So I have been meaning to write this post as it has been an essential component to my sanity as a mother, and I believe most mothers would resonate with it. How in the world do you get things done with a baby?! It feels like they need attention 24/7! When and how do moms actually get things done?
As a side note, I would like to know how all you other mommas do it, so please leave a comment below and maybe we can all learn something new!
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My baby is now six months and it’s true what they say. What works at one point usually won’t work at another. Babies are constantly changing and growing. Their behavior and interests change with each day.
So, before we get into how to get things done, first let’s get to know a little about how babies develop because that will play an important part in what will work at each stage.
Babies at Different Stages
Newborns (0-1 month)
Newborn babies only require three things. They eat, sleep, and poo. So, all you really have to do is feed them and change them. Sort of…
The reason why the newborn stage is so exhausting usually is because newborn babies are still adjusting to life out of the womb. Many moms might find themselves struggling just to get their babies to sleep. My own baby could not sleep anywhere except my arms for some time! That was exhausting!
If you’re breastfeeding it’s even harder because breastfed babies nurse more often than formula babies, and so you might find yourself strapped to your nursing chair (or couch), topless, for most of the day. Yes, I am completely serious.
If you have a newborn and are looking for some tips on getting things done, check out my post on How to Get Things Done With a Newborn. Read it! It will help you recollect and get your head back into the game!
Some Tips for Calming a Newborn:
- Feed and change them first! If your baby starts crying, the first reaction should be to change their diaper or feed them. Crying is the only way your newborn can get your attention to let you know they want to eat or need to be changed.
- Recreate the womb environment. This is why swaddling and white noise work so well to calm newborn babies. Turn down the lights and tone down to lower stimulation. Make sure your baby is warm (not hot, though). Also, try rocking or swaying as you hold your baby. Your goal is to try to recreate life in the womb… as much as possible.
You can also try this Sleep Sack!
- Give them some comfort. Sometimes babies just need a little loving consolation. If your baby doesn’t cry in your arms but roars as soon as they’re put down, that might be the case. Your best bet is to give your baby what they want and ride it out. In some cases, giving pacifiers or “nursing for comfort” also works very well.
- Change the scene. Sometimes getting out of the house might actually help calm a baby down. I know couples who took car rides just to calm their newborn while others who went on strolls. Test the waters and see what works and what doesn’t.
- Try this! Ok, so I think this is the COOLEST, NEATEST TRICK EVER! I wish I had known it, although, I used a variation of it (without knowing) on my own baby, so I can vouch that it’s legit!
Babies 1-3 Months
For most moms, the first month is a blur. You’re barely getting any sleep, so you’re basically in survival mode. Usually, between 1 to 3 months is when moms try to get into some sort of “new” routine.
I will say right away that every baby is different. Some are always sleeping throughout this period, while others (like mine) struggle to sleep and take cat naps so they might be a little crankier and more difficult to get things done with.
What Works Well at This Stage…
- Swings or Rockers. Most babies at this stage can be put in a swing or rocker and they’ll be just fine for a little bit. I’d be able to put my little girl in her swing (which doubled up as a swing and rocker) and actually wash some dishes. By the way, this rocker is also a great sleeper for colicky babies because it rests at an incline!
- The DockATot. So this co-sleeper is a bit pricey but so worth it! There are a little bit more affordable (although still pricey) alternatives if you are pressed on price, but I am serious when I say that you won’t regret purchasing one! It even replaces the need for a bassinet for some parents. Not only is it a safer co-sleeper that is very convenient for breastfeeding, but it also serves as a mobile bed. We literally took it with us everywhere we went and it helped with baby nap/sleep-times when we weren’t home.
- Activity Gyms. Babies at this stage also tend to enjoy activity gyms. Just place the gym in a safe area, somewhere in your visual proximity, before putting your baby down on it and knock out a few to-dos.
- Strollers and Car Seats. Some babies like being in their stroller or car seat. If your baby falls into this category, take advantage of this! You can get some exercise in for yourself by going for a walk, and some babies fall asleep well in a stroller so you might get lucky there as well. Other babies fall asleep well in their car seat, so you can take advantage of this and plan a trip someplace like the grocery store. Get in some work while trying to get your baby to sleep. **Important Note if Your Car Seat is Removable: Never let your baby sleep in their car seat, just take them out carefully once they do fall asleep! There are risks associated with placing a car seat, with a strapped in sleeping baby, flat on the ground.**
- Carrier. Although I didn’t use our carrier much at this stage, some mommas depend on one on a daily basis. If you find yourself constantly having to hold your baby, maybe consider investing one. You definitely won’t regret it!
Babies 4-6 Months
By 4 months, it takes more effort to distract your baby. This is where all the toys mostly come in (at least in our case)! The swing usually starts to be a temporary distraction, baby’s at this age get bored pretty quick! Mine never got past 30 minutes in her swing, so that made for a sprint around the house to get what I needed to get done! The activity gym lasted for a bit longer but once she learned to flip over, she disliked laying on her back.
Around four months, babies start to get more interested in their surroundings. They transition from their backs to their bellies, or they just prefer to be held. Also, this is where teething starts to be more of a concern because that means extra fussiness. You might notice your baby drooling and gnawing on everything and starting to be more vocal when they don’t like something.
What Works at this Stage…
- Toys with Car Seat. I found that my baby started to really dislike being in her car seat at this stage. Following the advice of my cousin, I purchased this mirror, and it helped so much. Anytime she would start getting fussy, I would just turn it on and it would distract her for long enough until we got home. There are also other cool toys that babies could play with while in their car seats. This one is cool because it could attach to even bassinets and strollers. This one, on the other hand, isn’t as versatile, however, it is more interactive with a kick and play activity center.
- Tummy Time. Some babies might not like tummy time at first so be aware. What worked for us was using our Boppy pillow, but you can use any pillow or just roll up a towel and place it under your baby’s armpits too. Keep working at it by placing toys or a mirror in front of your baby. Making tummy time enjoyable will help to distract your baby for a little bit while also helping them learn to crawl!
- Carrier. This is the time I started to use my carrier a lot! Once all of the toys stopped working I would prop her in the carrier and we’d get to cleaning the floors!
- Teethers! It’s important to remember that babies get very fussy when teething so utilize teething remedies. Some great remedies I used were Hyland’s Teething Tablets, teething rings, and a teething mitten. You could also try making breastmilk popsicles or buying a vibrating teether, some babies really like these! Teether s double up also as great ways to distract your baby and keep them preoccupied! As a side note, try out multiple tethers just as you would pacifiers because every baby’s preference is different. Not all are able to hold every type of teether and not all know exactly how to use them immediately.
Babies 6 Months and Up
Since my baby is a little over 6 months, this is as far as I could go (for now). However, the change from a couple of weeks ago until now is HUGE! By now your baby might be sitting and maybe even crawling, so distractors become more creative and do vary from baby to baby. You also have to take into account more safety precautions because your baby is more active. By the way, every baby develops differently so your baby might be sitting or crawling earlier than 6 months. Therefore, use these according to your baby’s developmental stages rather than age.
What Works at this Stage…
- Baby Seats. Since your baby will now prefer to sit rather than lay down, get something to help when you can’t help support them. There are a variety of training seats out there, it just depends on what you would like to use it as. If you want it to only entertain and distract your baby, then this activity seat is a great option. If you would like a more mobile alternative that could also be used to feed your baby, I really liked this one! Now, these other seats can secure onto a regular dining chair (be sure to follow the safety instructions), so it’s very convenient when you want to keep your baby by you without having to hold them. Whenever I study or eat I sit my little girl in one of these next to me (within arms reach; never leave your baby on a seat without your supervision) and either give her toys or some food.
- Baby Jumper or Walker. If your baby is able to sit unsupported, you can upgrade to a jumper! These are very helpful in preparing your baby for walking and they also keep your baby busy, so another win-win! Once your baby’s knees are strong enough to support their weight, transition to the walker.
- Food. What better way to distract your baby and get them to become more independent than through food! This is the reason why I like Baby Led Weaning. You could start introducing finger foods to your baby and have them gnaw at them, under your supervision, while you work. If your baby is not ready for that, you could also try out these mesh feeders. You just chop up some fruits and put them inside. So your baby gets to nibble on fruits without any choking risk. Also, you could put the fruit into the fridge to get it colder and have it double up as a teether!
- Play Area. Since your baby is becoming more mobile, you might need to set up a safe area where they could freely and safely play. I purchased this portable playard and it has definitely been useful! Parental supervision is required though. At the same time, you can start teaching your baby to be more independent and play alone. Once they do, it will give you a little more freedom to get other things done. If your baby is attached and needs to see you, try bringing baby’s play area close to where you are while always taking safety into account. Since our bassinet is portable and safely bordered, I roll it to my area and just let my little girl sit in there with toys until I get done with what I need to get done.
- Daily Walks. Whereas before walks were occasional, now they are a part of our daily routine. When I get to the point where my baby girl just doesn’t want to do anything but be held and if she’s not ready for a nap we go for a walk. This is something I plan for and I use this time to get in both some bonding playtime and Vitamin D. Oh, and I make sure to exercise too! Use every second!
- Scheduling. I know some moms get their babies on a schedule earlier, however, my baby got into some sort of schedule only recently, so I know every baby is different. Honestly, momma, the best way to use up your time wisely and get the most done with your baby is sticking to some sort of schedule. This requires you to know your baby’s schedule first (the lengths of their naps and approximate intervals between eat-play-sleep-repeat), and then after that, it is all trial and error before you get into a groove. Keep working at it!
How to Get Things Done With Babies
No matter the age, as long as you understand what interests your child at each stage and their routine, you can utilize it to your advantage and make it work for you and your baby. The ultimate goal, if you want to be more productive, is getting your baby to become more independent.
Before we start, I want to first emphasize that, momma, you have to come to terms that there’s no going back to “how it used to be”. You are going to need to adapt to a new normal, and that new normal will be constantly evolving, so take a deep breath and adapt!
Being successful takes time and patience. You will need to figure out your baby every day, so if something doesn’t work, try something else! Most important, remember that every baby is different so what might work for me might not work for you. These are just ideas from my own experiences.
Getting cleaning, cooking, and laundry done every day can be exhausting, now add a baby to the picture and you can get burnt-out real quick!
Here are some ways I get things done with my baby…
- Use a swing or rocker. If your baby will lay in one, take advantage of it! Finish as much as you can, in the time that you have. While your two hands are free. If you know the approximate time your baby will last in one, plan out accordingly. I know that it is advised against having your baby spend too much time in a rocker or swing, but this is mostly for extreme cases. My baby wouldn’t last long in either, so in the rare case that she slept for two hours in her swing, I let her and took advantage of it!
- Use an activity gym or playard with lots of toys. Once your baby starts getting more interested in their surroundings, give them a lot of distractions. I mean a lot. The longer you can keep them occupied, the more time you have with two free hands! Here’s a HUGE mom hack your mom friends probably never told you, babies tend to prefer common items (bowls, measuring cups, napkins, etc.) over actual toys! I know, strange. Whatever works, though! So see if anything like this works better than regular toys for your baby!
- Bring them close to where you are. I noticed that my baby girl would have a hard time playing when she wasn’t directly next to me and couldn’t see what I was doing. My solution was to bring her swing or playard to where I was. Sometimes that was right next to the sink when I’d be washing dishes or on the couch when I was folding laundry. When she could sit up but not yet walk I used her bassinet as a “playpen” because it was portable and just big enough for her to sit up in and play with her toys. It worked great! Just make sure your baby is safe! I would also talk with my baby as I did my chores if I found that that helped keep her calm longer.
- Use a carrier. I would sometimes put my baby in her carrier while I vacuumed and swept the floors. Any task that required both mobility and two hands, a carrier was the way to go!
- Clean your room and make your bed as soon as you’re up. This might seem obvious for some (if you already do this, you’re killin’ it), however, if you aren’t, work on it! Tidying up your room as soon as you’re up, is good prep for the rest of the day. Since my bedroom is where my baby and I rest throughout the day (her crib is in our room), having it clean helps me relax.
- Clean the bathrooms as soon as your baby falls asleep. This was the only chore I would do while my baby slept because it was the dirtiest. If my baby was crying, it would be a hassle before I could get to her. So, I would only do it when she would fall asleep and I knew I had at least 30 minutes before she would be up.
- Clean as you go. Try to do little things as you go along with your day and try to clean up after yourself immediately if you can. This means that you should wash the dishes after you eat and wipe the sink after you brush your teeth. Don’t let clutter and mess build up. You’ll make it a lot easier for yourself, in the long run.
- Try to get as much cleaning, dishwashing, laundry, and cooking prep done as you can either in the early morning or late evening. Early mornings work because usually babies are still waking up and so they usually aren’t as fussy. The same goes for late evenings in that babies are usually sleeping by then.
- Learn your baby’s schedule. Don’t feel pressure if you have no idea what that means yet. I promise you, although your baby will continue to change, they also will get a little bit more predictable when it comes to napping, feeding and playing times, more or less. In my case, this actually settled at about 6 months, but every baby is different. That being said, plan your chores around this schedule and you’ll find you get a lot more done.
- Set a sleep schedule for your baby. Once your baby gets old enough (we started at 6 months but you can start as early as 4 months), you can start sleep training. I never understood this until I realized that my baby needed my help when it came to naps. If she would miss her naps or be cut off too early, we would all be having a bad day. So after you learn your baby’s schedule, try to stick by it. Throughout the day we have two naps lasting 2 hours and an awake period of 3-4 hours. Predictability will not only help you schedule your housework, but it will help you plan out the rest of your day accordingly.
Staying active is an essential part of post-partum recovery so finding ways to exercise with your baby is important. I tend to “exercise” once my baby gets too fussy (usually because she is bored) for me to clean.
Some ways I stay active with my baby are…
- Exercise with your baby. There are some neat mommy and me workouts out there, for every part of the body. They could also work as a way to play with your baby, so you’re giving them attention too.
- Take daily stroller walks. Stroller walks have become an established routine as they work dually as a form of exercise for me, I like to walk fast paced, and as the precursor to my baby’s nap. It’s a win-win. Well, and we do enjoy the outdoors so that too. There are also some cool exercises you could do with your stroller if you’re up for it.
- Do extra. Take every opportunity throughout your day to workout. Whether that be fast paced walking or lifting your baby up high a couple of times throughout the day, do everyday tasks with a little extra sweat.
Another task I resort to when my baby is too fussy for me to do chores is to take a shopping trip. Just make sure to feed and change your baby first.
Here are some tips for making your shopping run more smoothly…
- Feed your baby and change their diaper. As mentioned before, if you want to last longer than the ride to the store without any fussiness, get your baby comfortable. That means filling up their tummy and getting them into a clean diaper. If you do have an accident along the way, make sure you have everything you need to change your baby. Same goes for emergency feedings having a nursing cover on hand is essential (I like this one because it doubles up and works as a car seat cover. Also, think about comfort and plan for the unexpected. Here’s what you should pack in your diaper bag and in your emergency car kit.
Diaper bag: 5 Diapers, Wipes, a Pacifier with Clip, a Medicine Kit, a Hat, a Pair of Socks, a Onesie, a Sweater, Pants, a Bottle (if you are formula feeding), a Swaddle or Blanket, a Nursing Cover, a Changing Pad, Disposable Diaper Bags, Hand Sanitizer, Boogie Wipes, Sanitizer Wipes, and the Diaper Bag, itself!
**Optional: A Manual Pump**
Emergency Diaper Kit: 5 Diapers, Wipes, a Onesie, a Sweater, Pants, a Pair of Socks, a Hat, A Shirt for yourself, Spot Cleaners (a Tide Pen or a Clorox Bleach Pen), 2 Swaddles, a Pacifier, and a Cute Bag!
- Have distractions for baby in the car seat. We tend to forget that babies usually can’t entertain themselves, they need some sort of distraction or else they start getting bored and then become fussy. I learned this lesson the hard way. As I already mentioned earlier, this car mirror was a huge lifesaver, however, there are many other cool toys that could attach to your baby’s car seat and I mentioned some above. You just need to keep trying new things because things get old real quick, so having a variety of distractions will save you a lot of headache and frustration.-
- Plan out your trip. Where will you be putting your baby? What will you be buying? Which toys will you be bringing for your baby? Planning ahead is probably the most important step whenever you are going out with your baby. Before you had your baby, probably the only planning you ready through about was what you’d be wearing and doing. With a baby, everything gets a whole lot complicated. How long will you be driving before you get to your destination? Will these distractions last for that amount of time? If not, what will be plan B? Will you be nursing out or feeding your baby formula? How much formula should you bring? Will there be hot water where you are going? Will baby have to nap at some point? Where will your baby be sleeping? If you’re going shopping, will your baby be in the stroller or the shopping cart? What extra things might you need to grab? There’s really so much that goes into going out so keep that in mind!
- Grab some help if you can. If you know you will be out longer than usual or you know your baby needs a lot of attention, grab some help if you have it. Oh and don’t be ashamed to ask either! Sure you can do it on your own, but if you have the option of making things run a little smoother, why not!
- Take advantage of Prime! So worst comes to worst and your baby just hates shopping trips in general, take advantage of the day’s resources! Today everything can be delivered right to your door! You can order groceries (check to see if your city qualifies for the AmazonFresh One-Month Free Trial), purchase baby clothing or stock up on toothpaste (if you try AmazonFamily Free for One-Month you get access to everything Prime along with diaper subscriptions discounts and other coupons! I had no idea!). Whatever you want is right there at your fingertips! If you haven’t tried Amazon Prime, you’re missing out! You get a free trial month, so you could always quit before the trial ends. Students and EBT cardholders get half of the entire Prime membership if they choose to sign up after the first month (for students the trial is 6 months!).
Getting work done, whether it be a job or school work, with a baby is more complicated. Unless your baby is completely independent, you will find yourself struggling to stay focused. As someone who takes online classes, this was extremely important to me personally!
Here’s what I do…
- Work while your baby sleeps. Just like with chores. If you truly want to get focused, your baby needs to be sleeping. Otherwise, any peep your baby makes will distract you. Remember, you are momma bear now, your primary, instinctual priority is taking care of your baby. Unless they are sleeping, you are on constant high alert.
- Get baby preoccupied or distracted. Ok, so it’s understandable, your baby isn’t sleeping all the time. If your baby is awake, your best bet is a distraction. Get your baby preoccupied with all sorts of toys, lights and noise work very well (although they might bother you). Try not to work on large assignments, unless you know your baby will play long enough without getting fussy. Otherwise, you will keep getting interrupted, and ultimately be unproductive. Just something from my own personal experience.
- Get some help. Days when I need to get a class done with zero distractions, I go to my mom’s house. Now I know not everyone is blessed with willing and able candidates to babysit whenever need be. Some of my mom friends take their baby to a trusted daycare while they work from home. You could even hire a Care.com babysitter to watch your baby while you get your work done. They’re right at your home, so you get to keep an eye on them, and you get to focus on your work knowing someone is taking care of your baby’s needs. Do what is best for you, momma, in your own circumstances, these are only suggestions.
Some Tips for Your Sanity
- Write Things Down!
Do not, I repeat, do not try to memorize all your daily tasks and meal plans. You won’t remember! They should call it “Mom Brain” because it doesn’t just end with pregnancy. You already have so much on your mind, and a crying baby will clear your thought processing real quick.
You could either keep a notebook or a planner or use your phone’s notepad, but have a place where you can quickly write down any ideas that you may have throughout the day. Apart from using my phone’s notepad, I also use a reminder app keep track of things like…
– Reminders (appointments and any other types of scheduling)
– To-Dos (general life tasks you think up along the way)
– Shopping Lists (as you’re going through your fridge or skimming through a recipe)
– Work/School/Project Tasks (I write down tasks for my blog and any projects I am working on because I remember things that I have to do at the most random times of the day.)
– Any Critically Important Matters (I like to keep a separate section for anything urgent and important so that it doesn’t get shuffled in between tasks that can wait
Trust me, try to lessen the load on your mind as much as possible. It will help you keep your sanity and actually get things done. You’re not overwhelmed because you’re constantly forgetting things. You can just focus on the task at hand!
- Plan Your Days Out.
Before I delve into this, I want to emphasize that usually, things do not go as planned.. if ever. However, planning out your days gives you a sense of trajectory and it motivates you along the way, you know what you need to get done by the end of the day.
Choose a day to just sit down and get your week sorted out. I created some simple planners for myself, however, any planner could work. The things l like to keep track of are…
– Cleaning Schedule (there are certain tasks I do every day and others that I do only on certain days)
– Meal Plan (I like to schedule my meals in advance so that I could purchase my groceries ahead of time [which can save you loads of money!] and also plan my daily prep beforehand. It could also help a lot if you are trying to lose weight and diet! Prevent any impulse eating!)
– Daily Exercising (I am the type that won’t exercise until I have planned out my routines for every day. Once it is written down, all that it is for me then is a check off list. Less thinking and more doing. It is how I got my bum back in shape. DO what works for you.
– Spiritual Commitments (I like to set goals when it comes to studying the Bible and prayer. I have a hard completing both otherwise. Setting them also gives me more motivation to get up earlier in the morning because that is the best time to get those tasks completed. I believe in starting your day right and then everything else will follow, so this is “that right” for me.)
– Daily Work/School Commitments (Planning your work is much easier if you have a consistent position like a class or work shift. However, setting daily goals for every day is very helpful, especially when you need to remind yourself that you are getting things done.
- Be Realistic.
This goes hand in hand with planning. Don’t set unachievable goals. You are just setting yourself up for failure, disappointment, and discouragement. I would even advise lowering the bar because you cannot control the unexpected (and trust me, there’s a lot of that with a baby!). Setting realistic and even easy goals will give you a sense of accomplishment, and you can always up your pace once you start getting the hang of things.
- Give Yourself a Break.
In the most difficult of days, when it feels like I get absolutely nothing done, I have to remind myself of what is most important. Actually, my husband helps me with this one.
Being mom is the most important task, and you got that done.
Life is unpredictable, so when you feel like you’ve wasted a day. Remember that nursing, changing diapers, entertaining, and getting your baby to sleep also count as something you got done. So give yourself a break and get ready for the next day!
Becoming a mom really does change your life. Now you have another human being who is incredibly dependent on you and on whom your productivity is dependent upon. Now, in order to get what you want done, you have to be more strategic! It is all trial and error since every baby is different. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you get things a little more figured out!.
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