When you have a new baby in your family, there’s always going to be a base level of beautiful chaos that exists. Even once your family has started to establish a general rhythm to your days and some basics routines that help to keep your household running, at some point, Baby will get sick or miss a nap, or you’ll have to work late, or your partner will miss a train. And maybe you and your family feel like you’ve got certain household challenges down – New family budget? Check! – but you struggle with others – Why do you keep forgetting that the babysitter needs to leave early on Wednesdays? If this describes your current predicament, it’s worth considering some small adjustments that might help make your days go a little more smoothly. Especially when you’re back to work and plenty busy, even a little extra efficiency could be a game-changer.
Family calendar, family to-do list, family budget
Maybe you’re already a pro with to-do lists and use them to keep your work responsibilities in check, but do you and your family have a shared household to-do list? What about a shared calendar? Or a shared budget? If you have a partner, these things can help to get you both on the same page about family priorities regarding responsibilities, time, and money. They can take some time to put together, but if you can make use of these planning tools – in digital or hard copy, super-duper-detailed or more bare-bones – it can go a long way in helping to get everyone in your family on the same page with some of the finer details of household management.
After all, it doesn’t help anyone’s day run more smoothly when preventable challenges pop up – if, say, you forget that your partner has to stay late at the office or the check for the babysitter bounces. Whether you have a physical calendar that hangs on the fridge or a shared calendar app, a handwritten list of monthly expenses or fancy budgeting software, these tools might really benefit your growing family.
Automated delivery of diapers, wipes, and other necessities
Even if you were pretty minimal in terms of your shopping habits before Baby arrived, he probably brought the need to buy a whole new type of household products with him – diapers and wipes and baby balms, oh my! You may even have taken to ordering some of these goods online, which can be super convenient when you’re busy with a little one.
A great way to level up in your parenting game is to set up automatic delivery of some of the products that you know you’ll always need more of – and unless you’re going the cloth diapering route, you’ll always need more diapers. There are a lot of online options for placing regular, repeating orders of just these sort of goods, and setting up an automatic order will often get you a slight discount.
It might take a few minutes to set up your recurring order and another few clicks to confirm, for example, that Baby’s diaper size still fits every month or so, but if it helps to take one more thing off of your plate – and off of your to-do list – then you can’t lose.
Meal planning and prep
Some families keep this simple and others take it to the extreme, but some degree of planning your meals – for example, on a weekly basis – can help make your day-to-day run a lot more smoothly. You always have to eat, after all, and if Baby has started eating solids, so does he.
This might be something as simple as listing out what you’ll eat for the week ahead and making a corresponding grocery list. It might even mean planning for some meals to create leftovers that can then make their way into other meals later in the week. And it might mean doing some meal preparation in advance – either completed meals (like baked ziti, soup, or enchiladas) or portions of meals (like shredded chicken, rice, or diced veggies) – for the week ahead or even farther down the road.
And if you have enough freezer space, there’s quite a lot of food that you can make ahead and then freeze and store for later, whether in portions to be a part of larger dishes or as full meals that, once reheated, can take center stage. This sort of planning is another great task to share with a partner, and some families even find it to be fun.
Grocery or meal delivery services
Anything else that can help make the meal planning go more smoothly? Some families also like to opt for a grocery delivery service or meal delivery service. If you find it hard to get to the grocery store, don’t love the task, or find that your family buys the same foods again and again, grocery delivery could be for you. (However, if you love that regular time spent at the store with Baby or find that grocery shopping solo is a bit of a treat for you, keep making those in-store visits!)
If you do choose to opt for delivery, it isn’t all-or-nothing. You can sign up for delivery regularly, or just when you’re in a pinch – if your family is down for the count with the flu, for example – but it’s a good option to have if you live in a location where such services exist.
A somewhat different option is a meal delivery service, which will bring all the fixings for a full meal straight to your door – you just have to cook it! Usually these come with a subscription, but if you’d like to skip some of the effort in meal planning, then getting all the ingredients you need for a new meal (or two, or three) delivered to your home could be for you.
Sometimes these services come with a steeper price tag, so you’ll have to figure out if the value and tradeoff (of time, thought, or convenience) is worth it for your family. And of course, in a real food emergency, you can always order takeout.
Pack and prep the night before
This is a tried and true tip, but that’s because it works. Something that can help your mornings run more smoothly is to pack and prep everything you’ll need for the day ahead the night before.
This might mean labelling Baby’s breast milk or formula and packing a stocked diaper bag for daycare, or organizing all the food, snacks, and clothes Baby will need for a day at home with a sitter. It might also mean packing your own bag – which could include a breast pump and bottles, gym clothes and sneakers, a book and a phone charger – so you have whatever you need to get through the day. You may also want to pack a lunch and lay out what you’ll wear.
Certainly, you can do all of this at the start of your day, but doing it the night before helps to ensure that you won’t forget anything in what can sometimes be a sleepy morning rush. And since you never know what surprises Baby might throw at you overnight – after all, sleep regression, surprise wake-ups, and sleepless nights are never planned – it really can’t hurt.