By Shira Boss
Zero Cost Kids
We all know the fun part of pregnancy is the cute cute baby things! Clothes, nursery – even the newborn diapers are endearing at first.
The problem is, most of that stuff is a waste of time and money.
I spent a good many months during my first pregnancy obsessing over cloth diapers. Not just researching how to use them, but shopping for them.
Here’s what I should have been doing instead, and some ideas for you if you’re expecting:
Pregnancy Mission #1: Purge & Organize!
We all have too much stuff. We’re always meaning to declutter, but…the stuff remains.
Now is the time! Soon every minute will be filled, and the torrent of stuff that can pour in with babies and children is astounding. Double the reason to streamline now.
Tackle as many areas as you can manage:
Books – you’ll have less time to read, and will need room for children’s books.
Clothing – minimize! Your taste and needs will likely change after having kids. And even after you lose the baby weight, clothes might not fit the same as before. I turned 40 and had my first baby in the same year, which led me to molt practically everything in my closet. What a great feeling of renewal!
Papers – just get rid of as much as you can. Try to be ruthless. You can’t imagine how precious time will be later – you don’t want to spend it sorting through papers!
Stuff – donate or sell low hanging fruit, then dig a little deeper into drawers, closets and storage. Do your best to make space. Remember: it’s now or later. Better now!
Pantry & Freezer – once you’ve gone through everything and purged, prepare some meals and mixes for postpartum. This is actually a mission in itself. Read 5 Ways to Feed Yourself After Baby and make your plans!
Pregnancy Mission #2: Read about Child Development
We love to read about pregnancy: What’s our little one up to? Already dreaming, wow!
It’s great to enjoy the absolute miracle that is pregnancy, but…the baby’s on autopilot for the last time ever. A way more practical use of time is to read about baby care and child development – also breastfeeding. Get a head start and learn some of what’s ahead before you’re overwhelmed and perpetually behind on everything.
My two favorite resources are Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book and the Gesell Institute series, one for each year (they’re very short).
Pregnancy Mission #3: Work Out
My first pregnancy I acted like a toad on a log. Big mistake. It’s not that you can’t get back in shape after pregnancy, it’s again the time factor.
So, once again, do what you can now so that you can get away with a little less to do with a baby in the house. I love Lindsay Brin’s workouts for moms, starting with prenatal. She’s so encouraging and helpful.
The library should have prenatal workout DVDs, and of course there is on-demand and apps. During my second pregnancy, I invested in prenatal yoga classes and really enjoyed them – the most economical were at the hospital (even though I wasn’t giving birth there, they are open to all and were not crowded!).
Pregnancy Mission #4: Learn about Postpartum Depression
I think it’s well worth preparing for postpartum depression, even though most women don’t get it. Its effects can be severe, for the whole family, so why not do what you can while you’re in your right mind, just in case.
At the very least, I recommend every pregnant woman read Brooke Shields’ memoir Down Came the Rain. It’s a good read, and very enlightening as to how postpartum depression can progress and why it’s very hard to deal with once you have it – hence reading up ahead of time!
I was so worried I might get postpartum depression, I read a ton about it, looked up the hotline phone numbers and local support groups to have at the ready, and also checked out a video from the library to watch with my husband so he knew all the warning signs and how to help. (I ended up not getting it but was still glad I’d prepared.)
Pregnancy Mission #5: Make a Baby Binder
This is the #1 best gift I can think of for a new mom or dad. I’ll write more about it separately, since I love our baby binders so much and they have been so helpful!
Even if the rest of your life isn’t perfectly organized, you can start with a clean slate with the baby! Set up a binder with dividers and sheet protectors to hold the important documents and records starting with birth (or even genetic testing) and continuing through childhood.
You’ll want to make a home for the following, at a minimum:
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Health Records including immunizations
- Health Insurance card and information
Other things like financial account information, contact phone numbers, manuals, and calendars (storytime at the library, daycare or school schedule, etc.) can go here or elsewhere, depending on your own systems.
Pregnancy Mission #6: Prepare Financially
I mapped out 7 steps for you for this one, which you can find here: Prepare for Baby Financially: 7 Steps.
Again, things like opening a college savings account and making sure your own retirement savings is on track can be done anytime, but the sooner the better. And as with the above, you just wont have as much time or head space once the baby has arrived. Wouldn’t it be a good feeling to have your affairs in order now, even ahead of schedule?
If you’ve been putting off these things (because who doesn’t?), maybe start a Fly Lady-inspired tradition of a weekly “anti-procrastination day.” Each week, make a little progress on what you’ve been avoiding.
Pregnancy Mission #7: Relax and Enjoy
You’ve probably already heard this advice, to go on dates and enjoy relaxing with your partner. Maybe you’ll have a baby who takes long naps and sleeps well, and you’ll be able to read novels, have quiet dinners and watch movies. It happens, for some, I hear.
Or…maybe you’ll be hit, like we were, with a maelstrom. Bob and I had our first big argument a few days postpartum. I could barely move for weeks, Bob was overwhelmed. When the baby, who was a horrible sleeper and cried all the time, was 6 weeks old we had to rehome one of our three dogs. That same week, the baby fell below his birthweight. What a traumatic time!
So, all those missions above about decluttering and working out and thinking ahead? The most valuable is probably to shore up your relationship. Having a new baby is one of the biggest stresses your marriage will ever endure. Do your best to start strong.
And if part of relaxing for you is planning a nursery, think about enjoying a virtual nursery with a Pinterest board instead of a shopping spree. You’ll be on to more important things before you know it!
You can do this!