If you are yet to experience the joys of a newborn, or if you just wish to have a chuckle, or be reminded why you’ve chosen to stop having kids, here is a break down of how a parent of a newborn spends their time in a 24-hour period. Spoiler alert: it’s not sipping lattes and having pedicures.
I recently gave birth to quite possibly the most perfect little creature in the world (or tied for equal perfection with his big sister). Last time I went on maternity leave I held the naive belief that the time would be a bit of a ‘break’ for me and that I’d be able to get all those things done that I wanted to do but never had the time – cue laughter from every mother / father / primary caregiver ever!
While I had no such misconceptions this time there are still loads of people (namely those without kids and some gentlemen of a certain age) who think that stay-at-home parents have lots of free time on their hands (since they’re not in paid employment). Here’s what really happens:
Feeding the baby: 6 – 10 Hours
Newborns take forever to feed and they also do a delightfully charming thing called ‘cluster feeding’ where they just feed continuously for large periods of time. It’s a super fun time, especially if you’re breast feeding.
Burping the baby: 1 Hour
Newborns can literally do nothing for themselves and burping is no exception. During and after a feed babies need to be burped and if you don’t, or they don’t get up any burps, be prepared for even less sleep than you’re getting now as they struggle to pass the wind out the other end.
Other feeding related activities: 0 – 4 Hours
Depending on your method of feeding the child you may also need to wash and sterilise bottles, express breast milk, make up bottles, etc.
Sleeping: 4 – 6 Hours
As a parent you do actually get to sleep from time to time, however, please note that this sleep is never in a row or all at once.
Lying in bed trying to sleep, worrying about the noises the child is or is not making, worrying if they are too hot or too cold, and getting out of bed to check they’re still breathing: 2 Hours
Rocking, shushing, jiggling, or walking round to calm the baby down or get them to go to sleep, this varies hugely depending on the child: 2 – 12 Hours
Changing nappies and clothes: 1 Hour
This is way harder than you might think; babies have no control of their flailing limbs and don’t understand requests like, ‘just keep still for a second’ or ‘please don’t put your foot in the poo’. They also have an uncanny knack for going to the toilet when their nappies are off which will generally necessitate yet another costume change.
Holding the sleeping baby in your arms afraid to move or breathe lest they wake up: 2 Hours
Attempting to leave the house: 1 Hour
Attempting to leave the house with a newborn is a nothing short of a military operation. Timing is crucial, the quantity of things that you need to carry with you is several times the weight of the infant, and in the end there is no guarantee that you’ll actually be successful in either leaving the house or achieving what you set out to do by leaving.
Showering, drinking coffee, eating hot food: 15 Minutes
The window you have for doing anything for yourself is minuscule. Many babies, like mine, seem to have a sixth sense for when hot food is about to be consumed and require feeding at that specific time. If you don’t already have one, invest in a microwave, it may be the only way you’ll get a hot meal or coffee for a while…