One thing that I'm SUPER blessed to have, is a husband who does a ton of the housework. He is always helping with dishes, laundry, picking up, making beds, etc, etc. He has also been doing school with the bigs when I just can't get to it. I don't know what I would do without him.
Even if you don't have a husband who does that for you, though, there are ways to fit housework in when you have a newborn. It doesn't all have to fall apart! :)
Check out what La Leche League suggests in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding:
Housework and a New Baby
Top household efficiency and a new baby mix about as well as oil and water. Meeting baby's unscheduled needs makes a strict household schedule pretty much a thing of the past. This is not to say that a well-ordered life automatically becomes chaos at the moment of birth, but it is fair warning that you may want to reorganize your approach to household chores.
The key to survival is to simplify. Pick an afternoon to take a walking tour of your home, critically examining each room for items that should be removed, rearranged, or discarded. Do you hate to see the knickknacks on the bookshelf covered with dust? Then put them away and replace them with a fresh new plant that will brighten both the room and your spirits. How about that overstuffed closet where everything from ski gear to broken lamp shades seems to end up? If you take the time to clean it out while you are pregnant, it won't get on your nerves later. Discard the things that are beyond repair or that you no longer need - don't just move them somewhere else or they will soon be in your way again. Box up the things you want to keep and store in the attic or basement.
Whatever the season, do as much "spring cleaning" as you can before the baby is born. Light household chores are good exercise, and having them done will be a godsend later when you'll want to devote your time and energy to the baby. This sudden zeal for cleaning and readying the house so often felt by mothers during the last months of pregnancy is referred to as the "nesting instinct."
Give some thought to rearranging your cleaning supplies so that they are readily accessible (but stored in a high, child-proof cupboard). You'll want your supplies to be handy so you can quickly clean a bathroom mirror or scour a sink if you have a moment before stepping into your shower or while keeping an eye on a three-year-old in the tub. Your bathroom will be clean in minutes following bathtime if you quickly wipe a mirror (already fogged), take a swipe over the sink and counter, and wipe up the water on the floor with a large towel, one that was already consigned to the laundry hamper.
In households where there is a baby, housework is nearly always done in quick snatches - a series of mini-cleaning sprints. Five to ten minutes at full speed in the kitchen, devoted to whatever is most bothersome to you - perhaps the breakfast dishes on the table or the grubby floor in front of the sink or refrigerator - will improve the looks of the house and give you a sense of accomplishment. Throughout the day, center your attention on what you have accomplished, beginning with the all-important work of nurturing your baby, rather than dwelling on the tasks that still need doing.
Make your bed or not, as it pleases you. Plumping up the pillows and tossing the covers back to air is a time-honored custom. Without a spread in place, you'll probably lie down to nurse the baby more often during the day. Keeping up with the dishes is about as easy as keeping up with the Joneses. If baby is not agreeable to having you do the whole job when the meal is over, fill the sink with hot soapy water and let everything soak until you can get back to it later on or the next morning. If you have a dishwasher, reload it during those times when baby is wakeful and wants to be held in your arms or snuggled in his baby carrier. Babies usually love the constant up-and-down and back-and-forth motions that accompany the loading and unloading process. Don't rush it. Some babies are soothed by the sound of running water. And many a fussy baby has fallen asleep in a baby carrier while his mother vacuums.
Little people and clutter seem to be inseparable. But clutter can be picked up and put out of sight quickly if you are equipped with a clutter-catcher - a cardboard box or other suitable container to carry with you as you whiz through each room depositing all the odds and ends that have been scattered about. This system enables you to de-clutter an entire house in fifteen minutes or so. The contents of the box can be sorted later when you have more time, but for now the house looks fairly straightened, and a visitor will be able to walk in the door without fear of skidding on a stray truck. Concentrate on immediately putting away the especially important items such as car keys, which will drive you frantic when misplaced. Always putting your keys on a handy hook just inside the door could be one of the best habits you could get into. For safeguarding other small, valuable items picked up around the house during the day, the pockets in your jeans or an apron are indispensable.
Early in the morning, perhaps while you're relaxing with your baby for an after-breakfast nursing, make a list of the "must do" tasks for that day. Further refine your choices by selecting one, or possibly two, of the most important. Box off these top-priority items and plan on getting to them at the first opportunity, before you get caught up in another project or just the everyday chores. If it's something you can't do until later in the day, set your alarm clock or oven timer to ring at the appropriate time. Getting just one "top-priority" item crossed off your list every day will give you a feeling of accomplishment no matter how many things are left undone. Beware of going all out for cleaning, cooking, and scrubbing whenever the baby is taking a nap. Give some of that time to the other children, take a nap yourself, or relax with a project you enjoy.
Most of all, I would encourage you to do your best to not worry about the house - especially in those first weeks after baby arrives. The most important thing at that point is to focus on your sweet little one. These suggestions are for after that initial month or so of bonding time, when you start to add back in some of the household duties.
And lastly - if you need help, ASK FOR IT! You have a village of friends here if you don't have family near or close friends. We are all here to help you - all you have to do is ask...
If you need help trying to figure out how to fit in housework with your baby around, or if you need any other type of support to help with your little nursling, join us tomorrow evening at 6:30 pm for Sioux Falls' Breastfeeding Support Group at Educated Mommy. We also have a weekly support group every Wednesday at 1:00 pm called Milk Monologues.
See? I told you we are here to help ;)