The first few months with my baby were a beautiful and terrifying blur of waking, feeding, playing and adjusting to my new role – along with keeping the household going, getting food on the table and the laundry done while trying to juggle my a freelance schedule – and all without getting more than 2 hours of consecutive sleep a night (which went on for months on end).
Truth be told, while I was often overjoyed that I could do this all with my baby by my side, there were also days it felt like too much to handle and all I wanted to do was curl up and cry alongside her. I found that when the days became hazy, and dragged on forever, I began to rely on small systems I set in place, and gadgets which made it easier to get things done in a hurry. For those hoping to skip some trial and error in your early days with your baba, here are some of the tried and true items and systems that I couldn’t have coped without:
1. B12 Boost – vitamin B spray and DS24 – these two items help keep my energy levels up and I function fairly well day-to-day because of them, despite the constant sleep deprivation.
2. Schlehlens Tonic – this has been a great maintenance tonic for me which have helped enormously with my energy levels, and I quite like the taste of it. There are also plenty of tea blends available which claim to help boost your milk supply, and even if they don’t work as well as necessarily claimed, it cannot hurt to have hydration options available that have no added sugars.
3. A coffee pot on a timer – this singular item is the only reason I was able to function for the first 6 months of motherhood. The simple joy of waking up at 6:30 and walking into the kitchen, where I was greeted by the delicate scent of freshly brewed coffee, is still one of my all-time favourite simple pleasures in life.
4. My breastfeeding essentials – most of these are still applicable a year-and-a-bit on, and I am known to still bake truckloads of gluten-free mini muffins, so that I can scoff them down after a midnight feed and stay relatively happy, while being woken at least 3 – 5 times a night.
5. Tidying up at night – I used to be a bit manic when it came to keeping the house neat, as we had people over all the time. That was until hubby pointed out that nobody but me actually cared. Now, I do a quick surface clean before people arrive, but the main tidying up of the house only happens after Amelia’s been put down at night, and it’s seriously saved my sanity.
6. Overnight oats – the ideal breakfast, especially on busy mornings. It’s super quick to heat and eat before rushing out or settling down to work. One scoop of oats, enough almond milk to cover it, a spoon of chia seeds, some ground flax seed, some date syrup or coconut sugar to sweeten it, a few drops of vanilla essence, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds is all I use. Pop it in a jar, shake and put it in the fridge overnight. Eat as is or heat first.
7. Meal prep on the weekend – I do all of the cooking for our family, every single night, and find that if I do some basic chopping and prepping on a Saturday or Sunday, I can use the items throughout the week and cut down on the time it takes to make healthy, flavourful meals. I’ll buy in bulk and prep items which I then stick in the freezer and pull them out as required. Smoothie making is so easy now with pre-portioned items in a ziplock bag, so all I need to do take the fruit out, add yoghurt and milk, and a sprinkle of coconut sugar and blend. It also cuts down on food waste and means those last few berries or bananas don’t go bad. For veg I mainly grate, chop and peel carrots and portion them out into ziplock bags. Ditto with leeks. For soups, I toss everything into a pot to boil. I grate up all the cheese blocks into a container to use for the week. Little things like this make such a difference, especially on days when Amelia is cranky. It may seem like a ton of work when you first start, but it makes such a difference. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in a full post about this some time.
8. My handbag. While I still love the baby bag I have, we’re now a year on and I’ve found it’s far more useful to keep all the items I need in my regular handbag, rather than carry two separate bags (especially since we hardly use the pram anymore). After taking stock of what we did use when out and about, I’ve found it’s easy to downsize to having two nappies and a small pack of half-used wet wipes on hand, two small toys and a board book while out and about, along with a small water bottle and snack container that baba and I share. You can see my full list of items I keep on hand in my “what’s in my mama bag” post 🙂
9. Medela Harmony handheld pump and Medela bottles – I absolutely love this brand (no, I haven’t been sponsored). I love it’s simplicity, it’s durability, and the fact that I haven’t had to replace the (very) pricey teats that come with every bottle purchase as they’re from birth to toddlerhood.
10. A pashmina scarf or lightweight scarf – a lifesaver when out as a nursing cover, blanket, sunshade, etc.
11. Go-to outfits options – apart from doing a closet overhaul so I only had breastfeeding friendly items in it, having an outfit formula I stick to has made my life so much easier. Be it sundresses, jeans and a slogan tee, or shorts and a 3/4 top, knowing at least 2 outfits you can slip on in a hurry and look pulled together quickly is incredibly important on days you’re feeling sleep deprived or sick – or when your little person just spit up up on you as you were heading out the door. #momlife ammirite?
12. Keeping makeup simple – a touch of colourful lip balm or a matte lipstick, a flick of mascara on the ends of my lashes, and ensuring my eyebrows are filled in is all I do nowadays, along with some sunscreen before heading out. I’m certain I’ll be back to cat eye flicks, on fleek brows, perfectly primped nails, and an elaborate eyeshadow game at some point, but when I’m just meeting friends, or running to the shops, I don’t need to look IG perfect, because to my little girl, I already am. And really, that’s all that matters to me at the end of the day.
I’d love to know some of your everyday essentials as I’m always looking out for hacks and hints to make life easier. 🙂