If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity I had, when my wife made the tough choice to head back to work mid-maternity leave and let me stay at home, don’t ever say no! Those five months were some of the best of my life.
But I didn’t say the easiest. There are lots of diapers, puking, pooping and crying daily. However, I cherished every day. The tricky part is you have more free time on your hands but less money to do things, especially with less than half your salary.
Keeping Your Chequing Account Intact
Here are a few daytime tips to keep your daily budget below $20 when you’re on parental leave.
Start a dad’s group: Mom’s do it. Why can’t we? Our own City and Baby editor, Jen Schaefer, introduced me to two partial stay-at-home dads whom I met for coffee multiple times during the time off. We talked sports, complained a little bit and made some clean coffee table guy jokes.
Mass trans-it up: Some of my fondest time with my son was taking an adventure on the bus/ LRT all the way out to West Edmonton Mall, a coffee place or my old work to peek in to say hi. He loved the hum of the bus in his stroller. Check out this article for tips for taking baby on Edmonton Transit.
Certain sporting events: Not-so-much during the week, but we still made it a regular thing to get to the horse races at Northlands and baseball games at Telus Field last summer. In that first year, they are so easy to please and still enjoy their seat for the most part. It got us outside before fall hit and kept me sane. Here are six simple steps to success at sporting events with babies.
Walk, walk, walk: Trips to various malls, not just West Edmonton Mall, kept me in shape. Yeah, I’m just walking, but half an hour or so around Kingsway with a semi-heavy backpack on can be grueling! Dodging fellow baby-pushers and shift workers looking for deals is fun. You get a lot of smiles from people, too. Just be careful not to break the bank on eating out and needing that new set of golf clubs. I see now, why moms can get tempted to buy, buy, buy while they walk, walk, walk. Pack a lunch and splurge on a large coffee.
Library fun: The little one is just starting to move. Grab a coffee at your neighborhood library and plop them down. Our library at Capilano has many books, blocks and a ship to crawl around on. You can catch up on some news or a book for a bit while the little one burns off some energy. If you want more structure there are baby programs.
Swim time: City pools are half-empty during the day compared to weekend. Find open times and enjoy the quietness especially with <1-year-old. You can’t sit back and watch because they need some help, but it’ll be time you cherish at the end of the day. He/she will be tired and you will feel refreshed. Afternoon nap time will take care of the fatigue.
You’re the head chef now: It’s a lot easier said than done, but planning out meals for the wife when she gets home will keep you VERY busy. Plus the weekly planning will keep you healthier by thoughtfully selecting vegetables and fresh food. Use the web to try some new dishes and keep it simple so you don’t overspend. The money you save from eating in every night can be used on a babysitter for a night out on the town once a month.
Have other ideas on how to make the most of your parental leave on a budget? Share your tips below in the comments section. We'd love to hear them.
This article is written by City and Baby's contributor Jason Buzzell. We appreciate his daddy perspective and his willingness to share his tips on making the most of the young years. Thanks Jason! ~Jen