Schedules: The WAHM’s Secret Weapon #2 for Sanity & Productivity
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Secret Weapon #2: Start Scheduling
I know a lot of people don’t like the “s” word. But scheduling is an absolute life-saver for the WAHM. When used correctly, schedules foster calm and order while reducing chaos and stress. The important thing to determine when creating a schedule is how rigid you want it to be. Trying to keep a strict to-the-minute schedule will likely only add to your stress instead of lessening it—especially when we’re working with babies, who are by nature unpredictable. So loose is a key word here.
As soon as your baby is three months old, their sleep begins to stabilize.* At this point, not only can they fall asleep by themselves, but they actually begin to enjoy structure as well. Babies thrive on the stability of a routine, so the bonus of having a schedule is that your baby may enjoy it just as much as you! I can’t recommend creating and implementing a nap schedule more highly. It has made a world of difference in this mom’s life.
There are a lot of great resources to learn more about nap schedules, but the most important thing is to find the perfect waketime for your baby (the time between each nap). Use a list like this one as a starting point, and you’ll soon discover what your baby’s ideal waketime length is. Then you can create your nap schedule around that. (As your baby grows, this waketime will continue to stretch every one or two months. So your schedule will shift, but the following principle remains the same.)
When your baby sleeps, work! It will be tempting to start cleaning the house or tackling the dishes. Resist the urge! You can do housework while baby plays next to you or hangs out in a pack, so it’s a waste to use this totally quiet, uninterrupted time for those tasks. Put your phone down, dive into your work and get some quality focus time in. I’ve found I am actually even more productive in less time since becoming a mom—those quiet nap periods are so precious and limited that I become doubly focused!
Now, for some WAHMs, this will be enough work time in a day. But keep in mind you should always schedule in some downtime, so just because your baby theoretically sleeps 3 hours in any given day doesn’t mean you will clock in exactly 3 hours. Sometimes, too, it’s important to take 15 or 20 minutes as soon as baby falls asleep to take some well-deserved R&R! (I do this once a day at the beginning of Alan’s last nap, and it is much needed!) So if you can’t get all your work in done in those few hours, it’s time to take a look at my “bonus” secret weapons.
I hope this post has given you a little insight on why I love scheduling so much. There are a lot of resources to find out more about baby sleep and scheduling, but the most important thing is to find out what works for you. Experiment and remember that no two babies are alike.
*Before three months of age, it’s more difficult to get consistency, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get work done. At this stage they often sleep best on Mom, so get a carrier or wrap and wear that baby while you work! This might be a nice time to invest in a stand-up desk so you can stand and bounce while you’re at the computer…