A World of Kiddy Consumerism
Recently, I read this article about one mother’s self-imposed challenge not to spend any money on children’s products for a whole year. I found it very interesting, and was impressed with some of the solutions she found to make it through the year and still clothe, feed and entertain her child.
After a (very) quick discussion with Stonelaughter, we’ve decided to do our own take on this. We’re not going for a spend-free year (and if you read the article, you’ll see that Hattie won’t be continuing spend free after her year is up), but we think we can take some of the lessons Hattie has learned and decrease spending over the year.
So, where to start? We don’t buy children’s foods particularly, with the exception of some oat bars for PK (which the other two had when they were babies too), so we don’t have much to do there.
Toiletries. Well, there’s a topic. At the moment, PK and Plum share a toothpaste. Bean has a different one. Stonelaughter and I both use different ones. That’s 4 tubes of toothpaste between 5 of us. Hmn. We can change that then. And although we buy those “gentle” children’s bubble baths and shampoos, when you actually look at them, they’re full of chemicals anyway, so what are we paying for? We can change something there.
Clothes can be a huge expense when you have children. Bean seems to grow about an inch a week, and he outgrows jeans before he gets much wear out of them (though now he doesn’t have a school uniform to wear, he gets more wear out of his clothes, thankfully). We’ve never been into designer clothes, for us or children, so don’t spend a fortune on clothes, but it all adds up. If my children aren’t getting wear out of their clothes, then it stands to reason that other children are not, so I’m going to hit the charity shops and Freecycle next time one of them needs some thing (though they all had clothes at Christmas so shouldn’t need anything soon). We already send plenty of their outgrown stuff this way, so it makes sense to see if we can benefit that way too.
And then there’s toys. We have lots of them. Plenty of them have been passed from Bean, to Plum, to PK (and there’s a very popular, noisy train that came to Bean via a charity shop and is still going strong now Plum has given it to PK). We sent lots of toys to the charity shop last month, but of course with two birthdays and Christmas last month, there were plenty of new ones arriving too. Bean’s birthday is at the weekend, but once that is over, we’ll be using what we have, not buying more. They all three love being creative and cooking and such anyway, and play best when they are being imaginative.
What other areas can be cut back on? We’ve never been into lots of “gear” for babies, finding most of it unnecessary at best. Entertainment wise, we don’t go to soft play and such very often, but I will still continue to take the children there and I will still continue to pay for Plum to go to ballet and tap classes and for Bean to go to Cubs and Judo.
What do you think – are there any areas you would cut back on, some that you wouldn’t consider spending on, or any you wouldn’t consider cutting back on? I’d love to hear what you think.