Families come in all shape and sizes, and in the postmodern age, the diversity of families is celebrated. Some people yearn to start a family from a very early age and want to go down the traditional route of courtship, marriage and then kids. Others find family life thrust upon them via happy accidents. And other people choose to forego the patter of tiny feet altogether. Every life choice is valid and should be respected.
One thing that can be agreed upon is the fact that children cost money. A lot of money. From the moment you welcome that tiny human being into your life, your motivation for existing will irrevocably change. Your little darling will be the centre of your world and will take up most of your waking moments, your thoughts, your dreams, and your cash. However, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Whereas you once spent your hard earned wages on trips to the cinema, gadgets, and annual luxury trips abroad, you are now wondering how your money could possibly disappear so quickly on nappies, muslin, bottles, and baby-gros. Family life can be the life goal of many, but how much does it really cost?
Your Little One
For most people, starting a family is simple. We all know the biology of the process, and nine months later, you end up with a delightful little human being that you can shower with love, and nurture into a larger human being. However, for some people, life isn’t that simple. The realisation that getting pregnant isn’t as easy as you were led to believe can be devastating. Whereas you thought having kids was a given, it can be heartbreaking to counter the possibility that you may never be a mother.
While conceiving naturally may be impossible, there are other routes worthy of exploration, but these are infinitely more expensive. If you choose to explore the route of IVF, you may find that this process takes it out of you financially and emotionally. However, with many different packages now available, you could save cash by opting for a cycle of mild stimulation IVF. For some women, this is not an option, and they need more artificial and medical intervention to make their dreams of motherhood become a reality. Medical advancements have meant that more women than ever who experience infertility are having the opportunity to fulfil their wants and needs for a family even though the cost might be eye watering.
If IVF is not a route you wish to explore, adoption can be another option in the quest for motherhood. The expense through this process isn’t so much monetary, rather it can cost you a great deal emotionally. Adoption procedures can be stringent, demanding and stressful. Home visits need to take place, officials will look into every aspect of your life including your past, and they will need to conduct interviews with your family and friends, as well as obtain references with regards to your suitability as a parent. While your nearest and dearest may be having children on a whim, it can seem hugely unfair to have to go through such an arduous process in your quest to shower a child with love.
When you welcome your baby into your home for the first time, you will be in awe of this tiny human. You will end up whiling away your hours checking his or her breathing, feeding, expressing milk, rocking your little cherub to sleep and finding soothers to help your little one when he or she is feeling restless. The cost of having a child doesn’t really enter your headspace. However, after a couple of months, the scale of your new financial commitment soon becomes clear.
Studies have suggested that it can cost nearly a quarter of a million pounds to raise your child from birth up until the age of twenty one. This astronomical figure can make some new parents suffer heart palpitations and reach for a brown paper bag. However, think logically, and this isn’t writing out cheques for tens of thousands of pounds every year; this is the using up of your disposable income. You will end up buying around five thousand nappies for your child, goodness knows how many pieces of muslin, vests, clothes, bottles, formula, baby food and shoes. These specialist items fulfil a niche need in the market. Most parents want the very best for the baby and will stretch their budget in order to get the premium brand nappies or the organic jars of butternut squash and artichoke risotto for their little one. Companies tap into this psyche of parents and exploit their need for obtaining the finest items, pricing their products accordingly.
By the time your little one is ready to start school, you may have had another one or two children. Family life is good, and you adore your unit. However, the costs will now begin to rocket. When your little darling sees their best friend wearing a premium branded coat or their buddy has received the latest bit of expensive technology, they will inevitably want a piece of the action. It will be up to you as a parent as to whether you succumb to their wants. It’s vital at this point during childhood, that you don’t give in to their every whim. They need to learn the value of money and cannot have the latest iPhone simply because they ask for it.
As they grow older and move into adolescence, you can encourage your child to take on a part time Saturday job or do some chores around the house to earn their own money. There’s nothing more exciting than earning your first tenner when you’re a child. Feeling that note in your hand is a joyous occasion. Initially they might squander their cash, but eventually, they will see the value in watching it accrue whether this is in a piggy bank at home or in a bank account earning interest. Your offspring can then save for their own big ticket items, and you can pitch in where necessary. Parenthood can be expensive, but it needn’t be exemplified by your willingness to spoil your child.
School can be a tricky time for young people. There is a financial pressure to keep up, in terms of gadgetry, clothes, and image. The advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram with their perfect Amaro filtered selfies accentuates an unrealistic fantasy that is unachievable yet disheartening for your darlings. One aspect of their school life that you can spend money on is their educational visits and trips. These should be non-negotiables as they grow. You want to give them every opportunity to experience new cultures, meet new people, see new vistas and explore their immediate and more distant environment. To experience new things is to become more tolerant, independent and respectful. You will be empowering your child, enabling them to grow personally and become more well rounded citizens of the world. While that expensive biology field trip to the Welsh coast to study whelks and limpets doesn’t seem that vital to your child’s education, it could spark a love for all things scientific and could set your child on a career path that they hadn’t thought of before.
As a parent, it’s up to you to open your child’s eyes to the opportunities around them. In collaboration with your son or daughter’s teachers, you can expose them to new learning opportunities. Your child may wish to head off to university in which case you need to save even more of your hard earned cash to support them through their studies. They will inevitably leave their higher education institution with a shocking amount of debt, but this will be alleviated by their ability to earn more and enter into a graduate job.
Being a parent is the most amazing experience. For some people. It’s ok not to have a maternal bone in your body and to see your purpose in life as following a different avenue. Not to procreate shouldn’t be seen as a life failed. However, for those people who want to raise a family and nurture the next generation, there needs to be a recognition that this requires a financial commitment as much as an emotional one.
Being a parent means no longer putting yourself at the centre of everything you do and every decision you make. Your child is now the centre of your world and rightly so. The emotional toil that this can cause cannot be underplayed. When your child first gets sick, you will be distraught. When your darling suffers their first heartbreak, you will be angry at their partner. When your offspring doesn’t get the grades, you will offer words of encouragement. However, when they achieve an honours degree, succeed in their job and begin to raise their own families, you will see that the emotional and financial expense will have been well worth it. Family life is expensive, but your children are priceless.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.