Originally, this list was “5 Ways To Make Life Easier After Having A Baby,” and then I gave it to my husband and it increased with things he’s found indispensable. And yes, most of these cost money, but the money is honestly money well spent. However, if I could afford to do just one thing, I would hire a cleaning person. It has just been so lovely to have someone come into my home and make everything make sense while making it clean again.
I changed the title of this because it struck me that I would have been so much better off if I’d asked people for some help with all of these things. I would have been much better off if a bunch of friends banded together to get me a maid visit during the month after I had a child.
1. Buy a Roomba.
There are so many crumbs, so much dust, so much stuff everywhere all the time after having a child. There is nothing better than having an automatic vacuum cleaner that will take care of the floor on your behalf. All you have to do is tidy. If you have it run daily, it helps you make a point of tidying a bit daily. And luckily, the Roomba will turn itself off when it swallows a ribbon, a tiny plastic toy or something else. It won’t turn itself off when it runs through poop, though, so just be mindful!
2. Hire a cleaning person.
The cleanliness of our house was a major sticking point for both of us. I love cleanliness. It makes me feel calmer and more in control when the house is organized, neat, clean and smells good. Meanwhile, in the months directly after having a baby, my husband had a hard time understanding how I could get through a day at home without picking things up. And I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever get anything done with a baby around.
One thing to remember if you hire someone: your cleaning person isn’t responsible for tidying your home, they are just responsible for cleaning it. So, if you leave everything everywhere, don’t expect your house to get clean, or just be satisfied with your cleaner spending their time tidying everything.
3. Stop going to the store.
Order automatic delivery and mail delivery of anything and everything you can. It is just a waste of time to go to the store. And when your child gets to be toddler age, running away from you will seem a genius idea. My son would often say, “let’s go to Target, so I can hide from you.” The hassle and heartache were not something I needed. I have the majority of my things delivered via Amazon ― this includes clothing and household goods. I just received a coupon to have Costco delivered, so I will probably try that out too.
4. Buy a bigger bed.
We smugly said we would never ever get something larger than a queen size bed, because what was the point of sleeping together if you had such a big bed? Flash forward several years and hundreds of missed nights’ sleep, and the king size bed we bought recently has been indispensable in reversing our lack of sleep. Oh, and if you don’t get a king size bed, don’t feel bad about sleeping separately. For many months after our child was born, we didn’t shy away from sleeping separately, because a good night’s sleep has to be achieved by someone in the household.
5. Send everything to the dry cleaner.
Don’t iron anything. When we lived abroad, a dry cleaned men’s shirt was $7. A sum so princely I refused to pay. I therefore spent hours and hours ironing men’s shirts. When we moved back to the United States, I immediately started sending shirts out again, and it was lovely. I can still remember staring at a pile of shirts after finally getting the child down and thinking “ugh, this is where I am going to spend my next few free hours before the baby wakes up.” Sometimes I would still have shirts to iron and an awake baby, which was dispiriting.
6. If you have a dog, either hire a dog walker or send your dog to doggy daycare.
We took our dog to doggy daycare starting when I was pregnant because where we lived was fairly dangerous when it came to walking due to ice and snow. Our dog was much saner for it because of the added exercise. Getting outside attention helped diminish the huge trauma of adding a baby to a household where he had been the coddled baby.
7. Give or sell everything after you are done using it.
For a while and/or when I stop paying attention my house was/is overrun with extra baby stuff that we no longer use. This gets in the way of life. Eventually you just have to decide whether to sell it on Craigslist or Ebay or just give it away. I have done a bit of all of these and have discovered you often get pennies on the dollar for stuff. It is so much better to just have it gone and out of the way than waiting for someone who promised to show up at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning and they keep pushing it back an hour.
8. Skip cooking.
Don’t kick yourself for eating takeout. Don’t worry about making a hot meal. Make a cold meal. Open a can of tuna fish. Don’t kill yourself. Sometimes it isn’t even the cooking that kills you but the clean up. And for your kiddo, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about making everything from scratch. I have so many friends who have operated under the mantra of “you must make everything from scratch.” I think it is wonderful if that gives you joy. It didn’t give me joy, so I found some delicious organic baby food that I would try and felt okay with feeding my child. I highly recommend it.
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Sarah Abruzzese is a former journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications. She currently lives in California where she runs Hug Bug Shoes, her children’s shoe company. She writes in her spare time.