Navigating Housework as a New Mom

February 19, 2024, cassieley

In the early weeks of my postpartum, I was blessed to have my mom visiting from out of state. My mom helped care for me and my baby by cooking, cleaning, and changing diapers. I wondered how I would manage when she was gone! When she left many days, putting my baby down long enough to do much more than run a load of laundry felt impossible. Now, seven months in, the me from several months ago would not believe that I could cook a meal, bake a dessert, wash the dishes, and do a load of laundry all while caring for my baby. So, what has changed? Well, not all credit goes to me. My baby now naps a little better and can play independently for short periods. But I can offer some practical tips for getting work done around the house when you have a baby.

Young mother holding her baby on her shoulder is sorting laundry

First things first, you have to manage your expectations. It is unrealistic to think you can get things done the way you did before having a baby. I often hear the advice: give yourself grace. Although I understand and appreciate the sentiment, I dislike this phrase because a physical mess causes mental stress, and I do not like to simply accept the mess. If you are like me and do not want to accept the mess, it may be wise to accept help. After my mom left, I tried to ask someone to come once a week to spend time with me and help me. If you live near family or friends, you can ask if they are willing to help. If not, you could consider hiring a postpartum doula to assist with cooking, light housework, or childcare help. Managing expectations requires evaluating what is best for you physically, mentally, and financially.

A mother is washing dishes while her baby is in a front pack watching.When I am on my own, I categorize tasks into those I prefer to do with my baby and those I like to do on my own. For example, I do tasks such as dishes when she is napping. When she is awake, I do tasks such as folding laundry, where I can be on the floor with her. Babywearing can also allow you to be productive while keeping your baby close and allowing them to observe. (The key is to find a carrier that works for you– I like this one, but check Facebook marketplace before you pay full price.) I think it is good for our children to see us doing household work so that it is a norm and they can become involved as they get older. I also recognize some tasks are easier to complete on our own, uninterrupted. There are ways to utilize your free time and time with your baby to complete housework.

happy father with infant baby boy in carrier vacuuming the living roomNext, learn to work more efficiently. This does not necessarily mean simply working faster. Rather, consider what systems and routines you can add to your day. For example, I try to clean the kitchen as I cook. Additionally, make a list each night of what you need to do the next day, and write it down, not just in your head.  That way, when you have a spare moment, you are not scrambling to decide how to best take advantage of it. Finding ways to work more efficiently is not one-size-fits-all and will require you to evaluate your personal situation.

In the future, I am excited to bring my daughter along and involve her in my everyday tasks. For now, I will accept help when it is available, do what I can when I can, and create systems that work for me. Lastly, I would like to leave you with this: the purpose of cooking and cleaning your house is to serve your family, so do not neglect your family for the sake of a perfect house, and do not resent your family for interfering with you getting this work done. It may take time, trial and error, and changes, but do your best and find what works for you!