Absence does make the heart grow fonder. After spending my first-ever night away from my littlest baby, I raced home to spend Mother’s Day with my family, feeling luckier than ever to have the wonderful children I do. There’s nothing like twenty-four hours apart to make me want to scoop them up, nibble their chubby arms, and sniff their sweet skin with intensified passion. I am so blessed.
Interestingly, yesterday’s front-page headline of the National Post read: “Why many young women are putting their careers on pause to have children in their 20s.” Apparently there’s a growing movement of young couples choosing to start their families in their twenties, instead of waiting until their mid- to late-thirties when they’ve established a career and are more financially stable. More and more people are realizing that the usual path, despite being viewed as the ‘smart’ and ‘mature’ one to take, actually isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only do women have to take maternity leaves at highly inconvenient and possibly inflexible times in their careers, but the bigger issue is that fertility starts plummeting as early as twenty-five.
I probably wouldn’t have chosen to have kids when I did, but now that it’s worked out this way, I am so happy. And yet, there was a time when I believed that financial stability in the form of a house, a car, a good job, etc. was an absolute prerequisite for being a good parent. I no longer believe that. One thing I’ve learned along this journey of motherhood is that babies cost far less than most people think.
Once I read a statistic that babies cost approximately $10,000 in their first year of life. I laughed out loud when I saw that number because it’s absolutely ridiculous. A baby can cost $10,000 if the parents want to spend that much, but it’s not necessary. That number was calculated based on all-new nursery furnishings, baby gear, and a year’s supply of disposable diapers and infant formula – most of which are optional expenses.
My first baby cost almost nothing by comparison. We spent $300 on cloth diapers up front and another $300 on a new car seat when baby was 9 months old – and that was it! Everything else was hand-me-downs from various friends who were thrilled to pass on their stuff – boxes of clothing, bassinet, crib, infant car seat, change table, bath tub, Baby Bjorn carrier and sling, electric swing, bouncy seat, stroller, toys. Nothing matched, but that didn’t matter. I breastfed exclusively, so I didn’t buy formula. All extra clothes come from the thrift store. Everything has been reused by our second son, with the additional purchase of another car seat and crib. I’ll hazard a guess and say that, when it comes to baby-related stuff, we’ve spent less than $2000 on two kids in four years. (I’m not counting babysitting, nursery school, and travel expenses.)
Having a baby doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. At the end of the day, a baby won’t remember his or her matching nursery set and designer clothes (that get stained with bodily fluids anyways). Once kids get older and start participating in more extracurricular activities, parents will be older by then, more financially comfortable, and better able to afford those extra costs. Besides, knowing how to live with a ‘frugality mentality’ is a very valuable skill and one that could benefit your children years down the road.