How to Keep Your Baby Busy (and Happy!) All Day Long

I work part-time (I teach three college courses), which basically means that aside from the 5-6 weekly hours I devote to teaching, I am a stay at home mom.

Yes, there are many benefits to being home (I get to be with my baby almost all the time, am there to witness Liam’s “firsts”, don’t have to worry about a caregiver not giving him enough attention, am able to wear sweatpants all day, don’t have to commute or rush in the mornings, and the list goes on…), but believe me, there are also some difficult moments.

When you’re home alone with baby every single day, cabin fever is a real thing: to the point where even a trip to the grocery store for cold cuts can feel like the highlight of your week!

And for moms who are used to working a full time job, it can get lonely at home, too. Compared to the workplace, being home with a baby isn’t always as “stimulating”: you don’t get many “thank you’s” and “you’re doing a great job” from your baby (or promotions!)

Many stay at home moms struggle with their new identities and have a hard time coping with the financial strain of not working full time anymore. But unfortunately, maternity leave in the U.S. isn’t easy on us: our only option is often to quit our jobs if we want to be there for our babies past the 6 week mark.

In our household, it is nonstop from 7am until 7:30pm! I am constantly trying to come up with ways to entertain Liam (who is currently 8.5 months old), whether it’s while I’m cooking his meals for the day, trying to get some writing or grading done, or need a quick break myself. It is my responsibility to make sure he gets enough stimulation throughout the day, which can be very stressful at times. I don’t get to rely on anyone for help in that department… But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing all of Liam’s big moments, being silly all day because that’s what mamas do (we literally live for our baby’s giggles), and rarely having to pump. Here’s a glimpse of my daily schedule with Liam:

 

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Add two dogs to the equation and, you guessed it, we have a madhouse. So as you can see, it’s essential for me to have a few fall back options for days when Liam is particularly needy. The less stressed you are, the better you can be as a mom!

Here are a few ways you can keep your baby entertained (and happy!) throughout the day:

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.16.02 PM.pngAs soon as Liam learned to sit up on his own, I remodeled our office into a play zone. I like the foam ABC mats because of how easy they are to customize (and Liam likes to chomp on letters too!) We also have our pack and play in the living room. Liam enjoys down time in it, as long as he has enough toys to keep himself busy. Recently, he’s been loving his teethers.

When he gets sick of one space, I usually try the second option for a little while. With babies, you’ll learn that variety is key!

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.14.24 PM.pngWith the nice weather creeping in on us, we’ve been loving our yard lately. We have an
outdoor glider, which Liam loved as a newborn and still loves today, and a swing set with an adorable Little Tikes swing for Liam! I actually had the same one as a baby. We also take a lot of walks with our jogger stroller (I highly recommend the one we have!) Liam gets really mellow after a nice walk… which is always nice. And the dogs love it.

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Like I said, some days you just need to get out of the house for your sanity’s sake. Our favorite window is between the morning and afternoon naps (between 11 am and 2 pm).

Liam loves the stimulation — all the colors, people, and sounds — and the best part is that when you get home from a successful shopping trip, it’s time for nap #2.

 

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We recently signed up for swimming lessons and are looking into music awakening classes. One of the drawbacks of being home with Liam is that he doesn’t get much time with other babies/children (although he does see a lot of adults). Classes are fun because they are short and sweet, but still give your baby a chance to see new faces and learn new skills. There are tons of them out there, from barre and yoga to art lessons.

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Every new mom has “mom guilt” about how little time she spends with her friends. It’s difficult to make plans around your friends’ schedules when it’s already hard enough to plan around your baby’s schedule! Between feeds, naps, and unplanned meltdowns, it can sometimes feel like a nightmare to get out of the house.

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But, still, it does feel really good to meet up with a friend, whether it’s over coffee, a quick brunch, or even at your/their house. The key is to plan ahead (if you’re going to a friend’s house, bring baby food, just in case) and make sure to meet up between naps so you have plenty of time… and a happy baby on your hands!

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There are plenty of groups out there. And no one understands your issues better than other new moms… So don’t be afraid to reach out! One of my friends, also a new mama, had a really tough time after giving birth and suffered from postpartum depression. She found a local group that met up weekly to talk about postpartum concerns. They also  take weekly stroller walks! So if that sounds like something you’d be interested in, do your research!

Facebook is also a great tool to use if you want to link up with other moms. When I was a few weeks pregnant, I messaged two girls I knew from college (although we weren’t close friends, then) who I knew were also pregnant. We helped each other throughout our pregnancies and are now good friends who love to chat about our babies! The great thing about other moms is that they love to talk about their babies just as much as you do! 🙂

 

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