Monday, November 23, 2015

You don't need a lot of money and stuff to have kids.

Recently I was having a conversation with an engaged friend who feels worried and anxious about when to have kids.

She and her husband-to-be both have stable, successful careers, but the financial aspect of parenting really scares her. She had been quoted some outrageous numbers about how expensive it is to have a child, and had heard horror stories about how hard those early years with a baby can be. Some news article was claiming that the first year of a baby's life costs parents $10,000—insane and totally untrue!

All that doom and gloom was making her question whether it would be prudent to be open to having kids right off the bat.

While everyone has a different situation and there are certainly many excellent reasons to postpone a pregnancy, I hastened to reassure her that the financial aspect (for her situation!) was not one of them.

As I like to say time and time again, you don't need a lot of money and stuff to have kids.

Katrina has a post I love that is pretty much the last word on this subject. To second what she said—as long as you have a way to feed the baby, you have some baby clothing and diapers, and some sort of carrier/wrap to wear the baby, you are pretty much set. I could tell you about the baby products we have and almost never use (stroller, crib, bouncer seat, bottles, pacifiers...) but honestly, you would hear the same thing from most parents you talk to. Babies don't need much, especially if they are getting most of their nutrition from breastmilk.

My family lives in a really, really small apartment. I don't know the exact square footage (and I'm bad at visualizing these things in numbers anyway) but let's just say it's so small that everyone who visits us comments on it. And I'm more than okay with that, because my hope is that our guests think, "Wow, if they can have a baby in this space, I can definitely have a baby where I live." In fact more than one newlywed friend has said this to me, and I'm just like "YES. My work here is done." :)

I have a friend from church who is expecting her third child and lives in a studio apartment. She and her husband are both Irish, and she told me once, "My husband likes to say, 'If our ancestors could have ten children in a tenement flat, then we can definitely have three in a studio!'" So much of the "stuff" and "space" that people think they need for their babies nowadays is so unnecessary.

She also told me that occasionally they get negative comments from people who don't approve of how many kids they're having, and so quickly. She told me she likes to respond, "It's great to be young and in love." I love that response because it just sums up what really matters: having a loving, happy marriage and family.

This is the way I think about it: the secular world tells us that happiness and riches come from having things, from accumulating possessions and experiences that would look cool on Instagram. But the Bible tells us that the greatest wealth is children. And at the end of our lives, what else but our loving relationships with our families will really matter?


  1. I love the post and totally agree - But i think that the $10,000 comes when you add in childcare or lost income because of leaving a job or working part time. That really is a huge expense that a lot of families will struggle with while raising kids. It can be tough to find any way to make childcare affordable!

  2. I agree! I'm always saying that children do NOT cost what people think they do because so many of those things are unnecessary; although I will say what you need/will make your parenting life easier varies greatly depending on your kid, your personality, whether you work outside the home or not, where you live (i.e. city vs suburbs vs rural), & of course how many kids you have. I was kind of amazed that you said you don't use your stroller - but then I remembered you live in the city and have 1 child. Where I live with 2 kids the babywearing alone becomes more of a hindrance than a help sometimes. But thank you for writing this and encouraging so many of your friends to change their perceptions about cost!

    1. Thanks Stephanie! I completely agree that what you'll use as a parent depends so much on personality.

      I should add that I wrote this post about three months ago, and since then, I would no longer include a stroller on the list of things we don't use! I almost never used the stroller for the first 15 months, but around that age he started getting really antsy in the carrier and developed a real love for being in the stroller, so now we use the stroller frequently. But I think it still applies for this post since we didn't use it for the first year. :)

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  4. Thanks for this post. I hope to have a child someday (far, far into the future). Finances is something I worry about. I guess I'm just another girl who wants to "have it all" - a job I like, a loving & lasting marriage, stable finances, travel, and maybe a baby or two. ;) I don't care much for having a big house or anything. I just really like my lifestyle and I hope I can have a baby one day without having to sacrifice myself, if that makes sense.

    1. Hi Maria! Thanks for commenting. I can't speak for everyone, but in my experience, it's more than possible to have a baby without sacrificing yourself at all. The first few months with a child, yes, are really intense, and at one point I began to fear that my "old self" was gone forever. But the older my child gets, the more independent he is, and the more time I have to pursue my own interests. Now, after only 18 months, I feel that my "old self" has been 100% back for some time. I have all the time I want to read books, care about fashion, go out with friends, etc.—all these things that are challenging to do with a newborn. The one difference is that I enjoy these things so much more, and pursue them with more intention, since for a while they weren't as easily accessible and my time for them is more limited now. It's like a better, more focused version of my pre-baby life. Hope that helps! :)