The Beginners Guide to managing multiples
Okay- I get it, that heading makes it sound like I like to pretend I have twins. To be fair, technically my children are “Irish Twins,” though I understand it isn’t the same. However, they’re about as close as you can get to that, and any momma with multiple youngins can attest that it isn’t always the easiest. You don’t think about it when you just have one, because you only have one schedule to sync up to. But once you add two, three, more to the mix? Different personalities, different needs, different timings. I’m so lucky, my kids almost poop at the same time, every day. It’s like clockwork. And how? ROUTINE.
Routine saved me when I came home from the hospital finally after having Bug. Managing a newborn with two toddlers is hectic, let me tell you; re-adjusting back to the every two hours, nursing on demand, no sleep exhaustion was NOT an easy transition. BUT- not having to worry about the toddlers being hectic (or more hectic than normal, at least) was one saving grace that I allowed myself, through the implementation of routine.
What is routine?
a regular course of procedure.”Merriam Webster
So, that’s the textbook definition. You’re probably thinking you can’t do a routine; too many things change in your life. Or you think that having a routine will cramp your style, or your ability to do spur of the moment fun things- but that’s not true! Having a routine is great; not just for you, but for the kids! It helps minimize on a feeling of being overwhelmed, because they know what to expect (to a point.) I keep our “routine” just loose enough to allow for occasional change or flexibility.
How to get started with setting up a routine
So first and foremost, think about how your day typically goes- and what portions are you having the most difficulty with? Mealtimes? Nap time not happening, bedtime happening too late?
There’s more than likely some sort of rhythm in your day as is, but you haven’t noticed it because it just happens subconsciously. For us, the kids wake up between 8:30 and 9:30. They’re little monsters, so they get hungry within an hour of waking up. Ideally, breakfast is ready and on the table within a half hour of them rolling out of bed- so when I remember, I cook that and then wake them up. Think SMARTER, not harder! (Plus, then I don’t have two toddlers underfoot while I’m trying to scramble eggs, or throwing sippy cups over the baby gate at me that’s separating them from the kitchen.)
Tips for Success in building a routine
The key for a routine is consistency, consistency, consistency.
Like I said earlier, I have ours set up to allow for some wiggle room- if we have family visiting, or a fun day and the kids stay up later, the schedule adjusts. If we’re out running errands, nap time might get pushed back- but there’s a limit to that, too (for their sanity AND mine.) Also, I always recommend keeping things on hand that can make a day that’s already due to be hectic & off routine easier- i.e, quick breakfast options (waffles, fruit, Greek yogurt, etc.) Quick snack options like puree pouches, crackers, and baby trail mix are great for on the go, too. These will help cut down on meltdowns if you’re still running around when mealtime comes around and buy you a little time until you’re able to get a substantial meal.
Keeping easy make meals are great for quick lunches before nap, or for quick prep before waking them up for a late lunch.
Common Questions about routine
- What’s the latest I should let my kids nap?
- I follow the “5 Hour Rule”- I don’t let them sleep any later than within 5 hours of their bedtime. So, if I want them in bed by 8, they don’t sleep later than 3.
- What happens if I completely blow off the routine one day?!
- It’s okay to derive from your routine now & then- a trip to the zoo, a holiday, visiting family; all of these could be the situation. Or, you just got super busy one day and forgot. It’s not the end of the world! Just try not to do it too often, or you’ll lose what you’ve built.
- Why is a routine important?
- It helps you get an idea of what times you have to work with! Think about it- wouldn’t it be so nice to know what to expect, in a time of your life when you feel like everything is out of your control and you’re covered in boogers and poop from sun up to sun down?! (Or is that just me?) Having a routine gave me a sense of control over at least a small piece of my life; so that if nothing else went the way it was supposed to, at least I knew the kids would get tired at the same time each day and go and take a nap!
The Last Thing You Need to Know about keeping a Schedule
Overall, a routine helps take the guesswork out of your day. I have a rough idea of what the girls are going to want, and when they’re going to want and or expect it. Nap time is a regular occurrence in my house (thank GOD,) and because of our routine, I’m able to know when it’ll happen and plan better to accommodate the girls’ needs. This way, I know that if they get cranky out and about, it’s either because they’re being typical toddlers OR I screwed up their day, and I should’ve known better!
Any routine tips, or make or break scheduling suggestions?! Let me know!