Although life with a 5 month old and a 2 ½ year old is fun and chaotic, there are a few things I’ve learned that make everyday life easier – Real Life: Everyday Tips for Juggling a Baby and a Toddler.
It’s been 5 whole months since our Bean came into the world! And that also means, I’ve survived 5 whole months as a stay-at-home/part-time working mom of 2 kiddos under 2 ½!!! WOOHOO!
It’s been a wild ride. Rewarding and amazing… but wild. I won’t sugar coat it. Lots of days are amazing, with precious priceless moments. And other days are difficult. On the tough days, I either break down and cry or just laugh, a lot.
The main thing I can say for certain, is having 2 little kids is no joke. It’s nuts most of the time. But there are definitely daily things I do to make life much more manageable and organized.
Whether you are a stay at home parent or work full-time, these are tricks that any parent of multiples will find handy. And honestly since I’m still fairly new at this, I’m sure I’ll learn a ton more over time!
So here goes, 2 little kids have nothing on me!
Everyday Tips for Juggling a Baby and a Toddler:
1. Allow lots of prep time – getting out the door regardless of where we are going takes me an average of 30-45 minutes. Not kidding! Between dressing the girls, changing diapers, feeding the baby, dressing myself, packing snacks/bottles, grabbing winter gear, and loading everyone/everything in the car… you can see why.
Solution, start packing early! Especially when we have to be somewhere at a certain time, I start getting ready “to go” about an hour early minimum. I always start by dressing myself, then the girls, then packing the stuff, then diapers and feeding the baby, and then we head out!
2. Pack what you need in a big grocery bag – every time we leave the house (in the winter), I need winter gear for me and the girls, milk bottles, snacks, waters, and my Ergo baby carrier. Because the diaper bag only fits so much, I love using a large disposable grocery bag to carry and contain all the things I need for every outing. Then I can easily carry everything into the car too! I pack the bag to go into the car and pack it with everything to unload the car when we get home.
This is a simple trick that makes packing easier and keeps my car less messy.
3. Park near grocery carts – an easy trick that makes a huge difference when doing groceries! When I get to a parking lot, I spot out any spots next to the grocery cart return area, this way I can grab a cart and load both kids in the cart right away. Then when it’s time to leave I can load the girls and the groceries into the car, and easily return the cart. BOOM and BOOM!
4. Keep a stash of healthy snacks in the car, purse and diaper bag – healthy snacks are absolutely crucial in keeping my toddler and I happy, healthy and energized. They also help in avoiding meltdowns. Some of my favorite healthy snacks to keep around are: pretzels, homemade lara bars, dried fruit, crackers and cheerios.
5. Keep an emergency stash of essentials in the car – for us this means a few diapers, 1 new pack of wipes, a towel (for wet summer days, wet playgrounds, wet winter boots or vomit accidents), healthy snacks, winter hat/gloves. I realize some of this stuff is in the diaper bag, but it’s nice to have a back up on those days when you run out of stuff in the diaper bag, or just forget it at home all-together. And although, you could go out and buy things, it’s so much easier to just run to the car.
6. Don’t pack too much into one day – I learned this trick pretty early on. Getting kids in and out of the car plus putting on winter gear is a exhausting for everyone. So instead of running all my little in-and-out errands with the girls at once, I normally tackle one at a time with them. For example, we might hit up the library and Target today but will do the zoo and the post office tomorrow. This way I get one errand done and they get to have fun too!
On those crazy weeks when I have tons of little errands, I wait to do them either early in the morning, on the weekend or at night without the kids, to optimize efficiency.
7. Bring baby carrier as a backup – I am a huge proponent of the baby carrier. Ours, the incredible ERGO, is seriously my best friend. This thing is always with us, whether I end up using it or not, it’s always in the car. What’s great about it, is that it allows me to carry the little one while having my arms free!!! I especially love the our Ergo at places that are not stroller friendly or when I know I will be chasing my toddler around everywhere.
8. Nap or quiet time everyday – down time is so important for the girls and me! It’s a time for them to either sleep or just relax. My 5 month old Bean takes 2-3 naps a day and my toddler does 1 hour of quiet time everyday. No matter what! Quiet time for my tot is an hour in her room (we put a gate at her door) where she draws on her chalk board, reads, plays with her toys, or sometimes sleeps. She actually loves it and it’s a nice mental break for me too!
During her quiet time, I either pump/feed the baby, cook, get some housework done, or work on the blog.
9. Do activities with both kids to encourage bonding – even though my 5 month old can’t crawl or play yet, we have been doing activities to encourage bonding between the girls. Things like reading together, dancing with the baby while she is bouncing in the johnny jump up, eating meals and snack together, and playing in the play gym together.
Trying to include the baby in the toddler activity has really helped the girls bond and is helping our Poppy understand how to interact with her baby sister in a gentle way.
10. Noise machines are AMAZING – with a loud and active toddler and a baby that is a super light sleeper, naps are tricky. But what has saved us so far is our incredible noise machine. Basically if we didn’t have a way to drown out the ruckus of my toddler, my poor baby would never sleep. Here is one we love.
11. Handle the greatest need first – with 2 kids that depend on me for almost everything, there are plenty of times when they both need me at the same time. What this looks like? Both kids screaming and crying. The first few times this happened I would panic. But I’ve learned to laugh and then check each kid for the most urgent need and deal with that one first.
For example, my toddler is screaming because she wants blueberries but the baby is screaming because she had a blow out… I deal with baby first. Or if my toddler falls down but the baby is crying because she is tired, I help my tot first and then the baby. Basically who needs me physically goes first. Often times if both kids are crying for minor reasons, I strap the baby in the baby carrier which always calms her down, and then I’m able to focus on helping my toddler. Again ERGO to the rescue!
12. Find down time – sometimes this might mean reading a book during bath time, or taking the girls for a walk or a drive to relax. I love places like libraries and kid-friendly cafes too, because my toddler is able to have fun in a contained area and I can sit, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee.
So far these little tricks have been lifesavers and I know I’ll find plenty more with trial and error. But in the end, I’m loving the chaos these 2 sweet girls bring to my everyday life.