Inside: Surviving clingy babies can feel impossible, especially because you still need to do things like cook and exercise and shower (let alone work). To save your sanity, we’re giving you 13 ideas for how to get things done with a clingy baby.
The struggle of trying to get stuff done with a baby… if there’s anything I can relate to when it comes to being a new mom, it is this.
I didn’t have the issue of having a clingy baby necessarily, but I did have two babies, as a first-time mom of twins.
While I wouldn’t call either twin especially clingy, usually one of them needed me just about all the time, so it pretty much equals the same thing, right? And then there were clingy seasons, like new developmental stages, teething, new milestones, etc.
So I totally get clingy and can emphatically attest that the struggle is, most definitely, real.
One, two babies, a clingy baby… it all equals the same thing: feeling like your home and life is in total chaos all. the. time.
I will admit…it seems like some women are truly able to roll with it. They are so smitten with their new baby that they don’t even seem to notice. Or maybe they have lots of friends and family nearby who are more than happy to rock a newborn or throw in a few loads of laundry.
That wasn’t me. If you’re reading this, it’s probably not you either.
I am most definitely a Type-A who does not function well in disorder, AND I didn’t have a strong support system nearby to help. So I had to strategize a TON when it came to getting taking care of basic household tasks, let alone self-care.
Can this be done? I offer a resounding “yes.”
It takes a little thought and planning, but yes, you can actually get things done with a needy baby. Or two babies. Or both (but hopefully not both).
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13 Ways to Get Stuff Done with a Clingy Baby
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1. Adjust your expectations.
This might seem contrary to what I just said, but really, it’s not. The bottom line is that your life has truly changed in a major, major way, and you just can’t negotiate your home and life like you used to. You MUST give yourself grace, prioritize and lower the bar in some areas.
I’m not saying your home should completely fall into disarray, but having a baby is an enormous adjustment for everyone. Your health – mental and otherwise – along with your baby’s comes first.
Your house will still be standing if you leave dishes in the sink overnight or if there are clothes all over the floor.
You’ll find your groove eventually, but just make sure you have realistic expectations.
2. Try baby wearing.
It’s been said the first few months of a baby’s life are actually considered a 4th trimester. Baby is likely just as dependent on you for his or her comfort and security outside the womb as he or she was inside.
Therefore, baby wearing with a soft, cozy carrier can be your best friend – and theirs.
It allows you and your baby to have that closeness that you both crave while freeing your hands to get things done around your house. It doesn’t allow you to do everything, but it does allow you to do a lot.
Editor’s Note: You might need to try a few different carriers to find the one that works best. Some moms like carriers, other slings. Borrow from friends to test what works for you!
3. Use a swing or exersaucer.
I know some moms feel guilty about placing a baby in a swing or glider (and even an exersaucer as the baby gets a little older), but do not give in to that.
There is absolutely nothing wrong using baby gear and with setting your child down for a few minutes to get some things accomplished.
Editor’s Note: With my fifth baby, I used ALL the things – THIS swing, a borrowed exersaucer, and a chair (similar) for the bathroom so I could shower with baby being safe. It wasn’t very minimalist of me…but it bought me my sanity for a season, and that was 100% worth it.
4. Set up a chair with toys.
If you need to get some chores down in a room other than where the swing or glider is, you can utilize a bouncy seat or high chair with toys so the baby can be with you the entire time.
The toys can help the baby develop the milestone skills he or she needs while you are getting to some much-needed tasks, so it’s a win for everyone.
5. Simplify your tasks.
There will be those days where the baby is fussy, and you can’t hardly get anything done. Those are the days you will want to simplify and streamline your tasks and do what is only necessary.
For example, there is nothing wrong with digging clothes out of a clean laundry basket instead of taking the time to fold them and put them away (or adopt a no fold laundry system).
It’s fine to wait until the end of the day to do the dishes, or use paper plates and utensils every so often to save your sanity.
You get the idea. Less is definitely more. Get rid of whatever isn’t essential.
6. Incorporate and gradually lengthen solo playtime.
As your baby grows, begin to allow your child to have time by himself or herself to play. Set up a safe area in a play yard or playpen for he/she to play alone with soft toys or board books.
Start with 5 or 10 minutes and then pop in to let your child know you are there. Gradually lengthen that time.
You can try leaving a shirt with your scent on it, if you need to be in another room for 10-15 minutes.
As time goes one, you should be able to grab more and longer chunks of time to accomplish some basic tasks while your child is playing.
7. Set up safe exploration in the room you’re working in.
As your baby gets out of the newborn stage and is a little more mobile, their curiosity will explode. Use that to your advantage!
If you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner, have a few drawers or cabinets that are filled with items the baby can explore: plastic bowls, Tupperware, measuring spoons, etc.
If you are in your bedroom, allow them to get into a few clothes drawers (this is where not wasting time folding can be huge). This will occupy them while you get a check off a few tasks.
Distraction wins the day.
7. Simplify mealtime.
When it comes to feeding yourself and your husband, nutrition is important, but there is nothing wrong with shortcuts!
Eat meals that are easy and simple to prepare. Protein bars and shakes are simple substitutes for breakfast or lunch. There’s no shame in a frozen or prepared dinner (hello Costco!) over a homemade one.
If it’s in your budget, meal subscription plans like Every Plate or Hello Fresh are great options as well.
8. Outsource what you can.
While we as women like to think we can do it all, the reality is that we really can’t – or at least, we can’t do it all well. If you have a budget to have someone come in and help clean, that is perfectly acceptable.
If you can’t afford to have someone clean your entire house, consider hiring help for the things that are the biggest priority. You could hire someone to clean the bathrooms every week or every other week, or to do a deep clean once a month.
If you have a friend with a tween or teenage daughter, she might be willing to help out for less money than hiring a professional.
9. Consider a mommy’s helper.
As suggested with house cleaning, you may want to flip it and have a tween or teen help with the baby while you do a little cleaning or get a few things done.
If the issue is a clingy baby, hopefully being in the arms of another loving person will be just what he or she needs, so you can cross a handful of items off your list.
Girls generally tend to love being with little babies, so for a relatively small sum of money, you can bring someone into your home to help out (9 or 10 and up).
Many moms appreciate this kind of helper because you never actually have to leave your house or your child; you’re always just a room or two away.
10. Make use of screens.
I know that screen time is often frowned upon for small babies, but if used in the right way, it can be a benefit for the baby as well the mom.
My sons watched Baby First often when they were babies, which is completely age appropriate – simple graphics, soothing voices, slow-moving animation, programming geared for basic developmental milestones.
The Wonder Pets is also a very simple, slow-moving, soft-spoken show that is calming and not over-stimulating for babies.
Your baby can be learning while you get some things done.
Of course I’m not advocating that a screen become your babysitter for hours a day. But used appropriately, for small segments of time, screens can truly be a lifesaver and give mom a little bit of relief from a clingy baby.
11. Share responsibility with your spouse.
I know this can be a tough one for many women, for several reasons. Either we don’t like to ask for help or we think we shouldn’t have to ask for help and our husbands should “just know.”
Or even worse, our husbands do not complete tasks “the right way.”
Cue sigh and eye roll.
However, for your sanity, you may need to vocalize a request for help – and then have realistic standards about how your husband completes the task. He may not put the dishes from the dishwasher in the right places or fold the clothes the right way, but does it really matter?
The point is that he is helping and taking something off your list.
Try to take deep breaths, and let go of control. It can be hard, but it’s worth it!
12. Use the margins.
Hopefully, you’ll have little pockets of your day where you can get a task or two done. Or half a task, which is fine, too.
While the baby is napping (if you aren’t napping yourself), you might be able to clean one bathroom (not all of them). Or even just clean the toilet and the sink – skip the floors.
While the baby has tummy time, you may be able to pay a few bills online.
While your husband is rocking the baby, you can throw in a load of laundry.
You may not have big chunks of time to get a lot done, but you may have a few minutes here or there to get a little done – and the effect is cumulative.
13. Wave the white flag for the day.
There might be (well, there will be) days when you’ve tried all the tricks, and your baby is just not having it: your sweet darling just wants to be held – or is inconsolable while being held.
These are the days when you just surrender your plans and go with it:
- Snuggle your baby.
- Put the baby in the stroller or in the carrier and go for a walk.
- Stroll through Target.
- Go for a drive and get a latte at the Starbucks drive-thru.
Whatever you need to do for yourself and the baby on that given day, do. The tasks will wait.
Sometimes it really is about survival and sanity, and that’s OK.
A Clingy Baby is Not Forever – Really, Truly
Even though we don’t like to admit it, having a clingy baby can feel claustrophobic – and even a little suffocating, if we’re really being honest.
And at the same time, life goes on: we don’t live in a baby vacuum. Stuff has to get done. Adulting and all that.
But it will pass, mama. I know it’s so hard, but sometimes we need to lean into it instead of resisting it.
Your baby needs you, and it can feel like you just don’t have it in you to give AND take care of basic daily responsibilities. Then, you just do what is most important and let the rest go.
You’ll make it through. Your baby will gain independence. You’ll get your life back. Things will settle into a doable normal, and it won’t always feel this intense or unmanageable.
Give yourself grace. Give yourself time. Give you and your baby all the love.
You’ll both make it.
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Kate is a former high school English teacher and current SAHM to her 5-year-old twin boys. A lifetime New Yorker recently transplanted in Tennessee, she keeps busy by learning her new way of life in the South, doing home decor and DIY projects, blogging at A Hundred Affections, substitute teaching, and figuring out how to survive in a house outnumbered by boys. And she loves Jesus very much.