Hey soon-to-be mama, congrats on your new season in life!
As a military spouse and mama to two littles, I’m here to confirm that this journey you’re on is one of the best. You’ve probably figured it out already, but it’s a little overwhelming. Understatement of the year, right? Here’s the thing, all those feelings you have, the excitement, anticipation, fear, and maybe a little confusion as your body becomes a home for another tiny, but demanding, little human, those are all normal! Yes, even the intermittent crying sessions. While it’s hands down one of the best things in my life, it’s not easy—not every day, at least. And as military spouses, we have unique challenges that separate us a little from our civilian mama friends.
So, I’m here today to share a few tips to make your life easier as you prepare for baby’s arrival. And hopefully, leave you feeling a little encouraged!
1. Make a list of what you want/need.
Who here is overwhelmed by all the baby gear? Yeah, me too. From the moment you first download the What to Expect baby tracking app, ads alerting you to the latest and greatest baby stuff are everywhere you look. It's exciting at first, isn't it? But when you sit down to make a list of what you need, it’s overwhelming—exhausting. So, I’m here to tell you you don’t need everything. Promise!
After you take a look at what’s out there, talk to your trusted military mom friends, the ones who went before you, and listen to what they have to share. Still too much? Ask for their favorite, absolutely-cannot-live-without baby item!
Budgeting—the other “b” word. Here’s the thing, budgeting (against popular opinion) frees up your spending. Calculating a dollar amount that you can spend freely actually gives you the ability to spend guilt-free. Why? Because you know the money is there. It’s separate, sitting, and waiting for you to enjoy versus getting pulled from another category of your budget like savings or from nowhere, causing you to dig into debt.
So, budgeting for baby? Take that list you make above, add to it the necessities like diapers, wipes, burp cloths. Total the amount and divide it up by seven (or the number of months from now that you want to have everything set up and ready for baby). Now you have your monthly budget! And thank goodness, because that initial total is a lot to spend in one day.
You might be asking, what about stuff that we’ll get from baby showers. Why budget for things that might be gifted? Here’s your answer: just because you budget the money doesn’t mean you have to spend it right away. So, you can set the money aside and buy what you need at the end (the amount doesn’t hurt if it’s already pulled from the account). Or you can leave the tags on stuff so that if you get a few duplicates, you can return them. Also, many gift-givers include a receipt, so that helps too!
3. Be intentional with the announcement.
Unless you hit the duty station jackpot (in which case, tell me your secret!), chances are you don’t live near family. That’s one thing we’ve gotten used to as military spouses. Well, that and kissing our plans goodbye. Hello, flexibility! The point is, the people you probably want to share the news with first live across the country or on the other side of the world. So intentionality with who you tell and what you share on social media is essential.
4. Build your support team.
Let’s face it our spouses aren’t the most reliable. Or rather, their jobs and schedules don’t allow them to be reliable. They’re in and out frequently, their days are unpredictable, and their schedule changes on a moment’s notice. So, while they’re our lovable, caring, devoted spouse, we need to expand our inner circle to include a few more dependable members in our life.
From childcare for older kids to help with chores when you’re not feeling well, to picking up family from the airport, and even driving you to the hospital if need be, your team will not only provide relief, they’ll also be a comfort.
Military spouses are like superheroes. We start running and don’t stop until everyone’s needs are met. But I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to slow down. You have to slow down. There’s going to come a time in your pregnancy when you can’t keep going. Leave the dishes, work, laundry, etc. for later to lay down and take a nap. I’m the first one to say that gets things crossed off your list, and the house cleaned up feels better than a nap most days, but there are times that we reach our limit and when you’re pregnant, those days are much more common. So be patient, listen to your body, and listen to your hand-picked support team!
6. Get familiar with your resources.
Here’s the great news, no one pretends that this life is easy or that being a pregnant military spouse prepping for a baby is easy—which is good because it’s not! So the military offers resources to be a little help if you need it.
Here are a few to help you get started: