Babies and Bonnets

Within months of the arrival of Baby Number Six, Tracey gleefully packed up any maternity clothes which weren’t threadbare and gave them to a pregnant friend. We were done. The car was full, the house was full and the bank account was empty.

As young Miss1 filled out and grew we bundled up bags of clothes and gave them to friends, and after six kids there were lots of bags of clothes. Sometimes the trailer was needed to move the stuff out and it would look like we were going to the tip.

And every time we gave stuff away we’d have a repeat of the same sort of conversation:

“Are you sure we’re done, Tracey?”

“Yes. My body can’t take another birth. Besides, I haven’t read a book in seven years. Did you know she finished the Harry Potter series?”

“So you’re happy with six?”

“Happy? About having six kids? Seriously, do you even hear them when they wake up during the night?”

“There’s no chance you’re going to change your mind, Tracey?”

“Not a hope. I feel like I got my brain out of hock this year and it’s nice to be able to make sense and finish a sentence again. That’s the baby crying. It’s your turn. I got her all last year.”

Not only had we been giving away all our baby stuff as Miss1 has grew out of them, but we’d also been making plans – Tracey had started her photography business and I’d been planning a sleep-in when the last of them moved out.

But unfortunately, despite two attempts at being neutered, it turns out plans are very brittle, easily broken and the stuff of dreams. Baby Number Seven is in the torpedo tube and ready for launch. Sometimes I think I’m the target.

But baby clothes, baby toys and a walker were the least of our problems, as I’m sure the stuff will trickle back to us, so when Tracey finally stopped crying we had to put our thinking caps on.

I remember when Master19 was announced. The big issues then were cloth vs disposable, and what colour should we paint the nursery?  I seem to recall ‘should we get married?’ was another biggun. The big issues this time were: can we even fit another bed into the bedrooms, and there’s no more room in the car.

The bedrooms we solved. When you can’t build out, you build up. Not floors, bunks. Sensibly, we’ve decided to put the two who don’t sleep walk on the top bunks.

The car was of greater concern. Thankfully Master19 has moved out and has his own car, but short of strapping someone on the bonnet like a hood ornament we simply wouldn’t be able to move us all around town in our 7 seater Pajero.

To seat eight we’d really need to consider a van, especially when you add in school bags and groceries.

A thorough search (of the net, including that great caryard eBay) revealed we’d really need to spend between $15,000 and $30,000 for something suitable and safe. If we took safe off the table, even a dump of a car (on par with the one parked in our driveway for example) would still cost us nearly $10,000.

With one kid at university, one in high school, two in primary school, one in pre-prep and one in day-care, this wasn’t going to happen. And then they all insist on being fed. All of them! Often daily. It wasn’t going to happen. I swear we repel money.

Last week we had a light bulb moment and decided to think outside the box: With Miss16 requiring a car sometime in the next year or so we could buy her car now and use it until she gets her licence. As luck would have it, within days of deciding this, a customer of mine mentioned he had a neat little car he was happy to part ways with – a cheap to run red Daihatsu Charade – for $1000. I’m a little worried about the colour though because I don’t want her speeding.

We actually bought Master19’s car off this bloke so we know how well he keeps his vehicles. He had his Fairmont for 15 years and there was barely a scratch on it, whereas Master19 had it for barely 3 months before a parked car jumped out and rammed him.

I think this plan has three distinct advantages:


  1. Miss16 was going to need a car soon anyway, and as we’d stupidly bought her brother one we were obliged to buy her one too.


  1. The cost of running this second car (rego, insurance, etc) would amount to about $1000 a year because we’d only be using it for family outings, essentially on weekends, or for when it’s too wet for me to walk or ride a bike to work. Even taking out the fact we would have to buy Miss16 a car anyway, the total cost is substantially less than upgrading our car.


  1. All the kids’ car seats will be in the Pajero with Mummy, so on trips to Rainbow Beach or Brisbane I can travel in peace in the little red rocket and listen to my Alice Cooper cd’s.


So it looks like we’ve sorted the big issues.

All we have to do now is get through the birth. Piece of cake.


When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes,

Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’  Facebook Page.

 ’raising a family on little more than laughs’


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