I've spent the past couple of weeks getting bids from contractors to help us do things like get rid of old, nasty carpet, paint our grubby walls and organize our closets. Now they're actually here working, and I can't wait until they're done so our house can go back to being a home.
Whenever I announce a new pregnancy, I am always asked if I'll put my older kids in school. I say I couldn't imagine getting rid of all my helpers! Beyond that, school comes with burdens of its own - rushing through breakfast to get everyone dressed and out of the house on time, packing lunches and backpacks, keeping up with assignments and notices from the teacher - homeschooling is so much easier.
Days with a new baby are also great learning experiences for children. Diane Hopkins' article, The Baby is the Lesson, explains this perfectly. Even if academic work does take the back seat for a moment, my children will learn so much more at home than they would in school. They also love new babies and I don't think they'd leave home if they could!
In addition to getting our house ready for the baby, I'm also making preparations that will keep the house running more smoothly once the baby arrives. I am at my worst when sleep deprived, so I've learned to set things up so I can run on autopilot.
I keep meals really simple. Breakfast is either cereal or something from the freezer that can be quickly defrosted and heated up. Lunch is sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner is defrosted and reheated from the freezer, or made in the crock pot.
Before my last child was born, I made a 3-month meal calendar, including grocery lists and breakfast/lunch/dinner menus. I also packed our freezer to almost overflowing with pancakes, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, soups, casseroles and other make ahead meals. This made it really easy for my mom and husband to help when they were around, and for me to keep everyone fed when they weren't.
I doubt I'll have time to stock the freezer before this baby is born, but I am making menus and getting my recipes in order. I recently found out about the Eat at Home blog, and I'm planning on trying some of her free weekly menus and recipes.
I also keep housework to the bare minimum when we have a new baby. I know it's not eco-friendly, but we use plastic cups and utensils, and paper plates. My kids reduce my workload by helping with chores - making their beds, folding their laundry, taking out trash, picking up toys, etc.
My 8-year-old can prepare cereal and juice when everyone's too hungry to wait on me to get moving in the mornings. He also unloads the dishwasher, and I'm working on teaching him to straighten up their bathroom. It's slow going, but I think we'll make progress before the baby is born. I am blessed to have children who actually LIKE doing chores!
One other thing I do when getting ready for a new baby is simplify our schedule as much as possible. I have no problem saying no to outside obligations, and I make sure we are home every day for
So this is how I keep everyone sane during those crazy post-partum months. Next week, I'll share the traditions we have that make having a new baby fun!