Balling on a Budget: Making Parenthood Work when you’re Strapped for Cash

It’s no secret, our first daughter, Violet, was unplanned. I was 18 and in the middle of an education degree and Dan was 20 and had just left his job as a landscaper. We lived with his mum, and had absolutely nothing in the way of savings.

There we were, jobless and broke, and we’d been told we were expecting a baby. I think the first word we both though of was “shit”. Despite what the world might have expected us to do in a situation where we had no income, we decided to continue with the pregnancy. We loved each other, and we had always wanted children together, and god, you know I would never forgive myself if we had decided to terminate and then had fertility issues down the track. All we’ve ever wanted was to be parents together.

Despite having next to nothing, what we did have was love and support from everyone around us, and to this day it continues. Becoming parents so young hasn’t been easy, and I’d hardly say we’re now suddenly “well off”, because we’re not. We’re still rocking this gig on a budget.

We have always managed to make things work, whether it be strategy or pure luck, I thought I would share how we’ve made it to where we are today with you.

Find a job and stick with it (even if it’s just for now). God, it sounds easy. But the reality was, for about 4 months of my pregnancy with Violet, Dan didn’t have an income, and I was part time at a burger restaurant. It wasn’t because he didn’t want a job. Big cities can be tough, and it’s certainly a case of take what you can get. Once he got it, he stuck to it, as painful as it was at times. It paid the bills, and as long as that happened we could focus on finding something better in the background. So take what you can get and remember there will always be time to work on the bigger picture once you’ve got an income.

Take all the help you can get. I get it, it’s a pride thing. But there are systems in place to help your financial situation, systems that EVERYONE here in Australia is entitled to, not just low income earners. Enquire about what you’re entitled to and don’t be ashamed to claim it. The systems are in place to help, not only your financial situation but your overall wellbeing. That also goes for accepting help from family and friends, they’re here to help and they certainly wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to help you.

Keep track of what you’re spending. Something we certainly haven’t always been good at. You don’t have to be as crazy as keeping every receipt, but taking note of your bank statements is a step in the right direction. You’d be surprised just how much a daily coffee on your way to work adds up.

Make it yourself. Food that is. I would say clothing but you know this girl has no idea how to sew (properly anyways). Honestly though, homemade things will always save you money. Especially snacks. Feeding a toddler can be pricey when you buy pre-packaged snacks. Try batches of pizza scrolls, muffins, sausage rolls. They can be frozen and reheated and end up cheaper because you’re making batches.

Take moments over “things”. Whilst kids are little, and even as they get older toys always seem to be present. But remember they’re often tossed aside when something new comes along. Opt for experiences over gifts, especially in a sense of saving money. Beach trips, park trips, even just going for a stroll adds a bit of joy and money doesn’t have to be spent doing any of those things. Heck, even get out the hose in your backyard. The simplest things can bring joy to kids, you’ve just got to be enthusiastic and they’ll follow suit.

Don’t be trapped by loans. It is SO tempting, I know. Credit cards, car loans, short term personal loans… such a great way to get what you want, but long term… it is so much more expensive. Consider budgeting for the things you want, save for them first and then splurge. It makes all the difference week to week when you don’t have the weight of loan repayments. Though I do understand this way of doing things isn’t for everyone. And by all means, go ahead if you know it will work with you and your budget. But personally from my perspective, it’s one less financial stress for our family.

Make the big hard decisions. Sometimes it means picking up and moving, sometimes it means giving up things that take up too much of your budget. Sometimes it certainly is a bit of a sacrifice. However I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t be having children if you’re not ready to make some sacrifices.

I’ll be honest, I could go on and on here about how to make it work with little money. But truth be told, you probably already knew a lot of these points. A lot of people will put off having children for the sake of finances, which of course is a personal decision. But in my opinion there really is no “right time” to have children. You could want to buy a house first, or a new car, go on that dream vacay, get the dream job… all valid reasons to put it off, but there will always be something else to do.

We get to do all of our big dreams with our girls by our side, and although we’ve made a few sacrifices, we make it work. And I’d much rather have a couple tiny hands to hold through the tough parts of life, than to be handling it solo.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

The Lazy Mum’s Guide to Keeping a Tidy Home

I have never been very good at house keeping. Before I had children I was a bit of a mess, I saw housework as a chore (because we all know it is), and like everything else I don’t enjoy doing I would put it off. And everyone knows mess only gets messier the longer you leave it.

Since having the girls I’ve come to realise that life is far more stressful in a home with children if it isn’t organised (at least a little bit). So I’ve taken it upon myself the teach myself easier ways of staying on top of housework, because let’s be real, lazy people will always find a shortcut.

So, here are some simple little tricks I’ve learnt that make keeping a tidy home that little bit easier;

1. One Touch Rule

This is made up, obviously, but it has made a huge difference in the way of keeping space de-cluttered and it’s super simple (though a bit of a challenge to begin with if you’re lazy like me). Things you’ve used, whether it be an item of clothing or a book, once you’ve finished with it, don’t put it in a space it doesn’t belong, put it straight back in its designated space. Everything you touch you should only have to do so once, for example if you have a coat on, when you get home don’t take it off and put it on the couch, that will mean you have to touch it again to put it away. It’s that bit of extra initial effort, but it’ll mean you don’t spend time later on decluttering that space.

2. Empty the Damn Dishwasher

SIMPLE. The dishwasher is finished? Empty it straight away. It sounds silly, but it is one of the easiest ways to keep on top of your dishes, it avoids dish pile up in your sink, making your kitchen look 100% cleaner without even trying. I usually put my dishwasher on at night just before bed, and in the morning, unpacking it is the first thing I do after getting Violets breakfast sorted. It means I’ve got space from the get go for the dishes we use throughout the day and the sink stays clear of dishes!

3. Hang on Hangers

This is a nifty little trick I learnt from my mother in law (to be). Hang your hangables out to dry on hangers! If you’re anything like me you’re not a huge fan of washing, not really the washing or the hanging part, but the putting away. Hanging things on hangers means you can literally take it off the line and put it straight into your cupboard (following the one touch rule without even trying). Which only leaves underwear and pants to fold, halving the folding and putting away job. I also find things tend to dry a whole lot better on hangers too, win-win!

4. Clean as you Go

If working in hospitality has taught me anything, it’s a whole lot easier to keep a space tidy if you make the effort to clean as you go. Not the easiest rule to follow if you’ve got a toddler racing around and a newborn who needs your attention, BUT if you can manage it, it’ll mean that when the kids do finally have a rest you won’t have to spend that time cleaning up after a mess you’ve made cooking. Again, the one touch rule comes in handy, put things away as you use them. It’s more effort to begin with, but SO much less work in the end.

5. Keep cleaning supplies where they’ll be used

I have a great mind for putting things away, but I’ve found if that space isn’t within an easy reach I rarely bother to use it. So I’ve started keeping cleaning supplies where they’ll be used most. An example, toilet cleaner is on the windowsill above the toilet, it doesn’t look the prettiest so it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it really has impacted the cleanliness of things in my home. Just remember if you have children that “within reach” is within your reach, not your child’s!

6. Good Cleaning Products

Products with multiple uses and that WORK are your friend. It’s all well and good to have an entire cupboard of products, but if you’re anything like me you’ll dread using them because of the sheer amount of them. We have been using a brand called “Koh” for a couple of months now and I’ve been really impressed with it. It has a ton of multi uses and is a lot better for the environment than your usual cleaning products. You can find more info on it Here if you’re interested, I could go on about the reasons I love it but the website speaks for itself. Basically, good products have motivated me to actually use them, and that’s why it’s on this list.

7. Try Timer Cleaning

Being lazy goes hand in hand with being unmotivated. Give yourself a kick in the arse by setting a timer. I’ll often walk into a space and think “I’ll do it soon” and then it never gets cleaned. By setting myself 10 minutes to clean the space, it actually gets done! And better yet, I often feel motivated to keep cleaning other areas afterward. Be sure to actually use a timer, on your phone or something, otherwise it probably won’t work as well.

8. Baskets and Boxes

I don’t know about any other mums, but especially now after Christmas our house is filled with toys, literally from one end to the other. I can honestly say the easiest way to keep sane surrounded by children’s toys is to throw them all into a nice looking basket and chuck it into the corner of the room. Vi is old enough now to help throw them into the basket so we have a general tidy up time before every meal where we spend time together putting all of the toys into the baskets, leaving the spaces generally clutter free (for the most part).

9. Ask the kids for help

Now, obviously I’m not asking the 7 week old to help tidy things, but Violet is a very capable helper. She was able to do so from about 12 months, and she’s always been happy to help so long as I’m helping her too. We make it a bit of a game by singing a song I made up called the tidy up song. Cleaning doesn’t have to seem like a chore, and the more fun you make it for your children the more likely they are to want to help and they should always be helping! It’s called being a part of a household, no one gets out of it, unless they’re too young to do it yet. There’s nothing stopping you from making it a game either, who can pick up the most toys? Who can wipe up the most mess? There’s no limit to the fun you can have really, it’s all about what you make it.

Most importantly, above all of this, remember it’s okay if things don’t always get done. Don’t put pressure on yourself to “keep the house clean”… as soon as I stopped putting that expectation upon myself, I stopped feeling rotten when it didn’t get done, which in turn gave me a better relationship with cleaning. It wasn’t a “job” anymore, rather something I actually wanted to do.

The mess really will always follow you when you have children it’s just the reality of things. Toddlers are messy, newborns preoccupy you… but it’s not impossible, especially when you do little bits here and there to keep things manageable. Hopefully this list inspired you a little, even though your hands are probably already full. I believe in you!

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

Matilda Joan: My Second Natural Childbirth Story

I struggle to find the words to justify just how incredibly lucky I feel to be sitting down to write something so positive in regards to childbirth again. I really truly thought you couldn’t possibly be so lucky twice. Perhaps it’s the stigma around childbirth, and the “scary” that is portrayed as the norm. Or maybe I was just doubly nervous because it was no longer just me and the baby to stress over but also our Violet as well.

But here I am, having made it to the other side of the waiting, sitting in awe of the human body and all of its capabilities. As well as in awe of the tiny little human we’ve created that somehow has filled our hearts with twice the amount of love we thought possible.

The real story of my labours always seem to begin in the lead up. Just like with Violet I spent a large chunk of the weeks prior very uncomfortable; experiencing early labour. Constant tightenings that I was unsure of being Braxton-Hicks Contractions or real ones, for days on end. Nausea hit me like a ton of bricks once or twice as well, which caught me by surprise as it had never happened with Violet. I could just SENSE things were moving along, but the frustration lay within the not knowing. Was I close? Would my waters break first again? If they don’t how will I know I’m in labour?

I had had a couple of really, really tough nights in the week before. Going to bed with pains thinking for certain I would wake up in labour, and then being slightly disappointed when I didn’t. At the time it felt like I was experiencing all of this pain and discomfort for nothing as nothing had progressed.

Despite it all, I really tried to focus on this pregnancy being completely seperate and different to my pregnancy with Violet. Having already been through it once does give you a certain feeling of expectation, one I very much tried to avoid. Because Violet had made her entrance by 37 and a half weeks, a small part of me expected this pregnancy to be the same, and a large part of me was tired and over it by the time 37 and a half weeks came and went. We knew she would come when she was ready though, so I spent a lot of my time distracting myself and trying to be at peace with the fact that I couldn’t control when she would be born. And pretty much as soon as I relaxed and accepted this I felt much better, at least mentally.

It wasn’t long after the acceptance (sounds dramatic right?) when things really started to heat up. It was like my body had finally had a chance to relax and so she knew it was time.

Pains through the night was nothing unusual for me at this point, but on Tuesday night (13/11/18) I found myself up at a really odd hour on the toilet. Toilet trips of course were also nothing new, but things felt different. And about 30 minutes later I lost my mucus plug. I didn’t think too much of it, as I’d already lost pieces of it the week prior, so I chucked a liner on and went back to bed. Funnily enough, Vi had also woken (which is unusual for her) so she was lying in bed with Dan, as I hopped back into bed with them I’d told him I lost my plug.

When we woke up on Wednesday morning Dan mentioned how he’d had a weird dream that I’d said I’d lost my plug, and we had a laugh over the fact that it wasn’t a dream. That’s when I noticed more pressure down below than I’d noticed before.

I tried to go about the day as normally as possible, I didn’t want to get my hopes up as I’d done the week prior, so we went into town to take Vi to the Drs and then went for a browse around the shops. While we were there I noticed the pressure worsening, and whilst Dan was in a store I took Vi to the parents room so I could change her and go to the toilet myself. (This might be tmi so skip over if you don’t like talk of bodily fluids) I realised that I had been having slightly brown discharge throughout the day, but noticed it more so this time as there was more and more of it.

At this point, it was the first time I’d thought to ring the maternity unit. My waters broke before anything had begun with Violet, so I really didn’t know what to expect of labour beginning any other way. They’d said it was normal, especially if I’d lost my plug and that things may progress but there was no reason to come to the ward.

Again, trying to continue the day as normal we headed to squash for the evening. I noticed how uncomfortable I was beginning to feel, not with tightenings or anything, but just feeling “off”. Mum and dad had offered to take Violet to their place in case things progressed during the night but I didn’t want to jinx it, so we brought her home with us.

I’d had regular pains start pretty much as soon as we’d eaten dinner. But they weren’t strong enough to feel confident that it was actual labour beginning. So we did the bedtime routine with Violet, and we watched some of “that 70s show” just in case things heated up, but they didn’t, so we took ourselves off to bed at about 9:30.

I woke up at midnight to slightly heavier contractions, to the point where I couldn’t sleep through them. So I got up and timed them for an hour or so to see if it was worth ringing the ward again, I cleaned the kitchen at the same time for something to do, mainly because I didn’t want to come back from having a baby to a messy house hahaha.

(About 1am on the 15th- in labour)

My contractions with Violet never really regulated properly, and they didn’t this time around either. But they did get more intense, so I phoned in to let them know things were progressing. And of course right after I did, they tapered off. As frustrating as it was, I was a little relieved. I was able to take some Panadol to take the edge off and sleep for another 4 hours until 5am.

This time when I woke up I knew things were moving, I had to stop to breathe through each contraction. I gave myself two hours, two hours of comfort at home. I went outside to breathe in the morning air, and then came back inside to make myself some breakfast: scrambled eggs. Half way through, Vi woke up. And I was kind of glad she did. We got a full 40 minutes together, eating eggs and talking about her little sister who was coming to see us soon. Each time a contraction would start I’d hug Vi and tell her how much I loved her, and continue to hold her until it was over. It sounds sappy and cliche but it really truly helped.

(5:45am, labouring with my little love)

After a short while I went to wake Dan up and let him know it was almost time. I rang mum and asked her to come around to watch Vi, and by 7:15 I was ready to make the 20 minute car trip to the hospital. I lapped the house 3 times, procrastinating getting in and making the drive. Mainly because I knew it would be the last time just us three would be in the house. As we drove away, Vi stood in the driveway with nanny waving us off. I was teary, teary because it was my last moments with Vi as an only child, teary because we were about to meet our second beautiful little girl, and teary because well… hormones.

The drive was surprisingly okay. I hated sitting through contractions with Vi, this time it was uncomfortable but not unbearable. Mainly because we didn’t labour at home as long as I did with Violet, just because we didn’t want to risk me giving birth on the side of the road.

We got to the hospital at about 7:45. The bigger rooms were taken and unfortunately the birth pool was too. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I was also just so excited to meet our little girl that it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

So, in our little room with the diffuser running and some calming music on an occasionally skippy CD player, Dan and I sat, paced, bounced and mostly, just chatted our way to meeting our daughter. I think that was my favourite part. It was just Dan and I and an empty room, something that we haven’t had really at all since Violet was born. It was almost like we were giddy teenagers again, he always takes every chance he can to make me laugh, and it was honestly exactly what I needed through those few hours. The contractions were strong and intense, but the pain was almost halved by the fact that I could just stand there in his arms and breathe through the process my body was going through. And even laugh at some points during contractions, which admittedly hurt more, but filled my heart to the brim.

We had an amazing midwife as well who was happy to let us do our own thing, but still checked in enough for us to feel comfortable about my care. At about 11am she came in to do some obs and monitor for a little, just as she finished and as I moved to hop off the bed my waters broke. From here the contractions intensified again. I opted to say put on the exercise ball for a few more contractions before moving to my safe space again- the shower!

She set up some oils and Dan turned on some calming music on his phone, we turned all the lights off and moved the exercise ball in. This was my zone, my place. The space I knew I’d welcome my daughter into the world.

It’s funny, because although this was the exact same position I brought Violet into the world in, it was so different. Instead of feeling out of body, I felt entirely present. Breathing through each contraction and coming up for air each time- with Violet I felt like I was sucked into one long wave of pain with no time to breathe, this was totally different.

I buzzed the midwife in when I felt the incredible pressure I remember feeling before Vi was born, and with 3 contractions and 3 pushes at 12:16pm on Wednesday the 15th of November, our little Matilda Joan was born swiftly into our arms. Into a room so full of love it was almost bursting at the seams.

Mum and dad brought Violet in as soon as Dan let them know Matilda was here. I was euphoric, I didn’t feel exhausted at all. And when Vi came into the room it was like everything I’d ever wished for was right in front of me.

(Completely in love)

I can’t thank Daniel enough for everything he has done and continues to do for us. His love and strength has always been my guiding light and this was even more evident during my labour with Matilda. My world is everything it is because of him. Our girls are the best thing that has ever happened to us, and I am so incredibly grateful to have him by my side through these momentous times, even if he does make me laugh in the middle of a contraction at 9cms dilated.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

Newborn Madness: 10 things I wish someone had told me about parenthood

If you’re a parent, by the time your baby turned ten weeks old you most likely, at some point, sat and thought to yourself “well why the heck didn’t anyone say anything about this BEFORE the baby got here?!” at least once, right? And you come to realise at some point, that no matter how prepared you thought you were, no matter how many books you read, how many classes you attended, nothing really prepared you for the mammoth task that was and is parenthood.

 

So, for all you newbies out there; here’s my top 10 things I didn’t know before I became a mum, that in a few months time you’ll be thankful you now know . And for everyone else, here’s a bit of a giggle, because honestly, I really should have guessed.

 

  1. It’s okay to get poop on things

No matter how great you think you’ll be, there will be at least one sh*tty nappy change (pun intended). Whether it’s that first tarry black post apocalyptic looking poop, or the runny after-immunisations sludgy yellow slop. It’ll happen. It’ll get on your carpet, it’ll get in your hair, it’ll get on bubs face too! And it’s TOTALLY OKAY. Because unlike those embarrassing posts you made on facebook when you were 13 that are now stuck on the internet forever to haunt your present self, it’ll come off with the quick swipe of a nappy wipe.

 

2. Getting poop on yourself without realising until you’re in public is also okay

It’s honestly inevitable. If the poop can get on the carpet and the walls then yep, it’ll get on you too. And at least once you won’t see it until it’s too late, and everyone in k-mart will know you spend your hours wiping someone else’s bum. And it’s fine because you don’t know those people and they don’t know you. And if you do know them then just pretend its mustard, trust me, same colour, they won’t even know. And if they do know they won’t say anything because they feel sorry for you, you’re a sleep deprived mess.

 

3. You will forget your new child’s name

Let’s be real, unless you’ve been set on one name your entire pregnancy, you probably spent many hours deciding which name would be best for your unborn little cutie. You’ll see and contemplate a LOT of names. And in the midst of being sleep deprived and a little all over the place you may have to think once or twice in those early hours of the morning if Violet really was the name you picked or if you dreamed it up and literally have forgotten their real name entirely. Trust me, it’ll only be momentary but it’ll happen. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just don’t do it when you’re registering them for their birth certificate yeah?

 

4. Keeping track of nighttime feeds is never a good idea

Remember the days when child-less you would wake up before your alarm, look at the clock at 2am and smile because you still had another 4-5 hours left to stay in your pillow kingdom of warmth. Well looking at the clock at 2am when you’re feeding, changing nappies and sometimes also sheets (because accidents happen) will not make you relieved nor anywhere near somewhat happy. You’ll be sad. Tired and sad because god only knows when this child will let you rest again, and for how long. Don’t look at the clock, stay blissfully unaware. In fact, pretend it’s 5pm, put a movie on, have a cup of tea. Time is utterly irrelevant. Trust me, you’ll be happier for it.

 

5. Babies smell fear

You finally put bub down for a sleep after a few solid minutes (maybe even hours) of screaming. You’re relieved, but also scared they’ll wake up again as soon as you walk away. THEY WILL. THEY KNOW. THE MINUTE YOU THINK IT THEY WILL WAKE UP. confidence is seriously everything. Believe in your bub, she’ll stay asleep, she’s awesome at this, just look at her. Same goes for non parents who are scared to hold baby because he’ll cry. He knows, even you just thinking it gives him the advantage. fake it till you make it I say, even false confidence is better than none at all.

 

6. Breastfeeding is just as full time as pregnancy when it comes to what you can eat

Oblivious little me “I can’t wait to have this baby so I can have a glass of wine/soft cheese/salami”. REMEMBER, if bub will be affected by it, and they’re drinking the milk that you make. You can’t have it. It’s obvious, but I really wish someone had reminded me of this before I got all excited about the fact that the end of pregnancy was near and that my freedom of eating and drinking whatever I wanted was near. It wasn’t and still isn’t. I’m not complaining, breastfeeding is incredible. Wine though…

 

7. People aren’t joking about parenthood being isolating

Seriously. You’ll think we’re over exaggerating about the isolation of parenthood, but it’s real. And it’s there. And it’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors to the baby blues other than the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sudden and new duty of caring for a tiny human being. But it’s totally normal to feel that way, for younger parents and older ones. You’re transitioning into a new lifestyle, especially with your first child. Your friends want to give you space to settle, you may not know many other people with babies, or you may know hundreds. But those first few weeks can feel lonely and asking for help, or even just some company is 100% okay, and in no way a sign of weakness.

 

8. Realising that no parent is an expert, and every baby is different is a must

This includes realising that not all advice is good advice, and not all good advice is advice you have to take. Every baby adjusts to the world differently, reaches milestones at different times, and reacts to different parenting methods totally differently. If Belinda Opinionista from down the road says you have to rock your baby to sleep every sleep time until 4 months because she did and now her kids sleep perfectly, but that doesn’t suit you or your baby, don’t do it. Just because it worked for someone else, or studies say it should work doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. And you should NEVER feel guilty for not doing something if it doesn’t work for you and your baby.

 

9. It’s okay to walk away for 5 minutes

When the screaming has been non stop and you can’t seem to solve or soothe them it is 100% okay to put baby in a safe place, like their cot, close the door and walk somewhere where you can’t hear them for five minutes. In fact, I honestly think you’ll go mad if you don’t. I thought you couldn’t, I would rock her and bounce her and hold her while my ears would ring from the endless screaming until I felt like I could break down crying because I didn’t know what I could do to help her. I eventually worked out that walking away, just for those five minutes and recollecting myself was the very best thing I could do for her. You come back with a fresh head and a calm demeanour that your baby will be able to pick up on and in turn will help calm them down.

10. Getting to know your baby takes time

The biggest thing of all. You’re new to being a parent. Your baby is new to being a baby. Everything is a little all over the place for the first few weeks. In the beginning it’s all extremely instinctive, feed, sleep, feed, sleep. You might feel a little overwhelmed, maybe even a little used considering you pour all your hours into feeding and tending to this little humans every need to get nothing much back for a while. But when those smiles start coming, and the personality starts to show that’s when it will all feel worth it. as time goes on you never think you can love your baby more than you do right at that very moment. But every single day that child will prove you wrong by filling your heart with even more love than you ever thought possible.

 

Violet 4 WM

 

Above all else, take a deep breath and remember that this gorgeous little human is entirely your own, and you get to love them for the rest of your life and beyond.