Tiny babies mean big changes to your life and daily routine. Even if you have all the apps, organizational tools and advice from other parents on getting through the day, it’s still a lot. While there is no magic fix for getting everything done every single day, these baby hacks work well to simplify your life. Read on to learn some new tricks of the parent trade and find a few that will work for you.
1. Meal Plan & Prep
It's a reality of life that we all need to eat three times a day, everyday. Once a baby starts eating solids, there are even more mouths to feed! Taking some time every week to plan out meals means that during the week you don't need to give a second thought to what's for dinner. Even better, if you can find an hour or two over the weekend to prep, dice and slice, then cooking during the week will make weeknights run much more smoothly.
Identifying where you can outsource (and what's in your budget) can change your life. Think about which household tasks you dislike the most or that you have the hardest time fitting in. For some families, sending their laundry out to be washed and folded is a lifesaver. Other parents rely on cleaning services or meal prep subscriptions to keep their household running smoothly and give them more time with family. Even smaller steps towards outsourcing, such as having groceries delivered, can make a big difference.
3. Have a Shared Schedule
Once a baby enters the picture, it's vital for all caregivers to share their schedules. This is key to ensuring that schedule conflicts are kept to a minimum. Using a calendar that can be synched across computers and phones, such as Google Calendar, is a great option you can access from almost anywhere. Even better, color-code events so it's easy to tell at a glance what is a family obligation, what is a work event and so on.
4. Touch Things Once
It's tempting to take something that's in your way and simply move it to the closest open spot. However, you will save yourself a lot of time and hassle if you commit to touching things just once. In practice, this means that once you have your hands on something that needs to be put away, you take a few extra seconds to put it back where it belongs, instead of stacking it on the table or an existing pile. This not only saves time but greatly simplifies life because you will always know where to find what you need.
5. Double Duty
Look for places in your day where you can double up on duties, or delegate them to older kids. Some parents find that time spent watching TV after the kids go to sleep is a great time to fold laundry. Others use time spent on the phone to go for a walk to get some exercise or straighten up. Everyone needs some downtime, but looking for opportunities to multi-task can really make your day go more smoothly.
6. Daily Tasks
Some families swear that the key to making their household run smoothly is doing some tasks daily. You may find that running the dishwasher and putting on a load of laundry everyday helps you stay on top of chores and save time in the long run.
7. Make a Schedule
Having a set schedule to get things done can be a lifesaver. If bills piling up are stressful, set aside an hour one night a month to pay bills. If you constantly have a long list of phone calls to make, pick one day a week to go through your list. Just having time set aside to take care of all of the little things that add up can do wonders for reducing stress and simplifying life.
8. Book Time for Yourself
If you find you are putting yourself last, as most new moms do, make sure you set aside some time for yourself to do something you enjoy. That could be reading a book, going to brunch with your bestie or going for a run every weekend. Put this on your calendar, tell your partner, and treat it a non-negotiable obligation. Some time away from the daily grind, even if it's just an hour at a time, can help you face everything else you need to do with more patience and grace.
9. Simplify Shopping
Shopping for items in bulk is one of the best baby hacks. As long as you have some storage space, stocking up on items like paper towels, diapers and canned beans that can last for years can save hours every year. It can also ensure you're not unexpectedly caught without something essential. Once you're stocked up, limit grocery shopping to once a week for fresh items only. This not only cuts back on number of times you need to shop, but it makes those trips much shorter.
10. Set a Timer
There is no magic number of books or toys your child needs. However, there probably is a limit to the number of minutes you are willing to spend cleaning up every day. Whether you can devote 10 minutes or 30 to tidying up daily, leave out only the items that can be put away within your limits. Put everything else in storage to rotate in when your little one needs something new to hold their attention. Another awesome timer trick is to set aside time every day to do a few chores and straighten up. For example, taking 15 minutes before sitting down for dinner to put things away can really make a difference in your day.
11. Mark It Up
New parents spend a lot of time getting up at all hours of the night. While you're trapped under a fussy or nursing baby, your mind may drift to thinking thinking about what belongs on your to-do list. Keep a dry erase marker by your bathroom sink. Whenever you remember something important that needs to get done, write it on your mirror so you don't forget. After you add these items to your calendar, just wipe the mirror clean and you are ready for a fresh start.
12. Ditch the Decor
It may be tempting to keep pretty decor on display. However, after having kids there are some new considerations beyond aesthetics. Anything fragile within grabbing reach of little ones need to go for safety peace of mind. Even those out of the danger zone present an extra challenge: They take up space and collect dust. Before deciding what to keep and what to ditch, ask yourself if it's worth dusting or giving up storage space to. If the answer is no, donate it.
13. Use a Command Center
Whether it's virtual or tangible, having a command center where you can leave notes for your partner, a babysitter and even yourself is an essential part of simplifying family life. There are some fantastic hi-tech and low-tech options for keeping essential information accessible.