33 Things To Do Before Baby Comes (To Make You A Happier Woman)

Written by

Jo Piazza

9:00 am
02/16/17

Lia Ices, Photographed by Maria Del Rio

In about four and a half months, give or take a few days, I’ll be someone’s mother. These words still jar me, surprise me, delight me, and terrify me. Few life changes actually change your life as much as this one. When I first learned I was pregnant I went into overdrive on my to-do list. I’m a list maker by nature. It makes me feel like I have control over a situation where there is absolutely no control. I furiously went about scheduling ten months of doctor’s appointments, making a baby registry, planning a nursery, plotting a babymoon, compiling lists of names—all of the things the Internet tells you to do before you have a baby.

As the months wore on and my belly began to balloon and my to-do list began to shorten, I realized the relative insignificance of creating a nursery ASAP or perfecting the baby registry. I began to think about what I could and should be doing to truly prepare myself and my husband for this incredible, life-changing event in all of the ways, physical, emotional, and psychological. I began soliciting advice from everyone I knew who had given birth to a child, a month or even half a century earlier. I crowdsourced mothers around the world to create a pre-baby bucket list of sorts (if I didn’t despise the term bucket list).

Within the list of 33 action items, there are things I think I probably should do before the baby is born because I’m convinced I’ll never have the free time to do them ever again—perfect my Italian, start an all-girl cover band of Prince songs. There are things that are just common sense (finish up house renovations) and there are self-care rituals I hadn’t even thought about, like spending hours and days in silence and indulging in yoga retreats. As one friend put it to me, “you’re going to spend the next eighteen years thinking about your kid. And that’s wonderful. But don’t rush it.” With that in mind, here’s a solid list of things to do before baby comes…

1. Spend real alone time with your close friends. One friend of mine spent four days with my best friend in a cabin in Big Sur. Her selling point: “Needless to say, I have not had the opportunity to do that since.”

2. Do anything you love to do that is solitary or that takes prolonged concentration and attention and focus— reading, writing, walking, cooking. According to one woman who had her baby last year: “Rarely being alone was what almost put me over the edge.”

3. See all of the movies in the movie theater.

4. Get your financial house in order. Update your will with specifics on guardianship, buy term life insurance, compile all of your legal/financial information in one document and give it to a trusted friend or family member (account numbers, code to the safe where you have all your original legal docs, your lawyer’s contact info, etc.), suggests Allyson Downey, the brilliant author of Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood.

5. Do all of the yoga.

6. Read the newspaper, in print, on a Sunday morning.

7. Go to restaurants that don’t take reservations. You won’t do that once you’re paying for a babysitter.

8. Write the baby a letter. You’ll never again have the kind of quiet and not-knowing about parenthood that you have now. What better time to put pen to paper?

9. Talk to your friends on the phone for longer than five minutes.

10. Learn to stop staring at your phone all the damn time.

11. Let the little things go.

12. Forgive your parents for their flaws. Do the therapy now.

13. Don’t let Donald Trump make you angry every day.

14. Do one thing every day that inspires you.

15. Meditate (or attempt to mediate).

16. Start an all-girl cover band. Maybe sing some baby songs. Maybe sing some early Courtney Love.

17. Make a gratitude list. Keep updating said gratitude list.

18. Sleep late!

19. Get rid of half of your closet. I currently drive around with three trash bags to go to Goodwill in the backseat of my car at any given time. Isn’t it time to just drop them off?

20. Finish all the home improvement projects.

21. Take a spontaneous road trip with or without your partner.

22. Learn to make new recipes. As a pal who is a chef told me: “The things you already know how to make well will become your standbys for the next three years. Have plenty of them.”

23. Get strong. According to my incredible pre-natal trainer Austin Lopez, everyone benefits from me being strong throughout my pregnancy, me and the baby. The birth process is easier and post-partum recovery is less stressful.

24. Make the house cozy and homey and welcoming (not for the baby, but for us). I learned about the importance of the cozy home, or hygge, in Denmark while researching my new book How to Be Married. According to the Danes it is the start of all other happiness.

25. Throw an incredible party and hire someone to clean up. Use it as a chance to reconnect with all those people you said you’d reconnect with when you had more time. Right now is when you have more time.

26. Go out dancing. In fact, take a dance lesson. Moving your body feels great. It’s fun to do with your partner and you’ll feel like you’re having a wild night on the town without getting tipsy.

27. Take 1,000 pictures and make the baby a book called: “When Your Were in My Tummy.”

28. Send your husband away on a trip with his buddies, something fun. You could call it a daddy-moon, but that really strips the manliness out of it.

29. Read books that have nothing to do with childbirth or babies. I signed up for the Book of the Month club specifically for my pregnancy.

30. Buy underwear you do care about and underwear you don’t care about in equal measure. Because only buying throwaway grandma panties is depressing.

31. Spend time with your friends without kids to reassure them they’re still an important part of your life. Also you’ll need them to stay sane after the baby is born.

32. Brush up on a foreign language. I’ve been dying to refresh my Italian for years now and a friend recommended I dive into an Italian refresher app now to activate a non-mommy part of my brain and give me something to listen to down the road when I start breast feeding.

33. Draft a budget. Test said budget. Redraft the budget to be a little more realistic. Try out that new budget. Adjust it a few more times.

Jo Piazza is the author of the upcoming book How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage. She’s having a boy in June.

Leave a Reply to Anastasia (cancel)

7 comments

Linda

So much privilege oozing from this. Must be nice to be able to afford a trainer, and pay someone to clean up from your party, baby moon. SERIOUSLY. I urge Mother to also have folks write who are not upper middle class white ladies with a disposable income to throw underwear away just because.

    Anastasia

    Hi, Linda. You should really rethink your unpleasant attitude! Nobody should feel ashamed of who they are or expressing their story. Bashing writers for having “privilege” only widens the divides of our society. Chances are the majority of the women who read Mother magazine are upper middle class mothers. Why shouldn’t the magazine write predominantly for that audience?

    As somebody who came from nothing and is currently a student with very little – it inspires me to see the lovely lifestyle I can live when I reach my goals.

    Madeleine

    Linda, your comment made me laugh out loud. I know what you mean. I live an extremely simple, thrifty life and stuff does not get thrown away. Still I think there are some nuggets of truth in here. I’m focusing on the stuff that’s free, so for me the priorities are getting loads of sleep, spending time on my own, reading and writing, and really connecting to myself and who I am. I have this feeling that my pre-mama self is a person I will never be again, and I want to spend some quality time with her before I say goodbye. I know with my own mum, her life before having kids always seemed so mysterious. I couldn’t conceive of her being a person before she was a mum. I know one day my baby will probably feel that way about me, and I want to honour the me I am now as a woman in the world without children before that changes for ever. Maybe that’s a bit meoldramatic (we can blame pregnancy hormones for that ;)). And I don’t think that needs to involved spending money, just enjoying the luxury of time and space and freedom of choice. For sure, those are privileges in themselves, but that almost makes it more important to honour them.

    TC

    I’m with Linda on this, but moreso I just find these lists depressing because they continue the narrative that you can only live for yourself before you have a baby. Also, a lot of these suggestions are trite or just seem silly. Start an all-girl cover band? If I haven’t done that in the 32 years prior, I’m not about to do that with three months left until my baby comes.

    Heather M.

    I’m with Linda. I was hoping to find practical tips to share with my very pregnant friend. I’m really not sure what a working class person is supposed to take away from a list like this other than “make more money.”

Risa

As someone who is due with their first child the beginning of August, I definitely resonated with this article. Maybe it’s my inner virgo and wanting everything organized before baby comes, but I DO think that there is still to this article. Although I can’t afford a trainer, I can afford a pack of yoga classes, and there are SO many specials out there, whether it be groupon or other local discounts. I don’t see why some women should think that “upper class, white women” are the only ones to have these luxuries. Like the women below said, there is SO much to do that is FREE. Although most of the things I want to do involve money, I know I will never have the time to sew the outdoor daybed cover like I’ve been planning on the past 2 years. If this is the fire under my butt that I need to get my bucket list finished, then thats my doing. To each their own, and no pre-mama or mama should be judged for that.

    Risa

    CORRECTION:

    As someone who is due with their first child the beginning of August, I definitely resonated with this article. Maybe it’s my inner Virgo and wanting everything organized before baby comes, but I DO think that there is TRUTH to this article. Although I can’t afford a trainer, I can afford a pack of yoga classes, and there are SO many specials out there, whether it be groupon or other local discounts. I don’t see why some women should think that “upper class, white women” are the only ones to have these luxuries. Like the women above me said, there is SO much to do that is FREE. Although most of the things I want to do involve money, I know I will never have the time to sew the outdoor daybed cover like I’ve been planning on the past 2 years. If this is the fire under my butt that I need to get my bucket list finished, then thats my doing. To each their own, and no pre-mama or mama should be judged for that.

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