After my first son was born, it became apparent very quickly that babies were more expensive than I realized. The decision to stay home was a huge risk for our family and living on one income presented problems I never anticipated: specifically, that it can be really difficult to fill long days at home without spending money you don’t have. When I pictured stay at home motherhood before I had my son, I envisioned music classes, coffee dates with other moms, swim lessons at the YMCA.
What I didn’t realize is that those things add up quickly—swim lessons alone averaged out to about $50/month and music classes in our area were so exorbitant I couldn’t give them a second thought. Even a day trip to the beach with friends was a $20+ excursion. There also seemed to be a lot to do with children over a year, but very little for the newborn age bracket. The odds were kind of stacked against me.
Still, I knew that if I stayed within the four walls of our apartment, I’d continue to be lonely, never meeting the mom friends I desperately needed. So I forced myself to get out and find what was available to me as the (very broke) mother of a young baby.
If you’re a new mom who’s on a budget, but still wants to get out of the house, here are some suggestions for low or no cost outings with a baby:
- Check out your local library. Most, if not all, of the offerings there are likely F-R-E-E (hellll yeah) and may include things like music class, storytime, yoga, arts and crafts, etc.
- Go for a walk. Hit the trails, go to your local park or, if it’s cold out, see if there’s an indoor walking track in your area. You can even walk in most malls before they open for the day.
- Attend classes at a nearby hospital. Many hospitals host new moms groups for local mothers at no cost. These can be a great way to meet other new moms as well as get help with things like breastfeeding, sleeping and babywearing from nurses or lactation consultants.
- Scope out local playgrounds. Even if there’s not much else your child can do there yet, you can push him or her on the swings designed for babies who are sitting up on their own.
- Browse a store. It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes I’d go to a big department store and just wander with my son in the front pack. I didn’t have anything specific I needed to buy; I just really needed to be out of the house surrounded by other adults (If you’re trying to save money, I’d suggest staying away from the black hole that is Target though!)
- Peruse your newspaper. Many local newspapers include an activity calendar for local events, some of which may be kid-friendly. Browsing the paper every week for recurring or one-time events is a great way to get plugged into the happenings in your area.
- Invite friends over. Once you meet some other moms, hosting playdates is an awesome way to socialize without having to spend money or even leave the house.
- Go to a children’s museum. This is probably best for those with slightly older kids, (I’d say at least 6 months) but it can be a fun outing for short money and, ya never know: maybe you’ll meet another mom while you’re at the craft table.
- Head to a local aquarium. This is one of those places that’s still fun for adults, even before their babies can really participate. Very young kids are usually free and you can wander around with a stroller or front pack, just taking in the exhibits.
- Budget for an occasional class. Music, swim, mom and baby yoga, Stroller Strides, gymnastics—there are so many offerings out there for moms and babies to do together, as your budget permits. Many of them last a month or two, so chances are, you’ll get your money’s worth if you decide to spring for one.
What did/do you do with your newborn that’s budget-friendly?