One of the biggest adjustments first-time moms and dads must make is time management, as they learn to juggle the demands of caring for a newborn, themselves, and their home.
How can you make the transition into parenthood a little bit easier? With a little time management, a little organizing, and a little bit of zen.
How to make new parenthood easier: Tips from professional organizers
Practicing effective time management helps ensure each family member’s needs are met, and can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the swirl of new responsibilities and experiences having a baby brings.
Here, members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) who specialize in working with families offer a few tips to help new and expectant parents adapt to life with baby.
Accept that routine tasks or errands will take longer to do
Calming baby, packing supplies for outings, unexpected clean-ups, and other minor occurrences will increase the time required to complete most activities, so plan accordingly.
Get help for the first month or so
Family members and friends typically volunteer to help with cleaning, cooking, and errands for the first few weeks, so take them up on the offer. If family or friends aren’t available, consider hiring a maid service to handle household chores until family members adjust to the “new normal.”
Take advantage of baby’s nap times
Use the hours when baby is sleeping during the day to catch up on your own sleep, take care of household tasks, catch up on emails, or just relax.
New parents should establish visiting hours
When people drop by unannounced or on short notice, it can be disruptive and stressful. Let friends, co-workers, family and neighbors know when visits are welcome, and when the visits wouldn’t be convenient.
Plan meals in advance
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 re-heated quickly throughout the week. (Be sure to check out this beginner’s guide to once a month cooking here!)
Set up a “Family Command Center”
Establish a single place where frequently-used information like schedules, mail, meal plans, etc. 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 number, passport) and medical records (doctor visits, vaccination information, prescriptions, lists of those authorized to receive baby’s medical info) 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.
Resist the urge to buy excess baby gear
Many specialty products are cute, but end up becoming clutter because they only serve a single purpose.
Ask other parents which time-saving items they use regularly, and skip the rest. An organizer who has experience working with families can provide practical advice on ways to optimize room layout and maximize storage space.
Source: The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) leads and advances the organizing and productivity industry. NAPO was founded in 1985 as a nonprofit professional educational association for professional organizers. This article originally appeared on Myria.com in 2013.