In some ways, I found 2 kids much easier than just one baby. With 2 kids, the days go by much faster, and there’s always something “interesting” that happens. However, it took a little research and practice for me to get into a groove. Where our family might differ from some, is that while I have an amazingly supportive and generous husband, his career requires him to work long hours. This means, during the majority of week days, and some week end days, I am on my own with the little circus, from when they get up, to when they go to bed at night. I have collected my favourite ideas, and they may not work for everyone. Feel free to use or discard as it applies to your situation. Also, I’m always eager to hear what others are doing, so feel free to share.
1. To decrease the chances you look and smell like a bag lady, take 5 seconds, and pick out your underclothes, sweat pants and t shirt the night before.
2. There is no rule that your kids need to change clothes every day, or that they need to wear pajamas to sleep. Pick a comfy outfit for each, and let them keep wearing it until it’s gross, or you have to leave the house.
3. Get up before the kids, have a quick shower, and do your morning routine. Lay it out so it’s fast and your not searching for things. Streamline this, but don’t skip something that’s important, like flossing… or it’ll be 3 months later, and you’ll realize you haven’t yet had a chance.
4. Work on getting your kids into a good sleep routine. We sleep train ours at 4-5 months, and they sleep 7pm to 7am, with a couple naps a day, depending on age. Read this if you want to know more about sleeping.
5. I have conflicting advice: a) early on, (first 6 weeks) try to avoid leaving your house as much as humanly possible. If you’re losing it, alternate going out front and going out back. This will decrease your stress levels, and give you a chance to recover (I’m a serial c-sectioner).
5. b) when your baby is settled into a routine, try to get out every single day. We used to live close to a grocery store, and we walked there almost every day, even just to grab one or two items. Now we’re close to great trail, we use it all the time. You’ll want to make sure you have a great stroller, doesn’t have to be pricey (ours was $20), but you should love it.
6. Find a mom’s group, and make yourself go, no matter what. Especially in the early days. You won’t be the only one that hasn’t slept in a month, and can’t remember when they last showered.
7. Pick an area of your house that you use most to be your “day area”. It should include a play area, a kitchen (but you could stock a cooler), and if you’re me, something to play audiobooks and talk radio. Use baby gates, and block off everything else. This will decrease the amount of picking up, toddler chasing/destruction, and keep everyone in eye sight while you’re nursing or otherwise busy.
8. Within your “day area”, get rid of as much as you can. Make use of toy rotation ideas that can be found on pinterest. Try to get it so you can pick up the toys in that area in 5 minutes or less, and use baskets for this.
9. Aim to do 1 to 2 regular pick up times a day, and make it a routine. We try to pick up toys before lunch and after dinner. (Still very much a work in progress). Also, be sure to include those little hands. They can help with picking up as soon as they can walk.
10. Create a simple routine that you follow each day. Work your routine around wake/sleep times and meals.
11. Try to have a major home management goal for each day of the week, for example: Monday, Laundry; Tuesday, Ironing and floors; Wednesday, Bathrooms, bills, mail, phone calls; Thursday, bigger outings, and repeat floors as needed; Friday, kitchen; Saturday, gardening. If you aim to do things on a specific day of the week, if something comes up and you don’t do it, you’ll just catch up the next week.
12. Plan your family’s meals. Try to pick a meal rotation your family can live with (maybe 2 weeks worth, for each season). Shop and cook according to your plan. This will cut your costs and save you time thinking about what you should make. We love Onceamonthmeals.com freezer cooking, and if you can afford it, give it a try.
13. Begin preparing dinner as soon as you’ve finished cleaning up after breakfast. If you aim to start at 4 pm… you’re eating a bowl of cereal for dinner.
14. Find another couple who have kids that sleep the same hours yours do. Alternate taking date nights. One parent comes over to your house, and watches some tv while you and hubby are out having fun, and next week you’ll go over to their house to watch some tv while they are out having fun.
15. Figure out what makes you happy. For me it’s reading. Be sure to make time to do the thing you love. In this short season, it does not have to be elaborate, but it is necessary to keep yourself happy.
… and if all else fails, whip up a batch of cookies, and put the raw cookie dough bowl on the floor for the kids to eat.