Nesting before baby is not meant to be a solo endeavor— how can you get help and support?
Cleaning. Organizing. Re-Organizing. Decluttering. Preparing for baby …
You may have heard of the “mental load of motherhood” by now. You know – all the things that a mother carries mentally from day to day.
But, what about the mental load of NESTING?
I’d like to do all you dads (and moms) a favor by sharing what this phase is all about and how you can best support the mom-to-be in this mental load of nesting. (Plus, stick around to the end for some comforting thoughts to ease your minds!)
A Little Housekeeping
First, nesting is a legit, real thing. There comes a time before baby, often the third trimester, where some (not all) moms feel the urge to get all. the. things. in order to feel prepared and ready to bring your new baby home.
Second, prepping for baby is not a load meant to be carried by one person (ahem … the MOM), regardless of whether or not she works outside of the home. If you don’t want her to be anxious and stressed, find ways to be part of this process if it’s not your natural instinct.
Ok, now to the nitty-gritty …
Environment is Everything
This nesting phase is all about taking control of what she is able to (before she loses some time and freedom after baby arrives) and creating a comfortable space.
I explained the concept of nesting to my husband recently, using the analogy of “workspaces” to make it more concrete and relatable for him. I so appreciate everything he does to provide for our family, give us stability, and allow for me to be home with our three kids. He does the work day-in and day-out, and I fully trust in his ability and drive to care for us in this way. That’s his mental load.
If his office at work was not orderly, organized, and in a constant state of readiness to meet with clients, he would not be as comfortable, productive, or efficient at work. And that is NOT a good feeling! He has complete control of that every day (without little minions coming in to mess it up multiple times a day), which sets him up to perform well and be successful.
As a stay-at-home mom (otherwise known as “family manager” or “chief home officer”), my HOME is my workspace— my “office,” if you will. For the mom-to-be who currently works outside of the home, her home is about to be her new office space during maternity leave.
When it feels like chaos in the house (especially with a new baby to care for), it feels like constant anxiety for her. She won’t feel comfortable in her workspace, productive or successful in her day-to-day runnings of the house, or at ease in her maternity leave. Resentment can easily creep in when she’s lost a good bit of her autonomy and feels unsupported in the transition and upkeep. Trust me on this one – you do NOT want that!
The Never-Ending To-Do List
Prepping for a new baby is more than just buying things from the registry and organizing a nursery, although having the necessities and a space for that little one is of utmost importance. It’s like a teacher making sub plans for a long-term leave, making sure that:
- Everyone is taken care of when you will be otherwise engaged.
- Nothing major will be hanging over your head.
- You’ll feel good in your space.
In the month leading up to our due date, I had been crossing things off my list on the daily, but my list seemed to grow every day, or some of those things I crossed off were maintenance to-do’s— they weren’t a one-and-done thing. Kind of like when you are trying to sell your house and keep everything tidy constantly in case someone wants a showing that day. It’s exhausting!
So, for a little help in understanding the extensive “mental load,” here are some of the random things that made my list:
- MAINTENANCE: laundry, floors, sink, dishwasher, meals, groceries
- DEEP CLEANING: stovetop, microwave, windows, sheets, pack-n-play, closets, dog grooming (no one wants a stinky pet when baby comes home – yuck!)
- BABY: nursery, bedside bassinet, sanitize & wash ALL the baby things (with safe detergent), car seat cleaned/installed, baby gear set up, pump, preregister at the hospital
- MOM: Pack hospital bag, health visits, hair, dental/eye appointments, nails done (I know, I know … but when you are birthing, the last thing you want to think about is your unkempt fingernails and toenails. Dignity is important, people.)
- MISC: guest bedroom & bathrooms cleaned, easy food/snacks for kids, overnight bags packed, haircuts (photo-ready!), lists/instructions for caretakers while you are in the hospital
Share the Load
So, how can you be supportive and share the mental load of nesting? Ask to see THE LIST. Offer to take some things off of her shoulders, and follow-through (without complaining), especially with maintenance items before and after baby comes.
Show that you care about the details, too; knowing she isn’t alone is half the battle.
Keep in mind, all of this prep is to make the home a peaceful place for EVERYONE!
* PRO TIP: Surprise her by gifting her a prenatal massage and hiring a professional to deep clean your house 2-3 weeks before the due date. I’d take this gift over a tangible “push” present any day! You’re welcome 🙂
And to the moms-to-be who are in full-on nesting mode, I fully understand the weight you are carrying, but let me lessen the load for you now that I’m on the other side of it (once again). If you have a place for baby to sleep, diapers/wipes, sleepers, feeding supplies, and a carseat, you are going to be ok, I promise! Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you don’t have all the things checked off the list. Babies’ needs are basic those first months of life, so many of the other things can be done once they get here, if at all!
Lighten and share your load, ask for help, and focus on those sweet smiles and snuggles on the horizon! You are about to embark on the greatest adventure of your lives!