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15 Tips for Staying Organized

You Can Still Get Through Your To-Do List Now That Your Baby's on Board. Here's How!

If you are getting through the day with the family all fed, clothed and relatively clean, you are doing a wonderful job as a new parent. Still, you probably feel that your life is a bit more hectic than you'd like it to be. To the rescue: 15 tips for keeping chaos to a minimum—and happiness to the max.

  1. Always keep your diaper bag packed with a clean bottle and nipple, pacifier, formula, 4 to 5 diapers, and plenty of wipes (keep them in a Ziploc bag), and an outfit change and sweater for the baby. This way you know you can grab the bag and go at any time. Re-stock after every outing.
  2. Buy two inexpensive dishwasher baskets for bottle shields, nipples and breastpump parts. One you'll keep by the sink for the to-be-washed items; the other goes right from the dishwasher into your cupboard.
  3. In a large lightweight pitcher, mix up all the formula you'll need for the day. When your baby cries for her bottle, all you'll have to do is pour it into a bottle and warm it up.
  4. If you're pumping regularly, consider buying a bra that lets you pump hands-free. Now you can talk on the phone, answer email and otherwise multitask while you're filling bottles with milk.
  5. Write your grocery list items under two columns: "essentials" and "other." That way if a meltdown threatens, you can skip out of the store ASAP without worrying you'll run out of toilet paper.
  6. And speaking of shopping, scope out which malls have nice family bathrooms and spaces for nursing and bottle-feeding moms. You'll be likelier to get your chores done if you know the trip will be as pleasant as possible.
  7. Figure out one place, and one place only, to keep your house and car keys. Hanging them on a peg near your home's entryway is one good option. Think about it: You only have a small window of time between your child's naps to get out and about. If you spend 20 minutes in a frantic search for keys, that window starts to close.
  8. Never buy another item of clothing that requires ironing.
  9. For that matter, give up folding underwear, infant t-shirts and anything else that doesn't really need it. If you're having a rough week, don't even worry about putting clothes away. Just take clean duds right from the laundry basket.
  10. To cut down on clutter, switch to paying your bills online. To cut back even further, go to to take your name off any mailing list used by the major credit agencies.
  11. Does it seem like you just don't have enough time in the day to get everything done? Join the (parents') club. What chores can you delegate, and how? Would a nearby grandparent grocery shop for you? Would the teenager next door help with lawn care for a little money each week?
  12. If you're back at work, use your lunch hour to get errands done. If this is one of your only opportunities for adult interaction, ask your work pal if she'd mind tagging along on your trip to the drugstore.
  13. Take advantage of the free delivery services offered by most grocery stores, dry cleaners and more.
  14. Get two big plastic bins and label one "out" and the other one "in". Your in-box is for all the little tasks you need to get to, such as the socks that need mending or the insurance claims you need to fill out. When you have 5 or 10 minutes, you can go to the bin and get something done. In the out-box, put books that need to be taken back to the library, the six identical baby gifts you need to return, and so on. This organizational scheme is so easy you're likely to stick to it.
  15. Finally, resolve that your answer to a friend's question of "Can I help?" is never again going to be "No thanks, I can manage". Starting today, your answer will be "Yes, thanks!"

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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