Catherine

Children's Fashion Tips

catherine

I never thought that I would be the mom that matched my daughter every time that we went out. As soon as I found out that we were having a girl, that all changed. I couldn’t help but sift through all the adorable Mommy and Me boards on pinterest, but I quickly found that there are limited places that actually offer perfectly matching outfits. That’s changed since 2014, but at the time matching with Elliot required a bit more searching. Now there are plenty a boutique that have co-ord outfits, but it can get pricey and isn’t particularly realistic to have every outfit in your closet match your daughter or son. Here are some tips that have helped me with my OCD of not at least coordinating, but trying to be smart about pieces and money spent.
 

  1. Choose a color palette. Each season, there are going to be on trend colors or a color that you gravitate to. For an easy example, during the holiday season red is a color that everyone wears a lot of. The last few seasons, I’ve personally been loving golden yellow and find that it is almost a neutral, matching with any color that I choose. For me, that color has also been great because I have been able to reuse staple items (leggings, cardigans, etc.) across seasons which is also a budget saver!

  2. Invest. The first year of my daughter’s life I couldn’t control myself. The excitement of buying tiny pieces of clothing matched with not following my own current rules led to excess of everything. Over the (almost) four years I’ve learned that my daughter re-wears her favorites and a lot of what is in the closet goes untouched. It’s painful to clean out at the end of a season and have clothing that doesn’t fit her anymore with the tags still on. Choose a few items that you love and your child loves and get fancy with different accessories of changeable pieces. My daughter has a dress that she almost always wants to wear. I’m talking, it gets pulled out of the dirty hamper by her because she can’t contain herself. I change up the look by adding leggings, a sweater or a blazer; maybe even a sneaker and top knot one day and a ballet flat and headband the next. Don’t be afraid to use accessories for your child just as you would yourself.

  3. Gender neutral shoes. This  is one that I have always followed for shoe items like sneakers, wellies and flip flops. I end up getting more wear out of them for Elliot because they are simple in color and go with everything. The bonus is that I now have black Nike sneakers, white converse sneakers and navy blue rain boots for Clark to wear as he grows into them (for whatever reason baby shoes are almost as expensive as adult shoes so this is an awesome saver!). Each season I select a dress shoe for elliot that usually ends up being pink or metallic, but goes with everything. If they’re in good shape, I save with fingers crossed that we have another girl!

  4. Shop the children’s section. This is a tip that may get an eye roll at first, but hear me out: if you want to get matching items stores like Target often carry similar items in the toddler and children’s section. Same goes for shoes. An adult like seven shoe is the same as a youth five. The measurements of a XXL kids are comparable to 4/6 adults. It may not work, but it’s worth a shot.

  5. Comfort and Coverage. This is something that I have observed in buying things for Elliot and noticing the things that are almost always her preference . Some brands, quite simply, don’t cover your kid as well or take into consideration their tiny little body shapes. My favorite example of this are Hanna Andersson underwear verses Old Navy underwear ; I shop both stores frequently, but quite frankly will not buy my daughter unders from anywhere other than Hanna. When your littles get old enough, ultimately you have to incorporate them in the process because if something doesn't feel right on them, you’ll end up wasting your money and likely losing your sanity!

Advice for New Moms

In early March, we welcomed our second baby into the family. My second pregnancy was not as easy or enjoyable as my first and I was being constantly plagued with the projection that, because our first, Elliot, was such an easy baby, surely number two would rock our world. I don’t know about you, but that kind of sentiment didn’t rest well with me and I am a stubborn person, so I was that much more determined to not need people after the birth of our son, Clark. Enter advice for new moms.

  1. Don’t let the opinions of other people  dictate your actions.  As I said above, I am, perhaps to a fault, a very stubborn person. I like to pretend that it translates to determined, but for the most part it’s me not wanting to be vulnerable. Mommas, the most humbling and perhaps most important thing I’ve learned is to not let what other people say change how I decision-make when it comes to my children. Sometimes that means eating your words and succumbing to what everyone was telling you, but I find that more often than not, it’s giving other people a polite smile, followed by doing exactly what you intended to in the first place. You see, there is this thing called a mother’s instinct. And it’s real-life. I have found that when I ignore that, I always end up regretting it.

  2. Listen to your body. After I had Elliot, I didn’t want help at the house from anyone. I had felt great the entire pregnancy and bounced back relatively quickly. When I delivered Clark, I knew that I would need help with Elliot, so my sister came to stay with us for a few days, but I still fought letting her and my husband take care of me. Another part of that maternal instinct is to, above all else, care for our little ones. The problem there is that our bodies need healing. Because I didn’t want to forego changing every diaper, my body suffered and I ultimately took twice as long to heal. Give yourself a second to get back on your feet and don’t be so hard on yourself. Ultimately, we can’t be at our best mom-selves if we aren’t feeling our best human-selves (and there is a difference).

  3. Make a routine.  Children want boundaries. They want to know what to expect and what you expect of them, even at birth. I think it’s fair to say that most of us function best when we can plan our day out and know what is required of us in that day. I fought this with my second baby. I think, perhaps, because I had, “He’s going to rock your world” stuck in my brain that I was just trying to make him happy, regardless of the fact that it was nothing like what I had done with my daughter. I would face an inevitable “witching hour” in the evening and dance around my living room like a fool, just for some silence. I thought that every time he cried he just needed to be fed so I stopped writing down everything I did and threw my second time mom experience out the window (huge mistake). I didn’t trust myself and my whole family briefly suffered for it. Finally, at six weeks, I stepped out of my new-mom-fog and smacked myself back to the reality that my babies like designated nap-times. They like routine feedings and structured active time. I wrote out a schedule on Sunday night that I intended to follow Monday and stick with no matter how challenging it became. It was a glorious day. He ate well, he napped well, he smiled when we played and when witching hour came, I heard silence. I’m not going to give you my schedule because it likely won’t work for you. It’s important to look at your family and block things out in a way that makes the most sense for you and fulfills the need of your newborn. I promise you, if you do this, you’ll feel like yourself again. It gives you a sense of control in what can feel like an uncontrollable new norm. It frees you from the anxiety of leaving the house and not knowing what to expect.

  4. Stop. For me, there is always something that can be done. I struggle daily with enjoying little moments and taking care of a task that feels like it’s looming in the corner. After having our son, I was very nervous about how I would give one hundred percent of my time to two children. Friends, that isn’t possible. Don’t burden your brain with that. It requires mental discipline to not go there, but you have to find ways to stop and enjoy the moments with each child, with both and as a family.

  5. Seek out other moms. This goes for moral support in addition to advice and finding great products that your kids will love. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a jump because you’ve already realized that our greatest assets are each other. I can’t tell you how many Instagram accounts have brought me to some of my most useful and helpful baby products. It’s this gift that we, as new moms, should definitely take advantage of more often.

I could probably write a book about different things that I’ve used or women who have helped me along the way, but those are the five that, I found, have given me the most peace of mind. Let’s be honest, we all need a little bit of that when we bring home tiny people who rely entirely on us for their care and nurturing.

Meet Catherine.

Photo Credit Instant de Vie Photography

Photo Credit Instant de Vie Photography

Hi everyone! My name is Catherine Van WIngerden. I am 28 and  live in Culpeper, Virginia with my husband, 3-year-old daughter, Elliot,  and newborn son, Clark. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. Twelve years together, almost seven years married and recently two-children in. One might ask what landed us in suburban Virginia? My husband’s family was heavily involved in the horticultural world in the states and out of college he started a business growing Orchids. We operate a commercial greenhouse in the area doing just that.  I have had the journey of working in banking, teaching English, jumping into our business for three years and now have the unique opportunity of being a stay-at-home-mom; by far, the most challenging and rewarding of any job I have ever occupied.

I am the baby of my family, but have always been a natural caregiver and nurturer. I take on the world’s problems as my own and feel a need fix things. I’m also silly. The only thing better than having someone make me laugh, is being able to watch someones face brighten up after I’ve made them laugh. Color intimidates me: before having my daughter the only color in my closet was chartreuse and maybe some red. After, I added some blush millennial pinks that dance on the nude spectrum, so I can’t say I adventure in that department. I am a terrible creature of habit; so much so that when opening the garage door when letting my dog out, she ran into the one that I usually open rather than the one that I did that night. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad one, but it’s allowed me a day-to-day routine with my family that works for us.

Shortly after the birth of my daughter in 2014, I had the itch to connect with others. For those of you that have gone from working full-time to being a stay-at-home-mom, the transition is interesting. You’re exhausted and emotionally overworked, but newborns sleep an awful lot during the day.  I wanted to use all of my newfound “free time” for more than just organizing and reorganizing closets and drawers (more on this later because being a stay-at-home-mom to a toddler in school part-time and a newborn is not as, let’s say, freeing, as the bliss of life with one). After brainstorming and thinking about where I could connect, I realized that my immediate friend groups ranged from single to dating on Bumble, to married, to married with 3 children and then me: married, with a newborn, trying to figure out parenting. We were all women, all in different walks of life, but we all had something that bind us:: personal style and the need for an outlet. That need prompted me to take a course and get certified in Fashion Styling.

Body image is always something that  I have struggled with. Styling gave me a fantastic understanding of how you can take your body and recognize it for it’s beauty and enhance what you do love rather than pick apart the tiny things that you don’t. In the course, I also found that combining old pieces in your closet with new, updated ones helped stretch my creativity and constant need for consumption of more.

As my daughter got older and wasn’t just in onesies and comfy one pieces, the fun of coordinating began. My point of view quickly moved from styling myself to styling both of us. From there it took a turn into health and wellness as well as developmental activities for my little baby that was growing at what felt was lightening speed. I was always a “healthy” person, but having a  little one to nourish made it that much more important and fun for me! I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to grow with my blog as I have grown as a woman and a mother.

I feel so privileged to be a contributing part of the Bundle of Joy family. Caroline was one the first (and if I’m being honest *only*) successful bloggers that I felt an instant connection with. She always communicated with me when I reached out and I always felt that it was so kind and thoughtful of her. It’s not surprising that she would come up with a brand that thinks about the genuine needs of a mother after just having a baby rather than fluff.

I’m looking forward to unwrapping more of what I’ve outlined here as I contribute and get to know each of you! Connecting with people and realizing that no matter where we are in life, there are threads that weave us all together is not only refreshing, but enriching. Being able to communicate regarding motherhood takes an area of life that can be isolating, and makes it a community. Here’s to transparency and, if only for one person, making someone not feel so alone.

 

Catherine VW

Photo Credit Instant de Vie Photography