How to Get Things Done With A Newborn
If you've been keeping up with our family, you'll know we just had a new addition to our family! Baby #3 was born a little over two weeks ago and so I have newborn thoughts on the brain. Especially in regards to getting things done.
I had a repeat c-section so healing takes awhile and there were a lot of restrictions about how much I was allowed to do. Thankfully we've had a ton of help from family and friends, but the biggest problem was me! I had such a hard time sitting still and not helping get things done. Out of habit I just kept leaping to solve every problem or automatically answering the needs of everyone else.
I knew all the typical new baby advice like...
"You don't need to get things done. Just enjoy your newborn."
"You should be napping all day with your little one. Let yourself heal."
"Ask for help. This is a big adjustment."
But still I found myself cleaning and doing the dishes my first night home from the hospital (Bad idea, duh).
The comments above are absolutely true and great advice especially during the first few days and weeks. But I know life doesn't just stop when you have a baby.
Maybe you have other little ones that need your attention and you don't have a lot of extra help. Maybe your job doesn't allow you to take much time off. Maybe you just NEED to be able to get up and clean something for your own sanity haha.
So here are a few quick tips for those of you who just have to get moving...
Make Sure You Have Enough Energy First
I know what it's like to feel like you have enough energy for an activity and then to pay for it later with exhaustion or extra pain. (Um, clean dishes so weren't worth it!) Start slowly and make sure you're in good shape before attempting to do much. I noticed a huge difference in my mood and energy level when I was drinking water, taking my prenatal vitamin and eating well. I also tried to get in at least a 20 minute nap in on the active days to keep from crashing and burning.
Break Jobs Up Into Stages
If you're like me, this is really tough! The perfectionist in me wants things done right and all the way finished before moving on to something else. But having a newborn in the house means a lot of interruptions. Here's an example - Do laundry in 5-minute stages: 1) Pick up all clothes off the floor ::break:: 2) Sort dirty and clean ::break:: 3) Sort dirty pile into loads and throw one in the wash ::break:: 4) Fold clean pile ::break::5) Take folded stacks to the right room ::break:: 6) Put them away. Instead of spending a solid hour on a job, breaking it up allows you to stop and take care of baby when you need to.
Free Your Arms
Half the problem of getting nothing done is that your arms are full. (This is such a great problem to have and seriously we should soak up every moment because they grow fast!) But I know arms do get tired. So if you need a few breaks during the day and don't have an extra set of hands around to hold baby, use some handy tools. Our little ones always loved rotating between a baby swing by a sunny window, a bouncy chair by twinkle lights or on a simple blanket with sweet music. Even the carseat carrier is handy if you don't have a bouncy chair. I've never tried one of those baby wraps to carry them around without using your arms, but that would be awesome too. Use what tools you have to keep them nearby when they can't always be in your arms.
Use Feeding Time
Every few hours you'll find yourself feeding baby without the ability to do much else. This is some of the best bonding time and the best excuse to just sit and stare at all that baby cuteness. But this can also be a useful time to do simple one-handed tasks on your devices like checking important messages or emails on your phone, reading a book for your business on Kindle or listening to a podcast on your iPod. If your other little ones need attention, you can have them curl up next to you for reading books together.
Sometimes You Just Can't
Every baby is different and you can't always control your situation. This was a huge lesson with our first-born. He has autism and from the time he was just a few days old, he had tummy, sensory and sleep issues. He screamed pretty regularly for the first two months, needed to be constantly in motion and only slept for 20-30 minutes at a time. Plus most of our family and friends lived 5 hours away at the time. So we were just kind of making it through each day as best we could. The house was never clean, phone calls didn't get returned and our bills just barely got mailed in time. And that was OKAY.
It's good to remind ourselves that this period of time is temporary and it goes FAST. So if projects have to get pushed back a few months, it's not the end of the world. We probably won't look back and regret not doing more dishes. But we might look back and wished we had just sat still and listened to those tiny baby sounds a little longer.
Enjoy your sweet newborn!