I swear, some days I look up at the clock and think, “how is it already 5pm?!” I’m still in my robe with no makeup on, the house is a mess and everything I wanted to get done that day just didn’t happen. Oh, and dinner? Don’t even ask—it’ll be another takeout night.
The first few months of Owen’s life looked a whole lot like that, but I’ve slowly been learning how to better manage my time each day so that I get more done and feel more productive. For someone like me, getting stuff done really keeps me stress low! Here are some of my tips for better managing your time with a baby.
Get on a Schedule
Some mamas can really go with the flow, feed their baby on command and not have a care in the world. I am not that mama. I know myself and I easily get stressed and having no routine to follow each day is pretty much my worst nightmare.
So, if you’re anything like me, I highly recommend getting your baby on some sort of schedule! I shared Owen’s schedule when he was 9 weeks old in this post if you’re curious. I need to do another post on his current schedule because it has changed so much! But anyway, getting him on a schedule was the best thing I did. His naps are far more predictable, he goes down at the same time every night, sleeps well, and it just makes our days run so much more smoothly!
Silence your Phone
When you’re getting work or anything that requires focus, turn your phone on silent and turn it upside down. With every app sending notifications, text messages coming in and email alerts, your phone can quickly turn into an serious distraction. I’m guilty of scrolling through Instagram for way too long!
Check Email Less Often
Before I had Owen, I always kept my email open and checked it probably every 30 minutes. Nothing can de-rail your productivity like checking email. Setting specific times and time limits to check emails will ensure that you keep your inbox at a minimum, but also stay on task the rest of the day.
Typically I would say that multi-tasking is counterproductive, but I have found that there’s a good use for it! I have to walk Oliver in the afternoon and there’s often times where I also need to pick up diapers, drop off a package or do a little shopping because Owen has outgrown his pajamas (again). Most of the shops around us are dog-friendly, so I just pop in during our walk and when I’m home, I can check both things off my list!
Set Aside Days for Specific Tasks
This has been a game-changer for me! Especially when it comes to household tasks. Some days I wake up and I have a lot of work to do, but also a mountain of laundry. Sometimes I struggle to prioritize and just tackle my tasks, and then I end up not doing either.
I decided that one day a week would be dedicated to home stuff. Things like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cleaning, a trip to the grocery or a Target run. If I have extra time in the day and want to get some of my work done—great! But if not, I don’t worry about it. I also have other days set aside for work!
We decided to hire help twice a week so I could actually get some work done. Before Owen’s arrival, I thought I would be able to work during naps and at night. HA! Who was I kidding?! Obviously, hiring help, whether it’s childcare or housekeeper is an additional cost, but for us it’s been so worth it.
Our nanny comes on Mondays and Fridays from 9-1. It’s not a lot of time, but I’m always surprised by how much work I can actually knock out in those four hours. Just being able to focus without worrying about Owen for a few hours lets me do what I love! Then come home and be a better mama to him because I’m not stressing out about when I’m going to get stuff done.
Keep Your Diaper Bag Stocked
It takes so much longer to get out the door these days, but one thing that’s made it faster is having my diaper bag stocked at all times. I always have diapers, wipes, a pacifier, burp cloth and an extra outfit—just in case! Right before we go, I throw in a bottle of milk or formula if I’m running low. You never want to be stuck somewhere and have no food for your baby!
We also keep our stroller in our car trunk so I don’t have to add it to the car every single time we go out!
Use Nap Times Efficiently
I know, naps aren’t always a sure thing, but I can almost always count on one good morning nap from around 8:50-10:30am and one good afternoon one, from 5:30-6:30pm. Since he almost never wakes early from those naps, that’s when I work on things that require focus! Like responding to emails or writing, or doing my taxes (ugh!).
If you read yesterday’s post, you might remember that I’m trying to listen to my heart more. One thing I’ve been wanting to find time for is mediating and yoga, so I’m now allowing that first nap to be “me” time. Somedays I want to write, other days I do yoga and meditate and other days I just take a hot shower in peace. Knowing that time is for me to do something for myself feels like such a treat and also starts my day off on a great note!
Let Go of Expectations
When all else fails, and it often will, just let it go. Take a deep breathe. Remember, this phase of your baby’s life isn’t forever. And I hate to break it to you, they don’t care about your work schedule or to-do list!
Save any extra things for after they go down for the evening or set aside an hour or two on the weekend and go to a coffee shop, or hide in your room while someone else takes care of baby! Knowing you won’t have to jump up to deal with them if they wake up early or cry will allow you to actually focus and get stuff done.
Okay, your turn! What tips do you have for managing time as a mama?!