A few Lifehacker staff members were talking about nesting the other day. You know, that special burst of somewhat frenetic energy that pregnant mums can experience that propels them to get shit ready.
One staff member spent a couple of days on her hands and knees, ripping up carpeting and causing knee pain that would plague her for the rest of the pregnancy. Another put a crib together by herself. At midnight. While 8 months pregnant.
And two (two) women canned applesauce in the final days of pregnancy; one finished up just in time to leave for the hospital and have the baby.
It got us thinking that there are helpful, productive ways to harness that nesting energy; then there are things you look back on and are like, “wait, why did I do that?” So I asked our Offspring Facebook Parenting Group: Did you (or your partner) nest? Looking back, what was helpful and what was a giant waste of all that glorious (but limited) energy?
Plan for the nesting urge before you have the energy
The first trimester is exhausting. If you’re making it out of bed at some point during the day and attempting to act like a functioning human being, you’re winning. There is no nesting going on in the first trimester. But one mum in the group thinks it is the perfect time to plan ahead for it.
“In the first trimester when I’m exhausted, one thing I do is make very detailed to do lists,” group member Kel says. “Like ‘magic eraser clean baseboards throughout house’ and ‘tighten screws in spice cabinet’ and ‘roll up rugs and rug pads and vacuum underneath.’
All the little tasks that come to mind but I have zero energy to do. Then, when the nesting energy hits months later and I have some time and have had coffee, I have a list of whims to follow. Otherwise I end up using all the energy on the same tasks as usual.”
This is the biggie. This is the one that basically everyone recommends because it is the one thing that is guaranteed to make your sleep-deprived new-parent self appreciate your pregnant, nesting self.
“I stocked our freezer to the brim with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options,” Rachel says. “It really came in handy when we were blessed with a son who exclusively cat-napped from like 6 weeks to 7 months.”
Food and meal prep can go beyond simply freezer meals, too, Rachel advises. “Create a list of easy meals you can make with pantry ingredients so when you’re brain dead or in a fog, you can still eat,” she says. “Make a template grocery list so either partner can do the shopping (if that’s not already a responsibility you share) and nothing gets left behind. That sort of thing—just thinking through some ways to make things easier for that first stretch of time.”
If you have a baby due around the holidays and you want to be extra-special prepared, a couple of group members even baked their holiday treats ahead of time and froze them.
“Every year mid December we host an Advent-themed gathering at our house with spiced wine and self-baked German Christmas treats. With my due date having been Dec 5, I KNEW we wouldn’t have that event but regardless, I spent weekends baking a variety of cookies, probably a couple hundred. At least that way we had something at home to put into Tupperware for visitors as they dropped of gifts,” Natascha said.
Stock up on bulk items
Get all those paper products, cleaning supplies, and bathroom and kitchen essentials stocked up before baby arrives.
“Not fun to run to Target for cat litter while wearing a newborn,” Kel says. “So before giving birth, I make sure we are well-stocked on TP, laundry detergent, cat litter and food, cleaning supplies, all those household things. (I buy and load into car, and I make my husband unload it all!) After the last baby, we didn’t have to buy TP for six months thanks to buying two bulk boxes at Sam’s. It was awesome.”
Shasta took the bulk-buying one step further, saying she “added everything to my Target registry, then used the 15 per cent off coupon. Yes, thank you, I would like 15 per cent off my cat litter, laundry detergent and toilet paper.”
Do a deep clean
There will be very little cleaning of any kind happening once the baby arrives, and there will certainly be no deep cleaning. If you’ve got the energy and the motivation, go for the cleaning deep dive while you can.
Group member Presi opted for some help with this task and hired professional organisers to help: “I couldn’t stand staring at all the clutter we put on every flat surface and it seemed too much to do on my own, so I hired professional organisers. Spent a full three days cleaning and organising and that was my motivation to set up the nursery area.”
Don’t bother with these tasks
There are some things that our wise group members have decided just weren’t worth the effort. Here’s what they recommend skipping:
Driveway power-washing. “I’m sure it seemed important at the time, but looking back, I think my energy could have been better spent elsewhere,” Lindsay says.
Flooring overhaul. I guess our Lifehacker staffer wasn’t the only one to tackle a flooring project. Group member Shasta says, “I decided to tear up our carpet and refinish the hardwood floors when 4 months pregnant. I would not recommend!”
Garage clean-out over baby-proofing. “I cleaned our garage. When I look back now, I wish I had worked on baby proofing. It just sneaked up on us when my son started walking at 10 months. Then I looked around the house and saw a big death trap. It it took me a couple months to attach everything to the walls, cover all sharp corners, install draw and cabinet locks, attach lamps to tables, remove the glass out of picture frames I had displayed, pad everything, install gates everywhere. It was so overwhelming but so important.”
Rearranging the nursery ... more than once. “I went into her nursery multiple times a day before she was born to rearrange trivial things like a book here, or a knickknack there ... moving things that we never wound up even using just because I was convinced I was “optimising” her room ... totally useless,” Jamie warns.
Baking random cakes for no reason. “I didn’t can my applesauce, but the last thing I made before my son was born was a layered carrot cake with cream cheese icing and applesauce topping,” Jackie says. “Which went uneaten in our fridge.”
Moving at the end of pregnancy. “Any nesting instinct was lost in the chaos,” says Amber, who moved while 9 months pregnant. “We literally were moved in less than a week before I went into labour. 100 per cent DO NOT RECOMMEND!”