Frugally Awesome…or Awkward: Birthday Party Edition

This weekend, we went to our first kids’ birthday party since I’ve been pregnant. We’re no stranger to balloons, cake, and little kid shenanigans as we are one of the last holdouts in our family and friend groups to trade in our DINK cards. But this little bump sticking out from under my sweater invited an avalanche of advice and awkward conversations about money in less time than it took to crack a piñata.

“Feel free to ignore all the free advice.”

In the twenty weeks that I’ve been pregnant, I’ve learned a few things about growing a human. Basically, the fabled pregnancy glow might be the greatest lie anyone has ever told and just say no to chicken, at least for the first few months. Something else I’m learning very quickly is that when people say things like, “Feel free to ignore all the free advice,” they are about to unleash more well-meaning free advice, real-life case studies, and anecdotes about poop than your brain could possibly process in one sitting. That was the opening line of this party, and true to form, the advice runneth over.

“Just accept the fact that you’re always going to have way too much stuff.”

The subject of hand-me-downs came up, and we both agreed that we would gladly welcome whatever castoffs people wanted to share with us. Then I joked that I had to restrain one friend who was already trying to box up toys that Half Penny won’t be able to play with for another half decade at least.

Three moms pounced right away:

“Take them!”

“Scoop them up.”

“Keep them in the basement. Just accept the fact that you’re always going to have way too much stuff.”

As a former Stuff-o-holic, I can most assuredly tell you that while this baby will likely not want for anything, we will not have too much stuff. I am not going down that road again. Come hell or high water, this kid is going to have exactly one closet.

“You should really make the decision to nurse now.”

Growing up, I could never understand how my mom was always so confident and self-assured. Now, I suspect that it is, at least in part, due to becoming a mom. This roller coaster ride has forced me to swallow my dignity in a way I never thought possible. Truly. The search history on my phone would be enough to silence the most outspoken individual. Some days, it feels like if we all make it through this, there’s nothing I won’t be able to do or say or ask.

I’ve also largely accepted the fact that people are going to be all up in my business whether I like it or not. But that still hasn’t prepared me entirely for on-the-spot comments like, “You should really make the decision to nurse now.” I’d like to make a lot of decisions now. For example, I’d like to decide to be a multi-millionaire who lives on passive income streams while her newborn baby sleeps through the night no matter how many dogs bark. But I don’t know that I want to publically declare them in a room full of people I hardly know. And something tells me, there are some decisions that you can’t control entirely no matter how hard you try. So instead, I’ll wait and see.

About the nursing thing. I’ve obviously got the multi-millionaire thing in the bag.

“You would love an Apple watch.”

One family swore they spent $30,000 on two kids in daycare. In one year. In the time I’ve been pregnant, I’ve missed sushi and I’ve missed lunchmeat, but I’ve never missed alcohol all that much. Until that number came out. At that moment, if I could have strapped myself to a tap somewhere, I would have. And I hate beer.

In the middle of a heated conversation about childcare and other stomach-churning costs, an Apple watch lit up. In a handful of minutes, someone had mentioned how hard it was to pay all their bills as a family and someone else said, “You would love an Apple watch”. Knowing that purchase just isn’t for me, I simply held out both my wrists that are still enveloped in Sea Bands. The only thing these wrists will wear until this nausea stops is pseudoscience, thankyouverymuch.

Curious what awkwardness you might have missed? Check it all out here.

So Tell Me…What do you do when you get free advice?


  1. I feel your pain…… I throw most of the advice in my brain dumpster, especially from people who haven’t had kids in 30+ years. The recommendations have changed so much since then it’s scary bad advice.

    I think most people mean well, but we want to figure a lot of this out by ourselves.

    • Hmmm. I definitely (definitely!) see what you’re saying, but I am also trying to use advice from older family members as a reminder that all the bells and whistles aren’t always necessary. My husband and I were having the diaper debate this weekend, and this is something I kept going back to.

  2. Tons of advice and nosy people must be a rite of parenthood. Oh, and if you do figure out how to get half penny to sleep through the night on day one, you can write an instant best seller on it, which will make you a multi millionaire who can live of the passive income. By which time half penny will have entered the terrible twos, and you’ll have material for a sequel :).

  3. Yep, $30k for 2 kids isn’t out of line. Ours topped out at $24k/yr for 2 in daycare – some months it cost more than the mortgage. 🙂

    The only thing I’d recommend is getting as many pictures as you can as soon as they’re born. Both of ours changed so much in the first few weeks that going back and seeing the photos of them as “new” newborns (24-72 hrs old) are just amazing.

    Mrs. SSC was surprised by how many people assumed that her being pregnant meant they could now overshare all sorts of TMI about them, their wives, bodily functions, and more. Oh, and that her belly was theirs to rub, lol.

    • So far everyone has been really respectful of my belly. Except a certain grandma 😉 But I knew what I was getting into with my mom. Ha!

      That’s good to know about the photos. We are just starting to think about possibly doing newborn photos (or hospital photos…I think pass?!). So it’s helpful to hear that photos are big (professional or otherwise!).

  4. kim domingue

    I will disagree, very politely, with the first comment. Just because someone hasn’t raised a child in the last 30 years, doesn’t mean that the advice they give is bad. Conversely, just because someone has four children, currently ten and under, doesn’t mean their advice is good. The best advice I ever got was from someone who’s youngest child was in his late 20s at the time. Some of the worst advice I ever got was from parents that were currently raising a family. Some of the best advice I ever got was from someone with three kids under the age of seven. Some of the worst advice that I ever got was from my mother-in-law, lol! When I was pregnant, I figured it was easiest to listen politely to any advice, nod my head, say “That’s a good point/idea” or “I hadn’t thought about that” or something similar rather than offer my own thoughts on the subject which just encouraged a more vigorous attempt to persuade me to advice giver’s way of thinking. If I thought the advice was good or had merit, I’d ask questions. If not, then I suddenly needed to pee urgently. That’s always a good way to get out of an unwanted advice session! You can’t stop all unsolicited advice, unfortunately. Keep what’s good and in line with your parenting objectives and let go of the rest. But don’t completely tune out advice that you don’t currently agree with…..some of it may have merits that you don’t currently recognize.

    Anyway, that’s my advice…..for what it’s worth, lol!

    • Haha! I always appreciate your comments so much, Kim. I am truly trying to keep an open mind about everything. I figure it’s just like personal finance and blogging. All these ideas worked for someone. Maybe they will work for me and my family!

      • kim domingue

        That’s sweet of you to say!

        I’m in your camp about stuff. Babies don’t need a lot. Nor do toddlers. The cost of daycare is enough to drive you to drink. Everybody had opinions and advice. Everyone’s children, families, circumstances, goals and outlook on life are different. There is no one size fits all. Breastfeeding/bottle feeding. The Trump versus Clinton debate pales in comparison to the breast/bottle debate! The only suggestion that I have there is to always sit, relax and hold your baby while you feed her. I enjoyed rocking while I fed my babies. It was relaxing for both of us.

        A little reminder in poem form that I had where I could see it when mine were young….

        A tiny child,
        at first so small
        quickly grows very tall
        and soon will need
        no help at all.

  5. Ack. Sorry for all the unsolicited advice you’re surely having crammed down your throat. I got a lot of this crap while I was planning my wedding, of all things, and I HATED it. I hate people being nosy and it cast a shadow over the entire experience. Most of the time I get that people are just excited and want to talk about nothing, but it’s sometimes better to say nothing at all.

    I try to change the subject when I get unsolicited advice. It really, really irks me when people are pushy or judgmental.

    At the end of the day, Penny, you do what’s best for you and the kiddo. 🙂

  6. You’re right – parenting advice is exactly like all the personal finance advice out there. It’s personal! Take what works and leave the rest behind. I clearly remember the criticisms of some of my parenting choices when the kids were younger – and, though, they didn’t change the way I did things, they did piss me off from time to time. But, looking back, I wasted a lot of time and energy worrying about them. Plus, my kids are turning out to be responsible, conscientious members of society, so there’s that. 🙂

    • I’m sure we’re in for a whole bunch of criticism. And I’m sure we’ll do a fair amount of kicking ourselves, too. That’s good to know that I should care a little less about this 🙂

  7. Cheryl

    Unsolicited advice yeah…just love it. I get it all the time from people who need to get their own lives in order. My sister tells me I am too cheap, need to get a dog, etc, brags about how much she spent to get her hair done, etc. and two months ago she called crying she was going to get her car repossessed unless she made a payment that day. I told her I don’t have the money in my account to cover it. My mom couldn’t help her and my dad had just given her money the month before. So I told her I would have to ask my husband, who she thinks is just too controlling with his money aka cheap. It really was hard for her to eat that crow and ask him and admit she could not handle her finances and she needed the help from a “cheap” person who could. We pay our bills on time, save money and don’t blow it on cars we cannot afford or pampering ourselves with things we do not need. He lent her the money to be repaid when she got her check. She could not face my husband to give him the money in person, but gave it to my mother to give him. I called her up and told her she was rude, he saved your car from being towed away, you don’t repay him in person or even call to say thank you. So yes, after that she has stop trying to give me advice on how to live or spend my money.

    • I can’t even imagine how frustrating that situation was and probably continues to be, Cheryl! I’m glad she now appreciates (or at least doesn’t criticize) how you spend and save.

  8. Bonnie

    Sounds like you have the advice thing under control! It is SO annoying. I will say I think it’s important to be open to not only nursing but also formula-feeding (which it sounds like you are). I wanted to nurse, but my milk never really came in and everything just went horribly wrong with that, so I ended up formula-feeding (just like I was in the ’70s by my own mom), and our now 3-year-old is smart as a whip and healthy as can be. Daycare costs can be prohibitive, but they do vary widely. I found that regarding the hand-me-downs and other “stuff,” I kept the stuff I wanted/needed and either donated the other stuff or gave it to our daycare or other moms. I also do a ruthless culling/donation every few months or so of kids’s clothes that no longer fit, toys that she has outgrown, etc. I’m starting to include her in this, and she seeks okay with it! (Hint: When they reach a certain age, saying “This is for babies, right? Can we give this to a baby?”)

    • I think the best thing I’ve read so far is that “fed is best” 🙂 I was a formula baby, too! My mom had lupus and then had a blood clot, so she was on too much medicine for the doctors to advise her to try nursing. I keep saying as long as everyone is healthy, I will be happy! And I don’t think anyone can really argue that that. Thanks for the awesome insight, Bonnie. Great pointer about the “This is for babies” strategy!

  9. Smiling and non-committal nodding work well in so many situations 🙂
    You’ll be great parents and will figure out what’s right for you and your family. Then, once you figure out what works for this kid, the next one (if you choose to have a next one) will be the complete opposite!

  10. When I get that free advice, I just try to smile and nod. Though I remember once I almost cried. In public.

    As a mom, I try to only give advice when someone is directly asking for it, and even then with the caveat that every kid is different, moms are different, and ultimately you just have to survive.

  11. Sorry you’re being inundated with advice. But just like decluttering your stuff, you need to make piles with your advice….use, wait and see, discard (and maybe one pile for “that’s crazy and perfect for my blog”). While people love to help, not everyone achieves that mark. Don’t feel bad for doing what’s right for you.

  12. Worst advice if I’d listened to it: MIL telling us we had to let JuggerBaby cry it out starting at one month of age or “you’ll never sleep alone again”. Talk about hyperbole and damaging. I just blinked at her and then went back to snuggling JB because yeah no nope.

    Complete strangers I have told to go to hell. Especially when they were accosting me to harass me in stores.

    Everyone else in between varies depending on how much I like them ? There’s a good reason my favorite aunties for JB are DINKs though. They’ve had enough of people telling them what they should want and do with their lives, they’re not going to dump unwanted advice on me.

    Close seconds are parents with common sense. They’re fun and we trade lots of war stories because if you can’t laugh at those memories, then you just have to pretend you’re not insane and that’s no fun alone.

    I don’t think we can get away from the poop stories though. Someone’s allllways having a bad poop day.

  13. Jan

    At my own baby shower for my first that was held by my husband’s coworkers I literally had to put my fingers in my ears and say “na-na-na” to get someone to stop telling me horror birth stories.

    The rest of it? Yes, you can completely take it as it comes. I didn’t decide to nurse until the moment after birth when it worked. We didn’t buy bottles OR a pump. We took it one day at a time. Everything can be taken one day at a time.

    You’ve got this. 🙂

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jan. I hope to try to learn to roll with things, too. It seems like there are so many unknowable things until the actual moments arrive.

      And I hear you about those birth horror stories. I had to excuse myself from the teachers’ lounge during a series of epidurals gone wrong comments. ::shudder::

    • kim domingue

      Yep, I remember the horror stories other women would tell me! Now, if someone asks me, I’ll say that having babies hurts and then it’s over and done with and you’ve got a baby!

  14. Allison

    I’m sure you’d have received less unsolicited advice if the other party attendees had known it would be fodder for your blog.

    These are your friends, with whom you were celebrating a child’s birthday. I know unwanted advice can be a pain, I know that displays of crass materialism can be ugly…but. From your description, it sounds like the advice was well meant, and the offhand comments about how fun an Apple watch is was innocuous.

    This post made me sad.

    • Sorry about that, Allison. And I never said the advice wasn’t well meant. I know people generally mean well. 🙂 And actually, I hadn’t talked much to these people before; our paths cross maybe once every year or two.

      And asking someone to publically declare their intention to breastfeed or listening to someone half cry over not being able to pay their bills makes me sad, too.

    • Ha. No. I don’t do any affiliate marketing. I just bought everything on the “approved” list from my doctor. I don’t think they’d be very happy if I were promoting them and calling them pseudoscience in the same sentence.

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