Challenge of Not Buying Kids Stuff during COVID

An overcast threatening-rain morning seemed the perfect time to take our young kids to the wading pool- perfect for avoiding crowds that is. Within an hour of our return home from the pool I had ordered water toys and a soaker sprinkler…we’ll avoid the wading pool for now.

From the mom who emptied her dog’s dish to let her son use it as a bucket in the water, to the swarms of screaming children-my COVID safety vision meant it was a short dip for our kiddos.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I’ve always tried to reign in the amount of toys in our small home by not buying things readily available in the community . After all, we chose our neighbourhood precisely because we live a 5-minute walk from the library and four parks -one with a huge pirate ship themed splash pad and outdoor pool.

Why amass a huge toddler book collection when, thanks to the library, we only need to have those ‘please read it again’ winners on our bookshelves? Similarly the free early years drop-in program up the road means I don’t need to personally store a race car track for the kids- the centre has that pleasure.

And then along came COVID and I have since been unable to close my recycling bin lid due to all the shipping packaging.

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

We are in the privileged position of having a backyard and two incomes unaffected by the pandemic. So while splash pads and pools are now reopened we can choose to avoid those crowds by ordering our own sprinklers, kiddie pool and water toys.

Likewise, the library is now offering online ordering but unfortunately baby board books aren’t well categorized so I’ll need to order the black and white high contrast books for our newborn if we’d like those in the house.

COVID has taught my four and two-year old (and me) a lot about entertaining ourselves without the usual distractions of playgrounds, play dates and community programming. I love our daily walks by the lake and the fact that both kids can now easily identify red wing blackbirds, gros-becs, and cormorants.

Image by Meatle from Pixabay

I am also grateful that I can choose to buy those items we can no longer easily access even though it has meant stepping away from my minimalist values. I only wish I’d come to peace with owning more playground equipment when trampolines were still in stock.

Featured image: Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Old Fashioned Thrift

I have a copy of a 1924 Popular Mechanics for Women magazine that I inherited from my grandmother. And while I don’t suggest you attempt to build the terrifying DIY chicken wire playpen, I was struck by the advice to rotate stroller wheels to equalize wear.

play pen
1920s Portable Play Yard

The short article advised readers that when baby stroller tires are the same size, the rear tires wear down before the front ones. Rotating tires would make it “unnecessary to renew them until all are worn out.”

Thrifty mom saves herself from buying a new set of four tires until all are worn down.  

My Stroller Stash

I own three different strollers- three! The single, the double (which also has jogging wheels) and the umbrella. If one of the wheels were to wear down, I’d shrug and order a new set online. 

There is a connection between how much stuff we own and our sloppy care of our possessions. I’m willing to bet that ‘1920s momma’ didn’t have multiple strollers at her disposal.

Three strollers is actually my pared down minimalizing number. I just gave the single running stroller away as the amount it got used didn’t justify its storage for when we return to being a single stroller family.  The others I just can’t part with yet.

The double is the daily go-to for outings farther than a few blocks. The single does nicely for short runs to the library and nearby parks that are walkable for our preschooler.  The umbrella fits neatly into our packed car for outings and is light to lug onto our inaccessible street car and commuter train.

transit stroller

Taking Stock

The stroller tally doesn’t even include our other wheeled methods of pushing kids from A to B. The small wagon and push car.

I wish I could just let some of these go and clean up our front yard but its all so handy right now. While I sometimes long for a suburban garage to hide things away, I am grateful for the trade-off of living in the city where I can walk to so much.

Suffice to say, if we were in a condo without backyard spill over options our storage locker would be scary. Or maybe not.

With limited storage I’d have refused the kind offer of the push car and sold the single stroller. And maybe with less possessions to care for, after seeing that 1920s article I’d have even gotten out the tool kit and rotated the tires on my umbrella stroller.

You Don’t Need a Change Table

Babies are such tiny things, but man do they come with a lot of stuff.  My outlook with baby number 1 was to go minimal and do without a change table. The dedicated piece of furniture for bum changing would only be needed for a short while and hog space in the small nursery. Instead I registered for a keekaroo peanut change pad and placed it on top of baby’s dresser.

We used that thing daily and I have only great things to say about the product except turns out we didn’t even need that.  Yep another $100 I could have put towards RESPs instead.

At 9 months Baby 2 has used the dresser top change set-up like maybe ten times. Mostly driven by the logistics of our toddler being in the nursery while baby room shares with us. We have only one tall dresser in the master so no space for a dresser top changing spot.

And I love it. We just use travel changing pads and I don’t know why I ever bothered carting baby #1 upstairs to the nursery for changes. Like seriously, why was I hiking upstairs ten times a day before?

Since baby spends most of her day downstairs, I converted part of the dining room buffet to store her diapering things and simply throw a change pad on the playmat as needed. In our bedroom we likewise just use a travel pad on the bed for changes.  Turns out using one less “essential” thing has made life much easier for me.