In my pregnancy diaries, I talked a lot about how I was getting organised before Emmy’s arrival (the “nesting” instinct!), and I shared a dedicated post on the topic too. I’m SO glad that we got ourselves organised and decluttered a lot of stuff from round the house before Emmy was born, but, even so, it’s still very different once the baby really has arrived. Some of the organisation we put in place has been wonderful and has worked perfectly – I’ve managed to keep things in the right place as a result of it – but we’ve also had to sort a lot more stuff too.
So I decided today I’d share an update on how we’ve made some changes to house – mostly very minor ones – that have made all the difference in our first few weeks at home with Emmy.
How did people keep babies alive without the internet?! I can’t tell you how many things I’ve Googled in the past few weeks – far, far more things than I Googled in my first trimester! I’ve actually put myself on a bit of a self-imposed Googling ban because I was getting carried away obsessing over all the different things I was searching – I’ve found myself searching for images of “the difference between normal breastfed nappies and diarrhoea” in the small hours of the night multiple times!
Even so, Google has been my best friend at reassuring me what’s normal – when Emmy makes a funny noise, Google tells me that’s just what babies do; when I’m not sure whether the constant evening feeds are normal, Google explains that it’s cluster feeding and is, again, very normal. I have my phone constantly at my side nowadays just in case.
And my phone is more necessary than ever for two more reasons: the camera (I believe I’m at over 600 photos of Emmy already!) and the Huckleberry App. This tracks feeding, naps and nappies which is not only reassuring for this first time mum, but also helps when the midwife or health visitor ask how often she feeds, for how long, how many wet or dirty nappies we’ve had in 24 hours and so on – I can’t retain all that information right now!
Then there’s the Smart Home technology that has been oh-so-necessary. While we kind of laughed at Ben for buying Emmy her own Amazon Echo Dot before she was even born, I’m very glad of it now. I not only use it to turn lights on and off, I’ve also been using it to play music while I nurse when my hands are full and to set timers for everything from feeding times to washing machine timers (ours is in the garage, so we can’t hear it end).
Along these lines, our lighting has also been a complete godsend, especially now Ben’s back at work. We have a combination of Rako and Hue lighting throughout our house, and Ben’s set it up so that we can have just my bedside light on very dim – light enough to see by, but still dim enough to keep Emmy sleepy for those nighttime feeds and enough that Ben can carry on sleeping through feeds.
One unexpected thing in the first week or so at home was a minor furniture rearrangement in our living and dining areas. Our living room and dining room are connected and this is the area I spend the vast majority of my time at the moment. This space has our sofas, TV cabinet, TV, coffee table, sideboard, console table, dining table, bench, dining chairs and a complete of shelving units – that’s a lot of furniture for one room! On top of that, we’ve now got a baby rocker and a baby box, plus we’ve often got washing drying in this area. It means it’s felt a little crowded lately!
So we’ve had a change up of everything – the furniture is all still there and matching, including a mango wood TV unit, the sideboard that we painted recently, and the dining table bench, but we’ve swapped them around so that they’re pushed out the way creating more floor space. Unfortunately, it means the lighting is slightly out of place over the dining table now, but we can pull it back under it when need be!
After a very productive pre-birth maternity leave, I was worried that I would fall into a habit of doing nothing after giving birth. It’s only been a very short time so far, and Emmy’s going through a good patch of daytime napping meaning I have quite a bit of free time during the day, but I’m pleased with how well it’s going so far.
To make the most of it, Ben and I sat down just before he went back to work and devised a “chore chart” for me. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but I thrive best and feel most myself (which is very important right now!) when I have a to-do list – otherwise I’d sit faffing on the internet and watching Netflix all day long! And that’s not to say that I’m not watching Netflix – I have Forgetting Sarah Marshall on in the background while I write this post right now! – but I’ve also cleaned the kitchen, tidied the living room, washed all our towels, put on a baby clothes wash and vacuumed upstairs. Like I said, I work best and feel happiest when I’m productive, and right now, I have the opportunity to do that. I’m very very aware that it could change at any moment with Emmy’s sleep/eat routines though – as most people will know, newborns don’t exactly work to a schedule!
In terms of small changes we’ve made, we’ve had to set up safe sleeping areas throughout the house. Since I’m moving around doing chores but we have 3 floors in our house, I like to have a safe place to put Emmy down on every floor. Downstairs she has her box from the Baby Box University, as well as a Moses basket that can be moved around; on the middle floor, she has her “big girl” cot which isn’t for her to sleep in yet, but provides a safe place to pop her while I’m putting away her washing; in our bedroom, we’ve got a side-by-side cot which is where she spends her nights. Luckily she loves all of these places so far – she’s very cute in her side by side cot as she tends to shuffle towards me in it during the night!
Similarly, we’ve had to set up changing areas on every level of the house. The main “hub” is the nursery where we have all her nappies and wipes with a changing mat on top of her chest of drawers and a twisty nappy bin. I thought this would be all we needed, but I was wrong!
We now also have a basket of nappies, nappy bags and wipes under our coffee table in the living room, plus the changing mat that came with the nappy bag. We’ve also set up a changing station in our bedroom – Ben’s given up one of his drawers for nappies, wipes and nappy bags, and we’ve popped another changing cushion on top of his chest of drawers. In addition to that, I’m keeping nappies and wipes on my bedside table for middle of the night changes when we don’t necessarily need to get out of bed.
And finally, storage boxes and baskets everywhere! The absolute best thing that we bought on a whim before Emmy was born was a little fabric box with handles – I’d planned to use this to store toys in for the nursery, but it’s now become our “night time box”. Every evening, when we head up to bed, one of us grabs the box and fills it with our water cups, a couple of burp cloths, Emmy’s pyjamas for the night, a blanket, a cool bag with ice in it, a couple of empty bottles, and both the silicon breast pumps. Originally we were taking up a bottle or two of expressed milk too for “emergencies” when I couldn’t get her to latch on (which was pretty much every feed at the start) or to get her calmer while I got ready to feed – she would have 10ml here and there. Now we’ve got the hang of breastfeeding more, I’m not taking these full bottles but instead taking empty – why?! Basically, I’m using the silicon breast pumps to collect let down milk on the opposite side to the one I’m feeding on (I didn’t even know this was a thing before! I have a post planned all about our feeding journey too because it hasn’t been at all straight forward) then storing it in the empty bottles overnight. The cool bag is to pop these in because I really don’t want to walk down 2 flights of stairs in the middle of the night to put them in the fridge!
Then on a morning, we load this box back up to bring everything back downstairs – burp cloths to go to wash (because I make such a mess overnight apparently!), bottles to be emptied into freezer storage bags, silicon pumps to be washed etc. Basically, we couldn’t manage without this box – the first night we did multiple trips up and downstairs to gather everything including Emmy!