As all new moms know, it can be next to impossible during those first few crazy weeks, months, or (let's face it) even years to find time to get everything done. Some days find you super productive, and you somehow manage to wash the dishes, balance your checkbook, respond to a thousand emails, and maybe even put on mascara all during one nap. On other days, you look up at 7 p.m. and realize that you haven't even brushed your teeth yet. As a new mom who is trying to juggle a five month old, a freelance writing career, and my sanity, I've been collecting tips from friends on how to get more done during the day while keeping the baby (and myself) happy. Here are my most useful multitasking tips; I hope they buy you a few extra minutes today!
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1) Wear Your Baby Out
During the first several weeks when it seems like your baby will sleep nowhere other than nestled against your warm body, using a ring sling to wear her around the house will keep your hands free to get things done while she naps. Dishes, laundry, emails, and even thank you cards are all do-able while wearing the baby in a sling. Once she is a bit older and more interested in the world around her, strap the baby into a front-facing carrier and do chores together! If you narrate animatedly, she's likely to find chopping vegetables, washing dishes, and even running errands fascinating. Of course, wearing your baby when heading out for a walk is also a great way for you to get some exercise and fresh air while soothing a fussy baby at the same time.
2) Turn Bath Time Into Your Time
If it's one of those days when you haven't found time to shower and it's almost the baby's bedtime, fill the tub with warm water and use your baby's body wash (instead of harsher adult soaps) to make a soothing bubble bath for both of you! You'll both be able to relax and get clean, and it'll be so much fun to see your baby explore the water and the bubbles. If you have an opportunity to bathe sans baby, treat yourself to some yummy scented body scrubs or bath oils that will help you feel like you've escaped to a spa without having to travel (or pay for) it.
3) Embrace Nature
No matter what type of birth experience you want, educate yourself while you're still pregnant so that you can make informed, empowered choices. An un-medicated birth will most likely lead to a faster recovery so that you'll be back on your feet and functioning at least semi-normally before long. Another important way to go au natural is to breastfeed your baby! Putting the baby to your breast is so much faster and easier (not to mention healthier for both of you) than fussing with bottles and formula. Yes, the first several weeks will probably be hard, but once you get over the major obstacles, breastfeeding is an amazingly efficient way to feed your little one. Some moms even manage to read emails or talk on the phone while nursing, but I think that it's a nice time to just zone out and tune in to your baby.
4) Embrace Technology
Computers, the Internet, and blackberries can all be huge helps for busy moms. Of course you should be focused on your baby, but it's easy to scroll through emails on your blackberry while holding a resting infant in your arms or on your lap. You can also try putting the phone on speaker and catching up with friends and family while nursing or pushing the baby in a stroller. Online shopping is another fantastic way to get things done quickly; how else could you buy new nursing bras from Target, next week's groceries, and a gift for your cousin's baby shower all during one nap? It's also a good idea to spend a few minutes now setting up systems that will save you time later. Try creating an email "group" for your new mommy friends so that you don't have to type in individual emails every time you want to meet up for a walk, or creating an automatic shopping cart on diapers.com or freshdirect.com so that diapers and groceries show up magically when you need them! When the baby is a bit older (a year or so), you can use technology to entertain her by letting her Skype with grandparents or other far away relatives.
5) Do Story Time all the Time
If you just can't wait to tackle that pile of bills, that inbox full of new messages, or even this morning's paper, simply read them aloud to your baby in the same voice you'd use for Good Night Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She won't know the difference. You can also keep her engaged while you write checks or respond to emails by explaining what you're doing and reading them to her. (You might catch a few typos this way, too!)
6) Go Easy On Yourself
One last tip - lower your expectations. You're not going to get it all done or even get close to as much as you used to get done, and that's okay. Make a rule for yourself that you just have to get one thing done a day, whether that's one load of laundry or even one thank you note! It's so easy to get overwhelmed and feel like everything has to get done now, but most of it really can wait. Set clear priorities and don't beat yourself up if on some days you don't even get to that one thing. This isn't exactly a time saving tip, but staying calm and focused today will help you accomplish more tomorrow.
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