Recently conversation bounced around over on our Facebook page about op shopping with children, after a comment I made that I braved my first outing with three kids. It would seem for many of us we have no choice but to have the kids in tow with us whilst we op shop. Whilst many commented that if they could avoid taking the kids along they would certainly seize the opportunity. I remembered a post I wrote sometime ago about thrifting with under four years olds. So I thought, hey lets look at that and see if it still applies and what other wisdom is there to add if any. So with tongue in cheek, and a little factual based experience, I hope this helps.

If like me you’ve got young children at home thrifting trips take on their own lives with kids in tow. From experience you will often need to have your wits about you and it’s not for the faint-hearted, you really need to have everything in your mummy arsenal prepared. Let’s examine previous insights and experiences:

Insight 1: The thing about op shops and toys is that there generally is no packaging for a toy, like in a retail shop, kids get right in there pulling out toys and experimenting with them straight away. Be warned if they work out how something functions it ends up being a bargaining chip for them in their defense why you should buy it.

  • Conclusion: Still an utterly valid point, be careful my friends this is where kids like to apply pressure. Look mum, look mum it works, see! I’ve never had one before, are likely comments you’ll hear. Followed by can I have it please mum, please mum, please. Followed by cutesy smile…..careful it’s a trap.

“Enough photos mum I’ve got shirts to look for!”

Insight 2: Be careful where and when you have donated their old toys to local op shops if they’re ones you visit regularly, you might hear cries of “that’s my toy”, “I have one of those, where is it mummy”. Of course once they see it after outgrowing it, they are adamant that they need it back. Be warned you need your defense statement prepared.

  • Lesson: a good old defense statement about unfortunate families or remote communities with children who need toys and books, with an age appropriate discussion about giving and how it makes us feel good is often helpful.

Insight 3: Take snacks, my kids are pretty easily pleased and aren’t particularly fussy. But my kids will always announce their hungry and make it sound as though I starve them. Shop volunteers love offering sweet treats to kids, so be prepared especially if you’re intending on visiting more than one store on your outing, you’ll need to be strong and organised against the charms of well meaning shop volunteers.

  • Conclusion: no matter how many snacks you take, they’ll ask for more. Well at least with my kids this is the case, I often feed them something on the way there too, but that doesn’t stop the I’m hungry cries out loud for all to hear.

Insight 4: Do the right thing, if your kids a pulling out toys and going to town with everything, ensure they tidy things up, give them a hand. It annoys the shop volunteers when things are left strewn across the shop floor for them to pick up. It’s the right thing to do and generally shop volunteers won’t mind toys being played with if they can see a parent has a close eye on what’s happening. Furthermore the toy section is not a babysitting area, nor are shop volunteers a free baby sitting service whilst you stroll around. Make a game of things as you move from area to area for example can you find the funniest hat.

  • Conclusion and Suggestion: nothing will ever change with this insight, it’s just plain good manners, just do it. I find many op shops have great little book and library areas set up, so take a break if need be with your kids and find a chair or sit on the floor with them and read a book with them. Maybe reward positive behaviour with a purchase of a book and promises of more reading time together when you get home.

“I try this on mummy!”

Insight 5: Know the stores and areas you’re visiting and where toilets are located, your child will inevitably need to go and believe me not all op shops are keen on letting the public use their facilities. Up side I guess of any accidents that occur is that a pair of shorts to get home in is usually cheap with some change in your pocket.

  • Conclusion: nothing changes with little kids and bladders and heavens forbid poos, this conclusion is more like a warning……BE PREPARED.

FINAL INSIGHTS: if you have a baby as well as other young children in tow, can I suggest some sort of ergonomic baby wearing carrier. It allows two hands free to deal with other children which is invaluable. Not to mention having two hands free for rummaging for special treasures. Aside from all the above just have fun, some of my best childhood memories have been treasure hunting trips op shopping. It does your child no harm to grow up with a thrifty attitude. My Cohen even now at four years of age will suggest trying to find a particular item at an op shop first. The kids also love trying to find pieces of clothing to add to their own wardrobes, encouraging independence and personal style is also wonderful.

Note: both Cohen and Sarah’s outfits except their shoes are completely op shopped. 

5 thoughts on “Tips for Thrifting with Children…..

  • September 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I am still haunted by the memory of the long-haired plastic horse that came home the day I took my then 4-year-old to the oppy. It was in the 'free' bin so I had no defence… I think I eventually 'donated' it back to the same store.

  • September 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Bahahaha – I love Insight Number 2 – now that would take some fast talking! Great blog, thanks. Cheers, Alison

  • September 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    So funny even though op shopping with children isn't on my list of things to do !!!
    Have the best week !

  • September 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I must admit Trudie, after I wrote my comment on your FB page (something like NO WAY LOL), I remembered taking them many times when they were little. It was the only way we got by. I had to remember to take them at appropriate times of the day, ie when they were well napped (or still asleep) and fed. They have fond memories of looking at the toys and looking at all the wonderful things. Now that they are nearly 9 and 7, its a whole different story. LOL xx


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