Put that nesting instinct to good use, pregnant mamas! There are all kinds of useful ways to get ready for a new baby, but not all nesting activities are created equal. Later on, you’ll realise you didn’t really need to scrub the bathroom grout with a toothbrush. It’s better to get some of these things happening instead.
Whether you only have a few weeks, or a few months, left before the arrival of your bub, take your levels of enthusiasm for all things cleaning and organising and put it to good use. You have more time (and brain space) now than you will for the first few months of your baby’s life, so it’s a great time to make some decisions that Future You will look back and bless you for. In no particular order, here’s what will give you the most bang for your buck.
1. Pack your hospital bag
Yes, this may seem totally obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to just kind of forget to do it. You really want this job done before 36 weeks, so that you aren’t grunting around your bedroom in early labour, cursing yourself for not doing it earlier. Not sure what should go in? My top tip is that everything needs to be comfortable. Remember that you need separates to make breastfeeding easier. Also pack a nightgown as well as pyjamas – you’ll need it if you, for any reason, end up with a catheter (yes, it happens). And you really do need those sanitary pads labelled ‘maternity’ – nothing else will do.
2. Look into future child care options
Even if you’re not sure you’ll need it, child care can be hard to come by, and putting your (unborn) baby’s name down at a few places right now means you’ll have options later on. You don’t have to take up the spot when it’s offered. But you’ll be less inclined to tour prospective child care centres once you have to bring your sleepy newborn with you.
3. Stockpile meals
Everyone in the family (especially other children you might already have) will want to keep eating after baby is born. Every. Single. Night. And they won’t care how little sleep you’ve had, or how long it’s been since you’ve made it to the shops. Take 10 minutes to write a list of freezable meals your family will eat happily and spend a day doing a bulk cook. Don’t freeze in bulk though! Portion them out into some freezable containers, and don’t forget to label them. Everything looks the same once it’s been in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Stockpile snacks now too. You’ll be hungry.
4. Online grocery shopping
You might already be a whiz at online groceries, but if you’re not, now’s the time to get some basic shopping lists sorted. You can save lists of the kinds of things your family buys every week and then when you need food pronto, it’s only a click away. Online grocery shopping isn’t complicated, but it can be a bit fiddly to set up, so do it now rather than waiting until you’re sleep deprived. And if you’re um-ing and ah-ing about whether it’s worth the delivery fee – it is. The first few months with a newborn are exactly what online shopping was created for.
5. Do your research
Do you have books you planned to read – maybe about breastfeeding or understanding baby development? Do it now. You’ll be forewarned, and you have more time and energy now than you will later. And on an even more enjoyable note – set yourself up with some binge TV watching for those late night feeds. Shows that last about 20 minutes are ideal – you’ll knock over two in each feed, with a break in between. Don’t go for anything too heavy – it’s not the time to rewatch The West Wing. You need something light that you can drift in and out of.
6. Loosely plan some outings for any older children
Start taking up offers from friends who express an interest in helping you with your other kids. Have a chat to friends and family about what kinds of activities or time frames they might be able to help you with. Knowing that you have help with looking after and entertaining your older children will help you feel less stressed about the days when all they seem to do is have screen time.
Ruthlessly. The less things in your house, the less things you have to look after, tidy up or clean. You’re already going to be spending most of your time looking after, feeding and cleaning a newborn. Don’t add a bunch of pointless knick knacks to your to-do list.
On top of this, if this isn’t your first child, clean out your stash of baby clothing. It all seemed so adorable when you put it away in the cupboard, but you’ll be surprised when you pull it out again how much of it might now just seem a bit stained and not as amazing as it first did. You’ll never want to put your beautiful newborn into nasty old clothing, so if there are pieces that you think you’ll keep passing over, get rid of them now. Oh, and clean the pram. It needs it.
8. Fix problem areas in the house
This is linked to the last point, but more specifically – if there’s anything about your house that you really hate, and it’s within your power to fix it, now’s the time. You’re going to be spending a LOT of time in the house, even if you’re very good at getting out. All the things that bother you a bit about your home are going to bother you much more once you’re there most of the time. Walk around the house and make a list of irritating little jobs and then just tick them off one at a time.
9. Sort out your laundry system
Ha! Laundry system? I hear you scoff – but having even a basic plan for managing laundry will help you feel more in control once you’re doing a load (or more) a day. At the very least, I suggest this – develop a habit of putting a load on every night before bed. You can hang it out first thing in the morning and then you’ll already have had a win before the day starts. Buy more pegs. And stop ironing anything that isn’t essential. Future You has no time for that.
10. Stop saying no to people who offer to do things for you
Yes, I know. You want to look capable – everyone does. But you know what’s even better than showing that you don’t need help with anything? Not finding yourself sitting on the floor questioning the meaning of your existence after spilling a cup of tea. That’s what exhaustion will do to you, and you can minimise its effects on both you and your family by letting friends and family help. They really do want to – they wouldn’t offer if they didn’t. So when they offer, say yes. And lock it in. Ask them to bring a meal, to help you clean up the kitchen, to make your bed.
And then have a cup of tea and pat yourself on the back. And feel proud of the beautiful baby you’ve made. You’re doing great, Mama.