Monday, 16 June 2014

Housework + Baby = NOT Impossible: Some practical ideas to make it happen

I was looking back through my blog history the other day and came across a post that I had written some years ago about housekeeping and cleanliness. I found myself thinking longingly about the days when simple things were simple. Things such as doing the washing and sweeping the kitchen floor. A baby changes life so completely that I had almost forgotten what it was like to clean my whole house and bathroom in an hour and only wash once or twice a week. The longing was short lived though, I would never trade my little boy for a life of relative ease, and there are always ways to overcome the challenges.

Just a note before I get started, this post is not for mums with newborn babies. Honestly, you shouldn't be doing any housework for at least a few weeks. Let someone else worry about the state of your house for a while and if there is no one else, then just forget it. The most important thing for you is to rest, recover and care for your new baby. Once you start to get back on your feet however, the housework will be waiting for you and at some point you will probably have to return to these tasks. Don't feel bad though, I'm sure I didn't clean my house more than once before my baby was about 3 months old! This post is also not for mums with twins... how do you cope? I certainly don't know... or for mums with more than one child at home. I haven't got there yet. But if you have one baby at home, maybe this post will be a little help for you!

Five months into this new life of mothering and I feel like I have started to get back into a sensible routine, managing my chores and caring for my son. Most stay at home mums have a similar list of chores to complete each day, which probably include some of the following; caring for baby, food preparation, washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning some aspect of the house, ironing, folding laundry, picking up mess and grocery shopping. It would be nice to add a short rest in there somewhere as well, or some downtime to stay sane.

I found that the best way to begin to organise time is to write down a list of chores that you need to achieve each day and another list of chores that you need to complete each week. Once you can see the size of the task before you, you are able to prioritise and plan your day and week.

My lists look something like this:
Caring for my baby
Preparing dinner
Washing laundry
Folding laundry
Picking up messes
Washing dishes

Vacuum & Dust house
Cleaning Bathrooms & Toilets
Making baby food
Grocery Shopping

You may wonder why I iron every day, or why I only make baby food once a week. I find that if I don't iron daily, I leave the ironing until every single shirt of my husband's is in the pile and it becomes so large that I can't stomach the thought of touching it. It only takes 5 mins to iron one or two shirts each day. I make baby food in bulk (we are still at the puree stage) so that there is enough to last a week or more as it is too time consuming to cook for baby every night on top of my other meal preparation.

Obviously, caring for my baby is my priority and the rest of my chores need to fall around his routine as best they can. He takes 2 to 3 naps each day, giving me about 2 to 3 hours of baby free time in which I can try to get my work done and find some down time. His first nap is usually the longest, so I try to do most things during this time. When I wake up in the morning, I decide which tasks need to be completed that day and think about what order I should do them in. As soon as my baby goes down for his first nap I get to work. I begin with noisier tasks and work through to the quieter ones so that I don't disturb him once he is properly asleep. (I find that if I make noise as he dozes off, I'm able to keep making noise while he sleeps).

An average weekday looks something like this, give or take, depending on how my baby sleeps and behaves. Obviously some days are more productive than others.

Approximate Daily Schedule
(sometimes tasks)
[weekly tasks done on suitable days]

Wake up  - 1st Nap (approx 6:30am-8:30am)
2nd Nap - 3rd Nap (approx 1pm-3:30pm)
Breastfeed baby
Dress baby and self
Make breakfast for husband, self and baby
(Sometimes I drop my husband at work)
Feed baby & eat my breakfast
Make beds
Play with baby

Breastfeed baby
Go for a walk with baby in pram
Play with baby
(Complete any other errands or car trips with baby)

Ist Nap (approx 8:30am-10am)
3rd Nap (approx 3:30pm-4:15pm)
Put on laundry
Wash dishes (if I need to)
[Cut fruit or veg for baby food and put on to simmer if needed]
[Clean toilets and bathroom if needed]
[Do dusting if needed]
Do any ironing
Fold any laundry from previous day
Hang out laundry


Bring in laundry and fold
Dinner preparations


1st Nap - 2nd Nap (approx 10am-12 noon)
3rd Nap - Bedtime (approx 4:15pm-7pm)
Breastfeed baby
Play with baby
[Vacuum if needed while baby watches from his bouncer]
(Visit friends)
(Any other appointments)
[Do groceries with baby if needed]

Breastfeed baby
Play with baby
(Sometimes pick up husband from work)
Feed baby dinner at 5:30pm
Baby plays with Daddy while I finish dinner preparations
Bath baby at 6:30pm
Breastfeed baby
Put baby to bed at 7pm
Pick up any messes around the house

2nd Nap (approx 12 noon-1pm)

(Put dinner in slow cooker if needed)
[Puree baby food and freeze in daily portions if needed]
Have lunch


Some people have babies that are fairly happy to entertain themselves for periods of time while they are awake. If your baby is like that, make the most of that time to get things done too (the more you do while baby is awake, the more time you have to rest when they are asleep). As you can see from the above schedule, the key to the day is organisation. Without it, I wouldn't get through half as many chores as I need to and I wouldn't enjoy the pleasure of guilt free free time! Breaking down the tasks into manageable chunks helps to keep me motivated, as do the little bits of free time that I get throughout the day.

Your house keeping standards may drop a little when a baby enters your world (mine have), but they don't need to disappear altogether. With a little planning and wise use of time, you can have a well looked after home and family and... get that much needed time to yourself!

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