I made one huge mistake when I had my first daughter: I was so focused on being healthy during pregnancy and birth that I neglected the things that happen right after birth, like YOU GO HOME WITH A BABY.
Yes. A rookie mistake, I admit.
It seems obvious that one should organize themselves and their lives in preparation for a new family member. Somehow, I didn’t get this memo. That’s why I found myself wasting time on quite a few of the following 10 time wasters you need to stop as a new mom. Nearly all of them, in fact.
Moms-To-Be, and New Moms, please take use the following list as a guide for How to Survive the Newborn Days By Cutting These Things Out:
A new baby means loads of eager visitors in your home. Cheek pinching, toe-kissing, and new-baby-sniffing relatives will be banging on the door before you’ve left the birthing room. I’m not saying you should slap a “KEEP OUT” sign on your front lawn.
The support and excitement of family and friends makes the newborn days a very special time.
What I am saying is “Do not go to any length other than putting on a robe to receive your guests.” No baking scones, no seasonal napkins, and certainly nothing involving invitations. Do not waste your time by appearing to have your “post-baby shit-together.” Trust me, you won’t. So don’t waste your time pretending you do.
Do not waste your precious post-birth time by hand writing birth announcement.
I DO support having your newborn’s photos taken. This is a good use of your time.
I DO NOT support your addressing fifty envelopes. This is why the universe created email. Send those gorgeous new baby pics over the interwebs. Use your waking hours wisely in the days after baby’s birth.
When the relatives and friends come to visit in those early days they will ask “What can I bring you?” This is not the time to be too polite. Your answer, without fail, needs to be:
Bring. Me. Food.
Cooking and freezing before baby comes is a great idea. This is a time to make your sauces, casseroles, and quiches. When baby comes home, you should be spending time sitting down and eating this food. Do not waste your precious time with complex cooking right now.
Babies are pretty clean. They come that way. Don’t waste your time bathing your baby every night in an attempt to create routine. There are years to come when you’ll bathe this child every night. Take some of that precious evening time to do important things — like sleep.
When I had my daughter, I was extremely focused on creating lots of learning opportunities for her: mobiles, toys with contrast, songs that instilled “love of music.” In short: it was nuts. It was a time-waster. Not because I was being a bad mother, but because I was denying myself the joy of living in the moment and enjoying my little pink bundle. All she wanted was a skin-to-skin snuggle and a soft blanket.
There will be lots of time to create learning opportunities for your baby — the first few weeks are about loving, not learning.
Do not waste your time by putting on makeup during the newborn phase. You don’t need it. Why? Because all visitors will look at you with the awe and respect given to the Amazon Queen who just created and birthed a HUMAN BEING! All who come to be in your all-powerful presence will kneel before you.
And if they don’t, they’re total jerks and you don’t care what they think anyway.
Makeup + Newborn phase = Time-waster.
(see #6 for reference to how amazing you are for creating and birthing a human being)
We’re beat over the head by magazine headlines like “Gorgeous Celebrity X Wears Bikini Home from the Hospital” and “Frumpy Loser Celebrity Still Fat – Two Weeks After Birth OMG!” It’s a real challenge not to become obsessed with one’s weight immediately after birth.
Take it from a dietician like Sarah Remmer, and do not waste time by stressing yourself out about the weight. This is not your priority #1 in the newborn days.
I strongly believe in outsourcing when budget allows. Having someone come and scrub your bathtub and all the other unsightly corners in the first few weeks home is money VERY well spent. If it isn’t in budget, don’t waste time worrying about how clean your house is — it's not like you’re entertaining guests, right (see stern words above at #1)?
Do not waste your time dressing you and baby (and any other kiddies) and making the long and painful trip to the grocery store in the newborn days. Ask helpful visitors to pick up your essentials, and make use of awesome delivery services like Grocery Gateway and Mama Earth Organics to have your food delivered right to your door.
Pajamas and robes need not be replaced by cumbersome clothes in the newborn phase. Ever.
You should be focused on breathing, drinking water, and taking care of you and your little person. Everything else is detail. You should make a serious visit to your local Dollar Store before the baby comes, and stock up on items like batteries.
It’s easy to waste time in those first few weeks of a new baby’s life: doing the things we think we should be doing. If you cut out all these time wasters, you’ll find yourself with time for the most important thing of all: taking care of you, and your new little bundle.
I’m headed to a cottage next week to refresh, recharge, and renew my commitment to an organized life and home.
There’s something about spending time outside of your own four walls that can energize you to “clean up your life” — literally. Hotels are always excellent sources of inspiration for how we can make our own homes more streamlined and less clutter-filled. But, I also love to browse the web for great tips and expert tricks.
I’ve compiled some of the web’s most inspiring sites to get your de-cluttering juices flowing. When I'm looking to sneak a peek at some delicious time wasting, these are the sites I visit: consider this your porn of choice, fellow A-Types:
1. Unclutterer is a great site for nearly-daily tips and tricks on staying organized: you’ll find everything from how to take notes more effectively to a WHOLE SECTION on clearing up cable clutter. Its magic.
2. Peter Walsh is an expert in organizational design, a television and radio personality as well as the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers. He's a celebrity organizer worth getting to know — as the go-to-guy for bigwigs like Oprah and Rachel Ray. I don't so much love his site, but the kinds of practical advice he gives, like these 10 Tips to De-Clutter Your Home.
3. Every Christmas my mom, my sister, and I like to go through magazines and play “The Shopping Game.” This consists of pretending we’re the Rockafellers and buying one thing on each page of the magazine with our imaginary limitless bank accounts. If you want to play your own version of “The Shopping Game,” then check out some of the traditional organizing hot-spots; browse sites like Ikea, The Container Store, and California Closets to catch of glimpse of the “stuff” you need, want, and covet.
[BE PREPARED TO WIPE YOUR OWN DROOL FROM YOUR LIP]
4. Pinterest is obviously a quagmire of amazing inspiration — from do it yourself “quick tips” to large scale projects that require significant time (AND BUDGETS). Just search "Organization" or a derivative-of, and enjoy giving yourself a stiff neck after hours on this most wonderful of time-sucks.
5. Apartment Therapy is just a fantastic place to lose hours of your life. This is obviously a design-focused site, is chock-full of awesome organization tips and DIY projects, like this amazing magnetic entryway organizer. Sexy, yes?
6. For those who have a tough time purging, check out the inspiration that is Becoming Minimalist. With inspirational quotes like “once we realize we already own enough, we are freed to pursue more worthy endeavors than the accumulation of excess” on this site, you’ll want to toss all your extras and live with less.
It’s great to take some time away from your home this summer. Reflection is always a good thing — especially when you’re looking to tackle the daily grind of the “stuff” that gets in your way at home. With this kind of "porn" you won't need to close your laptop to passerbys — in fact, you might even spread the organizing fever.
Three words that should be said more often: Systems. Of. Organization.
These words should be underlined (with a ruler, in red pen) and push-pinned to the top of every unstable pile of paper in your office.
When I walk into an office, my eyes reflexively look around to see if there are systems of organization in place. Inbox? Outbox? Filing system? This isn’t done with judgment, but curiosity. I’m fascinated by the way that each of us uses our space productively. I’m fascinated by the way that many people don’t give any thought to where the “paper” in their office goes.
In this age of technology and email, we are continuously reducing the need for physical paper to find its way to our desk. For better or for worse, we are less buried in the physical representation of our systems of organization.
This means that the art of paper management is also becoming obsolete before it’s time.
We still need ways in which to organize the invoices, receipts, letters, background information, and schedules that are distributed in our day-to-day work lives. Unlike with email organization (using “tasks” or “red flags” as a reminder for when to handle certain items), there isn’t a built-in paper-manager that comes with each office space.
And so, I bring you a tried and true method from the administrative-assistant era of our mothers, and their mothers before them. A true system of organization: the Bring Forward Method.
STEP ONE: Buy some awesome file folders
These ones are from Staples.ca
You will need 31 folders in order to encompass every day on the calendar within each potential month.
STEP TWO: Label the folders with numbers 1 through 31
I used plain labels, but feel free to jazz it up. Put a label on the top right corner of each file, with the numbers from one to thirty one.
These ones are easy to order online.
STEP THREE: Use an upright file holder to house the folders on your desk.
I recommend using an organizer that puts all folders on the same level — you'll be shuffling folders from back to front each day/week. Make it easy on yourself, and esthetically pleasing. This is a neat vintage one from Etsy.
STEP FOUR: Triage and file
Now comes your commitment to abolish piles of paper from your desk. If a piece of mail, policy document, invoice, bill, or any other piece of paper comes into your world ask yourself:
"Can I deal with this right now?"
If the answer is "yes" then deal with it, and shred/file it. As my wise mother always says "touch everything once" as a mantra for effective time (and paper) management.
If the answer is "I can't deal with this right now" then decide when it is you CAN deal with it. Tomorrow? At the meeting next Tuesday? At the end of the month? When you've decided when to handle/file/shed this item file it under the Bring Forward file with the corresponding date.
Each morning when you arrive, bright-eyed, caffeinated, and bushy-tailed, at your desk — pull the daily Bring Forward file. Handle those items today. Then file/shed.
Then, put the empty file at the back of the stack to receive the next month's incoming items.
Boom! Your systems of organization are alive and well.
STEP FIVE: Share this post with the paper pilers in your life
You know who they are — or perhaps you might not, given that you can't see their faces behind the clutter on their desks. Give them a helpful nudge. Buy them some folders and labels.
Plus, now that you use systems of organization, you have a right to be just a little smug.