When I suddenly had a 14-month old and a newborn, it’s safe to say I felt overwhelmed. I had a toddler who was used to having my undivided attention and a newborn who needed to be nursed every couple of hours.
And eleventy billion diapers to change.
I was trying to wrap my head around showering regularly. So going to the store, keeping a clean house, or somehow throwing exercise into the mix sounded like fairy tale stories. I was just trying to keep my head above water.
But in the course of having 4 kids in under 5 years (yes all single births, and yes, we’re insane), I figured out how to do all those things while maintaining my sanity.
And I’m here to tell you, that you can do all those things, too.
HOW TO GET THINGS DONE WITH A NEWBORN AND TODDLER
In this post, I’m going to share my top tips and strategies for how to get things done with a newborn and toddler. You’re going to get several tips in order to:
- Keep a clean house with a toddler and newborn
- Go grocery shopping with a toddler and newborn
- Exercise with a toddler and baby
- Take time for yourself
Let’s get started!
HOW TO KEEP A CLEAN HOUSE WITH A NEWBORN AND TODDLER
Cleaning with small kids around can feel like brushing your teeth while eating Oreo cookies. You clean up the kitchen to find your toddler had destroyed the living room and your newborn had another epic diaper blow-out (one were you have to do a load of laundry and you all end up in the bathtub).
While your house may not always look like a picture in a magazine, getting household chores done with your toddler and baby is possible, with simple routines, and a few clever strategies.
For even more ideas, check out How to Keep Kids Busy So You Can Get Stuff Done.
1. Stick to a simple cleaning schedule.
There’s a lot of cleaning schedules out there, but the key is to find what works for you. Here’s the simple cleaning schedule I use that keeps my house clean and laundry done (for 6 people) with minimal effort.
2. Wear your baby
Wearing your baby is a lifesaver when it comes to getting stuff done around the house. Especially if you have a clingy baby. Your baby is happy and nestled right up next to you while you’ve got two hands free to pick up your house and wash dishes (or eat from carton of ice cream).
There are an endless array of carriers and wraps you can use. Personally, I used the Baby Bjorn on all 4 babies (easy to use and they all loved it) and then graduated them to the Ergo Baby once they were bigger.
3. Occupy your toddler with a contained activity.
For this, I like things that are fun, but easy cleanup. Here are my go-tos:
And while I swore I’d never use TV, I’ve found that a little TV every once in a while isn’t the end of the world. Especially when you need a second to clean, or snag a 10 minute nap on the couch while the baby sleeps.
One of the reasons TV is discouraged with young kids (2 and under) is that it doesn’t interact with the child. Watching more interactive programs can help this.
We love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (from the Fred Rogers company) since it’s awesome for teaching emotional intelligence and my girls absolutely love the youtube channel Cosmic Yoga. It’s a super fun and magical way to get your kids calm, moving and introduced to yoga!
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4. Use the bin system with toys
When you have little ones, it’s not unusual to find toys spread throughout every room of your entire home. But the bin system eliminates that kind of toy mess.
What is the bin system, you ask?
Basically, in the bin system all toys are organized into individual bins (shocking, right?). These can be organized by category, or however you want. The rule is that only one bin can be out at a time. In order to get out a second bin, the first bin must be put away.
At out home, we use 2 basic sized of bins.
The key is enforcing the rule with your toddler. Training your toddler while young to follow this rule will pay off big time in the years to come!
5. Teach toddler to pick up after themselves
While it’s preferable to do before the baby comes, if you didn’t get around to it, there’s no time like the present!
Even young toddlers are capable of cleaning up after themselves, especially with clear instructions and clear places for all items. And research shows that teaching toddlers to be helpful around the house is really effective in having them as older children and adolescents.
Check out this post for tips on how to teach your child to clean.
GROCERY SHOPPING WITH A TODDLER AND NEWBORN
You’re first time at a store with both children will be a big adventure. It takes a bit of strategy and planning in order to be at the store when both children are fed, in good moods, and not about to explode a diaper. And while you can’t always avoid disaster, you can make grocery shopping as easy as possible by doing the following:
1. Shop online or use grocery pickup
If you can avoid trips to the store, do it. Take advantage of technology and order what you can online. Or use grocery pickup (often free) or grocery delivery if it’s available in your area (and in your budget).
Personally, I adore Amazon Prime. Over the years, it has saved me countless hours in avoided trips to the store.
Instead of having to drag my kids to the store for random household items (ex. birthday presents, diapers, toiletries etc), I can just click a few buttons and have them show up on my doorstep a day or 2 later. It’s well worth the convenience.
And the subscribe and save option (like toiletries, diapers, wipes, food) is awesome for those items you regularly need.
As for free grocery pickup, it’s been a lifesaver. Because I don’t even have to get my kids out of the car! Personally, I’m obsessed with Walmart’s Free Grocery Pickup. I can just order online (or with the app) and pick up my order later or the following day. Anything that keeps me from roaming the grocery aisles with a small army of children…
2. Feed your baby right before your shopping trip
Nothing will derail your trip to the store like a baby screaming to be fed. It’s stressful for everyone, especially you. Make sure baby is fed before leaving. And since toddlers tend to be perpetually hungry (or on a hunger strike), bring a few snacks for your older child.
3. Park next to cart return
You’d think you want to park as close to the front as possible, but really you need to be next to a cart return. Preferably, next to a cart return that already has a cart you can grab immediately and get your kids set up right as you get out of the car.
That way you can put your toddler in the seat and either wear the baby or put the baby carrier in the cart. No trying to carry both kids into the store. And then once you’re done shopping, you can buckle your kids in their car seats and then very easily return the cart without running across the parking lot.
4. Wear your baby
While you can put the baby in the cart (in a carrier), with the toddler also in the cart, you’re not going to be left with much room to put the stuff you need to buy. Wearing your baby eliminates this issue AND I’ve found that my baby stays happiest when nestled right next to me.
Personally, my favorite carrier for a small baby is the Baby Bjorn. And for bigger babies, I like the Ergo Baby 360. While they might seem pricey, they make it so much easier to get stuff done while keeping your baby happy.
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HOW TO EXERCISE WITH A TODDLER AND BABY
While it certainly isn’t super easy to exercise with a toddler and baby, exercise will go a long way in keeping you sane and balanced through the crazy. Even 15 minutes of something is going to benefit you and boost your mood. Here are some strategies to help you fit in regular exercise with a baby and toddler.
(For help getting motivated, check out 3 Ways For Busy Moms to Get Motivated to Workout)
1. Pick something quick you can do at home.
Working out at home, either before your kids are awake in the morning or during naptime, can be a great solution to fitting in exercise with 2 small kids. If you’re really self motivated, you can buy some weights and find workouts online, or you can get workout videos (or streaming).
Personally, Beachbody workouts are my jam. All of my very favorite home workout videos (like T25, P90X30, and Insanity) are available to stream on demand.
2. Get a double running stroller
If you enjoy walking or running, then I highly recommend investing in a double running stroller. That way your children can enjoy your exercise even more than you!
My kids always loved going on runs with me in our BOB double stroller.
(Note: for babies younger than 5 or 6 months, you will need to make sure you get a stroller that adapts to your baby car seat so that you can take your baby safely on your runs.)
3. Find a gym with a great daycare.
If you’re more into taking classes or working out at a gym (and it fits in your budget), then finding a local gym with a great childcare can truly be life-changing.
I didn’t join a gym until I had 4 kids 4 and under, when I figured that I was going to need childcare if I was going to be able to work out. So I found a gym with amazing childcare. And while it was pricier than I wanted, it’s been worth every penny. Because my kids get to play and have fun and I don’t have to worry about them while I work out.
Your health and sanity is worth a few extra bucks a month.
HOW TO TAKE A SHOWER WITH A TODDLER AND NEWBORN
And last, but certainly not least, how to take a shower with a toddler and a newborn. There are many different scenarios that can work. Here’s what has worked best for me.
Bouncer or Nap for Baby
Since both children rarely nap at the same time, it’s typically best to either shower when the baby is napping or the baby is pretty happy. Then you can get the toddler busy playing with toys on the bathroom floor while you shower and, if the baby is awake, you can have the baby in a bouncer.
Have “Bathroom Toys”
I’d keep a little bin of specially designated “bathroom toys” for my toddler to play with as I quickly took a shower. These are toys that stayed in my bathroom and were only played with while I was in the shower. That way my toddler would be excited to play with them, rather than try to get in the shower with me or cry to be held while I was all wet and soaped up.
YOU CAN GET STUFF DONE WITH A TODDLER & NEWBORN
While the first few weeks will be a bit crazy, once you get settled into a routine and follow these tips and strategies, you’re going to be able to get things done with your newborn and toddler.
You’ve got this, mama!