Sometimes, after having a new baby, the last thing you want is to immediately go back to work. A lot of new mothers and fathers would prefer to take a break for a couple of years so that they can watch their youngster grow, and avoid paying through-the-roof prices for childcare. However, becoming a stay-at-home parent isn’t as simple as it seems. Living on a single income can be difficult at the best of times, and a new baby means new outgoing expenses to worry about.

Fortunately, if you’re committed to becoming a stay-at-home parent, there are things that you can do to prepare your budget for a change in lifestyle. Here are some of our best tips.

1.    Stay at Home as Much as You Can

If you’re looking to save as much money as possible as a stay-at-home mom, then you’re going to have to actually spend as much time as you can at home. Going out means spending money on everything from gas to public transport and even food for you and the baby. Additionally, if you have a hard time avoiding shopping when you’re on-the-move, then going out regularly could also mean that your spending habits start to slip.

2.    Learn How to Cook

When you’re looking after a baby, it can feel as though you spend so much time rushing around that you never have time to really explore your kitchen. However, taking some time to learn how to cook delicious meals for you and the family could help you a lot in the long-term. You’ll be less tempted to eat out or order in when you know you can make incredible meals yourself for a fraction of the cost. What’s more, you can even make meals in advance and freeze them, so that you have something to simply throw in the oven on difficult days.

3.    Use Cash, not Cards

Studies into frugal shoppers have found that people who spend cash instead of using credit cards and other types of loans typically use a lot less money. When you hand over cash and watch it disappear, you feel the impact a lot more than if you just swipe a card. After you’ve set a budge, withdraw the cash that you need for the week and split it into envelopes. With just the right amount of cash on-hand, you’ll be less likely to overspend accidentally.

4.    Buy Things “Used”

If you’ve just had your first child, you might be tempted to buy them all the best things that you can afford. However, after a while, you’ll realize that your kid quickly outgrows their expensive clothing and breaks a lot of their toys. That means that if you can save some money by purchasing things second hand, you might as well do it! You don’t have to get everything from a charity shop, but you should at least try to get some of your bigger items for a discount. Second-hand pushchairs can be a steal!

5.    Grow Your Own Food

You’ll be surprised how much money you spend each month on things like fruit and vegetables – particularly if you decide that you’re going to make your own organic baby food. One great way to cut back on the expense is to grow your own instead. It’s easier than you might think to grow a patch of potatoes, carrots and other basic veggies in your yard. There are also plenty of articles and guides online that you can follow to help you out.

6.    Find Free Ways to Have Fun

As a stay-at-home parent, there’s a chance that you’ll end up getting bored pretty quickly. That means that you’ll be more tempted to spend money on entertainment than you would if you were working all of the time. Resist the urge to binge on entertainment and do something for free instead. For instance, you could watch videos online that teach you how to do important DIY things around the house. You could also learn how to knit clothes for your baby, create crafts for around the home and more. The more you learn, the less you’ll have to hire someone to do the little jobs for you.

7.    Work with Friends

Finally, if you know other parents just like you that could do with some help, try looking for ways to support each other. For instance, maybe you could have a babysitting circle, where you can rely on one parent each week to look after the kids for a day while everyone else gets their chores done. On the other hand, you could look into what special skills your friends have. Can someone help out with DIY while someone else gives the kids their haircuts?