The financial stress of having a child is, well, stressful. Not all of us are on the best position financially when our little bundle of joy arrives. In the UK we don’t talk about money enough, a taboo subject in conversation with other parents! Are you in a hard position with money? Most of us are! Children can cost the world if you don’t budget, or set yourself limits. We all know of mums and dads who spend thousands every year on their little ones. But does it have to be that way? Emma talks about the struggles her and her other half have faced since since becoming parents.
When I think about our parenting journey so far, I immediately think of all the memories we’ve made. There have been milestones, laughter, accidents and so much mess! But I also can’t help but think how different the beginning of our journey would have been if we hadn’t been having financial difficulties. When we got pregnant, we weren’t in the best position financially. With maternity leave, pilling debts and little help, it only got worse. We had to get into a little bit more debt than we were already in because we needed essential things for out baby, so with a little help from family and friends we made sure we had the basics covered. We wanted to be in the best position financially, and knew we would have to change our habits.
Once Amber arrived, we tried to save money wherever we could and avoided spending money on anything unnecessary. Every month on pay day we would sit and work out our bills, checking how much we had left for food. Every single time I would end up in tears, stressed at the situation we were in. There were many times where Dan and I would skip meals. We would ration what we had so we had money to get anything Amber needed, nappies, wipes, Calpol, etc. Eventually we started baby led weaning with Amber, so we went without food even more then. Everything we bought was for her. We tried to make sure she got a balanced diet with everything she needed, which meant we often would eat less nutritious, cheaper meals.
Things have improved slowly, and we are now on track to getting back to a comfortable financial position. It is a very slow process and we have had to make sacrifices along the way.
As I write this, it is Amber’s first birthday tomorrow, and we haven’t been able to buy her a present. We made the decision to spend a little bit of money on taking her out for the day. We will get her some presents next month when we will have a little bit more money. Although, we know she won’t remember or have any awareness of her birthday, it’s still her first birthday.
I can’t help but feel like we’ve let her down. I see so many posts on Instagram- parents buying masses of presents, giant balloons, professional cake smash photo shoots, bespoke outfits, etc. It’s so hard to see that, and not feel like we’ve let our baby girl down on her first birthday.
However, we are trying to stay positive and do as much as we can on a budget! One thing we have done is a DIY cake smash at home. I looked at the average price of a professional cake smash photoshoot would have cost upwards of £130. We cleared a space in our living room, near to the window for plenty of light. I used some tester pots of paint to paint clouds, raindrops and a rainbow for the backdrop, Dan made a rainbow cake, and Amber’s godfather sent her a cute birthday outfit.
Overall, it cost us £20 to create and the photos are fantastic! I took the photographs myself and edited them using a free app on my phone and they turned out brilliantly. We have the memories and the beautiful photographs, and it cost less than half of what it would have with a professional.
Tomorrow, we are off out to The Deep in Hull for the day. Amber loves the Aquarium and The Deep has some of the biggest and colourful fish in the country. Our tickets have cost £24.30 and we are taking a picnic with us. Amber will have the best day out because she is absolutely fascinated by bright and colourful fish. That is all that really matters. Doing something together as a family, making memories that we can cherish is far more important than a pile of presents.
So, for any parents out there struggling, just remember it’s not forever. You will get through it, and the memories and the fun are all that matter. Fun doesn’t have to cost money! Just work hard to be yourself into the best position financially. Your children won’t remember the money you spent, just the fun times you had.
Loved Emma’s story? You can find even more in our honest parent blog. Put the kettle on and grab five minutes.
How do you find parenting? Do you budget? Are you the queen of bargains? The world is changing fast! We would love to hear from you. Contact us with your story.