It’s hard to believe that Memorial Day is just a week away! The weekend is a big one for our family, as it signifies the beginning of summer at the lake. This year I feel more prepared than ever for the warm weather with the kids, thanks a little to a couple of summers under my belt and thanks a lot to the amount of time I spent researching products, reading online reviews, and doing the purchase/return routine after trying stuff on with the kids before our trip in March. Usually I find myself scrambling for warm weather basics (shorts and sundresses) and lake necessities (swim vests and sun protective gear) in June when styles and stock are limited. I’ve included below my time-tested recommendations and favorites for kids’ clothes, shoes and gear.
Summer Clothes: Boden (above for Ella and below for Taylor)
Link: Ella’s dress
Why I love it: The quality of Boden just can’t be beat. The clothes may be on the upper end of the price range for children’s clothes, but I have found that they are worth it. For both kids, the quality of the fabric and construction make the clothes last much longer than others (for Taylor that will generally mean two years’ worth). For boys I really love that even as they pass out of the teddy bear toddler stage for clothing, the Boden styles are still really sweet. Don’t get me wrong – he has plenty of Batman and Captain America shirts, but when I want him to “dress up” a bit it’s much easier to get him in a fun soccer shirt (like the ones below) than in a plain polo. For girls, I’ve found that the ease of care is far superior to other brands. I’m a wash and wear kind of girl myself, certainly my kids’ clothes need to be of that type. Late last summer I decided to try out some less expensive brands, feeling a little silly that I was spending between $25 and $35 on dresses for Ella. Our summer nanny had Ella in one of the cheaper dresses and I commented on how cute it was. Our nanny replied that she actually kind of likes ironing, so she doesn’t mind these types of dresses. What? Ironing kids’ clothes is not happening when I’m in charge of the laundry. Oh, and the dress ripped on the second wear. My tip for buying Boden is to wait until they have a 20% off sale with free shipping and returns – they happen quite often and are generally the only times I buy. Also, Nordstrom carries the brand, has regular sales, and always has frees shipping and returns.
Why I love it: These vests were perfect on the trip for a little added comfort for the kids and adults as the wee ones ventured out in the pool and ocean (and this summer, in the lake). I have vivid memories as a kid of lifejackets riding up my neck uncomfortably and have had similarly fitting ones on the kids in past years. These vests are snug but not uncomfortable, and give the kids a lot of mobility to play with other water toys. I spe a long time researching the difference between lifejackets and swim vests and still – honestly – don’t know the difference, but I was super happy with this choice and know they will wear them well this summer.
Why I love it: The Hanna flip flops are great for their padded sole and thick fabric straps. I actually ordered the pink pair for Ella and returned them, thinking I could get away with cheaper ones for the trip. She wore the plastic inexpensive ones on the fifth day of our vacation and ended up with a painful blister that kept her out of the water on the last day. ) : On my first trip back to the mall I bought these (again) for her, and she has asked to wear them every day since. As for the play shoes, Keen is definitely the way to go, especially if your kids play hard like mine do, and from what I have experienced, all kids do. The substantial soles and thick cap on the toe may seem overkill, but that’s only to people who haven’t had kids rip a hole in a summer play shoe after a few weeks.
Why I love it: Swimsuits: This was my first time purchasing Hanna Andersson swimsuits, and I couldn’t have been happier. The quality is outstanding and the fit was perfect for both Taylor and Ella. For Taylor, the suits were “big boy” without being teen-like (he’s not a fan of the whole board shorts thing). For Ella, the cut and style were age appropriate (sad how early that starts to become an issue with girls’ clothing!) and the patterns so sweet. Swim hats: The hats were my favorite purchase. They provided the necessary protection but yet weren’t so large as to be irritating to the kids, and snug fitting so that they stayed put as the kids ran and swam circles around us all day. Swim shoes: As for the shoes, Taylor is a real stickler for what they look like and how they feel. They have to be snug but not too tight, easy to get on and off but stay put when in the water, and just generally very comfortable. Not an easy combination in a swim shoe. Plus, I like to find ones with good traction and a closed toe. These were absolutely perfect on the trip and will no doubt get a ton of use this summer. Ella’s criteria for shoes is a fair bit less – they just need to be pink. I found the Teva sandals harder to get on and off, so they weren’t as good a fit for Taylor, but they worked well for Ella, who still needs some assistance in that department anyway.