What do you buy?
I’ve just spent a happy afternoon in the woods with Clare and her two sons – Conor is four and his little brother Finn, nearly two. Both families brought a picnic – we had hard boiled eggs and bagels, and my friends had soup in a thermos and sandwiches. This post is by Nicola Baird who is looking forward to her book Homemade Kids being published on 1 July 2010.
While everyone played or made dens Clare gave me her tips for eBay buying and selling. She’s expert at it and as a consequence her boys look smartly togged up (see pic, left). She says the secret is to buy good quality brands (and we had a bit of a whisper about Gap and Boden). As a seller she reckons you should only offer clothes that are right for the season. Her tip is to wash and bag up your children’s outgrown winter clothes now, label them and then make a note to sell them in September or October.
I use eBay occasionally, but prefer looking through shops and table top sales/swaps which is probably why I rarely find those lovely Boden items I ringed in last year’s catalogue – Boden-buying mums seem to sell their good stuff so they can afford the next lot of new Boden/whatever’s it this year. If you check regularly there are still covetable items in charity shops, in fact I’ve recently managed to get hold of two wet suits (both a fiver) so my girls can stay on the beach or in a boat for longer this summer, but in some ways eBay and selling on has reduced the amount of good quality clothing turning up in your local charity shop.
This means I’ve become as likely to go in and buy, as to not buy. And kids don’t like it – especially if they’ve got used to being allowed something little every time they visit a carboot sale or charity shop. When things are as cheap as chips, and the money goes to a good cause then it’s hard to say no.
As my friend Lucy found out it can be very hard to reason with a child who is used to being allowed something because it is secondhand. “We went to a book shop and natalie, 6, had an almighty tantrum cos she wanted a toy – which saw her screaming all the way out of the shop and to the bus stop, I think she calmed down by the time we got home. I blame lack of exposure to commercial shopping opportunities – you see going to charity shops means that they usually can get something each time – not so with real shops – what to do!!” If you’ve got any ideas wing them over in the comment box below…
Grown ups are just as bad as I’ve started to realise while reading the fascinating story of how to eat well and live on absolutely no money, Free: living on the margins of a wasteful society, by Katharine Hibbert who spent last year squatting and skip diving.
Like most city people I live very near shops that must chuck out-of-date food regularly. I’ve never noticed bags of food lying around before, perhaps because bins are often around the back, or in a locked section, or taped up, but since learning the lessons of Free I think I’m willing to pick up more found food. The trouble is I’m nervous about it – we found a Sainsbury’s chicken sandwich on the bus last week (risk?), and the dog could certainly thrive on football fan offerings – but I think my girls would find it a very worrying development.
Until I gain confidence (or move into crisis mode) I think I may just stick with looking for tasty wild foods (the new season nettles are ready for cutting!) rather than pre-packaged, barcoded but dumped items…