end of year to-do list

11 Things I Have to Do Before the Baby Arrives

Guys, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

And, I mean, I’m one of those people who pretty much always feels overwhelmed. By everything. But knowing that I’m going to have a whole other tiny person to look after in a few months time has made me feel even more like a fish flailing around out of water than I usually do. I need LISTS, people: and I need them to be here on the internet, so that when I’m sitting refreshing my Instagram feed for the 19th time that day morning hour, you can all feel free to give me a virtual slap up the side of the head, and say, “Don’t you have a garden shed you should be building right now, Amber?”

(Answer: YES, I do have a garden shed I should be building. But I’m getting to that…)

I know, of course, that babies need way less stuff than I probably think they do. Any time I mention my feeling of extreme overwhelm, kind people remind me that, hey, the baby won’t care if his nursery is decorated or not, and that’s true, but the fact is… I care. So, getting everything in order is more about my own mental health, and controlling my ever-spiralling anxiety, than it is about Things The Baby Will Actually Need. Like, I know he’ll sleep in our room at first, and could sleep in a cardboard box if necessary (And, luckily for us, the Scottish government will be providing us with just such a box…), but even so, the thought of bringing my prechus newborn back to a room that looks like this…


… is more than my poor brain can handle. (And the thought of then having to tackle the clear-out and re-decorating of this room, while surviving on zero sleep, and when I’d rather be snuggling a baby, doesn’t exactly appeal either, tbh…)

So I have a list. It’s not a very interesting list, to be perfectly honest, but here it is, anyway: 15 things I need/want to do before the baby comes…

Clear out the cupboard under the stairs…

…which, actually, is not so much a “cupboard” right now as it is a Black Hole of Doom, the door of which I’m terrified to open in case the contents just come spilling out and swallow me whole. You know that episode of Friends where it’s revealed that neat-freak Monica has a Cupboard Of Shame, which is crammed full o’crap? It’s like that, basically. And it needs to NOT be like that for very much longer, because it’s where we’re planning to store things like a pram/stroller and various other bits of baby-related equipment that we probably don’t even know we need yet. In its current condition, we literally couldn’t get ONE MORE THING into that cupboard, and I’m honestly not joking about being scared to open the door, so a clear-out needs to happen, and the sooner the better. Before we can do that, though, we need to…

Build a garden shed

Yeah, I know: bit of an odd one to have on a “preparing for baby” list, huh? The thing is, though, if you read that whole ‘Cupboard O’ Doom’ thing, and thought, “Aha! That cupboard is Amber’s Secret Shame! She’s not nearly as much of a neat-freak as she makes us think she is!” then sorry to disappoint you, but I actually AM as much of a neat-freak as you think I am. But I live with Terry. And Terry is very much NOT neat. Ahem.

Now, in his defence, the whole C.U.T.S situation (Yeah, no way am I keeping typing that out…) isn’t actually his fault. The cupboard, you see, is currently mostly filled with the kind of things most people would tend to keep in a garage or garden shed: so, various tools, decorating stuff, etc etc. (And, YES, TERRY, my raincoat and wellies… which are TOTALLY appropriate under-stairs items!) We have neither a garage or a garden shed, and while we’d love to build the former, we can only afford the latter, so a new garden shed is lurking somewhere in our future. It’s all glamour over here, let me tell you.

We’ve actually been trying to sort this out for months now, because this is something we wanted to have done regardless of the imminent arrival of a small person with a huge amount of associated equipment, but we’ve been let down a few times so far: GOD. LIKE, HOW HARD IS IT TO HAVE A SHED BUILT, SERIOUSLY?!

(No, we don’t have time to do it ourselves. I wouldn’t know where to start, and as Terry’s mum is still is still very ill, we’re looking to out-source as much as we can…)

We’ve currently been promised that the shed will be in situ by the end of September. I have my doubts about that happening, really, but I’ve just written four entire paragraphs about a stupid SHED, of all things, so I’m going to shut up now and think about what my life has become. I mean, SERIOUSLY.

new baby to do list

Clear out and re-fit linen closet, bedroom closet & nursery closet

I’ve actually already done most of the clearing-out bit (Look, everyone needs a hobby, OK?), but as the stuff that was in the nursery closet is having to be re-distributed to the other two, I’d really like to take the opportunity to re-fit them all, and add some shelves, etc, to make them more organised, and, well, Pinterest-y. Because there’s almost nothing calms me down quite like a well-organised closet. No, I’m not joking.

The nursery closet in particular needs a bit of TLC to make it more suitable for holding a bunch of baby clothes and other stuff, and I’m not going to lie, I am really, really excited about getting to organise it. Yes.

Clear out the “nursery”

Or the junk room, as it is at the moment. It goes without saying that this room needs to be totally cleared out before we can do much else in the way of baby preparin’.  Some of the things in it will be getting sold (Like my treadmill, for instance. I’m actually pretty gutted about this, because I do use it often – or I did until I got pregnant and lazy, anyway – but there just isn’t anywhere else it could go other than the bedroom, and I *really* don’t want a giant treadmill in the bedroom, so it has to go, and I guess I just have to get used to running outdoors…), but others will have be to moved somewhere else in the house, which is going to be a challenge, to say the least. At least all of those hours spent playing Tetris should come in handy, I guess.

Decorate the nursery

As above: I know he’ll sleep in our room for the first few months, but I also know I won’t want to tackle a decorating project with a newborn, so…

Buy everything a newborn could possibly need for the first few weeks of life

Add to this, “Find out what a newborn needs for the first few weeks of life”. Gulp.

Sell our car

This one actually makes my heart hurt, because I get very, very attached to cars, and I LOVE our current car, seriously. Buuut it’s a two-seater, and that’s not going to be very practical for a family of three, so it has to go, taking with it the last vestiges of our lives as the kind of people who drove two-seater convertibles, and didn’t have to worry about what car seat to buy. BRB, just having a small breakdown..

Buy a new car

Well, OBVIOUSLY, duh.

(This is what Terry has been focusing HIS attention on, naturally. In fact, I’m not totally convinced that this whole “let’s have a baby!” thing wasn’t just a giant ruse to get a new car, now I think about it…)

Write blog posts for after the birth

One of the major disadvantages of being a full-time blogger, is that I won’t get a proper maternity leave. My friends all got a full year of paid leave: I’ll be lucky to be able to swing a few weeks – and that’s only with a huge amount of preparation beforehand – because even if money wasn’t an issue (I think some financial help is available here, but I’ve yet to check it out), I obviously can’t just stop updating my blog for a year (or even a month or two, really) without it having a huge impact on my future earnings. I know readers would understand, but advertisers won’t, and having no new content for an extended period of time would basically mean that I wouldn’t have a business to come back to…

I’m not a big fan of guest posts, and although I know I’ll want to pop in and write some updates now and then, I don’t want to have any pressure to blog when we’re fresh out of hospital, so that means writing posts in advance, which can go up in the weeks following the birth. I’ve already written these for my other blog, but I really need to knuckle down and get some content written for this one, too… just as soon as I figure out a way to write about my life several months before it actually happens.

Pack hospital bags

Yes, I know it’s way too early to be thinking about this yet, but shameful confession coming up: I’ve actually had a bag packed for myself since before I was even pregnant. *blush*

This is 100% a health-anxiety thing, by the way: my bag isn’t a “going to hospital to have a baby” one, it’s an, “I’m totally convinced something catastrophic is going to happen at any second, and I need to be prepared for it,” one.  Which, no, is not a very positive attitude to have, obviously, but as I’ve said before, a lot of my anxiety is about lack of control, and feeling prepared is one of the ways I can manage it.

In this case, I’m dealing with a really bad fear of hospitals (Which has been hugely triggered over the last few weeks, as my mother-in-law has been in hospital, and we’ve been visiting her daily…), and have been spending a lot of time worrying about how I’ll cope – not just when I go in to have the baby, but also if something were to happen before then, that led to me being hospitalised. I was worrying about a bunch of stupid stuff, like not having appropriate pyjamas, and having to wander around in my usual skimpy/worn-out nightwear, so I packed a bag, and have been updating it as the pregnancy progresses, and I’ve started to need maternity PJS rather than regular ones, etc etc.

I’ll obviously have to update this again before the birth, and I’ll also need one for the baby too: that’s much further down the line, but it’s on the list anyway, because stuff like this has a tendency to weigh on my mind and keep me awake at night. Yes, I’m getting counselling. Apparently.

Buy and wrap approximately 5,000 Christmas gifts

Yup, way, waaaay ahead of myself here, but while I know first babies don’t generally arrive early (or even on time), I also know at least three people whose first babies DID arrive early, so I know it’s not totally impossible either. My current due date is January 4th, which means that, if he does arrive early, it’ll be smack in the middle of the Christmas period – and, even if he doesn’t, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll likely spend all of December in a state of complete and utter panic.

I’m not a Christmas person at the best of times, but I know I’ll be feeling even less festive with a hospital stay and childbirth looming, so I really want to tackle the Christmas shopping early, and, ideally, to have it done and dusted by the end of November at the latest. Which REALLY doesn’t seem all that far away, does it? GULP.

Work out what it is that I’ve forgotten on this list

Because I’m sure there were more things I had to remember than this. BUT WHAT WERE THEY?!

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  • Anne


    Amber, when the baby is born all your worries will fade away.
    The only thing that will matter is your new little person.
    Everything will fall into place naturally and you will wonder why you worried.
    Do one thing at a time instead of worrying about everything at once, and soon the
    list will be empty.

    September 12, 2017
  • Frida


    Lists. I was doing this nust now and then, before pregnancy… and then all of a sudden I started writing lists jus for everything.. because after the baby was here I was FORGETTING to do things and all my attention was focused on him 😀 Now I am currently listing all the needed things for kindergaden ?
    As for the nursery room… mine still looks like the crap room after two years! ? we still have to transform it in a real bedroom, but no time to do that. Better do it before the baby is born, yes.
    As for the new car… just make it sure it has a big room for baggage, because you are going to need plenty of space… expecially for the stroller (also, make it sure the stroller you are going to choose fits in the car! ? the first stroller I had was borrowed and didn’t fit! So when I bought a new one I double-checked that first.)
    And keep listing and looking at lists! It helps to understand what’s needed and what not (ps. The most important thing your baby is going to need is just you. And just a few other stuff)

    September 12, 2017
  • Myra


    I get the list thing – when I was working long hours in a stressful job I found that ticking things off the said list reduced my stress levels considerably. Because so many of the things you need to do are dependent on other things being done first in a serial way, your anxiety levels increase. Just getting one thing done i.e. the shed, then HP’s cupboard under the stairs, will give you some kind of control back, as you can enjoy doing the things you need for the nursery.
    Try TK Maxx for pj’s – they do designer (like DKNY) fine jersey/stretchy ones with now frills/flounces and nightgowns (more like long tshirts) very cheaply and they will work ante and post natally. They are very comfy and wash easily.
    Re Christmas presents, to reduce your anxiety and if you just can’t manage this because of everything else that is going on, you might give a little card that says “I owe you a Christmas present, that I will surprise you with at some time during the coming year.” Many of your family/friends will totally understand this, and look forward to it and rather than dedicated Christmas shopping, you can take your time and buy things as you see them. Or just tell people you’re not doing presents this year, but will do birthdays instead .
    Sending Angel hugs and much love

    September 12, 2017
  • Phew! My little sister has just had a baby. I’m very impressed that they managed to buy their first house and move everything from my mum’s beforehand. Luckily there was help from her partner’s dad who decorated the whole house. The nursery is the best room and my sister’s very proud of it with all his little shoes and outfits lined up. And it was by far the most fun task of all.

    Such good news about the baby boxes in Scotland. I hope it’ll catch on throughout the UK. We’ll be looking forward to your post on that.

    September 12, 2017
  • All seems totally reasonable to me. Even BEFORE I got to the “but this is why I DO need to decorate the nursery” paragraph, I was thinking: you need to decorate that nursery. Maybe just the basics – paint the walls, stick a wardrobe and a cot in there – but you’re right: you won’t want to do it once the baby’s here. There’s a reason women nest before babies arrive – it’s good for you, psychologically, to feel that you’ve made a cosy place for your baby; it should help you to feel more ready. At least, that’s MY opinion.

    Getting the hospital bag done is a great idea. I mean, I haven’t done MINE because “bring bag down from attic” is on MY to do list, but it’s a small job you can get out of the way quickly and easily – and the more you can score off the list and feel prepared the better, right?

    And I’m right there with you on wanting to be prepared for Christmas. We’ve pared right back to only giving gifts to kids and each other, but I’ve still bought most of them already, and have an afternoon blocked out in the calendar for doing cards!

    This is getting long-winded. Basically: yes, get the easy wins done so you can stop thinking about them! And, yes, outsource the rest.

    September 12, 2017
  • Why is getting tradespeople in such a minefield at times? I’m mid full-scale renovation and the amount of people that promise something, to do work, to turn up etc, and then don’t is baffling. It makes me feel like it’s something to do with me but it seems to be a pretty widespread problem. I find myself muttering “why doesn’t anyone want my money?” pretty constantly; it’s infuriating. I hope you get your shed sorted soon; I gave up on the whole endeavour and just opted for several of those Keter storage things, but a shed would have looked so much better.

    I can only imagine how difficult the time pressure must be on anxiety. Thinking of you x

    September 12, 2017
  • Erin


    This is super odd, but I’m really sad about your treadmill. If you truly use it, maybe fit it into the shed (once it’s erected) until you see if you can find a place for it later down the road? You may want it back again – I know exercise helps people to manage stress/anxiety and I also know (from you, actually!) that Scottish weather is questionable at best for running <3

    September 12, 2017
  • Nickolina Jacoby


    One thing that has helped me is to have a list of what actually got done (despite not having been on a list) so that I can see that progress. Many times I do not get to do what is on the official list because life got in the way, so putting that life on a “did-it” list helps me. Maybe that would help you?

    Also, having your treadmill in the nursery might be good for a bit until you find another spot. If you use it, it’s going to be missed.

    Hugs to all.

    September 12, 2017
  • Natasha


    I have a number 12 for you if your feeling up to it. Write a list of places to go as “just two of you” before baby arrives . Like the cinema or an evening meal out ? kindof like a pre-baby bucket list. I know its difficult but maybe some non-baby related time might help if your feeling a little (or alot) overwhelmed – it helped me.

    September 12, 2017
  • Brenda


    Getting tradespeople here in Canada is a real chore here too. And we’re supposed to be in a recession…? I can’t wait to see how you organize your closets, I eat that stuff up! Once the baby arrives, I’m wondering if Terry could do a guest post or two on how things are going with the baby? For those of us who aren’t on Instagram, the blog is the only way we will see some updates and photos of the wee one!!! Plus we will want to know how you are doing!

    September 12, 2017
  • I totally hate hospitals too! I get the being prepared thing. Also, I totally relate to sitting on Instagram just thinking of everything else you could be doing… but sometimes it;s important to just give yourself some time to spend on Instagram after all.

    ? Pia

    September 12, 2017
  • lalie


    If I may add to your list: read about the baby before s/he arrives. I mean, there’s a lot of faff in England – at least – about giving birth (NHS class, NCT class, visit of maternity wards, birthing centers..). It’s very important of course (and nothing ever goes according to plans…), but ultimately you will give birth – even if you don’t know anything about it. Things will happen the way baby decides and your medical team will help according to baby.
    There’s a serious lack of info however about “what to do with baby”! Again, in England, if all goes well you go home within a few hours. Great on some aspects, but no one shows you how to bath, deal with the cord, advise on how much to feed baby? (bottles?? breast? ) How warm to keep baby? (1 blanket or 5? 1 grobag with vest or full layers underneath?) (don’t over heat the baby is the main advice!) I did like Gina Ford books, not to follow too rigidly, but to guide.

    i can’t wait to see how beautiful your nursery is (if you show us!). It’s so much nicer when everything is ready before they arrive. Good luck!
    You can always ask (some of) your readers what must-have they think for hospital bags or baby, it’s funny what is seemed useful in various countries.

    September 12, 2017
      • lalie


        oh great! It sounds A LOT better than England!

        September 12, 2017
  • All of these seem totally, TOTALLY reasonable. And do-able. And all of these also seem like they would be way less stressful to get done before the baby arrives.

    Good luck! Also- would maybe some family or friends be willing to help with some of these things? (like, maybe friends could come paint the nursery or a friend could help you with refitting the closets and hang out etc.)

    September 12, 2017
  • Fiona


    All totally reasonable! I remember getting agitated about the tiling not being finished over the sink in the bathroom when I was pregnant – didn’t matter that the baby wouldn’t care or need to use it for years, it mattered TO ME! Re: 6 – loads of lists online and don’t forget next day delivery. I once got something sent by taxi from John Lewis after my daughter was born because I decided I needed it immediately. Not my proudest moment but hey.

    September 13, 2017