Advice about parenting is not hard to come by in the modern age. There is no shortage of theories, anecdotes and scientific study (or very unscientific chatter) whether solicited or not. What is most frustrating is people wilfully misunderstanding your intentions or questions.
Before we had baby D, we often said that we were waiting to be financially ready for children. The only response we ever got was a wry laugh and ‘you’re never financially ready for children’. I actually disagree with that. We could have chosen to have children at any point over the last 9 years and struggled to make ends meet. Our mortgage payments are now about 60% of what they were 5 years ago, my pre tax salary alone has increased almost 40% and we are financially in a much better position. And it isn’t just about having money. There is a distinct mentality required to understand your new financial priorities which we were certainly not ready for before now.
The other thing that people will perpetuate is the concept that either having children is expensive or that conversely that it is cheap or free. In reality neither have to be true. Yes you can spend £1000 on a travel system and redecorate a whole room in the house to be the nursery. You can kit that room out with brand new outfits, matching furniture and the full Lamaze range of educational toys. Or alternatively you can ask around and find out what is out there. We are blessed that many of our friends have children and were more than happy to pass on or sell on second hand baby kit. But this is not all about luck-we were not too proud to ask friends and family if we could borrow/take off their hands/buy the bits and bobs we needed. I also scoured the local second hand pages on Facebook and freecycle and we have put together a whole nursery of things.
However the costs of having a baby are not really found in material goods. I am lucky to be born into a Country like England with a social health care and taxation system which supports mothers. So at no point in my pregnancy did I have to worry about what was covered by my health insurance or what I would need to pay in trendy of hospital costs. It also means I am entitled to take up to a full year off work, 33 weeks of that paid at statutory maternity rate. Whilst statutory maternity pay (smp) is hardly an exciting windfall, and when I did the maths it was quite scary to see how little income I’d have over the next year, it does allow me to be able to take the time off to spend with baby D. Loss of earnings is the real financial cost of having a baby. And really it doesn’t improve once I return to work as childcare is expensive.
In terms of other advice -I’ve been starting to look at improving baby D’s sleep patterns. I’m always cautious about how I phrase that as he is currently not a very good sleeper and it makes him tired and cranky. I’ve been looking at theories around using his natural periods of sleepiness to encourage him to sleep better-to fall asleep naturally and to stay asleep. What I’m not looking to do is force an unnatural routine into him which I don’t personally age with. However, it is almost impossible to talk about this with anyone who isn’t a new mum as they will almost instantly jump to the superlative and lecture me on how I shouldn’t expect my baby to sleep through the night yet. Well. … of course not! He is 8 weeks old! Why would anyone jump to the conclusion I’m naive enough to assume he will go down for 7 plus his at a time? I’m happy with three hour stretches at best!
Very strange attitudes.
In more superlative news, people seem very surprised that I don’t gush about baby . I of course think he is brilliant, but I’m not the kind of person to bore everyone with tales of how clever and handsome he is all the time. In fact when I have visitors in decorate sometimes to talk about anything that isn’t the baby just for a little normality. I am not going to be talking about how advanced my gorgeous little prince is, but I may say adoringly “he’s alright), my boy. That’ll do.