Is it just me, or is bringing up a child kind of expensive?
There’s the nappies, the clothing, the food, the furniture, all those high-tech gadgets that let you spy on your child while they’re asleep, not to mention the toys. Toys that cost a fortune, only to be ignored in favour of the cardboard box they came in (if you need me I’ll be curled up in the corner, rocking back and forth as I cry.)
Having gone from two incomes to one and a bit – the bit being the odds and ends I make – our budget no longer allows us to splash out on expensive toys and brand new books. But at the same time, I don’t want my daughter Olivia to go without, so I’ve started frequenting my local op shops and have discovered all sorts of great things for children.
Let’s start with the obvious – children’s clothing - which is often unworn with the tags still attached. Most op shops stock a large supply of second hand children’s clothing that is in good condition and hardly worn, seeing as children tend to grow out of them very quickly.
I must admit – I used to be a bit precious about letting my first-born wear second hand clothing, but then my mother turned up with a $22 swimsuit with the tags attached that she paid $2 for. I was instantly swayed. You can also find hats, accessories and shoes for a fraction of the price you pay for brand new items. Here is a great tip if you are looking to find second-hand handmade clothing.
You can pick up some great toys for any age.
Then there’s the toys. While you probably won’t find the very latest toys gracing the shelves, you can find some old favourites, such as Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine, Mega Blocks, Duplo and Lego.
There’s dolls, doll’s clothing, doll houses, tea sets, educational toys, unused colouring books and pencils…the list goes on. Just give any toys you find a bit of clean before the children get their hands on them and they will look as good as new. For older kids, you can find board games and jigsaw puzzles, as well as unopened craft packs.
The Perth Crochet Club meets weekly to learn crochet, meet other Perth mums, and have a good chat. Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, everyone is welcome to come along!
Books are another item I scour the op shops for. I recently picked up a heap of the Mr Men series book and a Harry Potter book for under $10, but on sale days you might find them going even cheaper. If your kids love to watch movies, some op shops stock DVDs and Blu-Rays, but be sure to look at the disc for scratches and obvious marks before buying or it may not work when you press play. Here are some other places you will find secondhand books.
Op shops stock DVDs and Blu-Rays discs, as well as kids books.
Are your children sporty? I’ve noticed that some op shops stock sporting equipment for kids, including football boots – which can be expensive new, considering how quickly they grow out of them – gloves, roller skates and balls.
You can also find backpacks – I paid a measly $5 for a Disney backpack for my daughter Olivia – it’s clean and in good condition and fits a bucket load of stuff in it.
Just a fraction of some of the things we've found over the past year.
If you’re looking for bedroom items, you can find night-lights, lamps, bedroom art, door snakes and even bigger items, such as drawers or bookshelves.
You can’t spell opportunity without ‘op’, so find a couple of op shops in your area and hunt out some bargains at rock bottom prices.