As young parents, we often worry about our kids’ early development. We want to give them the best opportunities possible to assist with development, but we can end up spending a lot of money on unnecessary things trying to achieve this.
According to a study done by UNICEF SA in 2007: “A family provides a young child with the most important environment in which to grow and flourish. The interactions that infants and young children have with the people around them allow them to absorb the culture and values of their society and to make sense of the world.”
Hero Life asked Mare Smit, a qualified occupational therapist, what is really important for early childhood development and to give us some tips on saving money while we are at it. She says that there are 3 things that are really important to our kids at a young age and these are:
- that parents take care of their physical needs,
- that our kids play enough, and
- that they receive as much love as possible.
It is really that simple. And none of these 3 things should cost an arm and a leg.
“Our biggest challenge is to not fall into the trap of spending money on things that matter more to us, as parents, than to the child themselves. “
Let’s quickly cover some of Mare’s money savings tips on each of these 3 important areas for our kids’ early childhood development.
How to save on a child’s PHYSICAL needs
Our children’s physical needs are quite basic as they need healthy food, fresh air, clean water and a safe environment.
Have you heard about the “sharing economy”? It basically means that we don’t need to buy as much as we do and that it is more economical to share things between like-minded parties. This is absolutely true for saving money when our kids are young as you are guaranteed to come into contact with other parents having the same requirements. Therefore, some basic tips for young parents are:
- Download a free app for monitoring your baby while asleep;
- Connect with a group of like-minded friends and fellow parents and share clothes the first 2 years of your babies’ life;
- But don’t stop there, also share everything from recipes to camper cots, strollers, toys, etc., with a group of friends with similar hygienic practices.
How to save on a child’s PLAY needs
Children need to play most of their day! This is how they grow and learn intellectually, physically and emotionally. It’s the most important part of a child’s day and it needs to be free of obstructions, but also interesting, explorative and FUN. And the more you can join your child, the better!
There are numerous websites on internet where you can google the age appropriate tasks a child should learn on a gross and fine motor level. BabyCenter and Jumpleapfly are some of Mare’s favourite websites and books for stimulation activities as they suggest easy accessible toys or objects that are usually in or around any home. Why spend money on things that can easily be replaced by objects already in your house but that you didn’t think would help with development?
Some more tips and examples to help stretch your money:
- Use things that you have at home – they do not need a toy store at home;
- Let them play in the garden and outside as much as possible;
- Join your local library instead of buying books;
- Join a local park for a cheaper yearly fair and visit as often as you can, each time focusing on something different;
- Only take out toys your child is interested in, store the others and rotate toys every month so that they feel like new toys every time;
- Join or organize your own toy library with other like-minded families – this ensures a nice rotation of toys between families so that your kids don’t get bored;
- Go for regular walks or runs around the neighborhood block.
LOVE is the ultimate Free Gift
Children need as much love as possible. They need unconditional love, forgiving love, sharing love, caring love, physical love and patience love! Many studies have shown that children in overcrowded areas become slow to thrive – not due to a lack of nourishment, but rather due to a lack of physical touch. Physical touch that is caring and kind can make a world of a difference for any child. Give hugs and hold them as often as you like! It’s free and doesn’t cost you a thing!!
Some critical “Love actions” that your child desperately needs and that won’t even touch your budget:
- Listen attentively to your toddler;
- Read books together from an early age (start before they are 1 year old);
- Listen and sing songs together;
- Laugh together;
- Play rough and tumble;
- Hug your child as much a possible.
Hopefully this helps all the Hero parents out there with a few money saving tips that still ensure effective early childhood development. Just remember, in most cases it’s the experience rather than the object that makes a difference.
Want to know more about saving? Just ask Hero Life to point you in the right direction – their advice is free.
Hero Life is a company that offers a free online Will, helps you to start saving for your kids’ education, and offers life insurance, designed specifically for young parents.
Hero Life is an MMI Group initiative, and underwritten by Guardrisk Life Limited (Reg no 1999/013922/06), an authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP license number 76).
Visit herolife.co.za for more info.