Being a mom is hard. You go from this complete freedom going where you want and doing what you want to taking care of little booger dripping, milk spitting humans. You protect them. You teach them. You feed them. You nurture them. You snuggle them. You want the best for them. You want to be there, yet want them to learn independence. My intention isn’t to raise good kids, but to raise great humans and adults.
Like most moms, with my first, I had no idea what I was signing up for, I only knew that I was born to be a mom. I’ve known that much forever. But I’ll never forget my own mom saying that you just don’t know love until you hold your child for the first time. And she was right. Only I had no idea that they would be so consuming, that I would slowly let myself go without really noticing.
If you’ve been around my site or social media pages at all, you know I talk a lot about how money envelopes are the secret to staying on budget. But if you’re new here, you might want to read this first.
I have two littles, currently almost 6 months and just turned 2 last week. Here’s what I’ve learned about budgeting, being a mom and self care.
BUDGETING FAMILY FINANCES
We prepare for the obvious things with children. We buy a crib, carseat, clothes, diapers, bouncers….oh the baby things they will sell! Diaper warmers, poop buckets, nose suckers (the Nose Frieda is seriously the best and most disgusting thing I ever bought). You ask any mom what the best and most essential thing for a newborn is, they’ll all give you a different answer. When I was about 7 months pregnant with my first, I sat down with my sister and some friends and they each gave me their favorite tips and things that they loved and hated. It was fun to see how they differed on so many things, and what they agreed with, I put on my list. Every baby is different, every mom is different, but in short, they need about 15 basic things and the rest is all fluff.
It’s easy to plan ahead for the financial things we know about. I can help a new mom budget for a baby’s first year in a single breath. It’s fairly easy to say what’s a need vs. a want. Babies don’t cost that much up front, or at least they don’t need to. Second hand items are great ways to save a few dollars and other than the initial costs, the first year for an average baby is pretty simple. Diapers, wipes, ointments on occasion and formula if that’s your choice (which can get expensive). It’s the fluff that will get you. The million toys that they won’t play with. The teethers they can’t hold themselves. The gadgets and gizmos that Parent Magazine will tell you are necessary. Give a kid a box and a mirror and they’ll be entertained for hours.
MOMMING IS HARD
What no one can prepare you for is how you’ll react to that tiny human. Not even you because you might handle different babies in different ways, emotionally speaking. No one can tell you how they’ll sleep, and in turn how you will. How painful and difficult breastfeeding might be or if you even will be able to. No one can tell you how your hormones will react postpartum, and trust me, my husband will happily chime in that this might be the worst part. But it’s not exactly fun on this side either mister.
Of course, there’s a million things no one can prepare you for that are amazing. Your baby’s unique smell. Their first smile. Their infectious giggle and laugh. Their uncanny ability to spit up more than they took in (ok, not amazing, but pretty impressive). Their first words, steps, jumps, kisses, hugs. Being a mom is super awesome on all levels, but I will still say that it’s the most difficult job I’ve had in my life. I can flip on a dime who I think is easier at any moment. Big brother is quite self functioning which helps a great deal….however he can melt down at any moment making it worse. Little sister can stay put in one place when I set her down, but she’s oh so heavy to carry in a carrier where as brother can walk. Easy - she only eats one thing right now. Hard - it’s super time consuming in my world. Easy-he eats anything. Hard - we deal with food intolerances and there’s the fact he’s a toddler. What he likes today he won’t tomorrow. There’s so many pros and cons of each stage, it’s important to just take it all in and enjoy each piece of it as it comes.
What no one really prepares you for is how it’s so easy to get lost and consumed in their lives and to just become mommy. What happened to Kristen? Pre-kids, I used to love to run and lift and it was part of my daily routine. I used to get regular haircuts, do my own color as necessary, put on occasional makeup, wear something without spit up on it, run to Target if I needed something…you get it…normal life stuff. Then kids happen and it’s all so much harder to even get out of the house with two shoes on and they expect you to be on time for things. Some of what used to be easy/normal/self-care things, just fall to the wayside. Oh, I’ll do it next week you say. Do you need a haircut? How do you do that between work, picking up kids up at daycare, cooking, cleaning, playing and feeding them? Or even if you stay at home, how are you supposed to take a ticking time bomb to a salon? Those appointments inevitably get pushed back. Makeup? What’s that? It’s now become socially acceptable to look like I auditioned for The Night of the Living Dead.
Well, what I learned with #2 very quickly that I NEVER did with #1, is that my self-care envelope is the most important envelope in my purse now. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health. It was something about having a summer baby I think that helped it all click for me.
First, let me take a moment to admit with my son, I pretty much never got out of my maternity clothes. I very clearly remember running into a friend at the grocery store about 4-5 months after he was born. She was with her daughter who was about 2 at the time and she just looked amazing. She looked rested and put together and just beautiful. I told her so and then quickly scampered to my car as I could feel my tears about to flow. I’m not a jealous person, but I was very envious that day.
So, it was about 4 weeks postpartum with my daughter that I started taking her to the trail and walking almost daily. I looked forward to this so much, just getting out and getting a little exercise but I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. I still felt like a pile of garbage to put it nicely when I got dressed for the day, so I rarely did.
My husband convinced me to take some money from our savings account and go shopping. (Best husband award goes to mine!) He insisted that I get some clothes that fit and go for a haircut. I think this was just to shut me up, but it worked. You know what happened when I bought just 2 outfits that I felt amazing in and got my hair done? I started wanting to get up, shower and even put a brush of makeup on for the day. I started walking with more purpose. I started to approach my business differently. I started to have more fun with my kids! Really! I was just overall happier, I felt good and I had reset my mental and emotional state.
Now I regularly include self-care items in our budget. I have my own envelope and I make sure that I do something for myself weekly to reset. It’s not always about money either. Do you enjoy reading? Of course it depends on the age of your kids, but you can have reading time. Maybe you agree to read them 2 books but then everyone reads for themselves for 10-20 minutes. Do you enjoy working out? I know how hard it is to find time, especially if you have a baby who wants to be held all the time, but I urge you to try to find 10-30 minutes. Take them for walks with you or walk on your lunch break. Ask a neighbor or friend for help to watch the kids for a short time or make it a family event. My son loves to lift his baby weights with me and jump like a lunatic for 5 minutes. Then he goes and plays with the few toys we keep special in our workout area. He doesn’t see them often, so he plays with them better. My daughter will just sit in her bouncer and laugh at me the whole time. Another option is to join a gym or YMCA where child care is available if your budget allows. Other self-care ideas that cost nothing are doing random acts of kindness, getting more sleep (take that nap when the baby naps!), take a bubble bath, buy a face mask and do a home spa or just ask for help. Moms, trust me…I don’t use this word lightly, but you deserve it. I don’t believe anyone just deserves anything. You work for things. You earn them. And you have earned the right to take care of you mama.
I highly encourage my clients to add self-care to their budgets. Even the tightest of budgets we talk about ways to do things for them that will help keep them motivated and going. Some clients who are going hard for months on end paying off debt I’ll have take a small break and budget in their hair, a massage or their nails…whatever’s going to be their “thing” that makes them feel best about themselves. It’s different for all of us.
We need to stop playing the martyrs as moms and take care of ourselves first. By taking care of yourself first, you’re going to be able to take care of those you love most even better. The old saying goes, “Fill your cup first. You can not pour from an empty cup”.
What’s your favorite thing to do to for self care?