Well, here goes. Crazy idea time. I've decided to have a year off buying anything new for me or my two girls.
By way of introduction, I'm a mum of two young children. Eliza is 3 and Addy is 1. We have built up a ridiculous amount of clothes, toys and equipment over the last 3 years. And I don't even want to think about how much money we've spent on 'stuff'. Anyway, enough is enough. I'm going to see if we can survive the next 12 months without buying a single new item for me or my two girls. (We'll leave Daddy out of this....)
I'm not an eco-warrior mum. We're a pretty normal family. No hand-crocheted babygros. I didn't consider trying reusable nappies for my girls - because I thought they looked like mission impossible (and I didn't really class myself as the type!). I don't manage to recycle food waste - ever since a particularly unpleasant fruit fly infestation. Anyway, the point is, we aren't living on a commune sewing our own clothes out of curtains. I don't plan to take up sewing clothes or knitting socks. I've got two toddlers - no chance! What I plan to do is try to get as much as I can from charity shops, hand me downs or friends.
I need to come up with some ground rules. Obviously I can buy food (like I said we aren't on a commune, and I don't have a nifty little allotment or smallholding). As Addy is probably only 6 to 12 months longer in nappies, I think I will stick to disposable ones (it still looks like mission impossible - I barely manage all the washing as it is...). Seeing as its November 18th as I write this, we will also have to accept Christmas presents from grandparents. But, we'll let family and friends know that (other than Christmas) we don't want to receive anything new for our girls, and we won't be giving anyone anything new either. I'm going to have to think of some way of getting people nice Christmas presents! The point is, for a whole year, I'm not going to buy anything new AT ALL, bar food (and nappies).
The other thing about me is, I'm a part time working mum who's been having a bit of a crisis over the past year. Well, it's not really a crisis, more of an epiphany. I was working as a doctor in a GP surgery, 3 days a week, before going on maternity leave with my second daughter. While I've been on maternity leave this past year, I've had a real urge to disentangle myself from my work. The thought of dropping my two very young children off at nursery at 8, and not going to get them until 6pm, just felt too much. I just about managed it with Eliza, but I can't face it as a long term prospect any more with two little ones.
Part of my maternity leave crisis has involved me setting up a new project that I can work on from home. I had an idea (which I'd love to make work) of building a marketplace for parents to buy and sell gently used children and baby items. The idea was that it is a real pain to list stuff on eBay (listing times are too short, and endlessly relisting items is annoying), Preloved and Gumtree don't let you search for items across the UK which can be posted, and Facebook selling groups are just plain annoying! (I don't really want to sell my used children's items in such a public fashion in front of all my friends - I'd prefer a bit more privacy). What I wanted to use was a website a bit like a department store website, where I could search for children's items by age, sex, category, or postal option. The idea is that I could be looking for a new coat for my 2 year old, and search UK-wide to find something really nice that another mum would post to me. Why doesn't that exist already?
I'm sure there are lots of other mums like me who aren't bothered about their kids always wearing new clothes, who would actually prefer to recycle and reuse their children's stuff and who would love to have a website that made it really easy to find what their kids need, from other mums or dads.
Anyway, this is my, 'I have a dream' moment. I'm really not good at selling ideas or public speaking, but wouldn't it be great if parents could more easily sell and pass on their gently used children's Items? It would earn families a little extra cash (at a time when budgets are tight), help other families to save money while still getting good quality stuff for their kids, and help the environment - by cutting down on what we throw away and buy new.
So, that's my dream. I'm going to give it a bash. And now I've decided - to prove my dedication to the cause - that we are not going to buy anything new in our family for a whole year. Wish me luck - I think I'm going to need it!
To get a sharing and selling marketplace to work, what I need is for mums all over the UK to list one or two items on the site. It takes literally 1 minute (just start with 1 photo). You can use your Facebook to log in. If we all did this with a few good quality items, we could literally cut down on what we'd need to buy new overnight. It would make my next year so much easier!!