Ask An Author: Balancing kids

Posted by  | Friday, August 21, 2009  at 9:22 AM  
I am still struggling with juggling my 2 kids, 34 months and 8 months. I want to get my schedule / routine back. Any tips for managing 2 young children? (specifically grocery shopping, bath times, meal times, etc.)

First of all, when the POH authors were planning our "ask an author" answers, Krista mentioned something about this question. I don't think she is going to post an answer specific to this question so I wanted to include her little nugget of wisdom. :) She said, "Make a plan, carry it out; adjust as necessary to fit your life and schedule that day. Parents make the plan so that kids (or life) won’t take away from what you need to get done."

So, that is my answer in a nutshell in case you want to stop reading now.

Seriously though, planning ahead is really the key. Anticipating your next step and always anticipating your kids needs can be difficult! I was just talking with a friend today about how every parenting decision is not just one decision - there are a million things to consider.

(I was saying this in reference how we made the decision to have a toy bin in our car. It seemed toys were constantly ending up in my van anyways - so why not designate a spot for them? Well, because now my kids expect to have toys in the car and I'm wishing I never created that bin!)

Back your question - here are some quick tips to manage the situations you mentioned.

1. grocery shopping - don't take the kids! That is the simplest and easiest solution. Although, it is not always practical. I try to do my grocery trips in the evenings or naptime on the weekends. If it isn't possible because of a busy week, my next step is to find someone else to watch my kids (or half of them :) If they MUST go with me - I definitely have a list and plenty of snacks. I don't go near a meal time when they are likely to have meltdowns. I go first thing in the morning after breakfast! If I've got all three with me (I keep a little girl during the week) then I wear someone on my back using the ergo.

2. Bath times are Daddy time in our house. My husband gives baths almost every night. We have a great system worked out where he gives the baths and supervises that time while I spend those few minutes straightening the kids rooms, putting away their clean clothes, laying out PJs, laying out church clothes or clothes for the next day, etc. Then I am ready to grab wet kids out of the tub and continue with the bedtime routine.

3. Meal times - especially dinner - are commonly the toughest times of the day. (According to the Moms that I talk to!) Some ideas are to do all the prepwork possible during naptime. That way there is less to do once the kids are awake. When you do have to get in the kitchen to finish - and if hubby isn't home to occupy them yet - get them good and settled with a special activity before you start. I use that time to get out my son's Color Wonder books, puzzles and other table activities. Adeline (17 months) usually still wanders around playing, but at least she isn't getting into fights with her brother!


Terra Jones said...

I couldn't agree more with your tips. My two are 16 months apart and with the exception of one trip when my mom was in town to help, I've never gone to the store w/ both boys. Either I go after bedtime or I get up super early (I fight insomnia so I have made a couple 5am grocery runs, lol) or hubby takes our two year old.

We do the same thing w/ baths (I clean up dinner & get clothes & diapers ready & then grab the first one out....but we only do baths 2-3 nights week.

I try to do all dinner prep in the morning while everyone is eating breakfast or during my youngest sons morning nap. That leaves the rest of the day to clean, play & run errands (w/ drive thrus, LOL) :)

Jen said...

love the tips! Thanks. You gals are great.

Here's my 2 cents on the matter... I don't think taking your kids to the store is as scary as some may think.

I do it with 4, age 5,4,2 & 8 mo. It is doable, and dare I say, can be enjoyable. Like you said, planning is key. Also setting clear expectations for the kids. I started teaching all our kids to walk holding onto the cart or stroller around 17 or 18 mo. by age 2 they were all pros.

Even with my 2 year old with disabilities shopping with kids is doable. Pick a safe time--not nap time, not lunch time. Take your time, but don't waste time browsing. Have a list. Get what you need and get out. And be prepared to leave and come back later (although this rarely happens for us unless there is a diaper malfunction or some similar disaster.) Take snacks. Make it fun. Have them help. Talk to them the whole time. There are so many interesting things to see and do and learn about at the grocery. Use the "You can touch anything, but only with one finger" rule (Seriously, it works.)

Give it a go once in a while. I definitely prefer to shop alone, who doesn't. But it can be fun to include them in the process. So I guess I'm saying it's not insane to try it now and then.

Erica W said...

I have 3 kids - my first two are 13 months apart and my 2nd & 3rd are just 18 months apart... so 3 kids in 2.5 years for me. Wow. Adding #2 was the toughest transition. My eldest was just a baby and still acted like one. It was hard to balance everything... but I survived!
Adding #3 was busy, but not overwhelming.
I am amazed at how each few months things get easier and easier. Now my kids are 4, 3, and 1.5. My girls (the older two) can do so much by themselves. I love having them close in age!
I think that when you run errands with young ones, you have to find a way to get them involved. And DON'T RUSH. When I rush, I get frustrated, because it will not work with 3 little kids. I put Nate, my 1.5 year old in the cart and then the girls help me... they search for the things that I want to buy. They are pretty good shoppers now!
Bath's are done by my husband. When he gives them a bath, it takes about 30 minutes because they have so much fun together. When I do bath it takes 5 minutes.
I agree with food prep in the morning - I use my crockpot A LOT. Get everything ready first thing in the morning and then it is done.
At this point, my kids help set the table and help me get dinner ready. If they are involved with what I am doing they aren't getting into their own trouble. I try to include them in a lot of things. If you make it fun, even laundry can be a good time.
I think the biggest thing for our kids is SCHEDULE. Find what works and stick with it. We do bath almost every night because it is part of their routine. My kids obey better, behave better and play better when they are on a good schedule. It also lets me see what time I have to work with to get other things done.
It is so doable and it gets easier and easier!!! Hang in there!

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

I would love to see some examples of schedules and routines; I am still struggling with my 35 month old and 9 month old....

Thanks for all the encouragement!

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