Some of us love to spoil our kids, others think that a simpler life is the path to happiness. Meet the mum who has managed to raise her kids for free…
Kids these days come with such a hefty six-figure price tag it can feel downright overwhelming. Is it even possible to have kids without spending a lot of money?
British mum and blogger Hattie Garlick decided to find out. After losing her job just before Christmas 2012, while being hit with the holiday marketing blitz, Garlick pledged to strike out against consumerism. She and her husband Tom, a carpenter and musician, instituted a total spending freeze on kid-related items for all of 2013. The only exception was childcare and medical expenses.
Garlick was prepared to spend nothing on toddler son Johnny. That meant no kid-specific snacks or clothes or entertainment or even Christmas or birthday presents for an entire year.
But two months into her zero spending odyssey, Garlick discovered she was pregnant with her second child, due the following November. Would the demands of pregnancy and a growing family shake her resolve?
On the contrary. If anything, preparing for a new baby only emboldened the "minimalist mum."
“When we found out she was a girl, I think my resolve was stiffened in a way,” Garlick explains. “The kiddie consumerism aimed at young girls is so much more toxic at times. It encourages girls that they have to be interested in pink and princess. I want to protect her from that as long as possible.”
Despite the pregnancy and birth of daughter Frida, Garlick says she was able to stick to the no-spending pledge. She confesses she broke the rules a few times, like when she bought “a couple packs of nappies” and some disposable wipes for a family trip, because she couldn’t countenance traveling with cloth nappies. And while son Johnny, now 3, did not get toys for his birthday from his parents, he did get a CD made by Garlick of all the important people in his life — grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — reading their favourite bedtime stories.
As for dealing with baby gear, Garlick says “newborn clobber” is often the easiest to get for free from friends, neighbours and sites like Freecycle, a worldwide nonprofit.