By:  Karen Sullen

Whether you are a new mom or not, juggling your family, career and other commitments can be a delicate balancing act.  Add a new baby to the equation, and you've really got your hand's full.  Anticipating baby's arrival, there is much talk about preparing siblings for baby's arrival, decorating the nursery and stocking it with baby blankets, diapers and other necessities, but what about Mom?  She's embarking on a lifelong journey where it is so easy to become overwhelmed.  Optimistic, and sometimes unrealistic, some naïve women look at parenting through rose-colored glasses, not fully making the mental, emotional and physical changes needed for a smoother transition into motherhood.  

Make the Mental Shift
I've seen some women who are used to a busy lifestyle full of community involvement, a lot of interaction with extended family and a booming career.  They seem to have it all, except a baby.  So when the baby comes along, they're sure that their go-getter attitude will have them back in the swing of things "the next day."  Unrealistic, I know, but it seems they think they will have the baby and pick right up where they left off, never making the mental shift nor adjusting their lives for the new responsibilities of being a mother.   Needless to say, with that attitude, it's going to be a chaotic first year with baby in tow.  That's why it's so important to properly assess the changes in your schedule, lifestyle and routines that are about to happen, which can greatly reduce postpartum depression and stress.

Get Real
Being a new mother is a glorious thing, but it's not all peaches and cream.  Knowing the good, bad and the ugly of parenting can help you know what to expect, develop methods to help deal with issues, and even avoid potential problems.  Seek advice from other moms, and listen to their stories.  You'll learn a lot about the day-to-day ups and downs of motherhood, and you might just be better prepared to handle them.

Establish a routine-now!
Don't wait until the baby comes to start establishing routines.  For example, if you'll be working from home after the delivery, go ahead and start working from home right before you're due so that you can work out any kinks in advance and get used to telecommuting, conference calls, etc.  If your child will be going to daycare and you'll have to leave work at a certain time each day, go ahead and make that change in your schedule.  There are plenty of ways that you can make "a place" for your baby in your daily activities as a way of getting ready.

Budget for Baby
Peace of mind can come from knowing your baby's needs will be taken care of.  Now is a great time to get your financial and legal affairs in order.  Budget for the baby, buy life insurance, develop a savings plan, make a will, and plan and save for college expenses. 

Get Some Help
Needless to say, there are a lot of changes to be made, lessons to be learned and things to be done as you welcome your new baby to the world.  Having the help of family and friends can allow you the time to get comfortable with your role and spend precious time bonding with your new baby.  They'll love spending time with the baby, and you'll love having an extra set of hands around during mealtimes for baby, diaper changes and for you to get some much needed rest.

While parenthood probably isn't the type of thing that you can ever be fully prepared for, taking these steps can help ensure that you are as ready as you can be when your little bundle of joy arrives.