Re-folding all of the towels in your home may be extremely satisfying, but don’t lose sight of the key ways to get ready for the baby. Your simple plan:
4 MONTHS TO GO: Furnish the nursery
"The only two things you really need are a place for the baby to sleep, and a place to change him, which can be a dresser with a changing pad on top or a changing table," says Debbie Lillard, a professional organizer and mother of three in Philadelphia. If you’re buying new furniture for the nursery, start shopping now, since delivery can sometimes take six to eight weeks (and an indeterminate amount of time to assemble stuff if you’re DIY-ing). "You can also send an email to all your friends with kids asking if anyone has a rocker or changing table to pass down," adds Lillard. "Most people are thrilled to get them out of their basement!"
3 MONTHS TO GO: Put together a mailing list
Create a computer document with the addresses of all your friends and relatives that you can print out as address labels, suggests Lillard: "That will make it a lot easier to send out thank-yous, baby announcements, and holiday cards."
2 MONTHS TO GO: Stock up on diapers, wipes, and other basics
The baby-care aisles at the superstore can be overwhelming; call an expert (aka your BFF). "Two of my best friends gave birth a few months before I did, and I asked them all the time for advice on what to buy," says Caroline Bollinger, a mom of two from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "It was so helpful to have them go through it first!"
1 MONTH TO GO: Get cooking
Prepare food now and you won’t have to subsist on microwaveable meals and pizza once the baby arrives (and you don’t feel like cooking). "I made and froze several lasagnas and chicken casseroles during my last trimester, and it was a lifesaver," says Melissa Harrell, a mom of three in Goldsboro, North Carolina. "Instead of worrying about what the family would eat, I could focus on taking care of the baby and myself."
2 WEEKS TO GO: Prepare for change (and changing)
Break out the diapers, wipes, and lotion you bought, and make sure they’re within easy reach of the changing pad. If your baby’s room is on the second floor, set up a duplicate changing space downstairs.
1 WEEK TO GO: