This is the first in a series of posts I’m planning on habits I’ve adopted to help me better enjoy my baby. Usually the habit in some way helps optimize normal parent/baby rhythms or hormones. Hope it’s helpful. Stay tuned!
Frontloading, along with cosleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, and lying-in, is one of the best habits I’ve adopted to help me enjoy my baby.
Frontloading is so wonderful you are probably already doing it if you have a little one at home and just hadn’t heard the word!
Frontloading is using your morning to accomplish tasks for the day with the understanding that your baby will be more high-needs and require more of your attention in the late afternoon and early evening. It is budgeting your energy for your baby’s rhythms.
I discovered the word frontloading in a great little book called Sweet Sleep by the La Leche League. One of the things the La Leche League prides themselves on is creating words to describe mothering experiences so mothers have a way to normalize and validate the invisible work they do all day. Sheila Kitzinger and Naomi Stadlen also do this.
Frontloading is one of these “invisible mothering work” words.
Frontloading looks like spending my morning like this:
- Unloading the dishwasher.
- My baby is in a sling on my chest while I do this – it is not easy and involves a lot of squatting. By the end he is asleep. I think the sound of plates and cutlery clanging together has become a sweet lullaby for him.
- Putting on a pot of chilli to cook all day with veggies I prepared during baby’s nap yesterday and beans that soaked overnight.
- I do not as a rule cook meals that involve my attention after 4 pm or so unless it can be very quick, like a stiryfry that is ready to go. Complicated meals in the later afternoon are a recipe for a family meltdown. I frontload my cooking or we eat scrambled eggs.
- Two loads of laundry
- Wandering the house with baby in sling doing any cleaning, bed-making, tidying that needs to be done.
- If absolutely necessary I go grocery shopping (my least favourite thing! I try to do it twice a week max.) My baby hates the car seat (or do I just project my car seat hatred onto him?) and it’s wicked cold in Ontario right now so it’s not easy to grocery shop with a little one!
While I frontload my baby is usually on my chest in a sling but sometimes he’ll demand a contact-free nap on the kitchen table while I work. Our cats take over snuggling when this happens. I am glad my cats take snuggling my baby as seriously as I do:
By the early afternoon I’ve done the bare minimum needed to keep my house running. This is helpful because like many babies my baby is easy-going and happy in the morning and more sensitive as the day goes on. It’s more pleasurable to set aside the afternoon to tend to his needs rather than push through tasks.
Frontloading looks like spending my afternoon like this:
- He takes an afternoon nap and I write a little,
- He fusses throughout the afternoon and we just pace the house and experiment with textures, smells, sights, sounds, or
- We spend the afternoon in bed or on the couch, skin to skin, nursing, and napping:
Do you practice a form of frontloading in your life? What is your most enjoyable daily routine with a little one?