I remember the day I cried because I saw the basket of clothes that sat on the kitchen table for three days needing to be folded. These things never happened before I had a baby; I got things done, but now my life changed, and I had no idea how to get things done with a baby.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved all the hours and days I spent with my babies. Those are times I cherished, and I left my job to be a stay at home mom.
No matter how much we love being mothers, the reality is that having a baby makes getting anything done complicated. As soon as you sit down to eat, your baby cries, and as soon as you start to vacuum or fill the dishwasher, you hear the inevitable screams coming from the nursery.
I spent so much time wondering how in the world I would ever get things done with a baby. So, I talked to my friends who had kids and asked for advice, and I worked to find what worked for our family.
The ultimate truth is you won’t get tasks done with a baby as easily as you did before you had a child, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive in a new way.
Here’s some of my best tips for being productive around the house with a baby.
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9 Tips to Get Things Done with a Baby
1. Pick The Three Most Important Things Daily
Gone are the days when you could make a monster to-do list and finish it before dinner time. When you have a baby, focus on picking the three most important things you want to complete daily.
Here’s what I do each day.
As I have my coffee, I write down in my notebook the list of things I would like to complete (realistically) that day. Then, I highlight or star the three most important things.
If everything goes crazy and the baby has a bad day, then I’ll feel accomplished if those three tasks get crossed off for the day.
On a good day, my entire list might be completed, but if that doesn’t happen, I don’t feel bad.
2. Lower Your Standards at First
As you adjust to new life with a baby, lowering your standards is a must. Don’t expect to keep a picture-perfect home with a baby or kids in general.
This is a season in life that will pass, but while you’re in this season, understand that your baby’s needs come first. Babies have bad days, and some days, you’ll be exhausted. Cleaning is important, but your mental health is more important.
Embrace this season of messy homes. Focus on essential tasks like wiping down the bathroom, washing clothes (unless you want to be naked) and vacuuming up the crumbs.
3. Develop a Sleep Schedule
Working on a sleep schedule for your infant gives you margins of time when you know your baby will be asleep. Not only does developing a sleep schedule help you ensure your baby has adequate sleep, but you know that you’ll have time alone.
You don’t have to go by the clock; a routine is often the best route.
Trust me, keeping a baby sleep schedule increases your daily productivity and makes you happier overall.
Related: 14 Easy Tips for How to Be a Happy Stay at Home Mom
4. Do One or Two Things When Your Baby Naps
I tried to put all of my tasks that needed to be done into nap times, but I faced two problems.
- Sometimes, my baby refused to lay down for naps, and I ended up holding him while I binged Netflix.
- I tried to do too much and always ended up feeling like a failure when I inevitably was unable to finish my monstrous to-do list.
I set myself up for failure. When your baby is young, nap times are unpredictable. Sometimes, your baby sleeps wonderfully, and getting several things done is possible. Other days, he naps for 20 minutes and calls it good.
I tried to tell myself if I did all the stuff during the day and nap times I could relax and watch my favorite TV shows, but guess what happened?
I never relaxed. The tasks never seem to end, and I felt disappointed every night I went to bed.
Then, I decided to try something – I picked one or two tasks for each nap time. After those are finished, enjoy some free time to yourself. You have time to wash bottles and wipe down the kitchen countertops, or maybe you fold a load of towels and switch the laundry.
Little things add up, and it helps you feel a lot less overwhelmed than you feel if you try to cram everything and never complete all of your list.
5. Focus on Small Tasks
I love days when I have three or four hours to super clean. I put on a podcast or music on my AirPods and clean like a maniac.
That doesn’t happy with a little baby as often.
Instead, small tasks are your bread and butter for keeping your house in manageable order. Don’t discount small tasks; they add up over time. You might be surprised how many little pockets of time you find.
6. Develop a Routine
Having a daily routine or schedule is one of the best ways to get things done with a baby. It increases your productivity and ensures everyone in the house gets what they need.
I know that I start the day with a load of laundry each morning, and I switch it over at lunchtime. I fold clothes after dinner. Each night, I know I have time to myself with my husband, and I also know when the dishwasher gets loaded.
Related: How to Make Your Stay at Home Mom Schedule
7. Wear Your Baby in a Carrier
Some babies prefer to be held, and instead of battling that, I recommend accepting it and wearing your baby in a carrier. Babywearing means you don’t have to be stuck in the same place, and you’re able to get things done around the house.
I have done everything you can think of while wearing a baby around my house. I washed dishes, washed clothes, folded laundry, vacuumed floors, and all the other tasks that need done throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a baby carrier, I have two options I loved.
1. Boba Baby Wrap Carrier
I love the Boba Wrap Carrier for newborns and little babies. You don’t have to tie it, so it doesn’t have a major learning curve. What I loved is that it’s super comfortable to wear around the house when washing dishes and doing other house chores.
2. Lillebaby Complete All Seasons Baby Carrier
When I go places, I prefer a soft structured carrier, and the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons rocks. It offers support for the parent with padded straps and waistband, plus lumbar support for your back. It’s breathable and great for days out shopping.
8. Keep Baby Gear Throughout The House
Another way to get things done with a baby is to bring your baby with you. This is easiest if you have baby gear throughout the house.
In one room, you might keep your baby’s bouncy seat; my son sat in his bouncy seat often while I washed dishes and cooked dinner. He loved watching me move around, and I was close enough to chat with him the entire time.
Keep a baby swing in the living room; this makes it easier to vacuum and pick up. Your baby has his eyes on you all the time.
You also can leave your baby on blankets on the floor; tummy time is so important for infants. If I was close, I laid my baby in my Boppy Nursing Pillow. I did this often while folding clothes in the living room.
Make this part of your daily habit; don’t fit your baby wanting to be with you. Instead, find ways to make it work.
9. Ask for Visitors
Another trick is to ask for visitors. This isn’t something most mothers ask, especially if you’re past the newborn stage. However, needing support and your village never changes.
Tell your friends and family that you need some help and would appreciate people covering over. They can watch your baby while you take shower and work around the house.
I know that most lists of things that people should do when visiting new babies is to help around the house, and I agree with that in the first few weeks.
However, once I’m healed, I enjoy taking care of my house, but I don’t like struggling to find time to do that. I appreciate someone watching my baby so I can get things done, and then I want to chat over some coffee or tea!
It takes time to figure out how to get things done with a baby, but focusing on small tasks and changing your standards is a surefire way to feel productive. Remember, small tasks add up quickly, so don’t set a huge to-do list that is impossible to complete.
How do you get things done with a baby? Drop your favorite tips for mothers in the comments.