Next week our little mister will turn five months and I am amazed how time flies. He can do so much already. He now even holds his bottle when we feed him. By himself. No help from the grown ups needed, thank you very much.
But then again, he is still a little baby who needs to be close with his mum and dad and we want to give him as much time with us as possible... while both being back at work. As you can imagine, coordinating baby, daycare, work and keeping the house presentable and having food on the table each night is not an easy thing to do. Quite stressful and overwhelming, especially after five months of broken nights (see image above).
While the first weeks were a daze of hanging in there trying to survive somehow, it got better quickly. Yes, really. It can get better. And today I want to share with you 5 things that helped us to keep on top of things so we can enjoy a lot of time with our baby, have nice dinners, see friends and still be on time for work.
1) Talk with each other regularly.
This is crucial. Not only to coordinate things but to keep our relationship alive. Set a date once a week, open a bottle of wine, get some nice bread and cheese (or order some takeout, whatever strikes your fancy) and sit down with your partner to talk over the past week. What went well, what did not and why and how can we change it. Does this sound like a business meeting at home? Maybe. But it helps. When you are a sleep deprived mess, frustration builds up quickly and if you let it build up for too long, it will erupt in a massive bang. Believe, been there, done that! Talking things through regularly helps preventing these build ups. You discuss problems right when they emerge and can look for solutions together. You and your partner have become parents together, so sharing your happy and not so happy moments is key to staying together.
2) Divide and conquer.
My second point is a direct result from point 1). Divide the workload between the two of you. Chances are that you and your partner are back at work after the little one has arrived and chances are also, that one of you does most of the work at home as well. Why? Once again, you are in it together!!! I have a hard time delegating things. I know that, always have. So naturally I thought I had to be super mom, professional and domestic goddess in one. Guess what? It did not work. I was stressed, always running, had no time to relax and eventually, broke down crying one night. There, the truth. That's when my mister had enough and demanded to divide chores more equally between the two of us. And he was right. We make the same hours at work, so why would only one of us do all the work at home? It does not make any sense. Here are a few chores that we divided between the two of us that really cut down on workload for me:
- House cleaning. This is the big beast. He does half, I do half of it. And that way, it takes us 50% less time then it took me when cleaning all by myself (Celine Dion in your head now? Sorry, me too).
- Grocery shopping. He does the groceries.
- Laundry. He hates it so I do it. But I am not doing groceries.
- Daycare. We both have certain days for bringing the little one to daycare and picking him up.
- Feeding / diaper changes. Yes, those nighttime feeds are annoying. Even more so if you have to battle out at three in the morning who will get up and why. Make a plan. If you breastfeed, clearly you have to get up but for those feeding their babies formula: make a plan BEFORE going to bed. Same goes for diaper changes, at night or during the day when both of you are at home. DIVIDE them.
3) Have a (meal) plan.
Still with me? Great. Because this is another big thing. Plan your meals for the coming week and do the grocery shopping for them before the week starts.
If you know what you will have for dinner in the next five to seven days, it frees up an enormous amount of space in your head and relieves a lot of stress. And by doing the groceries at the beginning of the week, you know that you have all the ingredients you need for cooking at home. ZAM! Another source of stress gone! I make a list with meals that we will have in the upcoming week, mister does the groceries and we are all set. I do not plan a meal for a certain day, rather just have a list with meals on them that we choose from but you can set it up however you like. Just make sure you know what you will have for dinner when you come home from work and that all the ingredients are in your house so you do not have to run into the supermarket. You days are long and busy enough.
4) Aaaand... freeze.
The same principle also applies for breakfast and lunch. Ever tried overnight oats? Great to prepare upfront and they stay good in the fridge for 3-4 days. Can you prepare your lunch for work the night before? Do it! Getting ready in the morning yourself and getting little one ready, fed and to daycare is more stressful than you think and each little bit you do NOT have to do in the morning helps.
5) It's all in the capsule.
Last point. But a big one for me. Pair down your wardrobe to a functional capsule. You do not have to limit yourself to a certain amount of pieces (though it does not hurt, really, I promise) but make sure that you literally can get dressed in the dark. Because chances are you will. Yes, at one point you will do anything to keep the little one sleeping for just one more minute so you can get ready in the morning. Having a capsule wardrobe where all items mix and match well with each other makes life easier for you. Not just because you can get dressed in the dark... the whole part where you lie in bed trying to think of outfits and what is in your wardrobe is just gone. No need. (Almost) everything you will pick will go together. You do want to check the weather forecast, though to make sure your outfit fits the outside.
Voila, done. 5 things that made my life easier as a new - and working - mum. Hope this helps some of you and feel free to share additional tips! We can help each other through this.