I know all children are snotty, I knew this before I had a baby and it was one of the things I was least looking forward to (nappies, birth and vomit were also high on my dread list), but I hadn’t actually appreciated what the worst bit of it would be.
I have never really been much of a fan of eBay, I mean, buying other people’s used stuff…?
However, as some of you will know, my attitude to “pre-loved” stuff changed in recent years, shortly after I discovered the joy of Freecycling.
I didn’t really get into eBay though, I saw a few things but I never felt very happy bidding, it was only when I was pregnant that I became slightly addicted! There were so many things I wanted but I couldn’t justify buying them, after several unsuccessful attempts I managed to nab a Baby Bjorn in excellent condition and I’ve even been known to send my parents to North Yorkshire to pick up a coat stand (£1 BARGAIN!!!)
Anyway I’m not writing about my shopping…
because no one needs to know the true extent of my guilt
I want to talk to you about selling. The truth is no matter how much you can get from Freecycle, Gumtree, gifts or eBay there are still things that you want or need. Put buying a house and trying to extend it in two places and rennovate it from scratch whilst on maternity leave and finances become very tight.
I decided to venture into selling on eBay to try and raise a little extra cash. I have an embarrassing (not) amount of shoes which perhaps I don’t need (especially as post pregnancy I’m really not up to +4″ heels no matter how much I kid myself) and several items of clothing I either have never worn, can no longer fit into, or just don’t actually wear. Usually when I have an annual clear out I end up with bin liners full of clothes to take to the charity shop so I felt a little bad about trying to raise funds for myself rather than for someone else, but needs must.
Now, given my purchases I was expecting a bidding war when I put my items on. I decided to start with a pair of brand new shoes bought at Faith years and years ago. They were black leather and absolutely stunning. They had cost around £35 in the sale but I had worn them once, they were uncomfortable, a little too big and slippy on my work floors. I put them on in front of the mirror many times but would never wear them again. I popped them on with some fab pics and…
I got my first bid 🙂
Ok so £2 isn’t great…I waited and waited, but it was my only bid.
I had put on my postage cost correctly but overall by the time I had packaged and sent I was doing it for virtually nothing and wished I’d just Freecycled them or taken them to the numerous charity shops lining my street.
I was rather scared off and just carried on as I was, as I opened up bin liners of clothes that had been wrapped up for a year I just took stuff to the charity shop or kept it under the bed. That’s when I decided to do a bit more research into eBay and give it another go. Whilst I’m no expert and don’t make a fortune, it has been a good way of raising a little bit of extra cash whilst clearing out unwanted stuff from our home.
I should feel embarrassed that I have eBayed gifts, second hand things people gave us (family not Freecycle) for our home, baby things and things that I have bought and never used. But I don’t.
Ultimately if there are things in our home taking up space that we don’t use or wear then they are, to some extent, costing us money in the form of space. I am a real hoarder so I do find it difficult to get rid of things and have had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t always get the money I want for things. However, I have now instigated a strict one in one out policy for personal purchases, so selling something makes me feel pretty good as I know I can go out and buy something else!
Ok, so that’s not really a good motivation, and certainly doesn’t fit in with the amazing Say No to New campaign…which I do really want to take part in…but ultimately I love to shop and will do it regardless, so if I can get rid of a bit of the tut it makes us all a bit happier! It also helps me to save (…no seriously…keep reading…) because my PayPal account stores up the money from selling, I pay the postage fees out and then get a pleasant surprise when I have more money to draw out than I think (because I forget I’ve already paid postage…)
As it has been such a positive experience I thought I would share my top tips with you:
- Get a great title – the best eBay titles are not necessarily catchy or appealing. What they are is informative, remember people aren’t going to search “cute little gold shrug” but they might search “evening” “outfit” “bolero” “short cardigan”. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t really make sense as long as it has all the relevant information.
- Describe your item well, it helps prevent questions (although you will still get some stupid ones and some pertinent ones) and protects you if there are any complaints about your item in due course.
- Keep your tape measure handy – accurate charges for postage are key. The Royal Mail Price finder will help (I have it saved as a favourite) and I picked up a leaflet at one point with the sizes of packages so I could check them at home easily.
- Get to know your postie – as above be careful with your postage and don’t be afraid to argue if the post office tries to charge you for a small parcel when you know you have packed a large letter (yes I have…no I’m not proud of it). For example our large Post Office always does this, but our local branch always double checks the size with their measurement thingy (technical Post Office equipment name). I like to go along with a post it of what I am expecting to be charged on each parcel. If in doubt make sure you err on the side of caution when setting your postage cost.
- Charge realistically – remember your postage isn’t just the cost of sending it, you should package well (see below) and remember you pay commission both to eBay and PayPal on your postage. If you charge £2.80 and that’s what you will pay to post it, you can expect to lose over 40p of that to commission, leaving you out of pocket. If you don’t mind taking the hit that’s fine, but if it matters to you set a realistic postage cost. I like to put a line at the bottom of all my adverts warning buyers that my postage costs may seem high, but they reflect the actual cost of sending. I don’t aim to make a profit on postage but I also don’t subsidise it, my view is I am up front and if people don’t want to pay it they don’t have to.
- Be certain you want to sell – as with my first sale I was drawn into the guidance on eBay to start the sale at 99p. If you just want rid that’s fine, but if not then set a starting price you won’t be disappointed with. The majority of my sales go on the first bid (and I’m often known to just close the auction when I get a bid because I set my prices as what I want) so if you would be disappointed selling at that price then either raise it or don’t sell it. I have a few things I really like and have hung onto or kept relisting when they don’t sell, it doesn’t bother me not to get rid of them. On the other hand I had a dress that I had little attachment to and had never worn despite paying £30 for it over 10 years ago, it never fit and was never going to, so I kept reducing the price until it went. I made a loss but it was better than nothing!
- Don’t be bogged down with feedback – I had one very unfair poor review and it upset me. It’s not stopped others buying and now I couldn’t care less. If you do get poor feedback have a think about it and if it’s fair then you need to tackle it, but if not don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not an actual job!
- Package well – I am really careful with packing, if it’s a nice item I will wrap in wrapping paper or the thin paper you wrap gifts in…can’t think of the name…then place in a carrier bag and then wrap. The reason is (a) everyone likes to unwrap something, it adds to the excitement! (b) a carrier offers some (albeit minimal) protection if the packaging gets torn or wet. I like to use large envelopes if the items will fit, they tend to be more secure, but if it’s too large I buy brown paper from Poundland. I go through tonnes and tonnes of tape, brown all around the package/envelope and clear over the address. Maybe I overdo it but no one has complained!
- Don’t pay to list – i only ever list on free listing days/weekends. The more you sell the greater your selling allowances become so be wary of overlisting on those days! I have paid some fees, if someone messages me and makes an offer I have relisted at a buy it now price so that we can complete straight away instead of waiting until the end of the auction, but otherwise I just won’t pay!
- Get excited when something sells!
I wasn’t planning on becoming pregnant, and when I did it became less of a celebration and more of a waiting game, counting down the days until the next milestone.
Days and days of repeated pregnancy tests until I could get a GP appointment, then more days waiting for a scan. The scan was shocking, I was sure it couldn’t be true.
After that came the announcement and then the fear…now I’ve told people what happens if “something” happens?
A colleague (actually there were 6 pregnant colleagues at the time) was pregnant following a lot of time and treatment, and 2 friends of mine (both of whom have since had babies) had struggled for years and almost given up hope of pregnancy, so I really understand how lucky we were to become pregnant so easily. However, it didn’t feel amazing, I just felt scared and guilty.
How was it that having never even had a pregnancy scare I fell pregnant so easily?
What did this mean?
Would something happen to the baby?
Did I really deserve this?
When people asked me if I was looking forward to the baby it was difficult, I hadn’t really wanted one so it was hard to get excited about it. Yes we had agreed we would have a baby at some point, but the timing wasn’t great, having just moved into a derelict house we didn’t get planning permission until January 2013 (I was due in April) so we were living in difficult conditions and then had a race on to get somewhere suitable for a baby in time. Financially it was always going to be difficult, but coming at a time when expenses were so significant was a bit of a nightmare. I remember a midwife coming round to take an urgent blood test and having to let her into our room which was piled high with boxes and had a curtain over the door to try and keep the dust down, I was convinced she would report me to social services!
I spent so much time stressing over the house and finances that having a baby to stress about wasn’t ideal. I remember dozens of sleepless nights worrying about high blood pressure and the birth before I got myself signed up to pregnancy yoga and antenatal classes.
I was convinced that because we had it so easy something was bound to go wrong.
After each midwife appointment I would wait anxiously for the next one, even when they became fortnightly I would start counting down to the next appointment on my walk home. I didn’t feel my baby move until very late. He was clearly nocturnal as he could go all day with not even a flutter until about 1am when he would have a jiggle for half an hour or so then go back to silence. It was only when I was quite far along that I could rely on any sort of movement, even the tricks of cold water recommended by the midwives didn’t frighten him into movement! Generally my pregnancy was really easy, which should have made me relax and feel better…but it didn’t. It was just another nail in the box convincing me that something was bound to go wrong.
With hindsight and having spoken to other mums and read other blogs, I wonder if pregnancy guilt is in fact something that just comes to us all, however we become pregnant, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstance. I have a friend who was trying for a baby for a few months and when she did fall pregnant she didn’t realise and had attended a party and drunk alcohol. It was easy for me, an outsider, to reassure her that she shouldn’t feel guilty, having lived a healthy and active lifestyle for six months while trying to fall pregnant then having 2 G&Ts when you think you’re not is NOT a reason to feel guilty. Now, however, I can appreciate why she felt so bad about it.
Perhaps it’s the pregnancy hormones, or a sudden realisation of the wonder of the human body, or a massive reality check, or simply a practice run for the guilt that is to follow as a parent! But I do think something sets off the guilt mechanism for a lot of women during pregnancy, at a time when one less stress really should be the order of the day.
25 May 2014.
Pegasus Air flight.
Somewhere over Europe…
What’s the significance?
It was my last breastfeed…
I struggled to start and continue breastfeeding, but once I had the hang of it I had set my mind on doing it until 6 months. Once it settled down I decided to continue until a year old. Whilst I had
days and weeks moments of doubt where I felt trapped, like a milk machine and frustrated that no one else could look after my baby because of the boob addiction, by 9 months Jem went down to feeding only in the morning and last thing at night so it was manageable. I even discovered that if I went out in the evening (about once a month I have an evening meeting for my voluntary work) although he wouldn’t take a bottle he would settle to sleep without milk with the Turk. I began to question what he was really getting from breastfeeding, but given that it was only twice a day for about 5 minutes I figured that even if it was only for comfort or routine I could live with it.
In fact I was planning on continuing this pattern even when I returned to work, but Jem took a different view. When we were on holiday shortly after his first birthday he didn’t seem bothered about his morning feed, in fact twice he went without it and didn’t bother at all! By the final week of our holiday when I tried to feed him in the evening he actually burst into giggles (RUDE!) when I tried to feed him and was more interested in playing.
I can take a hint…
On the flight home Jem slept for an hour and then got very fussy, singing, toys, breadsticks, leftover simit, rice cakes didn’t do the trick so I broke out the failsafe booby distraction to try and stop invoking the rage from the other passengers. He was still very tired so I thought it might make him nod off…it did not.
Anyway, what I didn’t appreciate at the time was that this was it. When we came home I decided to start the “real” milk, and Jem loved it. I was really surprised as he never really took to formula, it took months to get him to drink ANY water and when I tried cow milk before he wasn’t bothered. Perhaps it was because I warmed it, or maybe he was just ready to move on, whatever it was I had expected to wind down from the breast and have a month or so of switching over, but it wasn’t needed.
I was reading other blog posts around the time and Donna from Red Head Baby Led was writing about her experience of finishing breastfeeding and my NCT friends whom mostly fed up to 12 months were going through the same thing. It struck me that they were all experiencing pain, engorgement or other niggles from finishing bf…but I wasn’t. In fact for a couple of months I’d been back in pre-pregnancy bras, I literally had no “side effects” from stopping…
…I suspect that Jem had been rather taking me for a ride for a little while!
Well I’m not complaining, it was mixed but overall I’m pretty glad it’s over.
Although as this is probably my last opportunity to comment on breastfeeding can I direct you to the Two Boys One Mum blog, here, for what is probably my favourite ever post on this topic.
Walk boldly little man, walk boldly;
I am here to wipe away your tears.
Walk boldly little man, walk boldly;
I will help to keep away your fears.
Walk boldly little man, walk boldly;
It’s hard to watch you moving through the gears.
Walk boldly little man, walk boldly;
I will love you more throughout the years.
Sleep soon my baby,
Dreaming dreams of life to come,
Waking brings more joy.
Well weaning got off to a difficult start in our house, you may have read a previous post about the poo issues we had when away in Turkey, after several attempts at the Dr to fix this the only suggestions we stuck with were to try and get Jem to drink water. Jem doesn’t drink water. He only drinks breast milk. I tried to reason with him, it didn’t work. Anyway despite having read a friends BLW book from start to finish it became obvious that the only way to force him to ingest some extra fluids was to mix various foods with water in a puree and spoon feed him.
At the time I started weaning we were still squashed into our carpeted loft room with all our belongings. Our beautiful new wooden highchair was given pride of place next to the sofa and we began the process.
Jem didn’t take to spoon feeding. He did take to throwing his spoon and it’s contents on the floor and then rubbing any leftover puree into the crevices (of which there are many) on his highchair. Not impressed.
Poo or no poo I decided that puree was not the way forward for us, and I reverted to large chunks of food, perhaps way beyond what was meant by BLW. I was always told that BLW was far messier than puree, but when your baby is a food monster, like mine, it’s actually far easier. From 6 months Jem has managed to devour whole pears, skin, seeds and all in a matter of seconds. I treated it as somewhat of a party piece as people couldn’t believe it of such a tiny baby.
For the first couple of months he ate everything he could get his hands on (yes, including cat food, shoes and elastic bands…) and only after this he became more choosy. Green vegetables are strictly off the menu at the moment, and whilst I of course want him to have a wide range of healthy food I don’t think that this is the age to have the argument (“food is for fun…” and all that jazz). I keep trying, and Jem steadfastly gives me a look as he dispatches the offending green item over the side of the highchair.
To this day he has a voracious appetite, no one may eat within his sight unless he has a ready supply of ricecakes/bread/cheese/grapes or blueberries, but woe betide the person who attempts to give him broccoli…
On a recent trip to Turkey he discovered the joys of eating fruit from trees…that’s interesting when you walk through the park now!
If you would like to read some great posts about BLW please do check out the Red Head Baby Led blog which features some great guest posts on this topic.