When babies come and your economic status remain the same, you have to find out a few tricks to get by. Two parents share their tips. By JOSAYA WASONGA
We don’t frequent the big name hospitals anymore
Divinar Ogari and Joseph Siro are proud parents to five girls: Svetlana Bhakita, 6, and two-year-old quadruplets; Libby Bosibori, Lisa Nyamoita, Lara Moraa and Liana Kwamboka.
We buy disposable diapers at a wholesale shop near where we live. This sets us back by Sh 1200 while it would otherwise have been 1800 for the pack of 60 at the supermarket. In three days, they are all gone and we are back to the shops. We do all our household shopping from wholesalers. When these babies came, I realised that we couldn’t keep up with the supermarkets. Until recently when the price of sugar shot up, I used to buy the 20kg bag of at the wholesalers, for about Sh1,850. This bag lasts us between three to four months.
We no longer buy our cereals or vegetables from the supermarket, but at wholesale shops or local market. We boil the cereals and githeri, freeze them and then thaw and cook them when needed. We buy meat from a slaughterhouse near where we live. A kilo of beef goes for about Sh250 while goat meat goes for Sh300 per kilo. There is a rider who brings the meat over for Sh200; but I have to buy in bulk for it to be cost-effective.
After the quads were born, the paeditrician told us to start them on formula milk, because their intestines couldn't handle porridge. We started on Liptomil. One tin of Liptomil goes for Sh2000. At first, a tin would go for about three days. At four months, they were consuming two tins per day.
Later, someone advised me to go to Biashara Street where Liptomil was retailing at Sh850. Now that they are grown, we buy milk from a distributor in our neighbourhood. A litre goes for Sh60. From age one; the quads would consume five litres of milk per night. That has since gone down to two litres a day.
We had two house helps and a relative helping out when the quadruplets first came home. It was expensive. Plus, the turnover of helps was very high. A washing machine has also helped us cut down cost of a hired help.
We don’t frequent the big name hospitals anymore. We did that when the quadruplets were under one year but it was so expensive. The insurance would be depleted before the year ended. Now we just go to a local dispensary.
I buy baby clothes at Kamukunji, Kawangware or Gikomba. I save up quite a bit. For example, their stockings go for Sh40 each in Gikomba, Sh 100 each in Kawangware and about Sh 200 in the supermarket. The quality of the secondhand clothes is often better than the new. Sometimes they get discounted prices of clothes as they model for some designers.
For snacking, I decided to go natural. We buy green maize, boil it and the babies eat. They have teeth after all. We have taken a cheaper and healthy way of living.
Life has really changed for us. Before the quadruplets were born, I had to quit work because of the delicate and high risk nature of the pregnancy. After they were born, I had to stay at home because of the unpredictable nature of house helps. We also used to stay in a smaller house, but had to move to a bigger place. I am currently looking forward to returning to work. I could have gone back already, but jobs are not easy to come by.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for hand-me-downs
Dr Elizabeth Wala, is a single mother of four; one boy, Jabali, 10, and eight-year-old triplets, Zarina, Zuena and Zahra.
The trick for any parent is to buy items in bulk from wholesale shops. In cases where families don’t have the financial muscle to buy items in bulk, families can pool together, because wholesalers will not “break down” the items. Thereafter, they can share the items according to how much money each person contributed.
Urban farming is fast catching up. And it doesn’t require acres of space. For those with even small spaces, they can have gardens and grow their own stuff, such as vegetables and spices.
If you can invest in a freezer, it helps because you can store more items. The main thing is to buy items in bulk and cook food in bulk and then store the food in a freezer. When foodstuffs like cereals are pre-boiled and stored in a freezer, inside different meal-sized containers, it saves on the cooking fuel. This also saves time when you want to cook, because you just take the portion/s you want and whip up a meal.
Did you know that some schools offer discounts? Not too many though. Some schools that know the burden that parents have offer discounts for instance, a third or second sibling. Or they may waive tuition fees for the second or third sibling.
When buying uniforms, some outfits that are common, like a white shirts or khaki shorts, can be bought from roadside sellers, instead of going to a school uniform shop. Don’t be ashamed to ask for hand-me-downs or gently-used clothes or buy secondhand clothes.
I run a nanny bureau. It arose because of the hassles that I saw multiples’ families go through. I advise parents of multiples that, at the age of 0-2 years, which is the time that they are extremely fragile, one of the most important investments is the caregiver.
If resources are stretched, cut down on items like salon visits, in order for them to get a nanny who is comfortable. They should also look at the workload because taking care of multiples is not a joke. If possible, have two nannies, unless the mother is a stay-at-home. You can have the nannies dedicated to doing different chores. Many multiples are pre-term and need constant care, and the family may also have older children. Which means that the burden can be heavy on the nannies. Have a relationship with them and know if and when they get tired.
Train the babies to eat and sleep at the same time. Accept help from relatives and friends. Give the nannies breaks. Stop being too controlling or overprotective.