When I was expecting my second son, I spent some time preparing for my mother-in-law and mother to visit after the birth. They were mostly coming to help care for my older son who was two and a half years old at the time. However as they both lived abroad and rarely visited, they really had no idea about what he liked to eat or do all day! Not to mention where everything was in our house, or what to do in the case of an emergency…
I realised that in order for me to feel on top of things and receive help, I needed to make our space and routine user-friendly for myself as well as for other people. I needed to organise!
This time around, as I prepare for Baby #3, I am finding it very helpful to give some extra thought to organisation again. Only my mother will be visiting this time around, but we live in a different house and have a completely different routine than we did nearly four years ago since she came last. Plus it’s great for me to revisit home organisation as it’s nearly always at the end of the “to do” list! It feels great to have everything “under control” before the birth of our daughter.
Here are my tips for organising your house before a new baby arrives:
Once the baby is born, it will probably be more difficult to do various household projects that you have been meaning to do (like cleaning out that storage closet) – so if they are really important, do them now! Get rid of what you don’t need so you have more space and less stuff to clean up. This not only makes your life easier, but any guest coming to your home will be able to help more too. If you have a dozen serving bowls, how does anyone know where they all go? Cut your collection down to the few you use regularly and make the storage spot clear.
I made a printable checklist of rooms and types of *stuff* that I have been simplifying, and there were some helpful responses by readers about decluttering on that post as well. Read it and download the checklist by clicking here. Now that I have less stuff in the house, there’s plenty of space for the baby gear making its way back into rotation.
Organise your space
Organising our living space is something I try to look at every few months, as the needs of our family changes as we go through different stages. For me, finding a practical place for everything really helps out. My new baby will not have her own room so I have already brought up all our baby *stuff* out of storage in order to fit it in our current space. Most things have gone straight into the master bedroom but there are a few larger storage boxes (mostly of “older” baby stuff and other hand-me-down clothes I have received) which are in our upstairs storage area so I can still access them easily.
Consider your “problem areas”
By “problem area” I mean where clutter accumulates. For us it was the front door and our dining table where the kids do arts and crafts. Once I put systems and a few new shelves in place to take care of these areas, there was instantly less clutter. You can see our new arts and crafts display area in the first photo at the top of this post — having a specific place for the kids to keep their little projects (and store “just finished” artwork) has made a tremendous difference to our table being available for dinner! It also helps me have more control over how many projects we have going at once… only one project per tray/shelf and once they are full, the kids need to finish a project before taking out something else!
I’ve also thought ahead of time about the baby stuff that always ended up on the couch or floor somewhere (mainly the nappy bag and the baby carrier) and have already assigned places for these things, too. After six years of being a mother, one thing I have learned is that having a clear place for everything really helps to keep our house more tidy. With three kids, I know this will be essential.
Label, label, label!
Once you have things where they make sense, label! Label drawers, kitchen containers, light switches if you have more than one on a panel, school supplies, etc. This not only keeps you on track, but it makes it super easy for helpers visiting your home as well. My husband always used to have to ask where various kitchen items were… with labels, he doesn’t even have to ask! One less thing for everyone to worry about.
I was recently given the opportunity to order some Skool Labels – designed especially for school supplies – and I adore how they look on our lunch boxes (pictured above). My kids had a great time selecting their labels from all the sizes, shapes, designs, and fonts available, and we all love how they turned out. Having school supplies clearly labeled makes it less likely that the kids will lose things, and therefore less likely we will have to spend time and money replacing them. Check out the Skool Label website to see the terrific range of stick-on and iron-on labels they offer.
Outline your routine
Consider what you must do throughout the day and make these part of a regular, outlined routine. Write out the basics for your morning and bedtime routine so that other people know what your kids expect, and are expected, to do. It doesn’t have to be super specific but I would add a few times to make sure everyone is on the same page. For example, our morning routine is: prayers, breakfast, brush teeth, pack bag, and dress by 8am. We always have time for more than that (the kids always wake by 6am) but having the time there just makes the expectation more clear… meaning less rushing and less stress.
Make it easy for your kids to participate in the routines by creating pictorial lists and labels. We have made various lists throughout the years – in this post I discussed our before-school checklist as well as our clothing drawer labels. Enabling the kids to become more independent through lists and labels they can read is great for everyone involved. When I finally organised and labeled our craft drawers, suddenly my kids were able to find things and therefore do more things on their own! It was a win for everyone.
Simplify kid care
Make a list of your kids’ favourite foods and activities so that other carers have a cheat sheet when they are left in charge of the kiddos – having these simple lists makes caring for the kids so much less intimidating. I keep ours tacked up in the kitchen (a list of activities on the wall and favourite meals/snacks on the inside cabinet) so they are easy to find and don’t get lost in a notebook somewhere.
I also like to have an “easy meal” from our list of favourite meals in the pantry at all times so that someone else can make something the kids will happily eat (such as pasta and sauce) in case I am away for longer than expected. Frozen foods are great to have on hand too.
Have an emergency plan ready
Putting an “emergency plan” in place and letting other carers know what it is puts everyone at ease. Have a list of contact numbers easily visible such as on the fridge – including the national emergency number (this is different in different countries!), your midwife + doctor + hospital, plus your own numbers (cell phones, work phones, etc). Make sure your baby-sitter has someone to call for help in case they cannot reach you.
It’s also a good idea to organise your medicine cabinet making sure everything is easy to find and labeled correctly with current doses – this will make it easier for you and/or other carers to attend to emergencies. (For less severe aches and pains, consider putting together a Boo Boo Basket.)
Are you ready to get organised?
Getting organised not only helps me feel that I have a handle on things, but I know it’s also going to make it so much easier for others to help me. Reducing the clutter, organising our space, and giving some extra attention to our routines and babysitter preparation has made a big difference to my sense of readiness for this baby to arrive.
What other home organisation tips do you have for parents expecting a new baby?
This post is part of my series Tips for Families Expecting a New Baby. For more ideas about getting yourself and your family ready for your new bundle of joy, check it out.