"Sleep when your baby sleeps." "Make time for 'me time.'" "Self-care is important." "Take time for you." "Enjoy this time; it goes too fast." ... Wonderful maxims in theory, but in practice? Ask any new parent. Unless you have full-time help, those maxims are easier said than followed. Grown-ups have things to do - even on maternity or paternity leave. Grown-ups also need moments of quiet and solitude. They need time to recharge. So how can you make the time to take care of you or even just sit a moment and take a breath? Here are some time-saver tips to help you find some extra hours in the day - for however you wish to use them!
- Grocery shop on-line. Several grocers and services deliver. Others pre-assemble and ring your order so that you – or better, your supportive someone – can simply show up, grab, and go. Google “grocery delivery” to get the sites available near you. Some U.S. sites: instacart.com, hellenvoy.com, Amazon (via Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime, or Whole Foods), wholefoods.com, Safeway.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, Costco.com. Your local grocer may be able to do the same. HELPFUL TIPS: Because of the pandemic, some grocers are taking longer to fill and deliver orders. So, don't wait 'til the last minute. Also, I find securing a delivery date through Amazon is more easily accomplished in the middle of the night. Take advantage of your late night feedings or insomnia to schedule delivery.
- Make crockpot (slow cooker) or Instapot meals. It's easy peasy. Toss the ingredients in, program the setting and cook time, and sleep or play until the food is ready! https://www.delish.com/cook…/g3849/best-slow-cooker-recipes/
- Mass-produce meals. When you (or better, your supportive someone) makes a meal, make it for 10 instead of 2. You can eat that meal for a few days or freeze and defrost it as needed. A lot of crockpot or Instapot recipes are good for this. You can also make a pot of soup, stew or chili, or roast a whole chicken or larger cut of meat, and save the leftovers.
- If you have the means, consider meal preparation services. These companies deliver the ingredients for a meal to cook. Some even prep the ingredients for you. https://www.consumersadvocate.org/meal-delivery
- Throw a load of laundry in the washer or dryer right before you lay your baby (and you) down for sleep. Let the system work while you rest.
- Clean or pick up as you go. It's far faster than cleaning a disaster zone.
- Dry shampoo! One wash, dry, and style can last an extra day or two that way. You can look great without losing time.
- Replenish your diaper bag and other stocked items as you use them. It is far more efficient (and therefore saves time) to be prepared and have handy the things you need when you need them than to have to stop and hunt when you are in the thick of it.
- Make smart choices about what you can let go. Does the house or yard need to be perfectly maintained? Do you need to make a fancy meal, or will take-out (or grilled cheese and canned soup) work this time? Better to be rested and strong for baby and you than to impress others with your super-parent-homemaker powers.
- Communicate with your partner about what you need and make sure you get it. Parenting can be a two-person job even for breast-feeding mamas. Hand over the baby for the time you need. Take a walk Hide in a different room. Sit on the porch. Heck, hang out in the bathroom with your smart phone or a good book. (My husband does this all the time!!)
- Ask for help. For real. Do not be ashamed or shy. Those who really care about you want to help however they can. If you don’t have family you can rely on, ask friends you trust or find parenting support groups. I found my PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) group was really useful. And there are a ton of online support groups right now.
No matter how you want to spend those extra minutes or hours, we hope you enjoy them and feel more like you because of them. And of all the maxims we hope you can follow, we close with "Enjoy this time." After all, even if it doesn't feel like it right this moment, this crazy-making, but beautiful, time does go really fast.