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I have had some fussy babies. We're talking, walking-the-floor-all-night and I'm-going-to-have-a-nervous-breakdown fussy.
Welcoming a new baby, although still a joy, was sometimes a bit daunting. I knew the sleep deprivation that was coming! Thankfully, my last two haven't been fussy at all. And, I've learned a few things along the way about how I can prepare for the new arrival to make that transition period less hectic.
Soon, we'll welcome Baby #7 into our home. Since I'm going through my own preparations, I thought this might be a good time to share with other mothers, particularly young mothers, some things I have learned over the past 16 years and 7 babies to make a new baby's arrival go smoother.
Hear are my top 11 things you can do to prepare for a new baby:
1. Teach your other children "life skills"
The months preceding the birth of a new baby are a great time to be thinking about age-appropriate life skills your other children can learn that will make life a little less hectic after the baby's born.
To identify life skills that would be most helpful, start by thinking about your typical day. What times of day usually are the busiest or most stressful?
When my fourth child was born, for three weeks I had 4 children ages 4 and under (then the oldest turned 5). Needless to say, getting everyone dressed and fed every day was an accomplishment. It seemed as if every single time I sat down to nurse the baby, I would hear the inevitable call from the bathroom: I'm done! I'm done! Meaning, the three-year-old was done going potty and needed to be wiped.
Sometimes, a child isn't ready to master a life skill and life will just be a little more hectic for a time. However, if there are life skills your child is ready to learn, consider working on those things in the months preceding the new baby's birth. Not only will it make your life just a little bit easier, but you're teaching them new skills they need to master eventually anyway! It's a win-win.
For more ideas, check out our three-part series Teaching Our Children to Work, or our printable 42 Age-Appropriate Tasks for Children.
2. Plan ahead for holidays and birthdays
Think of any holidays or birthdays that will occur within a 6- to 8-week period post-baby. Plan to complete shopping and/or baking ahead of time for these events. Here are some examples:
3. Establish the habit of a daily Quiet Time
I can honestly say that instituting daily quiet times in my home is one of the best parenting decisions I have made.
If you're not familiar with the idea of a family quiet time is is simply this:
Training your children to stay in their rooms quietly entertaining themselves for a certain time period is invaluable after a new baby is born. I can lay down to rest when the baby naps, knowing with complete confidence that my little ones aren't going to get into mischief or tear the house apart. Or, I can take some time to read my Bible and pray (since I don't usually wake up at my customary 6:30 for personal devotions until baby's sleep patterns are more regulated) without being interrupted.
Looking for ideas to keep little ones busy during quiet time? Follow our Pinterest Board: Busy Baby
4. Clear your schedule of commitments.
Sadly, it took me until my fifth baby to learn the value of this advice.
As women, there are a great many things that we can do with our time--valuable, good things. And yet, the season of motherhood with a baby on your lap or at the breast is so fleeting! Once that baby is weaned, you will never get back the precious experience of nursing him or her again. All too soon, the baby boy is wiping away kisses and not wanting to be rocked to sleep any more. Blink and he's a little boy, the chubby baby features gone, limbs lengthening toward manhood.
Enjoy the time with your baby. Don't be afraid to say no to outside commitments for a season. First, it will make you a more relaxed, stress-free mama. Second, you will have prioritized something that is of infinite value--time with your little one(s)!
It's easy to think that, if you don't do it, no one else will organize that event or serve on that committee. The truth of the matter is, there is always someone else to fill those positions, but no one else can be mama to your baby and little ones.
5. Take care of appointments ahead of time
Again, I really like to give myself a 6- to 8-week buffer of time with very few commitments. As mentioned before, I have had some very fussy babies in the past and sleep deprivation has been a serious concern. At times, just making it through the day has been a struggle. That's not always the case, but I like to plan ahead of time as though it will be.
Consider appointments (both for yourself and the children) that can be taken care of before the baby is born:
6. Deep clean the house.
There's nothing quite like a clean house, free of clutter and accumulated "grime" to help create a spirit of peace in the home. I just can't think clearly when there is clutter and mess everywhere!
About a month before your due date, plan to give the whole house a very thorough cleaning. Areas to consider:
7. Streamline lesson planning.
If you homeschool, consider ways you can streamline lesson planning for other children so they can continue working independently. Although it's definitely okay to take a break from school, sometimes too much free time can cause trouble. (Ever heard the expression Idle hands are the devil's playground?)
Consider planning some light school work for your other child(ren) to work on independently while you're busy caring for the new baby or catching up on sleep. For some great tools, check out Tara's post, Four Free Printables to Teach Your Homeschooler to Work Independently.
8. Prepare freezer meals and meal "helpers"
Having a well-stocked freezer is a must!
Most homemade frozen meals or baked goods will last a minimum of 3 months in the freezer. If properly wrapped, some things last 6 months.
Although an all-day cooking extravaganza is one way to go, I seldom have that kind of energy late in my pregnancy, nor do I want to be on my feet for that long. (Don't even get me started talking about pain from varicose veins!)
Fortunately, this kind of sacrifice is unnecessary. I have found that the simplest way to stock my freezer is the principle of multiplication. Starting about a month before your due date, every time you make something freezer-friendly, double it. For example, if you have tacos for dinner, cook double the taco meat and freeze half. Making muffins? Double them and freeze half. This is especially true of more time-consuming casseroles like lasagna. It takes very little effort and no extra mess to double what you're already making.
I like these half-sized steam table pans because you can write directly on the lid with a permanent marker and they stack well. Also, they cost only 66 cents per pan/lid set!
It's important to make sure you label and date everything you put in the freezer! For a simple freezer inventory you can print and hang on your freezer, click on the images below.
This pregnancy I was blessed by some dear friends who went out of their way to make freezer meals for my family--no small task for a family of 8! What a special blessing those ladies are to me. Now my freezer is well stocked for baby! :-)
9. Set up a simple meal rotation plan with easy ingredients list.
I don't know about you, but sometimes coming up with my menu and grocery list can be just as time-consuming as meal preparation itself. Simplify things by creating a 7-day meal rotation.
It might look something like this:
Monday: Pasta & veggie
Wednesday: Roasted meat (whole chicken, beef or pork loin), potatoes and carrots
Friday: Homemade Pizza & popcorn
Sunday: Soup & salad
Depending on how you're feeling and how a particular day is going, these options can vary greatly from simple to more complicated and time-consuming. For example, on a bad day, pasta & veggie would be spaghetti with store-bought sauce and canned green beans. On a good day, it might be lasagna, homemade French bread and a salad.
There are lots of resources for setting up a simple meal rotation on Pinterest, if you need more than this to go on. The idea is just to have a framework in place and then you plug in the specific recipes from a selection of your family favorites. It simplifies menu planning and saves time.
Also, for more help in this area, you can check out our free printable Menu Planning Pages.
10. Purchase things you'll need for the baby, as well as for mama.
Although this is especially needed for new mamas, those of us with many children need to do it too. Make sure you look through your post-baby wardrobe for things you might need, such as nursing bras, nursing pad inserts, a nursing nightgown, and nursing cover if you plan to breastfeed.
Mothers who will be undergoing a c-section might want to make sure they have some soft, comfy yoga pants that won't rub the incision.
Other things I like to have on hand are red raspberry leaf tea (which increases milk production and helps shrink/tone the uterus) and post-partum pads.
For baby, make sure you have diapers, burp cloths, clothes, etc. purchased and prepared in advance. That includes washing any newborn clothes, whether they are coming from storage or from the store. Many baby items are coated with flame-retardants which not only can irritate their delicate skin, but is a chemical and should be avoided. I like to wash everything in Eco-nuts, which are all-natural, organic, and much less expensive than Dreft or other "gentle" detergents.
11. Prepare spiritually for the baby
I've saved the most important for last.
Motherhood is one of the most awe-inspiring, noble, life-changing, important things we could ever do. It demands our all! To be able to continually pour into our families, we must be filled ourselves.
There are some resources I have used in the past to prepare me spiritually for receiving a new baby, especially during the season of motherhood when I had many toddlers and young children. One resource in particular that I have returned to many times is Nancy Campbell's The Power of Motherhood. (BTW, Nancy is the mother of Serene and Pearl, of Trim Healthy Mama fame.)
It's important, too, that we not rely only on someone else's words, no matter how insightful or encouraging they are. We also need God's Word. Having a daily time of praying and reading/studying God's Word is imperative.
Both of us sisters know how difficult it can be to fit that in, especially with a new baby! For some great ideas, check out Tara's post 6 Ways You Can Find Time for Devotions & Prayer.
Also, we have a FREE ebook for subscribers, The Quiet Time Journal for Busy Moms.
This ebook contains over 100 pages of scripture and prayer journaling and is available for FREE to our subscribers. When you join the Sisters with a System newsletter, you'll receive homeschooling and homemaking resources delivered straight to your inbox several times each month. Also, be the first to receive our latest freebies, such as:
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