You read the title right. My mom is not coming to DC to help us with our second baby.
Her US visa application was rejected. And the interviewer at the US consulate in Vietnam didn’t tell her why.
Earlier this year, I announced our second pregnancy and shared our 5 future financial plans:
1. My mom will come to the US to help us take care of Baby F2.
2. We plan to send our second baby to daycare after she turns seven months (yes, it’s a girl!). It means that there will be a one-year period when we will pay $31,000/year to keep two kids in daycare.
3. I will keep working full-time and will probably take only 2-3 months off in case our kids get sick after my mom goes back to Vietnam. Mr. FAF also has four weeks of paternal leave.
4. Mr. FAF will try to earn more income.
5. We will need to save more.
Change of plan
And here are the latest changes to our plans above:
1. My mom won’t be able to help us with our 2nd baby (Baby F2).
Mr. FAF and I, for the first time ever, will be taking care of Baby F1 and a newborn all by ourselves. For some unknown reason, my mom was denied a tourist visa to the US.
She can reapply. But the chances of her getting the visa are low unless there is a major change to her application, which is unlikely to happen.
The day my mom interviewed for the visa, I woke up at 4 AM and called my family in Vietnam (it was 3 PM there) to get the sad news.
I told them it was ok, and that I was going to go back to sleep. But the truth is that I just freaked out. Mr. FAF and I have no family in the US. We just have friends and neighbors who also have their own lives.
We will be basically on our own to handle a 3.5 year-old and a newborn, something neither of us had experienced. I tried to fall back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I started thinking about how Mr. FAF and I should prepare for our newborn.
One thing we’re most worried about is food. If my mom could come, she would be in charge of cooking for the family while Mr. FAF and I take care of the baby. Without her, Mr. FAF and I would need to cook for ourselves and our kids.
How we plan to cope
1. Below are our plans for the food:
1) I will start making freezer meals one month before the due date. I want to chop up potatoes, meat, and other veggies so that we won’t time to spend time prepping our food after our baby is born.
We can just toss everything in the crock pot the night before or in the morning and eat it during the day. Mr. FAF is not into freezer meals. He said once the food is frozen, the taste is gone.
However, I think we will just eat whatever when we’re hungry, exhausted, and sleep-deprived. We will also make dumplings and just freeze them for when we’re too busy and/or exhausted to cook.
2) We will ask around about Chinese restaurants or catering services that can provide us with huge trays of Chinese food at a reasonable price that can last us a couple of days.
We likely won’t use it all the time. But the service can come in handy when we run out of food at home or are too tired to cook but still want to save money.
3) We will also consider take-out. I want to limit this option since it’s expensive and not very healthy.
Related: Why We Eat Out While Still In Debt
2. We will need to send Baby F2 to daycare when she’s about two months old.
Originally, we planned for our mom to take care of Baby F2 at home when she’s at least seven months old. However, without grandma’s help, we have no option but to send Baby F2 to daycare when she’s two months old so that I can go back to work.
Depending on my recovery and my boss’s preference, I might stay at home for three months after birth. But two months will be the minimum.
It will also means that we will spend an unexpected $5,113 for the four months of daycare for our daughter (months 3-6).
Related: Why We Sent Our Son To China
3. Mr. FAF will be on paternity leave for 6 weeks.
Mr. FAF just learned that he will get six weeks of paternity leave instead of four after staying with his company for more than a year.
He can take the leave for six weeks straight or break them into smaller periods of time (i.e. 2-3 weeks at a time) during the year. We will see what works best for us after our daughter is born.
4. Mr. FAF will try to earn more income.
Mr. FAF hasn’t driven Uber yet. But every day, he leaves home at 5:45 AM, drive 45 minutes to the office, work out for an hour and study for another hour and a half.
Mr. FAF is taking online courses to further develop his skills to perform better at his current company and prepare for his next job.
Having instant side income from driving Uber would be great. But as some of you pointed out, his time is currently best invested in improving his coding skills. We will think about other side hustles when the time comes.
5. We will need to save more.
We recently put $15,000 towards our mortgage principal. We will continue to save aggressively for two purposes: (1) putting about $3,000 or more each month towards the principal and (3) up our emergency fund. Our goal is that after our baby is born, we will have (1) a much lower mortgage balance to lower our stress level and (2) more savings for our daughter’s daycare tuition and possibly an unusually higher food budget at least for the first month after the birth.
I did the math and estimated that our monthly expenses will need to stay under $1,500/month (excluding mortgage and daycare) in order achieve the goals above. Such monthly expenses include the following:
Home service plan
Amazon, diapers, misc.
Our monthly expenses, excluding mortgage and daycare, stay at round $2,000/month. That means we need to cut about $500 in the variable expenses:
Water: Not sure how to tackle this since we’re already very conscious of our water usage.
Electricity: We have decided to not turn on the AC in the summer. If it gets really hot(90 degrees), we will keep the AC on at 82 degrees F or so.
Gas: Mr. FAF drives to work and goes grocery shopping. We already keep our driving to the minimum.
Restaurants: After my MIL goes back to China, we might end up eating out more often. But we will only do it at most once on the weekend. It might also be offset by the lower grocery budget.
Groceries: We have decided to simplify our meals after my MIL goes back to China and plan to spend less on groceries each week. It will also cost less to feed 2 adults instead of 3.
Amazon, diapers, misc.: I’m potty training Baby FAF, so he only puts on a diaper at night and training diapers at daycare. Our Amazon purchases will also slow down after a shopping spree for our family in Vietnam and China.
As I’m writing this post, I still feel really sad.
It’s not only because my mom can’t help us with our second baby, but also because I have been picturing in my head everything I want to do with her: going for a walk, shopping, learning how to cook Vietnamese dishes from her, taking her to different restaurants so that she can try exotic cuisine, etc.
Since my mom was denied visa this time, I don’t think she has a high chance of getting approved next time. It just means I don’t know when or whether my parents can come to the US.
But all that aside, Mr. FAF and I just need to prepare ourselves emotionally, physically, financially, and logistically to take care of a toddler and a newborn without any help from family.
If you have any tips on how to handle a newborn and a toddler (i.e. cooking, eating, sleeping, doing chores), I’d love to know. Thank you!