When you’re a mummy there really aren’t that many topics of conversation that are off-limits with your fellow mummy friends.
Whether you pooped yourself during labour? Yup, that’s fine.
C-section and episiotomy scars? Perfectly acceptable chat over a coffee.
That you’re struggling financially..? Woah there nelly! Did it just get really uncomfortable in here, or is it just me.
I remember back in the summer of 2015. Elliott was still a bump and I was sat in one of our final NCT classes. The boys were in one group, presumably discussing why it wasn’t a good idea to arrive home after a day at the office and ask a mum on maternity leave what she’s been doing all day. The girls with their beach ball bellies and swollen ankles were in another. Each of us pregnant mums-to-be was presented with a piece of paper and a pen. On this paper we were to write down something that we were apprehensive about in terms of the arrival of our new baby. I wrote down finances. We all folded our pieces of paper up and placed them in the middle of the table, ready to be drawn at random and discussed.
As it was, by this stage of NCT proceedings we were a bit bored of partaking in such activities and so, with the course leader briefing the boys on how to be good husbands to the hormonal wrecks that we had become, we went decidedly off topic and chatted about baby gadgetry. Lots of Baby Gadgetry. Ewan the dream sheep, Gro Eggs, Angel Care Monitors. All stuff Mr H and I didn’t have and could ill-afford. Feeling a little foolish for assuming my fellow NCT mums-to-be might share my financial worries I subtly retrieved my piece of paper from the pile in the middle of the table, just in case we did get back on topic.
By no means were we poor, but whilst – as people will constantly tell you – babies don’t need a lot. What they do need is blooming expensive. We budgeted hard to afford what we wanted. Setting aside funds for the Silver Cross Wayfarer that we had our heart set on and off-setting the cost of that with IKEA nursery furniture and items purchased at Aldi Baby Events. Elliott’s clothes were less Jo Jo Maman Bebe and more George at Asda. Of course we could have done it cheaper, but we were used to living a lower-middle class lifestyle with decent salaries. You try telling first time parents-to-be that they don’t need the best of everything for their newborn prince or princess?
My concerns went deeper than designer babygro’s though. I had been the breadwinner in our household for a number of years (I would just like to point out that my husband is extremely hard-working, just unfortunate that he tends to land jobs in low paying sectors). Would we be able to keep on top of the mortgage and bills on my paltry SMP (Statutory Maternity Pay) as I planned to take 12-months off to bond with baby? We were determined to make it work.
It wasn’t easy of course, I mean there’s the constant and continual purchasing of equipment, clothes and toys as your little one grows and develops. There’s the fact that I was used to earning a decent salary and then I dropped down to maternity pay – if you think your pay slip looks depressing now you ain’t seen anything until you’ve seen an SMP pay slip.
Maternity leave is weird as well, it’s like there’s a constant fight. You know you need to spend less, but every time you pop into Tesco to buy more formula, nappies and wipes you’re greeted with cute tiny clothes. It would be rude not to, right? After all, it’s not like they’re at Mothercare prices and little one is growing. They need a hoodie with cute ears on, imagine the Insta! You know you’re spending too much in Costa but you need coffee to function, plus baby needs feeding again and you’ve just bumped into Annabel from Baby Sensory so it would be rude not to have a catch up whilst you bottle or boob. Speaking of Baby Sensory the cost of all of the baby activity classes and groups can really begin to mount up. But otherwise you’re stuck at home with a little person who can’t speak, you need social contact with other mummy’s, so before you know it your maternity leave becomes a time-tabled series of Baby Massage followed by Sensory followed by Swimming…
Even when you’re back at work the financial worries don’t stop. Maybe going back for less hours, which obviously means less pay. Maybe not going back at all. And, if you do go back to your job – unless you’re fortunate enough to have family to rely on – there are the crippling childcare costs to take into consideration.
So, yes, I was worried about my finances and I still am. I am sure there are many mum’s in similar situations to me, so why do we find it easier to talk about the intimate details of our nine-hour-labour than we do our financial situation?
Let’s start talking about money mummy’s!
Over the next few Monday’s I’m going to try to get the conversation started, lift the taboo and get us all chatting. I will reveal as much as I can about my situation, how we budget, how we save money, how I’ve found ways to bolster my part time salary and the sacrifices us modern mum’s have to make. I’d love it if you joined me for a chat.