Tuesday, August 26, 2014
We have this neighbour who adores Clementine. Whenever he sees her, he grabs her, plays peekaboo, throws her up in the air, cuddles her and she just loves it. Yesterday he saw us coming in and came over to help. While he was goofing around with the little one, his friend said to him, "You know you can have one of these, right?" To which our neighbour replied, "Nah, I want a big house and a nice car before we have a baby."
If I had a penny for every time I heard something similar! One of my husband's friends said that he wouldn't have a baby until he had x amount of money in the bank, and it was a large sum. So many people seem to let money hold them back from starting a family, and I can't understand it. It's not as if the baby is going to bust out of your womb demanding to see your latest bank statement or requesting an SUV to be chauffeured around in.
Now, I'm not completely naive. I live in one of the world's most unaffordable cities; I know that money is important, I just don't think it's the most important. When my parents had me, they didn't have much. We lived in Cartagena where they worked as English teachers and tour guides. They certainly didn't let money, or lack thereof, stop them from having a baby and they didn't let having a baby stop them from living an adventurous life. Similarly, my husband and I happily had a baby while living in a funky little apartment, knowing that we still wanted to travel, and not being sure where we would end up living.
I've noticed that here in Sydney in particular, people are obsessed with home ownership and private school. It's something my husband and I have talked about at length, but I still don't get. Where I grew up in Vancouver, everyone went to public school, even the rich kids. If we waited until the day we could buy a house in Sydney and afford to pay private school tuition for two kids, we would miss our chance to have children. No exaggeration.
When you start talking about the cost of raising children, all sorts of figures get thrown around. Again, we're not immune to this and the fact that we're a bi-cultural family puts a big strain on us. We know that two children will most likely be our maximum as we need to be able to travel back and forth between Canada and Australia. But, I think that having a baby doesn't need to be the huge financial drain that everyone says it is. Most of the big tickets items we needed for Clementine (e.g. bassinet, stroller, crib, playpen, carseat, swing etc) we bought used, borrowed from friends or received as gifts. I even wrote a post about it here. Cloth diapering has saved us a lot of money, as has breastfeeding.
Apart from travel, our lifestyle costs us less now that we have a baby. I hardly ever buy clothes anymore, and we rarely go out. We use our car far less than we used to because my husband cycles to work and I find life easier when I stay in our neighbourhood. We gratefully accept hand-me-downs and our social life revolves around visits to the park or the beach. I'm glad we had our daughter when we did, fancy house or not.