Not so long ago I could not have imagined that I would be a few short days away, maybe weeks depending how cosy baby is in there, from giving birth to our first child. As I’ve said before, it was unequivocally not on our radar.
At this point last year, Michael had recently started a new job where he is a trainee.We had also just had our honeymoon. At that point in time, we both knew that we wanted children but we definitely thought that babies were somewhere in the distant, faraway future. Over the next few months a few things changed and all of a sudden we had decided that we were most certainly on the baby train.
Although our outlook on when we wanted to have our family had changed, not a lot else in our personal circumstances had. We quickly decided that baby number one was, contrary to what the commercial world would like you to believe, going to be a budget baby. Our little noodle was going to learn to be thrifty from the womb!
We thought this would be easy and naïvely looked up a baby “essentials” list online. Well, the list certainly did not seem like it was simply the basics. If they were the basics then we had massively underestimated the task at hand.
We spoke to our parents and friends and decided that we were going to try and get quite a few of our items second-hand. This was met with differing opinions however we have managed to bring people round.
From the advice on various websites it was clear that the elements that we weren’t going to have second-hand would be mattresses and a car seat due to safety.
Another thing we decided was to limit our purchasing of clothes. This has so far certainly been helped by our decision not to find out the sex of the baby. I say our decision, that’s not strictly true, I vetoed Michael and have stuck to my decision. Maybe he’ll get to know with the next one…maybe.
Decorating Stage 1: The perfect wardrobe
Our first stage of baby planning was to disassemble Michael’s dressing room, yep that’s right, Michael’s dressing room, not mine – I haven’t ever had one! Michael’s Mum had kindly donated a lovely, dark wood small double bed for our second bedroom. We wanted to have our second bedroom as a functional guest room with space for the all-important winter washing stand! The bed fit the space perfectly, in exactly the way that I had wanted it to since we moved in – we are not the speediest homemakers/decorators! We set to hunting for a wardrobe that matched the small double bed bedroom and managed to find a three door one in Ikea that was a perfect size and only £140! Done!
Decorating Stage 1 part 2: Building blunders!
Then we had to build it – well that was a whole new challenge! The floor space in all of our rooms wasn’t enough to build the wardrobe and then stand it up.
Unfortunately we didn’t find this out until we had put the frame together. In the room we were going to keep it fortunately!
We then had to try and manoeuvre the wardrobe out of the door and flip it over whilst maintaining its integrity. Well that was *almost* successful! There was only one loud crack. We both froze! Was our perfect wardrobe gone before it had even made its first appearance?
Fortunately it was not a structural element and the breakage is now hidden away and patched up like a good’un.
We then had to build the rest of it stood up which was a bit more of a challenge than we’d anticipated. It basically involved me holding it upright whilst Mike secured the structure. Pregnancy and standing for long periods of time is obviously advisable and I was super still the whole time, promise! Oh and we had to go back a few steps just to add insult to injury!
For those of you who know my husband you’ll know that he is a pretty calm and relaxed guy, for those of you who don’t it genuinely takes an absolute age for him to get wound up, it’s one of the things I love about him as I’m not the easiest of people at times. This was not the case with our wardrobe test! He became Mr Grumpy embodied. I then realised that we had made a fatal error whilst we were undertaking this challenge.
Music makes the world go round!
Now there are a few ways to Michael’s heart and methods to motivate him. The primary route is through food. He is definitely a sufferer of hanger and is often found to be hangry when not fed for a period of time. However as I was holding the wardrobe I could hardly feed him whilst helping. Lucky for us failing food, music works just as well!
Like a small child being told to fetch their “blanky”, I sent him to fetch his Bluetooth speaker and put on some tunes. The transformation occurred instantly and my little grumpy caterpillar turned into a beautiful, wardrobe-building butterfly! Nonetheless, what we thought would take us less than an hour took us closer to two due to the logistics and despair of it.
Once it was done, through the blood, sweat and frustration, we couldn’t have been happier with the result. Some curtains are all we need and then it’s done! One guest room complete for less than £200.
Decorating Stage 2: Emptying the Nursery!
Now that we had emptied the room of Michael’s clothes we were able to do some reshuffling of the furniture in the rest of the house to enable us to empty the future nursery. The blanket box at the end of our bed has now become a coffee table in the living room and we moved a chest of drawers into our room temporarily whilst we search for the perfect drawers for the foot of the bed. I’m sure they exist and I will take my time to find them!
However, the chest of drawers could wait. The nursery couldn’t.
So far, despite having lived in our house for two and half years, we have only decorated our bedroom. We’ve also re-laid the kitchen floor due to the disastrous, destruction caused by our lovely little Nala dog- a story for another time. In our room we went for a dark, grey feature wall with white walls. We decided that baby is going to mirror us and have gone for a light grey feature wall with white walls. The baby will have all of its life to decide to differ from us so we decided to start off matching!
Decorating Stage 3: Painting
Considering we haven’t done a lot of decoration we were pretty pleased with our efforts in our nursery. We did three coats on each wall and then even went the extra mile and did an extra coat on the edges of the feature wall to really box it in neatly! Decorating company here we come! My mum kindly footed the bill for the feature wall paint as well as letting us borrow her decorating equipment to help us avoid investing in too many things.
We then built our furniture. A second-hand cot, Michael’s old chest of drawers and a second hand chair with a new cushion from Ikea. Our main items of furniture kitted out for less than £50! We also managed to avoid having any building blunders this time round!
Decorating Stage 4: Furnishings
We added three shelves at £7 each with £7 for brackets. Mattresses for the cot and moses basket were £54 combined from Mother Nurture on Amazon. Then we also managed to find blackout curtains from Amazon on a sale deal, £70 down to £30. We have caved and bought a few items of clothing, blankets and storage baskets but we also received lots of lovely things at the wonderful baby shower my Mum and sisters threw for me.
All things up to now have left our current running total baby spend and investment at around about £300. Not bad for baby no.1!
We’ve also wangled ourselves a brand new Mothercare car seat for £40 – down from £80! Considering our baby is due relatively soon, we feel pretty much kitted out. We are incredibly happy with what we’ve achieved. However, it could not have been done without the support and generosity of our family and friends.
Some other items that have been donated to us so far in our budget baby campaign are:
- Brand new short-sleeved sleep suits – still in wrapping
- Baby bath
- A packet of new-born nappies
- A pram and pushchair combo – which I’ve had professionally cleaned for £25
- Moses basket
- Changing bag
- A selection of toys
There are moments when I wonder, do we have enough? Have we been too stringent with ourselves? Isn’t shopping for the baby part of the fun?
Sometimes I do feel that we have been too strict on ourselves. Equally, if there is something we’ve missed, between Mothercare and Amazon Prime – it’s covered!
Every day I go in to the room and sit in our chair whilst talking to our baby. It feels amazing to be able to imagine how it may be once the baby arrives. It’s also fabulous to have some concrete things in place around us to start to feel the presence of our baby in our home.
Also through this process, as cheesy as it is, we have been shown just how much love surrounds our baby already and that overriding force is what really matters!
To find your perfect wardrobe, click here to go to Ikea!
For fabulous second-hand furniture and to help a good cause, find your nearest British Heart Foundation by clicking here!