Why, might I ask, is it so overwhelming to complete simple, two minute tasks when you have a baby?
That’s really a bit rhetorical, as we all know why: attention-demanding baby in one hand, sleep deprivation in the other, leaves us looking around for our own mothers screaming, “LOOK MA, NO HANDS!”
Despite our daughter Sophia’s relatively good sleep habits for her age, my husband and I are still definitely not functioning at full capacity due to interrupted sleep. I don’t really understand how he can go to work and actually contribute to his company, and even more baffling to me is the mothers who return to work full time after their short six week maternity leave. Because seriously, our brains aren’t fully working.
And as for the to-do list filled with two minute tasks, they seem to each take an hour, at least. Incomprehensible, I know, to those of you who haven’t tried to get things done while watching a young child by yourself, but I’ll break it down for you. And yes, I could leave Sophia to cry for longer, but I really don’t feel like hearing it and soothing her takes longer when she is worked up.
Start your stopwatch:
00:01:00 – Put baby in crib so that you have both hands free. Realize that the crib-safe toys are in the other room.
00:02:00 – Retrieve toys from other room. See empty water glass and remember that you need to drink more water. No water for mama = no milk for baby, and we don’t want to go down that road.
00:03:00 – Fill water glass and enjoy a brief moment to yourself. Drink water.
00:04:00 – Take toys to baby. Realize that you haven’t used the restroom in at least five hours, because your brain now blocks those signals despite your insane water consumption levels.
00:08:00 – Use restroom, dry hands on the same hand towel that has been on that hook for months, and remember that you need to wash towels and sheets.
00:12:00 – Start laundry. PS, you forgot that stupid hand towel.
00:13:00 – Retrieve hand towel, and restart the washing machine. Notice that the dog’s water is empty.
00:14:00 – Refill the dog’s water. Baby starts fussing.
00:16:00 – Attempt to soothe baby. Give up on toys, realize that it’s time to nurse baby.
00:30:00 – Nurse baby. Baby passes out while nursing. Do you risk waking baby up to put baby in crib, or just sit there until baby wakes up?
00:33:00 – Attempt to put baby in crib while asleep. Score, baby is OUT!
00:40:00 – Check phone. Get lost in Facebook wondering who the hell writes these newsfeed algorithms, because the same crap is there all day long, and sometimes the post at the top of your feed is from yesterday. Remember that you were trying to do something.
00:41:00 – Start two minute task.
00:41:01 – Baby is no longer asleep. Demands immediate attention, beyond retrieving the pacifier.
00:45:00 – Change baby’s diaper. Baby is much happier. Return baby to crib.
00:46:00 – Turn to exit room and return to two minute task.
00:46:01 – Baby begins meltdown. Don’t you know that you can’t leave baby’s line of sight? Silly you.
00:47:00 – Put baby in bouncy seat in the same room in which you were trying to complete your two minute task.
00:47:01 – Baby decides that you shouldn’t have eaten _____ for dinner yesterday, spits up all over self and bouncy chair. Try to find burp cloth that is usually draped over the top of the bouncy chair – someone moved it.
00:48:00 – Find burp cloth. Clean up baby. Return to two minute task. Wait which task? Memory fails due to lack of sleep and copious attempts to multi-task.
00:49:00 – Consult written to-do list in attempt to remember which task you wanted to complete. Notice that to-do list is missing things.
00:51:00 – Update to-do list with five additional tasks that you had been meaning to write down. While looking at incomplete to-do list, remember that you also need to add items to the grocery list.
00:52:00 – Update grocery list. Remember that task you were trying to complete was not on the to-do list in the first place.
00:53:00 – Baby tosses toys on the floor. Retrieve toys to preserve sanity and prevent fussing.
00:55:00 – Speaking of groceries, when was the last time you ate? Grab snack from fridge.
00:56:00 – Return to two-minute task. Laundry buzzer goes off.
00:57:00 – Switch laundry from washer to drier. If this task is postponed, you might find a washer full of mildew in a few days due to forgetfulness.
00:58:00 – Return to two minute task.
00:58:01 – Baby tosses toys on the floor again. Retrieve toys to preserve sanity and prevent fussing.
01:01:00 – Complete two minute task. Except it takes three, because you are exhausted and not functioning.
This is not a complaint.
First and foremost, this is an illustration of why I am so, so thankful to my mom, my in-laws, and all of our local “surrogate grandmothers” who have helped out over the past few months by watching Sophia or helping us in some other time-saving way, like bringing us meals. They say that the most valuable gift you can give someone is the gift of your time, and I truly appreciate this saying now more than ever.
Secondly, for those of you who would like to point out that I could always get things done while Sophia sleeps, this is an illustration of why the life of a mom is a twist on the classic chicken and egg question:
Which comes first, the power nap or the to-do list?
Related: 10 Silver Linings of Motherhood