Cheap Dates with Toddlers: Garage Sales

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Any Friday or Saturday, drive around a residential neighborhood, and you’ll see the signs.

In winter, after my kids finish their scheduled activity, whether it’s dance class or coop preschool, I usually just want to go home when we’re done, back to a warm dry house. But in the spring time when the weather is beautiful, sometimes I just want to be out for a little while longer. Garage sales offer an easy opportunity.

I will pick a sign to follow, and see where we end up. We then walk around and look at things. Sometimes you have a total dud of a garage sale, when there’s nothing that appeals to anyone in the family. But, much more often, you’ll find something that you child thinks is a treasure. Once my daughter found a great tie-dyed jumper – it was a little big on her then, but it ended up becoming her favorite sun-dress not just that summer but for two or three summers to come, for $1.00 or so. My other daughter found a Japanese tea set she fell in love with. We found some great stuffed animals, some DVD’s, some books, a bike…

Now, I’m not a big fan of a lot of clutter in my life, so I’m always very clear that each child can pick out a MAXIMUM of one item. And sometimes we don’t find anything to bring home. Our approach was always that it’s more about the process than the product. It’s just interesting to see what things people are casting out of their lives. As my girls got older, it was interesting to pontificate on the family’s story. We would guess how old their kids were now based on what types of kid stuff they decided they’d outgrown. We found it sad when there was an older woman selling lots of men’s clothes and items, and wondered if her husband had recently passed. Sometimes we walked away wondering: why did they ever buy those items in the first place???

A garage sale is usually a quick outing – 15 minute or so, but often just a fun moment of serendipity in a day.

photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc

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