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5 stupid expensive items that get me through parenting

Some pricy modern inventions are a true lifeline

I am the third owner of my hand-me-down couch. My husband and I are three kids in, and we still drive our college car. We re-use ziplocks, mend clothes and count down to the next paycheck as much as anyone. I am not, however, above spending some real cash on things that will make my life easier. Sometimes, the line between me and my sanity is fuzzy and something as small as turning over cushions in search of my keys might just put me over the edge.

So here is my list. The things that get me through the day and seem to say, “I got you friend.”

1. My City Select Double Stroller

“You want to buy a stroller for how much?!” my husband exclaimed in a super judgy voice when I was pregnant with my third.

“I want to spend $700 on the stroller that will solve all my problems and make lugging around two toddlers feel like a breeze,” I responded.

He doubted, but he relented.

On the brink of having two babies 17 months apart, I knew that I needed help. I knew that I could not hang on to them, let alone all of the bags, coats, sippy cups, toys and blankets that come along with them. Throw in the stuff that their six-year-old brother was likely to get tired of carrying and North Dakota sub zero temperatures and things could get real scary.

My instincts were right on this one.

The thing is a monstrosity. It basically takes up my entire trunk and won’t even fold up unless you take one of the seats off. I don’t care though. I don’t care at all. I have pulled that thing up and over snow banks, I have wiped the muddy wheels down with baby wipes (more on that later) and taken the babies in it to church. The under basket is basically a clown car and I have stuffed more things than you can imagine in there, including older brother.

2. The Amazon Tile

After paying $150 for a replacement car key AGAIN, I knew I needed a new plan. My husband suggested attaching a GPS tracker to them. I searched for the tile on Amazon and told him that I couldn’t stand to spend $30 on the dumb little thing. He threw the receipt from the car key purchase my way and told me to buy four tiles. I relented.

Today, I have a tile in my wallet, on my keys, and we recently drilled tiny little holes in the corners of all of our remotes so we could attach a tile to each one of those as well. From my smartphone, I press a button and the tile rings until I find it. There is also a little map that tells me if I’m getting closer. Each tile has a little button that when pressed, makes my phone ring until I locate it.

Theses little guys have given me hours of my life back – hours that were previously spent searching for my keys and wallet and phone and remotes. I have literally pulled my wallet out of the trash, found my keys in the Tupperware drawer and dug out a remote, ringing at the bottom of a bucket of toys.

Everyday those tiles have my back.

3. My Mattress

One day, in a sleepy stupor, Danny an I wandered into a mattress store. We were convinced that the little sleep we were catching between nighttime feedings of our first newborn would count more if we had a better mattress. We went from bed to bed, laying down and giving each a bounce. On one of them we fell immediately to sleep, and knew that we would pay any amount of money to own that mattress.

We paid $2000 to own that mattress.

I’m not sure if that sounds like a lot or a little bit of money to you, but to us, it felt like a small fortune. We put it straight on a credit card and didn’t look back.

It seems, in the mattress department, you get what you pay for. That baby (the human and the mattress) have been with us for six years now. The king size piece of heaven has been moved six times and still bounces back like it did on day one. When I get in bad at night, it encourages me to close my eyes and give in to its firm embrace as I drift off to sleep. That mattress validates the long day I’ve had and takes the load off for a few hours.

4. One-Piece Snowsuits

As I was preparing to send my eldest off to Kindergarten a friend gave me some advice to help him enjoy recess in the horribly cold temperatures of North Dakota. She said that we needed to look into one-piece snowsuits. He could get it on and off quickly and stay warm.

I began to shop and found that it was almost impossible to find a one-piece snowsuit in his size. I looked at ski gear sites and snowmobiling sites and suffered from intense sticker shock. I took to Ebay and eventually found a gently used one-piece Columbia snow suit for $55. Whoa, it was hard to push buy on the faded blue-ish/purple-ish suit.

Since that day I have not only become a fan of the snowsuit, but a champion of the snowsuit. With all of the gear it requires to function in such cold temperatures, having your kid step into the suit, thread their arms through and zip the thing all the way up to their neck is simply amazing. It is easy, convenient and helps the kid avoid snow up the back as they roll around.

I went on to buy $80 snow suits for both my two and one year olds. They live up to their name brands. They keep everything inside dry and warm. I am currently in search of one in my size.

5. Baby Wipes

I know, baby wipes are not expensive. You can get a pack for a couple of bucks. These multi purpose little helpers made the list though, because of the sheer volume of wipes that I go through. I do not hold back, I do not ration.

You can find me using baby wipes for everything from changing a diaper to wiping down my kitchen counters. As mentioned above, I’ve used them to clean muddy stroller tires and also clean mud off of shoes. I regularly remove my makeup with them, dust the house with them and open a pack and let my baby sit on the floor and pull them out one by one. Covering the floor in wipes keeps my girl happy for at least five minutes and the mess is not tough to clean up. Just today I have used wipes to soak up diet coke spilled in my car cup holder, shoved one up my kids nose during a nosebleed, scrubbed at snot on the shoulder of my shirt, wiped down a pan and let my boys use a closed pack to play catch. I have baby wipe packs in every door, cupboard and bag in the house. They are the constant friend saying, here, let me help.

Though it was initially hard for me to swallow the price of each of these items, looking back, I’d pay three times as much. They are my lifelines. Thank goodness for modern invention.

Written by Betsy Ryan


Betsy Ryan resides in Watford City and is a recent transplant to Western North Dakota. She is learning to navigate her new landscape along with her husband and their two boys. Betsy writes for the McKenzie County Farmer and also shares her experiences in North Dakota on her blog,

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