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So many of my dear friends are having their second babies right now and I've gotten quite a few emails asking "How do you do it with 2 kids?". In other words, "What does your day really look like?". I got one of these emails today and she suggested I make a blog post out of it. Fabulous idea! So, here it is, my friends. This is how we make it work with preschoolers, toddlers, and a baby! I am going to try to include the little details so you can see how I fit in laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks. Also, please notice that you will not see "exercise" or "doing my hair and make-up" anywhere in this schedule. I am not Supermom. I do not do it all, and right now being a fashionista and going to the gym are not making the cut. Those 20-minute videos twice a week (ummm...month?) are going to have to suffice!
Disclaimer: I have NEVER had just a toddler and baby in the house. I started our home daycare when my second son was 6 weeks old, so I immediately went from one child to five. In some ways, I think that may have been easier because my toddler always had someone else around to play with.
Morning Routine: I get up every morning around 6:30am and nurse the baby. She goes back down to sleep for another hour. Then, I quickly get dressed, make my bed, and start on my morning tasks. These include:
- Pack 2 lunches for the older boys (If my 2-year-old is awake he likes to help with this.)
- Start a load of laundry
- Check email for anything that needs to be taken care of immediately and read my devotional. (*Blog posts are scheduled for the week so I actually don't do much with that during the week).
- Make Breakfast for my kids and the daycare kids.
7:30 - 7:45am - Kids eat breakfast, get dressed, and have free play. During this time, I get the baby up, change diapers and make sure my little boys are dressed.
8:00 - "SOCKS AND SHOES" - Every day at 8:05 I call "socks and shoes" so the kids know it's time to pack up for school. While teaching, I discovered that literally saying the same thing every. single. time you do something is a great way to establish routines for kids. We have a basket for shoes by the front door and a coat rack to keep things organized. I also keep an organizing bin in the closet for hats, mittens, and scarves during the winter months.
8:10 - Leave for the bus stop. As you can imagine, this is a production at our house. We have a Walking Rope for the older kids, a Double Stroller , and I wear the baby in a Moby Wrap .
8:30 - After the bus stop, I turn on a Kid's Music Video or Kid's show (Umizoomi?) while I clean the kitchen and nurse the baby. I don't count kids' songs as television since the kids are usually singing and dancing along, or playing, rather than sitting like bumps on a log. While I don't think kids should watch television all day long, I do think it's perfectly okay to let a child watch a favorite show when you need to focus on the baby, especially while nursing.
9:00 - Play Dough or Table activities - This is when we do some sensory play at the table. The kids might work on a fine motor skills activity or just color. During this time the baby is with us at the table in her high chair . As they get older, the babies can join in with toys of their own. For example, I won't give a 7 month old play dough, but I will let them play with some of the toys and have their own sensory activities. Move laundry to the dryer and start another load.
9:30 - My 18-month old goes down for a morning nap. Most of the time, this is our outdoor time, weather permitting. Grab a baby monitor and take this time to let your older kids run out their energy. My 3-month-old goes out with us (sometimes asleep) because her naps aren't as predictable yet.
10:15 - Snack/Learning Time - Come inside, wash hands, and have snack. While the kids have snack, I use the restroom and wipe down the sinks and toilet. (Not that you need to know when I use the restroom, but I just wanted to show that I always try to multitask while the kids are occupied!). After snack, we'll do a short lesson on our theme, read a story, play a game, or do a craft. Anything that a toddler might not be able to do is completed during this time.
By 11:00, I wake up my toddler, change all diapers, and get her a snack while the kids finish up projects. Whenever possible change diapers at the same time. It makes it easier to keep track of who was changed when.
11:15 - noon - Free play. This might include dress-up, cars, trains, etc. During this time, I bounce from doing laundry, to engaging with the kids, and making lunch. Depending on when the baby gets hungry, she might nurse during this time, but I try to save it until the kids are seated and eating lunch.
Noon - Lunch/Clean-up - We clean up the toys together after lunch. The baby might sit in the swing or bouncy seat during this time. I try to sneak in some lunch for myself while the kids are eating.
12:30 - Story Time - The kids sit around me and the baby sits in her bouncy seat or in my lap if she's fussy.
1:00 - Show Time - The kids get to pick a show before nap. Typically, this is Super Why or Umizoomi. During this time, I change diapers, help kids in the potty, and make sure that everyone's beds are ready with their comfort objects. I also use this time to sweep and mop the floors or pick up any stray toys.
1:30 - 3:30 - Nap time - This is a great time for tummy time for the baby since the toddlers are all in bed. I'll admit that my babies don't get as much floor time as they used to because I won't put them on the floor unless I can be right there with them to protect them from all the "love" they're bound to get from their siblings. I try to feed the baby before waking everyone up from their naps and doing another round of diaper changes.
3:30 - Bus Stop/Snack Time - We bundle everyone back up and head back to the bus stop to get the older boys. Then, we have a snack and everyone has free play until the Daycare Kids are picked up. My oldest will typically do his homework during this time and the older boys put away any of their laundry that hasn't made it to their drawers by this time.
By 5:00, everyone is picked up and it's Family Time. My husband is home by this time, so he usually takes over keeping the baby happy while I help with any homework/school issues and make dinner. Typically, you can hear someone practicing piano, someone playing on a tablet, and one of the kids playing on the kitchen floor while I cook.
5:30 - Dinner - The baby sits at the table while we eat. The boys clear the table after we eat and my husband and I work together to clean the kitchen. Actually, right after I finish eating, I nurse the baby and then I help my husband put away the leftovers and clean the kitchen.
6:30 - Bath time - My husband and I long ago agreed that I would bath the babies and he would take the older kids. With 5 kids now, I still bath the baby and he helps the older kids. It does take two of us now, and we've found that it's easier on our sanity if we only do baths every other night. Daily bathing isn't recommended for children's sensitive skin anyway, so we use that as our excuse to skip a night unless they're stinky! No one wants a stinky kid!
7:00 - Wind-down Show - I know (I KNOW) that you're not supposed to watch television before bed, but this is where we gather everyone and have a laugh while watching a show. We used to use this time to play a board game with the kids until it got to be too complicated with the varying ages and we ended up with one child in tears every night. Maybe we'll return to that when everyone can participate without someone getting upset. That's possible, right?
7:30 - Bedtime Routine - This is the point where we brush teeth, read stories, say prayers, and tuck the kids into bed. In true Dugger-fashion, our older boys help the younger ones get toothpaste and brush. This is also when the kids rush around picking up toys, finding blankets, and grabbing last-minute drinks of water.
By 7:50, my husband and I crash on the couch for a few minutes before we get the energy to pick up those last few toys (Seriously, the Duplo blocks breed every time we turn our backs!). I wish I could say that our day is done then, but usually I still have a last load of laundry to fold and I might edit some pictures or work on a blog post. In general, though, we try to save this time to just be together.
If you're still reading (thanks for sticking with me this long!), I've got just a few Tips for Life with Baby and Toddler:
Let the kids "help" you with your chores - Yes, it will take them longer and it won't be perfect, but kids love to help put laundry in the dryer and "fold" socks. They can sweep with toy brooms and vacuum right along with you. I also give the kids cloths, and let them dust the living room with me. It's great for teaching them real-life skills.
It is okay for kids to play independently - Kids need time to explore and create on their own without adults hovering and telling them how something should be done. It's perfectly fine to get kids started on an activity and then give them some time with it while you fold laundry, do dishes, or make lunch.
Invest in a good baby carrier - I adore my Moby Wrap for when my babies are small. Kate has spent a good portion of her first few months in the Moby. It allows me to cook, clean, and help the kids with both hands all while keeping her safe and secure with me. ERGO Baby Carrier are also popular with bigger babies.
Enjoy this time as much as you can - There are times when I wish I could go back to when my oldest boys were babies. Physically, it does get easier as your children grown, but you can never get those first years back. Just take it one day at a time and try to find the moments of joy in those routine tasks.
Be specific when teaching routines. - Routines are so important for kids and I find that everything runs smoother when I stick to our routines. That means, we don't skip naps, we eat at almost the same time every day, and we follow the same order. The kids know that we're going to read a story, watch a show, and then it's time for naps. If I try to put them down without that story or show, they will resist their naps. Also, as silly as it sounds, you have to teach kids exactly how you want things to be done. We spend a lot of time working on how to put toys away, how to wash our hands, where to put our shoes, and what to do with our plates and forks after eating. This gives the kids a sense of security and lets them have control over their environment. Take the extra time to set up these routines and you'll be thrilled when your kids start running the show on their own!
Above all, just remember to take some time for yourself, take deep breaths, and remember that this is a hard time of adjusting for everyone. Some days will be harder than others so if the kids are fed, relatively clean, and happy, you're doing great, Mama!