Healthy living

Balancing housework and baby

It is often recommended that new parents pretty much forget about housework for the first few weeks after their baby is born. It is most important that you are well rested and able to spend time with your baby, adjusting to a new way of life.

Having a baby is a massive change for everyone. One of the most important things you and your partner can do is to talk to each other about what is happening, and how you can support each other. If your baby isn’t here yet, discuss how you will divide household jobs once she is here. Decide what is important to you both, and what’s not as important.  Some couples may need the floors mopped twice a week to feel on top of things, others may manage a dirty floor well but not an unironed shirt. Finding your own pattern will help you both feel more in control.

Some things you can consider to help in managing housework with a new baby.

  • What jobs can be done when your baby is asleep? These might be quiet jobs (like folding laundry) or jobs that take a long time or more concentration (preparing dinner).
  • What jobs can be done while your baby is awake? Loud jobs like vacuuming for example. Or maybe your baby loves lying on the grass while you hang out the washing.
  • When you need two hands, where can you put the baby when he is awake? Do you have a baby sling? Is baby happy in the cot or pram for a few minutes? Can someone else look after him?
  • If you are doing housework, you might like to use a timer – set it for 20 minutes and when the timer stops, so can you. Giving yourself a clear end-point might help motivate you to get as much done as possible in a short period of time!
  • What jobs would you feel comfortable asking someone else to do? Who would you feel comfortable asking for help? Have a plan, and a list on the fridge!
  • What can you do if you feel things are getting out of control? This might mean asking for help, taking time out, writing a list of priority tasks or calling someone to talk.

Using the worksheet below write down possible ways to find a balance between caring for your baby and housework. You can review the worksheet as your baby gets older. When her sleep patterns change, you will need to change your strategies for household management.

Download the balancing housework and baby worksheet (Word 47KB) or (PDF 36KB).

Most importantly, remember to find time to rest. Just because your baby is asleep, it doesn’t mean that housework needs to be done. Be kind to yourself.

Women and Newborns Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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