7.   Nursing fillers: After several days of nursing and adoring the baby, I am ready for something else to do while sitting and nursing. So I planned a quilting project I could hand-stitch, and bought several books on my list of must-reads, to entice myself to take the time to rest and sit for a while.

8.   Sibling Time: I had the oldest two children each plan something to teach and work on with the younger children for after baby came. One chose to teach insects, the other planned weather. I bought them some books on their topic that included many hands-on activities. They prepared games, pre-made masks for the little ones to copy, and gathered all the supplies necessary for the activities. This was one of my best ideas. Everyone enjoyed it, and it kept them busy, while not fighting and bickering, for several hours each day. I also planned some activities for the older children with many hands-on projects, that required minimum last-minute preparation on my part, so they would have some fun activities to accomplish while I was busy with the baby.

Some ideas for keeping the older children busy are sewing kits, stamping supplies, origami paper and books – whatever their interests might be. Just be sure to gather everything they’ll need for the activity: paper, glue, needle and thread, scissors, or anything else.

9.   Drinks: Doctors always tell us that with nursing, the fluid consumption must increase. So, this was another area I could prepare for. Since I drink iced herb tea with no sugar, I couldn’t just buy it pre-bottled, and when I ran out of tea, it was such a hassle to make more, then let it cool enough to drink.

So, my brilliant idea was to put one child in charge of making my tea, and making what we call my “concentrate.” This is a smaller pitcher of my herb tea, but without all of the water – just like juice concentrate. When we emptied the pitcher of tea, she would just pour the “concentrate” in that pitcher, add the necessary amount of water, and Voila! I had tea. She would then make more concentrate for next time. Simple and easy enough for a child to do. Stocking up on bottled water is another good idea. And making room for the bottles in the refrigerator will allow you to have cold drinks when you’re thirsty.

We also planned some specific things for after the baby. Since we homeschool, the education and schedule for our children was a big concern for me. I didn’t want them to take too much time off from school, so we’d have to back-track and re-learn some things.

1.   School:  One week after the baby was born, we started back to school. This gave the children a sense of normalcy, routine, and security. However, I wore my house slippers to remind myself that I was still convalescing. We also worked on the 3-R’s first, so if I needed a rest, or my attention was drawn to the baby, we would have the important subjects covered.

My husband went back to work after one week at home, but with the option of his taking half days off in the afternoon, if I needed. We never took him up on it, but just the thought that I could call in reinforcements made me feel more relaxed and more in control because I always had a “Plan B.”

2.   Sleep: I realized that if I went to bed at the regular time and woke up at the regular time, with being up in the night to nurse, I would not get enough sleep. I couldn’t sleep in later – with seven other early-rising children, who could? So I chose to get my sleep on the other side of the night, and went to bed earlier to compensate. Yes, it was a discipline to do this, but I was usually tired anyway. And, by the time morning came, I was rested which made it worth it, and made the recuperation time shorter. Another benefit was that with enough sleep, I was able to think clearer during the day.