Raising a child supposedly costs you a quarter of a million dollars, but it can honestly be more daunting to face the idea of spending $80 on bottle nipples in a single month. Expense Report gives us a look into the spending, scrimping, and wishing that defines parenthood, from what moms spend on birthdays, to childcare, to sleep, to self-care (we wish!), and beyond.
The thing about having a baby is that nobody notices you anymore. All those visitors who came to see my newborn those first few weeks did not see me at all — they were all eyes on the bébé. And it’s a good thing, because I didn't feel like myself, or didn't feel good about how I looked, let's say. But something amazing happened in the wake of my firstborn: I stopped obsessing over my appearance. I had much more important things to worry about (such as keeping my child alive). Subsequently, the amount I spent on beauty before kids took a dive to the amount I spend now.
This is the part where I tell you not to worry how much it costs to have kids — whatever baby expenses I suddenly had were offset by savings due to lack of self-care. I am now able to make a bottle of shampoo last for months (and I have long hair… mostly because I rarely visit the salon).
That is the good news. The bad news is that society hasn’t totally caught up to the idea that stepping out into the world looking like an actual mother dealing with cluster feedings and diaper blow-outs and kindergarten applications is acceptable. For some reason, I’m expected to pull myself together like I did in my pre-baby days, when I had two hours to get ready before going out, without anyone dipping their sticky fingers in my eye shadow.
To get a good sense of the difference in my annual beauty spending habits, here’s how much it cost me annually before, and after, baby.
Before: $300; I realize this is on the low end for a cowlick-haired woman living in New York City but even before kids, I couldn't be bothered to deal with my hair very much.
Now: $100, since my haircut is not a bi-annual affair, and I forego the blow-out because who has the time?
Before: I would get about 10 basic manicures a year, so that came to $180 (including tip).
Pedicures cost more, and I took good care of my feet. I’d get about 20 pedicures at my local Queens salon throughout the year at about $25 each, also including tip. That came to $500. So my nail care total for the year would be about $680.
Now: I never get manicures anymore, and I get maybe four pedicures a year, just in the months I’m forced to expose my toes, and that comes to $100.
If I need to rein in my spending, waxing will be the first thing to go.
Before: I kept things pretty tidy, so I'd go every six weeks at $67 per session (including tip) and that came to about $581.
Now: I'm down to about three times a year, which is roughly $201. And if I need to rein in my spending, waxing will be the first thing to go.
Before: $250 was what I shelled out myself, and didn’t count spa certificates I’d receive as gifts.
Now: $0, because I just ask my kids to walk on my back.
Before: $200 I'd have my hair color professionally done once a year (again, I don’t invest a lot in my hair), with some root touch-ups in between.
Now: $14, if that. I tried doing that ombre thing once at home. I came out looking like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Otherwise I just run that hair mascara through my roots and get crafty with some bandanas to cover my gray… which I have significantly more of after having kids.
Before: $200. I was a sucker for lipsticks.
Now: $30. I buy a new mascara only because I’ve read too many articles urging me to throw away old eye make-up. And yes, I buy this even though I apply it maybe once a month. I no longer have the time to play up the windows to my soul. This is just my face now.
Before: about $140. I’d buy about two bottles of fragrance a year, usually when I traveled somewhere significant. I loved associating a new scent to a certain experience, so even if it was a business trip across the country to Los Angeles, I’d buy myself a new signature fragrance.
Now: $0. I smell like whatever my child has wiped on me after I doused myself in hand sanitizer.
Before: $1,150. This number, sadly reflects quantity, and not so much quality. I keep a bottle of Nivea hand lotion in every room in the house, and in my bag(s), and at my office. I also would have very little willpower when it came to those point-of-purchase sales of flavored lip balm. I just can’t not pick up one… for when the current three I have in rotation run out.
Now: $1,100. It’s only slightly less, reflecting the reduction in my leg-shaving and products associated with that. While I don’t often have the opportunity to do so, one activity I luxuriate in, as a mom, is leisurely browsing the aisles of the drugstores when I have the opportunity to do so without children. There is no better “me time” than when I can lovingly browse all the many body washes, taking my time to pick out the perfect scent for the two minutes I’ll get to shower… at some point.
Before Kids Total: $3,501
After Kids Total: $1,545
Adding up all the pre-baby beauty spending, I can’t totally justify the cost. It’s a lot of money, to me, and I am not sure if it was worth it. I love using a new lipstick for the first time, and I’m not going to deny that those massages felt fantastic. But the feelings associated with these purchases don’t last forever. I don’t feel less taken care of now that I have kids, even though I spend a lot less on beauty. Yes, I feel like I don’t have much time for myself, and I should probably invest in some better cover-up for those under-eye circles I sport daily. But am I mad about being lower maintenance? Not at all.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.