I’m new to Playpennies, and you may think my title misses the point rather. But I’m very good at not spending money. It’s one of my talents. I always wanted to be the sort of mother who would randomly buy her children beautiful things, but I don’t, because I can’t ever justify it. So I end up in Primark (or, post move, M&Co).
Instead, I’m writing about the opposite. What are the things that I bought cheaply and now wish I had spent money on? The false economies. The parenting equivalents of value washing up liquid. Obviously we are all constrained by our personal budgets, but, whatever yours may be, these five things you can justify...
A really good pushchair. I’m not recommending a brand, because pushchairs are more personal than haircuts. You can admire someone else’s but that doesn’t mean it will work for you. You need to sit down and think about what your pushchair needs to do, and then you need to spend as much money as it takes to get it.
If you get one that doesn’t do something you want it to, whether that be go off-road, or take a car seat, or let your baby lie totally flat, or go through the front door, it will irritate you beyond words, and you’ll probably end up buying the one you should have got in the first place anyway.
A proper (and I mean proper) waterproof. It won’t be pretty, it won’t be glamorous, but boy will you thank me when the baby’s screaming, it’s pouring with rain, you have to get out of the house, and you watch someone else in the same position try and manhandle a brolly and a pram. It doesn’t work. Get a cagoule.
A really lovely nappy bag. I went “Pah! That’s silly and frivolous. I don’t need a nappy bag I like, it just has to be functional”. Three years of using it EVERY DAY, and I’m really, really wishing I’d bought this kind of thing.
When you’ve just had a baby and you’re wearing a cagoule, you won’t feel glamorous and lovely, but a glamorous and lovely nappy bag will help. Get someone to buy it for you as a present.
A stupidly expensive bouncy chair. Ideally this babysitter balance bouncer from Johnlewis. Yes, I know. It’s £100 for a bouncy chair. Bear with me. We bought this spot bouncer. It’s £14. Both our first born and our twins hated it and I thought they just didn’t like bouncing.
Then we borrowed the other and both the twins loved it. I don’t know what Baby Bjorn have done, but whatever it is it works and it was a godsend. I had somewhere I could put one of them down, and know they would be happy for twenty minutes. That’s worth it.
A microwave. You can wean a baby (and/or make up formula milk) without a microwave (I should know, I’ve done it three times) but life’s apparently a lot easier if you’ve got one.
Those are my five essentials, but I’d also not feel ashamed of buying breast-feeding tops and underwired nursing bras to preserve your dignity, give your (ahem) spirits a lift, and make you feel vaguely human...
So that’s it. You have permission to spend money. What are you waiting for?
[Photo credits: Mzelle Biscotte]