As young parents, we often worry about our kids’ development. We want to give them the best opportunities possible, but we can end up spending a lot of unnecessary money on 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. According to Smit, there are three things that are really important to our kids at a young age:
- Their physical needs are met
- They play
- They receive as much love as possible
It is really that simple. 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 Smit’s tips in saving money on each of these three important areas for our children’s early childhood development.
How to save on a child’s physical needs
Our children’s physical needs are quite basic: they need healthy food, fresh air, clean water and a safe environment. Have you heard about the “sharing economy”? It basically means we don’t need to buy as much as we do and that it is more economical to share things between each other. This is absolutely true for saving money when our kids are young.
Some basic tips for young parents:
- Download a free app for monitoring your baby while asleep.
- Connect with a group of friends and fellow parents and share clothes the first two years of your babies’ lives.
- Share everything from recipes to camp cots, strollers, 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 the internet where you can search the age-appropriate tasks a child should learn on a gross and fine motor level. You can also search for stimulation activities involving easy, accessible toys or objects that are usually in or around any home.
“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.”
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 organise your own toy library with other families.
- Go for regular walks or runs around the neighbourhood 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 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 one year old).
- Listen and sing songs together.
- Laugh together.
- Play rough and tumble.
- Hug your child as much as 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.
This article is to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific advice or to serve as the basis for any purchasing decisions. Hero Life is underwritten by Guardrisk Life Ltd an authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP 76).
Advise is rendered by representatives mandated by MMI Group Limited trading as Metropolitan (FSP 44673).