Washable Workwear Wednesday: Ruched Ponte Sheath Dress

machine washable sheath dress for work (and under $100!)Oooh: a machine washable sheath dress for work that’s also under $100, and from a great brand like Brooks Brothers Red Fleece? Sign me up. I love the length and the ruching detail, the fact that the dress is $68, and that it comes in black, navy, and gray. Lovely. Ruched Ponte Sheath Dress

Looking for other washable workwear? See all of our recent recommendations for washable clothes for work, or check out our roundup of the best brands for washable workwear.

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  1. I ordered this dress recently. It ran big, so definitely size down if you’re between sizes. I’m 5’9″, 145 lbs and the M was super wide on me.

  2. BabyBoom says:

    Does anyone here have experience hiking with toddlers? We are close to several great hiking areas. I would like to take the 2 year old and 1 year old hiking in the fall. The 2 year old would walk, the 1 year old would be in a carrier. Other than greatly reducing the length of the hikes, any advice? I’m thinking we would just need a soft carrier for the 1 year old since we won’t be going all that far.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Would your 2 year old actually walk? I took my 15 month old on very short “hikes” and she refused to walk, didn’t want to be in the carrier, and only wanted to be carried in my/my husband’s arms. It was a bit of a nightmare! Haven’t done one since.

    • Two Cents says:

      The only time I have been able to successfully take my 2.5 year old hiking is when the following happens: 1) he eats a really big breakfast beforehand, 2) hike is VERY easy (totally flat) and 3) in the shade.

      If any of these three do not happen, I end up having to carry him for half the time.

      We recently returned from Hawaii and even the hikes deemed “easy” were too hard for my son. Would definitely recommend a hiking carrier (if your 2 year old will actually sit in it, my son refuses to!).

    • Be prepared to ‘hike’ at toddler pace and for very short distances! Dress warmly – you’ll be standing still a lot of the time. Pack ALL THE SNACKS. Are you doing this solo with a 2 year old and 1 year old? Massive respect!

      When my son was 14 months last summer we took him hiking several times. Once, a 3h hike up and down a mountain with him in a soft carrier turned into a 5h hike as he insisted on getting out of the carrier to explore. Nothing quite like an overly ambitious young toddler trying to hike on his own! Then, exhausted, he fell asleep for the ride down.

      Now he’s 2+; we have a proper frame pack but haven’t even attempted a mountain this year. We did go for a short walk on a trail around a pond; he again wanted to get in and out of the carrier, trotted a substantial segment of the 1.5-mile loop on his own, and finally wanted to be held. Phew.

    • anonhikes says:

      When my twins were about 2.5, we made a big effort to stop using the stroller and walk longer distances as part of our daily city life. That translated into their being willing to hike without constant whining for the first time — I think the act of taking long walks with us was more familiar. Other things that help: flat hikes, being willing to carry them intermittently to give their legs a break, lots of snacks, taking time to let them pick up rocks and stare at bugs, and often a milkshake on the way home.

    • avocado says:

      I would practice taking long walks close to home with the frame pack + soft carrier before attempting to hike on real trails. Our daughter did great in the frame pack until one day shortly before she turned 3, when she objected so vociferously to getting into the pack that we were afraid the rangers would hear the screaming and think someone was in danger. After that we had to let her walk. This works if you have a mild-mannered, obedient kid who will hold hands instead of trying to run off on her own, but if you have a runner you will need a leash or a safe environment like a nature center or park close to home.

      Before we had to give up on the pack we would usually do a “real” hike with the pack, then a shorter walk on a flat nature trail where we could let her run ahead.

      • avocado says:

        Sorry, misread the original post and thought you were putting the 2-year-old in a frame pack. With the 2-year-old walking, a kiddie leash is not a bad idea especially if there is only one adult who will be wearing the 1-year-old.

        One thing we have found helpful on hikes is to have a “mission” or scavenger hunt to keep the kid engaged. Our local national park has one trail with an interpretive guide that gives a list of things to look for. We have also used the Scavenger Hike Adventures series of books.

    • POSITA says:

      My 3 yo is absolutely incapable of hiking like a normal person. She constantly complains that her legs are tired. But if I dare her to run to the rock/tree/post/etc, she sprints up the trail like a rocket. I got her to climb an entire mountain by daring her to run to the next spot. Apparently her legs are only too tired to hike, but sprinting is a-okay.

    • BabyBoom says:

      These are great suggestions. Thanks! We would definitely have 2 adults at all times. We take regular walks around the neighborhood, but we always have the double stroller as a back up. I think we will start on some paved trails and see if we can work our way up to hiking. Very short, and patient hikes!

    • Spirograph says:

      We had decent luck with short hikes when my son was 2-3. I think my husband told him that all the trees with blazes on them were “monster trees!!!!!” and he had to hit them with his sword. Son would immediately find a suitable stick and have a great time slaying trees for a mile or so.

      I would get a frame hiking backpack (we got a second-hand one from a local listserv for $25), if you want to do anything longer than a mile. Your 2 year old will almost certainly get tired or uncooperative, and a backpack will be much easier. My 2 year old is a great hiker until she’s not. At some point, maybe after 5 minutes, maybe 30+, she will just stop and refuse to go any farther. She will just watch us walk away out of sight and stand there with her arms crossed, sulking. At that point, 1 year old switches to the soft carrier, and obstinate 2 year old gets the frame pack.

    • Anonymous says:

      You will have to carry the two year old at least some of the time if you want to cover any distance. To cover slightly longer distances we sometimes plan a ‘walk in/carry out’ hike. Still toddler paced and length appropriate. But this way, if toddler can hiked a mile or so, you can do a two mile hike by carrying them out.

      Recommend getting a toddler leash backpack. Toddler was often motivated to carry a stuffie in their backpack or liked to carry out leaves/rocks etc in their backpack.

    • Marilla says:

      Look for hikes marked “stroller friendly”. There are plenty in parks and conservation areas near me. Baby and snacks and diapers in stroller, toddler walks, then when toddler is tired and grouchy baby goes in the carrier and toddler goes in the stroller.

    • Due in December says:

      Our 1.5 year old happily “hikes” with us as long as we have lowered expectations (i.e., the last hike involved lots of sifting through the dirt in the trail, climbing boulders, walking on every.single.log we passed, etc. Things we have found helpful:

      Wide trails or areas where you can move to the side of the trail, so you don’t have to worry about holding up other hikers.

      Bringing a dog if you have one because for my daughter at least is really fun to constantly call/follow/monitor the dog.

      Providing small child’s backpack to carry water, whatever, to increase excitements.

      Following POSITA’s approach of making up games, making the hike exciting.

      Also, bring a small first aid kit.

      And if you see yourself wanting to hike a lot in the future, it may make sense to invest in a framed carrier for the older one (so the younger one can also use it eventually). My daughter loves loves loves our Osprey pack, and having one would take the pressure off the hike. When we want to go on longer hikes, we do the hike in (usually up a mountain), have snacks or water / swim at lake, then on the way down have daughter walk as long as she wants. She usually ends up sleeping as soon as we put her back in the pack. We have to add at least an hour (so our usual 5-hour hike becomes 6 or 7), but it’s nice because it means we can still go on hikes we like, there tend to be fewer people the longer the hikes are, and we can get altitude if we want.

      • Due in December says:

        Also having the backpack means you can give the 2 year old two acceptable options. When my daughter whines or asks to be held during a hike, we can give a hug and then ask her if she wants to walk or go in the backpack. For us, this is easier than just saying, no, we can’t carry you, you have to walk.

    • Yes! We have been hiking with our 2.5 year old for a long time. Definitely need a soft carrier for 1 year old or if you prefer, a more backpacky carrier. By 18 months we could get 1/2 mile of walking; by 2.5 years we’ve squeezed 2+ miles of walking out of him, with stops, and he’ll usually walk a mile without stops. So it can be done. HOWEVER: be prepared that some days your child will just refuse to walk and you’ll have to scrap the plan. We bring a carrier even at 33.5 lb because sometimes we want to go more than 1-2 miles or sometimes he refuses to hike. 2 miles will take 2 hours. With two kids of those ages, I would either bring two adults/two carriers or resign yourself to 1 mile hikes in case you get a toddler situation and have to carry both kids back. Our absolute best tip is BRING APPLES AS SNACKS — we used whole apples from 18 mo on as our kid had lots of teeth, and they are amazing –take like 40 minutes to eat, can be eaten while walking to prevent whining, etc. For carrier, we use a toddler Kinderpack and I love it much more than the hiking pack we originally got on consignment — I can carry said 33.5 lb toddler for many miles without any discomfort at all. It has no other pockets so I still need a small fanny pack with diaper/wipes/snacks. Finally you need an arsenal of tools to encourage further walking — “can you race Daddy to that tree?” “can you run ahead and find me two ferns?” “I bet I can catch you if I chase you!” etc.

  3. Diapers says:

    What is the most economical way to buy diapers? I’ve been buying them at Target when they offer the $10 giftcard when you buy two. Then I realized that the largest box is the same price as the medium boxes when they offer the giftcard– i.e. the giftcard is not worth the trouble, because I could have just been buying the biggest boxes for the same price the entire time.

    We don’t have Amazon Prime, but I would pay the $100 for it if I saved more than that on diapers. That is the only thing I would use it for. I’m not going to clip coupons (I just know myself and I won’t bother with it), but if there is a consistent way to buy diapers for less money, I’d love to hear it.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      If you sign up for Amazon family (basically Prime) and do subscribe and save, you can save 20% off on diapers and wipes. But they necessarily don’t carry all brands on subscribe and save, so you’ll want to check that those are available before you commit. Also, you don’t get any special discount if you need to order an extra box before your next shipment.

    • Anonnn says:

      Do you have a Costco? the Kirkland brand diapers are just like Huggies, and they helpfully tell you how much you are paying per diaper- last box of size 3s I bought was 17 cents per diaper.

      • mascot says:

        I haven’t bought them in a few years, but the Kirkland brand wipes used to be the best. Good size, strong, and no weird scent.
        Diapers were my introduction to Amazon Prime and now we use Prime for so much other stuff.

        • Anonymous says:

          yes, these wipes are amazing! The diapers didn’t work for our little guy but I’m going to try again with Baby #2

          • Same with us. Love the wipes, hated the diapers, but Huggies don’t work for us either, so that may be why.

          • Marilla says:

            Same here. Kirkland wipes 4ever. Amazon subscribe and save for Pampers diapers.

        • AwayEmily says:

          Another Kirkland wipes fan! Didn’t like the diapers much, though. We do Amazon subscribe-and-save: Earth’s Best for daytime and Bambo for night. Both have been great (I don’t think they are necessarily the most cost-effective brands but the earth-friendliness makes me feel vaguely better about our rapidly disintegrating planet).

        • lucy stone says:

          These are the best! WE recently switched to them from Bambo wipes and they are so much cheaper! Yay! We still use Bambo diapers so tend to use Amazon for those, but Bambo is having a good sale on their site right now.

      • I really like both Kirkland/Costco diapers and wipes. We do a mix of disposable and cloth diapers, but exclusively use the Kirkland disposable ones at night and they work great. Our baby (now 13 m) tends towards long and skinny, and they work well on him.

      • Don’t most places give you the cost per diaper? The “unit price” on the sticker, usually in the left corner. That’s how you decide which box size is most economical (and this holds true for every product you buy at the grocery store, too).

    • anne-on says:

      Do you have a ShopRite near you? The one by us in the burbs has a ‘baby’ program, where when you spend $100 on baby supplies, you get either a coupon or a $ off to use on your next order. You can bundle that with their in house sales (which were EXCELLENT on pampers, seriously as cheap as amazon) and use coupon matching with BJs/Costco.
      If you truly can’t be bothered with grocery stores (I get it) Amazon or Jet.

    • A blog I used to read did a diaper cost comparison a few years ago between Target, Walmart, Costco, and Amazon Prime/Family with subscribe and save and found Amazon Prime/Family was the cheapest. I re-did a loose comparison last year when I had my son and still found it to be the cheapest. You can go cheaper if you are willing to do some serious couponing, and Krazy Coupon Lady has a section dedicated to baby sales which takes some of the work out of it, but it still requires going to different stores you wouldn’t usually go to and keeping track of the coupons you got back in some cases. I did it for a couple months when I was on maternity leave but didn’t find it sustainable for me in the long run.

      • This. You can find it cheaper than Amazon Prime S&S, but you’re going to spend your time in order to do so.

        I do Amazon Prime S&S for my Huggies (Kirkland does not work for us) and supplement with Target when we need a mid-month box. Yes I pay more for the Target because I don’t wait for the sales/ coupons, but honestly I don’t mind paying more for the 1-2 extra boxes a year that I need mid-month. Coupons (and even waiting for sales) are just not a thing I have time for.

      • Yup. When I had one kid I was all about coupons and drugstore’s rewards. I used to be able to do so well. Now that I have three kids and a full time job, Amazon S&S is the winner when you factor in the time it took me to find the deals.

      • +1 – I’m in the city and don’t have convenient access to many big box stores so generally stuck with Amazon, but with the S+S+Prime discount + giant box I was able to get the cost per diaper down pretty low (my son is 5 so memories are fading, but I thought something like 12 cents a diaper was a good deal). Occasionally I would find a drug store coupon+reward scenario that made them slightly cheaper, or at least competitive with Amazon, but not much. Amazon also has sales periodically, and you can take advantage of them and stock up.

    • I did Amazon (good for so many things other than diapers) but their one month supply generally wasn’t enough for us, so every couple of months I’d supplement with the Target gift card deal (which I used on the largest/cheapest packages). I’m sure I could find cheaper, but that’s all I had the brain space for.

    • In House Lobbyist says:

      Amazon was the cheapest and easiest way I found my Pampers which was what we used. I used the Pampers wipes with the first but switched to the Amazon brand wipes with the second. I feel like as a working mom, Amazon Prime is one of the most important things in keeping me organized and not running all over the place. Subscribe and save is so easy and I loved that they just showed up and I didn’t have to think about it. I buy so much on Amazon through S&S – snacks, drinks, all cleaning products, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Check out “Pink Rose Mama” on Facebook. She often posts links to awesome diapers deals on Amazon. Like I got a box of 150+ pampers swaddlers for $15!

      • Anonymous says:

        She actually posts links to lots of good deals that I like. Kids clothes. Women’s clothes. Stuff for the house.

        I am talking this woman up big time but I promise I am not the Pink Rose Mama :)

    • Anonymous says:

      I avoid Amazon so we do Costco. Load up about every 3 months (seasonal trip) at the same time as we get toilet paper/paper towels etc. Return any unopened boxes on next trip if baby has sized up in the interim.

    • I use Amazon prime + subscribe and save + Amazon credit card (5% back applied to the statement balance every month). I try to order 5 S&S items to get the deeper discount–even if smaller items aren’t cheaper than elsewhere, the overall discount makes it worth it. Every month, I have diapers and cat food in my S&S box, and I rotate in night time diapers, wipes, a couple of toiletry items, OTC medications and vitamins. (This does require some micromanagement at the end of every month.)

    • As I recall, Target price per unit is pretty good — and we think the diapers are way better than any other diapers, too (very few leaks over the years, UNSCENTED).

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am in Canada, so ymmv, but Amazon prime has definitely been the cheapest way for us to buy diapers. The biggest box on Amazon is the same price at Walmart, but then with subscribe and save you get 20 percent off. I only discovered this once my kiddo was about a year and now sound like an Amazon prime saleswoman to all my friends that are new moms.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My 2 year old starts daycare on Friday. Send good vibes our way please! She has been at home with myself or my husband (12 month parental leave as we are in Canada) or a nanny/grandparents until now.

    • I am sending them your way and asking for them back…my 13 month old starts daycare on Tuesday after a year of nanny/grandma.

    • AwayEmily says:

      Good luck! She’s going to *love* it — and don’t panic if the first month is hard. We just transitioned our 17-month old to a new daycare and it took a good three weeks before she stopped sobbing at dropoff. Transitions are hard, even if they are transitions to fun things! But seriously, daycare is awesome. She will learn new stuff and make friends and be so happily exhausted at the end of the day.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just started my two and a half year old in preschool. Two days a week for three hours per day. Drop off is rough. But once I leave the teacher reports that she calms down pretty quickly. And when I pick her up she is all smiles and says she had fun and wants to go back another day.

      There is a great Daniel Tiger episode about going to school: grown ups come back!!

  6. NOVA Anon says:

    Is anyone aware of an OK-to-wake clock that you can control remotely, such as with your phone? We have used the Tot clock with my almost three year old to great success-he used to be an early riser, and now if he wakes up early, he either rolls over and goes back to sleep if the clock is not yellow, or he talks quietly to himself until it turns yellow. Generally, he wakes up for real about 5-15 minutes before his clock turns yellow. But there are some days when he just seems to need more sleep (like today), yet the clock turning yellow immediately wakes him up. And there are other days when he wakes up 30-45 minutes in advance, but won’t get out of bed until it turns yellow, and rolls around seeming bored–he hasn’t taken to suggestions that he can get up and play in his room to entertain himself. He’s a total rule follower, and I think he’s internalized no yellow = stay in bed, which is generally a good thing — but I feel bad for him. It’s really hard to predict when these days that just don’t mesh with the clock will occur.

    Anyway, just wondering if anyone was aware of such a magic tool; we’re expecting number 2 in the winter, and it would also be a nice thing to have with a baby, to turn it yellow just before going into the room to start reinforcing the idea that yellow means someone will come get me.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t have this, but moms in a facebook group I am in about baby/toddler sleep really like the “Hatch Baby Rest” because of the remote option.

      • Anonymous says:

        I was going to suggest the Hatch one as well, although I also have no personal experience. I’ve been eyeing it, though, and would be interested to hear if anyone has personal experience.

    • Tired Mommy says:

      No ideas but I wish for the same thing. Our 4-yr old pretty much disregards the clock at this point but he wakes up at a decent (enough) time that we haven’t pressed it. May have to move it into the baby’s room soon to see if it will work on him!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you want to keep the one you have, what about leaving a stack of books next to the bed for the mornings he wakes early. He could reach them from his bed so it would meet his rule following ‘stay in bed’ criteria, but being able to look at books would prevent him being bored until it’s yellow. Look and Find books (where’s waldo kind of books) are popular with my kids for this purpose.

    • AwayEmily says:

      I have wished MANY times for a remote control for my OK to Wake clock for this exact reason. But ultimately I’ve convinced myself that it’s for the best to have the light go on at the same time every day. On days that she wakes up early, she can practice being patient and being alone with her thoughts until the light goes on, which I think is an important ability that will translate to other areas of her life. On the days that the clock wakes her early, I figure she will make up the sleep later on (and I try to pay a lot of attention to her cues that evening and put her to bed early if necessary). And in general I do think kids respond well to a consistent schedule.

      That being said, if OK to Wake suddenly sent me a free remote control, I’d be pretty tempted.

    • NOVA Anon says:

      Thanks everyone!! That Hatch clock looks awesome; definitely getting one for baby, and maybe for toddler – some good points here about consistency, but interesting to hear others have the same problem. We tried the books by the bed trick a couple months ago, and he was not interested (we even put his night light on top – his room is pretty dark). He ignored it. Maybe he likes being alone with his thoughts… but I’ll try again to see if time has made a difference.

  7. Daycare teacher gifts says:

    How often to you give gifts to your kiddo’s daycare teachers and what sort of gifts? I have friends that do cute, pinteresy gifts for every holiday (including labor day) and some who just gift on teacher appreciation day/Christmas. I’m thinking we should at least do birthday gifts in addition to teacher appreciation day but know nothing about these ladies other than I love them with all my heart.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Holidays, teacher appreciation day, maybe something when we transition out of the room (moving to the next room or leaving the daycare). In some cases, I’ve given a small gift when a teacher has left the center.

      • +1. Exactly my answer. And most of these are Target gift cards with a hand-written note. As one told me, she greatly appreciates all the time you spent in creating those juicebox robot thank yous, but had you spent 1/4 of the time just to write down on a physical note the 1-2 things she does that make a difference for you, that would be a lot more meaningful.

      • Anonymous says:

        +1 from me too. I do a framed photo of the kid, handwritten thank-you note and cash when the kid transitions out of the room. For winter holidays, card and cash; for Teacher Appreciation Week, the center collects contributions, and we give to that effort. The center also organizes a “card shower” and the last couple years, I’ve had my kids do finger-painting, and then written notes on their artwork for the teachers.

        • Anonymous says:

          To clarify, I mean only THE holidays, like one gift between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Definitely nothing for Labor Day, Valentine’s Day, and the like.

    • Two Cents says:

      We usually gift a holiday gift, teacher’s appreciation gift, and end of year gift. Our school collects gifts as a group contribution, I usually give anywhere from $50 – 100 for each main teacher. My kids have 4 main teachers between the two of them, plus some aftercare teachers, so over the course of the year we are easily giving $800 in total.

    • PregLawyer says:

      At our last daycare I gave a nice Starbucks package – a cool mug or cup, some treats, and then a heft gift card – for our lead teachers. The daycare was directly across the street from the Starbucks, so I know they all took their breaks there.

      At our new place we apparently can’t give gifts to teachers exceeding $25 in value. That surprised me a bit. Apparently they are unionized, which is awesome, so the goal is to donate to the non-profit daycare center instead of to teachers directly. Given that cap, do I do an end-of-year donation to the daycare instead? Also, I’m getting the impression that fancy new daycare is going to have a lot of fancy families.

      • PregLawyer says:

        Note – I gave only once a year, around Christmas. There was also a mid-year teacher appreciation week, which I totally blanked on. I probably would have done something small for that week if I had remembered.

    • A lot of these seem excessive…every holiday?

      • I actually had the opposite reaction! People seem to be giving not much at all. We give a couple of times a year, usually $75-100 (straight cash or Visa gift card) per main teacher. It does add up but I figure that if there is anyone to be generous toward it’s the person taking care of my kid 8 + hours a day.

      • AwayEmily says:

        Agreed with wow. We average about $400 a year for each of her two main teachers. We give cash along with cards in which we write down specifics about why they are awesome and why we are grateful. It’s a lot but they are so underpaid. I definitely don’t think that everyone has to give that much (and honestly I would prefer it if my daycare pooled all donations rather than having them come from individuals), but I figure that if we can afford to give a bit more, we should. I feel very okay with it.

        • AwayEmily says:

          Oh, and we give for the holiday and for teacher appreciation day (so, about $200 twice a year), plus any time we move up a classroom.

      • Former teacher says:

        They *are* excessive. I realize these gifts are well-intentioned, but teachers don’t need one more mug, geegaw, or gimcrack with your kid’s face on it. When I taught, I would save those for maybe a few months, then toss or donate as appropriate because 1. I’m picky about my things and I already have a favorite mug or tote bag and 2. there’s simply too much stuff being given! Those Pinterest ideas are cute but are environmentally wasteful and not all that useful (plus it seems parents get into a lot of one-upmanship with them and it favored the moms with less-demanding jobs). When pressed, I tell people I loved gift cards to stores where I could buy classroom or all-purpose items (Target is great for this), a piece of artwork, or thank you card. I didn’t mind Starbucks cards, but I have a couple of teacher friends who don’t drink coffee and are constantly pawning them off on others. That’s really it for gifts. PLEASE STOP THE MADNESS!

        • This is exactly why I always give cash or a Visa gift card. Nothing to pawn off, they can use it for whatever they want.

        • AwayEmily says:

          Probably you are not reading this any more, Former teacher, but in the off chance you are, a question: we always give cash. Is that rude? When you taught, would you rather have had a Target gift card and/or a Visa gift card? Personally I would prefer cash to a gift card but I can see how it might come off as impersonal or transactional. If it matters we always accompany the cash with a nice card with specific details about what we appreciate.

    • CPA Lady says:

      I give at xmas and when she moves up to a new class. And I buy stuff off the classroom wish list throughout the year. I throw in $10 to the teacher appreciation breakfast fund.

      I started out doing $50 per main teacher and $25 for the class floater person. I might bump it this time though because her current teacher is really amazing and I really appreciate it. I start getting choked up thinking about her moving up to the next class.

    • Anonymous says:

      Christmas gift + leaving class gift. Sometimes handmade card of Valentine’s day if kid is inspired.

      Muffins or treats for staff room during teacher appreciation week/day

      Don’t buy into the every holiday thing.

    • At daycare I just did end of year cash tip. That’s it. It was a small in-home place. At preschool I participated in group cash gifts, which I think were just end of calendar year and end of school year, or maybe just the latter. We didn’t really do teacher appreciation week.

    • Our daycare collects cash in envelopes twice a year, for Christmas and the “end” of the year, when the kids move up to a new classroom. You put cash in, or don’t, completely anonymously, and it is presented to the teacher as a class gift. I don’t do anything else, and I don’t know of anyone else who does, although I assume others do discreetly. This system is one of my favorite things about our daycare.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I found a calico critters set at home goods for dirt cheap, so I bought t for my two and a half year old daughter. She absolutely loves it so I’m considering buying more.

    Love ’em? Hate ’em? Am I about to go down a rabbit hole of regret? They seem to be good quality and not noisy battery operated monstrosities, so I’m not seeing a downside. We do not have a playroom, so her toys often end up in our living room permanently.

    • PregLawyer says:

      Those are the same things that have been around forever, right? I don’t know about kids these days, but man, I loved those.

    • My two year old loved them, but there were so many little pieces. I ended up banishing them for about a year once my younger one was born because I was afraid of choking. We tried instituting only playing with it on a table or putting every single piece away every time, but it didn’t work out and I was constantly finding cups and saucers, etc. in the baby’s mouth.

    • We love them at our house too. The (very) few downsides:
      – The sets come with TINY parts, like a popcan the size of a grain of rice. I grab those and put them in a ziploc and keep it on a high shelf. They’ll get to play with those when they’re like 10 and can keep track of that stuff.
      – My dog loves to eat the critters. We have a lot of orphans and non-traditional families thanks to him, which is sort of cool, but the trauma of seeing the hedgehog baby in 5 pieces is… intense.
      – The scale is weird, so my 2 yo gets very mad that the car is the same size as the house.

      Other than that, they’re a classic fun toy, and perfect for gift-giving requests from families. “Oh, they would each love a mini set from Calico Critters!” or “You know, we need a new Critter family! Can you find one with grandparents?”

  9. PregLawyer says:

    Amusing/endearing little moment yesterday – I was filling out a 27-month ASQ for new daycare, and there’s a question with a stick-figure picture, and you’re supposed to ask your kid what the picture looks like. If your kid says “a person” “a snowman” or anything vaguely humanoid, that’s a good thing. So I ask my son what he sees. He just looked at me and said, “um, um, um” until finally he said “Mama tell me.” I felt so bad, because he was obviously really invested in getting the “right” answer, instead of just figuring out what he wanted it to be. I need to work on that. Anyway, eventually I gave up and then a minute later he points at the picture and says, “What’s the guy doing?” Ah, yes, my young padawan.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Hahaha. I’ve taken to asking kiddo to “help me” figure something out, or some other clue that I don’t know the right answer. I’ll also ask her to “tell me about” a thing if I want to know more about a picture she’s drawn or a game she’s playing. Those tricks work about 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time she insults me for not knowing the answer myself….can’t win.

  10. shortperson says:

    my daughter just turned 3 and is asking for playdates with friends from daycare for the first time. i emailed the mom of the girl she tells me is her “best friend” who i have not spoken to much outside of the occasional hello to invite her over during the long weekend without specifying a time since for once we dont have much planned. she wrote back to say they were busy all weekend with various things, without saying anything like “we’d love to another weekend” or something.

    i have no idea what the protocol is here. do i try again? when? for dating i’d say this is a rejection and move on. in the future how should i approach parents i dont know well when my daughter is begging to have them over?

    • Anonymous says:

      I would take the reply for face value. They are interested but this weekend just didn’t work. I tend to keep it casual if they live in our general area – we’re taking Sally to xyz park on Saturday afternoon if you’d like to meet up. Don’t be offended if it doesn’t work out. After 3-4 offers with no acceptances and no offers initiated by them, I’d let it drop and stop offering.

      • Yep start with a specific but low-key idea to join in plans you already have. “We’re going to the park on Sat morn around 9am if you want to meet us there.” or “We were going to brave a restaurant with the kids on Friday night – pizza at X at 5:45pm – if you want a dinner off.” “Are you headed to the festival in Y Town? We’re thinking we’ll hit the carnival part Sunday after nap, let me know if you want to meet up and let the kids run around.”

        After a month or two, they’ll either say something like “so sorry we keep declining, but please keep inviting us” or you can succesfully let it drop and try a new friend. (And btw, you can do these to multiple friends at the same time, all copied on the email or text, esp if you think they might want to get to know other people too.)

    • Anonymous says:

      I would try again another weekend. If she declines again, I think the burden is on her to reach out.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      We do playdates regularly, and it’s amazing how densely packed modern lives are – between swimming/gymastics/soccer/dance lessons, other playdates, family visits, naps, date nights, etc, it can be hard to find a time for a playdate. I’d make the question more open ended; “Kiddo has been asking for a playdate with your kid! Are there some days of the of the week/weekend times that work better than others for you?” And then be patient as you try to sort it out. It can be really hard.

      • This sounds terrible, but we really don’t do playdates. I really don’t need another event to organize and when the weekend rolls around, family time is the priority. (And we do fewer activities than most families!) I figure daycare is one long, giant playdate that happens on a daily basis. If my little kids have “playdates,” it’s because their mamas are having a playdate. ;)

    • PregLawyer says:

      I hate how asking other parents out for playdates feels like dating all over again. Why is this so awkward?

      • Blueberry says:

        Ugh, +1 I am so bad at it. Also the only kid my son really wants to have over is the one kid in his class that I really don’t want to have over, because he’s super physical to the point of being dangerous. I’m tryyying to make an effort to have the kids play with the neighbor kids, but I agree with the poster above that daycare is basically one long playdate.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        Yesssssss I’m awful at it and I feel like my kid is missing out because of it! It’s MORE awkward than dating, I was better at dating than at playdate-organizing!

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        Did you know (!!!!) that playdates can have wine?! I mean, I have only been to one but the mom who invited us over gave us wine right away! So now I’m trying to reframe it in my mind as killing time with other adults while children amuse one another.

        • anne-on says:

          Lol – if you watch unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt the socialite mom has a case of ‘play date wine’. That amused me to no end.

        • shortperson says:

          sigh i wish i could just have the kid over so the two girls can keep each other busy than me making small talk with a mom i dont know for 2 hours. im happy to have her friends over, it’s the hanging out w strangers when i dont even have time to see my own friends that im not into.

  11. NewMomAnon says:

    Kiddo has been really lukewarm on all organized activities outside of preschool – we have to bribe her to get through soccer, she spends about half the swimming lesson out of the pool wrapped in a towel, we had tears when we tried out a tumbling class recently. We enroll her with the intention of getting an hour breather in which another adult is responsible for her, but it ends up being a ton of work for me just to cobble her through each activity. She’s 3.5; does this get better as they get older? It feels like she has a harder time of it than other kids her age, even though she is super outgoing. I’m debating whether to enroll her in anything for the fall and leaning toward “no.”

    • This sounds exactly like my oldest kid, right down to being outgoing but having a more difficult time than most. Honestly, I would try again when she’s older. Like, a LOT older. The whole point is to have fun and learn a new skill, and if that’s not happening, give yourselves a break.

      I constantly have to remind myself that classes for 3-year-olds weren’t even a thing when we were growing up. Organized activities started at age 6+. Maybe it’s a massive coincidence, but that’s the age when my son finally started enjoying his activities and having a strong preference about what he wanted to try.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would do an activity with her. Is there a mom and toddler class you can take? Just preschool (even play based) is a lot of organized activity for them at that age so that’s probably part of her reluctance to engage in the organized activity.

      It’s not the break you’re looking for but my kids didn’t really like doing organized activities until they were 5 or older.

    • Blueberry says:

      Maybe skip a season or two. If you’re kid is already in preschool, it’s not like she needs more socialization. The only one I’ve tried to insist on is swimming class (with limited success), since it’s a safety/life skills issue. I think it does get better as kids get older. For one andecdote, my son at 3.5 would have nothing to do with soccer (like, would literally run off the field with my husband chasing him) but at 4.5 wants to be the next Messi and is super psyched for it to re-start in the fall.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        To make it even more complicated, kiddo always starts off super gung-ho and excited. But by the second or third session….it’s just meh. So the first soccer class was so exciting! And the next soccer class was just OK. And by the third class, she didn’t want to go and wouldn’t participate.

    • mascot says:

      +4? for just wait and try again later. We didn’t start organized sports until age 5 and I had a super outgoing, athletic kid. He wasn’t quite ready for that level of focus and organization before 5.
      For a breather, maybe try a sitter or a short playdate at a friends house?

      • Anon in NYC says:

        I agree – take the emphasis off an organized activity. Either a play date or a sitter would be great options.

    • The only organized activity we do for our 3.5yo is swimming, because I see it as a life skill/safety thing. He sounds similar to your child, and tends to not go in/get shy/etc. Since my DH and I decided that swimming is non-negotiable for our kids, we decided to require him to get into the pool for lessons, hard stop. We go to a swimming school where they sit on an in the water ledge, and if he’s “sand bagging” about getting in, we pick him up and put him in. It only took 3-4 lessons for him to realize it was non-negotiable.

      For his first year of lessons we let him stay on the side and saw that he took advantage of that (aka, he knew we would let him sit it out if he wanted to) so we decided on a new approach once he moved up a level, and it has worked really well.

      I agree with everyone else on the other organized sports though, a sitter or playdate will probably be a better way to get the time you are looking for.

  12. avocado says:

    Another vote that this sounds like it is more hassle than it’s worth. There were kids in classes with my daughter who had trouble participating all the way through first grade. I would take a break and try again in a few months.

    I don’t think they really learn many actual skills in classes at age 3.5, anyway. For example, my daughter’s 3.5-year-old pre-ballet class was 100% about lining up and following directions. They did not learn anything related to actual ballet until they were 6 or 7, and even then it wasn’t much. Real classes started in third grade. And this was at a serious ballet school with a history of producing professional dancers.

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