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Parenting Tip of the Month
By Heather Totten

Nesting: To Do or Not to Do?

As I am soon to give birth to my fifth child, I thought I'd share my nesting 'mind' and what I do to prepare for each birth and how I introduce the new baby.

Let me start by saying this is a work in process and with each birth, I've learned more and more about what works, what does not need to be done, and what you can have done for you. I think with my first, I started the nursery and such at least at month 5, maybe 6. And I clearly remember holding myself back from starting earlier. We picked out colors, painted, decorated, bought furniture, and all. The room was ready well before the baby was born. As for getting the house ready, I fritted and fretted while I scrubbed the bathrooms, the floors, the walls, and everything else. I made more food than any of us could ever eat. And I installed the car seat a month early - just in case. And none of that is bad. I did not have any other kids taking my energy and attention away from nesting. But, I was ready.

When my second baby came, we were in a small town home because we were told we would only be in the area for a year. It was a two bedroom and right away, the baby would have to live with my first baby. The crib was not put in storage all in the same so she had to have the pack and play as her crib. Since it was a rental, we could not decorate a pretty pink room for our first little girl. I think that nesting made me realize, since I had not control over most of it, that maybe some of what I did for my son was maybe not as necessary. My daughter did just fine without all that prep work.

With my third, we were again in a house. The nursery I set up for my daughter soon became the new baby's. I did not change anything except move my oldest daughter out of her crib at 17 moths. She was fine, but I would not do that again. As for preparing food, I did a little. And I still cleaned the tub. What is it with the tub?

With my fourth baby, I was really busy. We moved again and now I had three kids under 6 all vying for my time and attention. I think I managed to clean, but not like I would do for company. I think the kids' rooms might have even been a mess. I know due to the age of the car seat, I had to buy her a new one. And I bought new crib bedding because I was completely tired of looking at Pooh Bear; I had seen it three times before. So, since it was a girl, I bought girlie crib bedding.

So, where am I as my fifth is fast approaching? I am even more behind. The second crib is in the attic because my youngest is still in a crib. I've never been that slow. The room I am putting the baby in has become the 'catch all' of sorts lately. We call it the yellow room. "Can't find panties - try the yellow room." It is truly scary. That is something I do hope to clean out today, but we'll see. The car seat is out of the attic, but I need to buy Dreft in order to wash it. I did buy crib bedding since my youngest still has hers, but it also has not been washed. The pack and play has yet to be seen, but I am thinking attic again.

But, I am calmer this time around. Now with four kids under 8 and one only 16 months old, I've taken a little different approach and pampered myself a little more instead of stressing myself out. I did not make any food in advance, but I am ordering from My Girlfriends Kitchen, which will assemble a wonderful meal, deliver it with instructions, and all we have to do is throw it in the oven. Sounds easy enough and prepared to me. I've heard the recipes are yummy too. I went to get a pedicure yesterday instead of going to the grocery. And I had the groceries delivered today after ordering online. That cost a little extra, but I have a sick kiddo today and rather than hire a babysitter and go, it was less expensive to have someone shop for me and deliver it to my door. Are you asking why my husband can't? Well he will next week, but he gets flighty before the birth. I think it is due to the fact he knows what I am going to go through (although wonderful end result) and he hates that he can't do anything for me. I know he will only stress in his mind, so it was easier to just have it taken care of. I also dropped my laundry off at the local laundry mat and had them clean and fold it same day, so I am caught up on all my laundry. I know, it all sounds crazy. I truly could not do this on a full time basis with all the 'hiring out' of tasks, but it was nice to not have all that hanging over my head when it is hard enough to walk from one room to the next right now. So, other than putting laundry away, and packing my bag, I feel ready. The baby sleeps in our room for a few weeks at least, so the crib can go up next week in the "yellow room" when Brian is home instead of in advance. My parents are taking care of the kids and are completely capable of going to the grocery if I missed something. They are well stocked for now and there are many dinners of groceries here. I know they will also have dinner made and the fridge well stocked again when we come home.

As for my hospital bag, with each baby, I have brought less and less to the hospital too. They really have a lot of things there already. I found a new robe and slippers is a wonderful fresh addition, and I just wear the hospital gowns. They are covered up anyway. I bring lotion that I love to smell, but just don't put it on my chest or anywhere the baby will lay skin to skin with me. So, I can still smell it, but it does not bother their newborn skin. I usually pick out a maternity outfit that I like and wear it to and from the hospital. If anything would happen to it, Brian can always grab more clothes for me. And I bring the things I use to get ready in the morning - makeup, hairdryer and such.

The baby's hospital bag has also lightened up too with each baby. We always have a new blanket and a new outfit that my husband picks out to bring the baby home in. I usually buy a new diaper bag; I think it is like the new robe thing, and put the blanket and outfit in there. I don't buy diapers anymore after Isabella did not fit in the newborn size. The hospital provides you plenty to get home, and then I make a short list for my husband to go right back out to pick up once we return home. He is usually headed for a prescription or two anyway, so he can pick up diapers and anything else the baby might need.

So, I guess when it comes to 'wisdom' and I use that term VERY lightly, I would recommend you try to lessen your load before baby if you can. Trust me, you will be worn out and tired once she is here. If you can save a little bit of your energy and headaches, I would do that. But then again, if you are one of those people who have that peak of energy and you can't sit still or sleep anyway, than do that list that you have had organized in your head for months. But, it you don't, see if you can get a friend to help or hire a little help to get you caught up and ready for that big day. Then try to take at least one small thing out just for you. I chose a pedicure because it feels good.

Good Luck and take plenty of pictures of that big day!

Heather Totten is a stay-at-home mom with four children and a busy husband. She is incredibly organized, and shares her sense of family, parenting, and organization with us in her monthly parenting tips column. Read what's new with her family in Heather's Parenting Journal.

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