Everybody knows that having a baby is expensive and costs can easily spiral whilst you’re on maternity leave. I found some great ways to keep my spending down, whilst making the most of my time with my baby and I wanted to share my tips with you. So if you’re wondering how to save money on maternity leave, then I’ve got you covered.
Why is it important?
Whilst you’re on maternity leave, not only will you need to cover your usual bills, but your salary will have gone down (unless you have an exceptionally generous employer) and you’ll have to find new ways of filling your days.
Maternity leave is also a time when you can feel lonely, so getting out of the house becomes more important than ever. What can happen when you leave the house? You can spend money. I managed to keep costs down. Here’s how:
Here’s how I kept costs down during my maternity leave.
My top 10 tips: how to save money on maternity leave
1) Start making friends before your baby arrives
I got a head start on the whole mummy friend thing. Not because I already had children, or because I had a lot of friends locally with babies, but because I put myself out there.
I enjoy swimming and I knew that I’d benefit from a water aerobics class. But I couldn’t find one that worked, timing-wise with my work schedule, so I started to attend one just outside my local area.
I made six friends through that aqua aerobics class and those pals pretty much make up my mummy network (with a couple of lovely additions I have collected along the way). I made friends by smiling, chatting to as many people as possible and accepting invitations to do things away from the class.
One of the mums I met there was new to the area and she’d started chatting to another mum on the Peanut app. They decided to go for a coffee one day and then started attending aquanatal classes together.
I was very lucky to meet my little gang before my son was born and of course, it won’t play out that way for everybody. But by smiling and chatting to other expectant mothers, you might just find that there’s a friendly face four months down the line, when you turn up to a baby class with your newborn and you don’t know anybody.
If you go to these classes and you don’t make any friends, then that’s okay too. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and by being proactive you are more likely to form connections and some low-cost maternity-leave activities are more fun when you have company.
Walk a bit. Then walk some more. Then walk a different route. Then ask a friend if they want to go for a walk. Walking, fresh air and company are all free.
3) Shopping-centre picnics
Shopping centres are great places to go, especially if it’s raining. Not only will you find that the baby-changing facilities are good, but you can window shop for hours. You can also take your own sandwiches so you can enjoy a thrifty lunch break.
My mummy pals and I used to meet up at The Trafford Centre. We’d call it ‘Trafford Tuesday’ and we’d all text amongst ourselves to see who was free to go that week.
4) Rotating between houses
If you do make friends with one or two people, then you could rotate the play dates between each other’s houses. Everybody could bring a different dish or a snack to share and you will have tea and coffee on tap too.
5) Free local classes
The number of free baby classes has dramatically reduced over recent years, but they are still available. Ask your health visitor about them when she comes to visit.
6) Walking to the supermarket
I used to get out of the house every day. Even if it was just to walk down the aisles is Sainsbury’s.
The supermarket is also a great baby-sensory experience. I’m serious. Have you ever observed a baby staring at the lights? They love it. And I for one think it’s worth doing mundane stuff whilst you can get away with it. Your little one will soon be asking to go to the zoo.
7) Visiting family
If you have family close by, utilise them. I used to see my mum every Monday afternoon and my mother-in-law every Thursday afternoon. These catch ups became the cornerstones to my week and provided me with some structure. It also meant that I had something to do that didn’t take much brain power and I didn’t spend much either.
8) Your local garden centre (bonus points if it has an aquarium or a pet shop)
I love a garden centre and they’re great when you’re on maternity. You can meet up with a friend for a coffee and walk around and have a nosy at the plants too.
But if there’s a pet shop or an aquarium there, then you’re onto an absolute winner. Looking at fish swimming and bunnies playing is a sensory experience for a small baby! Oh and it’s free.
9) Pay-as-you-go baby classes
You might want to go to some private classes that you have to pay for. Lots of class leaders are keen for you to book a term, but it’s worth asking if you can go to classes on a pay-as-you-go basis. This keeps your initial outlay down and it means that you’re not committed if you decide you don’t like it.
You’re probably not going to want to take an unpredictable newborn to an art gallery, but there are loads of museums aimed at kids that you can visit to occupy your mind and to burn some time. Bar a donation for entering, lots of museums are free of charge too.
Is it worth it?
In my eyes, it’s always worth saving a few quid where you can if it won’t hinder your enjoyment. And hopefully, by looking after the pennies, you won’t be forced to return to work early.