There’s no two ways about it. Having kids is bloody expensive. The bills start racking up before they’re even born, as you fill your home with random pieces of (usually) bulky and (always) expensive baby kit that everyone says you SIMPLY MUST have (but which, invariably, they grow out of within a matter of months).
Then, once they arrive, while as parents you go through patches of intense spending and frantic saving, you somehow still always reach the end of the month wondering where all your hard-earned cash has disappeared to (it’s not between the sofa cushions, I’ve checked).
So, when you discover a serious money saver that you never even considered while you were young, free and frivolous – AKA before becoming a parent – you don’t just keep it to yourself. You tell everyone who will tolerate your tired parent ramblings. Your family, your NCT friends, your work colleagues, that weird guy that sits too close to you on the bus…literally anyone who will listen.
For regular readers of the blog, you’ll already be familiar with some of my most thrifty, bargain-hunting favourites, such as our unhealthy obsession with specialty children’s charity shop FARA Kids to name but one. But I’ve recently been converted to a new money saving miracle that is proving an absolute game changer in our house. It’s not sexy but boy, it’s got me excited…
I’m just going to come out with it. Everyone needs to start recharging their batteries. I had no idea how many batteries we got through in our daily parenting life until recently, but bloody hell, I was shocked when I realised.
It all came to a head over the summer, when the batteries on Teddy’s Ewan the Dream Sheep ran out unexpectedly just as we were putting him down for the night. He can’t sleep without it (or at least, we’ve convinced ourselves of its magical powers ever since getting him to sleep through the night), so it was kind of a big deal.
With no replacement batteries anywhere to be found (and the bedtime routine about to go to pot), things soon got desperate. Cue me, frantically trying to locate the one mini screwdriver we own (that we hide a little too well, invariably somewhere in our “random draw of crap”) before unscrewing the battery packs on all of Teddy’s other favourite flashing, musical toys in search of four replacement AAA batteries with enough juice to last us through the night.
Five dismantled toys later, and with fourteen tiny batteries now littered across our kitchen floor, I realised that absolutely all of them were duds. Drained of all power thanks to Teddy’s incessant button pressing and, ultimately, entirely useless in my hour of need.
It was then that it dawned on me just how many batteries we now get through in our daily parenting life. Not to mention (after an emergency sprint to the corner shop to buy an overpriced stash of emergency AAAs) the insane amount of money we spend on these little sticks of energy each month.
And it’s only going to get worse. Like many first-time parents, we started out with a ‘strict-ish’ ban on battery powered plastic toys for Teddy, in favour of more traditional wooden toys and books. You know, proper educational, back to basics stuff.
But as you quickly come to realise, while these battery free toys (of course) still have a place, more often than not it’s the brightly coloured, plastic, flashing, noisy ones that really keep our little monsters entertained for more than five minutes. I can’t tell you how many car journeys / play dates / meals out / special occasions have been saved from an apocalyptic tantrum thanks to a quickly applied Vtech-shaped bribe…
But to keep this unhealthy battery-powered addiction going, I would guess we spend at least £15 each month to keep Teddy’s toys (and *ahem* mine too) in full flashing mode. That’s £180 per year, which all adds up to over a grand by the time he reaches his seventh birthday (and that’s just with one kid’s toys to contend with).
Which is why I’m so happy (AND WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW!) that we’ve now converted fully to rechargeable batteries, which (if I’ve done my sums right) is going to save us literally thousands of pounds over the course of our family life.
The ones we’ve been using are from GP Batteries, who gave me a full set of rechargeable batteries, from AAA and AA all the way up to the massive 9V monster batteries (that fuel my new giant torch!), as well as two of their recharge pods. One that fits and recharges four batteries of any size overnight (in eight hours), and another whizzy contraption (their new GP PowerBank Charger U421) that will fully charge AA or AAA batteries within 40 minutes via the USB portal on your computer or laptop.
What’s great about these GP batteries is that they come fully-charged straight out of the packet, just like any other batteries you buy from the supermarket. Even better, their GP ReCyko+ Pro AA and AAA batteries (the ones most kids’ toys take) are proven to last as long (or longer) than your average Alkaline battery – in some cases up to 7 times longer! – meaning you immediately get a lot more bang for your buck.
Of course, given that they are rechargeable (for multiple use), they do come with a slightly higher price tag…but only marginally, mind. Most of the packs of GP rechargeable batteries cost around a tenner while the two versions of the charger both come in at under 20 quid each.
But don’t let this small initial outlay put you off, as one set of GP rechargeable batteries will not just last you the month (like our old batteries did). They’re designed to be recharged and reused up to 1,500 times, which means they could last you around 25 years. 25 YEARS FOR ONE SET OF BATTERIES!! I know, right? Mind. Blown.
And once charged, they will hold up to 70% of their charge for around 5 years if you store them somewhere safe to use later. Needless to say, I’ve gone full ‘dad geek’ on this one, and fully charged up all the GP batteries we aren’t already using, so we’re ready for the next inevitable bedtime battery emergency that’s sure to happen before long. You can never be too prepared…
Now, the only problem I have left is; where the f*ck did I leave that mini screwdriver?!
So, would you consider switching to rechargeable batteries too? Or have you already? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic and your experiences of recharging, so please do share your views with the group via the comments section below.
And don’t forget! All batteries need proper recycling (as they take about a bajillion years to decompose) so don’t just throw them in the bin! You can find your nearest battery recycling drop-off here: https://www.bringbackheavymetal.co.uk/drop-off. Go on, the earth will thank you…
This sponsored post was written in collaboration with GP Batteries, who initially sent me a pack of batteries and chargers to try out. As you can probably tell, I’ve been well and truly converted! #RechargeWithGP