What happens when you have kids? They cost money; lots of it. Even if your basic baby start-ups are provided lovingly by gifts (at a shower or through hand me downs), the bills begin accruing fast.
It starts innocently enough with diapers and formula (if you’re one of the evil parents who doesn’t breastfeed for the first three years). Pretty soon you have to stay on top of the latest baby toys, ensuring you don’t overlook your child’s pertinent gross and fine motor skill development and provide the finest bouncy seat, swing, and educational mobile. Don’t forget the super deluxe baby car seat (until you need another one within a year), the hippest stroller with the biggest wheels, and a diaper bag with enough pockets to hold an extra pacifier, an extra bottle, extra toys, and of course, diapers and wipes.
Once you’ve stared at your baby enough, you feel confounded as to what to do with it, so you decide you must read it Shakespeare and when it doesn’t yield the response you want (READ: giggles), you convince yourself you need mommy and me classes. Ka-ching, ka-ching. All the other parents (who love their kids more than you) are on top of the programs and so you never feel like you can keep up. When they’ve reached the ripe age of three, they’re ready to be sent off to school; preschool, not to be confused with Pre-K! Both, incidentally are not options offered through public school, so unless you want to wait until your child is five (and behind!) to enroll them in school, you’ll find yourself shelling out private-school moolah. This may involve taking another job or starting a small business.
Once enrolled in private school, you witness your child thrive and of course, when you’ve tasted caviar, you don’t want anchovies anymore, so you have to keep the kid in private school. Incidentally in NYC, what started as $19K a year for three days a week has become $45K for a normal 9am – 3pm first grade. I’m not sure if that’s considered “normal” in any real world, but in NYC, that’s the price of a good education. (If you care about your kids enough to give them a good education.)
Also, kids need clothing constantly! They grow and don’t think you can outsmart the system by purchasing clothing in a size bigger to get more wear out of it; by next year, they will have shrunk in the wash and gone down a size. More clothes.
FOOD. Children eat all the time, especially SNACKS. If you really love your children, you will feed them organic non-processed food and not Pirate’s booty and bagels with cream cheese. Have you tried shopping at Whole Foods? You may have to choose between a week’s worth of groceries and private school.
Kids need lessons! Ballet lessons, swimming lessons, gymnastics, musical theater class, drama lessons, baseball lessons, piano lessons, guitar lessons, cooking lessons, and soccer (which is basically paying to have your kid run around without you watching). What accompanies the specialty lessons? Dance leotards, tights, and shoes, recital costumes, guitar strings and picks, bathing suits, cleats and more!
Living in a big city like New York, you’re in constant competition, swimming upstream in a sea of Type-A overachievers and this way of life becomes the norm, rather than the aberration.
Let’s not forget the granddaddy of them all: birthday parties. NYC is home to the insane standard of children’s birthday parties. It’s not unheard of that people spend $10K on a children’s party. Additionally, with the kindness epidemic, we’re invited to at least 20 birthday parties a year – with at least $25 per present. Don’t get me started on goody bag one-upmanship.
What about appreciating the intellectual arts? Because we live in the greatest city in the world and don’t want to make that an utter waste, there are trips to museums, movies, and the zoo and Broadway shows because kids love to sing and it’s so available it would be a shame to miss it!
Is it time for a vacation? Obviously, with lessons and Broadway shows and private school, these children need well-rested, yet activity-laden vacations. We sweep them off to the Caribbean or if you truly love and cherish your little ones, you go to Disney World. If you can secure a small loan, it’s off to Hawaii for two weeks where it’s not enough to plop them on the sand, but you have to give them surf lessons and snorkeling trips and parasailing and jet skiing adventures because I’m not going to be the cool mom that brings you to a candy store and says, look but no touch.
You could always stay home. All your kids’ friends are going to the fancy schmancy day camp 45 minutes away, where they swim twice a day, enjoy an animal park, and get an ice pop at the end of the day. All this can be yours (transportation included) for an easy $1K a week.
Finally, electronics, our babysitters and evil drug dealers, whose shelf lives mandate frequent upgrading because once we start an addiction, we sure as hell want to make sure we continue to satiate it. Overnight, your precious little darling becomes a teenager and needs a phone to text, Instagram, SnapChat, tweet, Facebook, and ignore parental calls. If the iPad and iPhone isn’t enough, they will also need a laptop for schoolwork and of course, playing Steam games (whatever that is, but it also costs money).
Thank God loving the shit of them is free.