Demystifying Laundry Routines for New Moms with New Mama Deck
I’ve never seen so much laundry in my life. I thought it was a lot when I had a baby. And then, two small children. What I’ve seen at my daughter’s house is staggering. The washing machine runs full-time. She and her husband try to keep up with the laundry generated by three people, one of whom is a baby. At the beginning, I thought the laundry situation would be temporary. Now, after three years of life, I see that it’s not. It’s a constant cycle of wash, dry, fold, put away, repeat.
When I visit my daughter, I always try to pitch in with laundry duty. So does her mother-in-law when she is in town. As I’m folding and washing, washing, and folding, I look at the contents of her washing machine. It’s a ton of baby things, swaddles, little socks, onesies. Granted, she has a cat who isn't well, and often soiled bedding must be washed.
But there are also a tremendous number of sheets and blankets and little stuffed animals from her son that need to be washed, too. Diapers leak at night. The baby is sick, and the bedding needs to be changed and freshened up. The blankets, his favorites, need to be washed because he drags them around the house on the floor. All these things add up to bulky laundry. All this bulk takes up all the space in the washing machine and is a cycle or two on its own. Then there is clothing.
Top tips for keeping laundry manageable:
Clothes and Constant Washing
Baby clothes constantly need to be washed. It’s just a fact of life. Kids spill, they play in the dirt, they crawl, and their leggings or pants get filthy. All this clothing needs to be washed. After several outfit changes a day because of spilled food, or spitting up, it’s a constant wash cycle. How is it that one small human being can create so much laundry? I have no idea, but it happens. The one piece of advice I gave my daughter when she became a mother is to try to keep up on the laundry. I told her that she will never believe the amount that one tiny baby creates. And it’s true.
The other thing I told my daughter is that a baby changes sizes rapidly and not to buy too much of any one size, especially at the beginning. When she became a mother, it was right as Covid was starting. We had planned a baby shower, and it had to be cancelled because of social distancing.
The shower was scheduled for March of 2020, and people were unsure about how Covid was transmitted. There were no vaccines and on television we were starting to see the cases rise. So, we cancelled the baby shower. In the end, many people were extremely generous and sent her gifts. To fill in, I picked up the slack and we ordered things on the internet to fill her shower gift registry. It was a new time of navigating a way of life that no one quite understood. Most of her registry orders were from websites or Amazon. It was a way to get what she would need without exposing her to the dangers of Covid. We also weren’t sure about supply chain issues, so most likely we overbought.
How Much Did We Buy?
Not knowing the world situation, we bought many outfits in multiple sizes. Since she does not have any older nephews, she had nothing in the way of hand-me-downs. She started from scratch. I tried to guide her and show her what she would need during those initial days, the swaddles (a new concept for me as they were not a “thing” when my kids were born). Also clothing in a variety of sizes. And little things to make the baby’s transition into life easier. Lastly, big things that were a necessity. Like a good car seat.
Professional Organizer Becomes a Grandma
Because we own a professional organizing company, we can figure out systems for ordering items and then putting them away. We are effective in space management and organization. My daughter was moving from an apartment to a temporary living situation and then into a new home in another state. All this, with brand new baby in tow. The baby lived in the initial apartment for only a matter of weeks before she and our grandson moved in with my husband and me. Then the two of them moved into their new home with her husband, which was located in another state. It was a lot of transition during this time and keeping it organized was no small feat.
At her apartment home, we set up baskets in which to put the baby’s new clothing. Because we had bought multiple sizes of the same outfit, we took the others and put them into storage containers. This left only the most important, necessary items out for her to use. She was room-sharing with her baby, who in the apartment did not have a room of his own. Space was tight. He slept in a bassinet next to her bed, which did not take up a lot of space. On top of the dresser, we put the changing station with everything she would need. And then in the kitchen all the necessary items to keep baby fed. We kept lots of swaddles within reach, each rolled up so that they were easy to access. We put towels for the baby in a different basket. Everything was separated and easy to find, because the thirty second rule is what we apply to most of our organizing tips.
The Transition to Life with Baby
The transition was easier than expected. At my house, we set up a baby dresser and changing table that would be shipped with the moving company. It was packed with items she would need upon arrival. In the meantime, baskets in tow, we transitioned from her apartment to my house that was not far away. Then, when it came time, we packed her car with all the big items that she needed. From there, we shipped them inside the car so they could be emptied out and put away at her new home prior to her arrival. We shipped the few items we had kept at my house and the rest were waiting for her after her husband got settled. It all worked.
Organization Takes Thought
Be mindful of what you need at the beginning of a newborn’s life. While we all want to have everything we need on hand, think about the space newborn items take up. Baby items are big and bulky. Remember, not everything needs to be purchased at once. Often, wait to see if items are necessary. See if some items can do double duty. While the registry is a tempting concept, it can also encourage over consumption. And often one item can take care of two needs at once.
Organization Prior to Baby's Arrival
With what you have left, organize it to the best of your ability prior to baby’s arrival. Leave out what you need, store the rest, and try to make your environment a little less overwhelming. As explained in an earlier blog, some items such as Baby Brezza make all the difference in the world. This was worth the money. At the beginning of newborn life, however, she didn’t know that. And she didn’t know what she’d need until after the baby was born. Remember, it was Covid.
Purchase what you truly need, and not what you see advertised on the internet or baby registries. Think about how you’ll use an item and then see if it makes sense. Ask for gift cards instead of physical products so that you can purchase what you need at the time you need it. With Amazon so convenient and fast, much of what you need can be delivered to you within a matter of days if you’ve missed something. Don’t overbuy, because all that "stuff” can be completely overwhelming. Let it trickle in instead of trying to cram everything you need into a small space. There is plenty of time. I know we all want to be prepared but try to figure out exactly what you'll need before you buy it. And then, purchase as needed. It will make a big difference in the end as you negotiate the amount of space baby items take up.
Most of the items that my daughter received were used only a few times. The remainder of the time they were given away or donated. That’s because we purchased a lot not knowing exactly what we needed. Again, it was Covid, so we were concerned about supply chain issues. But, give yourself time to settle in and transition to your baby’s needs. And yours. You’ll find that what’s sold on baby gift registries is often not as important as it seems to be. We come into motherhood with an idealized version of what’s necessary and needed. Companies capitalize on our inability to distinguish. Go with your gut. You’ll find that it’s right almost one hundred percent of the time.
New Mama Decks by Life Hack Decks™
For other ideas about keeping your space organized and your life realistic and filled with self-care, check out our New Mama prompt card decks. Each deck comes with tips and tricks for keeping your baby happy. And mom sane. Enjoy the bonding experience. It’s a special time in life and one that needs to be honored.