Does anyone else love a good routine?
*raises hand enthusiastically*
Me, I do.
As a mom, they make me happy. And sane. Children can grow to expect the same general thing around the same time every day.
We aren’t robots, but routines help our day flow. Scientifically-proven, schedules are great for kids.
They help create expectations for their uncertain world. With my first baby, I was a Sleep Routine tyrant. She needed to be in her bed at the same time every day.
Our life functioned solely around her sleep schedule.
And while it was more or less effective, it was truly exhausting for everyone.
The second time around, I am a completely different mom. While we still highly value our sleep around here, (both parents and kids!) I’ve learned to lighten up about other things.
Some routines are The Hill I Will Die On and some I am much more fluid with.
Routines are often a lifeline for parents. Here are some that are totally saving my sanity the second time around!
1. Midday Rest Time
My oldest is four and does not nap during the day anymore.
But in our house, we have never not had a nap or rest time. As a SAHM/WFHM, I knew after having my son, one of my top priorities would be to gradually get them on the same rest/nap schedule.
That was the ultimate dream. And it is possible, I promise! Treat nap time as an appointment and keep to it.
With our oldest, we went straight to a rest time once she stopped napping. They don’t have to fall asleep, but try to have a clear set of rules and expectations:
Don’t bother me while I get things done, either at my computer or around the house.
In order for them to visualize this, I put in headphones.
If my headphones are on, I’m working and they can’t interrupt me. With the exception of two emergencies; bathroom or bleeding. This will take some repetition, dedication, and teaching, but in the long run, it is worth the patience.
They can pick out a few toys we have set aside for rest time only. For us, it’s usually blocks or Magnitiles and animal figurines. Something open-ended.
This is also a way to control small toys safely. My oldest gets to use the special small toys at that moment of time either up at the table or in her room, that the baby could otherwise swallow.
2. Pick Up Times Set Throughout the Day
Kids and babies come with a lot of stuff. Even the more minimalistic parents have stuff.
Toys, baby swings, highchairs, even simple things like blankets and kitchenware can seem overwhelming! I don’t love cleaning my house (who does) but I am particularly overwhelmed by clutter. Set specific times throughout the day to pick up.
After you put the baby down, spend ten minutes before you sit down to pick up the main area.
Before you go play outside for the afternoon, pick-up six things from the living room floor. Play music or set a timer, and get the kids involved.
This creates a transition on to the next activity as well and will allow you and your kids to function on a clean slate for the next part of the day.
Rhythms are just natural things built into the day, trigged by or leading into other activities.
Load the dishwasher before bed, empty it while the kids are eating breakfast.
Throw in a load of laundry at naptime or bedtime, fold it while you’re watching a show.
Start prepping dinner at the end of naptime. Set out pajamas for bed at a certain time every day, even if it’s when you put the baby down for a nap at 10 am.
The most amazing thing about rhythms is that they eventually become natural, and more or less an act you could do in your sleep. They work for you. Be aware of some of the simple things you need to do as a mom during the day.
Then plan a way of working a rhythm around this. Any little thing that helps the day flow smoothly and more easily, with two or more kids always underfoot, is a win in my book!
4. Toy Rotation/Zones
One of our bigger struggles at the beginning of having a second babe was the “choking hazard toys.”
With both kids having their own toys — baby and big kid ones— all the toys started to become overwhelming.
My oldest enjoys playing with marble runs, puzzles, and her dollhouse. While these are all awesome toys, to a crawling baby they are serious choking hazards.
You don’t want to take away your big kid’s favorite toys just because their sibling is around now.
But of course, you want to keep the youngest safe. A toy rotation routine and designated toy zones can help achieve both!
5. Get Out of the house
Whether it’s grocery pickup, the library, or just a quick walk around the neighborhood, getting out of the house can make a difference. It’s easy to feel irritable and cooped up at home with kids and it’s important to take a breather from the walls inside your home.
But with two kids, that can feel a bit intimidating! Especially in the beginning.
Relying on a good baby carrier is big when juggling more than one kid.
You can stick to manageable tasks until you’re comfortable. And don’t worry, the car wash totally counts as getting out.
You’re productive, you can keep the kids (and you if you want to!) in pajamas, and your car gets clean. Win-win.
6. Getting Creative With Dinner Prep
Managing one little at dinner time is difficult but okay. But playing referee to two kids while trying to cook is one of my biggest mom-triggers.
Tripping over the baby while the oldest asks me to get a snack…or the pens out of the drawer…or find where that item she hasn’t seen in months went?
Pre-dinner chaos. After my second was born I had to start getting creative with routines to manage this 4-6 pm mess.
One helpful thing is to start prepping another time during the day.
You can prep during naptime or even pick a day/evening to batch cook or meal prep. You can make a ton of chicken at the beginning of the week or chop veggies during naptime while catching up on a show.
Getting smart with my time and when I did things helped a ton with the dinnertime chaos.
I have friends that use smoothies or popsicles for this time, or even give the kids “no pressure fruits or veggies” right before dinner while they cook.
Whether you’re already killin’ it in your first time mamahood or just added a fourth, routines keep us sane.
Harnessing the best ones that work for you can often make the difference between afternoon chaos and a smooth flow right into bedtime.