As a brand new mom, our regular responsibilities get put on the backburner as our attention shifts to focusing on caring for our new little one. Hello, new normal!
Caring for our new baby is a wonderful feeling, but it isn't long before we start to feel the weight of our to do list rapidly growing around us. The house needs cleaning, our bills need to be paid, that thing needs fixing, we need to somehow do something to stay nourished and recover postpartum... The list goes on. How in the world are we supposed to get everything tackled?
This is when time management becomes the key to staying on top of day to day life. Below are some of Kelly Nolan's, productivity and time management expert, time management tips for new moms that will help you take advantage of the few spare minutes that you have each day.
Tip #1: Take Advantage of Tech
Let's make peace with the fact that due to sleep deprivation, our brains aren't going to remember all of the things we want or need to do. And that's - okay our brains are tired! Once we make peace with that, we can look outside of ourselves for systems to help us "remember."
I recommend calendaring everything in your phone. That way, you'll get nifty phone alerts reminding you to do xyz when you need to do it.
For example, you could schedule a reminder to call the doctor when the office opens on Monday at 9am, a weekly reminder to restock the diaper bag and changing table, and a daily reminder to give your little one those D drops or enjoy Lactation Booster with your morning tea.
Similarly, when you have a pediatrician checkup, create a reminder to pack your immunization record paper and your health insurance card. Set it for 30 minutes prior to when you'll be leaving for the appointment. Assume your brain won't remember anything, and help out Future You by spoon-feeding her the help she needs.
And, since half the time your alerts will go off when your hands are full of adorable, chubby baby thigh, try an app like Calalarm (sadly, iPhone only) that lets you pick how long to snooze an alert (e.g., 15 minutes, 45 minutes, 2 days).
Tip #2: Embrace Help
Especially during those first couple of weeks, take advantage of services like Instacart if you can swing it (warning: you may fall in love with the service - my daughters almost two, and I'm still obsessed).
Instacart allows you to get fresh food even when you're tethered to your house with a snoozing baby. They may not pick produce as well as you do, but they're huge in terms of saving you time and hassle.
If you can't bring yourself to use Instacart, at the very least splurge on pre-chopped vegetables! Little things like this add up and save time in your busy schedule.
Additionally, if it sounds appealing to you, try childcare. I waited until my daughter was six months old to get any childcare (we live far from family). Looking back, I personally would have gotten help far earlier. Once I got back two days a week to run errands on my own, sleep after a bad night, and work on my business, I felt like a new woman. And I enjoyed my time with my daughter more, too.
Everyone is different, but just know that many of us out there are better mamas when we get some time to ourselves. Being a happy mama is whats best for your little one!
Tip #3: Don't Clean All Day
For the first two months of my daughter's life, I spent the first part of her naps cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. I soon realized that the house reverted back to mess-mode within 10 minutes of her waking up. In doing this, I was essentially wasting my oh-so-limited free time on pointless cleaning!
After that lightbulb moment, I started to let the house stay a wreck until bedtime. This way, I could claim nap time as my own and spend it taking a shower, sleeping, or working on small work projects.
Then, after bedtime, I turned to cleaning with a fun podcast or audible book playing in my ears and, sometimes, a glass of wine in my hand. The result: more enjoyment of my free time during naptime, and more fun cleaning!
Tip #4: Be Prepared for Emergencies
This tip is perhaps a little morbid, but we're believers in being prepared while hoping to never need the knowledge.
You likely took a first aid course when you were pregnant. But, see tip 1: our brains are tired! It's not a bad idea to brush up on how to respond to a worst-case scenario every now and then.
I recommend calendaring on a repeating, monthly basis a time to spend 15 minutes watching a CPR and choking YouTube video. Select a video created by a reputable hospital, and save the link to the calendar invite to avoid having to look it up each time. Remember to update the chosen video over time as your little one grows. Again, a little dark, but better to be prepared!
Also, speaking of preparing for emergencies, keep a few extra diapers, wipes, and baby clothes in the car! Throw in an extra outfit for yourself as well, just in case.
Tip #5: Set Realistic Expectations
In those first months (basically until you're down to 0-1 nighttime wakeups), lower your expectations about what you can accomplish in a day. This is so difficult for those of us who used to go-go-go before our baby was born, but know that this is only a season. You'll get back to rocking your schedule in time.
At first, pick only 1-2 small tasks to try to get done in a day. Better to be pleasantly surprised by what you get done than defeated by unrealistic expectations.
As naps become more consistent, I recommend calendaring nap times on a repeating basis in your calendar. Then, layer over those naps with things you would like to do, like sleeping, showering, cooking, calling the doctor, or working on something for your business. Obviously, nap times will shift or sometimes be cut short, but having a somewhat realistic game plan will help you get the most out of your you-time.
Start small and build as you and your baby get more consistent sleep. For now, your young baby isn't the only one who needs you to be gentle and patient.
Even as the Super Mama that you are, you can't do everything. Nobody can! It's impossible. Go easy on yourself and don't beat yourself up. There will be days when the house is a mess, there are a million and five things to do, and you feel overwhelmed. That's normal, and it's okay. You're doing a fantastic job.
About the Author | Kelly Nolan
Kelly Nolan is an attorney-turned-time-management-strategist who empowers overwhelmed women to get clear and effective with their time to live a life that lights them up. Download her free guide on three things you can calendar today to reduce your stress here.