Below are the top items that made my life as a mother of two young kids easier this past year.
Care.com blows away SitterCity for finding local babysitters for two reasons:
It has better candidates. Period. We now have two favorite sitters – one is a second grade teacher! – and several more to call on if they are busy. I was looking for local college students and Care.com serves up more.
It has a better interface. Each sitter’s profile includes a contact page, reviews from other parents, videos, and recorded references. There are private pages where you can store notes on various sitters and it alerts you when new sitters, who meet your criteria (e.g. must like dogs!) register in your area.
I paid $35 for the first month and figured I would interview a bunch of sitters, create a list to call on when needed and cancel the service. But I can stay subscribed for $10/month to contact 10 sitters and that’s an easy way to take advantage of the new sitters that register.
What better way to keep track of whose glass is whose than to write names on these short and tall glasses from Pier One. I didn’t realize they are actually wine and bar glasses when I bought them in the store. They work great for kids and the whole family!
Four year old Daughter has lived in multiple outfits from this great brand. They come in cute colors and stretch fabrics that wash and wear well. And they’re inexpensive!
Okay, for the third year running, I can’t live without my Mom Agenda. It keeps track of the family’s activities and has great sections in the back for party and vacation planning, favorite lists, blank note pages, passwords, household suppliers and friends. Maybe next year I’ll move my calendar to my Blackberry… or use the MomAgenda new iPad app…
5. Social Media Phone Apps
I love that I can check email, Facebook, Twitter and text my friends while waiting in the school pickup line, for the kids’ haircuts and just about any other handy place.
I’m torn on whether to include this great product. I love that it displays the kids’ markers and art supplies and can sit in the middle of their craft table for easy turning. But I’ll admit that the dog also loves the easy access to markers and we’ve had to return to plastic cases with lids. So, it’s a great product if you don’t have a table height puppy…
7. iTouch Shows
Yes, the greatest thing since sliced bread is the ability to give young kids your iTouch with their favorite shows downloaded from iTunes. We save this for long car trips or for a sibling who’s waiting out the other’s sport or class.
Grandma and Grandpa gave this to the kids for Christmas and it’s a winner! The long board is covered with typical Busytown scenes and players move towards the ferry to Picnic Island while searching for objects along the way. We all love it.
9. Marshalls Coats
After a very disappointing experience at Rugged Bear where the $90 winter coat not only soaked in the rain but the zipper broke two months in and the store refused to credit or replace, I returned to searching out quality coats at discount stores. Daughter now wears a much better quality Columbia parka that we bought for a fraction of the price.
10. Streaming Music
When the kids have excess energy, we send them to the playroom to dance, wiggle and play to their favorite play list. It’s a lot easier to experiment with music when you don’t have to purchase every song. Our favorites are Rhapsody – where for a monthly subscription you can access just about any song, and free Pandora – where it’s easy to create a channel based on your kids favorite artist or album. These aren’t necessarily new to us this year but as the kids get older, we rely on the ability to adapt to their musical tastes (Justin Bieber and Hannah Montana vs. The Chipmunks).
Additional good discoveries that didn’t make the list:
Squirtable applesauce – great for lunchboxes
Wii Golf – love the crazy players
Topps.Com – perfect for baseball fans