Kara over at Simple Kids wrote recently about how their family was preparing for the baby coming soon. She asked how others prepared for upcoming babies and it got me thinking. Not that I haven’t already been thinking about the subject! Fall is coming soon!
Many of the things that are normal for other people don’t apply in our case. We don’t use a crib or babysitters, for instance. I’ve never been one to collect a lot of baby gadgets like wipes warmers, changing tables or nursing pillows.
There are a few ways we do prepare when a new baby is coming around here, though. Some of them are especially important because I must have C-sections and I do not recover very well from them. I also know that sometimes things go wrong (with Jack’s delivery they accidentally cut my bladder and I had to also recover from emergency bladder surgery, for instance). We also don’t really have people who come help out (most of our friends and family live a considerable distance away and visit for a day at best) and we’re largely on our own.
So preparation is very important here.
1. In the months leading up to the birth, I teach the children skills to help take over housekeeping jobs while I’m recovering. Victoria learned to do the laundry when I had Alex, for instance. I printed all the instructions and taped them up by the washer and dryer, and she did it with me until she was good enough to do it on her own.
2. I am teaching each of the older kids how to prepare a few simple meals. My plan for the upcoming months is to teach each of the girls how to make 3 of our standard suppers. We have Mexican just about every week, for instance, and we can skip the made-from-scratch refried beans that need to soak and simmer from the night before but they can easily use canned beans and packaged tortillas to heat up our typical make-your-own spread with toppings. Other meals I plan to teach them to make include stir-fries with rice, spaghetti and simple pasta dishes. With Jack, I’ll help him get more proficient at simple lunch meals (yogurt parfaits, sandwiches, etc.).
3. I have cloth diapers ready and flip-top garbage cans upstairs and down for diaper pails. I’ll have cloth wipes in recycled plastic containers nearby. I’ll go over the simple washing instructions with Victoria as the date approaches so she can help wash them in the early days.
4. I’ll have the house stocked with healthy, easy to make snacks and light meals so the kids can be pretty self sufficient during the day. I’ll make a couple of pans of mix-and-match quick bread and mix-and-match granola bars. We’ll have lots of fruit on hand, along with oats and toppings for oatmeal, dried cereals, bagels and cream cheese, trail mix and yogurt. This will also help keep me fed, as I’ve had problems in the past when Daryl took the older kids off for the day and I was stuck in bed with a C-section wound and a newborn and nothing to eat!
5. There will be lots of good things to keep the kids busy and learning. I’ll order lots of extra books from interlibrary loan for the kids to plow through, stock my iPod with educational and fun apps, strew some low-fuss new art activities and make sure we have lots of fun things like LEGOs, Duplos, blocks, race tracks, etc. for the boys.
6. I have baby basics (a few clothes, my favorites slings, a thrifted stroller) but need to get a car seat! I also need to find a snowsuit, since she’ll be coming as winter is approaching and it will probably get cold quickly.
7. I’ll work extra hard to get the house in order before the baby comes, since I’ll be able to do so little once she (yes, she!) is here. This also includes packing up lots of extra clothes and toys in storage so there’s less around to make messes with and pile up.
8. I’ll write some extra articles and queue them up to publish in my Examiner.com columns, since I depend on that money and am supposed to publish a minimum of two articles per column per week.
9. I’ll make sure to do any painting and bring in any new furniture or carpeting well before the month the baby comes, so there is not off-gassing going on when we bring her home. Even low-VOC and no-VOC paint fumes have been found to release dangerous levels of chemicals into the air (especially for infants), so any painting we do will happen in the next month with all the windows open and me gone as much as possible and we won’t paint in our bedroom where the baby will be sleeping. I have extra air-cleaning plants to help there, too.
10. We’ve talked to the kids about the baby and all that’s going on. Daryl always does extra with the older kids when we have a new baby, and the girls are also very good little mothers to their younger brothers. I’ll always be available for extra snuggling even on bedrest with our little one, and I’m sure there will generally be a pile of kids around me to keep me and the baby company (just as there always is now!).
I still have so much to do in terms of the house and meal preparations, but I feel very emotionally ready for our little one’s arrival. I thought my days of welcoming new babies were over and especially thought my days of baby girls were long gone, so I’m more excited than anything.
I also have a real sense of calm. I know from experience that babies really need so little besides mama’s milk, a blanket to wrap up in and arms to hold them. And I do have an abundance of arms to hold our little one! Everybody is excited about welcoming her, and Daryl is the best baby snuggler. One nice thing about having a large family is that our babies never need to sleep in cribs or bassinets because someone is always more than willing to sit on a couch and read a book with a baby in their arms.
Now if we could just agree on her name….