Friday, November 4, 2011

Preparing for maternity leave

Brace yourself, this is a biggie. This is one of my favourite bandwagons. Lets face it, you can't 100% prepare for new bundles of smiles, cuddles, sleepless nights, and vomit to join your life. But I am a huge control freak, so I certainly put some good effort into making sure my home and financial circumstances were ready for my bundle of joy.You will have 7-8 months to prepare for this baby. More if you were planning for it in the first place because you can get started while trying (I know some people say this is bad luck, but I feel lucky when I am in control). I know women who have waited till they are in their third trimester who have seemed so much more stressed than I was about what was to come.

Baby Specific
This is only the tip of the iceburg. That cupboard was
crammed full by the time Lolly was born

1. Make a purchase list of everything physical baby will need for the first 3 months, minimum. I actually planned for the whole length of my maternity leave (10 months) for some things, like nappies. Toiletries, cot, bouncer, blankets, singlets, when I say everything, I mean everything. Whether you have it already or not. You can cross it off the list if you have it, but make the list in the first place.
2. Plan baby's space. Do they have their own room? Where will their belongings go?
Lolly's nursery, ready to go at about 71/2
months pregnant
3. Make a To Do list separate to your purchase list. Do you need to paint, make curtains, get the carpet cleaned in preparation for baby? In our case, we needed to add a whole extra room to our house to accommodate the 8 bookshelves that had to vacate Lolly's bedroom.
4. Set up a baby registry early. We suggest an online registry as it can be shared with everyone no matter where they live. www.mygiftlist.com is good as it lets you list generic items.

By listing everything well in advance, you can start watching catalogues and sales. My original list included the price I had found for everything, or what I thought it should cost, so then I had a benchmark for what I thought was a good price. Highchair, carseat, bouncer, most of these things (and more) I was able to buy for at least 50% off, sometimes more, by keeping an eye on the sales and buying carefully. When you leave everything to the last minute you are stuck paying retail, or accepting whatever poxy 25% sale is available.

5. Set a monthly budget for buying/doing things off the lists. If nothing was on sale or available this month, sit on the money till next month.
6. Stick the receipt for everything you buy to the item.  By having my receipts sticky taped to the items, I was able to return or exchange when I changed my mind (um, lots) or got given duplicates.

Don't wait for a baby shower to get started. As I mentioned, you can return things if you double up.

Non Baby Specific

1. Make a list of non-perishable items. Toilet paper, tissues, toiletries, tinned foodstuffs. I bought between 3-12 months supplies of these items.
2. Prepay your bills in advance. Mobile phone bills, electricity, water, gas, school fee's etc. Even my council rates. By chunking down my guesstimate of what these items would cost over the period, I started BPAY-ing extra to each of these bills early in my pregnancy to get them at least 3 months ahead.
3. Make a to do list for work too. The idea of handing over my team to someone else was killing me (I'm a team leader of a bank team) but with 8 months up my sleeves I was able to have staff files very organised for handover to another person and had prepared every employee for future success with another person as best I could. I know your job probably looks different to mine, but customers, widgets, people, we all want to do the best we can and lots of forethought can mean your last days at work are as stress free as possible, which is a good thing for that bundle of joy you are cooking.
Miss M and Husband eating some spaghetti I
precooked while visiting me in hospital
4. Precook a number of reheatable meals a few weeks out of your due date. Besides being very handy for those first nights at home (after MIL stopped cooking for us which she did for a few days, bless her) they were great for making life easier for Husband while I was in hospital for 5 days. He is perfectly capable and happy to cook, but spending as much time as possible with me and Lolly, as well as being full time carer for Miss M was enough of a challenge.
5. Think out Christmas presents well in advance. Besides the fact that I will be giving out a fair few handmade gifts this year, (watch out for homemade brownies coming your way teachers!) I prepurchased presents before LAST Christmas for some easy to buy items, like Dad who always likes new shirts. I even have stuff for Lolly from the September/October Target Toy sale from 2010.

As a result of this kind of preparation I haven't had to buy many nappies (just 2 boxes of jumbo crawler size because I underestimated how many I would need), toiletries for anyone, and have only just started paying some bills in the last few weeks and Lolly is 5 months old. My weekly grocery bill is about $80 right now. Besides making life easier, its keeping my household expenses down at a time when we are on a limited income. So I feel pretty cruisy right now despite the fact that we have no real spare cash to talk about.

Do you have any baby prep tricks to share with me? I'm toying with the idea of a third bubba, (and NOT 10 years apart this time), so more idea's would be awesome.

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