I keep watching these shows on TV that keep repeating to parents how expensive having a baby is. Every single time I watch these shows, I just keep thinking “REALLY?!” I don’t think it’s that expensive… But then again, I guess it depends on your lifestyle and what’s important to you when raising a child.
I myself have approached having a baby with the Less is More approach. Preparing for our child must have cost us less than 2000$ in total. Granted, we have very generous families that helped us start out, buying us a high chair, baby monitors, baby gates, security kits, disposable and washable diapers, etc, etc, etc, which saved us a ton. But, after seeing our friends have babies and talking to them about what they could and couldn’t live without, we navigated Babies R Us as almost-seasoned pros, picking up what we thought would get the best bang for our bucks, and leaving out the rest. What big things we could borrow, we accepted gratefully, and what things we absolutely needed, we looked for sales.
We decided to go with cloth diapers to save money and help the environment, I pumped my milk and saved a ton on formula for the first six months, we now buy the cheapest formula after our doctor recommended not to waste money there since they’re all the same in any case. Finally, we make her food ourselves. Just doing all of these things has saved us a considerable amount of money!
We have yet to purchase a crib, or any baby room furniture, well, because, we don’t have a baby room yet! HA! We decided to go with a very sturdy pack-and-play on which we added an extra mattress, which fit nicely into the corner of our room. We found a rocking chair for free at my boyfriend’s work. We borrowed a swing from my best friend.
I chose a stroller thinking of the most contexts in which I could use it in with the least amount of frustrations. I limit myself to that one stroller, and I love it. I also waited until it was 50% off before I bought it* ;).
As for clothes, we inherited a bunch of hand-me-downs that I gratefully sorted through and picked out my favorites, and because of the limited space, I limited my purchases to three drawers, one per size. If it didn’t fit, I decided that she didn’t need it! Believe it or not, even with that little amount of clothes, I still don’t manage to put them on her as much as I would like.
Wal-Mart, Winners and Beyond the Rack became my go-to places for her stuff. I realized that no matter how cute Mexx makes baby clothes, it’s just not all that wearable and damn expensive to boot.
This all means that I get to live in a smaller place and not worry about my maternity leave pay (which is the greatest gift I could give myself). I live in a clutter-free environment. I don’t feel the need to constantly go out and buy my daughter new toys because at the end of the day, she just ends up becoming more fixated with the plastic bag that’s lying in the corner of the room because I forgot to throw it away or with the cat that she has yet to catch. Yesterday, she became so enamored with my empty plastic water bottle that I handed it to her and she ended up playing longer with that than her shiny noisy plastic toy that was sitting right next to her…
I believe that, no matter what I put in front of Souris, or how much I try to “stimulate” her, she’ll make her way in life and learn things in the way she needs to learn them. I don’t need to buy expensive electronic games. In fact, I don’t even want her touching my computer so I keep it out of reach. She’s been fixated with the same toys for about 4 months now and just keeps learning new ways of playing with them, which I think is great! And when she’s tired of those toys, I’ll just put them away in the storage space for baby number two, and add a few new ones (or most likely receive a ton from the Grandparents and aunties).
I believe that children find more meaning in life experiences than in gadgets. They can also use their imaginations in greater ways when they have less opportunity for the toy to define itself. I want my daughter to learn through experiencing the things around her instead of always having to be entertained by the latest toy on the market. And I have decided that I love having an uncluttered space way too much, and would rather live in a smaller place and pay less money than having a huge house that almost screams to be filled with stuff. Therefore, I have decided that, whenever Souris gets a new toy, she will have to give one of her toys to charity, or to a friend. She’s not going to play with most of them anyway, and I don’t want to stub my toe on them on a constant basis!
And in the meantime, nothing gives her more pleasure than dancing and singing with mommy and daddy, and being able to walk around the apartment by holding our hands ;).
I chose to limit my baby spending in order to be able to experience life differently – it’s important for my boyfriend and I to go out and do fun activities more often and travel at least once a year and that’s what we put our money towards. Every one is different, and it’s being able to choose what’s best for your family that gives you the most happiness!!
*Editor’s Note: A stroller which my oh-so-awesome sister spotted while on a shopping trip and called us to tell us about. Thanks, Sis! (You’re welcome, hehehehehe.)