Suburban Hippie: Children are Expensive!
I remember being so excited about expecting our first child, but then it hit me. Raising this child is going to be REALLY expensive! At this point in the game, the added expense of health insurance hadn't sunk in. I was thinking about the impending cost of childcare, clothing, diapers, and feeding. I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to find a way to cut costs. Enter in becoming a suburban hippie. By my definition, a suburban hippie is one who resides in the suburbs (though they may prefer living in the city) chooses to do some or all of the following cloth diaper, breastfeed, baby led wean, recycle, prefer locally grown produce, use cloth napkins/towels over disposables, and the like. I'll explain further some of the reasons we have gone this route. How did we end up in the suburbs? We found it was time to move from our old house (that's a story for another day) which was a cute little 2 bedroom with one bathroom home that was just over 1300 square feet. For two people it was okay, but not great when both residents need the bathroom facilities, would like to watch different TV shows, or listen to different types of music. So when we were house hunting, we quickly learned we needed to pick a part of town first. We loved the idea of living in the city, but recognized that not all Richmond Public Schools are created equal, and would need to budget for private school. We also recognized that Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico County Public Schools are really good, so it seemed a little silly to PAY for private schools. I can share later on the house hunting adventures, but for now let's end with we landed in the suburbs (we do love where we ended up, but may end up in the city we love later)!
Why did you choose to cloth diaper? I detailed that on my blog a couple weeks ago here, but let me add that I knew diapers were a baby necessity. No matter what, babies do not come out of the womb potty trained, and it takes times (some more than others) before it happens. I knew that I needed to begin thinking about a way to make this more affordable. Thankfully I had a couple of friends who had done it before, so it didn't seem like such a crazy idea. Plus my friend K had this great resource she put together and shared with another friend and I. It really helped me figure out where to begin on my search for the perfect cloth diapering system, and tips to share with other new to cloth friends. Have no fear everyone, I'm working on a resource of my own to share with you too!
Why did you choose to breastfeed? I'll start with asking you a question before answering. Have you looked at the price of formula? Formula start around $25 or more a can, so I knew that that was one thing I did NOT want to add to my baby expense list. I'm sure that many of us have heard how great it is for your baby and for you to breastfeed, so I feel like I don't need to even get on that soapbox. So yes I knew breastfeeding would be VERY healthy for my baby, but I also saw dollar signs for something that could be completely free. So free was much better in my book if I could successfully breastfeed, as I know that this isn't possible for everyone.
Why did you choose to do baby led weaning? This was something I read about in the past, had thought I should look into more. The idea had fallen off my radar, so my husband and I were looking into making our own baby food. So we would know that our child was eating something healthy, no strange added ingredients, and much cheaper. But then my dad and stepmom's friend gave me her copy of the book Baby Led Weaning and share how she started it with her second of three kids. It all just made so much more sense. Babies don't need anything but breastmilk or formula for the first year, do not need anything other than formula or breastmilk before 6 months old, and they don't need rice cereal. I'll share more later about our experience with baby led weaning, but I'll end with that I HIGHLY recommend considering this.
Why recycle and use cloth napkins/towels? Growing up many of us have been taught the importance of the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. It's not always the easiest or most convenient habit to get into, but it's really worth it. We only have one planet, so we really need to handle it with care. First R is for us to work on reducing how much we have in our homes. We are still working on this personally, and I'm sure all share about this in the future. Once you've reduced, you should work on the second R: reuse. We do this by using cloth napkins almost exclusively for meals (even when we have large groups over), hand towels, and limit our use of paper towels. Typically we will by only a six pack paper towels and this will last us a year or so. I have noticed that our paper towel use only spikes when we have folks over that are not accustomed to this. Now that you've got in the hang of the first two Rs, it's time to add in the final R: recycle. Like many people, we implemented the third r last, but we are trying to be better about all three. Whatever we can do to help care for our planet and home is worth it. I'll share more later about our cloth napkins, towels, and how we keep up with the extra laundry. I'll end with this, we save plenty of money by using cloth napkins and towels, which adds up with all the other expenses.
What's the big deal with local produce? For starters, it tastes so much better and often times it's cheaper! When we have time to make it our local produce stand and farmers' market we save the most, but that doesn't always happen. By shopping locally, you help your local economy. By putting money into their pockets, they try to look out for you and keep their costs down so that you can keep more money in your pocket.
So yes, we have made some choices along the way that are not for everyone. In looking back, I honestly don't regret the choices we've made. They have been good for our daughter, beneficial for our wallets, good for us, for our community and good for the planet. If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask!