I know there are a lot of ‘what you need to do before you can welcome a baby into the world’ type of lists out there, and for the record – I don’t agree with most of them. For instance, you can easily welcome a baby into the world without a nursery. They don’t even need a crib right away if you plan on using a bassinet for the first few months. And you don’t really need to pack a hospital bag weeks and weeks ahead of time. Nor do you need to prepare a ton of frozen meals or clean your entire house or go shopping like you’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse.
Now, if you love doing these sorts of things, by all means, go right ahead!
But here is what I think you should be spending your time doing in the last few weeks before you welcome your (first) baby.
Pre-Baby Bucket List:
// Go to the bathroom by yourself. When I had a newborn I often (naively) thought, “why do moms always say they never get to go to the bathroom by themselves? All you do is leave the baby in a swing and go!” Now my toddler-mom self is laughing at that nonsense. Not only do I now have an audience, now I have someone who loudly exclaims what I’m doing or what she thinks I’m doing or what she thinks I should be doing every second I’m on the toilet. Sometimes she even sits on her potty next to me and we just hang out for a while. I would love to pee alone more often.
// Shower by yourself. At one time I also naively thought that it wasn’t that hard to find time to shower. HA. Now I shower during naptime or before Clara wakes up and sometimes I’m ‘lucky’ enough to have her shower with me. Back in the day Tim would hand her to me in the shower so we could ‘multi-task’ and get both of us clean, which would inevitably lead to her latching onto my boob and that was just way too much multi-tasking for me. There is nothing less relaxing than breastfeeding in the shower while trying to keep soap from dripping on a baby’s face… also, it’s impossible to soap up while holding a baby in the shower. Just trust me, shower alone while you can.
// Take a bath. A really long one.
// Light candles. I used to light candles while Clara napped, until one day she picked up a candle I had just blown out and handed it to me and got wax all over the floor and her arm. I don’t know how she didn’t burn herself but I was very thankful that she wasn’t hurt! Well, now I’ve learned that candles are only to be lit at night (so restricting!) so enjoy those good smells and coziness while you can!
// Go out to dinner. With your partner, with your friends, by yourself, whoever you want to eat out with! Yes, you can go to restaurants after you have a baby, but it will never be as spontaneous and carefree as it is now! Enjoy those happy hours, darnit!
// Travel. You don’t need to cross every single place off your ‘must see’ list, but if you have a big trip you’ve always wanted to take – do it! Travel with kids is totally possible (and, dare I say, enjoyable!) but you’ll be taking different kinds of trips, or relying on family members to watch your little ones while you take off.
// Stay in bed in the mornings. Wake up, and then stay in bed. For as long as you can. Eat breakfast there, watch movies there, read books there… Enjoy your bed. And even enjoy your alarm clock going off… it’s better than a screaming infant.
// Watch TV. Watch way too much crappy TV. I recommend reality TV and anything on Bravo or marathons of your favorite shows on Netflix.
// Sit on the couch and read. Put your feet up and relax and spend hours and hours of uninterrupted time going through a new book (or several books) just because you can!
// Enjoy not being sick. Clara gets sick and it barely fazes her. Then she gets me sick and I’m convinced the world is ending. She was a healthy baby for the first year or so (I credit breastfeeding) but these past few months have been especially rough! I think it’s because she enjoys licking playground equipment.
// Make spontaneous decisions. When someone invites you to do something at the last minute – go! and enjoy the fact that you don’t need to find a babysitter and that you still have energy to leave the house and possibly shower and do your hair and put on makeup.
// Do outdoorsy activities. If you and your partner love to take long hikes together, do it. If you look biking, do it. If you love downhill skiing, do it. If you love rock climbing, do it. You get the idea.
// Eat sweets you don’t want to share. Enjoy every last bite of that delicious food, because one day you’ll be hiding in the kitchen, shoveling it into your mouth as fast as you can before your toddler sees you and demands a bite (and then finishes the entire thing). Not that I know this from experience or anything.
// Exercise. And enjoy your pre-baby body in all of its strength and flexibility and endurance!
// Go shopping. Walk aimlessly around your favorite stores. Or better yet, go shopping with a friend! Spend an entire day meandering and trying things on and making frivolous purchases.
// Chat with friends. Enjoy long phone calls that you know won’t be cut short by a child waking up from a nap. Better yet, randomly pick up the phone and call a long-distance friend just because you feel like it, and be glad that you didn’t need to ‘plan’ it around a child’s sleeping schedule.
Now I know some of you read this list and are thinking “but Lisa, I’ll still be able to do all of these things after the baby is born! I need to spend the time I have now preparing for the baby and buying baby stuff and doing baby laundry and taking bump pics and researching all the things for a registry and picking out colors for the nursery, etc!”
To which I would respond, “Sure you’ll be able to do these things, but it won’t be the same. I still recommend you spend your final pre-baby months/weeks resting and enjoying what makes you love life instead of stressing and planning every last detail of a nursery your baby won’t remember. Unless you love interior decorating – in which case by all means, do it!”
Basically my advice is to pour your energy into things that you enjoy and that relax you, and try not to anticipate this new family member too much. You just don’t know how a baby will be until (s)he gets into your house, and then you’ll figure it out! If you need to buy a few last minute items on Amazon, you’ll be okay. If you need to order take-out because you aren’t stocked up on freezer meals, you’ll survive. And if you need to send your husband or friend to Target to buy something you just realized you needed, they’ll be happy to do the favor.
Enjoy the small things that you’re probably already doing, and don’t worry about crossing off big to-do items before you have a baby. Everything that needs to get done will get done – I promise!