When you’re expecting a baby, everyone you know, plus random strangers at the grocery store, like to give you advice and get in your business. When I was expecting my first baby, I so clearly remember a sweet elderly lady at H-E-B who cornered me in the produce section. With a look at my very pregnant belly, she simply said, “You have no idea how your life is about to change.” And then she left me there holding my bananas, wondering what exactly that was supposed to mean.
Three kids later, I know she was exactly right – I could never, ever count the trillions of big and little ways our lives are different since the nurses laid those precious girls on my chest.
I also remember being sick.to.death. of advice from other people before my daughter was born. Motherhood teaches you very quickly that what works for your best friend and her son may not be the best thing for you and your daughter. The way your mom and your grandma did things when they had their babies might be completely impractical in your situation.
The parenting learning curve is steep: one day you’re pregnant and generally doing your thing, and the next, your entire world revolves around caring for this helpless little person.
First kid, ninth kid. Doesn’t matter. Even my third little girl turned my world upside down, although by baby #3 I could nurse, change a diaper and then swaddle her in a pitch black room like a professional mama ninja, while my husband slept blissfully in our bed.
You already know things will be different after baby, you just don’t know how different. That’s why you need a “before baby” bucket list. Here are 10 things to celebrate while it’s just you and your husband:
01. Go out for a nice dinner and a movie…
While it’s just the two of you, enjoy every moment of those sweet date nights. Pick a restaurant you love or one that has a special meaning to you and soak up every moment of a hot meal. Go downtown and order your favorite meal at that cute hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place. Talk about something other than baby. Once baby arrives, those nights out are harder to come by. Hold hands, snuggle together, act like you’re dating again while it’s you two and no one else.
02. …and then enjoy sleeping in the next morning.
Baby-free sleep is the.best.sleep in the world! Has anyone told you about “mom ears” yet? It’s this crazy phenomenon where you will hear the breath your baby takes before she starts to cry (and your husband won’t ever hear a thing, trust me!). Whether you’re in the same room or using a baby monitor, no matter how tired you are, you’ll hear every breath and movement your baby makes, especially at first.
So enjoy that night out, wake up late, eat brunch with your husband and then take a nap. Lazy mornings are the best mornings.
03. Spend time with your friends who don’t have kids yet.
A few weeks ago I had a girls weekend with two of my closest friends who do not have kids yet. It was my first time to be away from my kids for an extended period of time (a long weekend) and it was wonderful. We went out to dinner, stayed up late talking, went shopping and slept in. Before I became a mom, I couldn’t figure out why my friends with kids were hardly ever available. Now I get it.
Here’s the thing: getting away baby-free to spend girl time with your besties is still totally possible – it’s just harder to arrange. For us, family time is now more of a priority, and while I was nursing, it was tough to be away long unless I wanted to pump. I enjoy the occasional night out with my girls, but I can’t help but think that I’ll still be up at least once during the night with one of my kids, and our oldest is an early riser, meaning I won’t get to sleep past six a.m. It makes nights out wonderful for the break and hard because I’m so tired the next day.
It’s not practical for most of us to pick up and go to Europe at a moment’s notice, although I’m totally up for that kind of vacation! Even if you just take a day trip to someplace an hour away, do it before it takes so much planning. Get away with your husband AND your girlfriends. You’ll make awesome memories and now’s the time to celebrate being carefree while you can!
05. Finish up projects around the house.
In the middle of redecorating your guest room? Has your husband started remodeling a bathroom? Are you in the middle of reorganizing your office? Finish up these little projects before baby gets here. Who knows when you’ll have the opportunity to return to these time-intensive tasks.
06. Look into mom groups you can join.
It helps adjust to mommyhood if you’re doing it in community. Check your church or neighborhood Facebook page for mommy groups. I started participating in a local BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) class with my second when she was five weeks old. She stayed with me and my older daughter went to her own little Bible study class. I loved spending time with other moms for a few hours each week. It’s good idea to research this before your baby is born so you can join up with a mom group as soon as you’re ready to get out of the house. You may even have the option to register for childcare to get a few baby-free hours with other mamas.
07. Spend time doing the little things you love.
The last week I was working before my maternity leave started, I remember telling a co-worker that I was baffled by what keeps moms busy all day. What on earth is going to take up 8-10 hours of every day once baby is here? I took an intro to knitting class at 35 weeks pregnant because I thought I would have time to make cute little hats and outfits for my daughter. Needless to say, I haven’t picked up a ball of yarn in years, and I didn’t even finish the simple burp cloth I started during the class. Once she arrived, my day was too full for anything but the essentials.
It’s amazing how taking care of yourself and a baby can suck up so much time. Do you enjoy blogging? Reading? Painting? Cooking? Indulge in these things that you love now. You’ll be able to do them later, but then you’ll work around baby’s needs before your own desires.
08. Spend time with your mom before you’re a mom and she’s a grandmother.
My mom and I used to go to lunch on Saturdays and then spend the afternoon at the mall. Sometimes we were on the hunt for something specific, other times we were just window shopping. It was a luxurious afternoon that we spent enjoying each other’s company, as an entire day stretched before us. No rushing, no agenda. I caught her up on my friends or work, she filled me in on what was going on with extended family members.
Life is dramatically different these days. I still spend a lot of time with my parents, but they’re grandparents now who are over the moon about their grandkids. That means we walk in the house, they scoop up my kids and shower them with love and attention and foods with a lot of sugar. It’s hard to talk to my mom about much while I’m feeding my youngest and my older two are fighting over a toy in the living room. We have conversations in bits and pieces now, instead of long talks about friends, recipes, life. I don’t have carefree Saturdays to spend at the mall with my mom all that often, and my parents are disappointed when I come by their house without the kids.
Your relationship with your mom will change when you have your baby. It will deepen in so many ways – you’ll finally understand the crazy way a mother loves her child. But in some aspects, you may also come in second to your baby. It’s just another adjustment you’ll make once you enter motherhood.
09. Really enjoy your career, especially if you’re going to be a SAHM.
Before I had kids, I worked in public relations and I thrived in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment. I didn’t mind working late nights or weekends when there was an important deadline coming up, and I loved the thrill of finishing a big project.
If you’re trying to conceive or even counting down the days till your maternity leave begins, you’re probably feeling like work doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Who cares about meetings and to-do lists when you’re ready to become a mother?
You’re totally right about part of it: work simply doesn’t compare to the joy kids will bring into your life. But if you’ve invested years of college + your professional life into a career you love, you don’t realize how much of your identity is wrapped up in work until you leave your job. Hands down, my kids are the best accomplishment of my life. But there’s a big part of me that missed being creative, working with adults, and contributing something all my own to the world. Photography satisfies that deep desire in me to create, and since I’m my own boss, I decide how much of my time I devote to work and my kids.
Whether you’ve got a baby on the way or your planning for one soon, invest in your career now. You have time to throw yourself into motherhood 100%, and once you’re doing that, you won’t be giving all of yourself to work anymore. Enjoy the now.
10. Wear every expensive, beautiful piece of clothing you own before baby.
When I was pregnant with my first child, my kid-free best friend asked me if I was going to be one of those moms who lets herself go. Would I spend my days in yoga pants and shirts stained with spit-up, hair in a ponytail and flip-flops on my feet? As a girl who used to be more comfortable in heels than flats, I swore that would never be me.
Admittedly, that phase of new mommyhood described me pretty well for a time. After investing every ounce of time and energy into my kids, most days I wore what was comfortable (often yoga pants and a tshirt). It made no sense at all to wear my super nice clothes just so my daughter could have a giant blow-out on them.
But mamas, this too shall pass. You won’t have to resign yourself to stretchy pants and dry shampoo forever, although that may be life while you’re sleep deprived and nursing around the clock. While you’re baby-free and you don’t have to schedule specific time to shower, wear all the pretty things you have – and your heels.
What’s on your pre-baby bucket list?
If you’re looking for a maternity, Fresh 48 or newborn photographer, I’d love to capture this time in your life – let’s chat! I focus entirely on the most beautiful part of motherhood – pregnancy and life with a new baby. You can also celebrate the beauty of motherhood with me by signing up for my Essential Style Guide for mamas – it makes prepping for your photo session effortless!