Mental and Physical Preparation Are the Key
It’s a week before my daughter is due, and my husband and I are frantically remodeling our laundry room. Since I obviously am not a good example of someone who, early on, succeeded in preparing for Baby, I’m doing what most expectant parents do – asking experienced parents how they manage to do it all.
Although these 6 simple steps to ready your life for Baby won’t cure all your worries, they should help you rest a little easier – at least until your baby is born.
1. Learn a Little
“I have been reading, reading and reading,” says Ronica Hutson of Terrell, Texas, a 26-year-old new mom. “I have read books, magazines and searched the Internet to prepare for parenthood. The most useful information was about ‘how to be a mom.’ For example, when to call the doctor immediately or when to wait, how to give a newborn a bath, what type of things you should buy.”
Arming yourself with information does help you feel a little better informed. Don’t overdose, though, and retain your common sense – not everything you read is worth remembering.
2. Say Goodbye to Order
Life after Baby won’t bear much resemblance to life before Baby. “Many of my clients claim they used to be so organized before they had children,” says Carolee Cannata, owner of The Organizer, a Connecticut-based professional organizing company. “A new baby arrives and new parents can’t understand what happened to the peace and order they once enjoyed. What most people tend to forget is that major life changes, whether they be death, divorce or new babies, bring enormous changes.”
Practice letting go of that organized feeling before the baby arrives, Cannata suggests. It will make the transition a little easier.
3. Practice Saying ‘No’
Use the impending new arrival in your lives to reduce your commitments. You will need the time for your new family, and you have an impeccable excuse.
“’No’ is a complete sentence,” says Cannata. “I encourage my clients to find a ‘no statement’ that they’re comfortable with and use it often. Simply saying, ‘I’d love to be able to help you out, but I have too much on my plate right now’ can go a long way toward safeguarding one’s own time. People will understand.”
4. Consider Special Circumstances
Getting your life ready for Baby is not a one-size-fits-all process. Your family situation may demand special preparations. Melinda Waterson* of Virginia Beach, Va., and her husband are both Naval officers. They are expecting their first baby in just a few weeks.
“My husband is in and out with his ship so I’m home alone a lot,” says Waterson. “We got him a new cell phone. We are also preparing our Family Care Plan for the military, which means we are going to name a guardian for our child in case of dual deployments or death. Not really something I want to think about right now, but we don’t have a choice.”
5. Go Easy on the Nursery
Many parents-to-be outfit their new babies with a bedroom designed for royalty. “Remember that Baby becomes a toddler seemingly overnight,” says Barbara Myers, a mom and owner of www.ineedmoretime.com. “Unless you have space in your home for a playroom, it’s best not to fill the nursery with lots of furniture. Consider installing a closet system (available at any home improvement store) and having only a bed and rocker in Baby’s room. As the space fills with toys over the next few years, your toddler will still have plenty of play space.”
6. Get Ready for the Unknown
For people who feel like competent adults in their pre-baby life, the arrival of an infant can be a real shakeup. Babies are a “huge new responsibility,” says Dr. Roger Gould, psychiatrist and author of Transformations: Growth and Change in Adult Life (Simon & Schuster, 1979). “Children are 24/7, with sleep disruption and no built-in user’s guide. There are all sorts of uncertainties, quite different from the world of work and adultness.”
Not only is the world of new babies full of unknowns and few right answers, but sleep deprivation may seriously diminish your usual coping skills. Making the emotional shift from “we’re competent” to “we’re surviving” is an important part of mentally preparing for your baby’s arrival.
Getting Your Relationship Ready: Tips from a Professional Therapist
Dr. Roger Gould, psychiatrist and expert on adult life transformations, suggests that couples consider how they will handle these issues as they prepare their relationship for a new baby:
- Making psychological “room” for a third party who disrupts their intimacy.
- Dealing with the question of who “owns” the child. Is it really theirs, or is it hers?
- Preparing for the intrusion of parents and possible rivalries of mothers and mothers-in-law.
- Experiencing temporary irritability and depression when they expected only joy and pleasure.
- Getting support (both parties need support).
Getting Your Space Ready: Tips from a Professional Organizer
Carolee Cannata, owner of The Organizer, a Connecticut-based professional organizing company, offers the following tips on getting your space ready for your new arrival:
- Instead of keeping baby essentials in the nursery, keep them where you use them. For instance, if feedings take place on the living room sofa, keep a basket of feeding essentials such as burping cloths, wipes, diapers and baby blankets in the living room.
- Keep items within easy reach. While putting baby bottles in a lower kitchen cabinet may seem like a good idea, consider that you may be preparing a bottle while holding the baby. In this case, bending over would be difficult and potentially dangerous. You can test the placement of your baby items before the baby arrives by holding a ball in one arm while trying to retrieve items.
- Check the lighting in your home. Nighttime feedings will be much easier if you can navigate your path clearly. Invest in some night lights to be sure all rooms have sufficient lighting for safe passage.
- Keep a diaper bag with all the essentials in each vehicle. All those “doubles” received at the baby shower will come in handy for this. Instead of trying to pack a bag for Baby each time you go out, keep one well-stocked bag in each car.
- If you are a two-vehicle household, invest in a second baby car seat. It’s safer to always keep the car seat stationary instead of constantly switching it from vehicle to vehicle.
* Name changed to protect privacy.