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Time Saving Tips When You Have a Baby

 

We asked moms like you to share their best time saving strategies. Overwhelmingly, the same advice kept coming up: Get organized. Bar none, it's the single most important step you can take.

"There's a reason we're prone to nesting when we're pregnant," says Stacey Crew, author of  "The Get Organized Guide for New Moms: Organizing Solutions From Conception to Baby's First Birthday." What's the reason? According to Crew, it's nature's way of providing disorganized women an incentive to put their lives in order.

Chaos, after all, saps time and energy, two commodities in short supply when you've just had a baby. Creating a method for your madness gives a structure to your life and home that's crucial in the first few months postpartum, when eating, feeding and sleeping patterns (yours and the baby's) are out of whack. Also, Crew says, it frees you to have somebody come in and take over, which is especially helpful during those first few postpartum weeks.

Start small: Draft a to-do list each night to use as a template for the next day, and keep easily lost or forgotten items like keys and medical records in the same spot so you always know where they are. When you're comfortable, work your way up to the biggies: Purge your closet of clothes that are never worn so you can easily find what's left: the items you love. Or, for the ultimate project, create "zones" at home so everything has its place. One corner of the den may be for reading (books and magazines), while another is for socializing (sofa).

"There are only so many hours in the day," says Crew. "If you're organized, what you're doing is [allowing] yourself to focus on what's important: Your family."

Other ways to streamline your new-parent life:

  • Communicate. Keeping clear on what your family's doing and thinking will head off time-consuming arguments. You could post a schedule where everyone can see it so your entire household knows what's happening for the day. Or, sit down with your partner and be honest about your expectations. "It [saves] a lot of time and frustration if you discuss what you want as a family," explains Crew.
  • Rely on technology. At their best, gadgets and the Web make life more efficient, so take advantage of them. Pay bills online instead of writing checks, so you won't have to keep stamps on hand and find a mailbox to send in payment subs. Schedule Web time, too; perhaps leave it until the end of the day when the baby's tucked in her crib and you can enjoy the Web at your (limited) leisure. If you sit with your baby while he or she falls asleep, think about bringing your laptop into the room; the light from the screen won't keep an infant awake.
  • Simplify. Examine everything you do for inefficiencies and cut out extra steps. For example, if you know your brand and size, shop online for necessities like lingerie and T-shirts. Ditto for health and personal care items; great deals and free shipping often make it a cheaper as well as an easier option than visiting a store.
  • Buy only what's necessary and store what isn't. Sure, you could clutter your space by filling it with every possible baby product available. But you don't need everything that's on offer. Sarah, a new mom in Michigan, passed on the diaper pail, which she says is "just one more thing to clean." After a change, she trashes her daughter's diaper immediately.
  • Learn to say "no." It's one of the shortest words in the English language, but it packs a punch, which may be why so many moms (and dads) feel guilty when they have to dole it out. And yet if you say "yes" to everything -- invitations, volunteer work, a subscription to yet another magazine you won't read -- you'll be nixing something else in your life that may be more important to you. Better to take on only what enhances your family life, says Crew. A day fighting the crowds for an early-bird sale: insanity. A morning snuggles with your partner and the baby: priceless.
 

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