My husband and I got married very early by today's standards. He was 21 and still in college, and I was 22 with my first real writing job. We spent our first year under one roof learning the art of thriftiness, penny-pinching, and couponing so that we could survive. I'm proud to say that I've perfected that art over the five-plus years we've been married. Now- even though it sounds silly- I love to admit that that's how I have fun. Oh, how the times have changed over the years!
In parenthood, sometimes I find that I'm stuck between wanting a Pinterest-worthy home— you know, the home full of hand-selected, cohesive items— and wanting to do everything as cost-effectively as possible. However, I always prioritize our needs as a family over my design desires. That means our baby girl's items don't always match our decor and aren't always purchased brand new. It also means she doesn't have the latest and greatest everything. You won't hear this often in the neatly curated, gotta-have-it world we live in, but that's more than okay. These are first-world "problems" that aren't worth a second thought.
Things get expensive with kids, fast. The estimated cost of raising a child until age 18 is $233 610. A study conducted by NerdWallet found that parents expecting their first child "dramatically underestimate" the cost of having the baby in his first year of life. Hypothetically speaking, for a family with a household income of $40 000, their analysis projected costs as high as $21 248. That's a lot of diapers and Gerber first foods!
The costs are compounded when moms (and I'm speaking for myself) start picking and choosing what goes in the home based on color palettes, newness, and current trends. I learned this after our baby was born, while all I could imagine was my girl in the newborn phase. I wanted her to have all the pretty things because she deserved it and I love her. But the price tags weren't so lovely, and the loss of space in our home was even less appealing. It didn't take long for me to realize that she'll be around forever. On the other hand, her multiple play gyms, stuffed animals of every kind and color, and clothing might not even last a couple of weeks (or if that).
I appreciate local consignment sales now more than ever before. I mark them on our calendar, count down the days until I find the best deals on items that aren't new (but are new to us), and then celebrate those finds— like a barely used Restoration Hardware animal rocker that was a fourth of the cost of a new one— for our baby girl. More specifically, it was a special gift for her first birthday. Forget about Pinterest and say it with me: there is nothing wrong with used baby items. They're blessings, not burdens. Sometimes we need to adjust our sight in order to see this clearly.
Currently, my daughter's sitting on the other side of the room, plundering her toy bin that contains toys of all colors. The muted ones match our decor fairly well, but the brightly colored ones feel out of place. A lot of her toys aren't new. Several are actually from my childhood more than twenty years ago. Some belonged to her older cousin, and others were discovered at second-hand sales. But she doesn't know— and she doesn't mind either. In fact, she just smiled and blew me a kiss. She's fully content with what she has, so I should be too.