It’s safe to say that your potential for productivity plummets with an infant at home. Between breastfeeding every two hours, a baby who mostly wants to be held, and general fussiness, it feels like the days fly by. At the end of the day I look around and I’m like, what did I even do today?
As I shared yesterday, I didn’t go back to my full-time job. Instead, I’m now working part-time (20 hours/week) from home. I’m lucky enough that aside from a work call or two, I’m able to clock in and out anytime and work completely non-traditional hours if I need to. That flexibility has been an incredible blessing. Sometimes it means I’m cranking work out during nap time and sometimes it means that I put in a few hours after the boys go to bed.
Once N went back to work following his paternity leave (here’s why I feel strongly that every dad should get paternity leave), he often returned home to find me a little defeated, unable to complete the seemingly tiny tasks I had set for myself while he was gone. All I needed to do was go to CVS and wash some breast pump parts? And I couldn’t even manage that?!
[Side note: Mamas, can we all agree that washing breast pump parts is without a doubt, what hell would be like? Just an endless supply of dirty breast pump parts. Once we’re done having kids, if I ever find another freaking membrane in my house I will burn it.]
Though N never makes me feel bad about these things (cue kind, playful statements like, “But you kept our kid alive!”), I often put that pressure on myself and felt let down by all I hadn’t accomplished.
Once I started working, I knew I needed to establish some sort of routine (as much as I could, with a kid whose nap schedule changes day by day) and have some strategies in place to be able to get work done now that there were actual expectations of me (besides, you know, keeping Ben alive).
Here are some things that have truly helped me accomplish more each day:
Put the bouncer in the bathroom to shower.
I don’t even wait for nap time for a shower. I feel exponentially better about myself and the course of my day if I’ve put myself together.
Initially I was waiting until Ben napped but I soon realized that if he seemed to hit a stride where he was happy and content, I should take advantage and pop him in the bouncer to shower and get dressed. Sometimes he’s chill and I get 20 minutes. Sometimes he cries and I get 10. Most of the time I have to leave the shower curtain cracked and talk or sing to him the whole time.
No matter what, starting my day off by getting ready as though I were going to work makes me feel more ready to do actual work.
Use multi-functional items to entertain.
The Lovevery Play Gym (received c/o Lovevery) has been a complete game changer for Ben. Originally I thought it would be fantastic for tummy time (which Ben hates) but I now realize that it’s so much more than that. It’s super easy to set up and take down, though we leave it up constantly because he’s in and out of it all day during his waking hours. I’ll lay him down on different parts of it so it’s always something new.
It’s shaped like a polygon (raise your hand if you had to google what a five sided object is called *raises hand*) and each side has a different development zone. Ben is obsessed with the crinkly sound so I usually put his feet down over that zone and he stares at the high contrast ball or bats at the wooden batting ring.
The fact that each area stimulates him differently means it entertains him for a lot longer. Instead of moving between multiple toys and activities (or constantly needing Mama), I move around the hanging items overhead and rotate him around the zones. As N put it, it’s crazy how much he likes this thing.
It also helps that it’s just really beautiful and well-made. The fabrics are thoughtfully chosen and I don’t mind at all that it’s basically the focal point of our living room because it’s not remotely obnoxious (as so many baby items are).
Be completely present during his best times.
Ben has good times of day and some not so good times (hello, hour before bedtime). I know that first thing in the morning, post-AM feed and diaper change, he’s at his very best.
We usually spend the first hour or two of our day on the chaise part of the couch reading books, singing songs, and looking through the cards that came with his Lovevery Play Gym. Lovevery clearly did a ton of research about what babies need for ideal play and stimulation. Ben loves to stare at the black and white patterned cards.
What I’ve found is that the more present and engaged I am with him during his best times, the better his naps are.
Baby-wearing for hands-free snuggles.
Sometimes my guy just wants to be held. It’s beyond sweet that being held by one of us calms him so quickly but can also make things challenging on his clingier days. This is when I usually give baby-wearing a try and wrap him up in our Solly Baby wrap. He has taken many afternoon naps like this while I work standing up at the kitchen counter.
Try all the crazy things and don’t even feel bad about it.
Things I have done to get my baby to nap: blow dried my already dry hair, vacuumed repeatedly, downloaded every possible ambient noise app to our Amazon Echo, tested every baby sound machine app on my phone until I found a sound that matched my blow dryer, done the arms to swing transfer as slowly as possible, and taken him for many two-hour walks in the stroller because apparently the outdoor air is magic sleep juice.
If I know he’s over tired and he needs a nap (and I need to get work done), I have no shame about putting him in his swing and turning on my hair dryer (seriously, it’s the most effective baby soother – a 10-year-old Revlon hair dryer) and watching as he dozes off in minutes.
Some days are still a wash, even if I pull out every trick I’ve got. Some days he plays happily, takes a long nap, and I get a ton of work done, do two loads of laundry, pack N’s lunch for the next day, finish the dishes, run an errand or two, and have dinner ready when N gets home. Those days I feel like superwoman.
So tell me – because this motherhood thing is a total learning process and it’s still new to me – what’s your best secret to getting stuff done with a baby? I genuinely want to hear your craziest tip (come on, I can’t be the only one blow drying her baby to sleep lol). And Moms of two? Or more?! I salute you. I’m sure one is cake in comparison.