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Since the day my daughter was born, my mother has been
waiting to take her to the American Girl store to get a doll. In fact, my mom even marked the day on her
calendar when my daughter would be old enough to go.
The problem for me was that I dreaded taking my daughter to American Girl, even
if my mom was the one paying the bill. I anticipated tantrums on my daughter's
part when she learned she couldn't take home the whole store. And I worried
about opening up a world of expensive dolls and adorable but overpriced
accessories that my kid wouldn't want to buy over and over again.
But I also didn't want to deny my mother the fun of going
doll shopping with her only granddaughter. And I didn't want to deny my daughter the fun
of having a very special doll. So while I decided my daughter could have her
fabulous doll day, I also decided to manage expectations and avoid some of the
American Girl meltdowns I had so dreaded.
We went yesterday to American Girl at The Grove in Los
Angeles. The day was fun and totally tantrum-free. Here's what we did to survive our first trip
to American Girl.
1. I managed purchasing expectations ahead of time.
I don't like when I
see kids badgering their parents for extra toys or gifts once they are in the
store, and I don't want my kids to do that to me. With my mom generously buying my daughter
a very expensive doll, I wanted to avoid my kiddo melting down in the store because
she couldn't leave with each and every thing that caught her eye. So I asked my
mom what she was comfortable getting my daughter, and then I had a conversation
with my kiddo about what she could get. She stuck to it in the store and I was
proud of her! If your kids are like mine, they just need to know their limits.
2. We looked at the
American Girl catalog and website beforehand.
I know firsthand what it's
like to walk into a store, budget in hand, and realize I don't want to stick to
that budget because the store has so many wonderful things to buy. I also know
that big stores can be overwhelming for both adults and kids. So my daughter and
I looked at what the American Girl store had to offer ahead of time and
narrowed down her choice before we went. At the store, my kiddo enjoying
looking at all the dolls but already had her sights set on a specific doll.
3. We planned to go mid-day when my daughter wouldn't be tired or cranky.
mom had a great idea to get my daughter's doll at lunchtime so we could then go
to the American Girl restaurant for lunch (where we also brought her doll). The bonus was that my daughter
wasn't tired or cranky, and it made the experience a lot more fun.
4. I let my daughter "girl out"!
As much as I don't want my daughter to only play with dolls, and
as much as I want her to know that she can play with blue trucks too, I also know that "girling-out" can be really fun for a lot of little girls.
So when my daughter wanted to name her doll, I said yes. When she wanted to sit
with her doll and feed her, I said sure. When my daughter asked me to braid her doll's hair, I happily complied.
She had a great time and so did I. There's nothing wrong with that.
5. We took a ton of pictures.
Even the biggest cynic will have a hard time denying the total
cuteness of a little girl getting her first American Girl doll. So charge your phone battery and make sure
your camera lens is clean because you'll want to take a ton of pictures. You
may even want to be in some of them.