With the myriad of baby registry checklists put out by retailers and floating around the Internet, it’s no easy task to sort through what you’ll actually need and what’s superfluous – and the truth is, it’s pretty much impossible for a new mom to know what will find use and what will find dust until after the baby’s arrived.
Though it’s easy to feel defeated (or excited) when you see the never-ending “must have” lists that rival those of bridal registries, babies don’t have to be expensive – outrageously expensive, anyway. I read a parenting article which stated that parents will spend about $12,000 in their baby’s first year of life.
At the risk of your house turning into a Babies R Us warehouse, let’s get back to basics with a pared-down list of the only 3 things your baby truly needs, and how to save money on them.
I knew having a baby would be challenging, but I was stunned and mildly traumatized at how hard it actually was. All people ever talk about when you’re pregnant (besides the unsolicited advice and unwelcome birth horrors) is the no sleeping. After the 54th “say goodbye to sleep, har, har” comment, you’re supremely annoyed and on the verge of violence, but think you may have an idea of what you’re in for. But you don’t. Oh, you so don’t. Not until you go through it do you learn what no sleep actually means (hint: it means crazed, delirious and nonsensical behaviour). And there’s more to it than sleep deprivation.
Once the “morning” sickness fades, pregnancy is reserved for the excitement and joy a new baby will bring. As it should be, because it’s the last time you feel hopeful for awhile. I was super excited to decorate the nursery and get all my baby gear (I mean, the baby’s baby gear), and faithfully followed the progression of my pregnancy on BabyCentre. I went to the birth classes, prenatal cardio classes and physically and mentally prepared for the birth as much as is humanly possible. But besides being materially prepared for the baby, that’s about all you can do. Every new mom gets a crash course in Motherhood 101 once the baby arrives, and it’s literally a crash course because you’re up late studying books that aren’t helpful before you and your hormones inevitably crash. And while it’s not what I expected, it’s more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.
So without further ado, here are the things that astounded me most about having a baby:
10 and a half months ago, you became a father. I’m so glad our doula was there to take pictures (as I was busy collapsing on the bed after an exhausting 21 hours of labour) because she captured the first time you saw your baby girl, and the expression of adoration and unconditional love on your face is unmistakable. You couldn’t take your eyes off her.
She has your brown eyes, your infuriatingly long eyelashes, your laid-back, go-with-the-flow-as-long-as-there’s-food personality, but thankfully not your nose.
Your world just got a whole lot more pink – tutus, toys, dresses, headbands – you hate her headbands and take them off the first chance you get (thanks for teaching her that, by the way).
A word of warning, this will be a very long post. Very long. Sorry, but there’s just no shortening a birth story! I promise to include lots of pictures to help keep it more interesting – not of the actual birth though, don’t worry. Those might scar you, as they did me, and I was there. Just be glad I’m not posting a video. A friend of mine had her births videotaped AND actually watched them. I find watching my wedding video awkward, so videotaping my daughter’s birth? I don’t think so.
First off, I’m sharing my birth story because I think it’s incredibly important and empowering for women to hear other women’s birth stories. There’s such a fear of childbirth in North American culture, making it even more critical for women to hear positive birth stories. I know it was one of the things that drastically helped me prepare for my birth.
I had a natural hospital birth, but it doesn’t matter whether you have a home birth, or end up getting an epidural or C-section. As long as you believe in the decisions you make and follow your gut, that’s all that matters, regardless of how it all goes down. You should feel supported and excited before your birth, not agonizing over it and dreading it – any more than the usual anxiousness, that is.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was beyond thrilled, but I also realized this baby had to come out one way or another. There was no going back now. Eek! I knew there had to be a way to give birth other than the screaming women we always see on TV and in movies, with the doctor coming in at the last second and everyone yelling at you to push.
Every new year brings lots of hope and excitement, a chance to be better and improve at life in general. The beginning of 2013 was especially hopeful and exciting for us, because in December of 2012, my husband and I paid off my student loan, leaving us debt free.
Debt free! As in, no debt!
Rewind 3 years. We were newlyweds, I was jobless and my husband was making minimum wage. Although we had a budget, we didn’t have any extra money to go around. We owed over $22,500, including my student loan and my husband’s debts. Even though I found a job a few months later, we still didn’t make oodles of money, so how did we manage it? When I sat down to think about it, I realized there were 5 main things that helped us out of our predicament:
I think this quote from the fabulous book Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella sums up quite nicely the feeling of euphoria shoppers experience:
“That moment. That instant when your fingers curl round the handles of a shiny, uncreased bag—and all the gorgeous new things inside it become yours. What’s it like? It’s like going hungry for days, then cramming your mouth full of warm buttered toast. It’s like waking up and realizing it’s the weekend. It’s like the better moments of sex. Everything else is blocked out of your mind. It’s pure, selfish pleasure.”
While I wasn’t as bad as Becky Bloomwood, I shopped more than anyone I knew back in university. Continue reading
Okay, the title of this post is a bit dramatic. But it got your attention, right?
Previously, I talked about the difference between a want and a need. The next logical step is how to save the money that you’re used to spending on your wants – because you now realize you don’t need to spend money on those things!
I’m not going to talk about budgeting and cutting back here. While those things are important, if you can grasp this, cutting back on your spending and sticking to your budget will be almost easy. (I said almost). So, what’s the number one way to save money?
How many times does something catch your eye as you’re walking through a store on a mission for something else, and you stop and grab it while exclaiming, “ooh, I soo need this!” Admit it, we’ve all done it.
Too many times though, we get mixed up thinking that what we want is actually something we need, when that’s not the case.
After putting it off for four years, I’m finally starting a blog. Yes, I am quite the procrastinator. I put it off for several reasons. I didn’t know what to write about, I was too afraid my writing wouldn’t be good (not only according to my standards, but other people’s as well), too afraid I would get negative comments, or worse, no comments at all.
But then I realized all those reasons didn’t matter. If I had just started a blog when I wanted to, it would have been four years old by now. I would have had four years of experience and confidence behind me. I read a book recently that pushed me over the delicate edge of indecision I had been teetering on. Between Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and the writer’s workshop I took that encouraged me to read it, I have started to write, a passion I’ve been ignoring for far too long.
And the single piece of advice that danced out of my reach? It’s so simple, it’s obvious. Just start writing.