When my mom friends told me taking care of a newborn would be time consuming, I didn’t realize how much of an understatement that was- that it would take up about 12 hours in a 24 hour day (when you do just the basics- feeding, changing, burping, getting them to bed, dealing with a gassy stomach, etc.). When I did that math when my little lady was about one-month old, it kind of blew my mind.
Right around that one-month mark, after calculating that at 12 hours spent with the baby each day, plus my average of 6 hours of sleep time each night, I was left with just 6 hours left each day.
Just 6 hours each day to do everything else.
That’s the amount of time I have left to work, eat, see my husband when he gets home from work, buy diaper rash cream on Amazon, Google whatever baby crisis is happening, maintain some sort of contact with the outside world (like texting friends), and maybe even change out of my sweats into something different for the day.
After all this hit me, and after feeling like I couldn’t get ahead with my work, I became more strategic with how I did things.
Granted, I haven’t had a maternity leave during these early weeks (no complaining- I have an awesome job, but it can be time consuming!), so I’ve been working 20-30 hours a week without a break (and taking two faculty development classes online, because I kind of wanted to prove something to myself, I guess) and had to figure all this out for survival’s sake. However, I know there are other working moms, or even stay at home moms who are incredibly busy, who could use some of these shortcuts, so here you go!
- Go to bed early & be willing to sacrifice a little bit more sleep to get an early start in the morning. I know, you’ve probably already sacrificed the max amount of sleep that you want to, but for me a little extra productivity is worth a little less sleep. I’ve been trying to get us all ready for bed about two hours earlier than I typically would like to, that way if I shave off some sleep time in the morning to get an earlier start (like 10 or 11 am- don’t worry, I’m not that ambitious with a 7 week old), I don’t feel it quite as much. I also feel like I then have a chance to build up better momentum to get things done. (Note: If baby won’t go to bed, give dad a pacifier and bottle and have him take over so you can pass out by 10 pm.)
- Do whatever you can to get baby to sleep faster, or at least find something to occupy her so you can work. I had to experiment with a few things (and I’m still experimenting). The small bassinet she would nap in on the couch in my office left her too fussy to sleep for more than an hour at a time, then the mamaroo worked like magic for a few days so I could work for 3 hour stretches during the day, but it wasn’t nearly as effective a few days later (like most things do with a new baby). Currently, a baby carrier works like a charm to keep her close to mom and keep her content (and normally asleep- like right now) while I’m at my laptop grading papers or writing blog posts.
- Use feeding time as hour long breaks to recharge for the next work session, as valuable time for baby, and/or keep working at your laptop while she eats. Depending on what I need to accomplish for the day, I might watch Netflix to take a mental break from working, read an ebook out loud to my little lady, play music for her development, or have her eat while she’s in her baby carrier so I can keep working away (it doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s a huge time saver!).
- Keep snacks next to the laptop. Most people would probably give the opposite advice so that you don’t eat all day long, but I suggest getting the portions you think you’ll need of water, trail mix, fruit, etc. and keep it by your laptop. I tell myself it has to last me until 6 pm when my husband comes home. At the that point I can hand the baby to him, eat some real food, and spend some quality time chatting with him before baby needs us and/or before I need to get back to work.
It may not sound ideal, but so far so good! For you busy work-from-home moms, it’s all about trial and error (as I’m sure you know), so keep powering through. You’ve got this!
Happy living 🙂