Just the other day my friend who has an 11-month old said to me, “Is it just me, or is it insanely difficult to find time to myself when I have a baby?”

I told her that even a year and a half into motherhood, the answer is yes: it is incredibly challenging to find time to yourself as a parent.

But, I know some people who manage to do this, and do this well! I’m going to go over the tips that I use, as well as those I’ve seen friends employ, to show how you can get some time for yourself even with the demands of parenting.

Use baby’s nap time to get things done

Of course, this is easier said than done. For me, I had it hard: my baby wouldn’t nap in a crib, and she took really short naps until she was about a year old.

So, for the first year, it was 30-minute naps, and often, they were in the baby carrier, the stroller, the car seat, or on my lap.

When baby is sleeping, use your time WISELY! If you need to chill and look at your phone, do it. If you need to clean the house, zip around and do it as productively as possible. If you need to sleep, read through my tips on how I got sleep as a parent with a newborn.

Naptime can be brief, or maybe it’s really long, for your child. Whichever the case, use the 30 minutes or 2 hours to do something on your list (and hopefully your baby is sleeping in a crib!).

Ask for help

Help comes in many forms, when you are a new parent or a new mom figuring out your new life. For me, I was lucky to have parents nearby. Whenever my baby wasn’t feeding, I would ask my parents if they were free to come take her for a walk (and get her to nap), or play with her, or read her a book.

Dan often would ask how he could help me too, because so much of my day was spent feeding the baby and I felt like I had no downtime. If I wasn’t asking for help often enough, he would say, “Why aren’t you asking for help?” after I expressed frustration.

Ask for help preemptively when you think you might need help, so that you can get some support set up for things you want to do.

Spell out your goals for the day

There were some days when I’d say, “Today I want to go grocery shopping, stop by my friend’s house, take a walk for fresh air, and SHOWER.” And those were the things I wanted to do in order to feel like I carved out time for myself.

If I needed to take the baby with me, so be it, but it was even better if Dan watched our daughter while I got to grocery shop with freedom and see a friend without a baby in tow.

When you wake up, think about what would make the day seem successful, and even spell it out in a note to your partner, or in the Notes application of your phone.

As a bonus, add an “extra” thing to do where you can feel extra great if you get to do that thing, too.

Wear your baby

This seems simple, but hear me out: my life changed when I started using a baby carrier to zip around the house and get things done, regardless of whether my daughter was sleeping or awake.

If she was awake, I’d sing songs and bounce her around. If she was sleeping, I’d play a podcast in my Airpods and hope for the best.

By wearing my baby, I could do things like use my laptop while standing at my standing desk, cook a meal, eat a meal, go out to the park and go for a walk and more.

While it’s not necessarily carving out time for me, I got to do things on my list and get things done that could help me have potential time for myself later.

Put something on the calendar (book something)

In my first few months as a new mom, I realized things were not going to happen for myself like wellness, exercise and self-care if I didn’t put a foot down and make it that way.

I realized I had credits from a nearby yoga studio that I could use for free, and with this as an impetus, I put some yoga classes on the calendar.

I think what I have to relay here is that as a new mom, I had to have some expectations. I handed off the baby to Dan as I left at 10:45am for the class, and said I’ll be back at 12:15pm. I said, Good luck! And hoped that she’d take a bottle or nap, or whatever she was supposed to do in those 90 minutes.

Taking time for yourself is not easy, especially when the baby thinks you’re the default parent! But putting something on the calendar ensures that you will GO to it, whether it’s time with a friend, a fitness class or some self-care you crave, like a pedicure.

Have someone hold you accountable

Having someone hold you accountable for taking time for yourself sounds easier than it is, too. In the summer, I wanted to swim, and Dan knew I wanted to have 45 minutes to go down to the pool. We called this my “Me Time.”

If I started the day with having swimming time in mind, Dan helped remind me that it was up to me to make it happen.

Do things from your phone

When I was nursing our newborn, I felt like I had never spent more time looking at my phone. Actually, I was ALWAYS looking at my phone, and it was almost draining.

Things changed when I made use of using my phone, instead of scrolling Instagram. There were things that weren’t necessarily “making time for myself,” but they were “Making time for things I needed to do.”

For example, I needed to write new content for our websites, and I started figuring out how to do this from my phone, in Notes, or the Notion app. I also would go through my emails, and even try to do my banking from my phone apps.

I built to-do lists, and sometimes listened to podcasts or watched videos about newborn or parenting topics. These were things I needed to get done, and while it wasn’t lofty wonderful things I wanted, like getting a massage, it made me feel like a multi-tasker.

Let go of being a perfectionist

I’m a perfectionist. I’m not even going to keep it a secret. I like to make sure all my dishes are 101% clean when they come out of the dishwasher, and I fold clothes like Marie Kondo.

When I became a parent, I realized how much less time I had, because my time was spent feeding a baby, changing a baby, dressing a baby and carrying a baby. I had fewer minutes in my day to begin with, so I didn’t have any seconds to waste making sure all the peanut butter was off our bowls after the dishwasher cycle.

This pained me a lot, because it came as a shock. My point here with “Let go of being a perfectionist” is that if you can slowly let go of things that you used to do 101%, you may gain back more minutes in your day.

For me, doing constant baby laundry and being less nit-picky with the dishes and silverware led me to a possibility of having some time to take a nice shower, or consider doing some yoga before our daughter woke up from a nap. It meant if I gave up picking every crumb off the kitchen counter, I might be able to sit down and rest for a moment, for me.

Hang out with another mom friend

Taking time for myself means socializing, for me. If I get to hang out with another mom friend, that means time when I get to feel like an adult, not just a mom taking care of a baby. I’ve felt my best when I’ve gone out to coffee with my friend Allie, and we both bring our newborns.

If you don’t know anyone else with a newborn, check up all the ways I’ve had success in making new mom friends, which helped me re-find myself in the newborn haze.