While the world outside might seem like it’s falling apart, children continue to develop and grow. Babies continue to have nights of little (to no) sleep, toddlers keep on tantruming and siblings continue to fight. Which is why Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue is here to answer your questions. On this episode of Helpline she tackles: A […]
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Feeling a little cooped-up at home? Are your kids starting to climb the walls without their usual routine, friends and family to visit during this period of community isolation? You’re not alone. Did you ever think you would miss the daycare runs and park visits quite this much? We’re going on a hear hunt. We’re […]
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Here’s how you can access expanded financial resources and practice tried-and-true budgeting methods to help you and your family weather the storm.
1. Review your budget + cut what you don’t need.
With the stress of a global pandemic and social distancing—not to mention the financial worries that come with both—budgeting can feel overwhelming. But making a plan now can actually help you feel a sense of control. This crisis will not last forever, but the money choices you make now may have a long-term impact on your financial health.
Start by determining the minimum monthly amount you need to cover your bills and lifestyle spending during the next few months. Make a list of every monthly expense you pay, including fixed bills like your rent and phone bill, and variable expenses like groceries and household items.
Cut or pause payments on any non-essentials—for example, many gyms are offering the option to pause memberships, since social distancing practices prevent people from going. Other service providers like your cell phone company, credit card company, car insurance agent and internet provider may have options that will reduce your bills, or smaller packages that match your needs at a lower cost.
2. Make a plan.
Once you know your minimum monthly spend, you can make a plan. Compare what you need against any regular monthly income, as well as other income you can receive from things like unemployment, the stimulus credit, and your 2019 tax refund. If you haven’t yet, file your taxes early so that you’ll get your refund quicker.
If you have an emergency fund, now may be the time you dip into it if you need. Be mindful about how much you take out of this fund and start by taking as little from your emergency fund as possible. This amount will vary person to person, and family to family, but the idea is to allow yourself to use the cash to help cover immediate costs and alleviate stress and anxiety about paying your bills.
3. Access expanded government programs designed to help meet basic needs.
Government measures have been put in place to help families struggling to make important monthly payments. For example, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently enacted a 60-day foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages. If this moratorium doesn’t apply to you, or if you’re a renter, try contacting your mortgage lender or landlord (in writing) to let them know you’re going to have trouble paying. You may be able to work out an arrangement directly with them.
Dealing with an unresponsive or difficult landlord? Many states and cities have temporarily stopped evictions—check online to see if your state or city has, and make sure your landlord is aware of these laws. This can give you some additional breathing room on your rent payment.
ChildCare.gov is a great resource for families who are struggling during this time. The website has information on how to access helpful programs, like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help families with their energy bills, WIC and SNAP which provide food assistance, and child nutrition programs, including any local schools that are providing lunches despite school closures.
For parents who need help with buying basic supplies, such as diapers, the National Diaper Bank Network can help you access free diapers via a local diaper bank.
4. Talk to credit card companies and other lenders to help you create a plan for your debt.
The FDIC is encouraging banks and lenders to work with any customers impacted by the pandemic. Visit the American Bank Association’s website for an online list of banks that are helping those in need with mortgage loans, car loans, credit card payments.
If you’re worried about paying your federal student loans, you can now pause payments for up to six months—the federal government has also temporarily paused interest charges. But make sure you don’t just stop paying. Set your future self up for success and contact your lender to request an administrative forbearance.
Making a proactive call to your lender is also a good practice for any other loans or credit card accounts—don’t just ignore the situation and let an account go into default. Many credit card companies are offering to waive late payment fees or increase credit limits for those in need, but make sure to confirm with your bank or creditor before missing a payment or going over your limit.
This crisis is forcing many of us to make difficult choices and deal with new financial and personal challenges—remember you’re not in this alone, and there are many resources available to help you.
A few short weeks ago, I started singing “You Are My Sunshine” to my baby each night before bed. I want my baby to recognize my voice when they arrive in June.
A few short weeks ago, my biggest concerns were around finding and researching the “perfect” baby products, making it to a prenatal yoga class and lathering on belly butter to prevent stretch marks.
A few short weeks ago, I was lucky to be surrounded by my family members eagerly telling them to place their hands on my belly so they could feel the baby move. I wanted to share my joy with them, the first grandchild on either side of our family, and I worried not everyone would get a chance to feel the baby’s movements.
Today, I am worried—like most mothers—about how we will get groceries safely next week without being exposed to COVID-19. I have never felt fearful of physically being in our local grocery stores, until now, and it feels strange. The dramatic changes brought on because of the pandemic have left me feeling like the world is spinning.
Suddenly everything I was looking forward to has been stripped away—canceled birth classes, hospital tours, baby showers, maternity photos, haircuts (okay, I know this isn’t that important but I desperately wanted to get a haircut before my baby comes!) and a gift card for a prenatal massage that will sadly go unused.
I can’t even easily purchase diapers or wipes for my baby—something that I assumed would always be accessible. I feel unprepared.
And I’ve been having a repetitive nightmare of being separated from my baby after giving birth because I have contracted COVID-19. Even worse—I fear the hospital will be so full there is no room for me and my baby in case we need medical intervention.
Yes, I know this may not actually happen, but as a first-time mom paired with the uncertainty of the world right now, I am feeling frightened. I’m searching for a sense of normalcy wherever I can find it. Today I was Googling “absolute necessities for a newborn” to see if there was anything I could purchase to simply make me feel better.
All of the prenatal podcasts I’ve listened to and pregnancy books I’ve read have one piece of advice in common—find community and support. The message is clear and repetitive: “Connect with other mamas in your birth class”, “Ask for help”, “Make a chore list for people to help when they come to visit”, “Find support”, “Remember, you are not alone!”
But now, I, like many other pregnant-during-a-global-pandemic mothers, am feeling alone.
Who knows when it will be safe for my family to see me again? I may not be pregnant anymore, and they may not meet their grandchild until they are a few months old.
I know that our situation could be much, much worse. I often feel angry at myself for even grieving the pregnancy I’ve dreamed of and lost when others are suffering so deeply. I am acutely aware of the pain happening in the world and feel it to the deepest core of my being. As an empath, the emotions of others affect me tremendously. So much so in fact that at my last prenatal visit my blood pressure was the highest it has ever been.
It’s exceedingly difficult to feel excited about the new life I’m bringing into the world when the world currently seems so turbulent and full of pain.
But when it comes down to it, no matter what else is going on, I can’t deny that I’m sad. I am so, so sad. Sad for all of the first-time moms whose realities have changed similarly to mine. Sad for the partners who cannot be at their prenatal visits or births. Sad for the healthcare workers and nurses working the front lines. Sad for everyone experiencing loss.
I’ve even found myself thinking Did we choose the wrong time to have this baby? Why is this happening now?
But what I’ve come to realize is that actually, now is a perfect time. This baby is teaching me every day to grow stronger than I ever knew was possible. They’re teaching me to sit in stillness. To sit with my feelings—no matter how big or small, how heavy or complicated. To slow down and breathe. To never take these special moments for granted.
I still sing “You Are My Sunshine” each night, but with greater emotion and purpose than I’ve ever felt before. This baby has become my literal beacon of light. My sunshine on these cloudy days.
And even though everything has changed, I have faith that the sun will come out… eventually.