My baby girl is just a few days shy of 11 months old. I’ve been pretty open about wanting to stay home with her (and any future littles) for a while now, but we’re not there yet. We’re nearly a year into this daddy-mommy-daughter gig, and we still spend our days apart and our evenings trying to cram in as much lovin’ as we can before bedtime. It’s not my idea of ideal, but it is what it is.

Because my time with the little is limited, I have had to get creative with how we spend it. I head home every day looking forward to wrapping her up in my arms and easing the semi-permanent ache in my chest for a little while. But there are a million other things that need to get done, too, and other relationships that need nurturing—I can’t just disappear with my babe. At the same time, she’s only awake for a couple of hours. So what’s a working momma to do?

1. Make a list.

Before I leave to go home, I try to make a list of what needs to get done that evening. Then, I put it in order of importance. That way, I can focus on my little girl while she’s awake, then dig in with purpose after she’s asleep. No time is wasted wondering “what now?”

2. Put the screen down.

Phones, computers, TV—I try to stay away from them as much as possible in the evening. I’m not a digital hermit (we’re working our way through old Star Trek episodes at the moment, and we’re rather attached to that particular adventure), but the more time I spend looking at a screen, the less I spend with baby girl, so I try to be as intentional about it as possible.

3. Involve the little.

We take baby girl out to the garden with us and let her play in the dirt while the adults work. When she’s older, I plan to let her take over basic kitchen tasks and help prepare dinner. Involving her in the to-do list items that can’t wait gives us a few more minutes together.

4. Learn to let go.

My husband and I often talk about all the things we used to be able to get done, before baby girl arrived. It’s pretty much impossible now to get everything done or to spend as much time (sometimes any time at all) on our hobbies as we used to, and we’re learning to be OK with that. Letting it go, even when it grates at us that the laundry isn’t completely finished or the grass is longer than we’d like, makes everything easier.

5. Recognize how temporary it is.

Kids grow fast, and this stage won’t last forever. Eventually, we’ll have more time all to ourselves than we’d like, wishing our kids would hang around more. Acknowledging that makes it easier to make some of those personal sacrifices for time together here and now.

So, to all you seasoned mothers out there, how do you maximize the time you have with your little ones?

Kenzie Swanson

Kenzie Swanson is the blogger behind Hello Neverland She’s also a wife, mom, Etsy shop owner, and avid journal writer. She likes her books printed on paper and her coffee hot. She’s shy and messy and can’t cook to save her life. Originally from Iowa, Kenzie has settled into life in Nebraska pretty well—she’s even embraced the crazy that is football Saturday in Lincoln (well, mostly). She spends her time working her day job, chasing her wee kiddo, and starting (and sometimes even finishing) crafty projects of all kinds.