Some of the most frequent sentiments that I hear from clients, family members, and friends are the following: How can I do it? How is it possible to organize my day? Be productive? Prepare for my job outside the home? What will I have to sacrifice? What can I expect? Get the laundry done?Before children I was so organized and productive, now I simply feel overwhelmed. I can’t imagine finding the time to do the housework, job prep, and still have time for my child. I can’t even fathom how I’ll get ready, get my baby ready, and get to work…
Where to begin? Baby Steps!
It is important to set attainable goals for yourself in a time limited fashion. Try not to spend countless hours in the process of trying to determine how life will look in the next year, couple of years, etc. Focus on smaller time frames. For example, think about what you need to accomplish in this week or this day. Make lists, and stick to them!
At the very early stages of parenthood, acceptable and appropriate goals should be things like: getting some rest, doing the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and so on. In the modern age of “productivity”, these somewhat mundane tasks may not feel like accomplishments. But they truly are! Being able to manage the little, everyday chores is part of the foundation for building a home and successfully managing a family and all the demands that accompany.
It’s important to try to take a step back, and not put too much pressure on yourself. Productivity as a new parent is going to look a bit different than it did before children. I am not shy to admit that I often stop and think about what I would have been doing pre-children on a specific weekend day, and wonder how I got to the present moment. This moment is filled with some longing for the “good-old-days”, but mostly for the current day-to-day tasks that now bring feelings of happiness and accomplishment. Let’s face it, the grass is always greener!
Once you are able to truly master these small goals that you have set for yourself, you are ready to add to the list and start to do even more! Get creative with your time and its management. Start thinking about time-saving ways to accomplish most of what you used to do before children.
6 Ways to Organize Your Day with Baby
- Utilize naptime. If you’ve gotten some rest (we’re not talking about the first month or two post-partum!), you can use naptime as an excellent way to get some things done around the house. And, if you have the luxury to do so, naptime can also be a wonderful time to stop, sit down, and actually relax for a few minutes in quiet! Utilizing your baby’s daytime sleep times can also be a wonderful way to take the time to prepare a few meals as well.
- Take advantage of bedtime. Once your baby is a bit older and a reasonable bedtime is established (usually somewhere between 630-830pm depending on the family), the hours between baby’s bedtime and your bedtime are also useful for doing housework, prep work for the next workday, and reconnecting with your partner.
- Take the time to do meal preparation and planning. Every weekday evening I prepare lunches, sometimes snacks, and as much breakfast as I can…this way, I end up saving myself the extra time in the morning. I place cereal in bowls, cover them, get the spoons out, etc. Seems kind of silly, but I’ve found these extra preparations to be an absolute lifesaver for getting out the door and to preschool in the mornings. It’s also a great idea to invest in a menu white board . This will let you plan out meals for the week, cutting down on the number of shopping trips, and the ambiguity about what you’re going to have for dinner…especially in the evening hours when everyone is hungry and tired! If you can, spend some time at night or on the weekends preparing some meals to freeze, so that you can just reheat and eat.
- Lay out your clothes the night before. Lay out your children’s clothes (with their input when age appropriate), and your own clothes before bedtime. This will save you a lot of frustration and time in the mornings. I even like to shower the night before, so that I can get up, wash my face, throw on my clothes and go!
- Schedule in time to do work preparation if necessary. Taking the time to formally carve in and write down the time that you will be unavailable because you are doing preparation for work is essential, if you need to work at home. This means that your partner (or someone else) is on baby-duty, and that you do not spend the time emailing, on Facebook, or making personal phone calls. Often, scheduling this time forces you to be more productive.
- Actually schedule in self-care activities, R and R, and dates with your partner. As with scheduling in time to do work prep, you need to do the same for things like exercise, a massage, a haircut, dates with your partner, etc. Showing your child that making time for yourself is important. It sets a great example of self-worth. And, getting in some much deserved rest and relaxation is crucial for every parent.
At the end of most days as a parent, we all feel exhausted. Most of us just want to plop down on the couch with a cup or tea (or a glass of wine!), and just relax, veg, do nothing for the evening. Give into this indulgence, but only for a few minutes! If you want to make the next day easier, and really run a well-oiled ship, a little bit of planning goes a really long way. Make sure that you take the necessary time to organize your day, you will thank yourself tomorrow!