Life with a baby has its challenges, but all you need is a little coordination, communication and dedication to tackle them head-on. When you're trying to cope with competing work and family responsibilities, the best way to manage your stress is to prioritize and not look back. Evaluate your options, make a decision and don't second-guess yourself!
Here are five tips from real-life moms and dads on how to integrate work and life with a baby:
1. Make Time for Family Meals
Heather Grabin, a publicist and co-founder of FabZlist, has a 3-year-old daughter named Priya. The Jersey City native works full-time without childcare. "Being a publicist, I'm on everyone else's schedule," explains Heather. But the publicist and her partner are major foodies, so they make family meals a priority. "Mornings are hectic, and during the day we are in our routines, so I try to make sure we eat dinner together," says Heather.
Planning healthy family meals can be a challenge, so the working mom relies on sites like DishItGirl to help her plan ahead. But even when Heather is stuck in meetings, she ensures that her family has a home-cooked meal. "I can't always be there at dinnertime, but I can make sure they're not resorting to take out," she says.
2. Try to Always Head Home at the Same Time
Jennifer Oxley is a co-founder of 9ate7 productions and co-creator of "Peg + Cat" for PBS Kids. The Brooklyn native and her husband, Matt, work full-time and have a nanny for their two children, Fox (4 years old) and Tallula (1 year old).
But the working mom always heads home to her children at 5:30 -- no matter what. This schedule sometimes poses a challenge for Jen, but she knows how important it is to spend this time with her little ones. "When you're used to working until 7:30 or 8 to get work done, there's always at least two hours of work you haven't completed," Jen says.But she's learned to be quite flexible to make the most out of her time. "I just squeeze in work wherever I can," explains Jen. The working mom brings her laptop everywhere -- she even brought it to the hospital when Fox was born!"
Fox and the pilot of 'Peg and Cat' were due the same week," Jen recalls. "It's like we had twins -- I delivered [my son] and the pilot in the same week. I went to the animation review three days after Fox was born."
For more advice on keeping your family on track, check out 7 Tips for Organizing Your Family Schedule.
3. Split Your Responsibilities Down the Middle
Fortunately, Jen and Matt both pull their own parental weight. "If I take Fox to the doctor one week, Matt will take off one day the next week if necessary," she says.
4. Find Five Minutes to Do Something for Yourself
"I have a negative amount of time, especially now, but I read somewhere that you can always find time for yourself," says Jen. This advice made Jen realize that none of the excuses she has used concerning the time required to exercise were truly valid.
"I realized I have five minutes before my shower every day," she explains. So Jen started to exercise every morning, even though she often felt tired and unmotivated. "I had to remind myself I wouldn't see immediate results, but two months in I actually saw a difference and it felt great," says Jen.
5. Prioritize, Divide and Conquer
Doug Cohn and his partner, Richard Ayasta, live a busy Los Angeles lifestyle. They both balance their full-time jobs with taking their boys, (ages 2 and 4 months) to parties and outings, hanging out with their dogs and attending entertainment industry events.
Doug oversees the music department for Nickelodeon, so there's always an event that requires his presence. "We spend our 'date nights' with 17,000 of our closest friends at the Staples Center for a Taylor Swift concert," he explains.
With no family nearby, the couple's nanny plays an integral role in their family dynamic. But even with a team of three, prioritizing can be a struggle. "Thankfully we have two dads and a nanny and we figure it out," says Doug. "I feel guilty sometimes but I think about each decision and try to make the best one at the time. Sometimes I'll take a spin class and miss a fun play date with my older son, but I know there will be more."
According to Doug, the best parenting advice he ever received was that "You can never do it all but ... you can do almost all, especially if you have a mini-team in place." The working dad also believes that there's always an opportunity to have quality time with your children. "Read that last book to your kid," he urges. "It's only five more minutes."
For more advice, check out 10 Work-Life Balance Tips for Working Parents.
This article originally appeared on Care.com.