A week of great swaps


Some of the stuff we said goodbye and good riddance to…

Last week was lovely in a mild, uneventful sort of way that involved mostly me eating banana on toast in front of the telly and then moving as far as the radio while dropping crumbs over a grouchy baby.

Sometimes, though, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Because what I learnt is this: if I go online to do enough swaps for the kids, and ask people in an apologetic sort of way: would they mind coming to my house to collect/deliver because I have this small baaaaaaby you see… Well, if I do that, I literally do not have to abandon my house or my slippers in order to make friends. Thank god I’m too stingy for Ocado deliveries or things might get seriously sordid.

First I swapped a pile of J’s old clothes for a bottle warmer, two pairs of baby leggings and two nappy wraps – catching up with a cool woman called Jessica in the meantime, who I hadn’t seen for an age.

Then I made a huge chocolate cake and exchanged it with an awesome girl from Berlin who lived on the other side of the borough for two musical, cot toys for Frida.

Towards the middle of the week, I gave away my old maternity jeans, a baby sling, and a couple of newborn sleep suits F outgrew (sob) to various other women who claimed them on online swap sites and who came to the house and rescued me temporarily from my life as an accidental hermit. I didn’t get anything back, but I needed that crap out of the house and the general vibe of goodwill and human contact was lovely.

Then, I put a request out on a local Facebook group to see if anyone had a baby monitor we could borrow just for the weekend. Our home being far too mini (and our children far too noisy) to be able to escape the sound of them from anywhere in the house, we’ve never needed one. But we had plans to stay in a friend’s huge, crumbling, freezing ancient house in the New Forest on the weekend, and I realised we’d suddenly need one for a few days.

A nice man called Harry came to the rescue and this was when I made my most dangerous discovery: I don’t even have to meet people for this to work. I was out when Harry wanted to deliver, so we established a top secret hiding place. I deposited a bag of amaretti biscuits in this secret hiding place and, when I got back, I discovered they had been swapped for a super high tech monitor. One of those ones that has a video screen you can peer at your child through with the spooky sensation that something from a Hollywood horror movie is about to loom into the grainy display.

It was like a prisoner exchange. I felt a lot like I was in a heist movie. And that’s when I realised I really do need to get out more…

Is this unusual? Or do other neighbourhoods have networks like this to plug into?