This is a misleading title, but true nonetheless.
I am hereby declaring that I am not interested in spending a lot of money on my kids in their formative years.
By formative, I mean between the time they are born until about the age of 2.
Hear me out!
The way I see it, kids at that age are too young to know whether they are cute or not in a romper that costs $20 versus in something simpler but not as cute to adults.
Who really gives a damn?
Or that they would really, REALLY prefer being in a house that you had to mortgage an arm and a leg to pay for, rather than in a rented abode.
If I had a buck for every time I received the “advice” of other parents who look harassed, and stressed while trying to give me pearls of wisdom about how a baby absolutely needs you to invest in a home for them as well as a new car, I’d probably be $50,000 richer by now.
Do kids really know the difference between a purchased home and a rented one? Methinks not.
Unless we’re living in times when rented apartments meant living in squalid neighbourhoods, no running water and electricity, I can safely declare that a rented apartment is equally as desirable to a baby as a “purchased” (note the sarcastic quotation marks) home.
I have a feeling as adults, we put a lot of emphasis on what babies want and what they think and feel, when in fact… they don’t really have such preconceived notions of what is “correct” and what isn’t.
All of that is sociologically, learned behavior, and as children grow up, you can often see such learned behavior emerge in shopping habits, consumer behaviour and general “gimme gimme gimme” attitudes.
All of the above ties into my whole premise of basically not wanting to spend any money on STUFF for my kids during their formative years (maybe even far beyond, who knows?).
I place a higher value on saving that money for quality childcare, good food, time off to spend with them rather than working like a madwoman to pay for all this STUFF, and their education, although not necessarily their college education.
I want money to pay for swimming lessons, violin lessons, or anything they want to do that they find interesting, rather than spending it on stuff that they’ll forget about in 2 months.
So what will I be doing?
AS LITTLE CLOTHING AS POSSIBLE — NECESSITIES ONLY
The first main thing I want to do is buy as little clothing as possible.
I will post a Minimalist Baby list once I actually have items for the little one, but this is what I am thinking.
Children grow like weeds. Really fast, fertilized, badassmotha’ weeds.
One day they fit into the crook of your arm, and within 2 weeks, they’ve already outgrown their newborn clothes and their legs are sticking out awkwardly of their now too-big clothes as if everything was shrunk in the dryer overnight.
I’ve seen every. single. parent. go through this, lament to me about it, and then forget to buy a size or two bigger of clothing so that the kid can grow into it.
I am not going to be doing this and making this mistake as a new, uninitiated parent.
No regrets here, I’m listening to all the whining of past parents and learning from their mistakes.
I want all the secondhand (unisex) clothes I can muster up from friends, I am not planning on creating baby models in stylish outfits, designer anything (even The Gap is too fancy for me at this point), and clothes that HAVE TO FIT and be tailored PERFECTLY.
I will be keeping it all for my future kids (boys or girls), so unisex clothing will be my mandate and it doesn’t have to be cute — the baby will already be adorable to everyone no matter what I dress him or her in.
I see it all as a huge waste of money otherwise.
I will only buy the necessities of clothing as I see fit, such as winter jacket onesies when the weather is too cold for them, or extra diapers because there aren’t enough.
CLOTH DIAPERS ONLY
Which brings me to my second point: the other main thing I want to do is use cloth diapers.
MANY (maybe ALL) you parents out there are reading this and cringing. You can’t believe I don’t want to subscribe to just buying plastic diapers and throwing them away.
Surely those disposable diapers must be more sanitary, smell better, more convenient and overall a beautiful invention of modern convenience no?
Who wants to be scraping poo off a cloth diaper into a toilet, then trying to cover up the stench with bicarbonate soda, when you can just wrap it up in a neat little bundle and toss it onto our ever growing pile of non-biodegradable landfills and pollute our Earth?
I’m being sarcastic even before getting to my point 😉
I don’t want to use plastic diapers on my kid sfor 3 main reasons:
1. If I were a baby, I wouldn’t want plastic on my butt either.
As a kid I just can’t express it without crying my head off at the injustice of a sweaty, wet soggy mess attached to my butt.
(Hey there’s a thought, maybe babies cry not because they’re upset or annoyed at their life, but because it just SUCKS having a plastic bag attached to your butt.)
Don’t forget that I’m a girl, and as a girl who had to go through *ahem* womanly changes, I can somewhat hazard a guess what a baby might be feeling.
Even if it’s horribly disgusting, I am committed to not using plastic diapers on my kids. I’ll get over it. It will only be a year, two at the most before they’re properly toilet-trained.
If it occurs, we’ll deal with bedwetting in another manner.
2. It’s more expensive than plain ol’fashioned cloth diapers
I checked out the price of diapers and kind of recoiled. This is not my only reason for wanting to use cloth diapers, but it sure helps my case.
I can’t believe how much diapers cost!! On top of that, you have to change the baby HOW MANY TIMES a day?
Here’s the calculation:
10 times a day (assuming average) x 18 months* (minimum) = 5400 diapers
(*If you’re lucky, some kids go until 2 1/2 years old without toilet training.)
184 diapers are about $40 = $0.22 per diaper
5400 diapers over 18 months x $0.22 per diaper = $1188 per child
If I were to buy cloth diapers, it would cost $30 for 3 diapers, and I would need let’s say half a week’s worth because no one wants to wash rank diapers only once a week:
$30 x 3 for 1 day’s worth = $90 for cloth diapers to purchase
$90 x 3 days = $270 to purchase
Let’s say I need two sizes, so it’s really $540 for one child for 18 months because I need the small and larger sizes.
$1188 – $540 = $648 in savings
Doesn’t sound like a lot, but I am planning on reusing these diapers for my subsequent children, which means their cost will be $648 for 3 kids rather than $3564 for 3 kids at the end.
$3564 – $648 = $2916 over 3 kids
…assuming they all toilet train by 18 months which would be a miracle.
It’s not that I can’t afford it, heck, I paid about half that amount for a bloody trench coat!! It’s more that
3. It is a huge impact on our landfills
Here we go, the eco-hippie in me rising up!
I just feel a twinge.. okay more than a twinge of pain when I think of how many diapers PER CHILD must make it to landfills, just sitting there, growing bacteria on the leftover feces and creating a mess for the earth that just won’t biodegrade.
This is the one area where I take my hat off to the Chinese. Diapers don’t exist in China for many people because they’re not only prohibitively expensive (being a Western thing), but also because they figured out a way to just cut a slit in their kids’ pants and let them pee/poo wherever and whenever they need to.
Frankly if you look at it this way: If it wasn’t such a disgusting, smelly, arduous task of having to change a baby and wash their underwear each time they soil themselves, most parents would choose to be environmentally friendly and save money.
The only thing that’s stopping these otherwise well-intentioned parents is their laziness and lack of wanting to work for a different end result.
Yes I said it. Laziness.
*cue pitchforks and nunchuks flying at my head*
If it isn’t laziness and convenience (a nice way of saying “laziness”), what is it?
To put it another way, the convenience of a plastic diaper is the equivalent of stopping by a fast food joint and picking up a meal for a family of 5 before heading home instead of cooking from scratch or meal planning ahead of time.
Think about it.
Anyway, not that you care in the end — they’re your kids, not mine.
You’re either going to get angry at me because you are a parent who DOES use plastic diapers but can’t believe I had the gall to call you out, or you’re going to be a parent who uses plastic diapers but shrugs and says:
“Yeah you’re totally right. I own up to that. I don’t want to deal with all that crap and it’s not worth my time or my effort to try and keep that stuff out of landfills.
I’ll be dead before I have to deal with that problem, or we’ll find a way to incinerate that stuff and it’ll be eco-friendly before we know it.”
I applaud the latter, more honest parent!!!
That said, I don’t see a solution happening for these diapers clogging landfills, so I’m going to do my (very, tiny) little part and use cloth diapers on my kids.
These kids will grudgingly thank me later when I lord it over them and guilt them into eating all of their vegetables, into doing chores they don’t want to or telling them the reason why I was able to gift them with enough money to help them out with their education was BECAUSE of cloth diapers I saved money on and invested the cash instead.
How sweet would that be? Talk about driving a lesson home after 18 years.
NO EXCESSIVE TOYS
Lastly, I also want this to extend to toys.
I am not interested in letting my kids talk me into buying every little useless plastic, shiny trinket they set their hearts on. Once they have it they’ll forget about it in a week, and where will my money have gone?
I’m pretty stubborn on this, and while I might relent once in a while (I hope not), I am adamant that I will not be spoiling them with useless trinkets.
If they want something, they’ll have to REALLY want it.
They have to understand and appreciate the toy itself, which is another reason why I don’t really want people giving lots of gifts to my kids.
They just won’t appreciate any of it after a while.
I’d rather (bluntly) ask for money to put into their RESPs (Registered Education Saving Plans) for their future education than to be given yet another generic, Made in China, plastic toy made by another child under worse conditions.
An odd thing I noticed is that children prefer the box the toy came in than the toy itself. So.. why am I buying the toy?
Find clean cardboard boxes and let them play spaceship, house, etc. It’s about time we go back to giving children limited, generic materials and letting them use and cultivate their imagination.
It really sounds like I’m being a cheapskate, but some of my most creative years was when I had to build a dollhouse out of what we had for my Barbies (I had 2 my entire life), and I turned over an old bookcase, and created a mansion with a pretend pool made out of blue construction paper, and beds made out of old tissue boxes.
Best Barbie dollhouse ever.
I could change any room I wanted, and decided early on I would not have a dining room because my Barbies would eat in the kitchen like we did at home.
Kids need to stop having passive entertainment dictated to them either by others, by television or by so-called Baby Einstein and Mozart DVDs, and to learn how to be curious on their own.
Imagination is more important than we think and it’s the hardest one to re-create.
Anyway, these all sound like very lofty goals even to my ears, and even if I fail, I will preserve to keep trying to reach those goals. Luckily, BF is totally on board with all of the above, which will make the parenting unit that much stronger against the tide of consumerism that I grew up with as a child.