The Waste Factor

According to, It will cost my husband and I one million dollars to raise our two children.  A Million.  Take that in for a second.  A million dollars??  I can’t even say it out loud – I actually choked on the words when I tried telling my husband that.

And when you look at the nice little pie chart Baby Center creates for you to break down the expenses, it has a piece of pie for childcare, healthcare, food, etc.  But there is one piece of the pie that is decidedly missing:  Waste.  Now, if you’ve read my previous blog entries you might be thinking of a different kind of waste here.  I don’t mean waste of the bodily fluid variety.  I mean things that children literally waste: food, clothing, furniture, etc., etc., etc.  If you add what I call the “waste factor” into your calculations for raising a child, you have to bump that number up by at least 25%.  So it will actually cost me $1.25 Million to raise my two children.  This 25% is a somewhat arbitrary, and completely non-scientific number.  But personally, I think it’s pretty much right on.

You might be asking yourself, “How could it possibly cost me an extra $250,000 to raise my children, just in their wastefulness?”  Ha!! I say.  Let’s think about it for a minute.  We’ll start with food.  Food is probably the number one culprit when it comes to the waste factor.  Food wasting starts as soon as they start eating solids, and continues well into their youth.  For example, when I feed my 10 month old daughter Cheerios, for every 10 Cheerios I give her, she probably gets 3 in her mouth.  The other seven end up on the floor, in her high chair, or often times in the space between her diaper and belly (leaving an adorable little Cheerio imprint on her tummy).  Now if you’re like me, you might try to salvage the ones that fall on the floor, or maybe even some clean looking ones that landed in her highchair.  But if you’re super anal about food hitting the floor and/or you have a dog that promptly tries to lick said Cheerios as soon as they hit the floor, then you’re definitely throwing those babies in the garbage.

Baby food is another major culprit.  As the above picture suggests, baby food often ends up just about everywhere but your child’s mouth.  It gets in the hair, the eyelashes, the ears, on the highchair, and on the floor.  And unless you’re really weird, you’re probably not trying to salvage that food.  Gone.  Wasted.  And if you’re little one is in a phase where they like to swat your hand away with every bite, because they’ve had that food before, and they’re starting to learn that there are other much tastier options you’re keeping from them, that food goes flying!!  Wasted.  And you probably then put the baby food in your fridge for a few days because it takes that long for them to get through a single jar.  And by day three it’s really not good anymore, so it goes in the garbage.  Wasted.

When they get older the waste continues.  About 3 out of every 5 times I give my son a glass of milk, it gets spilled clear across the table.   They say don’t cry over spilled milk, but I want to cry every time – that organic crap is expensive!!

Child obsessions are another source of wastefulness.  My 3 year old son is obsessed with sleeping with a tissue every night.  It started when he had a cold a few months ago and has persisted since.  So now every nap and every night we have to give him a new tissue to sleep with.  And you certainly can’t re-use a tissue from a previous bedtime, because he has torn it to shreds by then, and it is rendered completely unrecognizable – just a mass of little white confetti, strewn all over his room.

Clothing is another big culprit.  You know that little white onesie you loved so much, but you had to throw away because your daughter pooped through it so many times it started looking like a Dalmation’s behind?  Yeah, wasted.   Or those cute Gap Kids jeans you bought for your son that now just look like painter’s pants because he spilled so much finger paint on them at school?  Wasted.  Or the underpants that looked so adorable on him that got peed through so many times that they now smell like a port-a-potty, no matter how many times you wash them?  Wasted.

Do you know what you could do with $250,000???  You could buy a huge house in the midwest, travel around the world, send your kid to college…twice, live somewhere remote for a good ten years without having to work, and on, and on.  The point is, you could do so much with that money.  But you won’t.  Because you can’t.  Because you need that money to aid and abet your inevitable little wasters.  And, really, if I’m being honest with myself, the only thing I’d really want to do with that $250,000 would be travel around the world, and let’s face it, with two kids, I’m not doing that any time soon.


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