Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Greening your little girl: 9 ways for less waste

Bows, jewelry, doll accessories and more. Usually strewn over the house. It's the sign of a little girl in the midst.

Today, I'd thought I'd share nine simple ways to "green" your little girl, saving you money and from cleaning headaches and hopefully helping reinforce a little creativity as well.

Early on:
Watch the excess! It's easy, particularly when they're tiny, to load up on adorable dresses and more. Instead, dress for comfort - and practicality. Trying to button up the back of a dress on a little one who can barely hold her head up is not the easiest way to go.
Save small items. Those tiny newborn or 0-3 clothes are so adorable, but are worn for such a short period of time. Consider holding a few outfits back for doll clothes. They fit perfectly on Cabbage Patch dolls, many other baby dolls and lots of stuffed animals, we've found.

Go neutral. I know, it's easy to fall into pink excess. Instead, invest in neutral colors and styles (I swore by onesies and pants for both kids) and even consider dressing your darling in (gasp!) boy colors and clothing. I swear she won't recall wearing blue doggy pajamas.

Be nostalgic. If you've saved a few favorite toys from childhood, you can't get much greener than that! (Though I will say, today's Barbies have had an "adjustment" or two since our childhoods.)

For preschoolers and older:
Buy big. Conisder buying a size up for summer nightgowns. The long, flowy dresses are great for dress-up and can last you two summers instead of one this way! Likewise, buy larger t-shirts which can be baggy one year, "regular fit" the next.

Encourage creativity. It's tempting to buy a lot of accessories for baby dolls, Barbies and American Girl, but it takes up space, costs unnecessary dollars and robs your child of an opportunity to use her imagination. One of the things I remember from my childhood was sprawling Girl Scout cookie boxes creating a mammoth mansion in my bedroom for my Barbie dolls. Let their imagination take them wherever it needs to go - from laundry basket "boats" to tents or castles.

Don't discount second hand. Cheap princess dresses? Who needs them? While I know many people who swear by stocking up on the Halloween clearance, I'd rather let my daughter wear something that will hold up better. We've gotten so many Sunday or Easter dresses, likely worn two or three times and given to us for free, that my daughter uses them to play dress up or go to church. It's an economical way to indulge yet be practical.

Encourage sharing. It's tough to pass up a toy (even if you haven't played with it for months) or a treasured piece of clothing. What's worked for us is giving to another kid in need or sharing an outfit with a younger friend.

Teach priorities. I've been blessed that my kids don't realize they have a choice in suggesting gift ideas, but we also don't let them watch a lot of commercials or go down the toy aisles. Instead, we focus on what we can do for other people. We also reinforce that each family has different rules, and that it's great we can enjoy other toys at our friends' houses. It's a hard lesson (one good for me to recall on many occasions!) but I hope well worth it.

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