• Jess Hippey

Babywearing saved my budget!

“So… it’s another wrap?” Husband asks, curling his lip in an expression which clearly says he thinks I’m a bit of a weirdo. “Yes, but it was only £35.” I wince as the cost stumbles out of my mouth by way of justification. He’s not going to go for it… I know what’s coming next – I’ve heard it before.

“These things aren’t cheaper than a pram if you buy a hundred of them, you know… We already have a wrap. And buckles.” He hitches Son up in our trusty Tula and we set off into town. I’d like to think he’s affronted on behalf of our positively retro ‘Urban Elephants’, but I doubt it. Partially, I think it’s because I’ve bought something we don’t strictly ‘need’ and partially I think it’s because he’s steeling himself against what’s coming.

Shopping isn’t something we do as a leisure activity. For a start, Aberdeen is an hour away from the house and Son doesn’t travel well. Then when we’re there, our nature-child daughter gets claustrophobic and stressed by the sheer number of people. She’s far more comfortable running barefoot through the garden than she is marching from store to store. We endure it periodically out of necessity – new shoes, school uniform which needs trying on, a bulk purchase of rice from Matthews (with the mandatory boxes of Pocky and obscure flavours of KitKats which inevitably end up in the basket…). Today though, we’re in the market for massive bags of spices. Nothing so frivolous as handbags and shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for everyone doing their own thing – if shopping is your hobby, I promise I’m not here for a debate. For us though… not so much. Any spare cash we have goes into the kitty to spend on a car that’s done fewer than All-The-Miles. And as the saying goes, Every Little Helps… hence the kilo sack of powdered cinnamon.

Though you probably wouldn’t guess it these days, given that I spend my free time lusting over beautiful slings, the money aspect is one of the main reasons I got into babywearing. If you can stick to just a single sling, they’re the most versatile and cost effective way of toting a child known to man. A woven wrap can technically carry a child from birth until… well, I’ve lain in my size 7 as a hammock, and I’m not exactly a svelte, spring-chicken.

Anyways, getting back to what I was saying… we took one look at the price of travel systems (which, it transpires, are all too big for our boot anyway), and decided we needed to find an alternative way to transport our impending sprog. At approximately £100 - versus the nearly £1000 travel system which all the baby websites at the time seemed to recommend - the Tula was ideal in so many ways. It was cheap, cheerful, easy to use, adjustable for both Husband and I and small enough to stash in my handbag (leaving precious boot-space free for other things… like high-visibility vests, warning triangles and all the other vital accessories you need when you break down on a weekly basis). Most importantly, we didn’t have to swap our trusty (read: rusty) motor for something larger – possibly the biggest saving of all. I can’t stress enough how awesome that is – I mean, how many people can fit two adults, two children under five, reusable nappies, enough clothes for two weeks, a picnic, activities and an infant carrying device in the back of a 1.4l Polo that’s 12 years old. Seriously – we don’t even need a roof box! Thank you, slings!

As a family with dual nationality, another advantage for us was the fact that the sling didn’t need to go into the hold on planes, meaning we could continue to fly whilst visiting husband’s family in Europe without racking up baggage expenses. * And wraps are so versatile – I can take a single size seven away with me and it’ll do for both Son and Daughter in a tandem carry. Or I can take a size 2 and some sling-rings to be both a back carrier, a no-sew-ring-sling and a shawl with coordinating bracelets – ideal for weddings and the like if you’re short on space.

And don’t even get me started on the number of times my trusty size 2 has gone from scarf to wrap for a tired pre-schooler, saving us the taxi or bus fare from the station and letting me walk my sleepy not-so-big Big Girl home. There was even one time when our flight landed late and we nearly missed our connection – I managed to scoop Daughter up as I fled across Amsterdam airport, hurl her onto my back with my size 2, while Husband ran with Son in the Tula. We made our second flight in the nick of time – unimaginable with a then three-year-old running alongside. Being late would have cost us a hotel room and another flight the following day. Hardly cheap when there are four of you, regardless of who you’re flying with and how many sweaters you’re wearing to keep your luggage weight down.

And to address Husband’s (impeccable, damn him) logic: Yes, a sling is hardly a budget option if you buy multiple high end, brand new examples. But I own six slings now, none of which have cost over £80**. In fact, when I sit down and add up what I’ve paid for slings, it still comes to far, far less than that travel system we briefly considered. And I’d love to see anyone take a pram with carry cot over the rocks at Robin Hood’s Bay, or run across Amsterdam Airport, or fit one in our Polo without putting the back seats down. And as I said to begin with, if you can stick to just owning one, then you’re most definitely quids in. In fact, you don’t even need to own a sling, just hire one!

The ‘Up Project’ can even help provide a sling or wrap for those without the means to buy one. For more information, please check out: http://theupproject.org.uk/

I bet you’re sick of hearing how the Best Things In Life are Free – but they are. And baby cuddles – they’re totally at the top of the awesome-list. For a very small fee, you can enjoy those wherever you go. And seriously, even ten kilos of basmati, a sack of ground cinnamon and the promise of a new set of wheels can’t beat that.

*Yes, we’re those people who fly with all our clothes on to preserve space in our already bulging hand-luggage.

**I’m bending the truth here. I once spent all my pocket money on having a wrap conversion done… the original wrap was £80 though so it’s not really a lie... *ahem* Anyway, technically what I paid over that price was for the very talented seamstress’s time… Stop judging me!

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