Finding “me time” in baby time: The art of habit stacking for parents


All parents know of the elusive quest for a bit of ‘me time’ amidst the whirlwind of parenting. Ah, the days of leisurely self-care routines feel like a distant memory, don’t they? Instead, the days (and nights) of new parents now revolve around their little ones’ sleep schedules, which can be as unpredictable as a game of bingo.

But here’s the good news: this blog is all about weaving self-care into the tapestry of your baby’s daily routine. Yes, it’s possible, and we’re here to show you how!

Understanding habits: The science behind the routine

Habits are like the autopilot setting of our brains. They’re the daily routines and behaviors that we perform almost automatically, without much conscious thought. Whether it’s brushing your teeth, making your bed, or checking your phone first thing in the morning – these are all habits. But how do they form, especially in the chaotic world of parenting?

At the core of habit formation is a neurological loop consisting of three components: cue, routine, and reward. Let’s break it down:

  • Cue: This is the trigger that initiates the habit. It could be a specific time of day, a particular emotion, or a preceding event.
  • Routine: The actual behavior or action that follows the cue. This is the habitual part of the process, the action you perform almost automatically.
  • Reward: The positive outcome or feeling that results from completing the routine. This reinforces the habit loop, making you more likely to repeat it in the future.

Understanding the science behind habits empowers parents to shape their routines intentionally. By recognizing the cues, routines, and rewards in their daily lives, parents can establish positive habits that contribute to their well-being and the well-being of their children. After all, parenting is a series of habits – make them work for you!

What is habit stacking?

Habit stacking is about cleverly bundling together small activities or habits into your existing routine. Think of it as creating a self-care sandwich with your daily slice of baby care.

The concept was popularized by the productivity guru, James Clear, in his book “Atomic Habits.” 

Clear emphasizes that by linking a new habit to an existing one, you’re more likely to stick to it. It’s like adding a cherry on top of what you’re already doing. For parents, this is a godsend! Let’s face it, between diaper changes and lullabies, finding a moment for yourself seems like discovering a unicorn. But habit stacking? It’s your personal unicorn hunter.

Why parents need to jump on the habit-stacking bandwagon

Now, why is habit stacking particularly beneficial for worn-out parents? It’s simple. Your day is already a well-oiled machine geared around your baby’s routine. By syncing self-care habits with this routine, you’re not adding more to your plate; you’re just spicing up what’s already there.

Imagine doing a quick yoga stretch while your little one is happily cooing in their playpen. Or practicing mindfulness during those precious moments of baby naps. This isn’t just about keeping you sane (which is super important, by the way); it’s about showing your child the importance of self-care too.

10 self-care habits that you can stack with your baby’s routine

As you navigate this exciting yet sometimes exhausting world of parenting, remember that self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Let’s explore how you can sneak in some precious “me-time” into your day-to-day parenting tasks.

We’ve put together a list of 10 habits that you can stack with your little one’s existing routine and introduce new habits in your routine:

1. Morning meditation during the first nap

As your little angel drifts off to dreamland for their first nap of the day, it’s your golden opportunity to meditate. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe. It doesn’t have to be a long session, you can just put a 5 to 10-minute timer on your phone or pick a guided meditation of the same duration. This will help you stay in the moment, and help you prepare for the day ahead.

2. Stretching during tummy time

While your baby is busy building their muscles during tummy time, why not join in? Roll out your yoga mat and do some gentle stretches alongside your little one. It’s a fun way to keep fit and show your baby the joys of stretching – double win!
It always helps to keep the goals doable and realistic. So you may not be able to squeeze a long exercise session while your baby is playing on their mat, but you can manage some easy-to-do stretching exercises like Sphinx Pose, Extended Puppy Pose, Knee to Chest Stretch, and Forward Folds. Try 10 to 20 variations of these exercises and tick stretching off your to-do list.

3. Outdoor stroller walks for exercise

Strap your baby into the stroller and take a brisk walk outside. The fresh air is fantastic for both of you, and it’s a great way to get your steps in. Bonus: the rhythmic motion of the stroller might just lull your little one into a sweet nap.

4. Afternoon snack and hydration break

Sometimes, you can get so caught up in being a parent that you can forget simple things like drinking your six to eight glasses of water and eating healthy snacks to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. But you can stack healthy eating with your baby’s snack time. 

When it’s snack time for your baby, join in with a healthy snack and a tall glass of water for yourself. It’s a great way to stay hydrated and energized. 

5. Skincare routine during baby’s bath time

When you’re getting the bathroom ready for baby’s bathtime, take an extra minute to take out your skincare products. While your little one is splashing around, take a few minutes for your skincare routine. Standing by the bathtub, you can do a quick cleanse, tone, and moisturize. It’s like a spa moment amidst the splish-splash!

6. Read or listen to a podcast during night feedings

Those night feedings are the perfect time to catch up on a book or listen to your favorite podcast. It’s a quiet, serene time to indulge in some learning or escapism – all while you’re doing the superhero task of feeding your baby.

7. Bedtime yoga, breathing exercises, or journaling

After tucking your baby in for the night, unroll that yoga mat once again for some gentle yoga or breathing exercises. It’s a perfect way to wind down and get your body ready for a good night’s sleep.

But if that’s not your cup of tea, you can try something else, like journaling. Just find a cozy spot for yourself, whether it’s curling up in your armchair or sitting in your bed, and jot down a few things in your journal. This could be anything—a parenting win, something you’re grateful for, or anything else that makes you feel a little lighter.

8. Express gratitude during night wakings

In those wee hours, while you’re up with your baby, take a moment to think of things you’re grateful for. It turns a potentially frustrating waking into a moment of appreciation and positivity. Plus, gratitude is scientifically proven to boost happiness!

9. Unwind with a warm bath after baby’s bedtime

Once your baby is asleep, treat yourself to a warm, relaxing bath. Light some candles, play some soft music, and just soak. It’s your well-deserved, tranquil retreat from the busy day of parenting.

10. Tech-free time during baby’s play

While your baby is engaged in play, take a short tech break for yourself. Put away the phone and laptop, and just enjoy the moment, maybe with a cup of tea or simply watching your baby explore. It’s a small but effective way to recharge your mental batteries.


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