Those first few months with a newborn can be some of the most challenging. Learn how to get things done with a baby, whether at home or out and about.
I’m going to do it today, I thought. My husband had just gone back to work and I was alone with my first born. I had no idea how I’d get anything done with the baby. I could barely find time to load the dishwasher, much less take the baby out for an errand. Still…
I’m going to drive to the library, I challenged myself. I had books to return, and I figured it’s about time I figured out how to run errands even with my baby in tow.
I drove to the library, parked the car and lugged the stroller out of the trunk. Then, to my frustration, I couldn’t figure out how to unfold the darn thing. Without the stroller, I’d need to carry the baby around the library with both arms to cradle his wobbly head. I wouldn’t be able to carry the books, or even open the door.
I felt frantic in my predicament but more disappointed in myself as I wondered, How do you get anything done with a baby?
How to get things done with a baby
Maybe this is typical of first time moms. We feel like we can’t get anything done, whether out and about or even in our own homes. The thought of being home all day with a newborn is scary. We now find ourselves alone doing many of the tasks we’d always had a helping hand with.
If you can relate, don’t worry—you can still get things done with a baby, even if you’re alone. Here’s how:
Do just one thing while the baby naps
If you’re like me, you try to cram everything during the few precious minutes your baby is asleep. Wash the bottles. Fold the laundry. Prep for dinner. And it seems logical: the more you do now, the more free time you have later to relax.
Except here’s the problem: All that “free” time? You’ll still find a way to fill it with even more tasks.
For instance, my baby would finally take a nap, so I’d figure I should get a head start on stocking up the diaper bin and taking out the trash.
When I had taken care of that, I figured I might as well put the pump parts away so I wouldn’t have to deal with them later. And once I finished that, I’d dive right into washing dishes so I’d have it taken care of sooner than later.
Well, with all that done, you’d think I was able to relax the evening away, except… the tasks never stop. I wasted the time I could’ve used to relax in that present moment by trying to make up for more free time in the future. Which of course, never happens.
Instead, do just one thing. However annoying it is to have dishes pile up, deal with it at the next opportunity. Doing it now isn’t going to guarantee you’ll have free time later on. Once you’ve done your one thing, give yourself time to relax, guilt-free.
Bring the baby around the house with you
Just because your baby is immobile, doesn’t mean you’re stuck in one place. If you had seen my home, you would’ve found more than one blanket on the floors of each room. You’d have also seen bouncy seats, cribs, pack and plays and swings, all ready to hold a baby.
If I needed to be in the living room, I already had a blanket and pillow ready to go. His bedroom of course had the crib. Even when I needed to cook in the kitchen, I’d bring the infant seat and place him there.
A baby carrier also frees your arms to do other things while keeping your baby close to you. I relied on the Moby Wrap (affiliate link) which helped free my arms while still holding the baby.
And don’t make the mistake I made and wait until later to give your baby gear a test drive. Give it a go before your baby arrives, and again during those first few days and weeks. Make sure you can fold and unfold the stroller (ahem). Figuring out baby gear when you’re alone isn’t the best feeling in the world.
Ask people to come over to help
This seems obvious but so important that I’m putting it here. Ask friends and family to come over to help. They can watch the baby while you shower and bring you food so it’s one less meal you have to cook. They can even stay home with the baby so you can run an errand.
Don’t feel like you have to entertain, either. Go to your bedroom to take a nap, and don’t bother with offering food or cleaning your home. They’re here to help, not to expect entertainment.
Lower your standards
Though our home never looked magazine-worthy, my husband and I still kept our home clean before we had kids. We checked off weekly chore lists, our carpet was pristine, and everything belonged where it should have.
Enter the baby. The weekly chores list became monthly before it eventually became “whenever we remembered.” The windows weren’t squeaky clean, and the baby clutter made its way in.
Here’s the thing: it’s okay. This is the season of messy homes. You’ll find your groove back at some point. For now, focus on the daily essentials like wiping kitchen counters and washing dishes. Accept that it’s hard right now, and that you’ll have your home in order down the line.
Do small things at a time
The trick with to get things done with a baby is to do little tasks at a time. You may not be able to spend an hour on one task, but you can sneak in five minutes of putting clothes away. Your baby may not nap for five hours each time, but the few hours or even minutes can be all you need to quickly do a task.
Alone time is good for the baby too. We don’t need to play with them 24/7. They can feel overstimulated if we hover over them all the time. Instead, think of the few minutes you’re not directly engaging with your baby as his downtime to process all he’s learning and observing.
When I had my twins, I met a mom at a farmers market who also had twin boys the same age as mine. We were also both about to go back to work after maternity leave around the same time.
We were practically carbon copies of each other, except she marveled, “How do you do it? How do you get out and about with your twins all by yourself?”
You see, while I had brought my twins alone to the market, she had her sister with her. She admitted feeling terrified going by herself. And the funny thing is, I was very much like her in the beginning. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could or would be out and about with their twins all by themselves.
But however scary the thought may be, I challenged myself to do just that. It was hard, especially at first. But then you get that feeling of coming home and thinking, I did it.
Challenge yourself. You’ll see that you can do things that before had seemed impossible. Yes, it’s tough. That first day alone with the baby is exhausting. I still remember bouncing from one baby to another when I was alone with the twins. But, like with any challenge, you think to yourself, Wow, I just did that. And more importantly, I can do that again.
Don’t let your preconceptions hold you back from getting things done with the baby. Invite your sister to help, yes, because it’ll be easier, but don’t think that you can’t do it by yourself, either.
So here’s my pep talk: you can get things done with a baby. Focus on just one thing while the baby naps so you can also pace your tasks. Use and practice your baby gear so you can bring the baby with you. Ask people to help—no shame in that! And challenge yourself a small notch above what you’re used to—you’ll see that you can, in fact, do this.
Even if you’re that mom who cried at the library because she couldn’t unfold a stroller.
It’s hard to get things done with a baby when he’ll only sleep in your arms. If this sounds too familiar, I created a guide just for you! Learn about “How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held” here.
- Baby Must-Haves that Will Make Your Life Easier
- What to Do when Your Baby Needs to Be Entertained Constantly
- 13 Ways to Cope with Newborn Sleep Deprivation
- How to Gently Handle Separation Anxiety in Babies
- Why Babies Need Attention AND Alone Time
Your turn: How do you get anything done with a baby?
Get your baby to sleep
Struggling to get your baby to sleep anywhere else but your arms? Get a free chapter of my guide, "How to Get Your Baby to Sleep without Being Held." Learn the strategies, habits and routines I used to get my babies to sleep.