Sleep deprived new parents are an easy target for marketers. I know: I was recently a new parent myself. In the early months I bought into the idea that a musical sea horse could soothe my son to sleep better than I could. They were empty promises and, before finding minimalism, my home was filled to the brim with baby items (most of them unused).
What I’ve learned since then is that the best thing you can do for yourself, and your new baby, is to slow down. The best way to prepare for a new baby is not with an afternoon of shopping or obsessing over paint samples for the nursery. The best way to prepare for a new baby is to build a community, unburden your schedule and most of all, relax.
Here are seven ways to prepare for a new baby. No shopping required.
1. Slow down – Soon enough your days and nights will be turned upside down. The weeks and months leading up to the arrival of a new baby shouldn’t be filled with long to-do lists. This is not a time to start a home renovation, move houses or overburden your schedule. It’s a time for long walks, sleeping in and spending time with loved ones.
2. Build a community, not a registry list – Your neighbor with four grown children or your new friend from a childbirth class will be more help to you when your baby arrives than any battery operated baby soothing device. Fill your life with friendships and forget about filling closets and rooms with baby paraphernalia.
3. Relax – Let go of the need for perfection. The nursery details, the accent pillows and wall murals, won’t be noticed as you rock your baby to sleep in the dark. The little life that is joining your family won’t care if her socks don’t match her outfit, but she will care that your arms are steady and your voice is soothing.
4. Spend more time selecting your healthcare providers than shopping for a stroller – This goes for your Obstetrician, Midwife, Pediatrician and anyone else involved in your care. Rather than asking your friends what’s in their diaper bag, ask them about their experience as a patient. Ask them about their child’s doctor, their time at a hospital or birthing center and if they recommend their Obstetrician or Midwife.
5. Sleep – Yes, you’ll get a lot of advice from other parents to sleep now because you’re about to lose anything close to a normal sleep pattern. And while it’s great advice, you should think of prioritizing sleep as not just about ‘stocking up’ but about creating a new habit. If you’re expecting a new baby you should get into the habit of catching sleep when you can. Work on your napping skills and make sleep in a priority.
6. Borrow, don’t buy – The first year of a child’s life is filled with rapid growth and changes. What amused and delighted your three month old may be of no use just a few weeks later. Whenever possible borrow any needed items from family and friends. Most people are only too happy to find a home for their unused bassinets, play mats and booster seats.
7. Give – A strong element of building a community, and a supportive circle of friends and family, is giving. Give your time, give your attention and give whatever goods and financial contributions you can. Lend your ear to a friend in need, bring a meal to a family when their new baby arrives and give what you can. Give without expectation. Give because it feels good. Give because you can.
Rachel’s new book, The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year, is well-written and highly-practical. I have read it, enjoyed it, and used it in research for speaking engagements. If you are a new or expecting parent hoping to find more peace and simplicity in your life, this book can help you. Additionally, if you desire to inspire others to live with less, the book will help you provide clear answers for new parents.