‘Don’t give him the bottle’
‘Do NOT let her have a pacifier’
‘Co-sleep? Yes, you should definitely do that.’
As moms, we’ve all been bombarded with unsolicited advice. Literally strangers in the street coming up to us and telling us how to deal with our offspring. WTF?
If you’re a new mom-to-be - beware! Unsolicited advice is coming your way. Perhaps it’s already started.
So, this post is different.
This post is all about organizing mistakes I personally made during baby’s first year.
But I’m not telling you what you should do. I’m just giving you an inside look at what I think could have done to make life easier for me. If this post gives you some ideas. Great.
1 | Automate Shopping for Essentials
Tips and tricks for automating your business are all over Pinterest.
But what about automating our homes?
I’m not talking about some House of the Future fantasy. I mean chores you can automate right now.
One of the things you can automate is shopping for baby essentials. Diapers, wipes, baby food...you’re going to need that stuff for a while, mama.
For some unfathomable reason I did not automate this and I paid the price..both in cash and inconvenience.
I should have headed to Amazon and hit ‘subscribe and save’ on the Pampers, wipes, baby food and mommy vitamins.
Amazon Prime for the win, mama!
If you don’t love the idea of using Amazon like this, one alternative is to create a master shopping list with your baby essentials penciled in each week or month so you don’t even need to think about adding them to your shopping list.
As moms (and mompreneurs) we have so many things that we need to remember. So anything that means we have one less thing to remember is pure gold in my book.
2 | Create a Packing List
If you already have children, you’ll know the insane amount of stuff that you need to pack for baby when you go on a trip.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re packing for one night or one month - those tiny humans just need so much stuff.
When our baby was born, my husband was in the Army and we lived far away from family and friends.
So at least once a month, we packed up and travelled the country to go visiting.*
After a couple of months, I finally got sick of starting the packing from scratch each time.
So I created 3 Master Packing Lists. One for baby. One for me. And one for my husband.
I wrote down the items we always need to pack. And I laminated them.
(I so should have done this sooner!)
If this sounds OCD-ish to you, may I point you in the direction of Atul Gawande. He wrote a whole book about how checklists are used in industry's such as aviation and medicine to save money, lives, time and energy. That’s right, this tip is backed by science!
And again, the idea I’m focusing on is taking things out of your head and creating a system so you don’t have to remember them.
If you’re on the fence about this on, just remember it’s worth the effort of creating a packing list just to avoid forgetting something and getting a tight lipped look from your mother-in-law as you frantically search through bags of baby stuff muttering ‘I’m sure I packed it’!
*Luckily the country I’m referring to is England, which is teeny tiny compared to, say...the USA. But literally any travel is harrowing when done with a baby.
3 | Set up a Photo Organization System
How many photos do you think you’re going to take of your newborn?
Whatever number you just thought of, double it. Then triple it. Then add a few zeros to the end.
So, why not set up a simple system for dealing with all your photos?
I didn’t. And I was soon overwhelmed.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated system.
Once a month go through your camera:
Create folders somewhere safe (please not on a laptop hard drive where you’re one decaff latte accident from a photo-loss nightmare) to store your photos. One for each month should be enough.
Schedule an appointment with yourself each month to sort out your photos. Set yourself a reminder so you don’t forget.
Save your digital photos to the correct folder.
Send off the ones you do want printing to the trusted company of your choice. (Don’t forget to order a few extra copies for any relatives who might not be tech-savvy - great grandma, I’m looking at you.)
Choose a printed photo storage system. I love the Container Store’s Iris 12 Case Storage Container (*NOT an affiliate link - I just love it)
Bask in the glory of your organizing system - smug-mode 'Engaged'.
*That’s not quite true. I did have a plan. But it was a hideously misguided plan that included doing a long scrapbooking session each month. Guess how long that lasted when my sleep-phobic newborn arrived? Bugger off, glitter! I need sleep!
4 | Recycle Your Meal Plans
If you love eating, but hate mealplanning, let’s be friends!
Mealplanning is one chore I hate. But with a little initial work you can automate it. Kinda.
In the first few months of motherhood, each week as baby slept - because ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ is dreadful advice - I’d slump on the couch to write a mealplan.
And at the end of the week, I’d throw that mealplan away.
And then start again.
Like a masochist.
What I should have done, is write a bunch of mealplans and then just recycle them.
Yes, that would have meant eating the same meals every couple of weeks.
But if you’re going through a life-altering period, like bringing home a newborn, the last thing you’re going to think about is ‘hey, didn’t we eat mac & cheese 3 weeks ago?’
Meal planning could have been avoided completely if I’d had the forethought to stuff my freezer with 3 months of freezer meals. Alas, there has to be a line.
And buying 10 whole chickens and 10 kilos of minced meat is way past that line. For me. You do whatever the heck makes you happy.
5 | Prepare Snacks (Lots of Snacks)
Ah, the hunger of a breastfeeding mama!
When you have a tiny human milking you countless times a day, you need to keep stocking that fire.
And those snacks ideally need to be prepared in advance and edible using only one hand.
I totally dropped the ball on this one in the first few weeks of baby’s life. But my husband quickly realised that a hungry mama, is a grumpy/homocidal mama and stocked the fridge. Thanks, sweetie!
There are so many ‘snack ideas for nursing moms’ on Pinterest. Treat snacks like meals and add them to your meal plan.
6 | Stick to a Self-care routine
New moms are not famous for looking after themselves.
But - as the saying goes - you can’t pour from an empty cup.
At my most sleep-deprived, I remember being too tired to even clean my teeth before going to bed. Gross, I know.
Looking back, I should have been stricter on self-care.
I know I said this post wasn’t going to tell you what you should do. But I’m going to get bossy for a moment. Here goes, mama...
You should keep those dentist appointments.
You should order that take-out.
You should leave the laundry piled up on the kitchen table.
You should say, ‘hey, he’s your baby too!’
And you should take 5 minutes to do something for yourself (ugly crying in the shower does NOT count as self-care).
7 | Create A Weekly Schedule
Going from career girl to stay at home mama was a massive shock for me. Each day was suddenly a carbon copy of the last one.
Is it Monday? Is it Thursday? It doesn’t matter - they’re all the same now!
And it took me a hideously long time, but I eventually set up new routines for my maternity leave.
For example, on Mondays I’d clean the kitchen and take baby to a mother-toddler group. No matter what else we did, these two things were part of our daily theme that made Monday different. (Glamorous, I know.)
It worked for me, so I made little themes for each day of the week.
I know it looks rigid but it really isn’t.
The weekly schedule can go straight to hell if you’ve had a bad night or are too tired to brush your teeth.
Motherhood is tough.
And I’m definitely not saying you can organize your way out of the worst of it.
You can’t. It's a control freak's nightmare. But a few tweaks here and there might make the road easier.
Just remember, it’s not a case of ‘if’ you screw up.
But ‘when’ you’ll screw up.
And we’ll all be there, right by your side, screwing it up too.
You got this, mama.