It can get seriously overwhelming preparing for your baby to arrive! Whether it’s planning out your nursery or everything else they are going to need, a quick google of baby checklist will see you inundated with lists that go on and on AND ON. And while yes there are some essentials that you will definitely need i.e. a safe space to sleep, something to keep them clothed and warm, nappies… there are also some completely non-essential but awesome things that will help YOU survive when you’re deep in those newborn trenches.
Unless you are planning for a live-in nurse to look after your baby, the reality is those first few weeks are going to be HELL. Glorious, wonderful, life-changing: hell.
You will be sore, no matter what type of labour you had – your body is recovering. You will be hormonal, the rollercoaster of emotions in these first few days and weeks (or months and years for that matter) – will be epic. You will be more sleep deprived than you were on schoolies and you will literally become Bear Grylls doing things you never thought you’d do just to survive.
So once you’ve sorted all the obvious baby checklist items, here’s a few things that will help YOU survive and stay (somewhat) sane in those early days:
1. Netflix (and chill ha – right?)
Ok, so probably not the chill right now but whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding the reality is you, will be up at all hours of the day and night. So sorting out some good movies or a series to watch during those long days, will give you something to look forward to. You can even trick yourself into being excited when the baby wakes up because it means you get to watch another episode of your favourite show – yeah probably not, but mind over matter right?
BONUS: Right before your baby arrives is also a great time to indulge in Netflix (or whatever your streaming service of choice is). Once you’ve finished up work and have hours to while away each day, you’ll enjoy getting stuck into a series as you will likely be too fat to pull yourself off the couch, let alone leave the house. Those were the days.
Not everyone is a coffee drinker* but if you are (or you’re even remotely open to the idea of caffeine) this tip is KEY. Most new parents find that coffee becomes your next of kin (and there’s not much you wouldn’t do for one) and now is not the time to be buying fancy espresso machines (if you don’t already own an Nespresso machine of course). You want your coffee quick, you want your coffee easy – and you want your coffee good (when your hormonal and sleep deprived a bad coffee can be enough to cause a meltdown, trust me). And while we still wait for them to invent a way to get caffeine into us intravenously, this is the next best thing.
*Even my non-coffee-drinking-mum-friends drink coffee, it’s called surviving.
3. Fast food (but not Fast Food)
While Uber Eats has opened up avenues of takeaway that previously only existed in our dreams (here’s looking at you, McDonalds) the reality is that you can only survive on Big Macs and chocolate thickshakes for so long. To get you feeling fighting fit again after going through labour, you’re going to want (and need!) to get some healthy food into you at some point. But cooking is the devil in those early days, so either get super organised before your baby arrives or find friends who will do it for you and fill your freezer with meals you can whack in the microwave. There are also some great meal delivery options that come ready made such as YouFoodz or Dinner Ladies (depending on what’s available in your local area). Once you’re a little more settled into a routine (in say 3-5 years joking, well sort of) you could look at Marley Spoon or Hello Fresh, if you do like the whole cooking thing… but in those early days you don’t need to try and be a hero.
4. The biggest washing machine known to man
Ok, so this one is definitely a non-essential and a big-ticket purchase, but it is something that is honestly life-changing (oh how life changes…). In those early days when my son was born, we were still using the same washer/dryer combo my husband had in his bachelor pad (the dryer component didn’t work and we had a winter bub????) so basically it was a nightmare.
Our house quickly resembled something you would see on A Current Affair – no matter how much washing I did, it felt like we were constantly swimming in dirty clothes and it was taking over our lives. A few months in and I finally bit the bullet and went and bought the biggest washer I could get my hands on and a separate dryer. Overnight I became a different person – and that’s not an exaggeration. The reality is, kids comes with A LOT of dirty washing (and so do husbands amiright?) and it can get out of control really quickly, so where possible, make life easier for yourself.
5. Arrange a cleaner
Speaking of making life easier for yourself – and just like when it comes to cooking, accept that you cannot do it all right now. If you have family that will come and clean for you SAY YES, or, do yourself a favour and get a cleaner. It doesn’t even have to be regular if you’re watching your pennies, but it can’t be underestimated how good you will feel coming home to a clean house (yep, this is how you get your kicks now). It can be hard enough leaving the house in those early days, so this also gives you an excuse to get out in the fresh air while they work their magic. Win win. Also this helps alleviate any guilt that you should be tidying the house during nap times – so when baby does eventually sleep, so can you (or binge on Netflix re: point 1 – either way).
HINT: Airtasker can be a good place to try for a cheaper alternative to a regular cleaner.
6. Get your groceries delivered
Online shopping is one of the best parts of being stuck under a sleeping/feeding newborn. And while you’ll likely get lost in a black hole of cute baby outfits, it can also be a perfect time to order your groceries. Once upon a time I loved doing the weekly shop, cruising up each aisle and deciding what I would cook each week. Now it’s literally a race against the clock as to how quickly I can get in and out because there’s nothing more tedious than having to go to the supermarket with a screaming child.
HINT: Don’t forget to make a note on your delivery to tell them not to ring the doorbell when they drop it off – or leave a trusty post-it over your bell.
Also, shop around for bargains online on bulk items like nappies and wipes to save lugging those big boxes home – or dashing out at all hours when you realise you’ve run out.
7. Extra and/or portable phone chargers
Speaking of online shopping, there’s nothing worse than getting stuck under a feeding/sleeping baby and your phone battery dies. Sure some days you’ll just enjoy staring lovingly at the amazing human you created – but there will be times where you want your phone to scroll mindlesslessly through Instagram reminiscing on your pre-baby life or hate stalking your single friends who are drinking #rose in #positano. So make sure you’ve got plenty of back up with either an extra phone charger set up next to your feeding chair or grab a portable one that means you can charge it no matter where you are. (Also useful if your bub uses white-noise to sleep on the go and you need to text your hubby from the other room to bring you snacks.
8. An extra set of house keys
Fact: Baby brain is real and continues well beyond pregnancy. Getting out of the house with both you and your baby fully clothed is a feat in itself. and in those early days I locked myself out of the house on more than one occasion. I went and got another set of keys cut which now live permanently in the bottom of the pram – this has saved me more times than I care to admit. If you park your pram in a common area though maybe give a spare to a friend/neighbour close by.
Hopefully these might help a little, but when all else fails, a glass of wine, a block of chocolate or going into another room and screaming FUCK will all help too. Those early days are tough, but remember we’re all in those trenches together and it won’t last forever!
If you have any other survival tips for those early days, share them with us in the comments below!