Preparing a nursery for one baby can be a daunting task. Preparing for two, while juggling a full-time teaching career and two older kids, is nothing short of anxiety-inducing. That’s why, when I met my most recent client (who is very much in the latter situation), I was amazed at her beautiful, calm, and inspiring demeanor. I truly enjoyed helping her prepare her nursery for her boy/girl twins, due in less than two weeks!
As a triplet mama myself, I know a bit about what goes on in the baby stage. So here are my top organizational tips for any mama expecting a new baby:
1. Have out only what you will need for the first few months. People love to shower expectant mamas with baby gifts, most of which does not need to be used right away. Only put out clothing that is newborn-3 months. Store the bigger sizes in clear plastic tubs with labels. Let me repeat: clear plastic. These are the only types of storage tubs you should ever buy. It is so much easier to find what you are looking for when you can see through the container! Label the tubs with the clothing size (3-6 months, 6-9 months, 12 months+). Most toys, books, high chairs, etc. should be put away, too. You will not be using these things in the early months. Designate a single spot in your home for these items and go get them as you need them. (Make this spot easy to access… you will be going there a lot the first year.) For my client, we used the open area beneath her basement steps to store these extras.
2. Limit those adorable nursery decorations. I fell prey to this, too… the feeling that if the curtains didn’t match the sheets or the paint color, my babies would somehow be deprived of the full newborn experience. Not true. Keep the nursery simple. It will make your life easier. Babies don’t really care about the theme of their nursery. They can only do four basic things: eat, sleep, poop, and cry. Thus, you’ll need some bottles (or boobies, conveniently located on your body already), a crib of some sort, diapers, and patience. If you’ve got those things, you’re set. (Note: of all of those, the last one is the hardest to find… and the simpler your nursery is, the easier it will be to locate!)
3. Put Like With Like. This is a basic principal of organizing, but it bears repeating for the baby’s nursery. All onesies in the same spot, all sleepers together, all burp clothes in the same basket, etc. Corral all those little things like socks, mittens, and hair bows in small containers (no need to get anything fancy… we repurposed some containers my client already had) and put in drawers.
4. The same goes for “Like-Use” Items. Similarly, put “like-use” items together. For example, we put my client’s diaper genie near her changing table. We put bottles and bottle brushes in the kitchen. We put the stain spray next to the laundry basket in the nursery. We put baby wash, lotion, and those adorable hooded towels near the bathroom. Each time we did this, I mimed the task she would do in that area to make sure the system flowed. I pretended to change a diaper and toss it in the genie. I mimed getting a bottle from the fridge, warming it up, feeding a baby, putting the used bottle in a dish tub, washing it, and refilling it. I wanted to make sure her space worked for her.
5. Have more than one diaper changing area. I’m not a big fan of duplicates, but when it comes to changing diapers, you will need more than one spot in which to do this. (Note: This could just be a multiples mom thing… if you have just one baby, one diaper spot might be okay.) Obviously, you’ll want a space in the baby’s nursery to change diapers, but you should also invest in a portable diaper caddy to change diapers around the house. I put my diaper caddy in the living room and changed most of my babies’ diapers right there on the floor. My client’s nursery is in the upstairs of her home… I could not imagine her lugging two babies up the stairs every time she needed to change a diaper! A diaper caddy in her family room will allow her to take care of diaper changes without leaving the main living area of her house.
6. Let the “big stuff” audition for a permanent role in your home. Any mom will tell you that babies come into this world with very distinct likes and dislikes. Some love the swing, some the bouncy seat, some–like my daughter–would live in the Jumparoo if allowed. If you have these “big things” in your home, great… maybe. Think of them like eager actors auditioning for a role in your baby’s life. (They’ve been waiting tables all day to make ends meet… this could be their big break…) If your baby never takes to them, put them away for the next one or, better yet, donate them to a mom who desperately needs them! (Also, realize that for most of human history, babies survived without all these extras. Your little one probably could, too.) My client has two swings and two bouncers. We put one of each in the nursery and one of each in the family room. They are all nervous about their audition… we will see who makes it to Hollywood!
7. Be ready to repeat the organizing process… a lot. Babies change quickly. Thus, the the stuff you will need for them changes quickly, too. You will completely switch out the clothes in their closet every three months. That’s just going to happen. Prepare yourself (remember those labeled clear plastic tubs? You’re ready!) and just get it done. (It gets easier as they get older. I’m still a bit amazed when I see my 6-year-olds wearing t-shirts from two years ago.) Just remember: like with like, like-use with like-use. (And if you notice you are no longer using something… see the next tip…)
8. Pay Attention to When Baby Moves On. Sometimes it would be months before I realized, “Hey! We don’t need all these bibs anymore!” Yet I still had the drawer full of bibs taking up valuable space. Try to notice when your baby has moved on to a new stage and you can purge old items. When you remove outgrown items from your baby’s nursery, you have a few options: 1) Put it in those clear plastic tubs you just emptied and save for future little ones, or 2) Donate. Unless you are absolutely certain you’re having another baby, I recommend option #2. Even if you change your mind (or nature changes your mind for you) and you find yourself expecting again, baby items are easily found at tag sales and from friends. There’s really no need to save excessive amounts of baby things. Plus, it’s fun to get some new (or new-to-you) items to welcome that new little bro or sis.
I hope these tips help you prepare for that new little one! I’m happy to say that my client was very happy when I left her house. We packed hospital bags for her and the babies, and she said she felt ready for their arrival. I can’t wait to see pictures of those adorable little ones!