When parents start with me, we discuss what each of us provides for the children. They provide formula, I provide milk. They provide diapers and wipes, I provide zinc oxide cream. And so on. None of this tends to come as a surprise, until we get to the last three. I provide soothers for children who use them, tote bags, and sunhats.
The parents are generally impressed by this. What a great caregiver! I’m really going the second mile!
You know what? Not so much. Because really? I do it for my own sanity.
See, the thing about soothers is they get lost. All.the.time. Now, if I lose one of my soothers, I pay the price in a fretful child. That’s okay. I can deal with that. If I lose one of their soothers, however, I have to scour the house for the damned thing before the parents come. I hate that. And even more than I hate that, I loathe doing it while a parent watches. And EVEN WORSE that that? Have a parent hunt for the stupid thing with me.
Call me crazy, but I object to another adult getting up close and personal with the beneath of my chairs or the behind of my shoe rack or the back of my bookshelves. And that parent who slid their hand down the back of the couch? Let’s just say they got exactly what they had coming to them.
And me, I’m wondering… Seriously? All this for a soother? Which costs maybe $6? If it’s really that important, it would probably be quicker to pick up a new one on the way home. There’s a drug store two blocks away…
So. I provide soothers. For my sanity.
And sunhats? In part it’s for health reasons. Though most parents provide sensible hats, you’d be surprised how frequently toddlers turn up with baseball caps — also known as “neck and ear burners”, or sunhats that may have fit them when they were six months old, but now join baseball caps in the race to fry tiny ears and necks. If I provide hats, I know everyone will be properly protected.
Here you can see my old sunhats.
Now that’s coverage! A brim for the face, and the French Foreign Legion look for the back of the neck.
But the main reason I provide hats is not really the sun-protection issue. As I said, most parents do provide sensible hats. The occasional ball-cap is a minor annoyance, but it’s not so pervasive as all that. No, the main reason I provide hats is my own personal sanity.
My hats are GAUDY. This is a Good Thing. Gaudy is noticeable. Gaudy catches the eye. Gaudy is hard to lose, even in a crowded sandbox. And that makes them more than just a healthy choice, it makes them a safety-conscious choice. When you’re caring for five toddlers, you are pretty much doing a constant head count. By the time you spot child number five, you’re wondering where child number one has gotten to. When you’re doing head counts that often, you want to be able to SEE those heads. And with hats like these my tots’ head stick out like sore thumbs. So to speak. THIS saves my sanity.
However, these hats are old. Old, old, old. I think I bought them in… um… 1998. Maybe 1999.
So these things are limp and washed-out and just plain dejected-looking. Bleached by hundreds of hours in the sun, they’re not really gaudy any more. I’m not even sure, after a gazillion washings, how much sun they’re capable of resisting. They don’t perch on the tots’ heads, all crisply cotton, they languish there like damp tissue. The brims don’t protrude, they flop dejectedly. The time has come. We need new hats. But hats, good ones? They are EXPENSIVE. I checked out the hats in the nearest Mummy Has Money To Burn store in my neighbourhood last summer. They were $35 – $40 apiece. For five hats? $175 – 200. Before taxes.
Ye gods. It’s taken me a full year to recover from the shock such that I could tackle the Hat Issue again. Now, even in a more reasonable-priced store, for a good sunhat that actually shades face, ears AND neck, I’d be looking at $80-ish dollars for five of them. STILL TOO EXPENSIVE!
(That same My-Parents-Have-More-Money-than-You-Ever-Will store has the most delectable metal sandpails and matching shovels, all in bright primary colours. I loooooove them. I drool over them every time I pass.
Five pails and five shovels would set me back $135. Plus taxes.
I do not go into that store to actually purchase anything. Nor, all appearances to the contrary, do I go into that store to deliberately depress myself. In fact, though I could afford perhaps 5% of their stock, I love this store. Truly, I do. I go in there for craft inspiration. So much of their stock has that quaint and charming hand-crafted look. The Look for which parents with money to burn (but no time) will spend great gobs of cash. The Look which I, being poorish but decently creative, can make for a FRACTION of the cost.
(Those buckets? I have something in mind. If/when I get it sorted, I will show you. But in the meantime… I am making sunhats.)
Here’s the pattern I’ll be using.
And I only spent a hundred dollars at the fabric store!!!
Yes, I know. I can hear you from here. “You said buying them would cost $80, and that was TOO EXPENSIVE!”
Quite right. Way too expensive. But you know, I was in a fabric store, and since I was in there anyway, I might as well pick up some fabric to make curtains for Emma’s room, right?, and also a few metres of interfacing that I need, always good to have extra on hand, and look! Aren’t these the cutest little scissors? Bet they’d be perfect for the tots! (Way better than those useless Crayolas, ugh.) Oh, and my thread collection has a couple of holes, and…
If you love to sew, you’ll understand… 🙂
But the hats? They’ll cost $25 – 30 all told, I think — and if I calculated correctly, I’ll also have enough fabric to make five matching tote bags, for about the same price.
All that for a hundred dollars! A solid 50 – 70% of it being a tax deduction, no less. 🙂
Health and safety and creativity. It doesn’t get much better.