As a parent, the years that you spend with your growing family are some of the best and toughest years of your life. Parents of littles often spend their days in a sleep deprived haze, and life consists of changing diapers and keeping little tummies full. Life with littles is chaotic, busy, and extremely rewarding!
Parenting a toddler is a challenge. Toddlers are a whirlwind of emotion, giggling one minute, and having a tantrum the next. Life with a toddler on board is never dull! This is especially the case if your family welcomes a new blessing before your child is through with the toddler years.
Along with the lack of sleep, and constant activity, parents of toddlers and newborns are in for a challenge. Your toddler lacks the verbal and social skills to express himself or herself, which makes understanding the arrival of a baby brother or sister all the more confusing.
It takes planning, organization, and an endless supply of patience to get the job done. You simply can’t do it all, but you can make the most of your time and resources in order to provide a safe, healthy, and happy home for your little ones.
7 Routines Are the Key
When someone hears the word routine, chances are that you picture a home that is regimented and dull. This doesn’t have to be the case! Routines let your children, and you, know what is happening next. They provide a sense of stability and security and allow you to get things done as efficiently as possible.
A routine isn’t the same as a schedule, most mommas would agree that trying to keep to a set schedule doesn’t work with little ones. A routine can be started at anytime, and if you skip parts, you can just jump right in wherever you are.
Having a morning, afternoon, and evening routine works best for most families. Here is a sample of one momma’s routines:
- Get up, shower, do hair and face, and get dressed. If you don’t do this right away, you may not have the chance to do it later. Besides, getting ready for your day is a boost. Looking in the mirror and seeing yourself put together helps your mood.
- Feed baby, get breakfast for older child. Starting out the day with a tummy full of good nutrition helps your littles get the day off to a good start. Choose foods for your older child that combine a carbs and protein to help prevent drastic drops in blood sugar that can trigger a tantrum.
- Dress both children. Everyone feels better when they are clean and fresh, and littles are no exception.
- Start laundry, do dishes, and tidy up the house. Your home can’t be a peaceful place if there is no order. With littles underfoot, you won’t be able to keep a spotless house, but you can keep your home somewhat in order.
- Feed baby and the older child. Lay them down for nap/ rest time. If you stick to a loose routine, your newborn will begin to take naps at the same time big brother or sister does.
- Catch up on any cleaning that needs done.
- Do any dinner prep, if dinner isn’t already in the slow cooker.
- Read, check emails, etc.
- Dinner prep and dinner
- Kitchen clean up, get the rest of the family to pitch in, too!
- Bathe the littles
- Bedtime snack, feeding, or story
You can adapt your routines to your family’s particular situation. The main goal is to have a plan, and stick with it as much as possible.
6 Meal Planning
Raising little ones is spendy, and planning your meals ahead is a great way to make sure your family has budget friendly, nutritious meals on the table. All it takes is a few minutes to save a whole lot of time and money.
Some families keep a file with rotating meals in it, along with the amount of ingredients needed to make the meal for their particular dietary restrictions, and family size. The benefit to this is that anyone can prepare dinner, and it’s easy to see what items are needed at the store.
Others use a recipe box and notecards with the meal on the front of the card and ingredients on the back. This is a handy way to see which meals you have on hand. Simply return the card to the box after it’s prepared.
Savvy shoppers scour the weekly ads and make note of the sales to determine their menus for the week. This takes advantage of rock bottom prices, and can be combined with the other methods above for maximum efficiency.
Don’t forget to use your slow cooker! Slow Cooker meals are great for busy families, and make sure that there is a hot, nutritious meal ready and waiting at the end of a busy day. The internet is full of slow cooker recipes that cater to any dietary needs your family may have.
5 Plan Errands and Outings
Shopping and errands with a newborn and toddler in tow isn’t easy, but it can be done! Here are a few pointers that will help get you and the littles out the door:
- Plan errands and outings around the little one’s schedules. Taking baby out right before a feeding, or taking a trip to the store with a tired toddler is anything but fun. If you keep a basic routine, you will easily be able to know what times are optimal for running errands or visiting with friends.
- Keep it short. Babies and toddlers don’t do well with marathon shopping trips or extended visits with friends. A few hours between meals and nap time are about all that they can handle. If you have to be out longer, have someone babysit.
- A well packed diaper bag is key to survival! Here are a few diaper bag must haves for outings with the littles: wipes, diapers (always pack more than you think you’ll need), a change of clothes for the little ones, pacifiers, blankets, and any other portable comfort items to help soothe your children, sippy cup, snacks, and a favorite small toy or two.
- Invest in a double stroller to make it easier to be on the go. This works especially well if your toddler isn’t old enough to walk next to you and hold your hand. Also, everyone is in one place and you don’t have to worry about your toddler running off or losing him or her.
4 Plan Quiet Activities While Baby is Napping
Baby’s nap times are an ideal time to spend some one on one time with your toddler. Pick quiet activities so that the baby can get the rest he or she needs. Here are a few ideas:
- Read to your toddler. Children who are read to become lifelong learners. Reading is a great way to get in some cuddles with an on the go tot.
- Color simple pages with your child. Even a young toddler can enjoy spending some time working on his or her motor skills while spending time with a parent.
- Play with clay, or other sensory activities. Pinterest has some great ideas for sensory play with your toddler. Exposing your child to a variety of sensations helps awaken his or her natural curiosity.
3 Keeping Your Toddler Busy While You Feed the Baby
One of the hardest aspects of having both a toddler and a newborn at the same time is keeping your toddler busy while you feed the baby. This is especially hard is you are nursing, a nervous momma means a cranky baby who doesn’t feed well.
Here are a few pointers to keep your toddler safe and happy while baby is feeding:
- Have a special box of toys or activities that can only be played with while baby is feeding. Small, simple toys can be picked up for pennies at thrift stores or dollar stores and can be a lifesaver. Put together a few small baskets so your toddler doesn’t become bored.
- Read to your toddler. Cuddling up with a book gives you time to bond with both of your little ones, and is something that both of them can do together. Reading to even young babies helps with language development and sets the stage for learning.
- Have your toddler play in a baby proofed room or pack and play. Toddlers tend to figure out that parents are otherwise occupied when it’s time for baby’s feedings. Keeping track of an on the go toddler is impossible while nursing. Placing your toddler in a safe place not only allows you to feed your baby without having to wonder what your toddler is doing, it keeps your toddler safe as well.
- Play an educational children’s program. There is nothing wrong with television or other technology in moderation. Have your toddler sit with you and baby and discuss what’s happening on the screen. Interact with your child, don’t just use television as a babysitter.
2 Accept or Ask for Help When You Need It
Somehow, a lot of parents have the idea that they aren’t good parents if they have to ask for, or accept, help from friends,family, or hired help, nothing could be further from the truth.
In decades past, families were able to rely on large extended families that lived close by to help out when needed. Neighborhoods were truly a community, not just a grouping of individual homes, and neighbors didn’t hesitate to help each other out.
If your family has extended family and friends that offer to help you during this hectic time of life, by all means take it! You will have plenty of time to pay it forward when your littles are grown.
In our disconnected society, we often don’t have the benefit of relatives living near by, or a community of neighbors who are willing to reach out to each other. We’ve lost our sense of community along the way.
Mothers used to be able to count on the advice and help of older, more experienced women to help them navigate life with a young family, sadly this generally isn’t the case anymore.
Don’t be afraid to hire outside help if life gets too overwhelming. Hiring a mother’s helper, cleaning service, or errand service can keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Help is out there, ask for it.
Happy, stress free parents are the best gift you can give your children.
1 Make Time for Yourself
One of the hardest things about raising children is making time for yourself. For you to be fulfilled in your role as a parent, you have to carve out a niche of time for yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to leave your children, the point is that you have to do the things that nurture your soul and make you feel alive. As the parent of young children, you have to realize that you can’t pour your life into your children, if you are empty.
Go for a walk while your spouse watches the kiddos, read that book you’ve been dying to get your hands on, paint, write, sing, dance,create, but find something that brings you joy and do it!
Fulfilled, confident parents tend to raise fulfilled, confident children. When you are in love with your life, it tends to overflow into everything that you do.
When you’re in the middle of raising a growing family, it can seem like you will always have a house on the brink of chaos, with an endless supply of needs that only you can meet. Ask any parent of older children, and they will tell you to treasure your little ones, they are only young once.
Babies soon grow into toddlers and toddlers are preschoolers before you know it. While the days may drag on and at times you may be at wits end, realize that this isn’t your whole life, it’s only a season. Be present and available, you will never have this chance again. Never at any other time in your life will you be loved so purely and unconditionally. Enjoy it.