While I was pregnant, you could say I was preparing myself for the pending anxiety of rearranging everything in my life. I was pretty sure I wanted to stay home with my newborn for at the very least, 4-6 months. Well guess what? It’s been 22 months now we are still afloat. I do work at home a bit and have had a few part-time jobs, but up until recently, they were very temporary and did not pay well. I attribute our staying afloat to living a low maintenance, semi-crunchy lifestyle. Or really, being frugal. We only had to borrow money a few times and we do have some credit cards with balances. However, I consider that a success– we paid our rent and our bills on time. On one income. For a while there, everyone in my house was even unemployed. Yep. Scary right? Right.
Here is how our fam did it. And please dually note that if my husband wasn’t such a genius, most of this stuff wouldn’t be possible.
We just don’t buy stuff. Period. Some people might be shocked to find the lack of “baby gear” in my house. I don’t have a baby swing, bouncy seat, exersaucer, jumper, bumbo (what a name!) seat or any of the like. I bought/had some of these items and returned/sold them pretty early on. It’s crap that takes up space and guess what? My daughter couldn’t care less. She found ME far more interesting. My pack-n-play is barely used. Now it holds stuffed animals. My now almost two year old toddler occasionally plays in it. This is a small miracle living where I do, where materialism is the cornerstone of society.
I don’t have a crib in my daughters’ room, I have a twin bed. It doesn’t coordinate with a nice dresser. It’s not something out of a catalog. We took hand-me-down furniture and still use it. I didn’t buy a glider, it was given to me and I will say it’s nice to have, but not entirely necessary. I only really use it when baby is sick (only happened once or twice so far!) or my feet/back are killing me from babywearing! We did spend some money on decorating the “nursery” but we kept it functional here as well, getting posters of kids movies and unicorns rather then the trendy name cutouts hung with ribbon. It’s not something she’s going to like when she’s 10— she will like her Labyrinth movie poster. Or I hope she does!
If you have these things, you can return them or sell at your local kids’ consignment shops. We did this when there was zero money for toys or clothes. Some things I traded are still used today. Most clothes I bought are just as nice as new clothes just far cheaper.
I never really used bottles. Contrary to what many new parents think– you don’t need to introduce a bottle. Ever. Weird to think of it, but it’s not weird to NOT use a bottle. It’s quite natural actually. Yes, this does mean going back to work while nursing will get complicated– then bottle use is pretty necessary. But you could use a sippy once you’re babe is 6 months +.
Or– you could just work from home or limited hours. I worked a crap retail job but it was only 5 hour shifts 2-3 times a week. Not a big deal when you can work around daddies’ schedule. I also started freelancing online and have since made pretty decent money. I wish these two options were a reality for most women. I am lucky in this respect and know this. However– perhaps some moms feel like they have to go back to work. When really, some bills could not be bills anymore, some things you can avoid buying on a constant basis, like diapers and formula, if you catch my drift. Breastfeeding is FREE and cloth diapers are cheap.
How else? Well, we canceled the cable/satellite TV and installed a TV card in a modest Dell tower that allows us to record shows from a digital TV signal just like having a TiVo. Pretty cool right? Again, genius husbeast at it again. We wanted to see movies? Guess what? Netflix has on-demand for like $10 a month. That’s nothing in the scheme of things. You can also use your Wii to browse and watch. It works beautifully. Have a gym membership? Me too. Couldn’t afford it so I started using the Wii to workout. The EA Sports workouts are REALLY GOOD and challenging. Do you really need a land-line? Probably not. We turned that sucker off first thing. Then went the data plans on our smartphones. That was a sad day for us– but really, we can’t afford to go out as much anymore anyhow, so we’ll find a wifi hotspot when we NEED the internets while out and about. These things saved us TONS of money.
So what did we buy then? A few different types of baby carriers and slings are a must. I had a Hotsling and Moby wrap when she was very little. As she got older I tried a ring sling, Ergo carrier and a mai tai carrier. All amazing. I like the mai tai more for front carries but my daughter refuses the back carry much of the time. Babywearing is a lifesaver and far less work then the above baby items. What overtired baby is going to like being put down in a bouncer? Not mine! You could even make a sling if you’re savvy with a sewing machine. They can be expensive. But worth it. I promise. Here’s why.
A stroller was an item I sometimes use but mostly to carry stuff. Ha! I got the jogging stroller and occasionally use it to jog! My DD is not a huge fan and I never forced or trained her to sit in it. I personally think the things are used most often as imprisonment vessels. How many kids do you see bawling their eyes out while strapped in a stroller? This is not my thing and I think it’s horrible to do to a child. Or anyone for that matter. But I digress…
A crib is not necessary. But convienient in how we used it. We “side-car” our crib. I’ve been well rested since our baby was around 6 month old. I know this sleeping arrangement is why. I will be writing a future post on this very subject and will link it here. Mostly delayed due to my wanting to illustrate how to do it by taking some photos– this means I’ve got to get the room clean and photo-ready. A small miracle while living with a toddler.
Cloth diapering is wonderful and cost saving. I would not recommend using them until your baby is around 3 months old. They eliminate so often as a newborn it’s just too much work, I think. Plus they will grow very rapidly and you’ll spend a fortune for not very much use. Here’s what I did…
- Bought no more then 2 dozen Indian Cotton prefolds in premium size (up to 35lbs) so they fit nicely in diaper covers.
- 3-5 snap diaper covers. Flip and Thirsties are my favorite and not expensive at all. Check out cottonbabies.com for lots of info and products.
- Cloth wipes are awesome but time consuming in my opinion. I bought about two dozen and make my own solution. Much better for a sensitive butt and I use a wipe warmer to keep them in. But I still use ‘sposie wipes some of the time.
- Afraid to cloth diaper at night? Me too. I don’t. Just use disposables if you have a heavy wetter. I do. I won’t tell anyone. Don’t worry!