Life, for a new parent, is famously busy – busy to the extent that it can be tricky to figure out how to find opportunities for a bit of sleep here and there.
Even before the baby arrives, you will likely find yourself very busy with tasks and projects such as researching modern nursery ideas so that you can give your child-to-be the best possible introduction to the world.
Of course, while being a new parent is obviously very busy and time consuming, it is also a profoundly uplifting and worthwhile situation to be in. It just wouldn’t hurt if you also had a few tips and tricks up your sleeve for optimizing your time, simultaneously.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your time as a busy new parent.
Always have a book or notebook nearby, so that you can take advantage of those periodic free minutes
One thing that the writer Laura Vanderkam notes in her book, “168 Hours,” is that the most effective and successful people out there always manage to find time to do the things they really want to do – even if only by capitalizing on the occasional free minutes in the day that would normally be overlooked.
During the course of your day, you will inevitably have five-minute intervals here and there where you could do something positive and useful, but would normally just stare at the wall, or scroll through your social media feeds on your phone, instead.
Instead of doing that, why not always have a book or notebook nearby, so that you can take advantage of those occasional free minutes to get a page or two in? You could even use an eReader, so that the whole process is more streamlined.
With a notebook, you could jot down thoughts, ideas, and doodles, to help clear your head, have a bit of fun, and plan and prepare for later on.
Try to get your household operating on a roughly consistent daily routine
Newborn babies are, of course, fairly unpredictable, and will wake up, cry, and need attention at irregular intervals throughout the day (and night).
Nonetheless, if you can take steps to get your household operating on a roughly consistent daily routine, then your baby will, likewise, tend to become a bit more predictable with their patterns and behaviours – and you will be better able to consistently manoeuvre things in such a way as to use your time effectively.
Of course, you shouldn’t try to have a perfectly regimented and structured daily schedule in place with a new baby – but you should still aim for general consistency with things like your own meal times, bedtime, and so on.
If, on the other hand, you add to the already-present chaos of the situation by completely discarding the idea of any sort of routine or daily structure, you are only going to compound the issues that come with that chaos, and are going to have less scope for properly utilizing your time in an effective and positive way.
Use an effective planning system, such as a Bullet Journal
At the best of times, we all have tons of different duties we need to attend to, projects we would like to explore, and thoughts about the world at large that we might want to capture for later.
If you’re a new parent, though, you will certainly be completely inundated with all sorts of additional tasks and obligations, to the extent that if you don’t have a good system in place for keeping track of things, there’s a good chance that you will be caught in a never-ending game of catch up.
To properly manage the situation before you, and also to best use your time, use an effective planning system, such as Bullet Journal, in order to record the different tasks and thoughts that you need to attend to, as they occur to you.
Then, when you have a bit of time, you’ll be able to quickly go through your lists, see which projects and obligations are most pressing, and make some progress on them in bite-sized chunks.
Find the occasional moment for periods of pure entertainment
Periods of “pure entertainment,” such as watching films, for example, can easily seem like a total waste when you have something as important to do as attending to a new baby.
As long as you are keeping on top of your chores, though, and are making sure that your baby has everything they need, it’s important that you find the occasional moment, where you can, for periods of pure entertainment.
Contrary to popular belief, not every moment that you have available to you needs to be spent “productively.” Simply having fun and entertaining yourself can help you to “recharge your batteries,” relieve stress, give you a fresh dose of motivation and inspiration, and more.
If you don’t find regular opportunities for at least brief periods of entertainment here and there, you are likely to be significantly more stressed, and to drag your heels more in other areas of life.
Batch cook yourself tasty and nutritious meals, and use “tricks” like frozen ingredients and a slow cooker
New parents often fall into pretty bad nutritional habits in a hurry, simply because preparing well-balanced home-cooked meals takes time and energy that often won’t be available – at least to the same extent and in the same way – when there’s a new baby in the home to deal with.
Keep in mind, though, that eating filling, healthy, and nutritious meals will make you feel better in all sorts of ways, and will give you more energy, as well.
On the other hand, eating junk food will give you energy crashes throughout the day, while simultaneously making you more stressed, and won’t do you any favors.
Use “tricks” to keep yourself properly fed, such as batch cooking yourself tasty nutritious meals using pre-chopped frozen ingredients, and a slow cooker. That way, the actual amount of time and effort you have to invest in preparing your meals shrinks dramatically.
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
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