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The first two weeks after bringing my son home from the hospital has, by far, been the most difficult time in my life. From sleepless nights to round-the-clock feeding, I often felt like a zombie muttering incoherent sentences to my equally sleep-deprived husband. Add on the fact that moms often have to heal from the physical pains of labor and delivery, the initial days of bringing baby home are often some of the most trying. That’s why a little preparation before the arrival can often take some of the initial burden off of a newborn mom. While there’s little you can predict when it comes to your baby’s temperament, you can help make your life much easier by taking several steps prior to the little one’s arrival:
- Ask family and friends to bring food. We were fortunate to have loads of food our families brought over so that we wouldn’t have to cook during those first few weeks (Perhaps not coincidentally, we received four chicken soups—there must be something beneficial about chicken soup!).
- Stock your freezer with food. Whether it’s frozen food or meals you cooked in advance, your freezer will help feed you much longer than cooking freshly-made food.
- Order in. Even though I don’t eat out at restaurants often, I had no shame in ordering in my food from time to time.
- Save regularly during your pregnancy months to cover any large costs. These can be for anything from big-ticket items like cribs and strollers to extremely large amounts like your insurance deductible. My husband and I didn’t want to be hit with ridiculous costs at random times of the year, so we opened a savings account specifically for baby costs and contributed regular amounts each month.
- Figure out how much income you’ll have during maternity leave and adjust accordingly. Most of us have reduced pay during maternity leave, so if you’re accustomed to your regular income, consider how much to save to meet your needs. Alternatively, determine which parts of your budget you can reduce to make ends meet during those tighter weeks.
- Shop for baby gear and materials based on coupons. I hardly bought items at full price because big-name stores often offered coupons. Time your purchases according to these savings. Obviously you may not always buy from a store that offers coupons as I did with our baby’s furniture, but I could often count on a coupon to save money for most items.
New gear and items
- Practice using the stroller and car seat until you’re a pro at using them. I thought I had done my part when my husband assembled the stroller so that I could push it around, but I learned a bit too late that I didn’t know how to work it too well. Figure out how to fold and unfold the stroller, then try putting it in and out of your trunk. The same goes for the car seat—know how to attach and detach it from your car base comfortably.
Household and help
- Invest in eco-friendly paper plates and disposable utensils. You won’t have the time nor inclination to wash too many dishes, so stock up on disposables for now. I normally don’t dole out this advice for just anything, but certain situations (such as sleep deprivation and not really wanting to wash another dish when your baby has been up all night crying) call for temporary exceptions.
- Necessities. Keep paper towels to laundry quarters, toiletries to kitchen staples on reserve to avoid having to run to the bank or grocery for last minute trips.
- Don’t be shy to ask for help. If you have friends or family nearby, ask if anyone would be willing to help you during the first few weeks and months. Be specific with the kind of help you’re willing to take, from staying with you for a few weeks to visiting for the day, from bringing you food to entertaining your older children. For instance, my mom slept over at our place for three weeks and took care of all our meals along with caring for the baby so that we could sleep or run needed errands.
Most importantly, Enjoy !
Those first few weeks and months are likely to be some of the toughest you’ll experience. You’ll wonder if it’ll ever get any easier or if you’ll be able to resume anything close to your normal life (hint: it does, and you will!). To help ease those initial challenges, prepare for your baby in the months leading up to his arrival—from saving money to stocking up on necessities. Your sleep-deprived future self will thank you for it!
What other tips can you offer new moms to help make the first few weeks and months a little bit easier?