Congratulations to LorenaAZ for winning our Giving Advice for Living Simply contest! Look for a PM from me! And thank you to everyone for your entries - we loved reading all of your advice!
- The Mothering Team
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You don't need a lot of stuff -- don't buy a lot of stuff.
There is a huge market for baby products, pregnancy products, etc. But really babies need you! A few simple things you do need. The rest is optional. Many things can be re-purposed or borrowed. Keep it simple with your kids from birth and as long as they're young by realizing you don't need much stuff and you will save yourself MANY mothering and parenting headaches!
I realize this post is a little ironic, considering some the sponsors of this contest. But it's 100% true, true, true.
Mothering my sweet preschool boy and my new arrival
REMEMBER you dont see adults crawling around, sucking their thumbs, drinking only milk and peeing themselfs (unless they are drunk) so it WILL happen just every baby is diffrent so just relax and enjoy your new baby. i was so worried after my baby about all the things my new baby SHOULD be doing i forgot about the small things like enjoying my new baby and now wish i could rewind time and just enjoying her. This is the best piece of advice i would give to any new Mum X
If you decide to use cloth diapers, buy some cheap goodwill pants/shorts, cut the legs off, and use the band to hold the diaper up. That way you don't need to worry about a diaper cover and you can tell when your babe is wet right away. Plus, when your little one gets older and starts running around, you can change a diaper in mid-run without fumbling with snaps or pins or velcro.
Don't buy much until after baby arrives! And throw "norms" out the window!
A lot of all that "baby gear" will be overkill and will just clutter your space and will be more trouble than it's worth (with maintenance, storage, keeping it clean, etc.). Purchase baby items as you feel the need for them. The only real baby items I ever used consistently were slings and a changing table (which I sold on craigslist before it turned 1 yr old). Don't listen to the general media and do what you feel you should do with your baby. We co-slept and did EC (elimination communication) from birth. I never owned a "baby bag" and never left my house with more than a sling and water for me. No crib, no diaper genie, no organizers, etc. I shared a dresser for baby's clothes and everything just fell into place naturally. Ah! There was also a small potty in the car for when we went out and there was no bathroom nearby (since we did EC, we didn't use diapers). I love looking back at that time -- it was truly the best time of my life. Now my little one is 3 and is a little person all of her own.
For keeping it simple to birth, think of the things that bring you the most comfort and have that near you. Read as much as you can about giving birth and be prepared to birth on your own, because there is no guarantee that your birth attendant will arrive in time or that you will make it to the birth center/hospital if that is your planned place of birth. Being prepared means you will have the necessary items on hand (which really isn't much) and the fear that might arise when finding yourself on your own will be gone because you know what to do. Be prepared. Watch natural birth videos, read natural birth books and find like minded people to talk to and share with. Avoid all those negative people or ask them to only share happy birth stories if they need to share anything at all. Find a breastfeeding group and join before baby is born. Get established and your support group for breastfeeding in place. This can be so valuable whether it is your first baby or your tenth. Questions can arise and it is nice to have someone to call and ask questions if they do. :)
If you birth at home, you don't need much in the way of supplies at all. A bulb syringe in case you need it, a tie for the cord, sharp scissors, we likehaving chucks pads to catch any mess, fetoscope for listening to baby, herbs for bleeding, after birth herbs, old baby blankets and towels, and a peribottle. That is the basic list we use for birthing at home. Some items get used, others don't. Again it is all about personal living choices and comfort. :)
The biggest thing to know about keeping it simple after baby comes and in preparing for baby is that you don't need all that "baby stuff" they advertise as "needs".
You really don't need much of anything actually. It really depends on your living choices what you will consider a real need and what is "extra".
For us, all we needed were breasts to feed baby, cloth breast pads if you tend to leak, cloth diapers/diaper pins/small wash cloths/wool soakers/diaper pail for diapering, extra cloths for spitting up (we have spitters), some onesies, baby gowns, small socks, a few blankets, the family bed and a sling. Yes, we kept it that simple.
As they grow, we still kept is simple. They don't need a lot of items--just a good imagination and lots of love from mama and daddy.
As for needed items as they get older, I would suggest a good ottoscope so you are able to keep track of ear issues if they arise and a book on ears. Also, a good book on baby and child care including healthy and natural care/healing. Having herbs and items for natural healing on hand are a plus. Eating a natural and organic diet is a plus when it comes to the health of your child and family. If you choose to go with extended breastfeeding and don't start solids until they are over a year old, then they will be able to eat the foods right from the table like everyone else eliminating the need to buy or make your own baby food. This keeps it even simpler yet and oh so much more healthy for that little one.
These are just some of my personal idea. Things I have learned along the way. Things that others have shared with me and provided me with that "light bulb" moment. I hope this does the same for you.
"It goes so fast!"
Ask any older woman who has had children.
Ask any mother with older children.
Although the minutes may seem to inch by at 3am when all you want is to be asleep but your baby does not. Or the day just seems to creep when your child wants you to watch them build yet another construction, or read that same book.
Treasure those minutes. Before you know where you are they will be walking, talking, leaving home!
And if you cannot treasure it - then know that you need a break. Even five minutes to yourself in the bathroom. Better still, a whole hour and a hot bath.
And as their childhood flies by, discover how you can replenish yourself in really brief bursts - even when you feel like you need a week off.
Believe me, although raising children can be really hard work at times, all too soon you'll be wishing you had it all over again!
Have a food-prep day with friends and family to help you fill your freezer with nourishing, real food meals *before* the baby comes. This is so much easier than having meals brought to your after baby comes. You can pop something in the crockpot or oven and you are good to go. This was the #1 thing that helped me with baby #4.
Don't set up a nursery before the baby is born. Many parents feel that setting up a nursery is a way to get ready for the upcoming birth. Instead, spend that time preparing mentally and emotionally for your newborn. The nursery project will end up taking up an enormous amount of time and money, will make you feel like you "need" this and that, and might stress you out if you feel it is not ready in time. Instead, plan to sleep with your baby or keep the baby in a bassinet or co-sleeper in your bedroom. Babies prefer to be with you all the time. They will not want to sleep alone in their room, no matter how perfect it looks. Bringing our baby into our bedroom was a beautiful way to welcome our baby into the world and establish the bond of our new family.
Take one day at a time. Enjoy every minute, every grunt, and even cry. They grow up too fast and will soon be running and talking and not want you to hold them and love on them. Don't buy one of every new toy out there, or lots of clothes. it just adds more to your stress of picking up ALL those "cool" toys and all those clothes they only wore 1 time before they outgrew them. It just adds more stress to you and your wallet. Make meals ahead of time or have some friends and family bring meals in a few times a week for the first couple weeks. Ask you mom or mother-in-law to come watch the baby an afternoon while you read or do laundry or cook or take a nap or go shopping or get coffee, and actually let them take care of the baby and go away and let them have some time with the baby. Don't worry about cooking or cleaning the first few weeks. Your house won't fall apart. And your husband can cook even if he says he can't. He might find it enjoyable. Or give him the baby while you cook something simple. He will love time alone with it. Don't worry over how he holds the baby or is doing things. He'll figure it out, he is a big boy and doesn't need to be mothered by you, babies are very flexible and it is very good for babies to cry even if it isn't the best "music" to listen to.
A newborn is solely dependent on you, the mom, 24/7 which can be overwhelming! To avoid and alleviate fatigue, initially delegate to others household chores, meal preparation, laundry so you can solely focus on attending to nursing and caring for yourself and your newborn. Housework and laundry are forever...but we only have the responsibility to nurture and guide our children for all too short a period of time in our parenting lives. So focus on rest and care of yourself and attending to your newborn's needs taking one day at a time as you venture into this new parenting experience so you can learn to enjoy this little miracle who has upended your life! Always reach out to whomever is willing to lend a hand in the initial weeks after birth, to aid you and your family during this adjustment period.
I am a few months into my first pregnancy, and though I've got a ways to go, there are some things I've learned I will definitely keep in mind the next time around. One, eliminate the things from your life that make you unhappy. That sounds really simple, but it can be hard! The flip-side of that is identifying what makes you happy - for me, it's my husband, my family, my friends, and my faith - and making those things a priority. Not only does this keep me happier and helps me feel more calm while expecting, it also keeps my body healthier as it goes about creating a new life.
Another related idea is to eliminate negativity. My OBGYN gave me some really great advice: don't let people tell you horror stories of pregnancy and motherhood. Those are things you do NOT need to hear while preparing for one of the biggest, happiest changes of your life. I've made it a goal to cut out the negativity in my life (whether from those around me or even my own negative moments) and I have found that it's already helping me a lot.
Embrace the fourth trimester. Take the first 40 days after the baby is born and spend it together with your baby. In this time you can learn to trust your instincts, build your breastfeeding relationship, foster a strong connection between yourself and your baby, and rest. This should be a quiet and peaceful time as you welcome your baby into your life. Try not to get bogged down with visitors, chores, or daily routines. You can get to all of those things later. Nurse your baby on demand. Sleep close. And keep them wrapped or hold them close to you. Enjoy the bond that is being formed and truly appreciate this special time. It goes by so quickly.
One of the most valuable things I learned as a new mom is the importance of my child's sleep, especially naps. I was very frustrated because my daughter would only nap in my arms or while being carried in a sling. I realized that this was a natural thing as she had just spent 9 months in the womb. After she was three months, I began to transition her to sleep in her bed. I read the No Cry Nap Solution and learned what her nap needs were (how many naps and how long they should be), which gave me a basis for trying figure out a good daily pattern for her. This helped me be peaceful during my daughter's awake time because I can focus on spending time with her while she is awake and get stuff done while she is asleep. Having a nap schedule for my daughter simplified my life because I am not spending extra time trying to figure out how to get something done with a baby in my arms and I know when she needs to sleep. I also created a schedule for myself of all my responsibilities and my own needs so when nap time comes I am not guessing how I should best spend that nap time.
Hold your baby. All the time. I don't necessarily mean babywearing, I mean just pick them up and hold them as much as you can. Forget about work, dishes, laundry. It's not that important. I spent so much time in the early days just holding my baby in my arms, sitting on the couch and staring at her. It was magical. Get rid of the TV. Stare at your baby. Put the book down. Gaze at that little sleeping/crying/grimacing/bubbling face. When your house is empty of children someday and you're old and gray, you'll never look back and say "gosh, I wish I had done more housework in those early days." Leave no regrets! <3
ASK FOR HELP and accept offered help. Ask everyone's help including God... you are not the only one who loves your baby dearly. Dont' try to be a superwoman and do all things on your own. Yes the baby needs you... but you also need to take good care of yourself... get as much rest as you can... you are not just doing it for yourself... you are also doing it for the baby. Take advantage of hubby and lovedones who are so fond of your little pride and joy..give them the wonderful opportunity to change nappy or hold the babe for awhile while you sleep. There are many mothers (young and old) out there who perfectly understand what you are going through and they will be more than willing to give you some of their time, talents and even unsolicited advice :)... Oh and one thing more, TRUST you your mother instincts!... you are entitled to know what is best for your baby because no one else can love your baby more than you do :)
don't spend money decorating a nursery. your baby won't be spending much time in his/her own room for a while, and nursery colors and decor really don't transition well as a child grows. that pastel green crib skirt and curtains not only aren't very appealing to a baby, but also likely won't be what your toddler likes. save your money for decorating later. if you really want to nest, hang some brightly colored tapestries on the wall, and make a mobile with pictures of your face. those are the sort of nursery decor items babies actually like and find stimulating, and it won't break the bank.
betsy: wife to tony, mama to haven (7/6/10), arlo (m/c 1/21/12), and expecting valencia in late december.
"we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams" - arthur o'shaunessy
"if there is no dancing then it is not my revolution" - emma goldman
Parent in a way that feels right to you- everyone and their mother has advice on how you should do things with your children. It will take some time to figure out what feels right to you, so give yourself time and understand that you will make mistakes.
Babywear & Get involved in a Mom & Baby group
Babywearing nurtures your baby and gives you freedom to be portable
Mom & Baby groups gives your baby healthy development opportunities & gives you a place to find common ground with other moms so you feel empowered and not alone in motherhood.
A Toronto born young mama freshly moved for a new adventure in ALBERTA! with Superdaddy and her intact and vax free, breastfed and babyworn Aug09 babe attending college for early childhood education and being blessed with #2 just in time for Valentines Day