Thursday, April 7, 2011
A Simple Baby (At least for the first year): Part 1
I couldn't think of a good segway from "Being a parent is awesome" (see above) to "here's what you might need, don't buy too much" (see below), so I gave up. Here's a picture of Noah digging to fill the awkward transition:
Aah, but the awkwardness continues a couple more sentences. While I really want to convey in this post that it's possible to keep having a baby simple, affordable and relatively environmentally friendly, I couldn't write a simple post about it! So it's going to be a series. But a Simple Series. Really.
The Exhaustive List of What Our Baby Needed in Year 1
Big Ticket Items (Part 1):
Space to Sleep and later, Play (in our case, we delayed getting a bigger place, but it was inevitable)
Someone to take care of him at all time (in our case, a parent).
Health Insurance and money to pay the huge deductible.
Food: (Part 2)
Breast Pump and associated bottles/nipples/etc.
Transportation (Part 3)
Sling/Ergo type thingy
Stuff to Wear (Not sure if this needs a post- gifts and thrift stores are awesome)
Stuff to Play With (Also not sure if this needs a post?)
Sleep and a Chance for His Parents to Shower (Part 4)
We had a little cosleeper thing in the bed with us, because we were scared we would squish Noah- not sure if we'll need that next time.
Jumperoo (Only as a chance for dad to shower)
Reclining Baby seat
Help Staying Clean (Part 5)
A potty, in case Noah learned about that early.
Diaper Rash Cream
Recently, nail clippers.
That's it! That's all we got! (I did fudge over clothes and toys up there, but there's no need to go too wild in either category) (Unless you want to.)
Part 1: The Big Costs
The big ticket baby items for many families are housing, daycare, and maybe medical care.
Housing is big not only financially, but also environmentally. We've moved twice since Noah was born, just because of life circumstances. But we saved about $2400 by staying in our tiny one-bedroom while Noah was little and immobile. During the first four months, all he needed was love, attention, milk, and lots of diaper changes, and not having to deal with a bigger apartment was great. We did need to move later on, and our housing expenses really increased. That said, our vision is to stay in the smallest house we can, and in the most central location possible. I'd love a garden and chickens one day, but we're not there yet.
Figuring out how to afford life [in Boston] and take care of Noah was hard. Our decisions worked for us, partly by serendipity: my work does not easily translate to independent or from-home work, but I'd worked with the same employer for a couple of years and they were really supportive and flexible about how I got to my 40 hours/week. Eug went freelance around the time I got pregnant, which was scary financially but exhilarating for all the possibilities it opened up for us. The cost of good daycare would be about the same as the income we've given up, without the stress of wondering whether Noah's taken care of. I get to spend most afternoons with Noah, which makes working full time less difficult in the short term.
I can't give advice on daycare and couples' work without feeling icky and under-qualified, so I won't-- I know that this is the most personal of decisions and one that every family really ponders and struggles over. That said, it was important for us that didn't use our community or family tradition as our only reference point-- whether that reference point was daycare from tiny or saving towards my becoming a stay-at-home mom. It was something that had to work for our family, and for us, what works seems to change over time, just as Noah changes.
The medical costs for Noah's birth were about $1000 (it makes me almost wish I'd made it to one of those nice wood-paneled delivery rooms). We have very mediocre insurance (which is cheaper per month but makes life difficult when we actually need it) so we save a little every month, that would otherwise go to more expensive insurance plans, and have it ready when we need something.