There are multiple ways to occupy your baby for 10-15 minutes and many activities do not take longer to complete. Seize those short intervals to get daily chores out of the way.
One of the hardest things to get used to when you have a baby is constantly being interrupted, and, no matter what you are doing, having to drop that activity to tend to the baby’s needs. “Being in the zone” becomes so rare and treasured that we resent spending that uninterrupted time on chores. As I’m writing this, my baby is talking in her bed as she has woken up after about 15 minutes of sleep, 10 of which I was there with her, and my older child is arguing with me over what he wants to have for lunch that has already been prepared and set in front of him. Needless to say, I shall have to take a break before completing this, as writing is not an activity easily completed while tending to other things.
There are many chores that can, however, be done when you know a window of time is small or the level of interruption will be high.
- You can sort and put away a bin of laundry. I sing to the baby while doing this, to keep her entertained. If my older child is home, I offer him to get involved, and although the process is not efficient by any means, it keeps him engaged, teaches him a skill, and gives us bonding time. Same strategy works for putting away dishes, loading a dishwasher, tidying up the toys, putting washed laundry into the dryer, watering plants, and many other quick household chores.
- You can put together and eat a quick snack, with the baby either being on you in a carrier or playing alone. Mothers, especially those of us who are nursing, need frequent filling snacks to keep up the energy and milk production, and very often we keep postponing this until that magical moment when we can sit down to a quiet meal. Since that rarely happens if you are alone at home with the baby, seize the opportunity of a quiet moment to nourish yourself. This can be a great time to let the baby explore a new food in a high chair, with your supervision. If you have an older child, they can have a snack alongside you.
- Take your supplements, do oil pulling, give the baby their supplements if any, – get those daily upkeep tasks that do not take much time out of the way.
- You can grab a shower, dry brush your body, brush your hair or teeth, do nasal lavage, or perform any other body maintenance ritual while your baby plays with a bath toy. I use a “comfy chair” (Monty Python rocks) – a baby rocking chair – so she can safely stay in the bathroom while I’m in the shower. Both of my babies loved their rocker, and have invented ways to rock themselves vigorously to their overwhelming amusement. An older child can play in the tub while you are there, for an impromptu middle-of-the-day water activity.
- You can do a short exercise or a stretching routine, balance on a yoga ball or a balance board, lift free weights or a weighted ball for a few minutes. If you have space, hula hooping or a jump rope are a great way to reset. Dancing to an energetic song or going through some movements of a belly dance are great ways to shake off muscle stiffness and get centered, before moving on with the day.
- You can do some food preparation in a short period of time: roast vegetables, scramble some eggs, make buckwheat, quinoa, or rice, cut up veggies or fruit for a snack, brew some tea or coffee, pull food out of the freezer to defrost, refill a water filter, assemble and set a slow cooker dish for cooking. Instead of spending a larger chunk of time in the evening making dinner, a couple of the short intervals throughout the day is plenty of time to create the elements of a healthy meal that only need to be combined and perhaps reheated at the end of the day. Same goes for the next-day lunch preparation: if various ingredients are already chopped up, all it takes is to assemble them into containers and pack the lunch bags later.
- You can get outside for 10 minutes with the baby, take in some fresh air, pull a few weeds or do some light gardening tasks, just sit or walk outside to get grounded and reset.
- You can spend a few minutes doing a puzzle, reading a few pages of a book, or doing something else for relaxation. The key here is to have the puzzle set up, the book ready, or whatever activity you would like to do laid out, so you don’t spend the precious time on fetching the required items only to find yourself needing to respond to the baby’s needs before you had a chance to relax. Avoid checking email as a way to relax: email has a tendency to put one in reactive mode, wasting the time better used for relaxation. Random surfing or checking social networks are also not useful relaxation options, as it’s too easy to find yourself emerging on the other side with a sense of wasted time and mind overwhelmed by irrelevant information.
- Drink a cup of tea, set an essential oil diffuser with a calming or energizing scent, play a quiet melody.
There are many more possibilities. Be creative – see what you can get out of the way in 10-15 minutes, and once the longer stretch of time is available, you can spend it on what you want rather than tend to a million of short chores.
Revel in the abundance that an hour or more of uninterrupted time gives you when the baby is asleep or entertained by someone else. Use the shorter time intervals available to you throughout the day to get daily chores out of the way so they do not encroach on that time.