Ignore Your Baby And 9 Other Useful Tips For Getting Things Done

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It’s not exactly news that parents are busy. Whether you stay home with your children, work in an office, or—like me—work part-time from home, you’ve likely spent a lot of time trying to both look after your kids and get some other kind of work done.

I have two children, one of them three and a half and the other almost two. Every day I have four hours of childcare—a combination of preschool and a nanny who comes to the house—and seven hours of work to get through. Most days, I finish my work while my kids nap in the afternoon and after they go to bed in the evening. It’s a perfect schedule, really, until my kids decide not to play by the rules. When that happens, I remind myself that teaching them about independent play is really important, and I turn to one of these ten tricks.

1. Bounce your way to an empty inbox.

If you have a baby carrier and a yoga ball, then you have an easy, hands free way to soothe a fussy baby while you plow through some e-mails or that pile of laundry. Make sure to pull those abdominal muscles toward your spine for an added core workout while you’re at it!

2. La, la, la… I can’t hear you!

We’ve all been there: just twenty more minutes of work to get done, or the rest of the vegetables to chop for dinner, and the baby wakes up early from a nap. Before you cast your work aside to go retrieve her, stop and listen to the monitor. Is she cooing happily, likely rolling around on her back while putting her toes in her mouth? Yes? Great. Leave her there and finish your work. This is the beginning of teaching your baby to entertain herself. You may need to gradually increase the length of time, depending on your baby’s disposition.

3. It’s not rude if your baby’s eyes are closed.

Nursing is a beautiful time to bond with your baby. It’s also a great time to use a tablet or smart phone to catch up on your reading or e-mails, or make yourself a to-do list, grocery list, or meal plan for the week. A nursing pillow is a big help here, as it makes one-handed nursing easier and gives you a convenient place to rest your iPad.

4. Embrace technology, or, How to look like a crazy person while pushing a stroller.

While typing a list or an e-mail from my phone while pushing a stroller has always been difficult for me, I have made frequent use of my phone’s voice memo recorder to make productive use of a walk to the park. I recommend sending e-mails to yourself first for a quick edit from your computer before they go out.

5. Every toddler needs an office.

Remember when you left your baby alone in her crib, thereby teaching her to entertain herself? That will pay dividends when she’s a bit older and you can set her up in either a playpen or a gated off play area while you get your own work done nearby.

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  1. ChelseaBFH

    September 12, 2014 at 11:34 am

    The best parenting advice I ever got – and the one thing I pass along to my friends who are about to have kids – was, “If the baby is calm, the baby is happy. Do not touch the baby!” I get so much done when I remember that quiet = doesn’t need me (after a quick check to make sure that quiet doesn’t actually = “got into the dog food. Again.”)

    • Jenny1Tech

      September 13, 2014 at 2:18 am

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    • OpalKRose

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    • Courtney Lynn

      September 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Exactly. If my kids are quiet and seem happy, we’re good.

  2. Kelly

    September 12, 2014 at 11:35 am

    My life got better when I realized I didn’t need to run to the crib and get the baby just because she was awake. Now I leave her be until she cries or starts asking for me. Then I can usually give her a bin of books or toys and leave her in her crib for another 30-60 minutes while I get ready for work or do whatever I need to do. Life-changing.

    • Lilly

      September 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      As they get older this becomes a perk as they are ok with just hanging in their room alone when they wake up. My almost 3yr old son does this all the time, will wake up look at a book or play with some toys. It buys us an extra 30 mins of sleep/lolling in bed on weekend mornings.

    • jane

      September 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Just don’t LOL in bed or he’ll know you’re up.

      See what I did there folks?

      Thanks so much. I’ll be here all week.

    • Foreskin Magpie

      September 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Yes! Just this morning, my toddler pushed his piano up to the lightswitch, turned the lights on and read books for like 40 minutes before he decided to open his door. I love him.

    • Jo

      September 12, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Oh how I wish! My just turned 3 y.o. won’t be by herself for more than 2 mins, ever. But she’s always been like this. Even as a baby she would never be by herself for 30 secs without screaming blue murder. Made it really hard to do anything. It’s not like I didn’t try to help her learn to self soothe…I tried constantly all day for a year until I returned to work. I just accepted having screaming or having her on my lap / in her carrier constantly. Trade off is she’s a fantastic eater and sleeper. Now my 3 month old’s behaving exactly the same. Intense 🙁 I just want to be able to put the baby down and have the toddler play alone for 10 mins! I wouldn’t care about crying except it’s full bore hysterics in 60 secs.

    • aCongaLine

      September 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      I put our littlest (16 months) to bed with a small bucket of toys in the corner of her crib. She plays herself to sleep, and plays a little when she wakes, too. It’s like a snooze alarm in a way- I know that when I hear her banging around with the toys, I’ve got 15 minutes before she starts chucking them out of the crib and is ready to get up.

      life-changing, indeed.

  3. aCongaLine

    September 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I’m a firm believer in “fostering independence” and “encouraging imaginative play” in my kiddos. Which, means I actively ignore them for periods of time during the day to get shit done around the house. Passively, though, I’ve got an ear pointed in their general direction, because cat food. markers. stairs. I know where they are, what they’re doing, and that they’re safe, but from the next room.

    It’s an amazing form of multi-tasking- and occasionally, I get to take over control of the remote. 🙂

    • ted3553

      September 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      I also “encourage vocal expression” and let my toddler screech because he can’t have his way while I go on about my day.

  4. Melissa Lepley

    September 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I’m seeing people write about this strange phenomenon of “baby wakes up not immediately screaming” and now I’m confused. Mine starts screaming before his eyes even open. He’s 17 months old. What kind of magic babies do y’all have?

    • alexesq33

      September 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      I have one of each – 6 months old. The boy will be crying (screaming? it’s all relative) with his eyes still closed. However the girl will be laying there kicking her legs around and babbling to herself happily when she wakes up. It’s a trade off though since he’s super easy to get to sleep (put him down and he fusses for a minute then nods off) while she needs to be held and rocked to sleep.

    • K2

      September 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      I used to babysit a kid like that. She was one of twins and had really short naps. Then you’d go check, thinking, wow, they are sleeping a lot! – and she’d be ‘talking’ to herself. (He’d be sleeping.)

    • JAN

      September 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      My first was this way, there was never any doubt when he was waking up. The next two would sometimes be awake 10-15 min before making a sound. In fact, my middle one, still gets up and silently plays in her room until she hears me up. It was such a relief from the screamer! If it makes you feel better, the screamer is now five and puts himself to bed and falls asleep within five minutes and is the best sleeper now. It gets better.

    • Ms.Anne'sNotoriousLadygarden

      September 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      I thought I was the only one! I’m always baffled by this “let them play when they wake up” advice. Mine would start whimpering and flailing in his sleep, then crying, and would then wake himself up in full-bore shriek mode.

      Now that he’s older he wakes up happy but still immediately starts talking to me.

    • Linzon

      September 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      My older kid has always been a happy waker and at 3 still hangs out in bed til we get him up. His brother is 16 months and like a screaming alarm clock that was accidentally shipped out without a snooze.

    • Melissa Lepley

      September 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      He’s quite difficult to get to sleep too. Sigh. I’m due with boy #2 in a few months and just hoping this one will be a tiny bit easier. My friend has a girl (7 months) who will happily snuggle a blanket and babble herself to sleep, then wake up happily talking to herself. I babysit sometimes and the difference between the two is jaw-dropping. I told her I want to order one just like that next!

    • Liberty

      September 13, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Let’s be honest: don’t you feel that way when you have to wake up, too? I know I do. 😉

  5. Pingback: Dear Melissa from Mommyish, | The World as Emma Knows it

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