Having a baby is the most amazing and rewarding experience ever but jeeeeez it’s hard work. Physically, emotionally AND financially. My baby recently turned one and I found myself reminiscing and crying into my glass of wine at the memories of his tiny little toes and how much bloody pain I went through to bring him into the world.
While I will never claim to be a super-mum or parenting guru (because I’m not) there are certain bits of advice I wish someone had given me so here they are:
Accept Any Help You Are Offered
Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had and lord knows I’ve had some tough ones in the past. The media seems to make us feel we should be superhuman – cooking nutritious meals from scratch after a day of arts and crafts, all with perfect hair and a contoured face. The reality can be very different. If I can make sure my baby is fed, clean and laughing as much as possible, that’s good enough for me. It can be hard work and you can feel under pressure, but there’s no shame in asking for, or accepting help! If you need five minutes to shower in peace, have a night out with your partner, or to advice on how to get your baby to go the f**k to sleep, don’t be scared to ask.
Find the Humour
Seriously you CANNOT take yourself too seriously or you will go frigging mental. When you finally make it out of the house after two hours only to find your newborn has thrown up all over the one dress you now fit in, or when your newborn manages to pee directly in your eye mid-nappy change, you need to find the funny side!
Don’t Beat Yourself Up!
Now this can be a really hard one to follow. Mum Guilt is a bitch! To be honest it’s taken me a long time to follow my own advice and I still have bad days when I feel like I’m failing. There are a lot of people out there who seem to think it’s their job to tell you how you can be a better mum. Just don’t let it get to you and don’t ever let anyone make you feel you’re not good enough. If your kids are safe, fed and loved, you’re doing a good job!
Enjoy the Peace and Quiet
When my baby was little I used to look forward to naps so I could clean the house and get some jobs done. Now I look forward to getting in bed with him, snuggling up and watching a film or reading a book while he sleeps. I’ve decided to ignore the dirty dishes and washing that needs doing for an hour or two because cuddling my boy and having a bit of ‘me time’ is more important for my sanity. They’re only small for such a short time, I know I won’t look back in five years and think ‘Oh I wish I’d cut the grass that day in June’ but I will remember the quiet times when he was totally peaceful and content in my arms with happy memories.
Record the Good Bits
When I look back over the past year, there are so many happy memories but there are times when I’ve been too frazzled to even remember what year it is. I filled in my baby book for the first two weeks then never found the time (I’ll probably complete it when he’s got a beard) but I made a little note of the big moments or things that made me laugh. My partner bought me a ‘One Line A Day’ book which is awesome, and we had a great time looking back at the memories on my baby’s first birthday.
So having a baby is expensive, there’s no doubt about it. But they don’t have to be quite as expensive as you think! I’ve spent hours finding ways to save and make money that was the whole inspiration behind my blog. If you’re on a budget try buying second hand through nearly new sales, eBay or Facebook. Visit outlet shops and keep an eye out for end of season sales where you can get massive discounts on clothes and nursery items. If you’re buying online, always search for voucher codes before you buy and use a cashback app like Quidco or TopCashback.
Sign up to Baby Clubs
If there’s a baby club going, I’m a member. They send you freebies, vouchers and emails full of info. My personal favourites are Boots for the bonus Advantage points and the money off coupons, and Cow & Gate for the cheap baby food and milestone emails.
Make the Most of Free Baby Groups
It’s a sad fact but a lot of people lose a friend or two when they have a baby. Don’t take it personally, your lives are just at different stages. It’s totally normal to feel lonely when the only company you have all day is a baby who can’t hold a conversation. Baby groups are a great way to meet other mamas in the same boat. It can be really daunting to go up to a stranger and introduce yourself, but in my experience that stranger is more often than not thinking the same thing as you.
Find a Support Network
Whether it be friends, family or strangers, the best thing you can do for your own sanity is find somewhere you can go for advice, support or even just a rant. Most of my family and friends live at least 80 miles away so popping in for a coffee isn’t an option. I message my sisters every day, but I found a real life-line in The Motherload®. There’s always someone around day or night to offer advice, a shoulder to cry on or just make me laugh with a photo of their living room covered in Sudocrem or baby poo. MOLOs will make you laugh and make you cry, but most importantly of all they’ll make you feel you’re not alone.
I’m a stay at home mum of one gorgeous but exhausting toddler. I’ve got a passion for money saving and getting the most out of family life without spending too much money! I’ve recently started blogging to share my adventures in parenting on a budget and hopefully help other families make their money go further!