The standard piece of advice for all new parents seems to be “sleep when the baby sleeps” but it is only partially accurate.
Moms should absolutely grab some shut-eye during the day when their new super loud food processor decides to catch some Z’s, but sometimes it is not the best idea. I found that by sleeping every time, the baby did, you suddenly find that every waking hour is consumed with parenting duties and you seem to do nothing but feed, change, sleep, and repeat.
For this reason, I always like to tell new parents that they should sometimes sleep when the baby does, and if they feel they could get by without the quick hour of shut-eye before their little one wakes again, they should take the opportunity to do something for themselves. Eat with no interruptions or even just sit quietly and stare out of the window without noise and activity in the background, whatever floats your boat.
Of course, your baby is only going to sleep for a short while, and you will have minimum energy so what are you going to do with those precious waking moments when you are not on mom duty? If you are stumped and do not know what to do with yourself, here is a handy list of things that all new moms waste time on while the baby sleeps.
15 Staring At The Baby
You know you could be doing something “more productive” but why bother when you can sit and stare in awe at this gorgeous new life you have created? When you are on the treadmill of caring for a new baby, it can be difficult to remember why you are doing this. Your life becomes a blur of strange colored poops, puzzling cries, and the constant, seemingly never-ending, demands of new motherhood.
Take a moment to sit back and remember why you are doing all of this. This screaming, peeing, demanding, bundle of frustrations and needs is here because of you. Savor the moment when she is sleeping and stare at her cute little button nose, the way her mouth twitches at the corners, and the perfection of those tiny little fingers.
14 Taking Photos
The natural progression from staring at your baby would appear, for most people, to start taking numerous pictures of this new ray of sunshine that is illuminating your life. You will no doubt feel the need to capture every last expression, every sleeping position, and every cute outfit, and fortunately for you, today's electronic devices allow us to record for prosperity, far more than we have ever been able to before.
You will be told not to take so many pictures. You will be asked why you need to see every last expression of your son immortalized and the killjoys will tell you that you will never look at all of those photographs.
I say shoot away. As long as you are also enjoying your little one in the flesh, and not just through the lens, you can always thin out the photos later. If it gives you pleasure to document your baby with plenty of photographs, go ahead.
13 Being Boring
One note of caution with the photographs, consider how much you want to share. Our children are among the first to grow up with the lives documented and shared online, and we do not yet know if our future budding lawyers, carpenters, doctors, and mechanics will suffer when they are adults because everyone has seen every moment of their life.
In addition to that thought, you may want to consider the dangers of being an online baby bore. Yes, people can flick past your constant updates if they want to, no they do not have to make snarky comments because you are filling their Facebook timeline with baby photos, but you do not have to dedicate every part of your life to your baby.
One day this little chick will fly the nest, then you might regret alienating your friends.
12 Facebook Stalking
If you have sidestepped the Facebook bore trap, look out, you could still be in danger because countless new moms waste time stalking friends, family and vague acquaintances on Facebook. It begins so slowly you will barely notice it is happening. You have a few moments, and you wonder if that “I’m so perfect” woman in your childbirth classes had a boy or a girl, so you send her a friend request. Miss Perfect Pregnancy accepts your friend request, and suddenly you see all of the impossibly happy, glowing, beautiful photos of her and her family smiling out from your screen.
This is the point at which you start obsessively checking her page every time you go online in the vain hope you’ll see her finally have a bad day. Take heart; Miss Perfect has plenty of bad days; she just doesn’t share them. Stop obsessing and enjoy what is going on in your own life.
11 Mail Check
If you have a letterbox in your door and a mail carrier who delivers directly to your home then you are one of the lucky souls who only have to pile all of the mail up on the kitchen table and then try and tackle it when your baby sleeps.
If you are one of those people who have a mailbox at the end of a drive, out of sight of your front door, or maybe a community mailbox that could be a block or two away, you can only really check the mail if you take the baby with you and this raises the chances of waking the baby.
Is it that important that you go out and check whether or not you have a free notepad from a local realtor, three takeout menus and a flyer with a money off coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond?
Don't risk it. Check the mail when the baby is awake and save the closed eye times for something else.
10 You’ve Got Mail
Don’t, whatever you do, try and deal with your email while the baby is sleeping. When you open up your mailbox, you will be overwhelmed by the avalanche of emails that fill your page, most of them asking the same things or offering you $70 million in return for being the administrator of an estate left to a Nigerian Prince.
After the spam is gone, you will have one thousand and one marketing emails trying to entice you to spend money you don’t need to spend on beautiful baby items you do not need to own. This will set you off on a quest around the internet, looking at things, comparing bits and pieces and generally wasting time until the baby wakes up again. You will be left with the feeling you just lost an hour and didn’t even enjoy yourself in the process.
9 Planning Your Schedule
The first word in that headline should have given you a clue as to why this is something that is a time waster when your baby is asleep. “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish saying which means, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.” The same principle applies to you and your baby it is just a case of “Mom Plans and Baby Laughs, or Cries, or Screams, or Throws Up on you.”
There is, of course, nothing wrong with planning your week ahead, as long as you can be flexible about it. If you are too rigid and too detailed in your planning, any deviation from that plan might be crushingly disappointing.
So do not waste time jotting down a play by play for the next seven days, set yourself a more general target like “getting dressed” and bask in the glory of your achievements instead.
8 Tackling The Laundry
Haven’t you been paying attention to this post? The things you are supposed to be wasting time on are meant to be silly, self-help type things and not practical household bits and pieces that suck the will to live from us all.
Do not, I repeat, do not waste these precious moments of free(ish) time on sorting out the lights from the darks, trying to remember what that weird laundry symbol means and discovering that you are out of laundry detergent anyway.
If you empty the laundry basket, it will just fill itself up again while you are not looking. They have magical properties that do not allow you to ever see the bottom for more than a few moments at a time. Trying to finish washing all of the clothes only ends in disappointment and defeat, so do not try and you have one less thing about which to worry.
7 Writing A Shopping List
Think you can spend a few quiet moments getting organized for a shopping trip? Perhaps you are lucky enough to have someone volunteer to shop for you if you make them out a list. Either way, do not waste time while your baby is sleeping by trying to focus on a comprehensive shopping list. Coherent thought is next to impossible before your baby hits the three-month-old mark, so you have no hope of remembering what you have in the house or what you actually need.
Instead, write down the things you need for the baby, which will be everything, and “something that is easy to cook.” This puts the onus on the person helping you out to be the smart thinker and work out what you are going to eat tomorrow night.If you are doing the shopping, it’s baby stuff and microwave meals. Job done.
6 Picking Up A Book
Do you remember when you were on maternity leave and you had all of those grandiose plans for what you would do with all of that free time when your baby was asleep? You might have picked yourself a few books to enjoy. You know, the ones that all your friends have recommended, but you were always just to busy to get around to reading.
As a new mom, you should never waste time trying to pick up a book and read while your baby is asleep. First of all, by the time you have put the little one down to sleep, gone for a quick wee, made yourself a cuppa and settled down comfortably, there will barely be time to crack the spine before your bundle of joy wakes up again. Secondly, if you do manage to get as far as actually reading it will be so long until you get the chance to sit down and enjoy your book again that you will have forgotten what you have read.
5 Pinning It
In much the same way that it is a bad thing to go skulking around Facebook when you have some downtime, you should also avoid Pinterest like you would avoid the plague. Not only will you discover that everyone has a more creative and more cleverly decorated nursery than you, but you will also see all of the artistic things other moms are whipping up in between being perfect and having perfect lives and perfect children. You may even find things you didn’t even know existed for you to feel jealous or dejected about.
Save your time and your emotional energy. If you do find yourself gravitating towards the land of the giant white script P then at least search things like “cooking fails” or “nailed it.” That way you can see other peoples real-life disasters and know that you are not alone.
4 Push It. Literally.
OK, a quick heads up, this one is gross, but just because it is gross does not mean it isn’t vital true and valuable information.
One of the great unspoken pleasures of new motherhood is going and having an uninterrupted poop and taking as long as you need to. You cannot schedule when you will need to go to the bathroom and, although it is not entirely impossible it is indeed not best practice to go to the bathroom while trying to hold a squirming baby.
So next time you have had to hold on forever and the little one is finally asleep go take a gloriously free trip to the bathroom. Take as long as you like, no rush, and maybe even treat yourself to some moist toilet tissue while you are at it.
3 Maker Mommy
We have all been there. That place where you feel that it would be wonderful to spend these nuggets of quiet time to make something special for the baby, something they would keep forever, possibly even pass it onto their children.
Even I have tried this one, and I was at the back of the queue when they were handing out the crafting genes. Despite the fact I cannot knit, sew, crochet, draw, paint, or otherwise create anything of visual value I decided it would be a good idea to make a keepsakes book for our eldest son when he was a newborn. The resulting mess was discretely thrown away before anybody could witness my shameful attempts and I bought a milestones book instead.
Save yourself from this failure and buy something, or give your baby something you had as a child and use the time to stare at them instead.
2 Dress For Success
There is a point in every new mom's life where having a matching set of PJ’s on, where both the top and the bottoms are clean, counts as dressing up. While some people can look stylish while being comfortably dressed, it is a singular talent that many of us do not possess.
For this reason, do not waste your precious quiet alone time on trying to find a clean outfit that is suitable for the rigors and ninja-like demands of looking after a new baby AND also matches. Remember you are supposed to be setting yourself realistic goals so if you do want to spend time getting dressed pat yourself on the back if every item you are wearing is yours, is clean, and doesn’t have any rips or holes in them.
1 Reading About Babies
A little-known fact that I have just made up is that when your baby is growing inside of you, it cuts off the circulation to the part of your brain that governs common sense. This is why, even though we know we shouldn’t, moms everywhere spend to much time reading about their baby's development, how to get their baby to sleep, and what their baby should be doing next.
Take a deep breath and repeat to yourself “I do not need to worry about what is coming next. I just need to take the time to enjoy today.”
Stop obsessively double checking whether or not your baby “should” sleep, or cry, or poop, a certain amount at their age. Put down the baby books and broaden your horizons a little. Watch the news, veg out in front of a soap or watch the program about squirrels you have been keeping on the PVR for a time like this.