When I had my second child nearly a year after my first I was filled with trepidation, because I didn’t know how I was going to manage with two young children. After a while, though, I slowly got the hang of things and while it was hard, it was doable. When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth, I was anxious and wondered how I was going to make it.
Being out with my children, I often receive pitying glances and remarks about how hard it must be. I admit that it is hard work managing children who are close in age, but it can be done. Whatever number of children you have, it just becomes your new normal after a while, even though it seems miraculous to others.
Here are some things that helped save my sanity.
1. Keep meals, routines and activities SIMPLE. Especially in the first few months or so after welcoming a new baby. Simple meals, simple routines, simple activities, etc., until you get into a good routine and feel comfortable. Some mothers serve the same dinner each day of the week. For example, baked chicken and rice on Mondays, spaghetti on Tuesdays, fish and potatoes on Wednesdays, etc. It helps take away the stress of daily menu planning. If you don’t have a weekly plan, be sure to know what you’re cooking for dinner by lunchtime, and even try to do a little prep work for dinner in the mornings when you have snatches of time.
2. Get your kids on the same nap schedule. A SANITY SAVER!! As soon as possible, try to get your little ones on the same nap schedule. If you do nothing else, do this! Children 2 and under can have the same morning nap and afternoon nap. My first set did this easily. My second set was harder to synchronize, and it is very hard to go a full day with no break. Very hard!
3. Keep baby things easily accessible. I love one level housing, because everything is quickly within reach. If you have stairs in your home, make sure to have diapers, wipes, blankets, extra clothes, toys, baby seats, etc. both upstairs and downstairs.
4. Encourage your older children to be independent. You might be surprised by how much help your older children can provide. My 6 and 5 year old enjoy keeping the baby entertained while I try to finish up a chore. Even my 18 month old loves to gently push the baby swing when her baby brother begins to cry. Teach your children to clean up after themselves, stack their dirty dishes on the counter top, unload the utensils and plastics from the dishwasher, play quietly on their own. My children, for some reason, enjoy helping me fold laundry, and putting it away. Even the 18 month old! This is so important to teach, and it helps tremendously. You can’t afford to over baby any of your children when you have several of them.
5. Multi-task when you breastfeed. You can read a book to your children while you nurse, do puzzles, sit and enjoy a tea party, even watch a bit of TV. In the beginning when you’re breastfeeding around the clock, it’s important to bond with your other children while you are nursing.
6. Invest in a good double stroller. And use it wherever you go, if you leave the house. They can be pricey, so shop around for the best price. The thought of going out on my own with four little children petrified me at first, so I just stayed in the house until someone came, and I could take just one or two. Not anymore. I just pack up the double stroller, and off to the park, bookstore, mall, library or any other place.
7. PRAY. For patience, for strength, for endurance. Just pray.
8. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help or allow others to help you. If someone offers to help, let them. In the beginning when I had two children under two years old I wanted to do everything myself, not realizing that it’s OKAY to accept help whenever it was offered, and ask for it if I was nearing the end of my rope. Remember to go with the flow, and not be too hard on yourself. This is one of many seasons in life.
9. Save all your kid/baby stuff and keep it in good condition. What a blessing it is that I did not give away a lot of baby clothes and baby items. My fourth child is still using things that my first child used. I have saved quite a bit of money by keeping things in good condition, and most of all, by just keeping it period.
10. Try to go outside every day. Being out in the fresh air is good for the children, and it’s good for you. Even if it’s just a simple walk for 15 minutes. It helps give you a sense of peace, your children can run around, and your baby will enjoy looking around at nature. Yes, it will be a hassle rounding up everyone, and getting them ready, especially during the colder months, but it will be worth it. Plus it helps tire them out, which makes for an easier bedtime!
Ladies, what tips do you have for moms with kids born close together?