Not Your Average Mom

Keeping Your Budget As Your Family Grows

artwork pregnant woman made of flowers


Written by: Ruthie Cody

Artwork by: Laura Villareal


I know, another blog post on how to save money with a growing family. They seem to be everywhere! If you do a quick online search for money saving tips with kids, you will get all sorts of advice and opinions. One thing that always amazes me is how much stuff we think that babies need. We knew before having children that we didn’t have space for a lot of stuff, in our small or apartment nor in our budget. Since having our first and expecting our second, our budget has stayed almost exactly the same in terms of how much we save each month. I know once my boys are older they will have bigger appetites, so grocery bills might have to be adjusted, but I am still pretty proud of fitting diapers and other baby supplies into the budget without sacrificing our savings. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Pick your number. Know how much you want to save every month and work your budget around that end goal. Don’t ever think that you can spend all the money you make every month. That’s bad. Always have some savings for emergencies and peace of mind.
  2. Meal plan and make a grocery list. Making a meal plan will automatically fuel the items for your grocery list. Once you have your list, stick with it. Don’t go for impulse buys.
  3. Cook at home. My husband and I both work full-time, but cooking at home has always been a priority. There have been so many times when I have wanted to order food from a restaurant instead of cooking (SO many times), but my future-self always thanks my present-self when I decide to suck it up and cook, even when I am exhausted.
  4. Find cheap or free entertainment. We don’t have a cable bill, we don’t have expensive date nights, and we don’t get random cups of coffee or tea at Starbucks. We do have wifi and Netflix, which gives us some movie dates after the baby is in bed, but if our budget ever got tight we would probably cut out Netflix, too. For our son, we take him to the park, or the free play gym at the local shopping mall, or even some free museums. Little kids love climbing, running, and playing, all of which can be done for zero dollars.
  5. Use your local library. I mean you are technically paying for it anyway. If you use it even a handful of times, you have probably gotten more value out of it than you paid in with taxes. I have found that reading books with or in front of your child is one of the best ways to spend time together. If you are reading your own books, it sets a good example for good habits in the future too. Libraries also host events for kids, which makes it like free entertainment too!
  6. Shop used. We have been fortunate to have been gifted many baby clothes, but when my son does need something new, I always look to the thrift store first. Baby clothes, especially ones for special occasions, are never worn more than a few times and can look new at thrift stores. I have gotten some really beautiful clothes for my son, some with tags still on, for a fraction of the original price. The same goes for adult clothes! Always check the thrift store first, you never know what you will find.

Babies on a Plane

baby sitting on two hands

By: Mommy Blogger Ruthie Cody

 Another lesser-known horror-comedy-drama with a similar title to a famous movie. Babies on a Plane, unlike Snakes on a Plane, has far fewer bad words because as a responsible parent, you have to keep things G-rated for your kid - even if what goes through your head might sound a lot more like Samuel L. Jackson.

I have flown with my one-year old son and husband five times. In fact, and as I write this, we are packing for another flight this weekend. I’ve been fortunate to always have my husband with me when we fly, so I can’t take all the credit for how smoothly it has gone for us most of the time. My son has also always been a good eater, so nursing him or preoccupying him with snacks has worked well too.

A few tips for flying based on your proximity to the plane:

Booking your ticket

  • When booking your ticket, if you can help it, plan the flight time around when your baby might be napping, sleeping, or some other activity that calms them (for us, it’s meal time!)
  • After you book your flight, call the airline and have them walk you through the process of adding Infant in Arms to your boarding pass. We learned the hard way that some planes only have the extra oxygen mask on the right side of the plane, and our seats were on the left. They had to go through a long process to switch our seats and add Infant in Arms to the boarding pass. We almost missed our flight!

Arriving at the airport and getting through security

  • Get there early. If you have a baby who you will be holding the entire flight, chances are you will need to get the phrase “Infant in Arms” added to your boarding pass, and you might have to wait in line at the airline counters to do that. Another benefit of being early is not needing to rush with bags + baby + passports + stroller/car seat/etc. And risk the chance of dropping something along the way.
  • Avoid wearing belts and heavy jewelry, or shoes that are hard to take on and off. Security can be a pain when you have to take your shoes, scarf, jewelry, and belt off. Try doing it while holding a squirming toddler. Yeah, not happening. I don’t advocate people dressing in pajamas when they fly, but try to find a presentable travel outfit that is also easy to get through security with.

Waiting to board

  • Exercise your baby! If you get to the airport early enough, you should have a good chunk of time to let your child run around, especially if they are already walking. The best babies on planes are the ones who sleep through the whole ride, so the more tired you can get them before, the better. My son’s favorite thing to do is to run up to strangers who are waiting for the flight, stare at them, and run away. It’s kind of weird, but most people are good-natured about it, and it will help them on the flight because my kid will probably be worn out.
  • Gate-check things you won’t need on the flight. Every airline we have flown is always happy to gate-check items for us because it frees up cabin space. It also is less for you to fumble with when you are getting in your seat. Every airline we have flown has also allowed us to check strollers and car seats free of charge.

Boarding

  • Usually, people with small children have priority boarding. Take advantage of this.
  • If you are boarding early, get to know the flight attendant and let them take your kid for a walk if they are so inclined. On our most recent flight, we told our flight attendant that she was more than welcome to take our son and walk him around at anytime. She was so kind and even picked him up once when he was getting restless in our seats. He loved being able to go up and down the aisle and see the other passengers.

Take-off

  • Nurse your nursing baby, or give a bottle/snacks to an older baby. This will avoid any discomfort they might feel with the change in altitude as the plane ascends.
  • If your child is a little older, let them look out the window so they can see what is happening, our son loved that (warning: this could backfire if it scares them)

Mid-flight and landing

  • Use any routines or cues that might initiate sleeping. For our son, it’s reading books.
  • If sleeping is not an option, then break out the good snacks. They will associate flying with yummy things and maybe be on better behavior for it!
  • When the seatbelt sign is off, let them stand in the aisle for a few minutes at a time (until someone needs to pass them) to let them stretch their legs and get a different view.

De-boarding

  • Unless you have a connecting flight or are in a hurry, wait to let everyone else off the plane first. Watching people get their bags and walk by is entertainment for kids. It also lets you gather your things without feeling rushed by the people around you, and if you de-board early, you will need to wait around for the gate-checked items anyway

Always remember, flights don’t last forever, so even if it gets bad, it’s temporary! It might even make for a funny story in the future. Happy flying!

Challenges of being a new mom: Information overload

Sad mom with a baby in front of a computer

When I became pregnant with my first son in November 2013, I was ecstatic. My husband and I were so excited to have children and grow our little family. I immediately signed up for different websites that would update me each week of the pregnancy. I read lots of little blog posts and snippets of information to prepare for this change in my life and my husband’s life. Who doesn’t love knowing which piece of produce their baby is like this week? After only a few weeks of this though, I pretty much gave up reading all the articles and advice pieces for pregnant women and new mothers.

In this age of information where everything is available at our fingertips, it’s hard to sort out which information is the good information. I was reading a lot of things that seemed silly, or even wrong. Right away, I was seeing how sometimes too much information can be overwhelming and stressful. A simple search for why your newborn is running a temperature can turn up all sorts of results that can panic even the calmest person. So many of the things I read left me wondering how the human race survived up to this point if every symptom could spell doom, but at the same time that left me comforted because we have survived! All my ancestors before me figured it out without the internet, so I could probably manage.

I am lucky to have something that my internet-less ancestors had too, a tribe of sorts. I have a close family who is always there to help (and offer tried and true advice), great friends who are experiencing or have experienced the same things, and a supportive spouse who loves me through it all! My “tribe” helps tremendously, but even for those women who don’t have the same support that I might, what do we have that can help us with the information overload? Since I clearly don’t like too much information to overwhelm you, I only have two things to share:

First, try to understand what your gut feeling is telling you. We are biologically programmed to want to keep our babies alive and well and loved. New moms with their crazy hormones and under-eye bags are more powerful than they might think. For example, when we first brought our son home from the hospital, we were surprised at all the strange noises he made in his sleep. Is he still breathing, is he choking, does he need a new diaper since his last change 5 minutes ago? It didn’t take long to understand what those little noises meant. I could even know, by the sound of the cry, why my baby was crying (99% chance it’s a wanting-to-nurse-cry).

Second, and finally, when in doubt, call your pediatrician. You trust your pediatrician (if you don’t, get a new one!), that’s probably one of the reasons you picked them! Any lengthy internet search you do that turns up inconclusive will inevitably lead to you calling your pediatrician. Sometimes you just need to cut out the middleman and call the person you trust (who conveniently has a medical degree and specialized knowledge).

So mamas, trust yourself, rest if you can, and enjoy knowing you are enough for your baby.

--Ruthie---

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