Becoming a new mom and going back to work can be such a hard transition. Just to give you a little background of my career, I work Monday – Friday in a corporate environment, working to develop automation, internal applications, and streamline process gaps using process improvement methodology. I have two precious boys, ages 2 and 9 months. Juggling being a wife, mom, employee, daughter, and friend isn’t easy, but here are my “lifehacks” to make things a little easier.
1. Pumping Equipment
If your are planning on breastfeeding and will be pumping, THIS ONE IS FOR YOU! This subject alone can be overwhelming, as there is much to learn from milk supply to milk storage. If there’s ONE thing I choose to pass along, it’s this: buy multiple pump bottles, drinking bottles, and even pump parts. There is a time to have a minimalist mindset, BUT this is not one of those times. If you work long hours like I do, you don’t want to be up at night washing and sterilizing your bottles and parts. I did this with my first, and I don’t advise it. Buy enough for 3 days and do a mid-week wash!
2. Pump Part Storage
For this lifehack, store your pump parts in a zip lock bag and kept in the refrigerator when not in use. The days between washing is completely up to your comfort level, but don’t go beyond a week.
There was a time I didn’t have a Wellness Room at my disposal, and had to pump in an office. I wasn’t about to wash or rinse my pump parts in the break room sink. I stored my parts for the day and would take them home each night to wash and sterilize. Since moving into a new facility, I now have a Wellness Room with a sink and medical grade refrigerator. I currently rinse my parts, and store for several days before taking home. If pumped milk can store in the refrigerator for several days, why can’t my pump parts?
3. Washing & Sterilizing
One word. Dapple. Breast milk leaves residue, and Dapple does an amazing job get it out. This might be overkill, but I pre-wash all my part and bottles in the sink (or tub according to CDC advisement) with Dapple. I use a bottle brush and swab the bottles a couple times and into the top rack of the dishwasher. Then I use Dapple dishwasher pods, and run my dishwasher on the hottest setting to sterilize them. I do include other pre-rinsed dishes, if you’re wondering. I did use a bottle sterilizer at first, but the dishwasher method is one step I just automated. For my parts, I still use the Medela bag to keep from losing those small parts.
Do you know how many times I’ve looked down and realized I had poop on my top? With my first, I think it was zero times thanks to cloth diapers. But, with my second, at least three times in public and many more times when I’m just running errands and such. Mornings are hard, and I’m usually scrambling around not paying any attention. Go ahead a put a change of clothes in the car or bag. Something that is work appropriate too! OR consider wearing an over sized shirt until you get to work. You never know when what might happen between getting dressed and getting to work.
5. Groceries Pick-up / Delivery / Subscriptions
For this lifehack, consider what stores you visit within a regular routine. I think my errands could include nine stops depending on what I was out of. That’s ridiculous! I tried other brands or paying higher prices to get around this to minimize stops. I also only have enough energy to make three stops in a given weekend. If I need to do more, than I HAVE to break it up and do lunch break runs or have my husband pick-up items. What I’ve started doing with specialty food items is, ordering only from THRIVE Market. Or I order what I can from Amazon Prime, and the rest is strategically scheduled. All things coming to my door step is seriously THE BEST! Try other grocery store curbside pick-up! Your toddler’s might not have as much fun, but you’ll keep your sanity and save time.
6. Wear Clothes to Bed
When I started back at work, it was really difficult to get both my kids dressed, bags packed, and then have time to take care of myself. My stress level increases the more I juggle and the earlier my kids get up. I’m usually getting up at 5:30 AM and ideally leave my kids asleep til 6:30. That leaves 30 minutes for them to eat, get dressed, and in the car. With young babies, I just dress them the night before and I have less to worry about in the morning. With messy toddlers, it’s easier bedtime routine if I keep his shirt on from the day and just change his diaper and pants.
7. Pack Extra Snacks
Hungry and/or tired kids equals fussy kids. When I pick-up my oldest child from daycare, he’s usually hungry. I can sometimes use a ‘snack in the car’ to motivate my child to listen to my instructions when getting him off the playground and into his seat. Having extra snacks in his lunch box also gives him choices, which helps him feel more independent, or just a buffer if he’s going through a growth spurt and needs extra calories. I choose healthier snacks, such as food pouches with fruit and veggies. I also usually pack veggie straws, pretzels, or some kind of starch not filled with sugar. Your the mom, you know what your kids will eat, and you get to decide!
8. Weekend Meal Prep
By the time I get home, I have two hours before my kids need to be going to bed. Because I want time to conversate with my husband and have one-on-one time with my kids, I can’t spend too much time in the kitchen. What time I do spend in the kitchen is heating food and clean-up, so all the heavy lifting is done on the weekends. Crock-pot meals don’t work well for me since we’re gone long hours during the day and my meat is usually burnt by the time I get home. I will however cook multiple meals using the oven, crock-pot, and stove simultaneously. Toaster ovens and cast-iron skillets do well re-heating food!
9. Kitchen Clean-up
By 8 PM, I’m exhausted and ready to fall asleep. But things run smoothly if I can keep the kitchen counter, sink and dinner table clutter free. By Thursday night, I feel like it’s a disaster zone, but that’s okay. I made it to Thursday, and I’m in the home stretch! Saturday mornings are usually spent tidying up. Don’t forget, you didn’t make the mess by yourself. Ask others to help! Give your child a little responsibility. My son doesn’t mind wiping up spots from the kitchen floor and he’s two.
Raising little humans DOES take a village! What are you lifehacks?