So, as with so much else in my life, I've decided to outsource my blogging. And as a result, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you.... drum roll please.... my first guest post.
Sarah Kensington, writer on PlayPennies.com, a UK blog about parenting and saving money.:
Mother Nature is a canny one you know - if you looked at starting a family from a rational and economic point of view you’d never do it. But when that maternal desire kicks in, there are few things in this world that can stop the ‘cravings.’
So we go through pregnancy, try to forget all the indignity that comes with it, and end up with a little bundle of joy at the other end – a VERY expensive bundle of joy at that.
Time passes; your little progeny is growing at an alarming rate and the too-small clothes mountain is growing in proportion to the amount of money you’re haemorrhaging in Mothercare every other week.
THEN somehow, it seems like a good idea to add to this financial black hole and have another baby, and for some of us another one after that, and if you’re really after some
punishment big family joy, then FOUR babies seems like a plan (Harriet!).
I have three children – ‘the teenagers’ and ‘the toddler’.
The teenagers are 15 and 14 and share the same birthday (it seemed like a good idea at the time!) and ‘unfortunately’ one is a boy and one is a girl, so there wasn’t a great deal of clothes swapping going on once we were out of the babygro phase.
The amount of money I’ve spent on vests, babygros, t-shirts, shorts, socks, dresses, trousers and jumpers is too frightening to contemplate. The memory of having things in the drawers that the kids grew out of without actually getting to wear is shameful. (They’re at that awkward growing thing again by the way, J is 5ft 11 now and grew half an inch last month – I do wish he’d stop it!).
As I’m writing I’m trying to remember what I did with all of the clothes the teenagers grew out of. In the early years most of it was still like new by the time it was too small and back then we didn’t have eBay. Heck most homes didn’t even have computers and if you had a mobile, well you were right up there with the modern moment!
So what DO we do with all the clothes that are now surplus to requirements? And as most of us aren’t dripping with cash, or feel very inclined to spend millions on our little darling’s wardrobe a la Tom, Katie and Suri Cruise, how can we get canny when it comes to clothing our kids?
There are lots of options and I have to try and rein in my inner-snob with some of them. I can’t help it, I have a bit of an irrational double-standard when it comes to clothes from charity shops – I am MORE than happy to give them bags of lovely stuff but have a very hard time getting to grips with the reverse transactions; daft, I know.
If you’re a member of any mother and baby groups or your kids go to nursery or crèche, then how about getting all of your clothing mountains together, sorting them out into age groups and swapping your too-small items for those in the next age range up? Think Blue Peter Bring and Buy sales of yesteryear but without the ‘buying’ bit!
I’ve recently discovered that teenage girls are already doing this too, judging by the ‘foreign’ clothing items that appeared in the washing basket over the weekend, “Oh, that’s Anna’s, we’ve swapped some stuff for a while…” I’m not sure if I should be irritated with them or impressed by their initiative.
If you want to grab back some of your hard-earned cash then list everything on eBay. I bought lots of clothes for the toddler from eBay before he was born – I’m not sure how this is any different from buying things from a charity shop, other than the charity doesn’t get my money.
I’ve also listed clothes on eBay and found that things sell better as sets or collections that are presented well. So washing, ironing, folding and presenting things nicely will be time well spent and reaps its rewards.
If you’re in a more benevolent and generous mood then consider listing your items on your local Freecycle group. I came across Freecycle when I was pregnant with the toddler; essentially, it’s an online community in your local area where you can OFFER items you have no further use for but which are too good to end up at the rubbish dump – the aim of the game here is to keep things out of landfill whilst helping each other out at the same time.
So, you place your offer ‘on the board,’ people who would like to be the recipient of your items contact you by email and you then have to decide who to give it to, for free. That’s the hardest part about Freecycle, the amount of times I wish I could give things to everyone who responded.
A friend of mine was an amazing seamstress and she used to make the most AMAZING clothes from stitching together lots of pieces of her favourite outfits that didn’t fit the kids anymore. She also used to keep her eyes open for lengths of material that were going cheap and make fabulous kiddy clothes from that too….I knew I’d missed a trick not taking that GCSE in textiles and dress making!
If you’re an early-bird on Sunday mornings then car boot sales are also good ways to release the equity tied up in tiny clothes, and any other baby items you have no further need for, for that matter.
Of course, the only sure fire way to get around this financial inevitability is to not have little yous at all, just watch out for that Mother Nature…she’s a canny one you know.
Many thanks to Sarah for both rescuing me from an empty blog (may find space for the Gallery on Wednesday though...) and coming up with some top tips for clothes that aren't just "passed downs"..... why do you think I'm so delighted to have three girls?!