Having two children close in age can be extremely energy sapping, especially if one is a baby and the other’s a toddler.
For example, you’re breastfeeding your new baby and your two-year-old wants your attention at the same time. Yet you’re alone with them and have no helpers.
Here are sanity-saving ways to help stay-at-home mums cope.
1. Plan and organise aheadPHOTO: Unsplash
If you know there are times of the day when both kids are likely to need you at the same time – for instance, they need to be fed at the same time – some preparation will make life easier for you.
Having your toddler’s meal ready in the fridge means that you won’t need to deal with two impatient children while you hurriedly chop up vegetables.
The same applies to bath time. Having all the towels, diapers and nightclothes ready in an easy-to-reach pile helps, as well.
2. Have shared activities
Much depends on the age and stage of each kid, but where possible, involve both in the same task at the same time.
For example, bathe them together. They’ll enjoy each other’s company in the water, despite their age difference.
Managing two in the shower can be challenging, but many parents find that’s easier than having two separate bath times.
However, if you bathe them one at a time, you may prefer to do one in the morning and one in the evening.
3. Work around their sleep patternsPHOTO: Unsplash
You know their nap routines. It’d be wonderful if they both slept at the same time – and this can happen.
But even if they don’t, use the time to give the waking child your individual attention.
4. Cut down on chores
Think about the domestic chores you’ve to handle and prioritise them.
For instance, the dirty clothes don’t need to be loaded into the washing machine until the evening when your husband is at home, or when both kids are asleep.
Likewise, tidying up can wait until those quieter times, as well.
You’ll be surprised how much easier life becomes when you focus more on the kids’ needs and less on domestic ones.
5. Keep the other one busyPHOTO: Unsplash
Have a range of useful toys, books and games on hand throughout the day. That way, you’ll be better placed to keep one child occupied while you are busy with the other.
For instance, when you’re breastfeeding your baby, give your two-year-old a bag of toys and chat with him as he plays.
6. Be realistic and accept help
Don’t expect too much of yourself – no matter how well you organise your family life, there are bound to be moments when you’re ready to tear your hair out at your kids’ simultaneous demands.
That happens with every parent who has more than one child, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Take help whenever it is offered, whether by family members or friends. Two sets of hands can make a huge difference to your workload.
If nobody volunteers, then just ask – you may get a positive response.
This article was first published in Young Parents.