10 Tips to a Stress Free Day
As a stay at home mom of a baby and toddler, don’t you just love to hear “So what do you do all day?” That question can be answered in oh, so many ways. Anyone who asks that question most likely has not ever had the experience nor the understanding of the demands of caring for two small children. With a second child, your love has multiplied by leaps and bounds; unfortunately there are still only 24 hours in every day.
Routines and consistent activities play an important role in the lives of babies and toddlers, and in adult lives, too! They provide a sense of comfort and safety. They are a stabilizing force throughout the day setting expectations of what comes next and when. With a toddler and baby, routines are important guideposts for everyone in the family.
A Baby, Toddler and a Daily Routine
1) Your schedule will be uniquely your own. So in creating your schedule, figure out what’s most important. Considerations include establishing good sleeping habits, spending quality time with your family, and the logistics of meal times, outings, household chores and personal time. Yes, it’s a lot. Your schedule may not be ruled by the clock. Rather you may be guided by the natural rhythm the days bring. Routines that occur generally at the same time each day will help keep the household running smoothly.
2) Becoming an older sibling to a new baby is a huge change for toddlers. You don’t want to add to that major change by ceasing all familiar daily activities Choose a few that you can reasonably continue. A morning routine with your toddler for instance can be putting a puzzle together; a bedtime routine can include reading a story. It’s simple but consistent so that your toddler feels secure in her daily life at home.
3) If you’re getting a child ready for preschool, begin preparations the night before to avoid the hurried stress the morning can bring. If your mornings are a stressful blur, your preschooler will sense it. That can cause some anxiety about leaving you which in turn may trigger a new set or problems.
4) A good morning begins with a good night’s sleep – for everyone. On some days this will be easier said than done. Still, here is where bedtime routines will reap rewards. Don’t neglect your own bedtime routine, even if it’s forced a bit earlier than you’ve become accustomed. A good night’s sleep is as important for your own health and well-being as much as it is for your children’s.
Good Morning, Sunshine
5) The first few minutes of the morning may be the only time you have to yourself. It may mean getting up earlier than everyone else, but it can be the best time of day for ‘just me’ time to exercise, read, shower or have a cup of coffee without interruption. Get ready for the day; that way you won’t have to wonder later on if you’ve brushed your teeth or not.
6) Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Of course you’ll want to serve healthy and nutritious meals, keeping it simple all at the same time. These breakfast ideas can get you started.
7) If you’re dropping off a toddler at preschool with baby in tow, this may or may not be an interruption to your baby’s nap schedule. If she’s awake, you may be able to sneak in a few errands during the preschool hours. Or, head straight home after drop off for nap time and get a few things checked off your day’s to-do list.
Tips and Tricks for Kiddie Transport
8) It may be easiest to wear baby in a sling, wrap or carrier as you go about the business of your morning or other parts of the day.
9) When grocery shopping with two in tow, the baby carrier will be quite useful while your toddler is secured in the seat-covered cart. For other outings your stroller can serve as the caddy for all of baby and toddler’s essentials. Just transfer the car seat to the stroller to keep baby sleeping soundly. P.S. Park as close as you can to the cart corral at the grocery store.
10) A portable playard provides a safe environment for baby from the eager arms of your toddler. With a fold-up feature it’s easy to transport and place in an area where you can keep an eye on your newborn while you’re busy with something else.
A Day in the Life
No two days will ever be alike. Keeping a basic schedule and predictable routines will give you some sense of organization and more importantly, sanity. There are no hard and fast rules about what specific time things happen; you do have small ones at home after all. It may be easier to view the day in blocks of time, like early morning, mid-afternoon or evening, so a little experimentation may be in order until you find the rhythm that works best for you.How you structure your days may need a tweak now and then, but you’ll probably find it’s one of the best tools in your Mommy toolbox. A day in the life might go something like this.
6:00 am – 7:00 am
If you’re able to get up before everyone else, savor some ‘just me’ time before getting ready for the day. Babies and toddlers tend to wake early and will want and need your attention, so here is where the first routines of the day will be helpful. Your toddler can learn to play quietly while you change the baby’s diaper, and get her dressed and fed. Then it’s toddler’s turn to get ready for the day. If the sun is waking the kids, hang black-out curtains in their bedrooms. That could be a game changer.
7:00 am – 9:00 am
Time for breakfast and clean up afterwards.You may want to use this time to do a few chores. Laundry is most likely on the list, as is making the beds. It’s also time to take care of pets and get ready for whatever outing you may have planned for the day. This may be the time when you wear baby or place her in the playard with some soft toys. And while you may do everything you can to limit screen time, it might be sanity saving to have your older child watching a favorite movie.
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
If you have a toddler going to preschool, this could include drop-off time. The ride in the car may put your baby to sleep and give you time to do an errand, or maybe you head straight home to continue her morning nap. There’s most likely no shortage of deeds to be done, and of course, a sleeping baby will make it a blissful experience. If your older child is not attending preschool, this is a great time for some one-on-one time, just the two of you, just like it used to be. Or, a morning outing like going for a walk, or a trip to the park may be on the agenda for everyone.
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Time for preschool pick up and home for lunch. Naps may be in order for everyone after lunch, and while you’re craving one as well, as least two out of three of you could get some shut eye. Nap time is of course a good time to tackle chores, have some self-care time, make phone calls in peace or, well, take a nap. A word of caution, at a certain point, your toddler may not be so inclined to participate in nap time. Making a small change like calling it quiet time, might buy her cooperation.
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
With everyone refreshed, the afternoon may be filled with a trip to the library, a play date, or some family fun time. Late afternoons can be a little tricky, the ‘witching hour’ as it’s known, so it’s another good time to have some type of routine in place. Planning meals in advance can also work wonders, so if you can carve out some time to prepare with the help of your partner or babysitter, it can make a world of difference.
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
The end of the day is almost at hand. You might find that for the sake of everyone’s sanity, mostly your own, you forego the idea of everyone sitting happily around the dinner table as a family. Dinner might need to be served in shifts if your partner doesn’t arrive home until later. Right now you just need to end the day as peacefully as you can. It’s time for the bedtime routine, a few snuggles, and nighty-night.