Friday, November 18, 2011

Naming Baby

I do not remember having this hard a time naming either of our first two boys. Right now, our top three names are...

Asher, Corban, and Timothy.

And we just can't decide!

Though G's emphatic vote seems to be for Asher, so we may go with that...At least G isn't asking to name him "Super Boy" anymore...haha.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The costs of having children. An itemized breakdown.

While driving on an errand this morning, I got thinking and realized something. A lot of people (especially older people) seem to promote the idea that it doesn't really cost much more money to have more children. While that may have been true in the past, I don't believe it is that way as much now.

What are the costs of having children? Note, I'm only going to be focusing on the cost for the first few years of life, as that's all I've had direct experience with at this point.

1. Food. If you breastfeed, your baby will eat completely free for the first 4-6 months of his life. Formula, of course, will cost much more, and since it is consumable, if you formula feed a second child, the same costs will apply a second time.

A lot of parents nowadays feed their babies specially prepared baby food. This, like formula, costs a lot, and is not transferable from one baby to the next. You can cut down siginificantly on the cost of feeding your older baby/toddler by simply giving him baby-safe portions of the same foods you have prepared for the rest of the family. Special dietary needs aside (such as allergies requiring special foods), you can still feed you baby for practically free, as you would have prepared the food for yourself anyway and are just sharing a small portion of what you already have with your baby.

2. Shelter. If you already have a home, it doesn't (shouldn't) really cost anything extra to house a child, or additional children. As far as living space goes, a little can go a long way with some sacrifice and ingenuity on your part. Bigger concerns with housing a larger number of children in a small space are, possible overload on your water heater or septic system (if you have a septic system); possible blockage of escape routes during a fire; weight capacity overload if you live in a non-ground-floor apartment; and other general physical hazards to your children such as having dangerous implements within a toddler's reach because you can't think of a safer place to store them, or the tripping hazard posed by clutter on the floor.

3. Clothing. It's been nice for us, with two boys and another boy on the way. Handing down clothes from one kid to the next is a great way to save on the cost of clothing your children. You still have to buy the clothing for your oldest, and once in a while something new for your younger kids, but costs in this area do not have to be overly burdensome for your second, third, fourth children...Though eventually the clothes will wear thin and need to be replaced.

Of course, if you have children of different genders, you will end up spending at least twice as much on clothing than if you have children of only one gender.

4. Transportation. Gone are the days when a family of twelve could all cram themselves into a station wagon. Ever-developing seatbelt and carseat laws have resulted in a dramatic increase in the cost of transporting children by car over the last few decades. And the more children you have, the higher the cost in this area. There's no way around it.

First came the law that every person riding in a car had to have his or her own seatbelt. Suddenly the station wagon that used to transport twelve now could only transport six-nine.

Then came the carseat law (or maybe it came at the same time as the seatbelt law, I don't know. Don't take this account as a completely historically accurate rendering). Now every baby up to a certain age was required by law to ride in a carseat. No more carrying baby on your lap.

Over the years, the age requirments for carseat use have gone up. When I was a child, the minimum legal age for riding without a carseat was 4 years. Now in some places, that age has gone up to 6 years or even 8. And beyond that, the recommended age even goes up to age 12, or until the child meets certain height and weight requirments allowing him or her to receive the maximum protection from using an adult seat and seatbelt.

What all that means is, where parents used to be able to hand down carseats from one kid to the next as the older children no longer needed them, now if you have six children all under the age of twelve, you may be required to purchase separate carseats for each one of them. Not to mention, carseats should be discarded and replaced every seven years (or as otherwise recommended by the manufacturer), and also in the case of even a slight fender-bender. If your youngest child is ten years younger than your oldest, there's no way they should be using the same carseat.

With the development of airbags, it was no longer considered safe for children in carseats, or children under the age of twelve to ride in a front seat.

With all this in mind, it's no wonder vehicles have been getting bigger over time, as well as pricier.

4. Diapers. Parents nowadays often lament the overwhelming cost of diapering their babies. Well, there's a way around that: use cloth. Though for some people, cloth is not a practical option-- such as if you have no easy access to a washer and dryer. Or if you live in a very dry part of the country where the cost of water is astronomical, it may actually be cheaper, or comparable in price, to use disposable diapers. And then some parents seem to be unaware of the fact that cloth is even an option, or else they have too many pre-conceived notions about cloth that make them cringe at the thought and believe that the cost of disposable diapers is just a necessary expense that they can't get around.

Disposable diapers are not reusable from baby to baby. But cloth is. So yes, if you use disposable diapers on all your children, you will be spending roughly $1500-$2000 per child by the time he or she is potty trained. If you use simple prefolds and good-quality covers on your first baby, your diapering costs will be closer to $500, and the cost for additional babies will be minimal, mainly to replace the occasional worn-out cover, plus the cost of water and detergent.

5. Daycare/Babysitting. I don't put my kids in regular daycare, since I am a stay-at-home mom. But there is still the occasional cost for childcare, such as when I go to the gym and put my boys in the daycare there for a half-hour, or when Nick and I hire a babysitter. To be reasonable, you can't expect to pay the same amount to someone for watching three kids as you would pay them for watching just one. So the cost of childcare for additional children is definitely more than it is for just one.

6. School. I only have one kid in school so far. He attends a privately-run preschool three days a week (total 7.5 hours) for $150 a month. This, again, is a cost that we will also incur with all future children. And one that is completely worth it, for me. Some parents may choose to homeschool their preschool-age children (which may or may not cost much money, depending on the chosen method/curriculum); and some parents will qualify to have their children in a free public program like Head Start, which won't put an additional financial burden on the parents.

All of the above also applies to schooling for older children. Private school will cost the most, then homeschool, then public school. If you have your kids in public school, the only costs you will incur will be for lunches (but then, you should be feeding your kids lunch every day anyway), possibly transportation; and, as your child gets older, you'll also have to pay for their involvement in any extracurricular activities such as music or sports. Of course, if you have more than one child these costs will be greater for multiple children than they would be for just one.

7. Toys and Entertainment. A lot of toys-- like clothing-- can be handed down from one kid to the next; though of course your children will appreciate having some of their own toys as well. Forms of commercial entertainment-- such as the occasional trip to the movies-- of course will cost more the more children you bring along. But entertainment can be found pretty cheaply if you use some creativity; and especially if you do a lot of activities together as a family (such as watching a video at home, or playing a game), if often does not cost anything for additional family members to join in.

8. Healthcare. Depending on what kind of insurance coverage you have (or don't have), costs in this area can vary greatly. I'm not going to go into details here, since I'm not really that knowledgeable in this area. But just to say, that depending on your individual circumstances, anticipated healthcare costs for each of your children over the course of their childhoods, may certainly be a strong factor in determining how many children you choose to have.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When the toddler won't go to bed...

I get to stay up late! Woo-hoo!

Okay, well, normally I would not be okay with that, but I was kind of in the mood tonight. Z took a nap starting at 4:30 this afternoon, so I knew he would be going down late (or, later than usual; he's always a night owl). He's finally asleep now, at 1 AM.

We watched a movie together, then I took him to bed and he went right down. Drank his water. I put on some music for him, then came out and played a couple games of Mah Jong and when I checked on him again he was asleep.

Now I've just had a light snack of bread and cheese because I was feeling hungry. Am debating whether to go to bed now, or to stay up and maybe do some dishes, haha. I will probably go to bed, though...

Monday, November 7, 2011

My 4-year-old is such a worrier!

For example, while sitting and eating lunch just now, he asked me if Legos were fire-proof. I said no, they'd melt in a fire. So then he said in a worried voice, almost on the verge of tears, "But Mom, what if Nana's house caught on fire and all her Legos melted?"

And he does this all the time, about all sorts of things. And he's so worried about time. Nick noticed last night that The Wizard of Oz was going to be playing on Cable at 7:15, and so we decided to watch it as a family (I had just finished reading the book to G a few days ago). G wanted to watch the clock, so we told him what to watch for. But then every five minutes or so, he'd start freaking out, worrying that we were going forget, or somehow miss the start of the movie!

I try saying to him "Don't worry, just trust me. When have I ever let you down?" Or "It'll be all right, we don't need to worry about that." But he's never convinced. The poor kid carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, it seems.   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"dark side" ramblings #2

My 4-yo is so funny. Last night in the process of going to the bathroom before bed, he interrupted himself about five times to come out and tell me something else on his mind. Poor kid has thoughts tumbling out faster than he can process them. Hmm, reminds me of someone else I know...

Woke up at 3 AM this morning, not because of leg cramps but because I just can't get back to sleep! I'm just sitting down to the computer now after washing a small load of dishes in the sink. Wish there were more I could do in the middle of the night without waking my family.

On the agenda for today: take down the toddler bed, organize the boys' room, and move G to the top bunk (which means taking down the "loft") so Z can have the bottom bunk. Z has decided he pretty much hates his toddler bed; he's never really liked the feel of the mattress, being for too firm for him, and he's always trying to climb into G's bed. Anyway, something has to be done because we've got to get him to stop sleeping with us!

I must remember to have Nick remove the tires out of my car; it's been two days now I've been driving around with two tires in the passenger seat blocking my vision, and it's a little worrisome. But, we're ready for winter driving now!

I am SO not ready for Fall to be over! Our Autumn seems so short around here. We get maybe two good weeks to enjoy the changing colors and falling leaves, and then it all gets covered in frost and snow. But then, what a gorgeous two weeks! I'm glad I took the boys out for plenty of walks, and raked up that huge pile of leaves for them to play in for a couple of days (and yes, I got pictures).

My boys have been remarkably well-behaved considering all the candy they've been eating. I have also been remarkably well-behaved considering all the candy I've been eating...