Over the craziness of the past 9 months, I have discovered several life hacks that I think could benefit parents. I don’t want to make this post specific to just parents of autistic children, but it can certainly be beneficial for any parent.
Before Greyson was diagnosed, I had assumed that having two children within 15-months of each other was always going to be chaotic. People always told me that I was a brave mom for having “Irish Twins”, but I saw many benefits to having children so close together: reusing gender “neutral” clothing, recycling old bibs, blankets, etc. that we did not use when Roslynn was a baby. I was also still in the new mom mentality in a way. Sure, I had a one year-old baby girl, but she was not really sleeping a whole lot at night, so I never really minded having to get up and feed G, or pump twice a night.
The main downside of having two kids so close together was that we outgrew our home almost immediately after Roslynn’s 1st birthday. We moved into our “starter home” one-week before we were married. We purchased the two-bedroom, three bath home, expecting that we would have children in a few years and use the additional bedroom as a guestroom/office. Nope. 10 days after our honeymoon ended, I found out I was pregnant. The guest room immediately turned into a nursery and the garage turned into a storage place, since we have no basement.
Once G was born, our once cozy home became a full house. Greyson took over the nursery and Roslynn transitioned into a toddler bed, next to Derek and my bed. To this day, we are still in the starter home, bursting at the seams with toys, clothes and kid stuff. I came to the realization that we need a bigger home, so I began to clean house….literally.
This brings me to hack # 1:
Consign/Sell anything you can!
I can’t tell you how many times I have brought my stuff to consignment shops. Clothes, shoes, jewelery, toys, junk-you name it and I will try to consign it. There is a method to consignment. Some tips include:
- Make sure your kid’s clothes are washed and stored in a plastic tote with a lid. This helps keep the clothes clean and dry and makes it easy to stack them for storage.
- Label your bins! This helps you to know what bin contains what item(s), so you don’t have to dig through bins each time you are looking for something.
- Take care of your stuff. I know kids get stuff messy, but try your best to soak stains with blue Dawn when they happen and maintain your clothes with dye-free, scent-free laundry detergent. This will keep your items in the best shape, giving you the best chances to make some decent money.
- Use safety pins to pin outfits together. Don’t waste your time putting everything on hangers because they will get all messed up anyways once the shops begin digging through your stuff.
- Put brand-new items on the top of the bins. This will spark the shop owner’s eye and will increase your chances that the inspector will reach the bottom of your tote, unloading more items.
- Wipe down all toys, equipment, etc. with greenworks disinfectant wipes. These wipes clean your items without the harsh chemicals that bleach or regular wipes have and they smell great too.
- Group and separate items into gallon-size Ziploc bags- onesies, socks, hats, small toys, bibs, burp cloths and headbands are the smaller items that can be overseen. If grouped together, they have a better chance of being selected for consignment (and in larger quantities too).
- Follow the consignment shop guidelines: consign fall items in late summer, winter items in early fall, spring items during mid-winter and summer during early spring. This way, you don’t bombard shops with too much stuff (which makes them less likely to take your items).
- Maintain your items via a calendar or online tracking system. Most shops have an online site for you to follow your items, track your progress and will remind you when you need to pick up the items that don’t sell. I also put several reminders in my phone calendar, so I know to pick up my left-over items.
- Sell left-over items at a yard sale, or take them to another consignment store.
There are several consignment shops in the Lancaster area that are fantastic to consign with.
- Fashion Cents in Strasburg- children’s clothing, toys, shoes, women’s clothing, household goods, baby equipment. This is the first place I go to consign my kids’ stuff. They have a great selection and they give you 50-60% of the profit that the item sells for. Derek and I either have the store write us a check at the end of the 90-day consignment period, or we use the money we made as store credit to buy the next sizes of clothing we need for the kids.
- Miracles on Columbia Ave- children’s clothing, accessories, equipment and toys. It’s a smaller shop, but the owner is great and has a great inventory.
- Ooh La La on Columbia Ave- best place to consign women’s clothing and shoes. They have great costume jewelry and dresses. You can even find a wedding dress or cocktail dress there for more dressy events. It’s a good place to.also consign old prom dresses, gowns, etc.
- Chloe’s Closet in Smoketown- a smaller family-owned shop with tons of kid stuff, including: clothes, toys, equipment and feeding supplies. Worth the stop if you are out near the outlets or Dutch Wonderland.
- Little Bo-tique Children’s Shop on Lincoln Highway East- a tiny shop, tucked away in a small strip mall near Walmart on Lincoln Highway. This is the best place to consign any baby gear you have, or even if you need to find a particular piece of baby equipment.
As a parent, I know that time with your kids is the most precious thing in the world. Making memories is one of the best parts about being a parent- and a lot of memories are made by going places and doing things…..but that involves money. By spending a few hours once a month to prepare items for consignment or selling, it can make you money to use towards new clothes or toys, and ultimately saving money for you to take trips with your children to make memories.