SHOP TALK WITH JENNIFER CHUA
Her rules to live by when it comes to living as minimally as possible with kids.
- Look at everything you plan to purchase, differently. Heirloom quality or well made products might have a higher price tag, but look at longevity and usefulness. Will you use it three times a day? Will it break and need to be replaced? Can it solve more than one purpose?
- The second your little one has outgrown something (toys, clothes, shoes), decide if it is worth storing, or sell or donate right away. I purge our daughters clothes and toys regularly.
- Use public services! It is easy to live without a playroom when there are so many city-run drop in centres with a range of toys, games and activities. If that isn’t available, privately owned play centres are also an easy way to have a ton of fun without storing all those toys in your living room.
- SWAP. Last year we had a group of friends over and everyone brought along the toys, books, clothes and puzzles their kids were tired of. We dumped all of it in the middle of the room and let the kids at it. It was better than Christmas! Whatever didn’t suit anyone’s needs we donated.
- Relax and enjoy. Childhood is a magical time filled with all of the things that come with it. Some of the things that fill my house now may clutter up my space, sure, but I will miss all of the arts and crafts, play forts, kid-sized furnishings when they are gone.
Jen’s Top Multipurpose Products That Will Last
ToteSavvy bag organizer, original $72 U.S. (mini, $45 U.S.)
“I just stumbled across this one, and it is genius. This insert works with most handbags already in your closet, and you can easily transform your favourite tote into a functional and organized baby bag. So no need to invest in a diaper bag (or two.)”
Gathre Bonded leather multipurpose mats, from $40 to $180
“For sandy beaches or muddy campground seating, picnics, playtime at home, under the highchair, table cloth, baby changing, airports, bottom of the wagon, crafts, playroom — the list goes on and on. We’ve even used it to block light from a window in a pinch. Plus, they are compact, and lovely enough (colours are all in subdued neutrals) to have hanging in your front hall like we do. Ethically and responsibly made, waterproof, free of toxins, phthalates, PVC and lead.”
Doddle & Co Pop Pacifier, $14.99
“This modern-looking paci pops into its own protective shell when it drops from babe’s mouth. This means less cleaning — not having to rotate out dirty ones — and less buying of multiple pacifiers. Even better? It doubles as a teether later on. And it’s safe, non-porous and all of those good things.”
“The minimalist toddler shoe, Baubles + Soles take you from the playground to the party. Water resistant, Slip-resistant, machine washable and 100% recyclable, these eco-friendly toddler shoes feature a twist lock. Pair with Interchangeable baubles allowing you to change the look of the shoe with a twist. Made in the USA.”
“These wraps can carry your child from birth until 3 years old or so. It’s can double as a blanket or pillow, a swing, secure your little one to a chair, use as a shopping cart cover and padding, a nursing cover or sun shield. You can also wrap that pregnant belly for support, and use as a rebozo during labour. They also make public transportation, fussy periods and housework a lot easier.”
Ezpz Happy Mat, $25
“They will never break, corrode or deteriorate and they are easy to clean. One ezpz Happy Mat and one ezpz Happy Bowl is all a child needs for tableware from 12mo until 4yo (and up.) Great for baby-led weaning, good for finger foods and wonderful for self-feeding toddlers (they have suction so they stick to the surface, preventing accidental tip-overs). Parents can avoid that cupboard full of mismatched and broken kids bowls and plates, and the ezpz products are stackable and take up very little space.”
“Super soft, hand sewn, Toronto made basics. We have bought (at least) one in every size and were always in use. Ethically produced with organic cotton in basic hues (no bright pink or blues here!) They are just so simple, cozy, and hold up under multiple — and we mean multiple — washings.”
Kooshoo Expandable Kids Pants, from $45
“Made with Pesticide-free, durable (they don’t get destroyed by crawling or intense outdoor play) and ultra-soft organic cotton, these kids pants fit 3x longer than regular legging-style pants thanks to an expandable waistband and cuffs. Unisex designs mean you can pass them onto the next child in the family too. Considering how quickly kids grow out of their clothes, finding a pair of pants that will fit from age 6 months to 18 months is pretty extraordinary.”
Bapron Baby bib, $25
“This bib/apron combo is the ONLY bib you need (I mean that) for baby. They fit from 6 months all the way to 3 years old. Because of their smock-design, kids who don’t like to wear bibs tend to like Bapron (100% certified safe and free of harmful chemicals and those with sensitive skin) and can take your little from mealtime to craft time with ease. Other benefits include being stain resistant, fire-retardant, anti-microbial, hand sewn in the USA, and fold up small enough for your diaper bag.”
“I am all about a multipurpose butter that serves double duty. This one smells great and is handmade locally in small batches from natural ingredients. Use it to moisturize and prevent stretch marks, on your cuticles for moisture or your tired and aching feet. For babe it is good for diaper cream, eczema, baby acne, bug bites, cradle cap, dry skin, chapped lips, cuts, scars, and rough knees from marathon crawling sessions. It lasts for ages and it is safe for cloth or disposable diapers.”