Preparing for a baby is stressful.
And when I say “stressful,” I mean staying-awake-at-night, panicking-over-how-little-time-you-have-left stressful.
How are you approaching this new major life change?
- I have a list of 1,001 things to do before the sacred event occurs. Frankly, I’m overwhelmed.
- List? I’m so so lost and clueless that I haven’t even started a “Preparing for Baby” list. How do I prepare to bring home a completely helpless stranger while recovering from the extraction of said stranger from my body at the same time?
Want to guess how I handled preparing for a baby? Well, friend, allow me to make a confession.
I’m a control freak.
I’ve been clinically diagnosed with OCD and have even completed a 12-step program. These days, I survive with the use of anxiety medications and a wonderful weekly support group. All this, and I still managed to successfully bring two children into this world! (Yeah, I know. I’m shocked too.)
As a self-aware stress junkie, I’d like to offer a few principles I found useful for decreasing stress when a baby’s arrival is imminent and you know your world is about to be rocked!
After all, we control freaks love to help others do things the right way, so allow me to share these tips that have helped me and are sure to help you too!
Preparing for a Baby Principle #1:
Create a Well-Prioritized To-Do List
(Or Just Use Mine…)
Get as much done as you can before the blessed bundle arrives. The more you do now, the easier your physical recovery later will be.
Of course, since you’re pregnant, a lot of things such as painting the nursery and moving heavy furniture are off-limits, so you get to delegate those kind of tasks. (Yay!)
To-do lists are my happy place! While normally I recommend scheduling tasks into the day and setting time boundaries, things are naturally a little different when you have a looming mystery deadline. In this situation, I suggest adding time into your daily schedule to work on pre-baby to-do list items.
What Kinds of Things Should You Put on Your Preparing for Baby Checklist?
Of course, you need to put the practical tasks on your list, but as a control freak, you’ve probably already thought of that. 🙂
If you’re going back to work after the baby arrives, that will include things like filling out paperwork for FMLA (if you qualify) and researching childcare options. One easily-forgotten to-do item is remembering to stock up on all the glamorous things you’ll need for postpartum recovery, such as ibuprofen, gigantic maxi pads, stool softener, etc.
Don’t forget to add the fun things, too! Creating a baby registry, shopping for maternity clothes, and nailing down names all belong on your to-do list as well.
You’ll also want to put in all those sentimental things you want to do before baby arrives – a babymoon, writing a letter to your unborn child, maternity photos. Sometimes we control freaks tend to err on the side of practicality and can later regret not making time to enjoy the present anticipation. Schedule in the meaningful moments, and don’t let them slip by!
A Free Checklist for You to Use!
Don’t have time or energy to create your own Preparing for a Baby To-Do List? Well, allow me to help with that! Obviously, I LOVE lists, so I’m glad to make one for you!
Just click here and download a free copy of mine!
How to Prioritize Your List
Now that you’ve got your list in front of you, the next step is to start prioritizing the most important tasks.
Babies are notoriously inconsiderate towards us control freaks when it comes to their arrival. It’s like they skipped out on the prenatal etiquette lesson or something. You can really help yourself along by thinking deliberately about the tasks and moving the most important ones up to the front. It will give you a real peace of mind.
For example, if thinking through your birth plan feels really important to you, focus on that before organizing those 12-month clothes by season.
Let’s be honest, unless you give birth to a 22-pound bouncing Babyzilla, you won’t be needing those clothes for quite a while! Having your birth plan figured out before your water breaks will ease any anxiety, so do that first.
Preparing for a Baby Principle #2:
Think Through Your Biggest Headache …
If you’re married to a gourmet chef, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re living the dream! If not, you’ll want to think through your food options for after the baby arrives.
Cooking Ahead and Freezing Meals
The easiest (and most common) way to tackle the “feeding the family” issue is to cook ahead and freeze some delicious meals.
These disposable baking pans are fantastic for freezing casseroles, enchiladas, pasta dishes, and a variety of other uses! Plus, these have really cute paper lids that are easy to label.
When you’ve got the freezer stocked, keep a list of all your prepped meals right on the refrigerator. This magnetic chalkboard sheet is a stylish way to keep your husband from ransacking your perfectly-organized freezer every time he’s trying to decide what sounds good for dinner.
Setting up a Meal Train
You’re going to hear a thousand times, “Let me know when you’re up for it, and I’ll bring you a meal! What would you like to eat?”
I hated hearing that. It was always a nice thought, but it put the pressure on me to schedule a night, initiate contact, and plan a menu.
You can easily set up and manage an online schedule for meals – or have a close friend or family member do it for you if you feel a little presumptuous doing it yourself! One great thing about these online services is that when people sign up to bring a meal, they can see what others are bringing – and hopefully avoid serving you lasagna four nights in a row!
Meal Train has some great features including a handy app and options for giving online gift cards or strictly financial donations on behalf of well-wishers who can’t bring food. It also has a journal option where you as the recipient can provide updates to friends and family members. (*hint, hint* BABY pictures!!!)
Other services, such as Take Them a Meal and Food Tidings, offer scheduling for hand-delivered meals as well, but also have online stores where non-local donors can purchase meals and have them shipped directly to you!
Enjoying a Meal Delivery Service
Eventually you’ll hit that middle ground in your recovery where you feel up to doing some things on your own, but the thought of going anywhere with your new baby (or without her!) can rev up your anxiety in a flash!
If you’re ready to have more control over your meals again, but don’t quite feel brave enough to venture to the grocery store, consider a service that delivers customizable meal plans with fresh ingredients right to your door, like HelloFresh.
I love cooking, but I hate when I only need two green onions for a recipe, and I have to buy a bag of two dozen. Then I feel pressured to find ways to use all the rest of them before they go bad in a couple days! Which, of course, I never do, and I hate throwing food out!
- HelloFresh sends you only what you need, no extras.
- The meals are HEALTHY and QUICK to make, with clear instructions (with photos) on each recipe.
- No grocery shopping.
- No meal planning.
Just cooking and eating. (And that’s the easy part!) Don’t blame me if you get hooked and continue using it long after your diaper-changing days!
Preparing for a Baby Principle #3:
Determine What You Can and Can’t Let Go
The most typical advice expectant moms receive when preparing for a baby is to let go of all the housework. Unfortunately, that piece of advice doesn’t sit well for those of us with a passion for structure. Actually, it can really stress us out even more!
Be honest with yourself about what you really CAN’T let go, and make a plan in advance.
- Is it laundry? Use a heavy-duty laundry sorter like this one, so you can stay up on the piles without having to lift heavy baskets – a major no-no in postpartum recovery!
- Feel like you need a clean house? Take a little money you received at your baby shower and use it to have a cleaning lady come for a few months after childbirth. (Find an affordable certified cleaner in your area here.)
- Is it your finances? Now is a good time to research if the way you are paying your bills is the most convenient for you while still giving you the level of control you want. Both payees and financial institutions now offer a vast array of sending and receiving funds, and you want to avoid missing payments because you’re in the hospital or in a sleep-deprived, hormonal fog.
- Are you involved in any volunteer boards or nonprofit committees? Skype and Google Hangout are wonderful inventions! There are also plenty of online meeting resources worth checking out so you can stay in the loop and impact your community right from your recovery bed.
Start a “Can Let Go” List
Even the most passionate of control freaks have their limits. You only have a limited amount of obsessive energy. Put as many things as you possibly can on hold, and gradually add them back in, one at a time.
If you’re a career woman who’s just taking a maternity leave, chances are good you’re going to utilize the Family and Medical Leave Act during your time off. Under FMLA, you are legally obligated to cut out anything work-related, including using any work-based communications, such as your work e-mail. You don’t need that on your plate anyway while you’re recovering and adjusting to a whole new normal!
However, any outstanding commitments you have on a volunteer basis, you’ll either want to decrease, work around, or take a temporary leave from. If it’s something you can pass off to someone else, DO IT! Don’t be afraid to say no, because your newest addition comes first!
So what can you let go completely, even if just temporarily? Start your list with lower-priority tasks – either within the home or outside it – that you feel you would be okay with if they slipped a little. OR you could potentially even delegate them if the opportunity arises! (More on that in Principle #4!)
So what might be on your list? Here’s a few examples of what I’d put on mine:
- Grocery Shopping
- Manning the Social Media of Local Nonprofits
- Church Leadership Roles
I know it’s hard to let go of responsibilities, especially if you’re a control freak. However, I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Put as many of your responsibilities on this list as you possibly can!
Seriously. You’ll thank me later.
Preparing for a Baby Principle #4:
The hardest thing for a control freak to do is ask for help.
Let’s be honest here: You’re going to need it.
Unless you’re one of those so-called “superhuman moms” we all see on social media (you know who I’m talking about), you’ll need some support in order to find time to sleep, shower, and simply stay sane while your body recovers and hormones are ravaging your brain.
Remember the “Can Let Go” list we did in the previous step? Now’s the time to use it!
When someone asks you how they can help – or says that famous line, “Let me know if I can do anything for you!” – just keep that list handy and say, “Well, actually …”
People really do want to help, it’s just they often don’t know how. If you’re prepared to say, “Hey, I really need help with [insert task of your choice],” the odds are pretty good that those friends and relatives are willing to do what you ask.
Preparing for a Baby Principle #5:
Enjoy the Process Because It Will All Be Okay!
Breathe deep. It’s perfectly normal to be wondering how untold generations of couples have managed to successfully bring children into the world and care for them. No one out there has this perfect instinct that you think you somehow missed out on.
Give yourself a heaping helping of grace. Priorities are going to change soon. That’s okay!
No matter how well you prepare, somethings will be forgotten or left undone.
Decide not to be embarrassed by the state of the nursery when visitors arrive. Yes, it’s likely baby gifts will pile up on the dining room table and you’ll be eating meals on the couch (or the bed!).
But guess what!
They understand! They know you are busy doing the best work you can possibly do right now – being a mom and taking care of yourself!
You’re going to do great! Remember at the end of the day, your baby’s arrival will change everything.
All those priorities, all those household chores – they’re all going to mean a whole lot less to you when you’re snuggling your new prince and singing the lullabies your mother sang to you.
I promise. A little preparation now … so you can enjoy those precious moments more later.
Have you had more than one child? How did you prepare for your baby? What would YOU suggest to upcoming mothers?
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