Life changes when you become a parent, and you never know by how much until you actually get there. Its different for everyone, and I have since found that for us, routines have become a huge part of our life. These can be both a good thing and a bad thing, although on the whole they’re mostly good. Being able to anticipate, and plan and prepare things helps us to bring up our daughter the best we can. With our routines in place, more often than not we will just plod on through our daily life, getting on with things as we always do, but occasionally things may happen that make you stop for a moment and begin to think, and you may start to think about life, about how it has changed recently, about where its come from and where its going. This has happened to me recently, and I think it all started with a recent succesion of 40th birthdays of my friends that I have been celebrating in the last few months. Some people don’t get especially excited by birthdays once they’re over the age of 21, some people don’t get excited at all, although there are some people who treat each one like a six year old on christmas day! Some people, on the other hand, get very sensitive about their age, and I’d like to think I’ve never really been one of those people. I didn’t do a great deal for my 21st, a small garden party with a bbq and a few family and friends, and then my 30th pretty much passed without any great deal of ceremony, in fact for that paricular birthday my ex at the time didn’t even get me a present, and in fact I think I was supposed to be grateful that I even got a card! I wasn’t especially concerned with the thought of turning 30, I had no problem saying goodbye to my 20s, in fact I almost felt a bit grown up at this point, like people should actually start taking me seriously because I was a bona fide adult once I became 30, right?! Soon into my 30s and I thankfully became single again and left the crazy ex behind, and although I’d spent a lot of time in relationships in my 20s the thought of being single didn’t bother me at all, it was quite refreshing, but eventually with each passing birthday, I started to become vaguely aware of the problem of being unmarried and without children as I sailed further away from 30 and more in the direction of 40. Not exactly a huge concern at the 30 end of the scale, but with each year that went by, I started to think about it now and again. As luck would have it, it wasn’t long before I met Clare, my soul mate, the girl I just knew was right for me, we got married a couple of years later and eventually along came our beautiful daughter Olivia. In our new house, with our new family, life was suddenly wonderful, I had everything, I finally felt settled and happy, and I still am, although in recent months, I have suddenly started becoming aware that 40 is not far away and fast approaching. Next year sees me counting down the last few days of my 30s, and it kinda got me thinking about life and stuff. I have spoke to several of my friends who have recently turned 40, and on the whole they generally don’t seem too concerned about it, although for some strange reason I am, just a little bit, and that thought is starting to niggle at me now and again. I couldn’t even tell you why, but I know I am starting to contemplate what I’ve done with all that time, almost like maybe I should have achieved so much more in life, or something? Maybe I just haven’t been looking the bigger picture, maybe I have to finally accept that I am a different person now and that the 18 year old in me that still wants to party and drink all night until the sun comes up has finally gone. I have realised that life has reached a corner, not an end, it isn’t suddenly all over at 40 at all, in fact quite the opposite, life is quite literally just beginning, its just a very different kind of life… its a whole new chapter, and its life as a parent! My compass has been suddenly reset and my direction has shifted. I’m entering a new phase, and its going to take a bit of getting used to, but you’d have thought that all the grey hairs that have been making an appearance in the last few years would have prepared me better for that!
Still, I have to put it all this behind me and remember that age really is just a number, and 40 means nothing at all, tomorrow is another day, and this little lady is making every minute of every day all worthwhile! We seem to have done a good job bringing her up so far (I think… is it too early to tell?), and I think the only real thing bothering me is the fact that I wanted to have two children and to have had them before I turned 40.. which now isn’t very far away at all, and as we’re still trying to do the maths to work out how we can afford nursery fees for two, it looks like No.2 may not be making an appearance any time soon! My Job, as much as I love it, and as much as it provides me with good working hours and great holidays, doesn’t exactly pay a fortune, so the financial side of having a second child becomes a bit of a concern, and not something we can just overlook! Still, I am sure we’ll work something out. We managed to do okay the first time around.
I have actually been reading a number of blogs recently on parenting, and how others have coped and how different people deal with the various scenarios that present themselves when you have a mini human running aroung the house. What really occurred to me was how both myself and Clare have coped with everything so far, both preparing for parenthood and since Olivia’s arrival. We have both been very calm, rational, logical, and sensible, and mist of all we’ve talked and agreed on everything. When we found out that we were expecting, I guess like most people, we had that moment of “Arrgghh! What next? What do we do now?”, and I think the temptation is to prepare, and prepare like there is going to be some kind of war where shops will no longer exist. Buy everything, buy the best, and buy lots of it!! Its no wonder that some people can see having a baby as such an expensive time. For us this really wasn’t the case. Like the wedding, we tried to plan it out and prepare in advance, having a look at what we wanted versus what we actually needed. A quick walk around Babies R Us soon showed us that we could easily go crazy and max out a credit card if we actually wanted to get a bit reckless and decide to “throw caution tomthe wind because our baby is worth it”… but logic reminded us that we weren’t brought up with such luxuries as children, and our little girl was rather unlikely to thank us, pat us on the back or high five us for
spending wasting so much money on “things” when all people were actually concerned about was how cute she looked!
We looked at bedroom furniture sets and found that, if momey was no object, we could easily spend upwards of £600 or more on a cot/cupboard/drawers combo, some of them were not far off £1000, and yes they were very nice bedroom sets, but we didn’t have that kind of money. On top of which, the wardrobes we toddler size… and last thing I heard, they don’t stay toddler size forever, so if we got a toddler size wardrobe, at some point it would need replacing! Instead we opted for a standard adult wardrobe from Argos for £200, a cotbed to last her until she is 5 years old, and a set of drawers also from Argos for £45. Total spent about £360, which is a far cry from the bedroom sets in Babies R Us, and on top of which the extra large wardrobe meant we also had the bonus of extra space for some of our clothes too!! We debated buying a brand new buggy, and did have some that we being offered to us from friends, and this is the one area we did splash out a little where we could have actually saved, but we took a walk around the new Kiddicare store in Merry Hill and found a bargain, neutral colours with a mickey mouse logo (as we still didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl), it was a complete travel kit turning from a pram, into a car seat, and then to a buggy as she got older. It was all we were going to need from birth up until she no longer needed to be pushed about. With £100 off in a sale, we took it there and then! There were some prams and buggies that only had the one function, not three like ours, and were going from anything around £600 up to £1000 or more, and we got ours for the budget price of £300! We didn’t bother wasting money on clothes or nappies, as so many were given to us, in fact for the first six months of her life we didnt have to buy her any clothes wnd the only clothing I’d bought her myself was the coat that she came out of hospital in when she was newborn! When we did finally start buying nappies we looked at the popular and most obvious choice of Pampers, but then caught onto the fact that many people had found the award winning Aldi nappies, which we’d heard so many good things about, for around a third of the price of Pampers. We tried them, they worked, we saved a small fortune, and Olivia is still wearing them now, 17 months on!
Its fair to say, that while Clare was on maternity leave, this new little person in our lives wasn’t actually costing us a great deal after all, pretty much just over £600 was all we had to lay out, and half of that was optional. We even borrowed the moses basket that she slept in rather than buy a new one, and little by little added to the bits she needed as she grew. We didn’t do it all on the cheap, but we had pretty much got everything we needed for the price that some people would have paid for just a buggy alone. Even though we could have no doubt done it cheaper, it didn’t feel like we’d thrown money away just to look good or impress people. If we didn’t have the income we did, I know we could have borrowed so much more from our friends, as so many of them kindly offered to lend or give us things.
Its fair to say that baby number two, whenever he or she should make an appearance will not cause us any concern, especially if there is one of us off work to look after them! We will have to cross that bridge at some point, but I guess I’d better sign up for some medical tests or something in the mean time and start saving!