Thursday, December 29, 2005

Babies And Your To Do List

You thought your life was busy before you had a baby, but just wait! There is more coming to fill up your already-crowded to-do list. Many moms find that motherhood makes them start to question themselves and how much they get done everyday. Here are a few ways that you can keep your life together and fight those feelings.

Cleaning will become a never-ending chore once you have a baby. Many new moms start to feel as if all they do is clean. Especially when baby starts crawling, it can seem that as soon as you get something picked up, baby is at it again. Some moms learn to tell themselves that a clean house is not all that important. Other moms, however, have a harder time just surviving for 18 years with a dirty house. Instead they try to control the cleaning. The best option when you have a baby is to set up a couple of baby stations around your house. Put them in the areas you will use most often, such as the nursery and the living room. keep all of the items you need to change baby's diapers and have a pail there as well. That keeps baby's mess at bay.

Then you should clean up only once a day. Run through your house and pick up after baby is in bed, for example. If you are tired or pressed for time, try getting an egg timer. Give yourself five minutes per room. You will be surprised at what you can do when you are being timed. Then assign big chores a day. You likely cannot clean the bathroom everyday (and who would want to?). Instead pick a day and clean the bathroom that day. If you do that with all of your chores, then you will find that baby's naptime is a good time to get all of the day's work done.

Another trick you can use is to convince yourself that you are getting work done. Many moms have to-do lists, but they do not have accomplishment lists. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by yours schedule with a new baby, then you should begin to keep track of what all you are doing. Write down the trip to the grocery, the feedings, the diapers, and the spot cleaning you had to do. It will help you to feel better to look back over the day or week and know that you did, in fact, get some things done.

Another option is to have some rules that you will not break. For example, you can set the breakfast menu or the day for laundry. Do not allow anything else to overcome that plan, from a screaming toddler wanting cereal on scrambled egg day to a last-minute meeting for the PTO. Be firm. Babies need structure, and quite frankly, it helps their moms, too. While flexibility is key with little ones, it is also important to have something foundational to keep yourself on track.

Take care of yourself! You have heard it before, but the problem is you did not listen. You need time for yourself. Virginia Woolf talks about a mother who always sacrificed and in the end was sad because no one even noticed. Many moms put themselves in this situation. They also go without, avoid their exercise time, and put everyone else first. It is not selfish to take time to care for yourself! You need it. Moms of old did not have spa days, but they also tossed their kids out in the neighborhood to play - giving mom some downtime. You need it scheduled into your day. Then anytime you start to feel stressed, you should take some time for yourself.

Also do not be afraid to move more slowly. Do not put as much on your daily list as you would have done before your baby arrived. Remember that not only do you feel tired, you will have to get the baby ready and take care of his or her needs before you start a task. That can be daunting, so your best bet is to slow down. Enjoy your children and your life. That is more important than finishing off your list!

By Julia Mercer

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