My easy, 2-step system to schedule your baby so that you can be productive with an infant in the house!
I’m sure all mothers have had that moment: when you had the best intentions to get everything checked off your to-do list…but your baby said, “hahaha…I don’t think so!”
Today I wanted to share how I addressed this issue and found a compromise between productivity and fun time.
There must be a schedule!
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my sweet Heidi in those first few weeks was, that the next time around, I needed to be much more laid back during their first month outside the womb. In my opinion, those are the days of bonding with your new treasure – accepting assistance from your hubby/children/family, letting your body heal, and just not stressing out.
But eventually, normal life has to kick back in. After a month, your husband and home sorely need more attention. Although the newest addition will require more time for a bit, your relationship and time with any older children is just as important.
On top of that, it is very important to me that my children see examples of diligence, organization, cleanliness and taking care of our family and possessions in ME. If I spend all day with my children but they don’t learn a good work ethic or an appreciation for what God has given them, I don’t think I’ve used my time wisely.
So, whether I like it or now, I have to start getting back to the normal routine and learn to be productive again. Of course, the amount of time you take to heal and bond with baby will depend on your body, support team, and your own unique situation. But however long that is for you…today we are going to tackle that moment when you decide to start normal life again!
Step #1 – Planning
Now I ask you to remember that I am a young mom, and I am sure that once my children are school-age I will be revising this plan again. I’m sure every season will come with learning hurdles and schedule revisions…but that is what makes it so exciting! 🙂
Needless to say, I no longer “book” every moment, because there isn’t a moment in my day that is predictable. But the basics of how I stay productive is a two step process, the planning and then the educating.
In the planning step I simply take all the daily/weekly/deep cleaning tasks that I talk about in this post. If there is anything else that needs to be done on a daily/weekly basis, I add that too. I mentally separate this list by what can be done when my sweeties are awake versus while they are asleep.
The second level of planning is sleep training. This can look very different for each child. Heidi, my first, was fully trained to self-soothe and follow a nap schedule after one week by the time she was one month old. Daniel, my second, bucked the whole system and was a struggle/learning opportunity until he was over four months old. Charlie, my third, learned to self-soothe and take three distinct naps very early on, but two of the naps took place in the wrap that I carried him in most of the day until I transitioned him out at three months.
Here is a post I wrote on how I did sleep training with my kids. Just remember, the general formula presented in that post has worked for all my children…but it has been used as guidelines with a lot of flexibility based on each child and their response. Unfortunately, there is NO exact formula applicable for every child.
Step #2 – Educating
The next step is the educating/training that I believe would be important if I was trying to complete my list or not.
I believe, as invaluable as it is to communicate with your child/children all day, it is equally important that they learn to entertain themselves and are able to move around at will.
Now, I’m not saying let your child do whatever, whenever and wherever they want. But God has created their minds and bodies to explore themselves and their surroundings. By doing this they gain the necessary muscle and knowledge to progress in their abilities.
From the beginning, I started giving Heidi ample opportunities to lay on a blanket and teach herself to learn. By teaching herself to learn, I mean that I would intentionally not interact with her (while always keeping a watchful eye), and let her find ways to soothe/amuse herself.
I usually did 15 minutes on/15 minutes being held in the beginning and progressed from there.
It was tough at first, especially when she was fussy and I wanted to console her. This is the most important reason to do step #1 first. If your baby is on a regular schedule and taking good naps, it will help this process. When you first start to teach your baby to self-entertain, you need to know that they are well rested. Trying to introduce this new skill to an exhausted baby isn’t really fair for them.
So the first thing is to make sure they are well rested, just ate, have a clean diaper, etc. Then you can know that the fussiness you hear when setting them down is simply a protest because they like to be held.
As this training season concluded, I would say about 15-20 minutes of Heidi’s 2.5 hour awake times were spent in my arms. The rest of the time she was exploring…the ENTIRE house!
Before she was mobile meant laying her down and alternating between working and holding her until the work was done.
After becoming mobile, I laid her on the floor with some toys and she played and explored. After 15-ish minutes she would start to head out of the room. Then, together, we excitedly crawled to the room of her choosing and started the process over again.
At the end of a 2.5 hour awake time I’d been able to do a lot of work and we had seen the entire house in detail!
The last important note here is one other training tool that makes this possible. I have effectively been able to teach Heidi the word “no”. I can say it from across the room when I see her going for something, and she will stop what she is doing and find something else. If I was not able to do that, it would be much more difficult to be productive. Here is a post where I talk more about that.
If you need to stay in a particular room a bit longer, you could put up a gate. In a couple months, I will be training Heidi to stay in the room when I tell her to.
As a new mother, it was hard for me to begin training Heidi to entertain herself. I felt like I was shirking my duties and being neglectful. But I have found the very opposite to be true.
If you want to be productive during your day after having a baby, training like this is invaluable! But you are truly killing two birds with one stone. When I made this transition I saw Heidi begin to advance much quicker then she had before.
So truly, this has been the answer in keeping both of us productive. It reassured me I will be able to take care of my entire family, no matter how big it gets!
Give me your thoughts! What does your schedule tend to look like? How do you manage to stay productive with a little one(s)?
My favorite products to use when training my babies to self-entertain: