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 convinced myself. My husband had just gone back to work. I was alone with my first born, and 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 figure out how to run errands even with my baby in tow.
I parked the car and lugged the stroller out of the trunk. Then, to my frustration, I couldn’t determine how to unfold the darn thing. Without the stroller, I’d need to carry the baby around the library. I would have no way to carry the books since I’d have to cradle the baby’s head with both arms. I wouldn’t even be able to open the door.
And so I called my husband in tears. He talked me through opening the stroller, and I was finally able to unfold and place my baby inside.
Maybe this is typical of first time moms. You feel like you can’t get anything done, whether out and about or even in your own home. The thought of being home all day with your newborn is scary. All the tasks you may have had a helping hand with you suddenly must do on your own.
How to get things done with a baby
Don’t worry—you can still get things done even if you’re alone with the baby. 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 find a way to fill yet even more tasks during that time.
I realized my mistake early on. My baby would finally take a nap, so I’d figure I should get a head start on chores. Things like stocking up the diaper bin and taking out the trash.
When I had taken care of that, I’d think I might as well put the pump parts away so I wouldn’t have to deal with them later. And when I would do even that, I’d dive right into washing the 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 trying to make up for more free time in the future. Which of course, never happened.
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. Then, 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 room. 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 for a baby.
If I needed to be in the living room, I already had a blanket and pillow set up ready to go. Their bedroom of course had the cribs. Even when I needed to cook or prep in the kitchen, I’d bring their infant seats and place them there.
Similarly, use a baby carrier. I used the Moby Wrap (affiliate link) which helped free my arms while still being able to hold 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 so obvious but so important so I’m putting it here. Ask friends and family to come over to help. They can watch the baby while you shower. Bring you food so it’s one less meal you have to cook. 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. Speaking of which…
Lower your standards.
Though our home never looked magazine-worthy, my husband and I still kept our home clean. 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, and then “whenever we remembered.” The windows weren’t squeaky clean, and the baby clutter made its way in.
Here’s the thing: it’s okay. You’ll find your groove back. For now, focus on the daily essentials like wiping kitchen counters and washing dishes. Accept that it’s hard right now, and you’ll have your home in order down the line.
Micro-task, aka do small things at a time.
The trick with getting things done with a baby is to do little things 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.
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 in eye sight with your baby as his downtime. The time when he can process all he’s learning or observe his environment.
I met a mom at a farmers market who also had twins, they were also both boys, and they were the same age as mine. We were both about to go back to work after maternity leave. We were almost 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 kids alone, she had her sister with her. She admitted feeling terrified going by herself. And the funny thing is, I was very much her in the beginning. I couldn’t fathom 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 that feeling of coming home thinking, “I did it,” is amazing.
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 realize, “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, especially because it’ll be much easier. But don’t think that you can’t do it by yourself, either.
Getting things done with a baby is possible. 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 around your home. 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 do this.
Even if you’re that mom who cried on the phone to her husband because she couldn’t unfold a stroller.
One of the challenges of getting things done with a baby is when your baby will 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: What are your tips on getting things done with a baby?
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