The following post is written by Steph from Living Undone.
Thankfully, many moms with more than one child have assured me that the transition from one to two is less difficult than the transition from zero to one. After all, you’ve already done the newborn thing once and you’re already a parent, so the concepts of the immense love you’ll feel, the incredible responsibility you’ll hold and the insatiable desire to sleep aren’t completely new.
Still, all babies need to eat a lot. And be changed a lot. And they aren’t exactly keen on your idea of a good routine. So what can we do to prepare for the survival mode of the newborn stage? Here are my preparation suggestions, whether your a first time mom or you’ve had a few goes at this already:
Stuff gets in the way. The more stuff we have, the more time we spend managing it. Fewer clothes mean fewer loads of laundry. Fewer toys mean less time picking them up at the end of the day. Reducing clutter now will keep us from being overwhelmed when the baby comes.
Because when you’re in survival mode, your brain doesn’t tell you that life would be easier if you quickly washed your large mixing bowl. Instead, you get out another large mixing bowl and soon have two to wash. That is, of course, unless you only have one in the first place.
Now you might have a legitimate reason to keep two large mixing bowls and that’s a-okay with me. Just take some time to see if your stuff is helping you live a better, simpler, more relaxed life or if it’s complicating things. Because come newborn time, housework goes on the back burner (where it should be in survival mode).
You can let housework go pretty far, but you still have to eat. So if at all possible, get some meals into your freezer for the newborn stage. Freezer meals don’t have to involve long Saturdays of cooking or intense planning. Just double up on some of your favorites as you’re making them.
You don’t even have to freeze whole meals. When I make rice or quinoa, I make a lot of it and freeze the extra. I do the same for ground beef and chicken breasts. Spaghetti becomes even easier if all you have to do is grab some cooked meat, boil some noodles and throw on a jar of sauce.
Bonus: make up a snack list for when you’re too exhausted to figure out what to snack on.
Preparing spaces doesn’t just apply to the nursery. Do you have spaces in your house that simply don’t make any sense? Perhaps a closet that’s too crowded so clothes end up on the floor. Or a tupperware drawer that’s such a mess you can never find anything. Along with decluttering, preparing spaces helps reduce stress. Rearranging a closet or drawer so it takes less effort to keep things neat and tidy will go a long way toward things running smoothly when you’re in survival mode.
And don’t forget about preparing smaller spaces. When my kiddo was breastfeeding, I made up a couple of nursing baskets with a magazine, burp cloths, nursing pads, etc. and put one in the rooms where I most often nursed. This small preparation allowed me to enjoy nursing instead of running around like a mad woman looking for supplies.
Are there tasks coming in the months after the baby is born that you could do ahead of time? For instance, do you send out birthday and anniversary cards to family? Fill the cards out early and put sticky notes on the envelopes telling you what date to send them out.
Do you plan on sending out a birth announcement? Compile addresses and get everything set to go except for what you cannot know yet.
Schedule blog posts into the future. Get your bills set up to deduct automatically. Stock up on toiletries so you don’t have to make late night store runs because you ran out of toilet paper.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Or accept it when it’s offered. Meals, childcare for older children, help with housework, rides to doctor’s appointments or just another adult to talk to are a few ways people can help new moms.
Just be sure to clarify if you want help or a visit. Either way is fine, but it’s useful to clarify expectations. And there’s no need to feel guilty if you’re simply not up to chatting or visiting. Your job is to recover from childbirth and take care of your baby…not to entertain.
Prepare for the Unknown
How do you prepare for the unknown? Mentally. Realize that no matter how smoothly you envision those first few weeks going, something will be different than planned. Caring for a newborn is hard work. And no matter how much you prepare, there’s no way around being tired. So relax. And enjoy the ride. Because there’s nothing else like it.
What were some of your challenges during the newborn stage? What helped you survive those initial weeks and months?
Steph is a mother of a three-year-old girl and is currently expecting another addition. One of the earliest visitors to SSBE, Steph continues to contribute to this site through comments and social media. She blogs about motherhood, parenting, and running a household at Living Undone.