You couldn’t be more excited about the new year, because you’ve gotten some wonderful news: You’re going to be a mother in 2013! Right now you’re probably daydreaming about chubby cheeks, adorable onesies, and the bundle of joy you’ll be holding in your arms this time next year. And depending on your personality and how far along you are into your pregnancy, you may also be feeling the urge to clean, organize, de-clutter, and redecorate.
Congratulations! You’re nesting; in other words, feeling the desire to prepare your home for your new arrival. And according to Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, a mother who has been there, there are some specific pre-baby projects to put on your list of New Year’s resolutions.
“If your inner neat freak and home decorator is making herself known to a much greater extent than ever before, don’t worry. What mother wouldn’t want her baby to come home to the most comfortable, healthy, and welcoming place possible?” asks Ivana, who is a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana-The Modern Princess, and coauthor of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. “Nesting is an important ‘stage’ of pregnancy for you and your baby, and of course you’ll want to make sure that you have all of your bases covered.”
Ivana speaks from experience. While she’s a modern-day princess, she comes from modest means and met her Prince Charming while on scholarship at Pepperdine. Being a princess has given her access to information and expertise, but she’s adamant that the most important choices she has made (and that you will make!) as a parent have little to do with money. Instead, they have everything to do with educating yourself, trusting your instincts, and eventually, paying attention to your child’s signals.
“During both of my pregnancies, the nesting instinct hit me hard,” Ivana recalls. “I couldn’t rest until everything that might impact my babies was just right. Like most first-time parents, there was a certain amount of ‘winging it’ and guesswork before my son was born. But by the time I became pregnant with my daughter, I knew with a little more accuracy what I needed to do before my baby’s birth.”
Nine Nesting Tips
Read on for nine of Ivana’s nesting tips to take into account as you anticipate your 2013 baby:
- Put your paperwork, etc. in order. You might not think of paperwork as being a nesting activity…which is why Ivana places it in first position. Even more important than a well-decorated nursery and organized closet are your child’s medical needs and daily care.
“Before you do anything else, find a pediatrician,” urges Ivana. “Make sure your insurance is in order. If you’ll be delivering at a hospital, look into pre-admitting. And if you think you’ll be going back to work after taking maternity leave, start researching daycare options. None of these are things you want to wait till the last minute on…and you definitely don’t want to have to take care of them while caring for a newborn.”
- Tackle your budget. Much like taking care of paperwork, you might be so focused on straightening up the house that you’ve pushed your budget to the back of your mind. However, it’s no secret that children cost money, and you can expect your family’s expenditures to shoot up after your newborn arrives.
“The exact amount of your baby-related budget can vary quite a bit depending on your personal choices, where you live, whether or not you’re a first-time parent, and much more,” Ivana points out. “Before your focus shifts to your new child (and before you become perpetually sleep-deprived), do your best to figure up how much money you’ll need to spend on baby paraphernalia, during maternity leave, for future daycare, etc. If you’ll be a stay-at-home mom and you’re currently working, think about how the loss of income will impact your family. And don’t forget to factor in new ‘constant’ expenses like diapers and formula. Then start budgeting now so that you aren’t taken by surprise!”
- Organize. Now we’re getting into more traditional nesting territory! Unless you’re the exception to the expectant-mother rule, you’re probably feeling the urge to organize everything: the pantry, your closet, the garage, your DVD collection, and of course, the baby’s room. Before you get elbow-deep in clothes you haven’t worn since college, take a step back and prioritize the projects that will be most useful for you with a new baby at home.
“If you’re in the later stages of your pregnancy, time is limited,” points out Ivana. “And even if you’re not, you never know what might crop up and demand your attention later. Besides the obvious organizing projects that involve your baby’s room, clothes, and gear, I would recommend cleaning out kitchen cabinets to make room for baby supplies, like bottles. Another project I personally found helpful was cleaning out junk drawers so that you’ll be able to easily locate things like screwdrivers, batteries, and other essentials. You never know when the swing will stop working in the middle of the night, or when the baby monitor will go silent!”
- Follow the fingertip rule. In other words, when you’re organizing and de-cluttering, keep the most important things at your fingertips. Ivana points out that so many of us have drawers, dressers, cabinets, and closets full of things we don’t often need (which makes it more difficult to store and find the things we do!). With a new baby, space is at a premium, so get tough on yourself and clean out things you use only once or twice a year.
“Put these items in big plastic tubs, and store them in the garage, the attic, or a storage unit,” Ivana suggests. “You don’t have to get rid of them entirely-just get them out of the way. Make sure premium space is filled with things you’ll use frequently, and that there’s room for all of the baby paraphernalia that will soon be flooding your home!”
- Get low. It’s time to take a fresh look at your home from a baby’s point of view. Clean or replace carpets, change the air filters, get a new vacuum bag (and some spares), etc.-anything to improve the air quality in your house and make the floors a safe place for you and baby to play.
“You and your child will be spending a lot of time on the floor over the next few years,” says Ivana. “Since it will be a little while before your baby becomes mobile, you can hold off on baby-proofing the house…although if you have the time and feel the urge, it’s never too early to start!”
- Finish baby’s room. Decorating, organizing, and stocking the baby’s room is a favorite activity for most soon-to-be moms. Get started as early as you want, and tweak to your heart’s content (as long as you stay within your budget, that is!).
“I really enjoyed painting, getting the crib assembled, organizing all of those precious onesies, and finding special touches like lamps, pictures, and rugs,” Ivana shares. “I promise, having a designated space for the baby that you feel good about will give you a lot of confidence going into the new year and your third trimester.”
- Take care of any pesky chores you’ve been putting off. No, these probably won’t be as fun as getting the nursery ready. But they’re just as necessary-and like figuring out insurance and daycare, they’re not things you’re going to have the time, energy, and mental clarity to tackle with a newborn in the house.
“Take the car in for a tune-up,” Ivana suggests. “Get your gutters cleaned. Take the cat to the vet. Renew your license. You’ll feel so much better once the tasks you’ve been putting off have been checked off your list. And most importantly, you’ll avoid so many hassles later, like toting a newborn and a sick cat to the vet!”
- Hire help. The fact is, you can’t do it all. In some instances-such as heavy lifting and cleaning with strong chemicals, or if you’re on bed rest-doing it all might harm you and/or your baby. That’s why Ivana encourages you to hire help if you and your family are feeling overwhelmed.
“If you want to rearrange a room, paint, or deep clean your house, for example, your peace of mind alone might be worth the cost of hiring someone,” she points out. “If your budget is tight but there’s work you’d like to be done, try to enlist friends and extended family. Or look for good deals on LivingSocial, Groupon, etc.”
- Pencil in some time for yourself. This might be the most important nesting practice of all: making sure that you yourself are in order and at peace. It’s natural for moms-and moms-to-be-to put others’ needs first. But remember, this is the calm before the proverbial storm. While you’ll love your baby more than words can say, you’ll be operating on low margins of time and energy once he or she arrives.
“Schedule a pedicure,” urges Ivana. “Read a book. If there’s time, sign up for a class you’ve been wanting to take. The next year is going to be a busy one, so taking a little time for yourself now is a must!”
“Ultimately, smart nesting is all about planning, prioritizing, and above all, making sure you’re comfortable bringing your baby home,” concludes Ivana. “Now’s the time to tie up all of those loose ends-before your bundle of joy arrives!”
About Princess Ivana: Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana-The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom.
While she’s a modern-day princess, she comes from modest means and met her Italian Prince Charming (if you’re curious, he’s Adriano Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire) while on scholarship at Pepperdine. She didn’t wait for his kiss to save her, though-using her master’s degree in education, she forged a career of her own as a digital strategy consultant.
Ivana and her husband have two fabulous kids (ages two years and ten months) who are the latest additions to a 1,000-year lineage that includes kings of Sicily and Spain, Catherine of Aragon, a pope, and a saint. Ivana is wild about kids and motherhood. For the past twenty years, she has worked with children, from designing learning toys to tutoring homeless kids.
Ivana’s Super Mom juggling act between life, love, kids, and career inspired her new book. She believes that life is more about attitude than money, and her goal is to help mothers live well on any budget. Consider her “Dear Abby” with a tiara and a baby sling!