Organizing Tips for Expectant Parents
You are about to enter the beautiful journey of becoming parents to an amazing, football-sized, tiny human. Life is about to get a little more interesting, less predictable, way more frustrating, and will fill you with a love you never knew possible. By planning as much as you can ahead of time, you will make the transition into parenthood a little less bumpy. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Don't worry about cooking for a while.
When the baby gets here, the last thing you want to worry about is food prep and cooking. Since you won't have time to cook for a while, stock the freezer up with frozen meals like casseroles, lasagnas, pizzas, frozen veggies, and anything else that you can reheat easily for a simple, no hassle meal. If family or friends want to help out or ask to come visit the baby, tell them to bring a casserole. You want to see a baby? The admission is one casserole.
Make room in the kitchen.
Before the baby comes, make room in the kitchen cabinets and counters for all the kitchen items that come with a baby. These items may include bottles, a bottle warmer, breast pump (I kept mine in the kitchen cabinet), baby spoons and bowls, bibs, and a bottle sterilizer. Make the room ahead of time, so you don't have to worry about rearranging the kitchen every time your little one graduates into the next stage, like eating solid foods (which comes with bibs, spoons, bowls, baby food...etc.).
Adjust your budget for new expenses.
Babies come with a lot of new expenses, so make sure you plan ahead and figure out what that budget will look like. Go ahead and cut back on your current budget if needed for a smooth financial transition into parenthood. I'm going to assume that you acquired most baby-related equipment (stroller, crib, car seat..etc.) at your baby shower. The below list excludes these items, but budget for them as well if needed.
Expenses to consider:
* Hospital expenses not covered by insurance (labor & delivery)
* Childcare (if needed)
* Diapers & wipes
* Formula (if needed)
Also consider beefing up your savings a bit to account for possible unexpected doctor's visits or other unforeseen baby expenses.
Create a binder for all the papers you'll receive from the doctor.
You will see the pediatrician a lot before your baby turns one year old, and you will always come home with information from the doctor. You will receive information about the recommended doses for certain infant medicines according the the baby's weight, information about feeding, information about dental care and milestones you'll hit in the first year. You'll receive information about what number to call after hours, shots your baby has received, and updates on weight and height that you'll want to note. I found it useful to create a binder for all these papers, so that I could easily reference them and did not forget about them at the bottom of the diaper bag or in my purse. Keep it in the baby's room and just keep updating it as your child gets older.
Have a donation box or storage box ready for when your baby outgrows clothes.
Your newborn is going to grow incredibly fast. The baby will outgrow clothes every other week. Seriously. You're going to want to go through that closet often to weed out the small stuff so that you don't end up putting on ten outfits that are too small before you get to one that works. To make this process simpler, keep a box in the baby's closet for outgrown clothes. When the box is full, either donate them or store them for the next baby, because babies are expensive, so don't buy it all again if it's not necessary.
Your diaper bag is your traveling hub.
Make sure you get a diaper bag with plenty of compartments that will give each of your items its own space, just like in a home. I am partial to the ones with the baby wipe dispenser on the side, making it easy to access wipes whenever you need them without having to dig through the bag. Whether your baby will be in daycare or not, it is a good idea to label the items in the bag so they don't get mixed up with other children's items if you go to mommy groups or play groups with your baby. You should also have an inventory list of the items in the bag so you can check the list before you leave the daycare or a relative's house. This ensures you don't leave something important.
Have a system for toy organization and limit the incoming toys.
Toys will start coming in like they are going out of style. They will start reproducing and growing in corners of the room like an unstoppable weed. First thing you should do is create a system for organizing toys. I bought a plastic toy storage unit with storage cubes (pictured below).
It is super simple to put together and very versatile. You can adjust how the cubes are set up. Instead of going four cubes high and three cubes wide, you can go six cubes high and two cubes wide or whatever other formations you can dream up. I also purchased different colored storage cubes to fit inside each slot. This makes it easier to teach your toddler, later on, how to put away and sort his/her toys. For instance, they learn that the building blocks go into the red cube.
Once you have a system in place for incoming toys, put a limit to the amount your family and friends can give so that you don't go insane from all the extra stuff. Babies come with a lot of stuff, so it's good to come up with a plan to limit the toys early on. Our rule was that family could give our son one birthday present and one Christmas present. Since your baby will most likely not understand the idea of gift giving, you can tell the family to give money instead for the first year and you can start a savings account for your little one .
Go ahead and childproof your home.
Although you will not truly need to childproof your home until the baby becomes mobile, just go ahead and do it so that you don't need to worry about it later. Your baby will develop so fast, and you will have your hands full, so let childproofing be one less thing on your list. Make sure to cushion those sharp corners, strap the furniture to the wall, lock those drawers and cabinets, cover up the outlets, and lock the oven for when your baby can reach the handle to open it.