It Can Be Literally Impossible To Get Anything Done With A Baby Around

Mother holding sleeping baby boy and preparing sandwich
Scary Mommy and Megan Maloy/Getty

If you’re a mom with a baby, and you feel like you literally cannot get anything done, you should know that you’re 100% normal. Doing the bare minimum in some areas is more than adequate. It’s normal, it should be expected, and it’s time for you to stop feeling even the tiniest bit bad about it.

If your baby is fed and happy, but your dishes are piled up, you’re good.

Did you and your kids go to work and daycare in clean clothes this week, but you came home and threw on the same dirty sweats every night because you didn’t have the energy to do your own laundry? You’re most certainly not alone.

If you’re lucky to get a shower every day, so excelling creatively is truly just not on your to-do list right now, join the club, sister. We’re here, we’re wearing leggings with questionable stains on them, and we get you.

When you have a baby, you might need to embrace that bare minimum life for a while. Give yourself a heaping spoonful of grace. Taking care of a baby is A LOT. Your body isn’t the same, and you lose a lot of sleep. More than that, there’s a new and special kind of exhaustion that comes with the fact that when a new baby is in the house, you’re just expected to be aware and meeting someone else’s needs literally all the time. Literally. There are zero minutes in a day when a baby can supervise itself.

If you’re not able to do everything exactly like you did before the baby came along, that’s literally the most typical story on earth, and you are doing just fine. Take a million shortcuts, look for ways to make things more convenient, and don’t give it another thought.

Of course, it’s not practical for pretty much any of us to literally do nothing but take care of our baby 24/7.

Most of us have to work, and it’s a good idea to keep our houses halfway livable. We should probably wash our bodies here and there, too.

That’s why I said to embrace the bare minimum. Some shit just has to get done. We all know that, and we all do it. But when you have a baby at home, it is not the time to try to outdo yourself. Give yourself permission to just get it done. You can worry about doing everything well again when your kid doesn’t need something literally twenty-four hours a day.

If for some reason you’re feeling any kind of pressure (whether it’s from yourself or an external force) to be extra productive while you’re raising an infant, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to let some shit go.

Now, inevitably there’s going to be that one woman who reads this and just cannot let us bare minimum moms live.

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Well, Mrs. Perfect Mom, before you start in with your long list of all the shit you manage to do on a daily basis with your baby at your feet, and send me emails about how lazy I am, save your breath.

Some people thrive under pressure. If doing it all feels effortless or doable or non-negotiable to you, by all means, do it all. Just know that it’s not for everyone. Some of us aren’t our best selves when we are under immense pressure, and we get to do it our way.

The bare minimum way.

It’s not that I physically cannot do it all. I could spend my every waking moment throwing myself into being productive. I could schedule myself to the minute, attempting to carefully balance everything, trying desperately not to let any plate drop. We all know that sometimes that’s the only option for a mom, and like most badass mothers, I do manage to make it happen when I have to.

I can do it all.

It’s not that I can’t, it’s just that I refuse. Not when I have a little baby. Taking care of a baby is a lot of  fucking work, and I feel completely justified in seeing it as my full-time job. Everything else is a side hustle.

My husband is not an asshole so he doesn’t expect me to perform like a 1950s magazine housewife. He doesn’t want me to be stressed and busy 24/7 either. If I spend two hours snuggling my baby in bed, reading her books and tickling her feet instead of working or cleaning, he doesn’t see that as time wasted. And neither do I.

And this isn’t just a word for the first-time-moms who didn’t know what to expect.

Every single time you add a baby, you’re a new mom again. You’re going to need some time to recover and adjust after each baby, and you deserve to do that, however it looks for you.

I work from home and I have two school-age kids and a baby.

At this very moment, I am sitting cross-legged in the middle of my bed. My laptop is resting on a pillow across my lap, and my sleeping baby is tucked next to my leg. When I started working from home as a writer, I imagined myself sitting at my great-grandmother’s antique desk in our spare room, playing quiet music and completing my assignments without interruption. My boys are really great about playing independently. I just thought this work-from-home job was absolutely ideal for our lifestyle.

Then, just a few weeks in, I got pregnant with my third child. That baby is now a year old, and I am just kind of barely beginning to find my footing. And I don’t mean that I’m finally getting my shit completely together, and my life is returning to smooth, pre-baby order.

Not at all. I just mean that a year in, I’m seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. I can finally see that my life will go back to normal kind of soonish. My baby is growing up, and this chaos is not forever.

Maybe a year sounds like a long time to you, but if anecdotes can be trusted, I know I’m not an outlier here.

Almost all new mothers I know struggle to be productive for a while after their baby arrives. I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit that I’m one of them. For a LONG TIME—probably close to a year and a half– after each of my babies were born, I’ve had to adopt a bare minimum policy. I tell myself that I will take great care of my children, and make sure I’m not totally screwing up at work.

Everything else gets to be just kind of good enough. Or I ignore it altogether. Bare. Minimum. Life.

I decide on my absolutely non-negotiable tasks each day, and I pour all of my energy into only those things. Everything else is optional at best.

I used to feel so guilty about it, but then I realized that the expectations for new moms are bullshit. We are not obligated to run ourselves ragged trying to make sure that adding a whole entire human person to the family via our bodies doesn’t change anything! For now, I’m making sure nothing goes completely to crap, and that’s about it. I feel fine about it. That bare minimum life suits me just fine. I’ll step my game back up when my baby gets a little bigger.

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