Raising a child has always been a daunting proposition, but in many ways, parenthood is even harder for the millennial generation, thanks to the Great Recession. In response, more millennials are delaying parenthood, with the average age of a first-time mother at a near-geriatric 26 years old. (It was 21 in 1970.)
For those thinking of having kids, we asked millennial parents for tips on surviving financially while maintaining a social life.
➔ Find your inner cheapskate. Expect to cut back on expenses like shopping, eating out, and traveling. You might even consider doing the unthinkable in Atlanta—ditching the car. Katie Hayes, the 32-year-old executive director of Community Farmers Markets and mother to a 14-month-old daughter, shares a car with her husband and bikes to work from her home in Cabbagetown.
➔ Share the load. Daycare is pricey. Anna Sanders, 29, a freelance graphic designer in East Atlanta, saves money by banding together with other moms to “babyshare.” The women trade off watching the kids, allowing each other to get in a full day of work without hiring a nanny.
➔ Bring your social life home with you. Finding time for friends can be a struggle once you have kids. To get more face time, invite everyone over to your place for a drink or host dinner while the kiddies sleep.
➔ Make plans to stay in touch. Anna’s husband, Phil Sanders, 28, who owns the coworking space Foster ATL and the new retail space Citizen Supply in Ponce City Market, isn’t the only one of his friends logging long hours to get a business off the ground. Sanders, who has an 18-month-old son, catches up with busy friends over breakfast every few weeks.
➔ Get some me time. Restore your sanity by having some kid-free fun with your friends. Marie Dietz-Meyer, 33, a stylist at DADA Salon, hits the town with her girlfriends or sisters while her husband stays home with their 18-month-old daughter. And she returns the favor when he plays soccer on Friday nights.
➔ Pick your battles. Millennials sometimes go into parenthood with specific ideas on how to raise kids, such as a ban on nonorganic foods or nap times set in stone. But realize that even the best-laid plans can go out the window. Sometimes you just need to get those kids fed and rested however you can.
➔ Should you stay or should you go? Most Atlanta millennials seem to want their kids to experience urban living, but admit the quality of local schools could determine if they stay ITP. It’s never too early to start researching public and charter school options. But just because a school district isn’t up to snuff today doesn’t mean it won’t improve before your child’s first day of kindergarten.
This article originally appeared in our February 2016 issue.