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Oh, baby! They are SO incredibly adorable, sweet, precious, and attached. My babies were VERY attached to me – all the time! When you become a mother, everyone will tell you that it’s hard, and you think “Nah, it won’t really be THAT hard!” Then you have your baby and they change your whole world and you would not have it any other way. But you still have all your other responsibilities, and only 2 arms and only so many waking hours in the day. How do you get things done?
While realizing that every family, every baby, and every parent is different, I will share some things that worked for me. Take the suggestions that you like and use them, throw the rest out the window. There is not one “right” way to do things, and I’m sure that with time, you will find exactly what works for you, your baby, and your family.
Priority #1: Keep the little people alive and tended to. When you have a baby, this comes before all else. Even if you get nothing else accomplished today, you can still cross this one off the list at the end of the day. With keeping priority #1, set 1 more goal that you want to accomplish each day. It can be as simple as “cook supper” or “do laundry” or “go to the grocery store because my shelves look like Old Mother Hubbard.” If you have at least 1 more goal set, then at the end of the day you feel like your day was a success. Set yourself up to succeed by setting goals that you can accomplish.
Wear the Baby
Babywearing is a big thing now! There are some days that the baby is just attached to you. The baby does NOT want to go 2 minutes without touching you as though he/she is superglued! For me, when my baby was having a “high need” day, I would wear them a lot. I tried several different ways, and admittedly, you may have to experiment to see what works for your baby. I had 2 boys. They had 2 different ways they preferred to be worn. For my youngest son, the thing that I found that he liked the best was the Moby Wrap.
There are several reasons that I liked the Moby Wrap in particular. I tried several different ways of carrying the baby when they were tiny, and this one worked the best. I tried a front pack with my first son, and it about broke my back. After about 30 minutes it was nearly more than I could stand. I also had a baby sling, which did work a bit better, but shortly after I got it, there were all kinds of horror stories that I read about newborns suffocating in them! Yikes! My son liked it, but he always got really scrunched up in there, and again, after a certain length of time, it also hurt my back. Also, with the sling, I never felt like it fit me right.
My Favorite front carrier
After going through trying those 2 things, I found the Moby Wrap with my second son. I loved that it grew with my baby. It is for newborns to toddlers. It has been the most back-friendly way to carry a tiny baby that I have found. By “back-friendly” I mean that my back did not feel like it was going to break after 30 minutes. It gives really good head support to little ones and unlike the sling, they don’t get all scrunched down where it has the potential to cut off their breathing. Also, when they are tiny, it holds them right up to your chest.
This does 3 things: 1) The baby can hear the sound of your heartbeat, so my son usually dropped right off to sleep in about 5 minutes, or 20 minutes if he was colicky. 2) All that time on my chest, stimulated my milk supply. No worries about the baby going hungry here! 3) It gave us skin to skin bonding time. As he grew, the Moby Wrap grew with him. I could adjust the position as he grew so that when he got bigger, he sat on my hip.
When he was in the Moby Wrap, I had both my hands free to do other things. I could clean, I could do laundry. The only thing I really felt like I could not do safety was bend over, but for most things, I could squat and accomplish whatever I was trying to do. I even put him in it when we went to the grocery store when he was too tiny to put in the cart seat. The only issue that I had with it was that it was super-cute and attracted a lot of attention. Lots of people came up to talk to me while I was wearing it, admire the baby and ask me about it.
The other thing is that it is one VERY long piece of cloth, but once you learn how to wrap it around you, it does not take long to do. It has lasted VERY well, in my opinion. I bought it in 20011, I used it and I have loaned it out to 2 or 3 friends who used it for their babies and it still looks new. It is completely machine washable, and even after the baby outgrows it, it is still long enough and strong enough that you can tie it around the table and make a toddler hammock under the table. J
I mentioned that I had the Moby Wrap for my second son. I did not have it for my first. However, I DID find a way to wear him that he LOVED! It was a backpack! Since my oldest son is ten, I cannot find the exact model of the backpack that I had for him, but it was something very similar to this, but not quite as nice. This one has some additional features that I do wish that mine had. I know, it may seem strange that I am recommending a hiking backpack as a productivity hack, but here’s why: the backpack keeps the baby up on your back where he can have full view of what’s going on but far enough away he can’t reach out and GRAB whatever you are working on.
My oldest son always had a fussy period when I was cooking supper. He always wanted to be held then! It never failed! I even had a cabinet that he could play in and he’d be busy playing in that, but as soon as I had hot grease or something on the stove, it never failed: he would start fussing. This backpack has a kickstand. That is very important if you are considering purchasing a backpack because with a kickstand you can put your baby in the backpack and load him/her up on your back with no help. I could get all kinds of things done with him up on my back and safely out of harm’s way.
Another thing that I LOVED the backpack for was going for a walk. It was very secure and he was all strapped in and comfortable, and it added some weight resistance to my walk. Mine was not quite as padded as this one, and I think I would have loved the extra padding because it would have made it more comfortable for him to fall asleep in and this one has a sunshade that mine did not have. That would have been really nice for walking or hiking.
My oldest son was a rather light-weight baby, so this was absolutely perfect for him. I will say that my second son did not like the backpack nearly as much. When I put him in it, he would bounce up and down and that DID make my back hurt. My second son was also bigger than my first son so that probably had some influence on it as well. We still used it some, but not quite as much. My second son had a brother to keep him occupied while I cooked supper.
Keep the Baby in the Same Room as the One you are Working In
Often times, my babies, just wanted to be in the same room as I was working in. If they could see me, they were happy. That may have meant that I had toys in there while I was working, but that was ok. Sometimes when I was trying to fold laundry, I dumped the laundry out on the floor and put the baby in the basket. They loved that, especially if I left a few socks in there. I would talk to them while I worked. I also kept ONE cabinet unlocked that the baby could get into and play with the plastic dishes as I worked in the kitchen.
Do Things While the Baby Naps
I admit this one is pretty obvious. For most of my Mom friends, this was their prime time to get things done. You would be amazed what you can accomplish without distractions in an hour! For me, personally, I did do some things while the babies napped, BUT I also tried to carve out a portion of time that was just “my time” to regroup and do something for me. It really helped my sanity and helped to “refill my tank.”
I am actually “stealing” this one from my own Mom. When I was a new Mom, the very thought of cooking supper seemed overwhelming while caring for a baby! I asked her once how in the world she always seemed to manage it. She laughed and said that there were days when my brother was a tiny baby and I was a pre-schooler that she started supper at 10:00 am. I think I laughed at the time, but as I thought about it, that makes sense!
If you have a crockpot, make full use of it! There are many great recipes that you can throw together in the morning and just plug it in and it cooks during the day. Alternately, there are some great freezer meal plans as well for those days that it is just NOT happening. They are very convenient to prepare ahead of time and pop in the oven when you need them.
I used to save up all the laundry and try to sort it all out and try to do it all in one day. Some days, I was successful. Other days, I woke up and remembered that last load of clothes I had left in the washer 2 days before that were still wet and had a mildew smell. Ewww! Needless to say, that strategy did not work the best for me. While visiting a friend of mine, she made an off-handed comment that “Oh you know what they say, ‘A load a day keeps the chaos away.’” I have since found that while I do not do laundry EVERY day, I do it every other day and it has been working much better. I still have no love for doing laundry, but at least there is a better stream of clean clothes.
I have done grocery shopping at both extremes, the no list/plan at all and go in and buy what I think I need and the meal planning and stick to the list. When I had no plan and no list I found myself going back to the grocery store much more often and wasting a LOT of time trying to think of what to cook for dinner. I highly suggest meal planning and a list in store order. It cuts down on the time that you spend in the grocery store as well as the money that you spend and the food wastage.
Plan to go grocery shopping at a “good” time for the baby. If you have a baby that is tired and fussy and cries all through your grocery trip, that makes the stress level go way up, and you are much more likely to forget things. (Or forget grocery shopping altogether and order a pizza for supper!) If you think that meal planning is hard or you have no idea where to start, I am working on some freebies for free customizable meal planning. Just send me your email address or sign up for my mailing list on the sidebar, and I’ll be happy to send it to you!
Progress – 15 minutes at a time!
One of the things that drove me nuts about trying to get things done with a baby was that I could not concentrate on a single task and get it done like I used to. However, I did find that I would have very short intervals of time that I could work before I was interrupted by something the baby needed. Put together, those short intervals can add up to some progress by the end of the day.
Make Time for You – And Your Spouse
“Wait…. Hang on… How does that help my productivity with a baby?” you ask. Here is the deal with this one, take a little bit of time each day for you. As I already mentioned above, I took that time for myself when the baby napped, preferably for an hour. As Mothers, we are always giving. We give of ourselves, our time, our sleep, everything. When we are always giving, giving, we need something to “refill” with. When we make time to recharge our “batteries,” we are much better mothers.
Also, remember that your husband needs time and attention too. Just because you have a baby does not mean that you stop being a husband or a wife. I may write more on this later, but ladies, do not forget your husband! You need each other more than ever after you become parents. Let the experience of parenthood draw you closer together instead of tear you apart into your own separate worlds.
Do you have any amazing productivity hacks that help you get things done with a baby in the house? Leave me a comment and tell me about them! I would love to hear from you!