Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Nesting Instinct



Nesting is not a term that is used very often anymore to describe women who are pregnant. We most often hear it today referring to animals, but the instinct still applies. Most pregnant women will tell you that they experienced some type of nesting during their pregnancy, most likely in the third trimester. Nesting is an instinct that kicks in that almost seems to require an expectant mother to work on her organizational skills and put her house in order.

Many women find that in the last weeks of pregnancy, they are unable to focus because of what they consider chaos around them. This chaos may exists, or it may be something that the mother imagines she is feeling. Many women will spend their time, even into the wee hours of the morning, putting together outfits for the baby, making the house look perfect, and cleaning out closets. This desire is something that many women feel is a compulsion. I remember being up several nights in a row until 5 or 6 in the morning when I was pregnant with my son. I could not explain the desire (or where I got the energy), but I felt it. I could not stop myself, and I was hurt if my husband even dared to suggest that I not stay up to work on perfecting the nursery.

If you find yourself in the nesting mood, there are ways you can work with it to combat the mood and to allow it to help you. First, if you begin to feel the need to clean out everything in your house, ask yourself whether it needs to be done. Be serious here. In some homes, it does need to be done. Some parents truly are not prepared for the arrival of their child, so if you have a nursery that is not complete or you do not have everything you need for the baby, allow the nesting instinct to guide you toward putting the nursery together.

Once you feel the nursery is in order, look at the other rooms in the house. Some women say that they feel drawn to certain areas. They may want to work on the bedroom closet, for instance, or the basement may be what drives them bonkers. If you have strong feelings about one area of your home, look at it seriously. Ask yourself whether or not it needs to be cleaned out. You may discover that your closet is in disarray, but you most likely will find that you can deal with the way it is right now. After all, you are currently dealing with it, so it must not bother you enough to want to change it.

Still, the nesting instinct can drive us all to feel the urge strongly. Look at the projects that you feel are calling out to you. Estimate how long the project will take to complete. Be generous in your estimate, remembering that you are in the last weeks of pregnancy when you most likely tire out more easily than usual. The estimate may be enough to make you rethink your plan. If you think it will take 20 hours to clean the closet, doing so may not be so appealing anymore. If you believe it will take 2 hours, however, you may want to give it a go.

One way to curb the instinct but still improve your home is to see if there are smaller tasks you can complete. For example, you may find that if you simply purchase shoe racks and use them, the closet situation will be livable. Use those feelings to help create better living spaces so that you can add a level of organization to your home without going overboard.

Whatever you decide to do, know that you can use the nesting instinct to work with you. The only time it becomes a problem is if you allow it to overtake the rest of your life. Do not deprive others because you want to keep your home spotless. Be reasonable with other people and try to keep in mind that they are not going through the bodily changes that you are. Cut them some slack while still working on getting things done.

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