Friday, January 18, 2013

the bank of baby

 "Hi, my name is Dulcie and I'm wearing a handmade hand-me-down."

"Do I look unhappy about it?"

 There's been a lot of chat on baby blogs lately about living cheaply (or for "free") with a baby/toddler.  It's made me think about how much I spend on Dulcie and has left me drawing the conclusion that... well, either I'm naturally very frugal (read stingy!) or I'm one step ahead of the zeitgeist, man!  None of this chat seems very revolutionary to me, either way.  Almost all of Dulcie's clothes and toys were gifts or hand-me-downs and a lot of what we do buy (which is not much) we buy second hand.  She eats what we eat (admittedly with the occasional convenient baby-specific snack when we're out and about, but making these would save a minimal amount of money and take a maximal amount of time) and definitely does not go through almost £1000-worth of nappies a year, which is apparently (apparently!) the national average.  (If it wasn't weird and inappropriate, I'd show you a picture of her blemish-free bottom right about now.)  We don't attend expensive classes.  Why would we when we can sing in the library or swing in the park for free?  The £2 we very occasionally pay for toddler group (shudder) includes tea and biscuits too, so seems fairly reasonable to me.

Check out this over the shoulder catalogue model pose!

This red cardigan is one that I knitted for my eldest niece eight years ago.  It almost broke me.  I'd class myself as an inexperienced knitter now, but back then I was seriously green, which was why I didn't realise that picking a cabled pattern was maybe not the best idea.  I couldn't tell you how many hours I spent working on this.  Some nights I'd sit and knit for five hours, only to end up with less rows than I had started with when, unravelling to correct a mistake in the previous row, the twisty cable would make the unravelling go out of control.  Oh yes, I worked hard on this cardigan, but I think it was worth it.

Why not get your child hooked on daytime telly?  It's free!  (I joke, but Dulcie does love dancing to the sound of the Pointless column dwindling.  She's also a big fan of the Countdown clock jingle, which is odd because I rarely watch it.)

Anyway, back to this cardigan.  Dulcie is the fifth baby in our family to wear it and still gets compliments on it.  She's only just squeezing into it now (we can't really put the hood up any more) but did you know that most clothes will fit babies for much longer than the three months stated on the label/pattern?  Yes, you probably realised that.

And here's one last picture of Dulcie modelling the 5G cardigan, sitting amidst a fairly typical brand of daily Dulcie mess.  Two of her favourite toys are an empty Roses tin (clever upcycling?!) and the free JoJo Maman Bebe catalogue (pictured).  As I type this, she's playing with a bunch of keys and an old Ferrero Rocher box.  The toys in this picture were all either gifts or bargainous second-hand finds.  Dulcie reads books borrowed from the local library (pictured) and we only buy her the ones that she really loves.  I don't feel bad about spending the occasional few pounds on books for her and it was just too sad watching her look for Not Now Bernard when we finally returned her library copy!  We also buy books from the charity shops if we're not looking for something specific.  Later on we're going to meet some other babies for a singalong in the library and then a quick visit to the local park.  I probably won't have freed a single moth from my purse today unless I happen to need a pint of milk.  I think that is about all I have to say EVER about bringing up a baby on the cheap and I'm sure you could have worked all of this out for yourself, but I will just add that you shouldn't let financial worries put you off having a baby.  If you can cover childcare (financially or in terms of friends/family/time) then I'd say you're pretty much sorted.  Plus you'll never have an evening out again so you'll be saving all the time :)

I'll just wait for the cool crowd to stop doing the old spendy-spendy all the bleedin' time and catch up to my frankly revolutionary thinking, shall I?  Shizzle.

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