When one is on their own, organisation is not such an issue. Once a little one enters your life, you quickly learn patience is not a quality babies naturally possess at birth. When their nappy needs changing, they want it changed NOW. When they are hungry, they want to be fed NOW. When they cry, they expect you to know WHY. (and respond immediately!) If you spend a few moments setting yourself up for baby success, you will be well rewarded once baby comes along. Here are our top 10 tips for setting up for baby’s arrival.
Tip 1: All stations ready
Set up a baby changing station: nappies, bin, wipes, creams, change pad should all be in one place, at a standing height (no stooping) and easy to access. If you have a multi-level home, have changing supplies at each level. Arrange your home to minimise lifting as much as possible.
Tip 2: Soft lighting
Keep the lighting low: you will be up at all times throughout the night and neither you nor baby needs to be dazzled by bright lights during the wee small hours. Install a couple of night lights that allow for easy navigation and quick transition back to sleep.
Tip 3: Get dressed!!
Get dressed: As tempting it may be to stay in your dressing gown (what’s the point of getting dressed?) it’s always best to get dressed as early in the day as possible. You may feel like a milking or feeding machine but you are fundamentally a woman. Getting dressed validates your existence as an individual and not only a mother. (Having said that I did make the mistake of spending approximately one year in my dressing gown and I am determined for you not to make the same mistake.) I repeat, get dressed. CAUTION: Be prepared to wear your maternity clothing for at least a few weeks (or longer) after birth, contrary to popular perception most women do not instantly revert to pre-pregnant state instantly!
Tip 4: Ask for help
Ask for help: Everyone thinks being a mother should come naturally. Wake up call! It doesn’t come naturally for the majority of first-time (second or third) mothers. This can be a big shock. But it doesn’t have to stay one. There are so many sources of help and support you can draw from. Parents, siblings, friends, community support, books, websites and good old Facebook are all at hand if you need them. The key is to ASK FOR HELP when and where you need it. Others can’t read your mind, others don’t want to interfere, so it’s always best if a request comes from you. People will assume you are coping if you don’t ask for help, it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they stand back and wait for your invitation to help out. Be specific in your help request, do you want help with baby, meals, time out, what? Tell people what you need, when you need it and how often you need it. You will find people respond generously to requests.
Tip 5: Remember others have walked the path before you
Others have walked your path before you. As much as you think you invented love and birth, it’s been around forever. Your parents and in-laws have walked the path before you. They usually respect your wishes with regards your baby upbringing preferences but also keep in mind that they may have worthwhile input to offer. Choose your battles carefully and create an environment in which everyone’s views are offered, discussed and resolved amicably. Inclusion is always better then exclusion. In particular be aware of your partner’s family, include them wholeheartedly to the extent that you can. Listen to advise (and then ignore or take on as you see fit)
Tip 6: When all else fails, read the instructions!
Ensure that any items you have had handed down by friends and family have instructions. Go on-line and download if necessary BEFORE baby comes along. There is nothing worse than trying to work out how the breast pump, car seat, baby monitor or bottle steriliser works a few minutes before it is needed.
Tip 7: Wash before wear
Wash all clothing before baby wears them. As gorgeous as they look when brand spanking new, they have a coating on them that can be harsh on baby’s skin. Wash in a gentle detergent before wear.
Tip 8: Get mess-proof
Always have a packet of cloth nappies to use over your shoulder for little spits, in the bassinet to protect sheets and for laying baby on in in prams, on floors, on changing tables and in cars.
Tip 9: Keepsake/ medical records
Have a book dedicated to writing baby things down. Feeds, nappy changes, poo/wee, bathing etc so when you have this information when calling for advice. You can add things like first teeth, words, crawling, walking as well as all other medical, developmental and interesting things that happen in baby’s life in those early years.
Tip 10: Record gifts and borrowed items
Keep a record of who gave you what. If things have been borrowed keep a list for their return, if they are gifts write what was given on back of gift cards so you remember and can send thank you cards.
Tip 11: Hire a cleaner or get home help
Engage a cleaner in your last month of pregnancy and retain for at least 3 months until you get your rhythm and routines back in place. (if you possibly can or find a helpful friend or relative in the early days)
Tip 12: Stock up on essentials
Stock up on basics, toilet paper, maternity pads, breast pads, nappies and other personal essentials as these can be bulky and hard to buy with baby.
Tip 13: Meals ready months in advance
Cook and freeze meals leading for the last 3 months of your pregnancy. You will be grateful for those quick and easy meals once baby is here.
Above all remember having a baby is the most natural and yet the most amazing thing that will EVER happen to you. Learn to listen to your body, hear your heart and feel the needs of your little one. Minimise visitors, spend quiet time loving, cuddling and being in awe of the wonderful new life you have created. Trust your instincts, ask for help and enjoy the wonderful mystery of motherhood and new life.