Pre-baby nesting doesn’t need to be limited to the nursery. Try a few of these projects this weekend.
When you’re pregnant, all sorts of instincts start to kick in. (For me, the strongest one was the desire to eat as many chocolate chip cookies as possible.) But aside from food cravings, you’ll likely get the urge to clean and organize your home like you never have before.
Your brain is telling you to get ready for baby, literally, by purging what you don’t need and making room for your new addition. When you’re feeling that itch to nest, here are seven things you can organize to keep you busy.
You’ll be changing a lot of diapers — and a lot of outfits — once baby is here.
Keeping all those tiny clothes in order will help you find what you need even when you’re running on 3 hours of sleep. First, wash all the clothes you have. Then, sort them by size. Finally, put everything away in bins or in a drawer with dividers.
“Because kid’s clothes are so tiny, bins and drawer dividers will absolutely save you time,” says Sherri Monte, co-owner of Elegant Simplicity, an interior design and professional home organizing firm in Seattle. “Have a bin or divider for each item — bibs, burp cloths, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and so on — and label it.”
If you received lots of clothing hand-me-downs, make sure each item is really something you’d put your kid in before you store it, suggests KonMari certified professional organizer Emi Louie.
“Tackle the pile as if you are ‘shopping,'” she suggests. “Take seasonality into consideration — is your little one going to be able to fit into that Thanksgiving onesie in November?”
Also consider items like toys and gear: Are these all things you would have purchased yourself? Can you easily store them until you’re ready to use them? Can another mama-to-be use them first and then lend them back to you?
Receiving gently used baby items is truly a gift, but you want to make sure that each item you keep will be useful and not end up cluttering your space.
A really easy and fun project — that you can do in an hour, tops — is to create a cheerful library for your soon-to-be new arrival.
“Organize baby’s books by color,” suggests organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal. “Rainbow organization is so darn aesthetically pleasing and brings a little sunshine to your nursery.”
This idea is especially helpful if you want a neutral-toned nursery but want to add just a little color, or if you’ve yet to choose a theme. Can’t go wrong with rainbow!
Create usable stations so all your essentials are on-hand.
“Keeping things like diapering items, onesies, socks, and pjs at your fingertips will make a world of difference during all of those diaper changes,” Rosenthal says. Having extra swaddle blankets and pacifiers for middle-of-the-night changes is helpful, too.
She also suggests putting together a caddy as a mobile diaper supply station that you can easily transport around the house.
“A caddy with a few diapers, wipes, a second bottle of rash cream, pjs, and a changing pad [to be used on the couch, floor, or other safe surface] will help streamline those early days,” she says. (Monte says you can even use a cute bar cart to store the items — when diapers are done, you’ll have a great item for your home.)
For feeding, set up a station with all the items that baby might need, like wipes and burp cloths, but also make sure you’re covered, too.
“Having a stash of snacks, a phone charger, and things to read will help you avoid running around while baby is hungry,” Rosenthal says.
Mid-pregnancy isn’t the ideal time to purge unworn items from your closet, but it is a great opportunity to organize clothes for your changing body, Louie says.
She advises sorting clothing into “wear now,” “wear later,” and “wear much later,” categories.
“If you want to try breastfeeding, consider which tops, dresses, and bras will work best,” she says. “If you’re pressed for space, consider moving your ‘wear much later’ clothes out of your closet into a guest closet or storage bin.”
Elle Wang, founder of sustainable maternity wear company, Emilia George, says that having your postpartum wardrobe ready is important for busy mornings when you don’t have a lot of time to choose your outfit.
“Remember: A woman’s body doesn’t automatically shrink four sizes in dresses after giving birth and not all clothes accommodate breastfeeding or pumping well,” she says.
Many of us have a lot of barely used products lurking in our bathroom drawers and cabinets, taking up valuable space.
“This is a good time to look at expiration dates — toss unwanted products and get rid of any kind of beauty routine that takes up a lot of time,” says Katy Winter, founder of Katy’s Organized Home. “Streamline your routine so you can still feel pampered, but maybe by using fewer products.”
This will help you free up space for baby’s products, too.
Make sure you also go through your medicine cabinet, Wang adds, removing old or expired products and adding in new ones you’ll need.
“Moms may need some additional medicines for pain postpartum, plus a lot of babies are colicky — gripe water can be very helpful,” she says. “It’s good to get essential items like these ready for when baby is here.”
This project can take a good chunk of time and it’s well worth it. Pick a zone and remove everything so you can properly clean the space. Then, put back only the food that you’ll eat, tossing any old leftovers or expired items.
In the pantry, create room for storing baby items like formula, teething crackers, and pouches so you’re ready to go when baby is.
For the freezer, try to use up frozen items before baby arrives so you can make space to store easy meals for yourself, like lasagna, stews, soups, and curries, Louie recommends.
You may also want to carve out an area for breast milk storage. “Find an appropriately sized container and claim a space for it in your freezer now, so that you won’t have to dig around for your milk bags when you really need them,” she advises. “Choose a spot that you know will keep milk cold, but isn’t completely buried in the back.”
All of these projects will not only quench your nesting urge, but they’ll also help you feel more on top of things after baby arrives.
You’ll be more than prepared for your new arrival with everything organized and ready to go. And, you’ll also be taking care of your soon-to-be parent self, too.
Whether you simplify your beauty routine, make and freeze some meals ahead of time, or choose another pre-baby self-care organizing project, you’ll have more time to enjoy your little one if you do some prep beforehand.
Anything that makes for a smoother transition into parenthood (or life with more children) is well worth it.
Natasha Burton is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Livestrong, Woman’s Day, and many other lifestyle publications. She’s the author of What’s My Type?: 100+ Quizzes to Help You Find Yourself―and Your Match!, 101 Quizzes for Couples, 101 Quizzes for BFFs, 101 Quizzes for Brides and Grooms, and the co-author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags. When she’s not writing, she’s fully immersed in #momlife with her toddler and preschooler.