Adjusting to a new baby can be difficult, especially if you’re a first time mom and exclusively breastfeeding. There are so many things that need done around the house, but it’s very difficult to get them done if you’re tied down with a nursing or cranky baby (and nursing on demand can make scheduling very hard!). It was an immense struggle for me, and I found myself running out of time.
With the help of Pater (a self-acclaimed time management expert), we created what we call the Baby-Mood Stoplight To-Do List. Essentially, it has four categories, each denoting a different baby mood: “Elsewhere Baby” for occasions when the baby is napping in the crib or being watched by someone else, “Happy Baby” for times when the baby can entertain herself with me nearby, “Short-leash Baby” for instances where the baby is only happy when I’m holding them or right next to them, and “Nursing Baby” for when baby requires nearly my full attention or I’m tied down with nursing. Note that these moods require varying degrees of attention. I wrote down a list of the things I usually wanted to get done in a day (but kept it very general), then I divided them into categories based on the level of attention it required.
Here’s what my Stoplight To-Do List looks like (asterisks denote tasks that can be done with one hand, because multitasking while holding the baby is sometimes necessary):
When baby is napping in the crib (rare) or being watched by Pater, I tackle the list in green. If baby is nursing, I tackle the list in red. Using “Happy Baby” time, for example, to plan a grocery list or check Twitter is not a wise use of my time, because I know that “Nursing Baby” is inevitable and constitutes several hours of my day. Thus, I only focus on tasks listed under “Happy Baby” when baby is happy, and refrain from “Short-leash Baby” tasks when someone else is watching the baby. However, if I accomplish all the tasks in the “Happy Baby” category and the baby is still happy, I then get a jump on the “Short-leash Baby” tasks.
The goal here is to use my time as wisely as possible to accomplish tasks in an orderly manner, enabling me to get all my daily duties accomplished each day plus spend time on a couple hobbies (work-life balance is essential!). I’ve found that this helps me stay better organized and be more productive. Note that this method needs significant adjustment once the second baby comes along, since you’ll be catering to multiple needs at once that can’t be as neatly categorized as they can with just one baby. However, I found it really helped me to adjust to life as a mother.
Next up: read about preparing for life as a stay-at-home mother to make sure you're ready when the time comes! (coming soon)
What have you tried that helps you manage your time as a first-time or nursing mother?