says:

      It sounds like you are managing the impossible as well as you can. I am exhausted just reading this. The only way out is through. Good luck and hugs.

  8. Really struggling lately with 3yo’s bedtime. We aim for an 8pm bedtime, which I gather is on the late side for 3yos, but he regularly stays awake til after 9. He tosses and turns; reads books; sings; and also requests multiple potty trips and visits by mom/dad. I feel like the usual advice is always an earlier bedtime is better, but afraid he’ll just end up lying there awake (and calling for us) even longer. As a condition locating factor, he shares a room with his baby sister, so we usually respond quickly when he yells for us to avoid him waking the baby. We’re not ready to drop his nap. Would it make sense to push bedtime back (say, to 8:30) until he drops nap, and then move it up earlier again?

    • *complicating* factor, not condition locating.

    • Anonymous says:

      When my son was 3.5 he would nap at daycare but not preschool or at home (he had preschool 3 days/week only). On days he napped, he often didn’t fall asleep until 9 or later, although he is a freak and was usually content to lie in bed and talk to himself rather than harassing us – we still put him to bed at the same time as no nap days because we could get away with it. On no nap days we would fall asleep when we put him to bed at 7:30ish.

      If possible dropping the nap might be best, but if not, going to bed later or waking up earlier might help him fall asleep faster. Look at the total number of hours of sleep in the day, not just bedtime. And yes, bedtime will need to move earlier when the nap goes.

    • Does he still nap? If yes – this may be a sign that his sleep needs are decreasing and he will soon drop his nap. If no – I have no idea, but will be following (similar issue in my house).

    • Anonymous says:

      I have the same 3 year old, and went through it with my now 5 year old around this age, and I do think the earlier bedtime helps a little. With my 3 year old, if she is in bed with lights out around 7:15, she will fall asleep by 8 or 8:15. When she goes to bed after 7:30, she’ll be up to 9 or 9:15. I just posted above about how mine are in the same room, so unfortunately, it usually means the 5 year old ends up on the same schedule. The 7:15 bedtime isn’t always realistic, so I try to roll with it and just know she might be up late if we miss the window (although I get stressed b/c 5 year olds natural fall asleep time is 7:45 unless he is distracted – downside of room sharing). I have found that giving them both library books helps keep them quiet and in their respective beds, even if they aren’t asleep. Library books work better at keeping them interested than their tried and true books, and I try to switch them out pretty regularly.

      • Interesting – thanks. Usually the baby goes down around 7:15/7:30 so that’s the challenge with getting the 3yo down earlier. Maybe library books would help. Or moving the baby out temporarily.

    • I don’t think there’s any harm in trying it. When I was a toddler, I didn’t nap and went to bed pretty late compared to other kids and did fine. (My poor parents.) But I would be firm about not going back into his room multiple times in exchange for him getting to stay up half an hour later. I’d also say that the extra half hour is for quiet play, books, coloring, etc. I’d probably still do the quiet play before the bedtime routine (maybe while you put the baby to bed), but the idea is to not get riled up with an extra half hour of playtime.

      My only other suggestion is to make sure your 3 yo is getting plenty of exercise earlier in the day. It’s so hard during the winter because it’s cold and it gets dark early. Over the summer and fall, I was taking half-hour walks with Kiddo in the evenings. When daylight savings ended, we stopped taking our walks. Within a week, we and his teachers noticed a lot of behavioral problems/aggression, and nap time and bedtime became a big struggle. We found ways to increase Kiddo’s exercise, and things improved again.

      • Ugh – yes on the exercise. We can tell by his behavior in the evenings whether they got to play outside at daycare that day. Unfortunately daycare doesn’t take them outside if the weather is at all inclement (in dc and they haven’t played outside in weeks). Any ideas for getting exercise in when they’re stuck inside?

        • NewMomAnon says:

          Do you have access to an indoor swimming pool? Because that is how I wear kiddo out when it’s too cold to go outside. It’s amazing; a half hour swim will take her from “hyperactive” to “mellow.”

        • Sure! These are all things we do at home, although my kid’s only 2.5, not 3. And none of these are independent, so it’s hard if there’s just one parent actually trying to get something done.
          – Simon Says with big movements like arm pinwheels and turning around and jumping. Since your kid’s older, you could probably do stuff like jump on one foot, etc., or add a counting element to the game.
          – Spinning in circles in the living room or Kiddo’s bedroom (my specialty).
          – Various forms of horseplay/wrestling, especially on mommy and daddy’s bed (husband’s specialty). – “I Spy” but he has to walk to the item he finds (or as close as possible) that’s the right color.
          – Dancing, especially with music videos. Bruno Mars is my kid’s favorite.
          – Go through the shuffled stack of cards on the “Roll and Play” game as fast as possible, ignoring the die. Kiddo’s a little old for the game now, but it’s hilarious when you speed it up.

          If you have a long hallway (we don’t), you can do red light/green light.

          We’ve pushed dinner back a little, so we have play time when he gets home, and that’s as active as we feel like he needs based on his energy level. Then we have dinner, a few minutes of calmer playtime, cleanup, and the bedtime routine.

    • Can you shorten his nap? For reference, my kid dropped her nap at 2.5, and we did it because if she napped, she’d be up until 8:30/9 and that just didn’t work for our family (mama needed down time at night). If your kid is much older than just-turned-3 and is still taking >1 hour naps, it really may be time to think about dropping them. He’ll go to bed at 7! :)

      I’d do some good exercise after dinner- outside play, an indoor trampoline if it’s too cold, that kind of thing. Then bath, stories, and lights out by 8:30.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Babysitting my 2.5 year old niece solo this weekend. Any suggestions for activities or outings that may be special and exciting for her? I have some go-tos but something new would be fun.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      How fun. My daughter loves the library. Other good ideas would be a children’s museum or an indoor playground like a My Gym. Depending on how cold it is, new playgrounds are always great. For another indoor activity, get a muffin pan, baking soda, food coloring, and distilled vinegar. Put the pan in your sink (or on a cookie sheet), fill each cup with some baking soda. Put a few drops of food coloring into each cup, and then pour distilled vinegar over each one. My daughter went nuts over this “experiment.”

      • Yes look up Toddler Science Experiments. Have materials for 4-5 on hand, but know you might only get to a few of them, if you happen on one that she loves, so get enough to repeat them a couple times.

        Mine love any of the ones that involve droppers or mess. The milk and soap and food dye one, the dripping vinegar on baking soda with food dye under it one, the mix paint and shaving cream in a ziplock one, the will it sink or float one, even the red water plus yellow water equals blue water one.

        You can also look for activities that use food. Skittles in water make a rainbow, popsicle sticks and gumdrops build houses and so do pretzels and marshmallows, or just separate M&Ms or goldfish by color.

    • Painting! Either one of those ceramic places, or just buy something to paint at Michael’s or Target and find an old t-shirt.

  10. My 2.5-year-old would be most excited about playing with play-doh and going for a walk.

    We have memberships to the zoo, aquarium, and Children’s Museum. We also occasionally take him to an indoor gym/playground and to an indoor pool. He enjoys all of them, but they’re mostly an excuse for us to get out of the house.

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