Over Thanksgiving, I had lots of conversations with my house guests about parenting styles and how different families focus their attention on different areas of parenting. It is my belief and my overall opinion that none of us really know what the hell we are doing until it's done. You may get a "do over" with child number two or three, but even then, you really are winging it with the knowledge you have acquired and just holding out hope that you don't screw it up. One of the areas I choose to focus attention on is the individuality of each of my children and allowing them to develop their own sense of style. With my oldest root who is now 20, I royally screwed that up. I literally chose her clothing until she was entering the 9th grade, and even then, I had the largest influence on what she wore. Now, maybe she just thought I had great style, or maybe it was her "people pleasing" attitude that made her so agreeable, but she complied with 99% of what I chose. I was a young mother when I had her, and I literally had no clue what I was doing. By choosing her clothing, it, in my opinion, set her up for not feeling very confident in other areas of decision making. She always has made very responsible decisions, but looking back I feel like I should have encouraged her own individuality and embraced it when she developed her own style. When the middle root came along, I knew immediately that he was a VERY strong-willed child. If I didn't think it could get any more strong-willed, the tiny root was born and I swear she looked up at me and raised her eyebrow as if to say "You ain't seen nothin yet". As a now 3-year-old, the tiny root wants to do a wardrobe change as often as I will allow, and the middle root has a VERY specific style that includes no button up shirts, no cargo pants or shorts, and everything must be heavily steeped in an athletic vibe. With all of the wardrobe changes and the ever climbing retail prices, I decided to seek out an alternative. Shopping is literally the bain of my existence. That, and throw blankets in the living room. I know it may seem odd, but that's me and a totally different subject, so let's stay focused, shall we? I have never enjoyed shopping, and with the internet at your fingertips, it's just too easy to forgo the crowds and dressing rooms and instead shop from home. Another thing I have learned as a parent is that second-hand doesn't mean that you are giving your child something that is "less than". We have several large local consignment sales each year, and for children, you can so often find unworn clothing with the tags still attached for a fraction of the cost of retail. Have you noticed the expensive nature of athletic gear? Holy Crow! Under Armour, Nike, and Addidas will literally break the bank at full price, and as much as I detest the middle root's need for name brand athletic gear, it's more important for me to facilitate his desire to be who he is. So, while online one day, I stumbled upon Swap. An online consignment store that allows you to take advantage of the same prices as you would find at a local consignment store, but you are spared the other moms that are also trying to elbow their way through a good sale. I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical because I had tried a different online consignment shop in the past, and the results were very mixed. I found that there was a very low level of consistency when it came to the quality of the items I chose. I waited for a bit and followed the reviews of other parents, and finally, I pulled the trigger on my first order. When the box arrived, I quickly opened it and I found that each and everything I purchased was as described and fit perfectly. Soon after, I placed a second order, and then a third. I can tell you first hand that this company is definitely on the up and up, and they 100% stand by what they do and what they offer, which is a unique online consignment shopping experience. I have been able to nurture my children's individual styles and at the same time, stay on a stay at home mom budget. Another awesome thing about Swap is that they also have women's and men's clothing and a variety of home goods as well. My oldest root has now developed her own sense of style, and I am proud to report that my Frugal McDougal is a consignment shopper as well, but she no longer needs mom's input. What can I say you guys, when you know better, you do better. Nurture your kid's individuality, no matter if they wear cowboy boots and shorts, or dress like a hobo. It's who they are and your acceptance is the mirror in which they see themselves. If you are on a budget, or you just want to see what Swap is all about, I suggest you do so. Use the money you save to enroll them in a fine arts class or a sporting league. You won't be sorry. Until then, Live, Love, and Grow Roots.