1. Crochet a blankie for your bebe.
Or take up knitting, cross-stitch or another hands-on hobby that allows you to create something for your newbie-to-be. Few things are as meaningful as a blanket or hat fashioned especially for baby out of his mother’s love. The time you spend making the gift will offer a prime opportunity to dream about your darling, and the moment you get to see him enjoy it will no doubt be a tender and memorable one.
2. Address birth announcements.
Get a start on announcements even before baby’s birthday details have been determined. Many companies let you preorder your baby proclamations: You can send in the specifics after baby has arrived, but they’ll ship the envelopes in advance so you can get to work penning addresses. Once the finished product is printed, stuff the envelopes and send the good news on its merry way.
3. Start a scrapbook.
Baby’s sonogram snapshot may be the only photo of baby you have so far, but the pictures will be piling up in no time. Jump-start the memory preservation process by prepping your little one’s scrapbook even before he arrives. Jot down a list of likely events (think coming home from the hospital, meeting grandma, baby’s first bath), then decorate your album’s pages to commemorate the milestones. Be sure to save some space to paste in the printed pictures later!
4. Prepare preliminary paperwork.
There are several documents you’ll want to ready in the weeks and months leading up to baby’s birth. Although one of the less enjoyable aspects of preparing for parenthood, it’s important to make sure you have all your official ducks in a row. Plan to take care of the following formalities ahead of time:
• If you’re eligible, fill out any documentation necessary to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). (Find out whether you qualify and what you need to do at dol.gov.)
• Call your insurance company as your due date approaches to confirm the procedure for adding your new family member to your policy.
• Talk seriously with your partner about your game plan should tragedy strike, then meet with a lawyer to create a will.
• Write your birth plan—it may be a less official piece of paper, but it’s still important!
5. Host a yard sale.
Clean out your closets and kick your junk to the curb! A prenatal purge can help you make room for baby, both physically and mentally. Sell any unused goods with potential to become “another man’s treasure” at a tag sale and stash the cash in baby’s college fund (or splurge on that fancy stroller you’ve been drooling over). While parting with your past isn’t always easy, you’ll be glad to start the next chapter of your life with a clutter-free slate.
6. Deep clean your darling’s quarters.
Vacuum the rugs, scrub the toilets, polish the furniture. (Be sure to use earth- and baby-conscious solutions to avoid exposing baby to harmful chemicals and toxins.) You’ll be happy to come home from the hospital to a house that’s sparkling, and even happier not to have dust bunnies taunting you from under the couch during your hours spent nursing in the adjacent rocker.
7. Get the guest room guest-ready.
If you’re lucky enough to have in-house help (like your doting mom or sweet in-laws) for the first few days or weeks with baby, put together a welcome basket for your guests ahead of time, since you understandably won’t be your usual hostess with the mostess immediately postpartum. Fill an attractive bin with obvious essentials (like a new bar of soap) and nice extras (like a lighthearted novel or fragrant candle). Your guests will appreciate your thoughtful gesture, and you’ll rest easy knowing fresh bath towels are ready and waiting.
8. Organize the nursery.
A place for everything, and everything in its place! Your days will soon be filled with caring for a baby, and some basic organization from the get-go will be of utmost importance. Gather diapering supplies in a caddy on the changing table to make nappy swaps a breeze. Use closet dividers to sort baby’s clothes by size so you know which romper will fit just right. Buy and install batteries for the swing so it’s ready to go when baby is. You may need to do a little rearranging postbaby (once you realize accessing spare crib sheets at 3 a.m. is enormously inconvenient when they’re stored on the top shelf), but accomplishing a preliminary sweep of orderliness will go a long way in limiting frantic pacifier/rash cream/ swaddle blanket searches during your first days back home.
9. Freeze a few meals.
While you’re recovering from giving birth and caring for a newborn full-time, you probably won’t have much extra energy to expend whipping up gourmet dinners. If your preggo self feels up to baking more than just a bun in the oven, throw together a few freezer-friendly dishes so you’re stocked up on delicious dinners to enjoy as a new mama.
10. Wash baby’s wardrobe.
Gather the blankets, burp cloths and bodysuits you were gifted at your shower and run a few loads of laundry using a gentle, baby-safe detergent. Doing so will help prevent your brand-new bundle’s sensitive skin from becoming irritated by any chemical finishes used to treat the items before they hit the stores. Once clean, fold and sort the teeny tiny pieces into their respective dresser drawers. Don’t be surprised if you find a tear or two welling up in your eyes—this will likely be the most moving laundry encounter of your life.