While pregnant, I completely underestimated just how busy I would be when baby arrived.
What no one tells you while pregnant is that you will have zero time to tackle big projects after baby arrives. Just getting dinner on the table will become a big feat. So, to really maximize your time you have while baby is still inside make a pregnancy to-do list. Here is what I did or really wish I got done during those 9 months.
Make a will
I know not the most exciting thing to do but something that is extremely important. It will require witness signatures and to be notarized. The last thing you want to be doing is this when you have a newborn. A tip is to put in the will any “children of” instead of a child’s name. This way you won’t have to update it if you have more children or haven’t decided on a name.
Make more storage room
The amount of stuff you will need over that first year is crazy. Additionally, baby out grows clothing and gear fast like in a matter of months. You will also want to save all of it if you plan to have more. So the best advice I can give you is to make space for storing it all now.
I bought a bunch of bins to store clothing by size so I could easily switch it out based on season and size. We also put up some shelves in the basement, so I had a place to keep the bins. Lastly, we went through and purged a lot of what we had in storage that we didn’t need anymore.
Declutter and deep clean the entire house
This is the perfect time to work on the house. I wish I had gone through and decluttered things like closets, cabinets, and drawers. Going through things and reorganizing takes a good amount of time. By the third trimester, I did a lot of sitting around and I could have sat around and decluttered and organized. Once baby arrived, I only had a few minutes a day to clean and that time always went to doing dishes, laundry and sweeping.
Additionally, I wish I had hired someone to deep clean the entire house near the end of the third trimester. I couldn’t do it myself at that point in pregnancy, but it would have been so nice to start off with a very clean house.
Build stations in addition to a nursery
I had a lot of fun setting up the nursery and picking out cute decor. I don’t regret it at all, I just wish I also spent as much energy getting the rest of the house ready for baby.
While I had a nursing station in the nursery, I spent most of my time nursing downstairs on the couch. Additionally, our diaper changing station was in the nursery and I mostly changed diapers on the living room floor. Our baby also slept in our room in a bassinet for the first month at least because I got so much more sleep that way.
What I wish I did was buy a few caddies and fill them with breastfeeding and diaper changing supplies. Almost like diaper bags that I could bring around the house with me and have them ready no matter where I was in the house.
- Set up diaper changing stations in the bedroom, nursery and downstairs
- Set up nursing stations upstairs and downstairs
- Set up a bassinet in your bedroom
Have multiple plans
During pregnancy, one important step is to figure out all of the logistics to your maternity leave. Now once you have your maternity leave, your childcare plan and your going back to work plan all figured out, make two more plans.
I can’t tell you how many people end up changing their plans (including me!). Sometimes daycare plans fall through, sometimes you decide you’re not yet ready to go back or want to stay home and sometimes you decide to change career paths.
It can be stressful to figure that all out during maternity leave, so do it now. Think about alternative career paths that might be more flexible and mom friendly. Consider the logistics of staying home. Lastly, have your child on multiple waitlists for childcare just in case.
Have a photo system
You photograph what matters to you, what you love. Once that baby arrives, you will be taking so many photos.
You will also quickly realize you need a system to store and organize these photos. If you don’t already use Google Photos, then I would make that a project to do right now.
I put google photos on my phone, so my photos automatically sync. I also store them on Dropbox as an extra backup.
Once a month, I go through that month and delete everything that I don’t want to keep. If I have five versions of a photo, then I pick my favorite and delete the rest.
Grocery shopping and making meals in those first few weeks is hard. One popular thing women do before their baby is born is to make freezer meals. I did this and it did help.
Another thing that I found helpful is to make a meal routine. I simplified our meals and made a schedule. I also made a grocery list for those meals so anyone including my husband could grocery shop for me.
Space out visitors
Everyone wanted to visit right away and so I tried to accommodate this. We had visitors almost every day for the first three weeks and it was extremely exhausting. Additionally, baby didn’t nurse as much in the day with everyone holding her, so I was up more with a hungry baby.
I was also recovering and trying to learn about my new baby because it is a new relationship. You both have to learn about each other. You are learning your baby’s hunger and tired cues and learn how to breastfeed and soothe your baby.
I was also very lonely after that because it was just me and baby home every day all day. Outside of grandparents, I wish I had spaced the rest of my visitors out further.
Look for photographers who give rights to all images
While pregnant, I wasn’t sure if we wanted to spend money on getting photographs. I figured we could take our own and while we did take a lot of photos, it was impossible to get a lot of good photos of all three of us. Additionally, it is really hard to photograph newborns with adults because of the size difference.
A photo session can be really expensive and add up fast if photos aren’t included. I will only book with a photographer who has something like this in their package because then I know the total cost up front:
- High resolution digital files of all images in gallery
- Print release for all images
They usually also give a time length of the session and how many photos you get in your gallery (i.e. 40).
Learn about breastfeeding before baby arrives
I wanted to breastfeed but honestly, I had no idea how breastfeeding worked. I didn’t know how my body knew to make more or less milk? I didn’t know how to tell if my baby was hungry.
So I had a really hard start but I did make it through and nursed until my baby was two. Looking back, I could have avoided a lot of frustration and tears by learning more about breastfeeding before baby arrived.
Read some parenting books
You are probably very focused on learning about baby, sleep, and breastfeeding. While that is important, I really wished I had read more parenting books during my pregnancy. Once baby is born, your first year is very full of sleepless nights and busy days. Before I knew it, I had a toddler and needed my parenting skills to catch up.
As I started to read and learn more about parenting, I realized how much easier the transition into toddlerhood could have been.
Find fun ways to document your birth
First, make sure some one is there like your significant other to capture those beautiful moments when you baby arrives, and you hold them for the first time.
Next, decide if you want their footprint on something meaningful and bring it with you. The nurse will stamp it when they do the footprint stamps for the hospital records.
Pick out some family traditions
While you are waiting for that baby, spend some time thinking about some fun family traditions you want to do. It is a fun way to pass the time waiting for that baby to arrive and it is actually very useful. You won’t have that time again and you won’t miss a single year for the tradition.
My favorite tradition is to write letters to our kids each year. I started this right away by writing a letter to my kids on the days they were born. Some other ones we do are:
- hand print on a Christmas skirt each year
- picture with balloons on their birthday each year where the number of balloons match their age
- birthday interviews each year
Pursue Baby Projects Today
There are many ways you can prepare for your baby’s arrival. Outside of appointments, registry and preparing the nursery, these are my best tips on things I wish I did.
Start by focusing on getting your house decluttered and organized. Next, tackle your will and having multiple plans for maternity leave and daycare. Be prepared to document it all by looking at photographers, finding a way to organize your photos and pick some fun traditions to start.