Prep your home to make becoming a new parent as stress-free as possible.
Most mums and dads find caring for a newborn an all-consuming, fascinating and occasionally overwhelming experience. It's a time when the normal balance of work and domestic life tends to go off the scale, as you learn to care for your tiny offspring.
With that in mind, it's worthwhile putting some things in place on the home front before baby arrives, then sticking to a few simple set-ups once he is here. Read on for some suggestions that should prevent domestic pressures from eating into time with your tiny tot.
1. Only worry about essentials
When you're expecting a baby, it's natural to want to create the most beautiful nursery for him. But remember that when they're very young, babies actually don't need a lot of stuff. Having somewhere for them to sleep and a place to change nappies is important, but murals and mobiles really can wait.
So don't put pressure on yourself to have the nursery totally finished by your due date. Instead, let it grow and develop as your child does. This will also give you a chance to add some of their personality into the space.
2. Stock up on homemade meals
During the weeks before the baby is due, get into the habit of cooking extra at mealtimes and freezing into portions. Once the baby has arrived, a stash of homemade meals can be a welcome break from cooking.
3. Ease off on DIY
There is nothing like the impending arrival of a new baby to make soon-to-be parents feel they have to take on all those home jobs they've been avoiding. While a deadline can be helpful, some people find themselves knee-deep in DIY when the first contractions strike, which is no fun at all.
Remember that there will be time for working on the house again once the baby comes – maybe not right away, but eventually.
4. Make your bedroom a sanctuary
The kitchen and living rooms are the spaces that most guests see when they visit, so they tend to be the rooms we focus on tidying and fixing up. But when you have a new baby, it's the private rooms in your home that will bring you the most comfort, and it's important to give them some thought.
After a few days in hospital following the birth, nothing will feel as good as your own bed. Why not treat yourself to some additional cushions or new bedlinen beforehand to make it extra restful? And add small touches, such as a carafe of water, or bring in a vase of flowers to soothe yourself even more.
5. Turn your bathroom into a day spa
This is another private space that can become a bit of a sanctuary once a new baby arrives if you can get a babysitter for just an hour or so. Sometimes a quick soak might be just the thing to restore you, or perhaps an invigorating shower is all you need to start. Stock up on fluffy new towels, so the experience is that much more special.
6. Accept offers of help
Guests who are prepared to muck in around the house while you are getting to know your new baby are invaluable. Whether they unload the dishwasher, put away some laundry or do a full house clean, their help can be a lifesaver during the first few weeks of parenthood. If they are happy to bring lunch too, so much the better!
7. Prepare for more clutter
While a new baby takes up minimal space, the equipment for all of its needs can take up more room than expected, so work out ahead of time where you're going to store a pram, car seat (when it's not in the car) and baby sling.
Alternatively, do as most new parents do – stash them all in the hall and just accept the chaos for a little while. Remember, in a couple of years, they'll all be swapped for tiny little shoes and jackets to sit alongside your own.
By Joanna Simmons