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The first few months of your child’s life are exciting and highly charged times that are filled with challenges – some new, and some you never thought you’d have to deal with. Even everyday tasks can become more dangerous and time consuming requiring strategic navigation and planning in order to reduce your stress levels.
Everyday Task 1: A stroll around the block (or to the park, or the mailbox…)
What can happen: Where to begin? There’s the endless packing of supplies (nappies, food, more nappies, more food, change of clothes, phone, wallet, more nappies – you get the idea), the development of a strategy (‘avoid the barking dog on the next block’) and trying to juggle your baby, your bag and your timetable.
Strategy for simplification: Pick a device which will aid your transport and free up your arms. Prams are no longer a choice between over-the-top contraption, and immovable object. There are a range of prams and strollers to suit every parent – with double prams for twins or siblings.
Everyday Task 2: Grocery shopping.
What can happen: Forget in-and-out. There’s no such thing as in-and-out anymore. Instead, there’s the mystery of the misplaced toy; a crying fit; or, a much-longed-for item. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll long for simpler times!
Strategy for simplification:If you’re lucky enough to be co-parenting, this is where delegation has a chance to shine. Take turns to do the shopping and watch the experience go from ‘dreaded’ to ‘in demand’. By treating grocery shopping as a time-out, each parent has the opportunity to contribute, and to enjoy some much needed recuperation.
For those parents flying solo, it can help to pre-plan as much as possible. Write a list and stick to it. Making one big trip to the supermarket weekly (rather than 7 small trips) might be all you need to keep your stress levels in check.
Everyday Task 3: Planes, trains and automobiles. Public transport for dummies.
What can happen: Chaos. Public transport is one of the least child-friendly everyday experiences. Between missed buses and misplaced tickets, getting to your destination in one piece can feel like a real achievement.
Strategy for simplification: Plan your route ahead of time and pare-back your carried baggage. If possible, a harness or sling where you can carry your baby may help you to keep your hands free for any ticket or validation you may need to perform.
Everyday Task 4: Facebook. Instagram. YouTube.
What can happen: You log in with the intention of making a quick update, or writing a little post to keep friends and family updated. Then it happens. You post a picture of your child, happily eating an ice-cream. So this is what’s meant by the phrase ‘judgement day’…
Strategy for simplification: The human capacity to provide criticism and complication is limitless. When you’re feeling vulnerable, delicate, or unable to partake in rigorous discussion, step back from social media posting. To keep in contact with friends and family, try old-fashioned emailing (remember the heady days of a well-written group email?) or a (hands-free) phone call.
Everyday Task 5: A glass of wine with dinner.
What can happen: Judgement. Guilt. Self doubt.
Strategy for simplification: When it comes to raising children, everyone has an opinion. Find a source of medical information you trust (a doctor, the AMA, an accredited industry journal) and decide for yourself which best practice guideline you’re willing to follow regarding a glass of wine with your dinner.
Everyday Task 6: Cooking.
What can happen: Everything in the kitchen is either tasty or dangerous – and is likely to seem irresistible to your baby, especially as they grow more mobile.
Strategy for simplification: Keep sharp items stored safely, well out of reach. Install safety clasps on cupboard doors. Keep small foods out of reach as they can constitute a choking hazard.
Everyday Task 7: Pet care.
What can happen: It’s a good thing that cats have nine lives. They’re sure to use up a few in baby’s first year. From cat litter to dog bites, pets and small children need to have boundaries set early.
Strategy for simplification: Introduce your baby to the pet slowly. Ensure that your pet also has a quiet space away from the mayhem to minimise any freak outs. Keep cat litter away from areas your baby can access, and keep the litter clean.
Although life undoubtedly becomes more complex when you’re a new parent, there are ways to simplify everyday tasks. By implementing a few of the small hacks on this page, you’ll get back some much-needed time and (hopefully) lessen your stress levels.