In my grand comeback to blogging (grand comeback sound!), I started telling you about how the sharing economy impacted my pregnancy and motherhood. Now I’m going to tell you how much money I’ve saved and how many new friends I’ve made (while Noah finishes his morning yoga.)
It all started in late 2013, before I even got pregnant, with the share experiment. Armed with what I’ve learned about getting from the community instead of buying, I saved A LOT on baby stuff. Over 95% of Noah’s belongings came from the crowd. From big things (co-sleeper, crib, rocking chair, bathtub, stroller, swing, pack’n play, jumper) to the littlest like bottles, clothes, plastic bags with baby powder scent to disguise dirty nappies!
Having a baby is considered a very costly decision. Definitely it can quickly add up to much more than the $12,000 a USDA report states an average middle-income family would spend on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life (in 2010). If mom and dad give in to the consumerism incentives, then they can easily spend thousands of dollars in pretty useless and/or temporary stuff (I’m looking at you, Peepee Teepee.)
I’m proud to say that we have spent less than $500 (yes, five hundred dollars) on Noah’s stuff, and at least 50% of this was paying for second-hand items. It was really helpful budget wise, but it was more than that. When you hit the share button, much more can happen.
Not only products, friends too.
Not all interactions of the sharing economy result in a new friendship. Most of the times it will end in a positive transaction to both sides. But, sometimes, when we are open to it, those interactions can truly expand our community. It happened to us twice.
First, we met Jane, who responded to a request I posted on Nextdoor asking if a neighbor (someone I didn’t know) could host my mom when she came for Noah’s first weeks of life. Jane opened her home and heart to us. She and my mom became good friends.
When my dad was coming to visit, we didn’t want to crowd Jane’s place, so we found Tamela & Neil’s Airbnb listing. They are the sweetest of couples, and they also have a little boy. It turned out they played a huge role in our adaptation to momhood and dadhood, bringing us closer to other families, becoming amazing friends, and introducing Noah to his baby buddies.
It’s all about the mindset
I’ve talked before about the important behaviors to participate in this new social and economical movement. The big mentality shift proposed here is the notion of having access instead of ownership and getting that access from other PEOPLE. I have to say: babies are masters from which to learn this! Besides being natural people magnets, no baby needs to own anything. Noah has already out-grown his co-sleeper (that I got on Craigslist), and now is the proud user of a pack n’ play (yay! to Nextdoor.) Temporarily.
The sharing economy goes full-circle
As happily as I’ve received Noah’s baby stuff from the community, I make sure they return to the village. I regularly collect and hand-down all that we’re not using. Sometimes via online channels (Facebook – like in this picture – Nextdoor, Yerdel, Craigslist), others via offline traditional mom-to-mom exchange. Frequently, people are surprised and compliment me for this behavior. The biggest compliment would be to see more people sharing and connecting – yes, I’m looking at you.