I’m an avid researcher. When a topic interests me I’ll read books, lookup articles, and get insights from experts.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I researched the topic of “things to do before your baby is born” nonstop. I signed up for all the exclusive e-mails and read every list on Pinterest.
Now that I have three children, let me tell you something: Those lists on the Internet are full of crap.
Yes, make sure you have a breast pump, a safe crib, and figure out how your insurance works. But I promise, you’ll be just fine if you don’t practice the route to the hospital ten times, have a perfectly packed hospital bag, or master the art of zen labor.
Let me tell you what really prepared me the third time around; these are the things I wished I would have done for every pregnancy:
I enjoy social situations, but I also crave quality alone time. And trust me, as much as I love a quiet house and being alone with my thoughts – even I was going crazy on maternity leave. I was not prepared for how lonely I would feel when I had my first child.
How did I combat this the third time around? I scheduled social interactions months in advance. I had them on my calendar before my child was even born.
That probably sounds ridiculous, but it worked. Nothing was too small. I set up lunches, phone calls, even wrote down reminders to text people on my calendar. Because if it’s on the calendar – it happens!
And some days, when I was sleep deprived, hadn’t showered in days, and was on my fourth episode of Sofia the First, sending and receiving a simple text message from a dear friend, was more uplifting than a cup of coffee. (But coffee always helped, too.)
Stock up on essentials. When I found out I was pregnant with my third child I started stocking up on supplies like it was Y2K. Every month I bought extra toilet paper, laundry detergent, bottled water, and so on.
We stored our growing pile of supplies in our “bunker” (a.k.a., our laundry room). It may seem excessive, but it was the one of the best things I did.
Grocery shopping is hard enough when you have a newborn with you. It’s even harder if you have more than one child. When you stock up on essentials, your list is much shorter and your trips don’t take nearly as long. Plus – running out of toilet paper is never a good thing; especially after you’ve just had a baby!
SAVE YOUR BENJAMINS
I’ve read over fifty “things to do before your baby is born” lists on reputable Mommy sites. Do you know how many had “save money” on them? ZERO.
C’mon people – babies can be expensive! If you can’t save money before the baby is born, you definitely can’t save after! My husband and I tried to set aside one hundred dollars every month during my pregnancy. When our daughter was born we had almost $1,000 in a savings account for any future expenses, which was great – because she had a lot of medical bills that we did not plan on.
Maybe you can save $10 a month – maybe you can save $1,000. Whatever it is, set it aside now. Trust me.
Savings accounts are great, but I also suggest putting funds into a Health Savings Account and/or a Flexible Spending Account (especially if you plan on using childcare). Every family has different needs, so do your research. But if it’s in your realm of possibility, save something.
Making freezer meals is on a lot of “to do before the baby is born” lists. And I never bought into it.
By the grace of God, I actually took this advice before my third child was born. I didn’t go crazy – I mean, there are only so many meals you can fit into a small freezer – but I did make six different freezer meals, which provided my husband and I with 30 pre-made dinners.
Whey my daughter was born, she had a lot of unforeseen medical problems. Which meant a lot of appointments, and specialists, and exhaustion, and hands-on time. Making food was *the last* thing on my mind. The freezer meals were a lifesaver (in more ways than one):
TIME SAVER. Freezer meals save so much time. Just take them out of the freezer and throw them in the crockpot or oven. Boom. Done.
PHYSICAL ENERGY. No standing in the kitchen for an hour to make a healthy meal. Most freezer meals take less than 10-minutes to prepare the night you cook them. And very few dishes are involved. I REPEAT, VERY FEW DISHES ARE INVOLVED! (Hallelujah!)
MENTAL ENERGY. You don’t have to think with freezer meals! There’s no wondering, “What should we have for dinner tonight?” or “Do I need to buy any ingredients in order to make this?” Everything is done. Everything. And sometimes taking one decision off your plate is a godsend.
HEALTHY EATING. The freezer meals I prepared were full of protein and veggies. While some people eat healthy to look better, I eat healthy to maintain energy. I have three kids – my energy is in high demand! Especially if you’re breastfeeding. You just produced a living being, your body is going through a lot. Good foods will help you recover faster, sleep better, and have been proven to help combat post-partum depression.
COLLECT GIFT CARDS
Collect gift cards. A lot of them. I handle all of my family’s finances, and I am a saver by nature. I love budgeting and saving money. After the birth of a child, there isn’t a lot of time to balance the checkbook and make sure you’re not blowing your budget. My answer? Gift cards.
Gift cards are a built-in budgeting system. You don’t have to whip out your debit or credit card when you shop. Just hand over your saved up gift cards, and know your checking account isn’t being affected.
When family members asked what we wanted before the baby was born we just asked for gift cards. Every time we went to the grocery store, or on an occasional trip to a restaurant, we had a gift card with us. And I knew if I didn’t get to our checkbook for another week, we’d be just fine.
BONUS TIP: KEEP A TO-DO LIST
If you’re anything like me, you may not like asking for help. The problem is, after you have a baby, you need help the most. One of the best things I did after my third child was born, was to keep a running “to-do” list on our refrigerator.
That way, whenever a visiting family member or friend would ask, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I could say, “We have a to-do list on the refrigerator…”
This was a LIFESAVER. I would never think to ask a friend to replace a lightbulb above the stove. I would never, never, NEVER ask my Mother to clean our bathroom. But when she asked what she could do to help, and saw “clean the bathroom” on our list, so happily got up and did it!
People genuinely want to help you. You just need to know how to ask. And if you cannot ask (like me), the to-do list is a great alternative.