Making It Work; a Good Morning Routine

“I am returning to full-time work when my son is three months old. My son will be going to an in-home daycare where I’ll be able to stop in at lunch to nurse him. It was often difficult to get out of the house on time in the morning when it was just me preparing for the day, so I’m concerned that now my mornings will be a complete disaster. Could you share your morning routines and tell me what worked well for you?”

Wake up before baby so you can get dressed and eat breakfast first. Have everything packed the night before (diaper bag, pumping stuff, purse, your lunch) and waiting by the door. Do a dry run before you return to work. Return to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so you will have the weekend soon after that first week back. — Jade Monus, Facebook

Hooray for a nursing visit during the day! I was worried about the exact same thing. I always prep his (and my) stuff the night before. I wash my pump parts and bottles as soon as I get home from work. I pack my pump bag, diaper bag, purse, lunch, etc. the night before, too. I also set out baby’s clothes and my clothes so there’s no guesswork or extra steps in the already rushed morning. I have to wake up and get ready before baby is up, so I shower, fix my hair, and put on makeup before I wake up baby to change and nurse him. Leave yourself plenty of time to nurse baby—you never know how much baby will want to eat in the morning. After baby nurses, I change into my work clothes, put baby in the car seat, and load up the car and head out. This can make for busier nights, so on the weekend setting out five work tops that I know aren’t wrinkled and are ready to go, as well as some freezer meals can help make your nights smoother and give you more time to catch up on those baby snuggles. — Jordan Toscano, Facebook

Get a stacker (organizer) that you can hang in your closet. Mine has the days of the week on it. Preload all of baby’s outfits for the week so that’s one less thing you have to worry about. If you don’t need your pump at home, keep it at your desk so you don’t have to worry about transporting it every day. I also kept a pack of milk storage bags at my desk in case I forgot bottles. — Mary Elizabeth Thornhill, Facebook

I set an alarm about an hour before I have to wake up and feed her (baby) so she does not wake up when I am getting ready. Once I wake up (baby is still asleep), I get ready as usual except I don’t put any of my shirts on. About 45 minutes before I leave, I wake my baby and get her ready, then nurse and pump. Now there is some fresh milk for her next feeding. I then finish getting dressed, load up, and head out. — Natalie Eaton, Facebook

Shower at night; dry shampoo can be your best friend! At night, I pack a thermal lunchbox with frozen breast milk and baby’s bottle and leave it in the freezer to grab in the morning. Check diaper bag before bed. I set an alarm for 30 minutes earlier than I have to get up in case I have to nurse baby back to sleep. This buys me enough time to get ready and nurse her before leaving the house, if need be. I gather lunchbox and diaper bag and take them to the car while Daddy changes the baby and gets her dressed (with clothes I’ve laid out the night before). — Amy Metz, Facebook

I went back to work when my baby was two months old. I got everything packed the night before—lunch, diaper bag, pump—and put it all with ice packs the next morning. Wake up before the baby, get ready, and then wake the baby up. I always fed him right before we left even if he ate before I got up. Give yourself enough time for incidents. For instance, my little guy had a (diaper) blowout one morning and I literally had to spray him down in the shower. If you give yourself extra time you will feel less stressed out. It will take a month or so to get it down but then it will be second nature. As with everything with a baby, they’re really in control so go with the flow and don’t panic if the routine gets a little messed up sometimes. It will be okay. — Natalie Himes Muh-knee, Facebook

Don’t be surprised if baby cluster feeds after you get home. My youngest did this when I would get home from work. — Genia Kreger Bodishbaugh, Facebook

Don’t get too hung up on a schedule. Chances are baby will decide to change things up when you go back to work. I had a whole routine planned based on my daughter’s wakeup time, which had been consistent for several weeks. The morning I went back, she decided to start waking up at 5 a.m. We fell into a great routine naturally, but it happened over a few weeks. — Erica Martin, Facebook

Having everything packed the night before really helps! I’d also bring my daughter in her pajamas and have the sitter change her clothes. — Elizabeth Richter, Facebook

I like to have something I can easily eat while nursing, like a muffin or a piece of fruit, for breakfast — Adele Poynor, Facebook

I listed everything we needed on a (sticky) note and affixed it to the dash of the car. When we were ready to go to the caregiver, I read through the checklist to make sure we had everything. — Mary Joan Florence, Facebook

I keep a “go” bag in my car—diapers, outfits, shoes, extra bottles, and a hand pump in case I forget a part for my plug-in pump. Continue packing your diaper bag but have this emergency stash in case you forget something. — Britney Lee Donivan, Facebook

I try to get up before my son so that I can get dressed and pack our bags (pumping bag, my breakfast and lunch, anything he’s running short on at daycare) before he’s up. When he wakes up, or when I wake him up, I change him and get him dressed, then set him up playing while I finish getting ready. I start feeding him 20 minutes before we have to leave, because he likes to play and isn’t all that focused in the mornings. Then I pack and start the car, come back in and get his shoes and jacket on. I give him one last chance to eat a bit then get him in the car seat and go. — Claire O’Brien, Facebook

Leave anything you can at work for “just in case”: a single hand pump and storage bags, nursing pads, a box of instant oatmeal or granola bars, an extra top or a sweater. Prepack anything and everything you can the night before. Get as much back in the car the night before. Shower at night if you can, and get comfortable with two or three hairstyles you can make happen in 30 seconds or so. — JodiLyn Livingston, Facebook

New Situation

My partner and I both work outside of the home. We have a nine-month-old son. Since we’re already gone from our son so much due to work, we’re hesitant to leave him more than necessary outside of work obligations. We also want to keep our relationship strong and spend time focusing on each other. Do you have suggestions for reconnecting with each other that don’t necessarily involve leaving the baby?

Please send your responses to Amy at [email protected].