Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: stress

Cutting The Cost of Parenthood

contributed post

From the moment you first find out you’re pregnant and that initial flush of joy fades, all moms-to-be find themselves asking the same question, “How am I EVER going to be able to afford this?” The good news is that nobody’s ever ready for the trials (and joys) of parenthood; and while of course some expectant parents are financially better off than others, it’s worth remembering that parents of all kinds of incomes have been getting by for as long as the human race has been around. That said, there’s no denying that a child can put pressure on your domestic finances. With the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 approaching $240,000 , it’s enough to make any parent-in-waiting balk.

The good news is that the cost of parenthood can largely be ameliorated by a combination of ingenuity, thrift, invention, and common sense. While the default setting for many new parents is always “worry”, cutting financial costs is one of the many ways in which moms and dads can make life easier for themselves. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Never replace when you can repair

We live in a culture of disposability, where the pervasive logic is that when something breaks, it should be replaced rather than repaired. This is a shame because with a wealth of knowledge available to new parents through digital means, you can learn to fix just about anything from torn clothes to broken toys. While kids grow out of clothes quickly, you can learn to make alterations that can significantly expand their lifetime, and it’s worth looking into different types of embroidery machines. At a younger age, when kids grow emotionally attached to their clothes yet haven’t learned to be fashion snobs, this is particularly useful.

Plan your meals and batch cook

Whether you’re a parent or not, one of the surest ways to waste money is over-reliance on takeout and restaurants. Sure, everyone loves a treat after a hard day’s work, but a home cooked meal can rival anything bought at a restaurant at a tiny fraction of the cost. You can make a family night in just as special with candles and music without paying ludicrous restaurant prices.

You can also make substantial savings at the supermarket by shopping smart and avoiding impulse purchases. You can plan your week’s meals and shop accordingly, plus save time and effort by cooking in batches and making a bolognese or curry sauce, chili, or lasagna that will last the family for several meals. Reducing meat and dairy and upping the veggies will ensure that your weekly shop lasts longer, too.

Get creative with vacations

Family vacations are often perceived as way more expensive than they need to be. A great family vacation requires only three things; fun, family, and love. Everything else is bells and whistles. Taking a road trip not only saves on expensive flights, but allows your family much more freedom and control over your vacation, reducing the risk of stress and things that can go wrong.

Mom and son photo at the top of the post found here

 

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5 Things I Learned About Living in 2016

1. Life is a work in progress. I’m the kind of person who wants to fix everything right now. This is an impossible and exhausting way to live for two reasons. First, the only person I can control is myself; therefore, if the thing in my life that’s wrong involves another person, I can only do so much to fix the problem. Secondly there are only so many hours in the day, and part of those must be spent taking care of essential needs: since I am a parent, I must provide a home, food, and care for my daughter as well as myself. So a good portion of my time goes toward this. Therefore, the other things I want to do in my life take a backseat sometimes, and that is okay and normal. Everything does not have to happen RIGHT NOW.

2. Listen more. Speak less. I’m still working on this one. But I realized this about myself this year, with help from a very good friend–I often jump to conclusions and speak my mind before I have all the facts. I am working on my listening skills and taking a deep breath before spurting out the wrong thing.

3. Give people a chance. After divorce, most people will tell you it is hard to trust. No matter how bad the marriage was or who initiated the divorce, you were a part of a couple for a while (sometimes a long while) and now you are out on your own. While dating, I have learned that most people in a similar situation as myself are decent and also just trying to live their lives. This kind of fits with number two above, but I need to learn to not jump to conclusions and trust people until they give me a reason not to.

4. Being a parent is hard. Give myself a break. I miss my daughter terribly when she is away from me; but sometimes when she is with me, I don’t feel like I have time to think or process anything, and I am often exhausted. I worry about her constantly, and I am sometimes impatient. This seems to be similar to many other parents I know (single and married); and when I start to feel like “you are doing a terrible job–you should have done A, B, C,” I’m learning to take a deep breath and give myself a break. I love her more than anything, and I spend a good portion of my life being her mom. Every once in a while, I’m going to mess up and it’s okay.

5. Balance is key. To be the best person I can, I have to sleep, eat healthy, exercise, have fun with my daughter, read, write, work, have fun with my friends, and spend time with my parents. The key is to stay balanced. Don’t let any one area take all the time away from another. This is super hard, and again a work in progress; but I am doing better–especially the sleep. Do you know how important sleep is? 🙂

So what have you learned in 2016?

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Are You a Planner or Flying By the Seat of Your Pants?

Is organization and planning in today’s fast-paced world becoming more rare than ever before?  When you ask a busy parent, what are you going to have for dinner? Most will answer: I’ll figure it out at 5.  Wondering what you and your friends should buy a co-worker who is having a baby? Good thing someone is an Amazon Prime member, so the gift can be delivered, gift-wrapped, in two days.

I know for myself I’m often figuring out what I need to do the day of an event or even the day of my surgery (where I wished I would have read the information the night before). I used to be a planner–a big planner–because my thought was that things went better, especially as a mom, if I planned them in advance. But then I got a divorce, and there wasn’t time or energy to be such a planner. So I learned to do a lot by the seat of my pants, and one thing I did learn is. . .we survived. Planning may help, but sometimes, it also causes more stress.

fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pantsRecently, I had a discussion with someone, and here’s what he had to say about a recent business trip, where he was asked to give training with no preparation and fix complicated machinery (which is not his job) in very little time:

I was thinking about this week and how it has been just one ridiculous, crazy adventure after another.  No plans, no preparation, under the gun every single day. And my life has always seemed to be like this…Over the years, I have just learned to shrug it off. I don’t stress over it because I know there is nothing I can do. All I can do is just face it head on and do my best. And every time this week, somehow I made it work. So obviously, the next thought to cross my mind was…What happens when one day we can’t make it all work out? What happens when I fail to figure something out on the fly?

Maybe this has already happened, and I just don’t think about it because I knew it was the best I could do.

How about you? Have you faced situations like this? Do you stress out about them? Do you think they are teaching you coping skills? Do you plan?

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