(This article may contain affiliate links. Should you purchase an item through one of those links, I may earn a commission off of it. It does not cost you extra but comes out of the quoted price by the company. However, I promise that I do not recommend things that I would not or have not used myself. I promise to give my honest opinion.)
This world has become pretty materialistic. People are in debt up to their eyeballs because they have to have the latest technology, all of the gadgets and whistles, biggest houses, and fanciest cars. Children walk the aisles of the stores asking for things and then throwing tantrums when they don’t get it. And sometimes the parents cave in and get it for them (worst thing you could ever do for them is cave in to their temper tantrums, don’t do it!)
But a big culprit in overspending and indulging our kids is the mother’s (or parent’s) desire to give their kid the best, to give them everything. It’s all out of the best of intentions but it results in burn out, stress, anxiety, and debt. As single mom’s, we have enough to carry on our shoulders. We don’t need the extra burden of debt (and the clutter all of those extras would mean).
What do I mean by living minimalistically?
I use that term to mean living without a lot of materialistic items that are only useful for a short time or for empty entertainment. Empty entertainment would be TV, movies, and electronic games. Examples of materialistic items that are only useful for a short time would be clothes, toys, or even necessities like diapers and car seats. Some of these will be necessary, but I will share ways to keep expenses on said things down.
I personally have a closet packed with stuff I haven’t touched since I moved in here with my brother and sister-in-law. Some of it is decorative things that I picked up for my future home, but a lot of that stuff is just…stuff. I also have a car full of junk that I need to go clean out. What good has all of that stuff done me? Not much but give me anxiety over trying to get it sorted through and relinquished to the trash (or giveaway bags). I know that I have a big problem with not holding onto things for the chance it might become useful later on. It’s kind of a hereditary problem. I’m working on it now because I don’t want my daughter learning to do that as she grows up.
Stop the Mom Guilt!
So stop the mom guilt about not buying your baby/children every toy out there. They don’t need it. Your apartment/house doesn’t need it. Your sanity will thank you.
But how do you afford the big ticket items that are fairly necessary, like a walker, car seat, and a highchair? Start with the Facebook marketplace. You could easily grab these things from someone off the marketplace for pennies on the dollar. May not be the cute thing you were hoping for, but if you’re single and unattached like me, the likelihood of you needing it for long term is slim. And should you find someone later on, connect for life, and choose to have more kid, you’ll have a partner to help cover one that you like more.
Another option is to borrow them. I am presently borrowing my aunt’s highchair. The cover was kind of worn after her three kiddos and she threw it away, but the chair still works for the purposes I need them, which is holding a child so I can feed her much easier with both hands free. You might also consider if something is really necessary. Bouncers are super handy for putting them in something that somewhat contains them (hands off the dirty floors and unable to eat random items they find under the couch), but you can easily throw them in their playpen/bed with toys to solve that problem. Avoiding buying a bouncer and going straight for the walker would easily provide the same containment while still providing them the tools to help them use their legs.
I used a cash gift from my friend (baby daddy’s coworker) to buy her walker. Her bouncer was provided by her aunt. But both aren’t necessary. And if you have limited space, you’ll pull your hair out tripping over both. Pick one and use the options above to find one cheap (or free). But be sure and wash the materials and clean/sanitize the hard surfaces if purchasing used, especially if you don’t know the person you’re getting them from.
Where living minimalistically shouldn’t mean taking the shortcut
The one item I fully recommend you not take shortcuts with is the car seat. If you’re purchasing a car seat used, make sure you know it’s from someone you’ve known for a while. Car seats have expiration dates. And you have to replace them once they’ve been in an accident. I would not trust the history of a car seat purchased off of eBay, Craigslist, or the Facebook Marketplace from someone I don’t know. Don’t play around with your child’s safety. Get you a budget going and keep that in mind as you are approaching the time your child needs to graduate. Set aside a little each month towards that item so it’s not hard to make happen the month it becomes necessary.
I was fortunate to be gifted my car seat and stroller duo by my family at my baby shower. I particularly requested the grey version of it and it will come in handy for my sister-in-law who is having a little boy this August. Since my car seat was purchased new and I have never had a wreck with it in the vehicle (have never had a wreck since she was born period), it is still within the expiration date and completely safe for the new baby to use. So I can help them out on one of their coming expenses. (They may want a different set, but at least it’s available should they not care about a particularly different style.)
But guess what happened this month? Daenarys came due for an upgrade due to her weight. Her first car seat was only rated up to 22 lbs and last month she weighed in at 21 lbs and 1 oz. I loved her original car seat as it came with a jogging stroller and it was a well known brand. So if you’re pregnant and looking for a stroller, I thoroughly recommend the Grayco Fastaction Jogger and car seat combo which you can find below.
Sacrificing Convenience for Living Minimalistically
But if you know it would be really tight trying to cover the next upgrade that will go with your child until they no longer need a car seat, and you can do away with the convenience of being able to carry your child in the car seat as you go about shopping, church, or the park, you might start off with the adaptable car seats they now provide.
I did some research and was originally planning on going with the Safety 1st Grow and Grow Sprint 3 in 1 car seat. But before I could get to the first payday in April where I had budgeted the extra expense in, the Grayco Milestone 3 in 1 car seat went on sale for $129.99 (it was sadly a temporary sale and does not appear to still be on sale), so I snatched it up instead (after doing some research on it to be safe).
So think about what your budget is like. If you know someone is wanting to gift you your first car seat/stroller set, you could take the opportunity to save for the upgrade later, or you could save the expense altogether and request the convertible car seat from the beginning (the only problem would be if your child was born early and would be released from the hospital weighing less than 5 lbs. The lowest weight the convertible car seat is rated for is 5 lbs.)
Don’t forget about the clothes!
I bought a batch of 12 month clothes off of the Facebook marketplace for $20 well in advance of the time she would need them. At least well in advance of the time I thought she would need them. She wound up graduating into them much sooner than expected. But I digress.
But before she actually began wearing those clothes, I discovered this handy clothes lending method which saved me from buying any of the clothes in between 3 months and 12 months: my older sister. She has a daughter a couple years older than mine and packed away her clothes as she grew out of them for future children. So I have actually been using her clothes, along with the bags of clothes Daenarys’s aunt and uncle bring her whenever I see them.
So if you don’t have nieces or nephews to borrow clothes from for your kids, check out the Facebook marketplace. It’s pretty darn handy.
Mentally Enriching Tools
Don’t forget books. The kids can only read so many books at a time and you only have so much space to keep them in! But what do you do when you get tired of the same books over and over again? Living minimalistically shouldn’t affect their brain development. Have you heard of the Little Free Library? It’s the best invention since sliced bread! (Okay, second best only to coffee!)
The Little Free Library is a network of boxes placed all over the country where people put their books that they don’t read, want, or need anymore. They can take one out as well. The idea is it is a free book library without the need for a library card. You can find one near you by going to this link and clicking the search button with your special parameters. I fully envision the magical excitement that can be created as we take our kids to see what adventures lie inside them. What’s great about books? You don’t have to pay for entertainment streaming subscriptions, gaming systems, or movies. There you go, just saved you a ton of money right there. (You should be reading books, too! You can start by checking out one of my earlier posts if you’re looking for reading materials.)
Diapers is one of the everyday big ticket items you got to spend your money on. There is no getting around that. I purchase my diapers in the biggest box they come in from Walmart. They come out cheaper per diaper that way. But if your adventurous, you might consider purchasing some good cloth diapers. You can wash them and reuse them and save the money on disposable diapers (and go green!) It really is up to you.
There are many ways you can save money on the big ticket items that are necessary. And there are ways you can cut down on the need for so much non-essential stuff. I believe you will find yourself much happier if you can cut your own things down and raise your children to be healthier and happier people by living minimalistically. After all, sitting at a screen for the hours today’s kids do certainly hasn’t helped the obesity rate in America. And our youth’s education has been dumbed down over the last couple of decades. You’re better off spending your money on experiences spent together than on materialistic items that will eventually be discarded, some sooner than others.
Join my band of Gypsy Mothers!
Looking for a community of single mothers? Join my band by following this link. No one needs (or wants) to make this journey alone.