9 Baby Things You Don't Need
Help for Sleepless Nights
Baby Budget Blues
Given that we already had three teenaged children, I wouldn't be giving away much if I told you that our fourth child was a surprise. Once we'd gotten over the shock of this unexpected gift, my husband and I sat down to assess our financial situation. Overall, we were optimistic. I was already working from home, and we weren't counting on my very modest income for our daily expenses. There wasn't a whole lot left over at the end of each month, but from past experience, we knew it was possible to take care of a baby with very little money.
With our limited budget in mind, we threw ourselves into the task of preparing for the newest member of our family. My husband reorganized several areas of the house to make room for a nursery, and I made use of all my frugal skills to decorate it. We borrowed a crib from my brother, and collected the remaining baby furniture and equipment at thrift stores and garage sales. I filled the drawers of the two dressers in the room with second hand baby clothes and cloth diapers.
As my due date approached, I stocked up the pantry, cooked and froze meals, made and purchased Christmas gifts (I was due in November), bought postage and supplies for birth announcements, and even blank thank you cards for the gifts I anticipated. In short, I did everything I could to ensure a super smooth (and frugal) transition into new motherhood. I was prepared, and boy did I feel smug!
But as every new mother learns quickly, you can never really be prepared for the changes a newborn brings. It's impossible. Babies are designed to catch you off guard, to exhaust you, to sabotage your most careful plans. It's in their secret manual! In the days and weeks following my daughter's birth, I was grateful for all the preparations I'd made. But it wasn't long before the pre-cooked meals ran out, and stocks in the pantry ran low. One of our older daughters needed a new jacket, and another one outgrew all her pants overnight. There were school field trips to pay for, birthday gifts, and unexpected car repairs. In other words, life went on. And as a sleep-deprived new mom, it wasn't long before I was feeling overwhelmed. It became more difficult to carry out all my routine money-saving strategies, at a time when we needed to use those strategies more than ever. In order to keep our budget balanced, and to keep sane and healthy at the same time, I had to learn some new coping strategies. Here are a few of the things I've learned:
When I was a new mother of twins fourteen years ago, I received a letter from a woman who advised me that I shouldn't feel obligated to wash the kitchen floor every day. I could just sweep it. Thank God I had a sense of humor! I barely had the energy to wash myself daily, let alone the kitchen floor! Chances are, you'll also receive a lot of advice as a new mother. Take it all with a grain of salt. Ultimately you have to do what works for you.
A freelance writer and children's novelist, Rachel Muller writes from her home on Vancouver Island, off the West Coast of Canada. She is married and the mother of three teenage daughters and a new baby girl.
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