Before my daughter started school, I remember thinking how rich we would feel without a day care bill. Day care was our largest expense, and the thought of having that money back in our pocket was exhilarating. When I would daydream with some mothers of older children, they just laughed at me with raised eyebrows.
I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how a school-aged child could possibly be more expensive than one in day care or pre-school.
Sure, I would still have a small day care bill for before and after-care, but that would be nothing compared to what I was spending for full-time pre-school. And that even felt like getting a raise after paying the toddler rate.
Friends told me that school-aged kids care about the brand of clothes, and that equaled money. “HA!” I laughed. My daughter would be happy with what I bring home; I have stellar taste, and regularly find great outfits on deep discount.
Parents cautioned me about the exploding food bill with a school-ager who is always hungry — breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner. It’s called a schedule, and I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t stick to one.
They warned me that activities add up. I thought they were crazy for lugging their kids to all those activities. They should learn to say “NO!” I had a one activity at a time rule, and usually it was soccer, which equals inexpensive!
My daughter’s first year of school was great. We had extra money, she lovingly wore her consignment-bought clothes, played soccer, and ate like a normal human being.
It’s just when we think we’ve got this mom thing nailed down that we realize we haven’t got a clue.
When first grade rolled around, we welcomed a little brother into the world. Not only did we say goodbye to our day care savings, we nearly doubled it from our daughter’s pre-school days. And that wasn’t the only hit to the checkbook.
Each year has gotten progressively worse, and now that fourth grade is here, I have lost all control of this mother ship.
Our day care bill is our largest expense and isn’t going anywhere for another three years. I cringe when I write that check each week.
I still have stellar taste in my children’s clothing, but they both now have very strong opinions on what they wear each day. I’ve made the mistake of taking them shopping with me, and let’s just say they weren’t as interested in the clearance rack as I was.
Someone is always hungry; it doesn’t matter that they just ate a full meal. To make matters worse, their favorite snack changes after just one helping, so I have twelve different snacks that nobody wants to eat.
And then there are the activities. Not only are we doing soccer, but this year we’ve added violin and art school to the schedule. That’s more money, gas, and time.
So you moms who thought I was naive to the ways of motherhood were right. I have no idea what I am doing or what to expect. I do know that I will think twice before I laugh at your warnings again. That’s karma I just don’t need!