I'm a big fan of lists, even though I don't always follow them. I just like knowing that they're there and the information I need is captured in one place. So, when I was expecting my son, I was glad for the many baby websites, blog posts, and the thorough lists in each chapter of my pregnancy books. My partner and I did our best to prepare our home (and ourselves) for our son's arrival, but we discovered that, despite what we read, there were things that you don't have to do before your baby is born.
Of course, some of the things I didn't find particularly necessary, are things you may want to do. Because every woman and every pregnancy is different, I can confidently say, "That's great!" and commend you for tackling any (or all) of the things I just didn't have time for. In fact, while I didn't have all of the time, I did find a spare minute here or there to accomplish a few things. After all, pregnant women aren't incapable shells of their former selves. We can still get sh*t done, you guys.
However, our son's early months taught me that most of what he needed (sleep, food, clean diapers, clutch snuggles) had very little to do with the things I thought I just had to do before he arrived. Did I feel better because I had found the time to accomplish a few things? Sure. But if I were to do it again, I'd certainly stress less about getting everything done before his arrival, and just worry about covering the basics (which, in my case, were newborn pajamas, swaddles, and a breast pump).
Have The Nursery Totally Set Up
I realize this may be slightly controversial, since many moms would agree (including me) that the nursery is pretty clutch. However, in our son's earliest weeks, the nursery was more of a glorified storage closet. He was sleeping in our room (technically, he was sleeping anywhere), we were still figuring out breastfeeding so we didn't have specific attachments to any furniture in the nursery, and he was too little to recognize any decorations or toys.
Have Their Entire Wardrobe Ready To Go
We actually had more 3-month-old baby clothes than we did newborn clothes, because we were told (by people who had the best of intentions, I'm sure) that many newborn babies skip the "newborn sized clothes" phase the moment they enter the world.
Um, not in our case.
Our newborn son was born squarely at a newborn size, so he absolutely required newborn clothes. Sadly, this meant we were driving across town for clothes we didn't have, and when he was only a few days old. We'd have been much better served if we'd had a smaller, more reasonably-sized collection of clothes ready to go, instead of hangers full of pre-washed 3-6 month and 6-12 month outfits.
Get All Your Thank You Notes Sent
Trust me, you'll have plenty of time to work on them when your baby is snoozing soundly and you're too full of feelings (and, if you're anything like me, semi-irrational fears) to sleep.
Vacuum Your Basement Stairs (Or Whatever Other Weird Nesting Task Is Calling Your Name)
Nesting's actually a pleasant phenomenon, at least in my experience. All of a sudden, you find yourself struck with motivation to complete chores that you've been putting off for months? Sign me up.
Seriously though, the energy I spent vacuuming our basement stairs (which, yes, needed some TLC but probably not quite as much as I needed rest) could have been spent on taking care of things that actually mattered. My kid was never going to notice those stairs.
Go On A Babymoon
My partner and I made no attempts to go on a babymoon, and I have no regrets. If you're itching to get away, by all means, don't let me stop you. However, if you're on the fence or feeling stressed about travel or logistics, you have my permission to cancel.
Or, perhaps, adjust your grandiose plans to be a daycation or staycation, or any other kind of "cation" that strikes your fancy.
Baby Proof The Entire House
I mean, yes, safety first. However, let's not forget that babies are immobile for the first few months of their lives. The safety precautions we took before brining a newborn home were not as clutch as, say, the safety precautions we continue to make now that our son is a toddler. I recommend prioritizing the basics (like outlet covers) over things that won't be useful until they're on the move or able to reach the counters.
Post A Big Social Media Announcement
Full disclosure: I did announce my first pregnancy on social media. Still, I'm always impressed when all of a sudden, my Facebook feed shows someone's brand new baby and I had no clue there was even a pregnancy. It's subtly impressive, in the same way that I used to be impressed by other girls in high school who balked at the trends and did whatever they wanted.
So, yes, while it's super-common to do so, no one has to announce their major personal news on the internet.
Have A Name Picked Out
My spouse and I had a pretty good idea of what we were going to name our son, but we wanted to meet him first, just to be sure. Sure enough, within a few minutes of his arrival, we knew that the name we had was going to work. But, I was still glad that we gave ourselves some flexibility.
Know How To Tie A Complicated Baby-Wearing Wrap
I mean, to be fair, I wore my son in what can only be described as the babywearing version of an cryptex. However, I can't say I knew exactly what I was doing.
Know How To Change A Diaper, Give A Baby A Bath, Or Various Other Logistical Tasks
If you have a hospital birth, the nurses will go over the basics with you. If you don't have a hospital birth, your doula and/or midwife will go over the basics with you, too.
Or, like in my case, they'll go over them with your partner while you lay in bed, dazed. Either way, the information's there for you when you need it.