Disclaimer: This is not a list of 5 easy ways to get your newborn to sleep through the night. Or a pro/con list of cloth diapers vs. disposable. Or the best way to wean. I hope my personal hubris is not great enough to presume that I have the answers to these or other parenting questions or debates after 11 months of parenting.
This is, rather, a list of mostly simple things I have learned or changed in my personal routine, things that I have found helpful in maintaining sanity while home alone with a baby. It is not exhaustive, not for everyone, and I most certainly have much more to learn. Some of these things I picked up from watching my mom. Some I fell into or read about. I’m sure none are new or original.
Everyone’s household runs differently. There are different tiers of importance for household or personal daily routines, and times of life change these. I had just over a year to figure out a semblance of a married routine before our firstborn arrived, and she shook all preconceived ideas of homemaking around and spat them up. Often. Projectile. Anyways, I would say one of our highest household tiers the past 11 months has been food. My life revolves around it. Whether it’s remembering what I last fed Katelyn, or when she was nursed, or what perishables we’re running out of, or running back to the grocery store for forgotten items, or coming up with next week’s meal plan, or meeting Peter on campus for lunch…you get the picture. By the time I’ve cleaned up lunch, it’s almost time to think about dinner.
One thing that has helped me is cleaning up as soon as that meal is over. No sitting down until the dishes are clean and/or put away. That way you have a fresh start when the next meal time strikes.
Go to bed with a (mostly) clean kitchen. Nothing says good morning like a cup of coffee and an empty sink.
Some women may prefer having a clear table for part of the day more than this, but I try and set the table for dinner once it’s cleared of lunch. When everything is coming together on the stove and oven for dinner and I have a baby balancing herself on my legs or crawling over my feet, bringing glassware to the table is one less hurdle to jump over before mealtime.
Make the bed. Every morning. Early. As soon as you can after getting out of it early. This one I learned from my mom. No matter how much of a wreck your house may be the rest of the day, at least you know that you have a made bed to climb into at the end of it.
Shower as much as you did before children. I know, that is crazy talk. But that has been one of the most important things for me in feeling “normal”. Get up early so your husband can watch the baby for a minute. Bring the bouncer seat into the bathroom with you. Let the baby cry for three minutes in his/her crib (they’ll be just fine). Whatever it takes, feel clean and ready to meet the day. Bonus points for throwing some quick make-up on or pulling your hair back. You’ll feel more productive.
Have one place for papers. This includes cards to respond to, paper bills, coupons, whatever. As I cleaned throughout the day and was distracted by a sudden scream or cough or phone ring, I would sometimes put papers in places that I would not remember for months to come. (Baby brain doesn’t help with this.) This may change out of necessity of sheer volume of papers in the future, but for now having one go-to place works so much better for me.
In a small apartment even a small amount of toys or books can look like a crazy mess. I try not to stress too much about it throughout the day and have two designated clean up times. One is lunchtime when she’s in her high chair eating finger foods (on the flip-side, a small apartment is convenient because I can keep an eye on her from almost all angles while cleaning), and right before Daddy comes home.
Do you have any tips or things that have worked well for you and your routine?