I have to admit some babies are a breeze and some moms are probably out there rolling their eyes when they read this title. Maybe they’re saying something like, “Just wait until they’re teenagers!” which by the way is super unhelpful when you haven’t slept through the night in like a year. Yes, I know teenagers are whole other ball game but you know, they do use sleep deprivation as a torture method!
My first child was a horrible sleeper. The pediatrician who did his newborn exam at the hospital even exclaimed he had never in his entire career seen a newborn so alert. My son also had a bad case of colic and was a very hungry baby. I would feed him and then pump to increase my supply. All I did was feed him and pump for the first four months of his life. It was incredibly hard to put him down and he cried all the time.
Things got a lot easier at around six months and so much better at eleven months when he started sleeping through the night. My daughter was a way better sleeper than my son, but then went through a major sleep regression and a double ear infection close to 12 months! Not getting enough sleep can also make it harder to get things done. Even though she was almost a year old, I felt like a zombie (or a mombie?) for a few weeks leading up to her birthday.
Maybe it feels like your baby needs attention or care around the clock and you can never put them down and you have no idea how you’re going to cook dinner or take the trash out.
Change your mindset
There is a big misconception out there that moms don’t do anything all day long. I know you’re laughing with me now, right? Who started that nonsense by the way? Seriously.
I was just chatting with a former coworker who just had a baby. I asked how she was doing and how the baby was. She seemed upset about not being able to do anything around the house. I assured her this was totally and completely normal when you have a very small baby. Seriously, no one else had told her this. I try to make an effort to let my new parent friends know this. That’s why daycare is so expensive for babies and that’s why people set up meal trains when you have a baby. It is really hard!
When you are a parent, especially a new parent you are in survival mode, my biggest piece of advice is as your baby grows you will get out of survival mode but you will also dip back into it. The level of things you were doing before you had a baby isn’t realistic.
When you have a newborn, sometimes just showering or doing the dishes isn’t even realistic. So, again let go of any notions that you have to be a productive member of society during this season. Just survive and enjoy bonding with your baby. You will go through highs and lows, especially in the first few months. I noticed that there were some tough weeks when my children got sick or were teething. During those tough times, I realized we had to go back into survival mode for a little bit.
Use your Crockpot
I know there are so many cool kitchen gadgets out there like pressure cookers and air fryers, but the crockpot should be a staple for moms around the world. It is the only way anything got cooked in my house when my children were both very small babies. Obviously, it would be dangerous to wear your baby and cook over a hot stove or open a hot oven. But when I used a crockpot, I could wear my baby and I could throw things in with the crockpot not even turned on yet. If I wasn’t wearing them and they needed me, I could stop and tend to them before finishing up and the food wouldn’t be ruined or burned. I could turn it on once I got everything in or if I wasn’t wearing them it would just be slowly simmering away so if I needed to come back to finish putting some other ingredients I could.
Wear your baby
Having your hands free, really helps a lot! I loved wearing both of my babies. I wish I could have worn my son longer, but when my son was ten months old I became pregnant with my daughter and could no longer wear him per doctor’s orders. I think babies enjoy being able to see everything you see, move with you, and be close to you.
It was also so special to be able to wear my babies when they were newborns. I think it really helped us bond together.
According to NaturalChild.org, babies who are worn are happier and cry less. As a mom who survived two under two, it was the best way to go to stores, the library, parks, or other activities when I was alone with both of my kids.
When I was a first time mom, I had a really hard time leaving my son out of my sight. I had a really rough end to my pregnancy. I physically couldn’t walk without crutches and I was on bed rest for the last two weeks before I was induced. On top of that, something that you would think never happens happened!
My son’s blood-work results were sent to the wrong hospital and they missed a dangerously high level of bilirubin in his system. They had dismissed us from the hospital but thank GOD another doctor at a different hospital saw the results and made sure we got him to the ER. My son was in the ER at only three days old and then in the NICU for another four days due to severe jaundice. His levels were so high, just a few more hours could have meant brain damage. It was really traumatic to say the least, especially as a brand new mom and every time I think of it I know God was watching out for my son.
I know some parents have totally normal experiences bringing home their babies and maybe they don’t have this issue but another big piece of advice is use your baby monitor and feel comfortable using it.
It took me awhile to be able to leave him alone while he was sleeping. I would just sit there and stare at him to make sure he was OK. Maybe that sounds silly, but I had a lot of anxiety. Make sure your child has a safe sleeping environment per what your pediatrician recommends and use your monitor. There are even breathing monitors you can buy and use at home now and you can always check on your baby if you’re worried.
Activity station or baby gym
These are great for when your baby is out of the newborn phase but not yet mobile. They can keep babies entertained for a few minutes at a time. I kept my daughter’s activity station in our bedroom and would fold clothes while she played and her brother napped. It was a great way to get laundry done.
Curbside grocery pickup
As I said in the introduction, my first child had colic and never slept more than two hours at a time during his first few months. I felt like a walking zombie. Everything is so much harder and chores take so much longer to do when you’re super tired. Both of my children were born during cold and flu season, so curbside grocery pickup was my go to. I love it because I can open my local grocery store’s app on my phone and add things during the week as I think of them so I don’t forget anything.
If it’s in your budget to order take out once a week by all means do so. You won’t have to cook, clean up, or do dishes. While we’re on the topic of ordering takeout, I swear the best baby shower gift I have ever received was an Uber Eats gift card. It is my new go-to gift for close friends who are having babies.
Use the highchair
If your child is old enough to sit up on their own in a highchair it can help immensely when you’re trying to get things done. Highchairs don’t always have to be used for just eating. I would move my daughter’s highchair close to the dishwasher (before putting her in, by the way- don’t move the highchair if your child is in it!) and then give her metal bowls and spoons to play with while I did the dishes. With my son, I didn’t take advantage of the highchair until he was mostly eating solid food. When he was around eleven months old, I started giving him a small snack every afternoon so I could get some dishes done.
Wake up first
This may or may not be for everyone. Waking up even a few minutes before everyone else in your house can really boost your productivity. It can make you feel like a real person having your teeth brushed, hair combed, and coffee made before your tiny human who requires constant care and attention wakes up. If you are blessed with a baby who sleeps well and sleeps predictably I highly recommend waking up first. If you are like me and you were not blessed with a good sleeper then this may not be for you.
Write it down
There are a million things going on in your head because there is a whole other person to worry about now. Not only are they tiny and delicate but they need you to do everything for them. Babies have a lot of doctor’s appointments their first year, you have doctor’s appointments after giving birth, oh, and don’t forget all the “regular” life stuff like taking the dog to the groomer or getting your tires rotated!
According to this article, writing to do lists helps us to remember things and prioritize tasks. So write it down and get it out of your head and into one cohesive list.
Plan your day out
Speaking of writing it down, plan your day out. It may seem silly to you, but I even put things like shower and do laundry on my list. I recommend picking the top three things you want to get done and putting them first. I usually just use the notes function on my iPhone and type out a few things for the day.
My best ideas to help you manage your day better:
- Decide in the morning what will be for dinner that way you have the rest of the day to work on dinner, throw it in the crockpot, or let something defrost.
- Plan any errands that need to be done so you can plan around nap and feeding times.
- Write down any essentials you need to order or buy such as wipes, formula, or diapers.
- Keep track of any upcoming appointments for the next week or two.
Switch off with your spouse
When my husband isn’t traveling for his job, he usually takes the kids while I cook or clean or vice versa. During this season, it’s always one of us watching the kids and another doing something. It can be really hard on productivity but its how we have to manage right now while they’re so young.
Lower your expectations
It is really hard to get things done.
Remember, every baby and every family is different. These are some tips that have worked for me and my family. Some worked better when I just had one child and some worked for one child but not the other. Experiment and try new things until you find something that works for you and your family. I know I just said it and I say it all the time, but it is really hard to have it all during this season of life. Be gentle with yourself during this season of life, mama. It will come and go very quickly.
Have a different tip or idea? Please share how you got things done with us, mama!