I was recently asked, what are the top nesting obsessions for women when they are preparing for a new baby? Will they really want to clean, organize and decorate everything? Are there certain organizing jobs that they might want to do but shouldn’t? Pulling from my own vast knowledge (two kids not so long ago) and that of friends, I’m here to offer this nesting advice to both first-time and veteran moms.
Getting Ready for Baby- Nesting Must Do’s
The baby doesn’t even sit in a high chair for 3 months, and isn’t mobile for 6 months, so the first spaces to focus on are their spots…cribs, pack and play, bouncy seat. Start with the must-haves, the big things. Crib. Diapers. Food.
Get chemicals out from under the kitchen sink. The baby won’t mess with them for a few months, but by then you’ll be too tired to clean and reorganize down there. There is a lot of other baby-proofing you could do, but experts agree this is a very important area to make safe.
Many families will paint a nursery or finish up stalled construction projects. Be very careful with renovations in a home where there might be lead. Ensure your contractor is taking necessary precautions regarding lead remediation. You can also buy from the big box home improvement stores lead home testing swabs.
If you have a multi-level home, ensure there are baby supplies on each level of your home. Diapers, wipes, and a few blankets can be stored attractively in baskets or storage ottomans, so you don’t have to forfeit all your style.
Clean the kitchen and fridge. Clear a drawer or counter spot for bottles, spoons, and baby dishes. Bibs alone can take up an entire drawer. Those little people can use a lot of bibs.
Make space in the laundry room. If your laundry is already out of control, you are about to add a lot of volume to your system. Think ahead about how this might work. A better schedule? More laundry baskets? A laundry service? If you wish there were some way to make laundry magic and make it all less taxing, check out these laundry organizing tips.
Organize and declutter the bathroom. This space often has the same problem as the kitchen, with too many toxic chemicals stored at a very attractive toddler height. The bathroom is also notorious for holding old medicines, outdated beauty products, and gadgets that kids just shouldn’t get their hands on. If you haven’t used it in the last year, or it has expired, toss it.
Clear out older kid clutter. If your older kids have too many toys for the space, broken toys, or smaller toys that would be unsafe for an infant, work with them now to edit and keep their toys contained to a safe spot.
Car seats are a must, of course, and should be part of the nesting process, although I admit I left mine to the very last moment because it was hard to maneuver. Be sure you get a new seat safely installed and, if possible, inspected. If you are passing down an older seat, be sure to check the expiration date stamped on the side, and check online for recalls.
If you are adopting, prepare for the nesting urge to hit you, too. Some people report that they get a burst of energy to clean and decorate the front porch and front door area, since that is where they will welcome the baby home.
Nesting happens at work, too. Make time to create lists, finish projects, clean the office, start new projects for after maternity leave, and clean out files. Pregnant entrepreneurs have to do more planning than most, which you can find information about in my book.
Getting Ready for Baby- What You Can Skip
If the idea of getting ready for baby seems like it’s overwhelming, start at ground zero. Nesting happens in their rooms. About a month before baby is due, start doing the first loads of laundry in just the smallest sizes. Get sheets ready to put on the crib. You may want to lay a quilt or coverlet over the sheets to keep it dust free but still ready for baby. Place stuffed animals around for decoration on shelves and on nearby furniture. Remember, it’s not safe to place anything soft in the crib with a brand new baby.
Just because it seems healthy, doesn’t mean it is necessary. Question everything- organic, natural, sustainable, fresh, free range, and hemp! What on earth is so great about hemp? Yes, you want the best for your baby, but that doesn’t have to mean exotic and expensive.
You might be able to skip baby proofing, for now. After all, the baby is basically a potted plant for the first few months. But if you have the energy, go ahead and get down on the floor, looking for hazards, tipsy furniture and cords that will all too soon seem irresistible for your little mover and shaker.
Skip the fancy new furniture, especially a changing table and an expensive crib! A child will only be in a crib 2-3 years, so don’t break the bank with this one item. Safety features and changing regulations mean the chances of that crib being an heirloom item are slim to none. You probably already have a dresser that you can attach a changing pad to, in order to make it a changing table. Or you might feel more comfortable (and safer) with the changing activities moved right to the floor, where the baby can’t accidentally roll off.
Skip the big shopping spree. So many experienced moms bemoan all the money they (or their shower guests) spent on the latest, must-have baby clutter that they used for exactly 4.5 seconds. It happens.
DON’T worry about organizing your own closet right now. It’s impossible to organize your own closet, because you have 3 sizes going on (pre-kid, now, and after kid, whatever that is). In fact, you may find you are one shape in the morning, and a completely different shape by the afternoon. There will be time to organize your clothes in the coming months.
Nesting today means hiring out to get stuff done. Call a pro organizer to get rid of older kid clutter before the new stuff comes in, or to unpack the baby’s clothes from the attic if you are passing items down from an older child. Don’t be afraid to hire out for help, especially if you don’t have family nearby.
For some women, there might be a single aspect of your home that you hyper-focus on during your nesting phase. Moms have reported focusing on windowsills, the front door, or baseboards. These might all be great ideas to clean, but baby probably won’t go anywhere near these for months, so spend your time and energy where it really will matter.
Getting Ready for Baby- Nesting You Didn’t Know You Needed
Although they may not be the first things to come to mind, these nesting projects can really give you a head start: your family will and estate plan, revisiting your family savings plan, starting a college fund, and making babysitting arrangements. The college fund can be a really good idea early on. You may not actually be able to set up the account until you have your baby’s social security number, but knowing what you’ll be setting up and where can make it easier for family members. You can encourage them to start padding your baby’s nest right away, when they are motivated to send gifts (that might otherwise become clutter).
Refine or create a home office. You might be turning your home office into a nursery, but you still need a command center. Convert a closet, a corner of the kitchen, or an “office in a box,” which is an armoire that you can close up when you are done with paperwork. That last item has the added benefit of being somewhat baby-proof, at least for a while.
Setting up a play room is a must. You will have one, even if you don’t have one. In other words, at least one of your rooms will suddenly become where your child and his or her toys hang out. Some families give up a dining room they never use. Some people have to make do with their one and only great room. Even if you have an entire basement devoted to play, young children only play there when you are there, so wherever you spend your time is likely to see a build up of toys. Use dressers, storage cubes, baskets, and storage ottomans to help contain the fun and still make it look like adults live there.
Garage and outside spaces will need attention. You’ll need space for strollers right away!
Storage closets that aren’t anywhere near the baby’s room should also get the nesting treatment. Are your yearbooks and wedding dress hogging needed real estate? You’ll soon need space to store age-inappropriate gifts, clothes they have outgrown, extra linens, and baby keepsakes. Your living spaces will stay more organized if you make space in designated storage cabinets and closets.
You may find stacks and boxes of old photos and films in those storage spaces. Digitize photos to save space. Don’t struggle trying to do this yourself. You’ll get much better results and get it done more quickly if you outsource digitizing your memories. As a bonus, you’ll get a leg up on tools you can use to keep the memories from baby’s first year organized, and eventually put into memory books. Members of the Association for Personal Photo Organizers can help you with each step. You can find an APPO professional online. Then you’ll have more time to spend on the things that only you can do, like setting up the baby’s room and closet.