It may seem ironic that a creature as small as a newborn child can turn an entire household upside down within hours of arriving, but such are the many wonders of parenthood. The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, identifies time management as one of the biggest challenges awaiting first-time moms and dads as they learn to care for a newborn, themselves and their home. NAPO offers these tips:
• Establish a daily routine. Easing baby into a regular schedule of feedings, sleep and playtime takes discipline and commitment. However, once everyone adjusts to the routine, everyday tasks require less time and effort.
• Resist the urge to buy excess baby gear. Many specialty products are cute but eventually turn into clutter because they serve only a single purpose. Ask other parents which timesaving items they use regularly, and skip the rest.
• Pace yourself. Accept that routine tasks or errands take longer with a baby in the mix. Calming your baby, packing supplies for outings, tending to unexpected cleanups, and dealing with other unanticipated incidences will increase the time required to complete most activities, so plan accordingly.
• Welcome help. Family members and friends typically volunteer to help with cleaning, cooking and errands for the first few weeks, so take them up on their offers. If family or friends aren’t available and your budget allows, consider hiring a maid service to handle household chores until you can adjust to your “new normal.”
• Naptime. When your baby naps during the daytime, use these quiet times to catch up on your own sleep, take care of household tasks, handle bills and correspondence, or just relax.
• Establish visiting hours. When people drop by unannounced or on short notice, it can be disruptive and even stressful. Let friends, family and neighbors know when visits are welcome, and when they aren’t convenient.
• Plan meals. Compile recipes and create shopping lists in advance to streamline shopping trips and reduce meal preparation time. Whenever possible, make a few main dishes at once that can be reheated quickly throughout the week.
• Establish a “Family Command Center.” Organize a single place where schedules, mail, meal plans, reminders and other frequently used information can be stored and accessed quickly and easily.
• Start a permanent file of baby’s vital information. Copies of official documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, passport) and medical records (doctor visits, vaccination information, prescriptions) should be kept in a single location so the information is available when needed. Original copies of official documents should be stored in a fireproof box, home safe or safe deposit box.