Before I gave birth, I never realized how difficult it would be to get things done while taking care of a new baby. Of course I couldn’t just leave the poor thing to cry while I did household chores and she was very needy, always wanting to nurse and be held. I had no one else to help me, so I had to quickly find a way to get things done and have close contact with my baby.
The most important thing you’ll need is a sling baby carrier so that you can strap the baby to your body. This will keep your baby happy by providing constant close contact and it will free up your hands so you can get some work done. There are all kinds of baby carriers on the market, but some are far better than others.
For a newborn baby, I highly suggest getting a wrap. They are the most comfortable for mama and a newborn. There are all different brands, but go with one that is inexpensive. There’s nothing special to a wrap. It’s simply one long strip of cloth. You can make your own for very cheap by following these simple instructions: http://www.mamatoto.org/?tabid=198
There are all kinds of ways you can use your wrap. Some of them take a few practice tries before you get it right. I found that back carries are easiest for doing chores, but a little difficult to get the baby into and out of without help unless you have a lot of practice. My favorite wrap was the front cross cradle carry which kept the baby high enough for me to do dishes in the sink by hand. Check out this great website to learn how to tie your wrap: http://www.wrapyourbaby.com
Second, if you can get help, do so. After having a baby, most mothers find that friends, family, and even neighbors may be offering help. Always accept. You just had a baby, so don’t feel bad about accepting. They want to help! If you can get someone else to hold the baby for you while you get chores done then take advantage of the opportunity whenever possible. Other people will be delighted to hold your baby for you while you get something done and if you are really lucky, the will let you rest and hold the baby while they tackle the chores for you.
If your baby is a heavy sleeper, then naptime can be a great time to get a little cleaning done. Everyone told me to sleep when my baby slept, but she was a great sleeper and slept about 20 hours a day and straight through the night. I never needed naps, so I was able to use naptime for chores.
If you do chores during naptime, keep the baby near you so that you do not have to wait until the baby cries once it wakes to go to it. It is an easy thing to lay your baby in a bassinet or on a pad on the floor in whatever room you happen to be cleaning in.
Do you have a colicky baby or a baby who is difficult to get to sleep? Try vacuuming your baby to sleep. Save that chore for when it’s bedtime, strap your baby on in the wrap or sling and vacuum your house. Many babies are soothed to sleep by the white noise of the vacuum. Even if it doesn’t work, the white noise can drown out the sound of your baby’s cries a little, so you can cuddle your baby close to you to soothe it and save yourself just a little bit of stress in the meantime. You’ll be getting two things done at once!
Even without a carrier, you can get your floors clean and rock your baby at the same time. I like to use vinegar to clean my floors. Just put some white vinegar or cleaner into a spray bottle. While holding your baby with one arm, spray the cleaner all over your floor. Then lay a towel on the floor, put both feet on it and shuffle back and forth across the floor while you rock your baby, using your feet to scoot the towel around. When you are done all you have to do is drop the towel into the laundry hamper or the washing machine. Easy!
Save time doing chores by doing it before it becomes a problem. There are lots of things you can do in the moment that will save you time on a chore later. When you finish eating, wash your dish immediately. Don’t pile them up in the sink to do later. They might end up sitting for days. Keep a spray bottle next to the sink with a mixture of dish soap and water. Simply spray the dish with the mixture, wipe clean, rinse, and place in the drying rack.
When you take your clothes off, turn them right side out and always put them directly into the hamper. When your clothes finish drying, take them out of the dryer immediately and you won’t have to iron them. When you leave a room, always take something with you back to the room that it belongs in. This way, you are always picking up and cleaning as you go rather than doing one big job all at once.
Cooking can take a lot of time and effort, so we make large meals and then store them in the refrigerator to reheat and eat the rest of the week. Dishes like simple casseroles, meatloaf, steamed vegetables, salad, and spaghetti are great for this. Make two or three one night and you’ll have meals ready to heat for the rest of the week.
My final piece of advice is to breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding has saved me so much time, hassle, and pain. I have no bottles to clean, no formula to mix or heat. My milk is ready whenever I need it at a second’s notice. I never lose sleep from having to get up to make a bottle and feed the baby at night. I don’t even have to get out of bed!
Best of all, breastfeeding time becomes my special time to get what I want done. I snuggle my baby against me on a Boppy nursing pillow while I sit and nurse her and I can do all kinds of things. I can enjoy a meal or read a book. I can knit or sew. Most often, I work on the computer and surf the internet hands-free while I nurse my baby. Nursing is the only way I have ever been able to get time to myself and it makes me feel great to give my baby the best nutritional start in life.