Diary Of A Modern Gran: The Urge To Purge

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

My daughter, son-in-law and little ones are still on holiday. My editor is away too so I have a week off.

It’s funny. I’m so used to rushing around, that I don’t know what to do with my spare time! I do my usual things like tennis and swimming in the sea.  I have also tidied up my study – which certainly needed it. This somehow, this gives me the “urge to purge”.

It’s almost as if spring fever has struck me. I should say here that I’m not the domestic type. Usually, I prefer sitting at my desk and writing.

“Are you feeling alright, Mum?” asked my eldest son who is back for a few weeks.

He looks at me worriedly as I go through my wardrobe, throwing clothes on the floor. There’re not so much pre-loved as pre-loathed. Take this leopard-print dress which never felt “like me” in the shop but somehow I went ahead and bought it.

“I’m getting rid of things that I just don’t wear any more,” I say.

I take most of them to the local charity shop but then a granny friend suggests that I try selling a few things online. She’s had quite a lot of success with a certain company so I thought I’d give it a go.

Now I’m not very good at filling in forms but when I signed up, everything was much simpler than I thought.

Then I have to price my outfits. Oh dear! What kind of figure should I put on a dress, which I’ve only worn twice? I decide to err on the side of caution and go lower rather than up.

And what about these gorgeous, never-worn black and silver high heels which I’d bought on impulse just before the virus. I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t teeter any more. Give me fashionable flats any day. So on the site they go.

You also have to photograph everything but when I put my outfits on a hanger against the door, they looked rather shapeless. Then I see that the website recommends that you wear them.

So I get my eldest son to photograph me from the neck downwards. I don’t want my face in it for privacy reasons.

“Mum,” complains my son. “It’s nearly 11 o’clock. I need to go to bed.”

“Please,” I plead. “This won’t take long and I’d really like to get this lot online.”

“OK,” he sighs.

“Thank you!” I say, feeling like a child who’s been granted a special extension to stay up.

(My grandchildren are finding it hard to sleep while they’re on holiday because of the heat. So now they’re all going to bed late and getting up later. I’ve often wondered how Mediterranean countries manage to get their children to school on time in the morning. But I digress.)

Ping! My goodness. My mobile tells me that I’ve sold a pair of wedge shoes which I’d only worn twice. A strange sense of excitement shoots through me followed by the thought that I probably should have asked more money for them. I put them up for only a tenner and they cost me £60 plus.

Now I have to wrap them!

I give this job to my retired husband who is always very particular about wrapping things. It keeps him quiet for a good half an hour. Maybe I’m onto something here!

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of selling a handbag which I never wear. The only problem is that my husband gave it to me as a present. That was five years ago. Our lifestyle has changed since then.

Now I can’t see myself going anywhere that requires a very large pink bubble-gum coloured handbag.

So on it goes.

Ping. That’s sold as well. Now all I have to do is wrap it up and sneak it out of the house to hand it in at the local dry-cleaners which is one of the registered sending-off points.

The good thing is that my wardrobe is much more manageable. I can see my clothes at a glance. It makes getting dressed much easier. And hopefully, my clothes have all found a good home.

Maybe there’s a novel in this…

Meanwhile, there are only two days until my grandchildren are back. It’ll be full on then because I’m looking after them until the term starts. I can’t wait. But I’d better get a move on with the rest of my “don’t-need-any-more” clothes. Anyone want a scarlet evening dress…?

Agony Gran

“I’ve got six grandchildren between five and 20. Until recently, I’ve always given them something for their birthdays. It might be money or a present. However, I’m now finding it very hard to make ends meet. I have to cut some corners. Some of my grandparent friends say they don’t give presents after the age of 16, but this doesn’t seem very fair to me. I don’t want to seem mean. Do you have any suggestions?” Name withheld

Jane says:

This is a more common problem than you might think. Lots of us are finding the pinch, but as you say we don’t want to be seen as mean. If it was me, I would talk to the parents of the younger children and explain that you can’t spend as much as you have in the past. Maybe they don’t know what your financial situation is. It doesn’t do any harm to be honest.

With the older children, you could explain this directly to them. Some might say that you have to be equal with all your grandchildren. I think this decision has to be entirely up to you. Personally, I would try to give each one of them something but set a price limit. A present doesn’t have to be a material object. It could also be time with you doing special things that don’t cost very much to celebrate that special day. I have one granny friend who gives her teenage grandchildren, something from one of her special possessions for a birthday present. It might be a piece of jewellery or a china object for example. Good luck.

Family News

A six-year-old boy has won a “mullet hairstyle” championship charity trophy in the USA. Apparently, the style of having hair short at the front and long at the back is returning to fashion!

Grandparent Tip

“I’ve been making fairy houses for my seven-year-old granddaughter and three-year-old grandson. It helps to keep them amused. We go for a walk in the woods and find a tree with open roots. Then we gather some leaves and twigs and make a little nest. We do the same at home by using a table top. Sometimes we paint stones as beds. I bought some small fairy figures from our local craft shop. Then we make up stories about the fairies who live there. It’s great for the imagination.” Janice

Thank you, Janice, for this lovely idea. Do keep sending in any tips, everyone.

Your Feedback

Thanks so much for your feedback on last week’s column.

Here are some of your thoughts…

“I loved your story about meeting up with a friend whom you’d lost touch with. This happened to me recently. I was going through some old paperwork when I came across a Christmas card from someone I used to work with. We’d always got on very well but lost touch. I wrote to her, presuming that she’d probably moved, but she was still there! She then rang me back and we found it easy to pick up where we left off. She has become a grandparent too, so we swap stories. We don’t live nearby but we’ve had a few day trips out together. It’s giving me a new spring in my step.” Barbara, Glasgow

“I was interested to read the email from your reader whose grandson didn’t get into the university that he’d hoped to go to. This happened to one of my grandchildren a few years ago.

“In fact, my grandson found that he really enjoyed the ‘second choice’ university. He’s now got a good job. I thought this might give your reader some comfort.” Tina, Leeds

Where To Take The Grandchildren

Looking for a day out the grandkids? Why not head to Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway, Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne BN23 6QJ, 10am to 5pm. Tel: 01323 520229

My grandchildren love miniature railways! They always bring out the child in me, too. They seem magical, don’t they?  This railway, set in the lovely south downs, also has a lake with wildlife and a playground as well as a café.

Children’s Book Of The Week

Here’s my book recommendation of the week. If there’s a book you love to read with your grandchildren, email moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk and we can feature it here.

Can Freddie find his way to the flamingo festival n Paris? This is a lovely adventure book with a basic introduction to French words and phrases – even though it is written in English. Great for reading aloud and also as a first reader.

Cover of Meli and Mac


Meli & Mac Rendez-Vous With A Flamingo by Elena Joannides, illustrated by Margherita Ende. Published by Mythiko Press. £8.99. From bookshops, online booksellers and www.mythikopress.com.

Summer Read For You

Coming To Find You book cover

“Have you got somewhere safe to go?” asks the detective. Nancy is hiding in the same seaside house where her grandmother’s best friend lived during the war. Can Elizabeth’s secret from World War Two help Nancy start again?

Coming To Find You (a Sunday Times best-seller) is available in bookshops, supermarkets and online.

If you’d like to get in touch with us about tips, problems, book recommendations and your life as a grandparent, please email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

See you next week!