Are you finding yourself pulling your hair out at the end of the day because you don’t know where the time went and you didn’t accomplish at all what you intended? Do you find yourself physically present with your child(ren) but emotionally absent? I know being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time commitment but trust me, planning and making the most of your time are some of the best ways to have successful days at home.
I’ve come to find that “success” is certainly scratching those tasks off the to-do list but it is also those sweet, organic moments of bonding with your little one, even if you’re camping out on your parent’s sofa because your eldest child took over the third bedroom and the second bedroom is your dad’s man cave and your mom’s study is officially the guest nursery.
Needless to say, I wouldn’t take anything for the unrushed moments of reading one of Imri’s favorite books (three and four times in one sitting) as he melts into my lap wearing his strawberry-stained sweats and giggling when the cow says moo, the pig says oink, the dog says woof, the duck says quack, the chick says cheep, the hen says cluck, and the sheep says baa.
So, in no particular order, I’d like to share a few tips for a successful day that have worked for me:
Eliminate distractions; social media, television,
Distractions seem to seek us out, don’t they? I mean, it’s not like you ask to be distracted…before you know it, you’ve wasted 20 minutes on social media when your intentions were to logon and scroll for a couple of minutes. Am I right? I am so guilty of this. As soon I put Imri down for a nap, I’m literally telling myself, ” Okay, now I can get a few things accomplished, – have my quiet time, get a quick workout in, and maybe even make my 7-step smoothie with two hands before he wakes up. But first, let me just take a quick min to see what’s going on in Insta[gram] world…20-30 minutes later, I’ve wasted half of nap time and as soon as I close out Instagram, Imri is fussing for me to come to get him.
So, here’s your pep talk; Don’t even do it! Put your phone down, turn the TV off, remove any potential distractions out of sight, exercise self-control and just get it done. Plan and simple.
Organize: make a to-do list
Task and time managing is less chaotic when you’re organized. Each day or night, make a list of things you need to do for the next day. Strive to get the top priorities accomplished and if something goes unchecked, guess what? The world will not end. I promise. But, you may find it easier whittling that list down with your baby attached to your hip. Seriously. Imri’s K’tan was a life saver. I vacuumed, cooked, did laundry, and the whole 9 with him in the K’tan. You may have another baby wrap or may find a different brand but trust me, they all serve the same purpose. Plus, the closeness you and your baby are sharing is very beneficial.
In order to meal prep, you need a plan; planning involves writing and writing means you need a list. I’m a firm believer in the cook once eat twice, three, four, and maybe even five times, notion. Maybe you can cook on Mondays and eat for the week, or cook on Mondays and Wednesdays (if you need more variety) and leave Friday or Saturday for eating out or picking up dinner. Those days may not be good for you but make a plan for what days work and prepare for the week as best you can.
Google, Pinterest, or read some posts here for meal prep inspo and create your grocery list. Planning meals and snacks ahead of time means less energy and frustration trying to rack your brain for how to feed your family each day. And it frees up your time so you won’t be in the kitchen like octo-mom trying to cook and do 10 other things at once.
If you’re short on time, plan for quick, easy meals/snacks. Maybe make a big batch of oatmeal on Sunday to eat throughout the week. Each morning you can fix your serving and probably add a little more water, or in my case, more almond milk, warm it up and add toppings. Use the same mindset for snacks, lunch a dinner; think batch dinners. Or, a smoothie just may save the day, even for the simple reason of not feeling like cooking.
Make time for yourself guilt-free
Mom-guilt is quite common and can be all-consuming. Yes, there will be times when you have checked off everything on your to-do list and have some time for yourself. Let me reassure you, it’s OKAY to leave that load of laundry in the dryer until tomorrow. It’s OKAY to have a few dishes in the sink until tomorrow. It’s OKAY to kick back and enjoy a movie. It’s OKAY to cozy up with a good book for the night. And, it’s definitely OKAY to call it a night and early and go to bed before your usual time.
I may not have covered all of the Okays but you get what I’m saying. Please don’t feel like you always have to be doing something just because time tells you-you should. You’re a mother, for crying out loud! Managing a home, children, and let alone your own life is enough and if you don’t take care of yourself by looking out for yourself, you can’t give your children your best you each day.
Stick to nap schedules as best you can
Let’s face it. Sleep training is not easy. All babies are different. Period. But, the more consistent you are with your baby’s schedule and routine the more they will adapt and become like clockwork. You should eventually be able to pinpoint nap and bedtime and stick to it as best you can. I know, realistically, there will be times when you’re away from home during these sacred times or you may have to disrupt sleeping to leave home. If your baby is sleeping well during the day and at night, these interferences shouldn’t be detrimental. Any time you see a need for an adjustment, go for it! As I said, things happen and those trusted naps may not always pan out the way you planned and it will be just fine. As long as you have a general structure for sleeping, playing, and eating, your baby will thrive with the consistency while growing into a happy, healthy baby!
Consistent sleeping will open the door for you to get some things accomplished! What’s on your to-do list that can be checked off while baby is down for the count? Cleaning, cooking, a workout, reading, laundry, work, a hobby, or nap time for you, too? If you have something pressing to do, I suggest getting it done while you can. That way, when your little one is awake, you can devote your undivided attention to feeding, play and discovery time with no unnecessary disruptions.
Imri is currently on a 9:30ish and 1:30ish naptime and 5:45ish bedtime. His pediatrician – whom we love dearly – recommended a 10 am, 2 pm, and 6 pm nap with 9 pm bedtime. Welp, that doesn’t work for us so I had to create a schedule that does. Guess what that means for you? The same thing. Do what you gotta do for you and yours! 🙂
We leave home during the week at 7:30 am for school unless Jahmai gets Chick-fil-A for breakfast, we leave about 10 minutes sooner. That means wake time is 6:30 if I want to get out of the door with my sanity still intact. Nap timing is perfect and segues into a smooth evening for dinner, bath time (if it’s bath night), nursing, and bed. Once bedtime hits, I know I have some ‘me time’ to get some things done around the house plus study and/or blog and maybe a little Golden Girls in bed.
Being a stay-at-home parent makes you attuned to your child’s every need and further builds the love and bond you share together. You truly come to understand your child in a way only a parent could. Plus, one of the best ways to continue to cultivate this extra special relationship is having your $h*t together. Period. Now when you and your little bundle of joy spend some quality time together – in or out of the house – you can be fully present and savor every moment of pure love and bliss. Enjoy!