In the spirit of being budget conscious, we’ve been thinking about things that new moms can do to pool their resources, whether that means money or time. Even better than those savings, is helping out a fellow rookie mom, and letting her know that you’ve got her back. Pay it forward, and your kindness will surely come back to you at some point.
Here are five ways moms can team up:
1. Nanny share. Whether you’re working full-time, part-time or just need to have a weekly break to run errands or see your acupuncturist, sharing childcare is a fantastic way to save money. Arrange for one babysitter to watch two children at the same time and share the cost. In the San Francisco Bay Area, this is a very common childcare solution for babies. When my son was a baby, we were the host house for our two-baby nanny share, and we kept a playard set up for the visiting child to nap in. We bought a double stroller on Craig’s List and we were ready!
2. Baby food swap. When you puree a batch of fruits or vegetables, make it double and freeze some for a friend. (These handy food storage trays make it easy.)
3. Babysitting co-op. This is different from nanny sharing. This is when you care for your friend’s child, and on another day she cares for yours. Again, you may find this useful as a 3-hour errand-running solution or make it a regular date night practice. There are even entire websites devoted to helping families create more complex co-ops. Through sites like BabysittingCoop.com, multiple families participate and earn credits for each hour of care they provide, which they can then cash in when they need the care themselves.
4. Gear, carriers, and toys. Better to borrow something for a while than buy it and learn that your baby doesn’t care for a swing, bouncy seat, or certain style of front carrier. Items like baby gyms for the floor get used for only a few months. When you’re baby nears 1 year old, offer some of your gear to a newer mom, perhaps in trade for something she’s got duplicates of.
5. Lend out special occasion clothes. Here in California, it’s common practice to borrow and lend other people’s gear when you head for the snow. At the rate kids grow, I’d hate to think what kind of dollars per wear we’d be spending if we all owned snow suits. Dress-up clothes suffer the same fate. Why should a six-month old child wear patent leather shoes on a regular basis? Keep an open dialogue with other moms for one-time wear outfits you might be able to swap.