6 Super Useful Home Skills I Learned as A New Mom
Few things have flipped my world upside down like parenthood. It’s a responsibility that shakes up everything from day-to-day activities to career goals, and basically everything a person thought they knew about themselves. It can be difficult to accomplish everything I want in the day with a baby in tow, including daily housekeeping tasks and big projects.
I welcomed my first child in mid-January — just a few months after my husband and I moved into our first house. I have always been extremely… let’s just say, particular about my surroundings, and I knew a baby was going to rock my Martha Stewart-loving world. Spoiler alert: he did! Not only did my baby change my relationship with my husband, my body, my self-hood, and my job, he also changed the way I view my house and the way we live in it. I’ve had to let go of some of my treasured routines and learn new ones, as well as re-examine what’s actually important about the function of a house.
Here’s what I’ve learned about adjusting to housekeeping as a new mom, including balancing both, and knowing when to let go.
Though the urge to nest is strong, I’ve learned not to feel pressured to make everything picture-perfect.
Nesting is a phenomenon where you feel compelled to make your space as welcoming and beautiful as possible for a new child, just like a mama bird feathering her nest pre-laying eggs. I experienced nesting hard, especially because my husband and I were actively working on our new house when I was hugely pregnant.
Upon moving in, one of the first major tasks was to rip out the upstairs carpet and lay wood floors in each room; the problem was that we had to wait several months for the install, which meant the nursery wasn’t set up until a few weeks from my due date. In my head, this meant that the baby would immediately start sobbing when he found out there was no perfectly-decorated nursery for him. My brain thought everything needed to be perfect and in its place before the baby came, or all hell would break loose.
While you should absolutely indulge your nesting needs, you will completely forget about the lack of a perfect light fixture once you have bigger things on the horizon, whether that’s establishing a sleep schedule for a new baby or any other day-to-day task. As long as you have the essentials, you’ll be just fine until things settle down.
I’ve learned to prioritize making myself as comfortable as possible.
From dealing with my C-section recovery to mastering breastfeeding, the early days of my new motherhood experience were… a lot. Because of this, I quickly figured out how to make daily baby-related tasks, like nursing, more comfortable for both my baby and me. I set up nursing stations in his room and downstairs complete with things like a phone charger, giant water cup (nursing made me so thirsty!), and a cozy blanket for baby. That way, I wasn’t stuck under a sleeping baby with nothing to do or dealing with extreme thirst or soreness.
After a few days settling into new routines with a baby, it’s easy to identify what your pain points are. Adjust your surroundings and be clear about your needs with your partner or family for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
I have learned to give up (some) aesthetic pleasures — because convenience always wins.
Is the baby jumper the most gorgeous piece of furniture I’ve ever seen? No. Is it collapsible or easy to put out of sight after bedtime? Also no. But it gives my baby so much joy, so it stays right smack in the middle of my living room. I know that as my kid ages, toys will take over more and more of our shared spaces, so the best thing I can do is just buy a cute basket to toss them all in.
This goes double for the kitchen. Do I love having a bottle dryer taking up precious counter space? Nope! But it corrals the bottles and their many components in a convenient spot, and that’s what counts. I also bought a stash of sanitizing microwavable bags, for cleaning pump parts. As ugly as they are, they make the whole process easier.
Despite what social media may show you, parenthood is about caring for a child, helping them learn and grow, and keeping them entertained — not dressing them in expensive clothes and only buying photogenic toys. At the end of the day, rely on the things that work for you and your baby, even if they don’t exactly fit the design of your space. You can always stash them away at bedtime or when guests come over!
I have learned to let (some) things go.
I love to clean. And while I will likely never lose my laser focus on dust bunnies or my passion for wiping down the kitchen, having a baby has changed my relationship with cleaning. The baseboards may not get washed as regularly as they did before, and the front entry is a jumble of shoes, but you know what? I’ll survive.
One thing I now know for sure is that I cannot do it all, so focusing on the things that are important to me — such as a clean bathroom and kitchen, a tidy living room, and knowing that the laundry is folded and put away — and letting go of the smaller things has been a lesson I’ve had to learn. My home may not be sparkling clean, but it’s clean enough, and that’s OK for now.
I have learned that storage and organization are key, but so is saying goodbye to things I don’t use.
There is no escaping the stuff that comes with having a baby. But that doesn’t mean it has to be as overwhelming as it seems — financially, or otherwise.
Having a support group of parents is a great way to source some of the things you didn’t know you’ll need until it’s too late. In addition to serving as a place to vent and troubleshoot, they’ll gladly give you all the things their kid has outgrown, allowing you to save tons of cash. Another important lesson I’ve learned about living with a baby is to cull items quickly. When your baby is done using certain items and you don’t want to keep them, consider handing them down to a friend, posting them on a neighborhood “buy nothing” group, or selling on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist — as long as they’re in good condition and safe to use. (Certain items, like car seats, have expiration dates.)
Paying it forward and rehoming the things your baby outgrows also saves on storage space. My husband and I learned quickly to designate a certain section of our basement as the “baby spot” to keep everything in one easily accessible spot when he outgrew certain items. You can also use vacuum-sealed bags to store out-of-season clothing, blankets, or sentimental pieces you want to save for future children; they’re easy to stack in a closet or under the bed if you’re short on space.
I have learned how the concept of home takes on a whole new meaning.
Everywhere I look, there are ads for things my baby and I supposedly “need.” I am here to tell you: That marketing is simply not true. Sure, some things certainly made caring for a newborn decidedly easier, but when it came down to it, my baby needs food, a warm and safe place to sleep, and comfort from people who love him. He didn’t need a fancy swinging chair or Instagram-friendly wooden toys. He needed his home — and that home is me. It doesn’t matter where we are; it only matters that we are together.
Becoming a mother has also shown me that home is more than just a place where my family hangs out, makes dinner, and sleeps — our house is a place that will shape my son’s future. It’s the loving, creative place my husband and I are building for him with every book read, every episode of “Sesame Street” watched, and every bedtime routine accomplished. Home is a place, but it’s also a feeling, and I want him to think of our house as a place he can express himself, learn and play, and feel safe and supported as he snuggles into his bed every night.
This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 6 Ways Becoming a Mom Has Transformed My Relationship With My Home