When you first find out you're pregnant, there's often a dreamy, dazy period in which you get lost in a warm, glowing maternal haze, imagining your son or daughter, what they will look like, who they will be.
You bask in your changing body and leisurely think of how you want to decorate a nursery or what names you might bestow on your new bundle of joy.
Then a few months go by, and all of a sudden it, hits you: Holy crap, this baby is coming, and I'm not ready!
Don't panic, it's true there can be a lot to do when preparing for the baby's impending arrival, but a little organization can go a long way.
I caught up with Linda Samuels, author of The Other Side of Organized, who offers some good and, more importantly, realistic tips (i.e. not start making your own paper for the baby invitations you will paint by hand) to help.
Here's her 10-point checklist for baby readiness ... and mommy sanity:
1. Embrace Nesting Instinct. There will come a point in your pregnancy where you will experience bursts of energy. You will feel driven to get lots of things done with a sense of urgency that can be unnerving. All I can say is, “Go with it!” Consider it an opportunity.
2. Clear Excess Clutter. Once your baby arrives, more clutter will surely collect, but start with a clean slate. If clearing your entire house is too overwhelming, focus instead on one or two rooms. Create a few havens of calm like your bedroom and baby’s room.
3. Make a List. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the “To Do” items floating around our head. Sit down with a cup of tea, paper, and a pen. Take some time to write the items you’d like to do before your baby arrives. Writing them down is the first step. Once they are “out,” you can sort them into groups such as “Things I’ll Do” vs. “Things to Delegate” vs. “Maybe Someday.”
4. Freeze Some Meals. I’ll admit that food planning has never been my strength. When your baby arrives, you’ll be tired and hungry, especially if you plan on nursing. You’ll need to eat, but might feel too exhausted to cook. So preparing some meals in advance that you can reheat will be helpful. If that feels like too much work, consider stocking the freezer with some healthy frozen foods for quick, easy meals.
5. Enlist Support. Even if you don’t know it yet, we all have a bit of the “Super Mom” in us and like to do everything ourselves. However, when our baby arrives, more than ever, we will need help. Think about what type of help you might need and start making those arrangements in advance. Maybe you would like a family member to stay with you for the first week or two. Maybe you’ll want permanent live-in help. Maybe you will have friends bring over some meals. Plan now to make your transition easier.
6. Carve Out Partner Time. It’s hard to describe the intense bond we have with our babies. Nature designed things to be this way. It’s very common for our partner to feel left out or unappreciated as we change our focus towards our new little one. Create some special time for just you and your partner before your baby arrives. While it’s hard to know what life will be like after the baby comes, consider planning some special dates for just the two of you before and after the baby’s arrival. It’s possible that you’ll both be exhausted, but even taking an hour together for a walk or cup of tea, is important to nurturing your relationship.
7. Create Contacts List. People will want to know the good news when your baby is born. Compile a list of people, phone numbers and email addresses to contact. Once your baby arrives, have your partner or another person contact everyone. Having one list will make that job very easy to delegate.
8. Gather Resources. Take some time before your baby’s arrival to compile a list of valuable resources. Consider including vendors that deliver groceries, diapers, medicine, and take-out food. Other resources can include family, friends, babysitters, cleaning services, baby nurses, doulas, mothers’ groups, or pediatricians. Network with other Moms to find other good resources in your area.
9. Organize Nursery. Prepare as much as possible in advance. Do you need to purchase furniture? Are you going to borrow items? Do you need to paint the room? Prepare a changing table area with all your diapering essentials. Creating a room or area that has all the things you need at your fingertips will make life much easier.
10. Enjoy Quiet and Just You Time. The change you will experience from self to other-focused is huge. Having a child immediately takes the focus off of our own needs and shifts them to our child’s. It’s very easy to forget to take care of yourself. Just remember how important that is, especially when we have children. By modeling our self-care, we teach our children how to care for themselves. Knowing that you are about to embark on a very different part of your life, take the time before the birth, to really enjoy your quiet and just you time. While it will get harder once the baby arrives, make an extra effort to continuing doing it anyway. Everyone will benefit.
How are you/did you prepare for your baby's birth?
Image via Jim Linwood/Flickr