In January this year we held our first Children’s Market. As we begin the planning for our next market, bigger and better than before, our Project Leader tells us what this year’s market was all about.

It was so serene, quite surreal in fact, to be up so early on a cold, winter Sunday morning. The streets were deserted and everyone was fast asleep in their bed, everyone except the organisers of the Amsterdam Mamas Children’s Market 2012, oh and of course the Cake Fairy! Who was that lovely person that left a beautiful cake outside the venue for us to sell? Whoever you are, thank you and see you again in January 2013?

The morning of January 29th, 2012 had arrived and all the meticulous planning and preparation for our first children’s market was about to be put to the test. With my timetable at hand and a trusty team of volunteers, we were ready to start transforming the Jacaranda Tree Montessori School into a bargain hunter’s paradise.

With the tables erected and assigned, posters hung, flyers out, name badges donned, cakes sliced, tea and coffee at the ready and volunteers briefed, we were all under control. There was only one last thing to do, unveil and display in pride of place by the grand entrance, the eagerly awaited (not forgetting free) Amsterdam Mamas embossed shopping bags, 100 of them for the first lucky bargain hunters.

At 10am the sellers arrived with a variety of wares that any souk would be proud of. I felt like I was a contestant on the Generation Game playing the Conveyer Belt challenge; there were baths, pushchairs, clothes, toys, books, shoes, puzzles and of course, the infamous giant cuddly toy. All together now – “Aaaahh!”.

Refreshments were handed out, 11am was upon us, we were ready and open for business. Let the fun begin! The room was chock-a-block and the hustle and bustle was electric. There was a sea of people, some carrying babies in slings, some hanging off Mama’s hip but all identifiable by the overstuffed bright red Amsterdam Mamas bag casually thrown over their shoulder, as only a mother knows how.

The sound of chatter, laughter, bartering and children playing drifted through the room. To be able to meet the faces behind the small static pictures on Facebook, bringing our online community alive was warming. I was able to meet people I had conversed with but never met although I felt like I had known them all my life. To know that the market was full of people with whom I had shared my thoughts and fears as a new mother; I was surrounded not just by Amsterdam Mamas, but by my new-found friends.

With tables noticeably emptier, bakfietsen fuller and the sumptuous display of cake and cookies reduced to crumbs, the market was drawing to a close. Sellers were happy with their new found wealth, buyers with their bargains and for the children; it was as if all their Christmases had come at once!

The volunteers worked like troopers and along with all those who helped plan, prepare, set up, tidy up and cash up, they made the Amsterdam Mamas 2012 Children’s Market a massive success. Without all of you, none of it would have been possible. Even in the city, it takes a village…

Elvira Mendoza

Elvira Mendoza is a Colombian full-time working mom of a four-year-old, and is married to a Dutch citizen. She has a company called Mariposa Vlinder, and loves writing and reading. She is also part of the Amsterdam Mamas Book and Film Club.