Before giving birth to my son, I thought I was a pretty busy person. After a week of mothering a newborn, however, I realized that my prebaby life had been luxuriously languid. From that final push on, there pretty much isn’t a second in your day that isn’t filled with some kind of baby-related task. It’s a good life, but believe me, it’s also a jam-packed one.
So how do you deal with having too much to do and no time to do it? You learn to multitask. Use these tried-and-true mom tricks to make the most out of your day and perhaps actually accomplish something before the sun goes down.
Grab beauty on the go
Mom’s beauty routine is often the first thing that flies out the window post baby. Even if you manage to take a shower and put on makeup—and some days you won’t —you’ll find that the more tedious tasks, such as tweezing your eyebrows and filing your nails, get sorely neglected. Granted, they fall pretty low on the priority list, but that doesn’t mean they have to completely go by the wayside.
Your best bet? Optimizing your time in the car. Toss an emergency beauty bag in the glove box and reach for it when you discover it took a lot less time to get to that new doctor’s office than you anticipated. When you’re sitting shotgun in traffic, waiting on hubby to pump gas, or just scared to turn the car off for fear baby will wake up from that restful nap, flip down your visor and clean up your arches or spend some time babying your hands. (And just ignore the weird looks from the lady parked next to you. She obviously doesn’t have kids.)
Wait with a purpose
Between your little one’s well visits and your postpartum checkups, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time at doctors’ offices in those first few weeks after baby is born. So odds are good that you’ll find yourself sitting in a reception area listening for your name (or your baby’s name) to be called or patiently watching the exam room door awaiting doc’s arrival. With any luck, your tiny guy will be sleeping soundly in his infant seat, and your hands will be free to do other things, like write all those thank you notes that have been burning a hole in your conscience.
Take along a handful of notecards and envelopes, a pen, some stamps and your gift list, and you can knock those puppies out in time that would otherwise be wasted. If you have internet access on your cell phone, this is a great opportunity to catch up on responding to messages from well-wishers. Or use the spare minutes to organize your thoughts by jotting down a grocery, to-do or honey-do list.
Work through the tears
Most babies have a fussy time. If you’re going to be pacing the floors and holding your little one anyway, why not make the most of it? Strap on a front carrier, put on your tennis shoes, and hit the sidewalk. You might not be speed walking, but every little bit helps when it comes to working off the baby weight. Plus, you may find that your baby is happier outdoors. The change of scenery helps soothe some tots, and fussy babies are often more agreeable when snuggled against their moms’ chests.
The exercise is good for your soul too. It’s easy to get frustrated when you can’t find a way to stop baby’s tears, but getting out of the house and doing something productive can make the situation less grating.
Feed your need to unwind
Ask any mom with a baby less than 6 weeks old how she spends most of her time, and you’re almost guaranteed this answer: feeding the baby. You’ll spend many, many hours strapped to your glider, especially if you’re nursing. It is important to spend time connecting with your baby during meals, particularly in the early days. However, if feeding is going well and you’ve done nothing but focus on your little one for the past 24 hours, it’s OK to avert your attention for a bit. Mealtime is a good chance to catch up on your reading or DVR-ed television shows. It’s mindless, sure, but sometimes it’s just what you need when your brain has been going at a whirlwind pace since … well, since you found out you were pregnant.
For the first few months of motherhood, it might seem like the days are running together in a haze of dirty diapers and leaky breasts, but this period will pass all too quickly. Make sure you schedule some downtime to do nothing but love, admire and bond with your bundle of joy. There’s a lot to do when you’re a new parent, but the most important thing is to enjoy your baby and take care of yourself. It might be years before you remember what free time is again, and until then, don’t worry about the small stuff. That laundry will still be there tomorrow, but your baby won’t ever be 10 days old again.