Since becoming a mum and getting into the world of babywearing using predominantly woven wraps I have discovered there is a big wide world out there of mum’s buying swapping and selling a variety of baby related products in facebook groups.
These facebook groups are very specific about what they cover. There are babywearing ones, cloth nappies/diaper ones and clothing ones. And some are even micro-cosms of these categories such as only for woven wraps of a specific brand or for necklaces to wear while babywearing etc.
Some of these groups are run by hard working mums who act as admins and moderators, and others are actually created by specific companies to encourage mum’s to share photos and talk as well as buy swap and sell and bid on actions of their specific products.
These groups can feel like a whole little world, like a community of people and the more and more specific it is the greater this feeling, especially if these groups involve more than just buying and selling but also discussion of the particular product.
There are definitely good and bad things about these groups though and it pays to be very conscious when using them particularly if you want to lead a more frugal or minimalist lifestyle and not get too caught up in subculture fads and spending too much money.
Firstly the good side of things. For some items such as woven wraps for babywearing these groups can be the cheapest place to buy a product and certainly a place with a widest selection to choose from. This is particularly as woven wraps aren’t really available in standard bricks and mortar baby stores. Mostly it all has to come from online anyway, so the facebook groups gives you a chance to buy things at least from your own country without international postage and with a small mark down for being 2nd hand (usually).
Secondly these groups are hands down the best place to sell baby items. You are always going to get a better price for something if you can sell it within a group of people specifically looking for that kind of product. Some of these items (such as woven wraps) are not really understood or sort after amongst the general mum population so you wouldn’t get all that great of a price say at a garage sale or even usually on ebay.
Also apart from usually paypal fees it is a cheaper place to sell items than ebay as facebook does not take a cut.
The other positive is that you can get some good advice from mums about specific types of baby items online. This is certainly the case for babywearing and short of going to a babywearing club meet (called a sling meet) facebook chatter on various groups is the next best thing to get advice and troublshoot.
It can also feel nice to be ‘part of something’ and part of a community.
Now the downside…
Probably until you become part of these groups you would never have felt you needed a huge stash of baby carriers or specific patterns of bonds onesies or cloth nappies. These groups can lead to consumption and collection on a mass scale and ever feeling a need to improve one’s ‘stash’ of whatever item it is. Many of these groups encourage ‘stash shots’ and large collections of these items are celebrated and admired. Negative comments from anyone pointing out how much money all that stuff would be worth or how unnecessary it is to own so many things are definitely unwelcome and can even get you banned from groups.
And particularly when it comes to brand created groups we are completely getting play by these companies. It doesn’t matter that many of them are stay at home mum entrepreneurs who are running these companies. They are still brands selling to us, and kudos for these brands for being so cleaver as to catch us in ever new forms of consumption and accumulation. But unnecessary consumption is still not a good thing.
The hard thing too is that you can be completely aware that this is all happening and still get caught up in the excitement of collecting new pretty baby things. I certainly feel it when it comes to woven wraps and what I try to do to contain it is the have the rule that if i ever get a new one it must be funded by the sale of an old one. I still think I have one wrap too more than i really need, but since i know i’ll be able to sell them all on when i’m done for virtually what i paid, i’m not planning on reducing my stash of 3 wraps any time soon. I can see how such logic is easily also applied to people who own stashes of 12 or 20 (not as uncommon as you think!).
So tread the word of facebook mummy groups with care. Unless you aren’t interested in being a minimalist, saving money or have a high paying job funding it all anyway. I know this isn’t the case though for plenty of people and the darkest side of things is that it can even lead to real conflict within relationships particularly if the mum spending all the money in these groups is stay at home while their husband is earning all the money. There are been far too many comments along these lines attesting to this for me to think this is not at all uncommon.
So enjoy pretty baby things, but not too much that it is an issue and if you find yourself too caught up in it all, unsubscribe from the group. At least until your baby is grown and you need to sell your items on to recoup some funds. Find facebook groups instead that don’t allow buy swap and selling for general mum chatter and advice.