Tuesday, May 10, 2011

(Not yet) Life with a new-born

A friend's comment has caused me to ponder the question "How will I stay organised once the baby comes along?" And I'm not sure that I can accurately answer that question other than to say to myself, "I probably won't". I have no idea how our lives will be turned upside down once "Peanut" (baby) has arrived, in the most unpredictable and joyful way.

Obviously I am going to remind myself that my priorities will change, and my standards (to do with the house) will considerably drop. The top priorities in mine and my husband's lives will be-
1. Feeding Peanut
2. Getting Peanut changed, happy and hopefully sleeping
3. Repeat 1 & 2 for many years to come.

Also of course, we will have to somehow feed ourselves and get ourselves to sleep now and then. Everything else in life will have to take a back seat.

Alot of mothers and fathers have told me it really helps to have alot of meals already cooked and stored in the freezer, ready to be microwaved for Mum and Dad on the odd occasion that we have time to quickly gobble down some food. I think this is a fantastic idea and we will definitely make the most of the last few days or weeks before Peanut comes along, to do as much cooking as possible. This will only work if I first de-frost and de-clutter the freezer and make adequate space in there to store the new meals. I will, of course, enlist my trusty labeller to make sure we know what is what and how long ago it was made.

Our home is certainly not always tidy and neat; I don't want to be under any false pretences!! But what I have striven to do, and what I help my clients to do, is to create a "home" for every object in the house. For example, when you need a new light bulb, you know exactly which cupboard or drawer to go to. When I am doing my "crafts", i.e. sewing, knitting, crocheting, gift-wrapping etc, I spread out all over the place and make a huge mess. Also there are times when the general house mess gets the better of me, and I just don't have the energy to do anything about it. And thats ok! But when the need to tidy comes along, like when visitors are coming or when I just need to clear the room so my mind is also cleared; I can quickly tidy up because I know exactly where to put things. This helps to prevent shoving everything under the bed or in a cupboard.

I think I will try to keep my already-set-in-place system working after Peanut comes along, at least to a certain degree. I may not be able to neatly fold the clean towels, but perhaps when Peanut is here I will try to quickly throw them unfolded, onto the right shelf so at least I know where to look for a clean towel the next time I need one in a hurry.

We will be using cloth-nappies as much as physically and mentally possible, thanks to a supply donated to us by my beautiful mother-in-law and Blogger-extraordinaire Rhonda Hetzel (Her blog, down---to---earth, has won Best Aus/NZ blog! And she is in the midst of having a book published by Penguin! Stay tuned, I will post more on the up-coming book another time). Rhonda did a very generous thing and swapped advertising on her blog (which has had about 4 million hits) for a huge pile of beautiful bamboo and cotton cloth nappies made by Booroi http://www.booroi.com.au/
and distributed by Bean Sprout Bubba http://www.beansproutbubba.com.au/

We will somehow need to stay on top of the washing, drying and putting away the cloth nappies. I'm not sure how we will go with this, but the good thing about modern cloth nappies is they no longer need to be soaked. I will be getting a bucket with a tight-fitting lid for what is called "dry-pailing", to put the dirty nappies in. The excess waste is washed off into the toilet with a high-powered hose that fits onto the toilet tap. My husband and I will have to have somewhat of a system, of dry-pailing, hosing, washing and drying (hopefully most of the time in the sun; on rainy days the dryer will have to be used). I think the way modern cloth nappies are made these days will make the whole process alot easier and time-efficient. Also, there is no need to disinfect the nappies unless the baby is sick with a stomach bug or something nasty. The nappies only require a half-dosage of normal enviro-friendly laundry liquid. We will have enough cloth nappies to make sure we will only have to wash every second day instead of every day.
Obviously to do this, you need double the amount of nappies used in a single day (one set being used; one set being washed/dried). Initially this could be expensive to purchase that many cloth nappies, but over the course of a nappy-wearing child, (about 3 yrs?) you will save approximately $2000 compared to using disposables!! That in itself is enough incentive for me to use the cloth system. And of course, my baby will have the lovely soft feeling of bamboo on his bottom :-D

I would love to hear any suggestions from you about systems you use in your home to help you stay organised, or at the very least, sane, with a new born and/or toddlers. Please do contribute; I think we will need all the advice we can get!


  1. one other thing I would add re: cloth nappies, they work much better if you have a front loader which are much gentler on the nappies and have added benefit of saving water. Also I wash in cold water and haven't found that to be a problem as long as the nappies get plenty of sun to disinfect them while they dry.

  2. Thanks Lou- great advice. luckily we also have a water efficient front loader. what brand of cloth nappies do you use? thanks for reading :-)

  3. Hi Sarndra! It was my pleasure to give you those nappies. I can't imagine his bottom in anything else. There is no doubt things change a lot when a baby arrives. I think you'll both do really well, and we'll be there to help if you need us.

  4. Hey, Sarndra. I've just popped over from your mother-in-law's blog (which I love, btw.) I'm going to work my way through your archives as I'm a bit of an organising freak myself and love "real" advice.

    Just thought I'd comment on cloth nappies as I've used them on all four of mine and love, love, love them. Something to consider is throwing them in with your towel wash so that you have a faster turnover (rather than waiting for the dry-pail bucket to fill and nappies sitting for a couple of days.) Either you believe things come out the machine clean or you don't - so mixing towels and nappies shouldn't be a problem.

    Also, just wanted to say that life with a new baby is hectic but don't worry too much. I had four under six and I've honestly only had a handful of days where I've thought "Eek! It's all too much!"
    Just sleep when you can and learn to do things in seventeen minute segments. You rarely get blocks of time to "do stuff" but you will get ten minutes here and there to do menu plans or a quick tidy or any of the other things that help you feel in control.
    Anyway, off to bed now but will work my way through your archives shortly.
    Karen (Scotland)

  5. Hi Sarndra,
    Just popped over from Rhonda's blog, I can see I will pick up some good habits from your organisational skills. I had 5 children, although they were spaced out, 4 had cloth nappies, 1 disposables. I had a line stretched out in the garage for the late night nappy load and would hang them out before I went to bed, just hate using the dryer! I also learned to clean as I went, eg, if cleaning my teeth I would do the basin and bath, after washing up I'd wipe the inside of the windows with the hot water, I bought presents way ahead of time along with paper and cards and keep them in the linen press for when the birthday/event arrived, back in those days organising photos into albums was a hassle so I'd do it as soon as I'd have the photos made up, when I bought seedlings I'd go straight from the car to the vegie patch otherwise they'd die in their containers waiting on the verandah! Meals were the hardest thing as no one ate the same thing, in hindsight I should have put my foot down. I found the sort of thick soup that everything goes in was invaluable, you could serve it with rice or even make brevilles from it.
    You will absolutely love how your life changes once peanut has arrived. Oh and when baby is sleeping....you sleep!

  6. Hi Sarndra. I'm popping over from Rhondas blog too. Love organisation!
    I haven't used cloth nappies before (although now knowing how cool MCNs are I wish I had for my last two bubbas).
    My 'babies' are nearly 3 and 20 months old (only 13.5 months appart) and the one saving grace I have had is to have a routine. Just a basic one is all that's needed.
    I make the beds, wipe down the bathroom basin and toilet (housefull of boys this is necessary!), load of washing a day (that's washing, hanging and putting away - ps there were 6 of us here at one stage, still have 5), ETE (Eleiminate the Evidence - of the day) so making sure everythings away before I go to bed, getting dinner prepped as early in the day that I can in preparation for the arfternoon grumble time from the boys.
    I cooked a heap of meal before the nearly 3 year old and it was brilliant. I used them for the first week or two, and then saved the rest for those days when bubs was grizzly and nothing was panning out.
    I was lucky that Brian had planned to take a month off when both our boys were born so in the first couple of weeks I was able to concentrate on me and bubs and then slowly getting back into a routine.

  7. I Sarndra, I too, popped over from your MIL's blog. I am a mom of 3 kids, 6 yr old girl, 3 yr old boy & 8 mo old boy, the youngest is in cloth diapers (I love the term nappy, but everyone calls them diapers in Canada). We have found that a lid on the diaper pail (dry) can cause them to stew in their own juices. It's not important when they're wee babes, but as they get older, their urine can contain a lot of ammonia. I leave the lid off of ours and have no horrible smells in our house. I love taking good care of my baby and his diapers, especially now that it is spring in Canada and we can hang them on the line to dry!

  8. I'm being disorganised and working my way backwards through your posts! I had a nappy hanger that was made by my Mum and popped pre folded nappies, ready to just pull out and put on the baby, in there. I folded these at night when watching a bit of TV. Great for middle of the night baby sessions when your brain doesn't function well and hung near your change table for convenience.

  9. You Will be very surprised how organised you'll be. Once a organiser Always a organiser! I have read along with your MIL'S blog and just had my 4th Baby under extream circumstances and we survived whilst he was in SCN and even remained 'organised"....Your Normal will become a New Kinda Normal but you may just find you'll have time to Fold Those Towels...Because you have the basic set up of organisation it'lll happen easier. My place was never the same after a rushed house move when I had 3 kds under 4 years so I am still catching up:( Good luck I will enjoy reading along,You may just be what I need to get organised again:)

  10. Hi there from South Africa! I'm another 'sent' from Rhonda. Our 'babies' are now ages 19 and 17, but I remember those busy under age 6 years like it was yesterday. Used terry cloth squares (about 6 nappies/day) and plastic pants over and 'nappy bucket' filled with water & 'steri-nappy powder' to soak them. Your hose fitted to the toilet is intriguing. Wouldn't have worked for my husband to do this task, unfortunately, as he changed plenty a nappy except would gag at the poo ones literally, so that was left to 'moi'. With nappy liners, it was an easy task to flush away then soak, then wash daily and they always came away perfectly clean. And we have a top-loading Speed Queen washer. The abundant sunshine & line-drying was a life-saver. We both would fold them ahead of time in the evenings into the South African way and put a nappy liner ready in each, then stack them in the nappy hanger next to the change table.

    In South Africa, most households that can afford to have a 'maid'/domestic worker. Ours is a wonderful help and invaluable at every stage of our kids' lives: from hanging nappies on the line to helping organise the toy basket to many years later dusting the CD collection. You may not want a maid, but if there are times you need to employ someone for something, there's no need to feel bad or guilty. Mothers are like octupuses doing many things with their many arms, but even octupuses can accept help sometimes!

    Last bit of advice: you'll meet other moms of similar aged babes/toddlers. Maybe you'll do what I found invaluable and have a 'mother's morning out' time once/week where a small group of moms (eg 3 children) rotated which moms had the morning off while one mom looked after the other two's children plus her own. This worked well at age 3 since breastfeeding was over for each of us, and these were our 2nd children with the firsts at pre-primary school, but the idea could be adapted for your own needs. (My maid didn't help with child care as I preferred to look after my own).

    Your systems are similar to mine and your organisation is great--it doesn't mean you have to be obsessed about everything, but it does help reduce anxiety. What is interesting, is that inevitably an organised mom may give birth to a child who has a different temperament to their own--so be prepared! We have one of each: a free-spirited unorganised child and a very neat & tidy organised one.....you can learn from them and they can learn from you as the years go on some valuable lessons!

    Warm regards
    Cape Town, South Africa

  11. Hi Sarndra!
    As a wife and homeschooling mama to 4 (with bubby #5 due here in about 14 weeks) I've learnt to be an organised person. It was not something I was naturally gifted with but out of necessity, I have learnt! I've had to form systems for just about everything; weekly menu planning, portfolio keeping for the kids' schooling, clothing and room organisation, a family planner and the list goes on! I really must say though that I enjoy the challenge of organising my little humble castle to the best of my ability so that our family can run as efficiently and effectively as possible.
    My biggest tip would be to make sure everything has a spot (even if it's not always in its spot!)
    With love,
    Lusi x

  12. Sarndra I think your 3 top priorities are great. Everything else will work itself after that. I think new mothers sometimes have wildly high expectations about what life is like with a new baby in the house. What an exciting time for you all!

  13. Hi Sarndra,
    I love your blog as I am also trying to organize my home (I'm actually quite a messy person). I am from Sri Lanka and the majority in our country use cloth nappies for our babies. We use a very soft absorbent cotton material called bandage cloth. I used nappies till my son was just over a year. He is 2 in June and is about 98% toilet trained. We started sitting him on his potty from about 8 months and after a while he started to indicate he wanted to do the big job. Now he actually tells us he wants to do his poo poo. As for his number one we take him to the toilet at certain intervals and ask him to go. He has many accidents but now I even take him on 3 hour drives without a diaper. As it is so hot in our country, children get irritated with bulky diapers. He does wet his bed at night about twice and that does cause a bit of a problem for me but I use a rubber mat under the sheets to keep the mattress dry. I know having a small baby will surely disrupt your life (as it did mine) but as you say keeping him safe and happy is the most important thing. Enjoy your baby!

  14. Hi Sarndra
    I have been an avid reader of Rhonda's blog for some time. It's good to now have your blog to add to my favourite blog list.
    This is how I managed with cloth nappies over 30 years ago, but it worked well and I will be passing the suggestion on when my grandchildren (hopefully) make an appearance. It was the method my own mother used.
    I always hand washed everything for my babies in a bowl using soap flakes. Firstly the clothes were washed and set aside to be rinsed later. Then the nappies were washed in the same water and also wrung out and put aside. Then the soapy water was tipped into a lidded nappy pail. You can then put the next lot of used nappies into that water to soak until you wash them the next day and repeat the process again with a fresh lot of soapy water.
    After 2 babies, the terry nappies were as soft and white as they were when new.
    Good luck with coping with the big life changes a new baby brings! He will bring you so much love.

  15. The best advice I can give you as a mother of twins who had a good case of "twin romance" :) is to just get through the first 12 weeks.

    Let the unimportant go.

    And have a list of things you don't mind delegating. I was super fussy about the bottles but I didn't mind people doing laundry, cooking our food, etc :)

  16. Hi Marcia!! Thanks for the advice- I am paying close attention to anything Mums tell me at this stage :) What's twin romance? Yes excellent advice about delegating, will be doing that as much as possible too :-)
    Thanks so much for your lovely comments!
    Xxo Sarndra