Kiddy Consumerism or Motherly Love?

Hattie Garlick, writing in yesterdays Telegraph, has vowed that she will not be spending a single penny on her two year old son in 2013. Interestingly she made this decision prior to being made redundant and finances I imagine becoming more tightly stretched.

My initial incredulousness reduced slightly as she laid out her plan:

  • Clothes will come only from swaps with friends or bundles from free-cycle.
  • Toys the same.
  • Little Garlick will be getting no rice cakes this year and apparently will only be consuming portions of the three meals eaten by his parents.
  • Haircuts will be done at home, as will all activities. Soft-play centres are no longer on the menu this year.

Actually, she might just manage it.

I absolutely could not. I know this to my bones. I could manage with the food and haircut plan but would fail miserably with the rest. I do however know that there is a huge amount of unnecessary waste in my own house and a bit of belt-tightening would not go amiss. This article has certainly got me thinking.

I don’t necessarily think that what she is doing is wrong, and for many families this may seem an entirely sensible approach.

But will you be denying yourself the same pleasures all year Ms Garlick? Really?

Before you buy that next Vanilla Latte remember you could probably have bought a jumper for your son from any major supermarket. Or, heaven forbid, a toy.

And a little bit of joy may be lurking in the nearest packet of rice-cakes.

So, what do you think? Could you go a whole year and spend nothing on your child?


  1. says

    Considering that I have given in to the chocolate treat and love to get him magazines cause he likes the stickers only how many weeks in?….nope! Also I like to get the odd clothes piece just from me even though he gets most from relatives…I’m not sure why I can’t resist! Then comes the list for his second birthday in February…I want to get him a little something but not too big promise. Oh dear I think I need to speak to someone about finances and saving!

    • says

      I am exactly the same as you. I don’t mean to buy much at birthdays or Christmas but end up completely overdoing it. I have now had to try and stop his Granny as she is far worse and I am running out of space despite anything else!

  2. says

    Absolutely not! I’m never that lucky with free cycle but we buy our clothes in sales and from charity shops anyway to minimise expenditure some stores are criminal!
    I hope he won’t totally miss out as we go to a soft play which is free and there are libraries so I hope her area caters for that. And no, hair cutting Is not something I’d inflict on my children! My mum did it to us and I’ve never forgiven her haha!!xx

    • says

      Yes, I too have rather bad memories of home haircuts! I seem to remember some blood was lost. Ouch. You are right though, hopefully there will be plenty of free stuff in their area for little Garlick!

  3. says

    Interesting idea. I agree with you – clothes and toys could work and potentially food if it’s just included wh=it what else is in the family.. But what about childcare? And I’m not sure about leisure/play. We could cut down softplay, and do more of the cheap or free activities – our children centre’s are very good at only £1 a session, and we could have lots of playdates at home/at friends, but I do think some paid activities are good. (swimming etc). I may be in this situation in a couple of months if I’ve not found another job by now, so maybe I should start planning this now!

    • says

      Ah, good luck with the job-hunting. Will keep my fingers crossed. I do think she is a bit extreme but it does make you realise where you could be saving a bit doesn’t it?

  4. says

    I enjoy spending money on my son so there is no chance I could manage! Plus I don’t always want to share my meals and have to eat things that I know are suitable for him – does that mean no take aways for a year? I do think we spend too much when they need very little but sometimes it is lovely to treat them!

  5. Mum2BabyInsomniac says

    No way! I think there is being sensible and then there is being extreme. I always look in charity shops and on my local Facebook group for clothes and toys for Iyla because I think it is silly to spend lots of money on new things that they only use for a little while. Not buying rice cakes though?! Ridiculous! X

  6. goodnight55 says

    In principle its a great idea…. in reality – I’d struggle! But I’m not sure if that is because we’re all now used to essentially being able to buy new things so cheaply. After all, I’m quite sure that I didn’t grow up in new clothes and having new toys all of the time. On a different point, I do think its really good for our son to do things and meet other children which do cost money – swimming, soft play (£1.50 at the local garden centre – not exactly excessive) and nursery. They all cost money. I’m unsure how she will completely avoid it for a whole year, but am interested to see if she actually manages it!

    • says

      You have a good point actually. I grew up in lots of my sisters and my cousins hand-me-downs but there weren’t such great quality, 100% cotton kids clothes, available in supermarkets for such little money then.

  7. says

    Yes I think it is all relative. What about a pair of shoes, I dont mind hand we down clothes but they all got good quality new shoes. At 2 year old he would not notice his birthday or Christmas had come from freecycle, a much more sensible idea than a friend I know who bought her just 2 year old a kindle fire for his Christmas.
    Hair clippers and little boy skin head haircuts are manageable.
    But is what she eating suitable for a 2 year old? His nutritional needs are different than hers. He has a little tummy and needs 6 small not 3 large meals a day. What about fresh fruit? or snacks like rice cakes, – no I think that side of it is unworkable. I hate weetabix but my kids loved it and happily ate it for breakfast and even supper, was I suppose to deny them something so healthy with slow release carbs just cos I did not like it? hardly!

  8. Alex says

    I think it’s just about balance. I certainly have no issue with second hand/handed down/gifted clothes and toys. Much of Ethan’s clothing actually falls into that category anyway. Even shoes, coats and underwear. Toys as well.. Of course I buy him toys, but I try to be restrained. Compared to friends he has much less but despite that he still ignores most of them! Ive never paid for him to have a hair cut, my mum does it. The part I’d struggle with is the food. I buy him organix rice cakes, oaty bars and corn snacks (crisps to Ethan) because even though he’s over 3.5 I can’t bring myself to give him snacks that aren’t “child friendly”. I don’t begrudge those purchases. Each member of our family has a few things on the shopping list each week that are “just for them”; Ethan’s snacks, hubby’s smoked salmon, sarnie fillings and crisps, my chocolate! I like to take Ethan to soft play as well. He meets his friends there. Frankly it’s easier meeting groups of 3-4 year olds in an environment like that than have them over our house.. And ths is the UK. I’m damned if I’m going to sit in the freezing cold/rain for two hours in the park when they play (not that we don’t go to the park, just not for play dates and not in bad weather!). So.. Overall, I applaud the idea, but I don’t think it’s realistic for us,

  9. mamadeano says

    This is something I think of a lot, so think I may check out the article. We try to take a fairly simple approach with little tyke, but when I am able to be out and about I am a sucker for spending money on said 2 year old which is not necessary.

  10. says

    I’m with her on the toys thing, keep telling people not to buy stuff for them as quite honestly they don’t play with most of what they have and normally have more fun with a washing basket than a toy! Clothes is something we’re trying to change though, need to buy more second hand because lets be honest they don’t wear them long do they?

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