Maximizing Naptime With a New Baby

Text reads "Maximizing Naptime with a New Baby" on top of a picture of a baby that appears to be sleeping.

One of the hardest things for me as a new parent was that I spent a lot of time sitting. Sitting to feed the baby. Sitting to hold the baby. Sitting while I rocked the baby to sleep. Sitting while the baby slept on me for 4 hours.

And, as a doer… it was hard.

I like to do things. I feel my best when I can be productive and check things off of my ever-growing to-do list. I don’t like being busy for the sake of being busy; I just love the feeling of accomplishment.

One thing that completely revolutionized my life as a new mom was sleep training my daughter. After that, I knew that I would have at least 4 20-minute segments throughout my day where I could do anything I needed to do- wash the dishes, fold laundry, or scramble some eggs and shovel them down.

After a few weeks, Kate’s naptimes grew longer and I found that I was getting more and more done during her naps. My time management skills were improving, I was cutting out unnecessary tasks, and I was maximizing what I was doing while she was awake.

I want to share my naptime secrets with you!

Before I begin, I should clarify- we trained Kate using the Ferber gradual extinction method of sleep training. We place her in her crib at naptime (following the ABCs of safe sleep at all times), tell her we love her, and then walk out of the room and close the door. She occasioanlly cries for a few minutees, but usually just rolls onto her belly and falls right to sleep.

Maximizing Awake Time

We’re going to begin with what I do when Kate is awake! Doing these things while she’s awake gives me more time to do other things while she’s sleeping.

  1. I eat.

I try really, really hard to eat while Kate is awake. I’m not talking about standing at the stove and cooking up some elaborate meal to sit down and enjoy- I’m talking about cereal, protein bars, sandwiches, fruit, mayyybe some scrambled eggs if she’s really interested in gnawing on her rattle for 3 minutes… quick stuff that is relatively healthy and will fill me up! That way, I don’t need to waste precious nap time finding something to eat.

2. I do time drainers while I interact with Kate.

You know those annoying things that are completely mindless but take a lot of time (like folding towels or stuffing diapers)? I do those things while the baby is awake and playing on her play gym. I sit on the floor right next to her and interact, dangling things in front of her and playing peek-a-boo (which, at this point, is for my own entertainment much more than for hers).

3. I wear her around the house.

Like most babies, Kate absolutely loves being held… but holding her means that I only have the use of half of my arms! Wearing her in my Solly baby wrap means that I’m still keeping her close, but I have the full use of both of my arms. I wear her while I’m vacumming, cleaning the kitchen, or sometimes even working on my computer. She loves looking around and being involved in what I’m doing, and I love that I’m helping to develop her language skills by narrating what I’m doing while I do it.

4. I (try to) clean as I go. This one is kind of laughable because I fail more than I succeed, but I really do try! Things can really get piled up when you’re home all the time, so I try to clean as I go. For example, when I make Kate a bottle, I immediately put the lid back on the formula and put it away. When she’s done with the bottle, I take off the nipple and cap and then put all 3 pieces in the wash basin. When I change her diaper, I take out the insert, remove the liner, and toss all of them in the diaper bin. None of these things take more than 15 seconds to accomplish, but if I had to do them all together when I had a few spare minutes, it would be much more time consuming.

Maximizing Sleep Time

Now, let’s talk about when Kate is sleeping!

  1. I plan my time effectively.

Duh, Becca. That’s what the whole post is about.

Well, yeah, but here’s what I mean: I know that I’m most energetic and creative in the mornings. So, I use the time before Kate wakes up and her first nap or two in the morning to get. shit. done. That’s when I work on my blog, create new designs, make my Instagram graphics, etc.

I definitely do not spend that time doing things like updating Etsy tags, listing new products in my store, or anything housework related. I do those boring and tedious tasks during her afternoon naps, when Thomas is spending time with her after work, or after she goes to bed in the evenings.

2. I combine similar tasks.

Kind of like how I write several blog posts at once, I try to batch my housework tasks, too! If there are breakfast dishes in the sink but I know that I’ll be making lunch in 45 minutes, I just wait and spend that time doing something else. Then, while I’m already standing at the sink washing breakfast and lunch dishes, I wash bottles and pump parts, too.

When I’m taking a load of my laundry downstairs, I’ll throw in her dirty clothes (not her diapers, though!) and wash them together as one load. If there is anything that needs to be brought back upstairs, I’ll grab it and bring it up (even if I don’t put it away right away).

This keeps me from wasting time moving around too much (like taking two trips when one would suffice) and allows me to make the most of my time.

3. I eliminate useless tasks.

Can I be honest here?

I don’t fold or hang Kate’s clothes. *mic drop*

If you go into our nursery, you’ll find two dressers. One holds clothes that she’ll grow into eventually. The other holds clothes she wears now. And none of them are folded.

I used to fold her clothes. When she first came home as a tiny little 4lb peanut, I lovingly and carefully rolled all of her sleeper outfits into tiny little sushi rolls and placed them into tiny baskets under her changing pad.

Nowadays, I separate her clothes into a couple of baskets- sleepers, short sleeved onesies and jumpers, pants/shorts, and long-sleeved onesies to sleep in. The only things I do fold are her sheets (so they’re not wrinkled when we put them on her mattress) and her receiving blankets so they’ll fit in the drawers.

4. I’m mobile.

I have a home office in the downstairs of our house… but all of our main living areas (including the baby’s nursery, the kitchen, and the bathroom) are upstairs, so during the day you can find me working at the kitchen table, on the couch, or even sometimes on the bed! Staying upstairs keeps me from wasting time running up and down the stairs every time I need to refill my water, use the bathroom, or check on the baby. Once she is in bed for the night, I typically go back downstairs and work in my office (but admittedly, many nights I just stay upstairs).

5. I rest.

This one may be last, but it is certainly not least. When I’m tired and overwhelmed with all of the things that come with parenting a new baby (especially having a new baby during the time of Covid), I rest. I’ll put on a podcast, read a book, or maybe even just watch TikTok for an hour while I lay in bed.

And, sometimes I turn my phone on silent and fall asleep for 2 hours and make my husband come home in a complete panic thinking that something terrible has happened only to find Kate sound asleep in her crib and me sound asleep in our bed.

Oopsie daisies.

The moral of that story is- I’m a doer, but everyone needs to just shut down sometimes. (But maybe let someone know or at least turn your phone ringer on.)

The Ending

If you’re here and reading this because you’re a new mom and you’re completely exhausted, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret- anyone who says that the newborn phase is their favorite is looking at it through rose-colored glasses.

Yeah, newborns are soft and snuggly and they smell so delicious and you just want to eat them up… but they also don’t sleep much, they’re constantly eating, their poop is absolutely disgusting, and sometimes you literally just have NO idea why the hell they’re crying (for hours and hours and hours and hours and…)

Take heart, because it truly, truly does get better. Please reach out to a friend or family member if you need someone to talk to!

And please come join me on Instagram, where I talk about the shit show that is my life and parenting! My daughter is super cute but dang, parenting sucks sometimes and I’m there to talk about it!

PS- here are a couple of other quick tips that save us time throughout the day! I’ll add to it when I remember new things.

  1. I keep a running grocery list on my phone so that I always know what I need when Thomas asks.
  2. We use Free and Clear laundry detergent on all of our clothes so we don’t need to find ‘her’ detergent to wash her clothes (which I wash with my own anyway).
  3. I restock the diaper bag as soon as I get home because I know what I used while I was out.
  4. I have hooks hanging off of every headrest in my car so I can just hang the diaper bag from whatever side I load her in on.
  5. We keep our house simple and clutter-free. This saves us lots of time when we clean up!
  6. We don’t even bother putting away Kate’s bottles. They stay on the drying rack in the kitchen until we need them.