Monday, April 09, 2007

It's A Good Thing I'm Poor

Sometimes I wish I was in a position where I do not have to be overly concerned about money; that I could do what I want, eat what I want, and buy what I want. Of course I'm not only thinking about myself but also my children. I wish I could give them more.

But you know what, ironically, it is because I have limited funds, that I have actually given (and still am giving) my children more. Here is a list of how my children, and sometimes myself, have benefited from our unfavorable situation:

1. Breastfeeding
My initial motivation to breastfeed was because it would cost money to buy formula milk. Why buy something that I can provide for free? Of course, it also helped to learn later that breastmilk is the best nutrition for the baby. You know how some mothers would initially try to breastfeed and then due to circumstances or lack of support, they succumb and give in to formula milk. Well, in my mind I just refused to spend money on formula milk. So right from the beginning, I was determined to make it work, no matter what. I eliminated all other options. And therefore my children were able to enjoy (and baby is still enjoying) exclusive breastmilk.

2. Baby wearing
I often see mothers put their baby in a carrier or stroller. And sometimes I do envy that the babies have been trained to sleep in those things without a fuss. Me? I carried my baby everywhere and almost all the time. I've had my share of comments that I shouldn't carry baby so much because they will be spoiled. But I can't help it, I love to hold them when they are newly born. By the time they get a bit heavier, they already don't like to be put down.
Anyway, getting a good stroller or carrier is expensive. And then they outgrow such things quite fast too. (I don't believe in putting a toddler who can walk on a stroller. I notice most toddlers don't want to be constraint in a stroller by then too anyway.) Furthermore, you don't use them all the time. It didnt seem like a good investment (it's okay if you want to beg to differ). So, instead of strollers or carriers, I used a sling instead.

Now I learn that "baby wearing" is actually good for the babies. Some of the advantages of baby wearing:
- Research has shown that baby wearing practice results in babies that cry less.
- Because they don't spend so much time on crying, they learn more. So, it's good for them intellectually as well.
- The closeness increases bonding, gives baby a sense of security and trust. All these needed to enhance baby's growth and health.

So, nevermind my arms, shoulder and back aches because of too much carrying. No need to envy those mother's who train their baby's to sleep in the stroller/carrier instead of in their arms. Baby wearing is a good thing.

3. Co-sleeping
Baby cribs cost a lot. Not only that, I really don't have place to put one too. So, all my babies sleep with me. I have no complaints here. I love sleeping with my babies. Co-sleeping and breastfeeding together has given me the chance to have enough rest at night. I don't need to get up to check on or feed baby. I just need to roll onto my side. I let baby feed and I sleep on.
No real problems on getting them to sleep on their own beds when they're older. I have successfully kicked the older two kids from off my bed to make way for baby.

4. Freedom of play
We moved away from the city because the rent is cheaper. In our current neighbourhood, the children can play outside without the worries of heavy traffic. Of course they are still reminded to watch out for the occasional car, but compared to before, they at least can play outside.

5. Fresh air and clean water
Away from the city, the air here is fresher and the water cleaner.

6. Creative play
I can't afford to buy expensive toys. I don't buy much toys actually. Because of this, the kids use their creativity and imagination using ordinary, inexpensive and even recycleable stuff. They can have hours of fun with a cardboard box and find multiple uses for a skipping rope.

7. Homeschooling
Kindergarten these days are too heavy on the pockets. Thus the decision to homeschool them. No homework pressures. One-to-one tutoring from me. We read and learn from storybooks, and get to choose fun worksheets and activities to do.

8. Better diet
Before, when we were living in PJ, there were many nights we would go out for supper. 'Mamak' and desserts were a big temptation. Now that we've moved, these temptations have been removed. We hardly eat outside food anymore as we are too far away from the shops.

9. Uncluttered life
If I had lots of money, I think I would enroll my children in tons of extra-curricular activities like music class, swim lessons, art lessons, gymnastics, chinese tuition etc.... I think I would end up being a 'kiasu' parent. But since I don't have a lot of money to spend, my children get to enjoy an uncluttered lifestyle. They are not chauffered from one class to another, only to come home exhausted. They spend their energy developing their skills through play and they are the dictators of their learning (to a certain extend).

10. Cloth diapering
You must agree that disposable diapers takes a chunk out of your wallet. Recently, I've considered cloth diapering to cut down the costs. Now, you must be thinking "No way Jose am I going to use cloth diapers. They are messy and will give my baby rashes." I agree with you. Using the traditional cloth diapers ('lampin') is a big hassle. But now we are in the modern age and there are modern cloth diapers. I just purchased a bunch (Bum Genius) from Mia Bambina (free shipping) and they are pretty good. The diaper is adjustable to 3 different sizes so I don't have to worry about my baby outgrowing them. They are pocket diapers, meaning there is a pocket for you to stuff an insert that absorbs all the wetness. Quite fantastic actually. The soaker is wet but the layer against baby's butt is dry. So, I can actually use one cloth diaper for 4-5 hours (that is if baby doesn't poo). And, it works throughout the night too. Initial investment in these modern cloth diapers may feel like a lot, but if you work out the expenses over 1-2 years, you really do save a lot.
If I wasn't pressed to save money, I wouldn't have considered using cloth diapers. And they are actually better for baby's butt as well -- no rashes. Oh, and no leaks too.

Well, I'm only human and can't help wanting to be better off financially. But I guess God knows me and has blessed me with poverty. Hahahah. Goodness knows the path I would have taken if I had plenty of money to spend. So although I feel financially restricted, more good than bad has come out of it.


  1. Wonderul perspective! You have given your children so much! Money does not buy happiness, that's for sure.
    God bless you!

  2. i think it's great that you are standing by your beliefs and you're happy about it...or shall I say everyone in your family is happy about it - that's what matters right?
    I used to "wear" ashley as well using a baby sling until she got too heavy for me! :)

  3. Its good that you can hold on to all your beliefs. I salute to you. Cloth diaper when they were younger ... too many and I have no maid to wash it. Me being a lazy mommy want the easy way out ... disposable ones hehhe.

  4. Very meaningful post. Money is always not enough to us nowadays, sometimes its really depend on how we look on it. Happy w what we have!! Thx for sharing! :-D

  5. That is so true on what you said.I've been thinking the same way too. Some times having money is not always the best thing. It just give us excuses to find "simple" way out,But the benefit for our children is might be compromise.
    Thanks for sharing

  6. Great post! Its nice to know there are other frugal families out there.

    On the diaper front...for my baby shower, we had a Hug and Huggies party. We asked everyone to bring one package of diapers or wipes and something special to 'hug' the baby in (e.g. a family recipe or story, a family photo, a great hand-me-down). We had a diaper supply for 9 months!

  7. wow some of these are things are stuff that even money cannot buy...priceless gift to your children!! breastfeeding, showering them with lots of attention and carrying them wow..u must have super strong need to go gym too!

  8. kewl.

    what a great post.

    i'm doing exactly what you are doing. and i stumble upon somebody who share the same values as i do.

    they are hard to do, without proper support. really.

    so hail to YOU!


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