First, you lose sleep and time drags on forever. One of the most helpful things I was told by my sister in law was that tiredness won’t always get better, but you do get used to it. It really helped me to adjust my expectations. I was personally happier once I began to accept this phase for what it is and chose to only worry about the things I could control.
Like cute baby outfits! And boundaries!
Secondly, you discover your superhuman ability to complete chores (that used to take you all day) in ten minutes or less while your baby sleeps with the most random schedule imaginable.
I know, it’s a skill born from intense anxiety… but at least there’s a positive outcome, yeah?
My baby had some of the shortest nap times. It was not easy, to say the least. Not to mention the workout it can be to get a newborn to sleep. That part was very unexpected. But after some time I was able to make some predictions that helped me to plan a little bit further ahead than the next 15-20 minutes.
My world slowlyyy opened back up after that.
The thing to keep in mind (that I am always always reminding myself of) is that every little task completed is an accomplishment to be proud of.
To be the exhausted momma with the sweet baby whose needs take up every second of every day and night… that’s a hard place to be. I would get so down on myself for not being “productive” or appearing “lazy” based on the amount of things I did during the day.
There’s a balance to be found, for sure, but lots of grace is owed to yourself.
So, what have I actually done during nap times?
I’d take a shower. Or at least wash my face. Just a little refresh can do SO much for me.
Power naps for mom. Easier said than done. It can be really hard for me to fall asleep as fast as I need to in order to make trying even worth it, but sometimes it works out and I make up a little sleep debt.
I’ll make meals. Or just snack. Some of the most satisfying snacking is done after making a sneaky escape out of baby’s room.
I can start a load of laundry. Oftentimes I would actually start it right before I got my baby to sleep, that way I wouldn’t accidentally wake her by slamming the washer and dryer doors closed. Also the calming sound of them running offered a nice extra sound barrier through the hallway.
Good thing for us, our previously broken dishwasher got fixed! One of those things that makes a dreaded chore way less intimidating. I love and appreciate machines that work while I do other things.
My husband and I have a method of tidying that we call “tornado cleaning”. It’s where we just start with the first thing we see, put it where it belongs, and grab other things on the way. There’s no particular order. Once the momentum is there, it’s easy to clear a space in no time. Even if only parts of the whole house are touched by the tornado before the baby wakes up, it makes a big difference and I feel a lot better.
We’re still in a phase where I’m the only one who can get lil girl to sleep during the day. If there’s someone else there to hang out and be there after she’s awake, I’ve taken full advantage by getting out of the house. It feels like I’m taking a chance on her waking up 5 minutes later and needing me, but I’ve gotten lucky. On one of these rare trips I’ve gone to the store, picked up lunch for one, found a peaceful picnic bench at a park under a group of trees surrounded by a pink sky… It was way nice. I daydream about it sometimes.
Here’s a recent one. Every few days there will be a 2+ hour nap gifted to us so kindly by our baby. I wish I knew the pattern of events that gives us that result every time. I would definitely share if I did. But I was able to paint our entire pantry and map out new shelves before she woke up. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.
Can’t forget to include the obvious: I watch tv shows. Some days I just need to chill out and binge something that sparks some inspiration. As you might guess, my current obsession is home makeovers and renovations.
If I was more organized I would label each nap as an opportunity for different tasks. In fact, that’s my new goal. I picture something like this for myself:
First nap - exercise and/or meal prep
Second nap - projects or work
Third nap - clean or organize one space in the house
Whatever it is you deem important, acknowledge it and prioritize your needs during whatever length of baby-free time you have. Many of these things I do while she’s awake and hanging out with me anyway, which I see as even more reason to utilize baby naps as time to tune into my needs. And sometimes a clean bathroom is something I really need, just as much as I might need a smoothie and an episode of Instant Dream Home.