Having small children can add all kinds of complexities (and stuff) to your life. Everyday tasks like having a shower, eating food and doing housework can be challenging as you adjust to a new family dynamic.
Luckily, Kinderling’s Mothercraft expert Chris Minogue has some terrifically simple steps to tackle the trickier parts of the day.
NB: For the purposes of this story we’re assuming you have a baby and a toddler around 2.5 years old.
Getting everyone breakfast, dressed and out the door
“Getting this right is all about communicating with your partner so everyone can have a shower, eat breakfast and leave the house,” said Chris. “While one parent showers, the other person starts the routine with the children.”
In this scenario the toddler is the tricky one, because if you rush them they’ll fight you every inch of the way.
“You need to outsmart the toddler,” said Chris. “If you have a specific time to be out the house; get your toddler up out of bed and get them dressed straight away. - as soon as you change his nappy, or take him to the toilet. You’re doing this because at this point he’s amicable and not distracted by screens or toys. Once he’s distracted by those things it’s too hard to squeeze in.”
Once the toddler is dressed, start feeding the baby. Then once the other adult is out of the shower, the fed baby can go into their bouncer, the other parent can go in for a shower and the toddler can eat their breakfast with them.
“Toddlers aren’t too messy when they’re eating breakfast,” said Chris. “And even if they do spill something it’s easy enough to change a t-shirt rather than an entire outfit."
Listen to Chris in The Juggle series:
2. Nap time
Most toddlers, (children over 18 months) have a sleep about 1pm and at the same time, you’ll have a little, hungry baby who needs a feed.
“Nap time is one of two main anchors for the household in the day (the other one is bedtime),” said Chris. It’s always better to come home for the sleep because the daytime sleep ensures you avoid the ratty toddler at the end of the day. And because the toddler needs to be asleep, it’s sensible for the baby to sleep then too.”
- If you go out of the day get home for midday and give your toddler lunch. Now put the baby in the bouncer somewhere safe while you put the toddler to bed.
- Now you can feed the baby without distractions and because you’ve had time out of the house in the morning, they should have a good sleep.
- Baby should sleep for about two hours, so when your toddler wakes up you’ll have some baby free time together.
3. Witching Hour
Everybody is tired and cranky and dinner has to be made
“This comes down to being prepared,” said Chris. “I work out a couple of meals that toddler will eat with eyes shut and have them pre-prepared in the fridge.”
“Next, I look at the rhythm of the family and shift it forward. The difficult time for a toddler is generally 6-7pm but the baby can be unsettled anytime between 5:30 pm and 7pm, so deal with the toddler first.”
Feed your toddler dinner at 5pm and then bath them straight after. Hopefully dad will come home during this window.
“If the toddler has been fed and had their bath they can just play during this time and this is far less stressful than a toddler who is tired and cranky because they’ve haven’t eaten or started to wind down their day,” said Chris.
Once the toddler’s needs have been met, aim to feed and bath the baby and have them in their cot between 6:45pm and 7pm.
“Let the toddler stay up a bit later, till around 7:30pm and that way they can spend a bit of extra time with mum and dad without the baby around,” said Chris.
And.. you’ve just moved your toddler into a big bed
The best thing to do at the end of the day is to get the baby down to sleep early and learn to be OK with the toddler getting into bed later than 7pm.
“Get the baby to sleep across the 6:45pm -7pm and take the pressure off getting the toddler in bed at 7,” said Chris.
“Once the baby is settled in their cot, it’s time to give back to the toddler. This is the time to do stories and chat about your day. Hopefully this extra time will mean you’ll have less argy bargy when it comes to settling down to sleep and hopefully you’ll all sleep through the night.”
5 ways to master the single mother juggle
Start by giving yourself a break, says Beanstalk founder Lucy Good.
3 ways to avoid becoming an emotionally drained parent zombie
So that everyone's cup is full.
Technology: a double-edged sword for modern parents
How to juggle technology as part of family life.
Running a household: 5 essential things you need to know to get stuff done
Dreaming of being Ms Organised? Here's what you need to know, STAT!
How to negotiate with a toddler
Sometimes parenting can feel like you’re a police negotiator and your sanity’s being held hostage. Here's how to defuse the situation.
How to help a toddler who acts out when you bring a new baby home
7 top tips from Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue.
7 things I learnt in my week as a stay-at-home mum
3. My children thrive when I’m at home.
Sweet as: should kids drink fruit juice?
Sarah Hunstead from Ain't That The Truth shares the juicy details.