The struggles of raising kids in this inflation

Mar 30 2022.

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Sri Lanka is in crisis. If you’re yet to feel the consequences of this, consider yourself lucky and privileged. This crisis wasn’t merely caused due to covid lockdowns. The cost of living is high, and people from all walks of life are feeling it.

Consumer prices have significantly increased within days compared with last week’s prices, affecting all goods and services. Families are struggling with rising costs of essential goods, diapers to milk, and are seeing making drastic sacrifices to stay on budget. The food price inflation is said to be at 25%. 
“We have actually switched to having less meat or fish because of the prices,” says Nazrath, a mother of two. In the previous 2 years, the cost of living has increased while the last 6 months have seen a drastic turn for the worse. The consumer price alone for meat, milk, and gas rose dramatically and it will rise even higher if this inflation cannot be controlled.”

Most parents are seen having to shift their spending to make ends meet. Those who have children who are sick or those who are looking after parents who are old or ill will tell you what a struggle it is. From medication to other dietary needs, access to them and if available the prices of those products remain a huge issue.   

Personally speaking as a mother of two, shopping for non-essentials has been halted as we began to notice the rise in outdoor entertainment, clothes, and diapers among others. We need to thoroughly budget every aspect and be on top of it. Snacks for kids, for instance, tend to be held back or switched to a cheaper alternative to stretch the buck. The upcoming holiday season is when families will be most impacted due to the rising cost of living.  

Vishi is a single mother of two children running her own line of FMCG products. Although she isn’t entirely affected by the inflation hit, Vishi says that in the long run, if this inflation isn’t contained and if the government doesn’t take it by the reins, she will be having financial troubles with the increase in raw materials to manufacture her products and market it. 

Many small businesses are struggling too due to the constant power cuts, with those who do have generators having access to limited fuel. Power cuts have also been an issue for those who now work from home as well as the many children studying for their exams.

The impact on the holiday season
With the upcoming holidays, families are excited to prepare lavish meals and entertain friends and families. Most families who chose not to have large gatherings last year to avoid the spread of Covid-19 may feel safer now with the lower virus numbers and the vaccine rollout. However, with the rise in food prices this year, a family celebration is a definite consideration. “The power cuts, the import restrictions, the lack of basic commodities, have driven us to another era. We are using a dara lipa and rice cooker to prepare meals. Unfortunately, preparations take longer hours due to this. Electricity usage is now done mindfully” Inshira, explains.

“We have cut down on a lot of unnecessary expenses, especially entertainment. The children feel the pinch a bit, but there are other priorities. We have a child who needs extra attention and nutrition due to an illness, so that is a priority for us,” Chamal, a father of two states. 

Getting the most for what you pay for
Understanding the reasons behind the increased food prices and feeling the impact is one thing. Planning and executing solutions to combat the rising costs is another thing. Scribbling through supermarket points and special offers at the grocery store is done more eagerly to aid in budget concerns. Even for bulk purchases, the prices per unit are being scrutinised to ensure it is actually cost-saving. Many families admit to the fact that they’ve become less creative in the kitchen and keeping meals pretty basic. “We try to make quick meals because of the consumption of electricity (we haven't used gas since the leakage explosions) and sticking to the basic needs which are 3 basic homemade meals” says Rameena, a mother of two toddlers.

Bright future? Or dark?
With no light at the end of the tunnel, we need to prepare for increasing prices of food in grocery stores and restaurants. Eating out will be far more expensive than eating at home. It is now not unusual to find people taking on extra part-time work, such as Uber hires, after a long day’s work to maintain their standard of living. Here are a few concerns of parents impacted by the present situation. 

Nina Ranaweera 
The current inflation situation is far worse for all low-income earners where a simple milk tea has gone to Rs.100! So we should be thankful if we are lucky enough to even afford 1 milk packet if we can find one that is. For those with children who have digestive issues such as severe acid reflux, we usually turn to goat milk, and normally the price of goat milk is already a bill shock but now it's come to the point of a heart attack! So in order to not forsake the only milk powder our child can digest we've had to cut down the amount of other milk powder, coffee, tea,  cereal, or oats we adults have at home and sacrifice those items in order to afford what is an absolute essential to a child. Apart from food and groceries during these times never before has it been necessary to ask yourself:  is it a need or a want? If it's a 'want' you will have to muster the willpower and discipline and look away from it because so many are barely able to afford the basic 'needs' in life. So be thankful that you're blessed to even be able to afford to even ask the question. The question itself is a luxury...

Chamal Danushka Peiris
It is not easy at all. Within the last 2 years, the cost of living has gone up and the last 6 months have been the worst. Sometimes I feel that however much I earn is not enough as there is some expense or another. We have cut down on a lot of unnecessary expenses, especially entertainment. The children feel the pinch a bit, but there are other priorities. We have a child who needs extra attention and nutrition due to an illness, so that is a priority for us. It is not easy with the uncertainty, but we are also faced with no choice. To mitigate the situation we have taken steps to cut down on a lot of things for my wife and me while trying to continue to give our children the essentials and their needs. Because of covid, children have been indoors a lot so their mental health and happiness is important for their development, so my wife and I do our best to keep the 'normalcy' as much as possible. Both my wife and I work hard to keep the house fires burning, it is not like before when only one income was sufficient.

Gayan Hewage 
Being born in the 80s my generation has never consciously gone through such an economic crisis. Given the circumstances it’s tough for anyone to predict where we are headed over the next few years, even the near future can be really unpredictable at the rate the economy is changing and how other factors are reacting to it. We need to think of smarter ways of managing our expenses and investing our money. Doing what seems right today might not be enough anymore. I always try to consider multiple options when it comes to investing in order to mitigate the risks and not rely on a single source of income. No matter how hard the time is there are always opportunities even in the worst crisis that you could ever go through. So complaining and setting yourself in the safe zone is not going to save you in such times. Being ready to grab every possible opportunity that comes your way and make the best out of it is what is required. Even when nothing much is going on at least I try to focus and invest time in improving /preparing myself for the tougher times ahead.

Nazrath Amjah
We have cut down on eating from outside to once a month. We have actually switched to having less meat/fish because of the prices. (Meat/Fish during weekends)  I have stopped buying snacks for my kids until further notice. I actually explained it to my eldest daughter, who is 10 about the situation since she is able to understand. I make them meals from home most of the time but I buy them the occasional pastry or sweet during the week. I have decided to stop those sadly.

Rameena Nazardeen
Coping up on measures taken are cutting down a lot of extras like tea once a day and plain tea for the evenings, thrice a week outings to only when we are going insane, trying to make quick foods because of the consumption of electricity (we haven't used gas since the leakage blasts and now long queues and kerosene since it became scarce) and yeah sticking to the basic needs such as 3 basic homemade meals. We also have to spend a good amount on masks as we go out for work and school.
I’m in the process of getting into part-time jobs because I can’t wholely dedicate myself as I've got 2 kids under 4 yrs. So yes, this is a part of my life.

Inshirah
Unfortunately, we have got to accept the current situation and live with it. We have failed as a nation. While all countries are developing our island is going backward. The power cuts, the import restrictions, lack of basic commodities have driven us to another era.. We are using a dara lipa and rice cooker to prepare meals. Unfortunately, preparations take longer hours due to this. Electricity usage is now done mindfully and the pre-schoolers have been appointed as energy managers where they are responsible to switch off lights etc when they leave the room. Nonessential travel has also been restricted due to the shortage in fuel. Praying with every ounce in my body that we bounce back to a better state.

Pictofun
Cut down on eating out. Limited outings.

Zahra Zain 
What was a normal thing on our list became a luxury. So the current situation feels like us being strangled.

Tasneem Dawoodboy
Cutting down on outings. Sad to see the kids suffer in terms of cutting off some of their basics.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fazmina Samat

Wifey. Mommy. Daughter. Sister. Ice cream. Movies. Date nights. Bookaholic. Foodie.

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