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Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
Having children is quite possibly one of the most stressful journeys’ any couple can face. With so many unknowns, pressure and fears, it’s been my life motto never to ask people about their plans for the future unless they welcome the conversation first.
I’ve seen first-hand the side effects of having no children and feeling pressure to start trying from outside influence. Plus, the results of having one child and still feeling like people aren’t satisfied with our decision. Which, as you’re reading this, I’m sure you can see how ridiculous that sounds. How can anyone else get to feel any way about your body and your lifestyle choices? Yet, this is still how society treats people (women) when it comes to childbirth.
After our first, we were adamant with all of our friends and family that we were a one-and-done type of family. We didn’t want to feel the pressure of adding another child to the mix while still attempting to grasp having a newborn or toddler running around. Adding another person to your life — particularly one you are responsible for — is a significant life change. People bug and ask others when they plan to have their next without realizing that it’s an unnecessary and, frankly, disrespectful thing to ask.
To end those conversations, we would immediately say “we aren’t” to quickly prepare for the counterargument using more inappropriate questions. Many would insinuate that having an only child wasn’t a good idea or that we would change our minds.
We’ve never thought about traditional milestones throughout our decade-long relationship until they’ve come up in conversations we have between just the two of us. So, when we started to talk about having a second child (in private) in December 2020, and it seemed we were both on the same page, we opted to give it a shot. If it happened, we’d be thrilled. If it didn’t, we would be okay with that, too. Surely enough, within one month, we found out we were expecting our second. Again, it happened fast, but this time, it was our choice. And for that reason, I felt excitement rather than anxiety.
Finding out that I was pregnant in 2017 was not in my plans, and it certainly wasn’t a moment of pure joy like the commercials make it seem. Instead, for most of the pregnancy, I existed in a constant state of panic. If I wasn’t worried about the financial aspect of parenthood, I was concerned about who I’d become as a mother and whether I was meant for that role.
My unplanned pregnancy came with many feelings:
A lack of control
I finally felt like I was on a roll with my money, and then suddenly, I had to throw my current savings plan out the window. Before I knew it, we were building a spreadsheet to estimate our cost of living with a baby and also how much we’d need to save for maternity leave.
But, instead of panic, I took control of what I could. Strangely enough, what felt like the most optimistic part of this experience was that I was aware of how to create a budget. I knew where we could cut back and how we could increase our income in the short term because these are all things that I had dealt with before. So, financially, although petrified, I was able to make that part of the situation work, leaving me with enough space to focus on my mental health.
If you’re in my shoes, you can walk through exactly what we did as a couple to prepare for our first child financially:
Becoming a mom was never my intention in life. But after giving myself space and time to embrace the newer parts of my life and what had changed, I felt at peace.
When it came to our family and the many significant changes we experienced as a duo turned trio, one thing that we loved was that we were getting the opportunity to see life through another human’s eyes. We were getting to teach, learn, and share the things that we love with another person who shared our genetics, and that is a very incredible feeling. So, most of the decisions that lead to us growing our family by one more were emotional.
Our child is extremely outgoing and loving. Both my partner and I are introverts. So, we know that being able to provide her with a best friend (fingers crossed) that she can share childhood and adulthood is important. We also realize that although we are a tight-knit unit now, we can continue that bond with one more, as there is plenty of room left in our home and our hearts for a second baby. Both my husband and I have siblings that we love and we know the value of having those relationships can be irreplaceable.
This time around, I want to give myself a chance to enjoy the early stages of parenting, that I was too anxious and stressed to experience. I want to be myself this time, instead of trying to be what a “mom” looks like on the outside.
Each time a holiday comes around when you are surrounded by kids is something straight out of a storybook. For the first time, I felt excitement through the eyes of a child and it’s a moment that I simply cannot explain. My daughter has made me fall in love with parts of my childhood that I didn’t quite appreciate as much as I do now.
We are looking forward to the next 30 years of growth, learning and adventure with two young humans who are experiencing life for the first time.
This time around, pregnancy is undeniably different. First off, I was mentally prepared for how my body would change. I knew what to expect, I knew it would change my life, and I knew that it might not always be fun — and I was okay with that. When you go from doing something without feeling like you were ready to knowing that it’s exactly what you want, it’s obvious how much more confident you may be with that choice.
Instead of feeling like I had no control, I felt like I had all the control. Instead of feeling anxious, I’d say I’m almost too relaxed this time around. And financially — we are ready for a rumble and a bit of risk. Although we can estimate how much we’ll spend, and we don’t have to buy as much stuff, we will be living with less during my maternity leave this time around. For that reason, we have doubled our initial savings goal. Ultimately, though, I’m thankful to be able to increase our savings and know exactly what to expect, at least for the first year or two.
Lastly, one of the most significant changes from our first child to our second is that we have friends and family five minutes away this time around. With our daughter, the closest relative was a two-hour plane ride — which wasn’t always easy.
I understand entirely whatever people choose to do as far as having children. I’ve written many blog posts about my shaky experience through round one, and to say my mindset has changed would be the understatement of the century.
I went from keeping my pregnancy a secret to publicly stating I’d only be having one child to writing this post — all about how different my perspective is now that I’m a parent to a three-year-old. The bottom line is that all of these decisions are my decisions — not yours. And the same goes for anyone else who plans to have no children or twenty children.
You are the only person who gets a say in how you feel about parenthood.
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.
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