If you’re a mama staring at the tornado that is your house and wondering how to get housework done with an infant, this post is for you.
When I first became a mom, I wondered, “how in the world do you get things done with an infant?” Girl, let me tell you – I’ve been there!
Friend, let me tell you… I was totally that struggling mom. I struggled to get even the smallest things done. The first six months was a blur. My dishes were piled up. Counters were dirty. Floors were filthy. Errands were neglected. Laundry was spilling over every hamper. I can tell you, you’ll find what works for you – every mother does. But if you’re a new mom and need some solid advice, I’m here to share what helped me.
These days, I have two kids and I’m proud to say I’m amazingly productive for having an infant and toddler who are constantly vomiting chaos wherever they go.
How to Get Housework Done With an Infant
Include Your Baby
One of the main reasons babies fuss while you’re trying to get things done is because they want your attention. You are your baby’s whole world. The sun rises and sets with you. He or she loves you more than anyone in the whole world, and therefore, they want your love and attention. Let’s be real – when we have a to-do list longer than the Great Wall of China, we don’t care about that! We just want a few minutes to get some things done! Ass you already know, babies don’t want to be ignored. They are living, loving creatures that want engagement and attention. So bring your baby with you.
Your baby also loves to explore! As long as your baby is safe, give them nearby household objects to explore. Sometimes these are better than actual toys! When I do the dishes, I give my little one measuring cups, measuring spoons, a clean sponge, or a pot to bang on. Talk or sing to your little one. These are great teaching moments. Engage your little one by explaining what you are doing.
If you are folding clothes, give them a colorful towel or one of their own clothes. Let them explore it. Play peek a boo when you grab a new piece of clothing. Tell him or her what color it is. Is it rough or soft? Cleaning a bathroom? Give them some bath squeeze toys or some toilet paper to tear up – just make sure they don’t eat it! The point is, that babies love inclusion and they have lots of fun when you engage them.
So, I’m gonna share a deep secret. When I first had my son, my mom witnessed firsthand my total and complete frustration. She pulled me aside and gave me the best advice. Gone were the days when I could wash dishes in 20 mins and clean a bathroom in a half hour. Those days will return one day, but for now, things had changed.
My mom said, “you’re still trying to clean as if you don’t have kids. Things have changed. Once you let go of that expectation, you’ll be happier.” I don’t know why it finally clicked, but a light bulb went off. In all my stubbornness, I had refused to let go of pre-child expectations. I was clinging to old standards. My inflexibility was making me miserable. I had to learn to adjust and embrace my new life. This may not be an actual tip, but I can tell you – you’ll save yourself a lot of anger and disappointment if you learn to adjust to your new normal. Dishes take me nearly an hour and bathroom takes about 2. That’s my new normal.
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Use a Carrier
Sometimes, our sweet little ones just want to be in our arms and they don’t take no for an answer. When that happens, a baby carrier becomes your best friend! Most carriers adjust for baby wearing on your back or in front of you. Depending on the activity, one or the other may be better. Remember never to bend at the waist with your carrier. Babies can fall out even when they seem snug in a carrier.
Invest in a good carrier. I was frugal and bought an inexpensive carrier. When you have a newborn, all carriers seem comfortable. But as your baby gains weight, the quality of your carrier becomes really obvious. Learn from my mistake – buy a good quality carrier that is ergonomic and evenly distributes weight. Your back will thank you. I recommend the following:
Move Them Frequently
Babies get bored quickly. Naw, I never knew that! Haha. If you’re a mom, you’ve figured this out already. Babies and toddlers have a super short attention span. Working against it by insisting that your baby sit with the same basket of toys for an hour will be frustrating to you and baby. Instead, take a cue and change their scenery. If you’re working up high, put them in a high chair with some toys. Putting them at eye level helps to extend the time you can work with. Folding clothes? Sit on the floor with them. Fold one load in the washroom and do the second load in your bedroom. Sometimes babies just want a change of scenery.
Touch Them Often
Babies desire to be in your arms all the time. If it were up to them, you’d never put them down. Get what you can done. When they start to fuss, pick them up and reassure them, continue with your tasks one handed if you can, then after a few minutes, try putting them down again, this time in another place. Often, they just want reassurance. I’ve found you normally get more time by doing that. We forget about things like that when we are scrambling to get chores done.
I’ve also found if you frequently touch babies like stroking their face, brushing their hair, grabbing their hands and singing while you work – it helps them feel assured. I’ve found sitting babies in between your legs works wonders. They feel like they are on your lap and they can touch you when they want to. Babies just long to be physically close to you. Sometimes you just need to be creative about it while you’re working.
Break Up Tasks
One of the most helpful things I learned to do was to break up tasks. First, I use a planner. My Happy Planner really saved me when I first became a mom. Keeping a cleaning schedule really helped me. You can read about my planner journey in the post How Happy Planner Changed My Life. But I learned to prioritize my day with 3 things that needed to get done. Then, I would break it up into smaller tasks and work them around taking care of my baby.
For example, I’d start a load of laundry then feed and play with my baby. I’d make my bed. Then take my baby to change the laundry (yes, you do a lot of things with one hand). Then I’d fill up the sink with hot soap water so dishes could sit while I read a book to my little one. Work smart and work small! Learn to take advantage of small clumps of minutes. Over the day, things will get done.
Some people will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. I always had a hard time with that because it was the only time I could get things done. It’s perfectly okay if you use nap time that way.
Hang in there, mama. This season won’t last forever. I hope I’ve provided some insight with how to get housework done with an infant. In the comments, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear what you are struggling with as a new mama. Trust me when I say, as your child grows things will get easier.