Well blow me down (don’t, actually, I’ll be like a beached whale, unable to get up again).
It’s been eight months. Did you know that? I didn’t. Perhaps because I got knocked up so soon after starting this FOK project, I’ve been fixated on our due date and neglecting the way we’re speeding through this year long challenge.
Does time fly when you’re having fun? I guess it does. Or maybe it just flies when you’re looking the other way (notably: at the beginning of the year, into a toilet bowl when retching and later, after Grandpa Fantastic made our FOK balance bike, towards the road my toddler was hurtling into).
Either way, we’ve got to a stage now where it doesn’t feel like a challenge. I remember thinking – at the beginning of the year – that it was an insurmountable, unrealistic one. That we’d never manage the details of it, were unlikely even to capture the spirit of it. And I was fine with that. Just to try, that was the aim. But now, eight months in, it seems… natural. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just… sensible. What happened to my revolution?!
All that could change, of course. We still have four months. Throw pregnancy hormones, a two foot tornado and then a newborn into the mix and nothing is certain. But I thought I’d start to jot down some thoughts on how things have worked out to date. Beginning with…
1) I am still, despite all hopes, not a domestic goddess.
I had an idle fantasy that, deprived of shops, I would transform into a craft queen – suddenly discover my inner Martha Stewart and begin crocheting the family’s entire wardrobe and quilting Johnny’s toys. Eight months in… not so much. Much to my husband’s relief, I am still a knitting novice. I’ve learnt the following about trying to be a crafty parent:
a) When you cut out spending, you aren’t suddenly gifted with four extra hours in the day as a reward. The opposite, in fact. It takes a bit more time to hunt things out for free than it did to pop to the shops. And you need a lot of time to learn to sew from scratch. It is time consuming. And us modern parents, whatever tribe we belong to, are unified by one thing: there is NO time.
b) It’s pricy. Okay, not all of it. Upcycling (like the FOK jute bag/apron creation) is pretty much free. But knitting wool is unbelievably expensive. It’s one of those terrible cons. Like seasonal eating. Supposed to be earthy and wholesome and cheap. Actually, another way for those with more patience/money/time to make the rest of us feel poxy about our parenting.*
c) So much stuff is thrown out, there’s no real need to make it yourself. At the beginning of the year, when I first started the project and tapped into freecyle, online swapping sites and community facebook groups I went a little crazy. If it was in Johnny’s size, roughly, we took it. A toy in his age range, ish? We had it. Something that was just a jolly colour/a bit of a bargain/quite shiny? The magpie in me snapped it up. By about March, as a result, we had 1) a house full of crap 2) more toys than we would have had if we’d just gone on spending as usual. So there was a clear out. And a time out. And then I tried to proceed in a more sane fashion.
d) A lot of crafting (okay, some crafting) is more for the parents than for the children. There’s nothing wrong with spending your evenings weaving a doll’s house from vintage floral fabrics (or however it’s done). It is, without doubt, a better hobby than many and a more worthy one than most of my own (barring obsessively watching reruns of Grand Designs which, I maintain, are very educational).
But don’t kid yourself. As I discovered with The Tipi Incident, your friends might coo over your cool creation, but your kid will still be more impressed by the mouldy plastic play tunnel you found abandoned in the street and which, however much you scrub it, still smells of cat piss three months later.
*I know, I know. Not fair, nor true. There are lots of lovely people who knit. I know tonnes of them. They’re great. I’m just jealous. I should add another lesson to the list: e) stopping spending for one year will not turn you into a nicer person. I’m afraid you’re stuck with the cynical personality you’ve been cultivating for three decades.