Things to do: our checklists for expecting a first or a second

gen's list:  things to do before having your first baby

Along with nesting and nursery prep, there are some things you'll want to do before baby comes to take care of yourself too.

Along with nesting and nursery prep, there are some things you'll want to do before baby comes to take care of yourself too.

1. Movies

Go to the movie theater. As you drive there, bask in the sweet freedom of having to call and pay nobody to watch your children. Get popcorn. Get candy. Maybe go get frozen yogurt after? You have nowhere to be. 

2. Splurge on dinner out

This will probably be one of the last restaurant meals you will have in a long time that involves a cloth napkin and eye contact with your spouse. Soak it up. Share an appetizer. Order dessert. Linger. 

3. In fact, just go all of the places. 

I know you feel uncomfortable and tired, but the errands you run in these last months will be blissfully devoid of carseats and diaper bags. You can use the tiny shopping cart that doesn’t have a kids’ seat! You can get in and out of the car in less than ten seconds! You can walk up and down every aisle at the library Target without hearing the ticking of a  meltdown or diaper bomb. Soon, you will have a new errands buddy. This comes with its charms- I actually love running errands with Patrick. Usually. But just soak in the ease with which you are currently moving through life and getting things done. 

Packing for the beach will never be this light again.

Packing for the beach will never be this light again.

4. Home prep

Speaking of which, now is the time to put that nesting energy to work and do some home improvement or organizing projects. Once your baby is here, you will likely switch into “nested” mode, and energy will be a precious resource. Don’t imagine that you will have lots of spare time during maternity leave- you might, but you will be using your motivation to care for yourself and your little one. Now is the time to organize your pantry or closet

5. Meal Prep

Freezer meals are a great idea, but I actually prefer to freeze the components of a meal (chopped vegetables, portioned meat) and stock up on pantry basics. That way, you can have fresh slow cooker meals instead of frozen meals. Frozen meals can be great, but I always feel more accomplished and excited for dinner when I throw a few things into a crockpot in the morning. You might only be feeding your baby and changing diapers all day, but look! You made dinner! 🏻

6. Stock up on entertainment

Make a list of books, shows, movies, and podcasts you have been meaning to enjoy. You can get most of these from your library after your baby is born. Remember that you will also need to recover and heal, so bingeing Parks and Rec will basically be like medicine. 

7. Get yourself a baby station. 

Buy or repurpose a small caddy (dorm shower caddies or desk organizers work well for this) and stock it with some of the following items: 

  • one-handed snacks

  • phone charger

  • lip balm

  • water cup with straw

  • reading material

  • diapers and wipes (separated from snacks, please)

  • burp rags

  • optional: nursing gear (pads, salve, warm/cold packs, etc.)

Prepare this before so that you can come home, relax, heal, and enjoy your baby.

 kat's list:  things to do before having your second baby

1. Pamper yourself somehow, sans kids if possible.  

I know this may not be easy for everyone, but here’s the deal.  Last pregnancy, you probably got pampered quite a bit.  You napped when you wanted to, you maybe even got your nails done before baby came.  This time around, chances are no one has the same sympathy for you that they did when you were pregnant for your firstborn.  Your schedule and chore list probably looks the same as it did before you got pregnant with your second.  So use this logic to persuade your husband/best friend/sister/mom to watch your child while you do something to pamper yourself. 

A few examples include getting a manicure or pedicure, getting a haircut (where they actually shampoo your hair), using the money you would have spent to get your nails done to instead have a small Target shopping spree for yourself (can't buy any onesies, sorry), go on a hike by yourself to watch the sunrise/sunset, blow dry your hair.

2. Go on a date with your husband.

This should be happening regularly anyway, and it could fall under #1 for my list, but I wanted to make it separate because it is just that important.  And if you’re like my husband and me, date night is something we talk about doing way more than we have the opportunity to do so.  Make it happen. 

Your lives are about to be turned upside down again.  Right now you probably have a routine with your firstborn, and your nap times, dinner times, and bedtime routines run like a well-oiled machine.  Take some time on your date to just enjoy each other’s company and talk about your hopes and dreams, because when baby #2 comes, your routines and the way you work together may be in shambles for a little while.  Since you’ll be tired, out of your schedule, etc., it may be easy to forget that you guys actually do love each other and are more than just teammates trying to make it through a brutal matchup.  Go on a date and soak in each other’s company.  And maybe even take time to reflect on the fact that you’re bringing life into this world out of your love for one another.

3. Take two days a week in your last few weeks of pregnancy (or even sooner) to put technology in another room until your baby goes to bed.

I know this sounds like a lot, and for some of us two days may be too much.  (Or maybe some of you are reading this and thinking that you do this already and are thankful that you’re not a neglectful parent like me.) But if we’re honest with ourselves, our phones and the internet can take up a huge part of our day, whether we realize it, want it to, or not.  So often I catch myself looking up from my phone just to acknowledge something Miriam said or to read her a book.  And every time this happens I think about how the phone shouldn’t have even been in the scene in the first place.  Like, I was looking up on Pinterest examples of reupholstered glider chairs (there are maybe four examples, by the way).  Why?  

Even one day or a half day when you carve out intentional time simply for your child and for nothing else can mean so much to you and to your firstborn.  I can guarantee you won’t regret it.

Trying to get quality time in before baby comes!

Trying to get quality time in before baby comes!

4. Make something with your firstborn for your second baby.  

I was in the craft store today (also like every other day the past three weeks because #nesting #uselessprojects) and found these cute little wooden stools on clearance.  I thought about how sweet it would be to paint the stool to put in the new nursery.  Then I thought about how sweet and fun it would be to give Miriam a paintbrush so that she could add her own touches to make it a little gift for her sibling.  No, she probably won’t understand that she’s doing it for the baby, but I’d like to think that one day she’ll love that she was able to be a part of something that her little sibling could have in his/her room. 

Other ideas could be rosary boxes, little treasure chests, shelves, or boxes/baskets to hold diapers (and later on maybe memories/keepsakes).

5. Pray for your second.  

Again, this is a given for many of you.  The fact that I’m even suggesting this embarrasses me because it’s something I’ve had to consciously try to do this time around, whereas with Miriam it felt like I thought about her and prayed for her constantly.  Pray a specific novena for your baby.  Or go to adoration at a specific time on a specific day for the last few weeks leading up to baby’s birth.  Touch your belly while you pray. 

It’s very easy to forget this, but God has specific, wonderful plans for this baby too, and he/she couldn’t receive anything better from you than prayers particularly for him/her.  The online shopping cart you have filled with bonnets and muslin blankets will definitely get addressed by you.  Prayer won’t always.  Make time for it, and experience peace knowing that you have a role in this child’s becoming a saint.

Every time we go to Target, Miriam wants to sit on the big red ball. Since she's the only one I'm taking care of, we have the "luxury" of doing this (though it's more random than luxurious in my opinion).

Every time we go to Target, Miriam wants to sit on the big red ball. Since she's the only one I'm taking care of, we have the "luxury" of doing this (though it's more random than luxurious in my opinion).