Q&A Tuesday: How can I be organized when I have a nursing baby and toddler?


Bridget left the following comment on my recent time management post:

The thought of getting up before my children seems impossible right now as my 6-month-old is still waking up in the night and I feel like I never get enough sleep. He has a feeding around 5 a.m. and then my 2-year-old is up and ready between 6:30-7 am… and I constantly feel like I’m run over by a train. I would love to be more organized but it’s just hard when you never get a set amount of sleep. Any tips would be appreciated! -Bridget

I realized after I wrote my last post on time management that it’s possible some people might think I was saying you needed to adopt a morning routine similar to mine. Or that you need to get up before your children do.

Please know that this is just what is working for me right now. And while it is really helpful, I certainly don’t think it’s for everyone. Nor would I be getting up when I do right now if I were up multiple times in the night with a baby or toddler!

I’m at an easier season of life right now. I’m not pregnant, Kathrynne is old enough to help me with quite a few different things, Kaitlynn is learning how to to help and can do a number of things by herself, Silas is almost weaned and all three of my children are sleeping through the night most every night. So, what works for me won’t work for you because you’re at a very different — and much more difficult! — season of life right now.

However, I can very much relate to where you’re at because Silas did not sleep through the night for the first entire year of his life. In fact, for 12 months, the longest stretch of sleep I got was six hours — twice. It was hard, especially because Kaitlynn wasn’t even two when he was born and she was still waking up at night on occasion for that first year of his life.

Here are some things which helped me (They may or may not be helpful to you. Take what helps you and leave the rest!):

Give Up the Expectation of a Good Night’s Sleep

Instead of getting frustrated over how little sleep I was getting or how often my sleep was being interrupted, I gave up my expectation of being able to get a good night’s sleep and asked the Lord to please give me grace and bless and supernaturally multiply whatever sleep I was able to get. This was hugely helpful to me to realize that God knows how much sleep I need, He’s not confined by a clock and I can trust Him to provide what I need.

Make Sleep Your Priority

At the same time, I think it’s vitally important to do everything you can to make sleep a priority. Let the dishes sit in the sink, turn off the computer and go to bed as soon as you can at night.

I know the temptation is great to use that quiet, uninterrupted time to tackle your list of 997 things you haven’t gotten to in the last six months, but your body needs sleep. If you can squeeze in a nap in the afternoon or on the weekends when your husband is home, snatch the opportunity. Sometimes even a 10 or 15-minute catnap can do wonders!

Lower Your Expectations

This is not the time for tackling big projects, volunteering for ministry opportunities or doing detailed, in-depth cleaning. Stick with the basics and lower your expectations. If your family has clean laundry and food in their bellies, most of the other stuff can wait.

Develop a Simple Routine

Don’t worry about specific times, just make a basic list of 10-12 things you want to accomplish every day in the same (or similar order). Such as:

1. Get up, read Bible

2. Breakfast

3. Start a load of laundry and load the dishwasher

4. Take the children out on a walk.

5. Morning naptime for baby, toddler play with a special toy box or basket in the playpen — put the laundry in the dryer, do one cleaning project*, thaw something for dinner

6. Lunchtime

7. Read picture books and play with the children.

8. 2-year-old watch DVD, baby in swing while you fold and put away laundry

9. Afternoon naptime (everyone naps, including mom!)

10. Quick pick up of the house, finish dinner prep

11. Dinner

12. Bedtime

I’ve found that just having a basic routine mapped out is so helpful. It keeps things calm and more structured and everyone knows what to expect next. Plus, it ensures that the most important tasks get done every day.

*Consider coming up with five homemaking tasks — one for each day of the week — and tackle one per day. Something like:

Monday: Vacuuming

Tuesday: Bathrooms

Wednesday: Mop Floors

Thursday: Dusting

Friday: General Straightening and Clutter Removal

Give Yourself Grace

Don’t beat yourself up over what you’re not doing. Don’t compare yourself to other seeming “supermoms.” Don’t stress over what’s being left undone.

It’s just a short season. Now’s the time to just love your little ones, take care of your health and keep your marriage strong. The dust bunnies will still be there waiting for you whenever you’re ready to attack them! :)

Laugh Often

Learn to laugh instead of cry and things will be much better all round. Find the humor in every situation that you can. Surround yourself with positive people and encouraging messages to help build you up.

Don’t Neglect Your Health

Make sure that the foods you are putting in your body are nourishing you — especially as a nursing mother. It’s worth it to spend a little more at the grocery store to stock your refrigerator with healthful foods you can grab for snacks — such as fresh fruits and veggies. In addition, make sure you are drinking plenty of water, eating plenty of good protein and whole grains and taking a good multi-vitamin.

I’ve found that I feel so much better when I eat a big salad at least once a day, drink 8-10 glasses of water, take my vitamins and get fresh air and exercise.

Enjoy Your Family

Your babies are only little once. Take time to just enjoy them. To stare into their faces. To soak up their cuddles and smiles and giggles and firsts. Stop and listen to them, talk with them, love on them. Cherish them.

And don’t neglect your husband, either. You might not have a lot of energy left at the end of the day, but at least meet him at the door with a kiss and a smile. Ask him how he’s doing. Make time for him.

This stuff is so much more important than a clean house or an organized kitchen. And if you’ve got to choose between cleaning or cuddling, always choose the cuddling. I promise you won’t regret it at the end of your life!

What advice or tips do the rest of you have to add for Bridget? Share them in the comments.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for this! I am in the exact same position now with a 6 month old, a just turned 2 year old and a 6 year old. The house is in a constant state of disaster, and it is really frustrating. But you are right, this season is short.

    Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.

  2. Natalie says

    I agree completely…..there was a time, probably about a year ago, that I couldn’t bring myself to get up before my kids because of that very situation. Now a year later, and I am doing it because it allows me to have the time I need studying the Bible, get showered/dressed, and then get a jump start on my day. It makes the day go much smoother, and it’s almost as if that time before they wake is multiplied. I think the principles you laid out are really good, and depending on your situation, they can fit in differently.

  3. Guggie Daly says

    I also try to do whatever I can to reduce work. So if it is laundry day, I put together all my cloth diapers (connect the inserts with the covers). That means all the diaper changes are as simple as pulling one out of the drawer and popping it on without looking, such as in the middle of the night when your eyes ARE closed haha.

    I’m just starting to fall in love with slow cooking, which seems a dream come true if I can figure it out.

    • says

      @Guggie Daly, The slow cooker is such a great help! I hope you find some recipes you like. It took me a while to gather a few good ones. But now I have them, it is so easy to throw something in during the morning when things are less hectic.

      It is also a wonderful way to re-heat, or thaw/heat leftovers. I even stuck a completely frozen lasagna in mine and it turned out beautifully.

      • Lea Stormhammer says

        @Stacy @ Delighting in the Days, I love my slow cooker too! I don’t have a baby in the house right now, but when I did (I had twins) it was _such_ a blessing to be able to just put the liner from the crock pot on the table with some sliced bread and fruit and dig in! Even now it’s a blessing! LOL!

        And it saves on dishes… we don’t have a dish washer so that’s another blessing!

        Lea

    • Laura says

      I used to do the same thing! Now my children are 8 & 10 so I have built-in dishwashers (and little vacuumers, etc) but for that wonderfully hectic season of life we used disposable dishes quite a bit.

      The other thing I did was buy pre-cut veggies trays. Although they were much more expensive, I became frustrated tossing out veggies I thought I would have time to wash & cut. Sometimes it is best to just accept your stage in life & adjust to its limitations.

      • Amanda says

        @Laura, What “chores” do you assign your children? I came from an unusual household (where my mother believed that because she was a stay-at-home mom, it was her JOB to do EVERYTHING), so I really have no idea what chores are age appropriate. I work full-time (and even if I did stay home, I don’t agree with my mother’s philosophy, for so many reasons), and it would be such a time-saver if I knew what kids SHOULD be doing at certain ages. Currently, I have a 17, 11, & 2 year-old living at home. I do make them do things around the house, but what is “normal”? Thank you.

        • says

          @Amanda, Amanda, I have a 10, 3, 2 year old and a 5 month old. I wash and dry all the laundery and my 10 year old sorts folds and hangs it and my husband puts it away. Also it is my 10 year olds responsibility to clear the table after every meal and take out the trash when it is full. He helps vacume the two rooms that still have carpet once a week. My 3 and 2 year old love to help me set the table and they hand me dishes from the dishwasher (safe ones of course). They also love to help me put the clothes in the washer and dryer. Sometimes takes more time but they have fun doing it. For a 17 year old I would say anything you can do they can do so maybe take your work load and divide it or pick a few things that you are frequently behind on and have them do it. I hope that helps.

        • Laura says

          Well, I wish I could say we are “normal” but I have no idea what that is!! Lol! I’ll tell you what works for us. I live with the philosophy that my job as a mom is to raise kids who can take care of themselves. That means they should be able to take care of every area of their life by the time they are 18 (laundry, cleaning, cooking finances, mature enough to handle a job/college/relationships, etc)
          I listen to the Love & Logic CDs and agree that chores help children grow in responsibility. They say anything a child can do, they should do. We make this fun by “seeing” what chores they can do. They do the new chore on an occasional voluntary or paid basis for a while. Then, on their next birthday, they are now old enough to handle that chore. Surprisingly, they are up to the challenge. They love being “old” enough to handle the grown-up job of making their bed, folding their laundry, etc. It gives them pride & helps me out a lot. L&L also says that children feel needed and understand their value in the home when they have chores. I would recommend one of their books/CDs/classes.
          With my 10 yo, I’m trying to help him assume all the chores he can handle now because I can sense the season changing as he becomes closer to a teenager. When he is a teen, I want our conversations to be about God, relationships, his future, & how to stay away from drugs/alcohol/sex; not about how to empty the trash or dishwasher.
          10 yo vacuums 3 areas of the house 1/wk, empties the dishwasher daily, trash daily, takes garbage cans in, folds & puts away laundry 2x/wk, makes lunch (I have to check that & ALL of them), & packs his own lunch. He can also make a very few simple meals. His 8 yo sister does most of the same things except she puts away the silverware, doesn’t empty the dw or trash & is only beginning to make a few easy dishes. The most important thing I’ve learned is to make the time to TEACH them (by example, then observing) and to always CONFIRM the job is done correctly. This takes plenty of extra time, but is worth it in the long run.
          Just yesterday I reaped the fruit of this labor as I was called in to work unexpectedly. I had made my hubbies lunch & checked my kids lunch to make sure they were healthy. Because I didn’t have much time to get ready, I asked my son to make me a lunch. He packed a wonderful lunch for me! My daughter even threw in a piece of her Halloween candy! What a gift to know I can rely on them when the need arises. I felt loved as I ate lunch. They felt very proud of their efforts too.
          So, that is what we do. I am curious what other families do, too.

  4. says

    Great advice! I can so relate; my 3 year old still wakes up most nights…

    When I am making dinner, I do a little prep for the next morning. I fill sippy cups for breakfast, slice fruit and store it in a pyrex container in the fridge. Measure out oatmeal into bowls with lids. Then all I have to do is heat milk in the morning, which at this point I can do with only one eye open.

    I lay out clothes for the next day, when getting my youngest ready for bed.

    I do one whilrwind clean up right before dinner, that way we don’t have to try to clean up the toys when we are all tired and grumpy.

    And I praise God each time I am woken up, because I have a child to wake me up!

    • says

      Great tips! I think I’m going to steal some of them. I usually think of prepping dinner at breakfast but never the other way around. :)

      • Christie says

        Thanks so much Crystal. You have really been a blessing to me today. I feel so overwhelmed each day becaue there is so much to do and organize. I have been getting rid of stuff because I want more simplicity, but yet seem to still have too much. I have a 6 year old, 5 year old, and a 2 year old with Down Syndrome. Any other advice on what to keep/what to not keep when going through things? You are a blessing and I thank you for sharing.

    • says

      @Alea,

      “And I praise God each time I am woken up, because I have a child to wake me up!”

      This was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I had a rough time getting up this morning and felt resentful. I think I’m going to write this on a post it and put it by my bed side.

  5. heather says

    I am in the same boat now!! I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 7 month old.
    Being an exptremely organized person until my second son was born makes me feel like a failure.
    It does seem that when you finally thing you’re going to get that good nights sleep or the nap you discussed, something messes it up. Getting any rest is a blessing!
    I have learned that the oven makes an excellent place to stash dishes if you have an unexpected visitor and you just can’t get them done in time.
    My 2 year old is very helpful but the little one cries any time he can’t see me which has made running down to change over the wash or even going potty a challenge.
    Have faith! It will get better!! Just remember how we felt the first two sleepless months, wondering how we’d ever get through! The Lord has just graced us with the priviledge of being the nurturer and it will give us strength for the future.

    • A says

      @heather, I have done the same thing, stashing the dishes in the oven. Just don’t forget they’re there. And turn on the oven. And melt the plastic plates and bowls. Ask me how I know….and yes, it was during a time in my life when I had two under two, eighteen months apart living far from family and friends with no support system except my wonderful husband! The days can be long and hard, but my advice for Bridget is to take some of these wonderful tips to heart, pray often, and realize it will get easier.

    • Rebecca says

      @heather, oh my goodness, this gave me the biggest laugh of my day :) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of stashing dishes in the oven if I can’t get them done in time!!

      I have 2 little boys 2 1/2 years and 5 months and WOW…life is a whirlwind. Sometimes I just need to let things be and spend more play time with my kiddos…I might have to stash the dishes from myself :)

      Thanks for the tip!

  6. Ericka says

    Thanks for the great suggestions!!! I’ve got a 2yr old and a 10wkold to say I’m tired is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Nursing is a FT job and I work from home as well. I feel in a haze and terrible for not keeping a cleaner house…but as stated it is a “season”

  7. Melanie says

    I really like these ideas..thank you for your help. I have a nursing baby, three and four-year old(special needs) and a nine-year old….my house is a mess….work outside of home PT.
    Cooking healthy is a priority so the laundry is piled up all the time.

    I am printing this tomm and going to put on Mommy’s section of the activity board :)

    • Julie says

      @Melanie,
      No matter what, I am never, never caught up on laundry. It is just one of those things which will never be. As soon as I empty all of the baskets that very night they are full again. Its just the eay it is. I try to do two loads a day for our family of 6. On the weekends sometimes I don’t do any, but eventually they get their clothes cleaned.

  8. says

    Just enjoy them right now! Worry about the dishes and laundry and everything else can’t wait. But enjoy those two right now is most important. Eventually you’ll find a grove but it might be a little longer! My daughter was up a couple times a night for the first year! The best part of that you will enjoy sleep so much more when the actually sleep through the night! Hang in there!

  9. Beverly says

    I heard a poem years ago when I was overwhelmed with kids, house and a part-time job. It is called a song for the 5th Child. Love it!
    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
    Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    Sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

    Another thought….a favorite scripture…..”and it came to pass”

    • Charity says

      @Beverly, Okay, I am writing this down. This is absolutely precious! Maybe I will find the time to cross-stitch it and frame it for the living room. So sweet! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Robin says

      @Beverly,
      Thank you! I’ve seen that last stanza my whole life…my mother had it on the wall for many years, a gift in embroidery. When my youngest was very small, I actually found it on note cards. I’ve never seen the whole thing, I didn’t even know there was a “whole thing”…Thank you for sharing it.

      And these tips are all wonderful by the way.

    • Kerry says

      I was already crying (literally) to God this morning because of feeling overwhelmed with my responsibilities, little people, and a rough pregnancy. Thanks for this post and this comment.

      A favorite verse for me is Proverbs 14:4
      “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” Yeah, it’s talking about having animals, but it can be said about my children. We have to remember the big picture and keep the end in sight.

  10. says

    Thank you so much for this!!!! I currently have a 2 year old. one year old, and I am 5 months pregnant with my third so my house is a disaster!! I really like the simple schedule that you made so I am going to do something similar and see if that helps with things around here!

    Thanks to all the other commenters as well for their tips!

    BTW can I share this one my blog? (http://www.collegesahm.com)

  11. says

    Great advice! I think the biggest problem we all have is that we are comparing ourselves to that Supermom…. she’s fictional! Just do your best, enjoy your babies, and take 10 seconds at the end of every day to congratulate yourself for what you accomplished. If your babies are happy and loved, everything else (yes, even clean clothes) is just gravy! My father said something to me that I like to say to myself at the end of a hard day “we do the best we can with the tools we have at the time,” that’s what’s important – to do your best, then learn and grow from your mistakes. Yeah, I make mistakes, that’s what makes me human and humanity is beautiful!

  12. Laura says

    Thank u for the tips… I was reading flylady.net and I love it. But hadn’t heard tips that I felt applied to my situation yet… I am nursing my 3 month old son, I have a 6 yr old daughter, a 16 yr old stepson, and 5 foster teen boys ages 13-18. I’m a work at home mom at a foster home.

  13. brittany says

    Thanks for this!! I have a 2 month old and an 27 month old…. and my husband is only home on the weekends due to being on the road for work.

  14. says

    What great exhortation from all! My 2-month old still wakes up to nurse during the night, but at this point I’m an old pro at latching him on and falling back asleep. ☺ I have six children, and the oldest turned 8 right before the baby was born. The best advice I can give is BE FLEXIBLE, BE FLEXIBLE, BE FLEXIBLE. I used to try to stick to schedules and routines and beat myself up for always failing. Now I accomplish ten times what I used to by just relaxing, enjoying my family, yet staying busy pretty much all day. There isn’t a lot of time to loaf or enjoy my hobbies these days, but I just remind myself that during this season of life, my husband and children *are* pretty much my life. Lord willing, I still have years ahead of me to enjoy a perfectly clean house and practice my hobbies. Right now my priorities are teaching and training my children (we homeschool, too), keeping everyone clean and fed, and providing a decently-clean and happy home for us to live in. God daily loads me with blessings of energy, a positive outlook, joy, and fellow Christians’ encouragement right when I need it. Treasure this time because it will not last forever. Just tonight I was nursing my little one and got teary-eyed that he is already 2 months old, and there will never again be a baby at my breast after he is weaned (we are not planning to have any more). My children are precious, and it is foolish of me to let them ‘stress me out’ although I have been guilty of doing so too many times to count. Just be real, and enjoy your family. I no longer get embarrassed (or spent all day & night cleaning and getting frazzled) when guests come over. Just yesterday I had 3 separate sets of guests that saw my home in various states of messiness: my husband’s co-worker came in the untidy living room before dawn to pick him up, my pastor & his wife visited mid-morning (and my boys had to show off their new bunk beds, which took our guests down the hall to view the not-so-tidy bedrooms), and my husband brought a supper guest without so much as warning me a bit ahead of time (and also took him into my cluttered bedroom to see his new gun cabinet!). I could have been stressed & embarrassed by all this; but instead I enjoyed my guests and had great joy that I have a home to share, friends who care enough to come by, and food to offer anyone who cares to share a meal with us. Keep a bright outlook, and enjoy your blessings!

  15. says

    Awesome post- thank you for putting that info in my head! I’m currently suffering from migraines.. which I’m thinking are sleep deprivation related. I like your scheduling ideas & keeping things simple. I’ll read the other comments later.. off to bed!!!

  16. says

    I should also add that it’s probably a good idea, even though keeping your entire house clean may not be possible, to at least stay on top of the laundry and dishes. Getting behind on those two things is just really discouraging. We just rinse our dishes throughout the day and stack them by the sink, and then I run the dishwasher before bed. Sometimes I have to run it twice a day (even 3 times yesterday because I did a ton of cooking), but we often use disposables too. I try to serve breakfast or lunch on a paper napkin, if possible ~ pbj, burritos, sausage biscuits, etc. Make everyone drink out of the same water cup or bottle all day long ~ we initial ours with a Sharpie. Always get your really messy pans cleaned up, rinsed out, or at least soaking immediately to save yourself a time-consuming cleanup later. Putting a bit of Cascade Complete and hot water to soak in a nasty pan works wonders. You can practically rinse it clean the next morning!

    It seems that my laundry is *never* completely caught up around here(!), but I try to do 2 loads a day minimum. I hang our hanging clothes up ASAP out of the dryer and sort the remaining clean stuff into different baskets in my room ~ ours, the girls’, the boys’, and all the towels & kitchen stuff (I’m fortunate to have my laundry room right beside my bedroom ~ not down in the basement like my last house!). I’d rather have baskets of clean laundry sitting around than dirty. At least everyone can go dig up some clean jeans or underwear instead of having none at all! Using color-coded laundry baskets makes it easy for everyone to get their hands on their stuff. I try to fold & put up at least one of the clean baskets daily (not so hard, since it’s sorted by the room it goes into).

    Another helpful hint I could offer is to always cook way more than you need of something when you prepare a meal. Yesterday I browned 4 pounds of ground meat instead of just the 2 that I needed for that meal, so tonight I was able to whip up a quick taco salad by throwing in some seasonings and water and bringing it to a boil quickly. I already had homemade salsa from another meal, and I gave my children tasks of setting the table, pulling out grated cheese, sour cream, etc., and chopping a tomato. I have trained my 8-year to use a steak knife to dice simple items like celery and tomato, and I allow him to do so while standing right next to me. Don’t underestimate your children’s ability to be really helpful.

    I always make extra boiled eggs, chicken, pancakes, oatmeal, homemade salsa, etc. to make life a little bit easier tomorrow. When you have the gallon of milk out, go ahead and fill a couple of bottles or sippy cups to save the extra steps later. Learn to snatch up things that are out of place every time you walk through a room so that the clutter doesn’t get so out-of-control. Yes, we moms need to learn to be multi-tasking masters!

    • Hollaina says

      @Kristin,

      I agree with cooking more than you need. I do this often, and it does save a lot of time. Plus, on the days where I am too worn out to fully cook, there is something I can just heat and whip up quickly.

    • Amanda says

      @Kristin, I like your throwing clean clothes in a basket idea, but doesn’t it all get wrinkled? I have given up on making the kids wash their own clothes (because we were going through SO much detergent with that many loads), so I do all the washing and lay the clothes on the kids beds (flat, so it doesn’t wrinkle), and they have to put it away.

      • says

        @Amanda, most of it does get wrinkled; but after I (eventually) hang or fold everything, they straighten out enough for us to look presentable in our everyday life, which consists of homeschooling/staying home ~ LOL! Like I mentioned I hang mine & my husband’s clothing straight out of the dryer, and I try to prepare everyone’s Sunday clothes on Saturday to make that busy morning a little less hectic. Our clothes really don’t look as wrinkly as one might think; I guess that’s just because my boys mostly wear jeans and t-shirts, and they just don’t wrinkle that badly. The girls wear knit/casual dresses for everyday, and their Sunday clothes get hung up after they take them off or after I launder them. Everything else is pretty much socks, underwear, towels, etc.; so we’re good.

  17. Princess says

    I know what your going through! I remember so many times thinking while I was shopping how I would just love to lay down on the grocery isle floor and go to sleep. And I know if I had, I wouldve slept too! I have four kids…my third child had sleeping problems. And by that I mean he would wake crying…sometimes you could comfort him, other times no. He wasnt always really awake either. He woke a min of 3 times a night on good nights. There were occasions that he woke every hour. I was beyond exhausted. I finally just accepted that this is the way things are for the time being. He couldn’t help it, I couldn’t ignore him, I had to accept that I would be waking several times a night. Once I did that it really helped. Now I might still be tired, but I wasn’t frustrated/angry tired…I hope that makes sense. Did I have it all together? Nope. I took one day at a time. I think sometimes I compared myself to other moms and I always felt defeated…but after a while I realized I’m not them, they aren’t me. My house may not have always been sparkling, or the laundry done, or all the dishes clean and put away, but I did get up every night for three years with my son and hold him and try to comfort him, and I think thats what really matters in the long run. This will pass…even for me, Im thankful to say that shortly after three yrs. he started waking less and less, and now (hes 4) I actually get a full nights sleep! A quick side note..I highly recommend the book “Babywise” for helping infants sleep through the night. I used it for all my other kids…except my third…and who knows, if I had maybe I wouldve gotten some zzzzs alot sooner! Good luck, and hang in there!!!

  18. Hollaina says

    I so know how you feel. I have an Autistic 27 month old, and there are some days where I feel like I am a failure for not being able to get anything done around the house. But, the mess will still be there when I can get to it. My son needs me, and is more important than folding laundry or doing the dishes.

    I have tried making a daily routine/schedule and have luck with sticking with it most of the time. But, like I mentioned, having a special needs child can change it in an instant. You just have to be flexible with time, and reasonable with your daily to-do lists. I never put more on there than I think I reasonably could do.

  19. says

    I have had a nursing baby (and/or have been pregnant) and have had a toddler or two straight for the last 7 years (I have 6 children 8 and under; they are 18-24 months apart).

    And for years my children woke up around 5:20 am.

    They just recently switched to waking up around 6:30 am.

    I agree with Crystal about sleeping over dishes!

    For a long time, tv was a great blessing for me. I would have recorded espisodes of their favorite shows, and I put them on until 6:30 am. My husband was available if needed, and I could shower/get ready/ sew/start breakfast during that time. I don’t do this anymore now that I have more older children, but when they were very small, we did tv in the morning and again while I started dinner.

    Then, my husband got asked to teach an early-morning seminary class for 9 months, and he left at 5:20 am, just as my children were waking up. I had to shower at 4 am so that he could shower after me and leave.

    I thought I couldn’t do it, but things went smoother that year than any years before and any years since. I found out that it was really nice to be up and showered and dressed, with a load of laundry washing, before the children were up.

    I’m working on getting back to that, as I have a nursing baby again, who wakes up several times a night and is often ready to be up for the day at 5am, when I need to be getting in the shower!

    It helps me to have several travel-laundry baskets in my closet (they are upright collapsible mesh ones). I sort laundry into them when I change into pajamas at night. My children are older now, so they can do their own sorting (my oldest 3), but before that I just sorted their laundry into my baskets. When a basket is full, I take it to be washed. (Now I do 2-5 loads every day. I aim to have them all washed by noon, but sometimes they are still washing later in the day).

    Planned meals help a lot. Anything that you can sort during the quiet morning nap hours, when the baby is sleeping, can help with dinner.

    I do cook a lot of meals with planned leftovers as well.

        • Amanda says

          @mary, Mine love to go in the shower with me also; by the time they got too heavy, they were old enough to sit up, so I just plopped them on the floor of the shower and directed the nozzle at them so that they wouldn’t get cold. Gave them some cups to fill/dump water with and they were happy as clams. My 2 year-old still goes in with me or dad every day, and my 11 year-old (daughter) still likes to pop in there with me once in awhile, which I think is cute!

    • Bethany says

      @The Prudent Homemaker,
      I’m 24 and I have a 3-yr-old, 23-mo-old, and an 8-mo-old, and I have to tell you that tv has been a blessing for me as well! I used to feel guilty for letting my so-young children watch tv while I cooked or put away clothes or whatever, but you know…you just gotta do what you can do when they are so young and close in age. They mainly watch old Disney VHS movies that were mine when I was a kid, (Bambi, Dumbo, Cinderella {Still have the first release!} ) and I also make playlists on YouTube of the old Sesame Street episodes and other educational clips. They love it. And it brings back memories for me, too! :) (We actually don’t have cable or any regular tv channels that come in at all, that’s why I use YouTube, plus, I can set the computer where I need it to be!) As long as the house is peaceful and everyone’s happy, then tv is fine with me!

  20. Paige says

    Thank you!!! I am trying to do too much with a 5 week old nursing baby and a 16 mo. old. In fact I am nursing right now & reading MSM!! LOL! Thanks for sharing a bare bones schedule. It helps me to pare down and say NO to some things.
    You are a blessing Crystal.

  21. says

    Crystal, this is exactly what I needed to hear today. My son is 8 weeks old. I am new at this whole Mommy thing. I’m sleep deprived and thoroughly exhausted. I keep feel like Im not getting anywhere with taking care of my house or myself. Everything you said simplifys things and gives me hope. I’m gonna get started on your ideas.

    Thanks for this encouraging post and such a great blog. I discovered it a couple months ago and have become a daily reader.

    • Becky in KY says

      @Sierra Nething, That was about the same stage/time for me that I began reading this blog, and it was SUCH an encouragement to me then (and still is now). A lot of times I felt like things just weren’t getting done, and sometimes I felt like a failure (at being a mom, at being a wife, at life in general). But reading this blog was a HUGE help, and now my little guy is 18 months old, and getting stuff done has gradually gotten easier.

      That being said, this post is very helpful to me because lately I’ve been feeling like my current routine (or frequent lack thereof) just isn’t working. Time to reevaluate and revamp!

  22. says

    Ah. This is what I ask myself every day. I have a 2 year old and a 2 month old. My hubby is getting his Ph.D. and I’m trying to finish my thesis. We just moved to a new city and have no friends or family near–we’re about 5 hours from everyone we know. I was encouraged by Crystal’s simple advice, and the underlying message that “this is a season of life.” It’s not forever. It’s not a marathon. It’s just a sprint we have to get through and try to enjoy as much as possible.
    I was encouraged by hearing another mom share her struggle with feeling overwhelmed. We try to do it all, but really, we just have to get by with God’s grace and I know someday we’ll look back and think of this as one of the best times in life.

    • says

      @Hillary, I will have a 2yo and a newborn soon, and we are also very far from family. My husband has been working insanely long hours lately, but that is going to wrap up soon we hope. So I can totally relate to what you’re going through (except I’m not doing my own thesis!) and just wanted to give you a virtual hug.

    • Amanda says

      @Hillary, We don’t live anywhere near family either, and it is TOUGH not getting help with or a break from the kids the way many other families do. I’m usually desperate enough to want to find a “real” baby-sitter, who can come on occasion, but of course, we are too broke to actually pay a baby-sitter- they aren’t cheap! I am thinking of starting a baby-sitting co-op, where, for example, four families join (you probably can’t have too many families or you’d end up with a million kids at your house on your shift), and each Friday (or every other Friday, whatever), all the kids go to one family’s house, on a rotating basis. That way (if you had four families), you could have three Fridays to yourself, and one Friday you would watch all the kids. Now, if I could only figure out how to FIND families that would be interested!!! But being so far away from family, and being as broke as we are, this is the best idea I can come up with…

  23. Amanda Burns says

    I didn’t read the comments, but here are a few off the top of my head ideas:
    1. If possible, budget a little money (or barter, or beg) for a “sitter” for a couple of hours once or twice a week so you can get a little break.

    2. You mentioned wanting to be more organized. If this is in reference to your household, and finances allow (or someone will barter), have someone come in and add order to your home. I, for one, love to organize and am sometimes asked to do so outside of my home. I know having things in order takes a load off of my mind, and cuts down on my general grumpiness.

    • Amanda Burns says

      PS: I know these aren’t necessarily the most frugal options, but they can bring peace of mind.

  24. Lindsay says

    This is such a great and timely post. I love all of the advice from the comments as well. I have a 3 week old and a 12 month old and was starting to freak about what I wasn’t getting done. Thank you all!!

  25. WilliamB says

    Bridget – the short answer is, you’re probably not going to be organized while you have a 2 yo and a 6 mo. That’s OK. They won’t be these ages forever; lower your expectations, enjoy your little ones while they’re little, and relax about the rest.

    I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that they won’t be this age forever. Maybe knowing that in a year or two will help you let go of things now.

    How can you streamline your life? Here are some ideas, you pick which work for you:

    - Use disposable plates, paper towels, napkins, silverware, diapers.

    - Order supplies online to be delivered to your door. Less shopping, fewer trips.

    - Buy food premade or preprepped.

    - You can’t avoid washing clothes, but maybe they don’t need to be folded or put away. Certainly don’t fold underwear or PJs. Have only one or two types of socks (one for work, one for home/sneakers) so you don’t need to match socks. This saves money as well because if you lose one to the Sock Monster, you don’t lose the use of the other one.

    - Pay someone else to do yardwork or house cleaning. Maybe you know or know of a teenager who will do this? You didn’t say if you knew people in your area, but even if not try contacting a local church to see if someone wants a little extra income.

    - Eliminate other obligations. Remember that babyhood is a temporary thing, you or your spouse can return to softball/alumni group organizing/Boys & Girls Club work next year.

    - Set up autopay or online payment for your bills.

    - Simply cleanup by using boxes – toss the toys in a box, it doesn’t matter how messy they look inside the box. Another advantage: two year olds can put things in boxes (usually).

  26. says

    Crystal,
    Your advice is the very best I have seen on this topic!! I wish I could have read this when mine were this little!! Just surviving each day is a huge accomplishment and I like how you broke it down to one cleaning task per day….that is doable at that stage. Cherishing the times when they are little is so important and scaling back on other commitments is important. One of the questions I often ask myself is….do I want to be all I can be to everyone outside with volunteering and chairing committee’s or do I want to be all I can be for my family? I am finding trying to do it all, just doesn’t work and gets exhuasting!! Picking one thing I really want to do outside of my responsibilities at home and with my work as a photographer, is really what I need to do. My family needs me more!! Thanks for your wonderful insight!

  27. says

    Crystal,

    Thanks for the post, and mentioning that they can take what they may from reading, or take it all. This is your advice people should take it with a grain of salt if they dont think it applies.

    I for one, have taken your adive and go to bed earlier than before. I get up early to get things done. Computer work and hit the gym. And am able to come back home before hubby leaves the gym.

    I say you have a choice – The glass is either half empty or half full!

  28. says

    I am a full-time working mama, and I have a 4.5 year old, a 2 year old, and I’m 7 months pregnant. Until I discovered I was pregnant, I was nursing both kids. My 4.5 year old has slept through the night for a very long time, but my 2 year old still doesn’t. She wakes to nurse, have a drink, cuddle, whatever several times throughout the night. Even still, I have to get up every morning before 5:30, and my kids quite frequently do too (even on Saturday!) It is very rare that I am able to get a single thing more than serving breakfast and getting myself out the door (before 7) done in the morning. On a really, really good morning I might get a load of clothes or dishes in before I run out the door! Anyway, I agree with the idea that as a mom you basically have to give up the idea of getting enough sleep. It’s sad, but it just doesn’t happen. What is “enough” sleep anyway?

    And, my other secret (when I’m not pregnant) is caffeine. Lots and lots and LOTS of caffeine. LOTS.

  29. Jessica says

    I SO need this advice in my life right now!! I too have a 6-month-old and 2-year-old, AND a preschooler (3 1/2)! I feel like my life has not been organized and I have not gotten enough sleep since the first one was born. Thank you for the reassurance that it is normal to be this way and that spending time with my family really is the best thing I can do!

  30. says

    Crystal,

    I’ve been enjoying these posts. Today you mentioned taking vitamins, and I remember long ago you used to recommend a particular vitamin company whose vitamins you used to take. Do you still take the same ones as before, and can you please put up a link to their website? I currently don’t take anything, and really think I should look into it. Thanks for your help.

  31. says

    Amen to all you said, Crystal. I have 4 kids, grown now: 13, 15, 18, 20. But I have been there! I found that making nap time a huge priority was so helpful to me. Everyone took a nap, including Mama. I did not schedule appointments during nap time. I hung a sign on the front door that said we were sleeping and not to ring the dooor bell, and turned off the phones. I would read to the older ones while nursing the youngest and we all went to sleep, or at least the older ones were quiet in their beds.
    I still try to spend a bit of quiet time with a book after lunch and if I am tired, sleep a bit too.
    It is amazing how much more manageable the tasks look when I am refreshed from a nap.

  32. Lindsey says

    I am feeling the same way as I have a 2 year old and 5 month old. I downloaded the Motivated Mom cleaning schedule and few weeks ago, and I’m still working on checking off Week 1. :) It’s been fun to attempt, but it’s also making me feel like I am falling way behind. I needed your post Crystal. Now might not be the best time to be cleaning out my refrigerator or vacuuming my furniture. :)

  33. Stefanie says

    Instead of a cleaning task each day, I have my week broken up into rooms of the house. Monday I take care of the toy room, whatever it may need (vacumming, dusting, deeper cleaning if possible) Tuesday is the living room because we have company nearly every Tuesday. Wednesday is the babies room and bathrooms. Thursday is our bedroom and Friday is the kitchen/dining room. This makes it possible for me (I have an 11 month old and do in home daycare) to get some of the deeper cleaning done once in a while, depending on our day.

  34. Andrea says

    You are spot on, Crystal! I was in my thirties before I truly realized that seasons come and go in our lives. We should embrace them because they change before we know it!

    I also could have saved myself years of frustration by breaking up my housework duties…….doing a “little” housework everyday instead of trying to clean “the entire house” once a week! When I actually tried it it was revolutionary for me. I started by doing 2 hours a day of housecleaning per day: whatever I felt like doing or really needed doing. When the time was up, I stopped…..even if the task was unfinished. The next day, same thing. Within a couple of weeks everything was done and I was able to reduce the time to an hour or hour and a half per day. My housecleaning time is in the morning because that is when I have the most physical energy, but everyone is different. Love the series!

  35. says

    This post was very encouraging to me!! I am nursing my 6 month old twin girlies and my son is about 2 1/2 now. Fortunately for me, my girls started sleeping through the night at about 8 weeks!! I followed the Babywise schedule for them and it worked!! I also think I may have been so exhausted I just slept through their crying… :/ In the early weeks, they were so tiny and such weak suckers that it would take about 2 hours to complete the process of feeding and changing both of them and then I only had an hour before starting all over again. My schedule has become my lifesaver!! It is a very simple one and doesn’t accomplish much except for helping me keep my sanity.
    I ditto the keeping up with laundry and dishes!! We have no family in the area to help so fortunately a few ladies at church have been able to help on occasion. And I used paper plates and cups for a few months!!
    I try to remember that opportunities (whatever they may be…business adventures, social clubs, etc…) will come and go and probably come around again, but my children will only be this age once and I don’t want to miss anything in their lives!! And more than I want them to remember how spotless the house always was or wasn’t, I want them to remember that we always had fun together as a family and that “mom” was there for them! :) I’ve had to realize that this is not the season in my life for shopping trips with girlfriends or building my online business to it’s fullest capability. This is the season to love my babies and love being home with them and I LOVE IT!! :)

  36. Barb says

    That was a great article! My youngest is three and my oldest is 10. When my four were a little younger I used to feel like I would never be organized. It is true, it goes by so fast. I wish I could go back and spend less time worrying about friends who couponed and who were super organized(and I clearly wasn’t) and more time enjoying the four little blessings I have. Theres always going to be someone more organized and better at couponing etc.. I wasn’t hardwired for it. It’s hard work for me. I chose to be a stay at home mom and homeschool. We create the mess everyday. BUT it gets easier. It doesn’t last forever. I see the fog clearing even now:O)

  37. Leighanne says

    This post was perfect timing. I have a 16-month-old and a 3-week-old. I’m up all night and then I have to have enough energy for my little “tornado” during the day. I really think that relying on my husband has kept me going. He takes the kids when he gets home from work and lets me sleep. It’s a wonder that some people have to do this without their spouse at times. Also, making sure I read my scriptures and pray daily had given me strength and patience I didn’t know was in me. Thanks for this post, it really makes me feel better about how I’m doing :)

  38. Lea Stormhammer says

    Crystal mentioned the Fly Lady in her post on time management and I would encourage you to look at her site. I really didn’t believe 15 minutes a day can make such a huge difference but it really and truly does! Get those littles down for a nap and take 5 minutes (it doesn’t have to be 15!) to do something and then take that nap yourself!

    I have been trying to clear the clutter out of my house for years (literally) now, and am finally making serious progress doing 15 minutes 4 days a week. Yes, daily messes still happen but it is so much easier to get things done/put away/set to rights when you don’t have a ton of clutter in the way. I won’t ever be the minimalist that Crystal is, but having a place for things and not having a lot of extra ‘stuff’ sure helps!

    Sleep is so important and so is loving on those littles! Enjoy your time even if you would like to be more organized!

    Cheers,
    Lea

  39. Jenna says

    Crystal,

    This is a great topic! I’m in the same boat. I have a 2 and a half year old and nursing a 6 month old that doesn’t sleep through the night. I also raise my 8 and 11 year old stepchildren, so it gets pretty hectic. Even if I clean, it’s back to the way it was or worse within half an hour.

    For me, having support from my husband is big. He cooks dinner at least twice a week. We order take out once a week. We eat southeast asian food which is pretty healthy. It’s actually cheaper and less time consuming to order an entre fro a Thai restaurant for $10-$15 and put rice in the rice cooker and press a button . He puts laundry in the washer/dryer and I fold. The older kids are helpful too when I force them to do chores(LOL). We also make time for the gym at least 3 times a week and we can go together because there’s daycare at our gym. We’re always on the move because the older kids plays sports year round. What keeps us sane is “me” time. He plays basketball/softball a couple hours a week and I do monthly dinners with my friends. The only problem we have is that we haven’t had alone time together since my two year was born. I can’t wait until the older ones are old enough to babysit!

  40. Michelle says

    The best advice I ever received was to realize that there really are no supermoms. It’s easy to look around, when you’re at a difficult season in your life, and think that everyone else has it together. It’s freeing to realize that, in fact, everyone does NOT have it together. One of the things that helped me most with this was trying to get together with other moms–whether in person or even on a phone call once or twice a month. Just being able to talk with others and hear where they’re at is a great help. I learned ideas I could use in my own home and–even better for my own, tired heart at the time–I learned that these other mothers had struggles too. We encouraged eachother and have developed friendships that are treasures to me now.
    I’m sure you’ll hear it thousands of time, but this hard season will pass. At one time, I was a young mother with a 3 year old and 15 month old and an infant. I felt completely overwhelmed. Now, however, I’m a mom of a 10 year old, 8 year old and 7 year old and I can’t believe how quickly it has come! I promise you that the sleepless nights won’t last forever.

  41. Joanna says

    Thank you so much for these words of encouragement. I have a 1 year old baby (who still doesn’t sleep through the night) and I just discovered I’m pregnant. I’m tired all the time and this is such a timely post for me.Thank you so much.

  42. Amara says

    Sister, I could not agree more heartily!

    For all you moms getting interrupted sleep (are there moms who aren’t?) I would rest in Crystal’s advice to give up the expectation of a good night’s sleep. Stop fantasizing about it! :)

    In fact, with motherhood in general, I have found the following to be true:
    It isn’t the mothering in itself that is so hard or exhausting, it is our RESISTANCE to giving ourselves completely to another person that wears us out! I read this once in a breastfeeding book, and I was *instantly* less tired. You will only be a mother to little ones for a short, short window of time. (Take it from a mom who’s first little one is now…sniff…ELEVEN.) Wear yourself out mothering your little ones! Use up those nurturing instincts!

    I am now a mom to four, and I am much less tired and “put upon” (ahem) than I was when a mother to just one. That transition to baby one, then giving myself totally over to motherhood with baby two (where you aren’t necessarily even guaranteed naptime-alonetime), were my two hardest transitions. Now that I know my day will be filled with kids from start to finish, I’m happy to be right in the midst of my moments!

    I would even go so far as to suggest that reading books about improving sleep habits for children (with the exception of a few, such as “The No-Cry Sleep Solution”, which is gentle and utilizes a great strategy…the simple passage of time :) ) will do more to frustrate you and alienate you from your mothering intuition than they will to help you. If you are at the library, bleary-eyed searching for Babywise, just go home. Kiss your baby’s soft cheeks. He or she is about twelve milliseconds old, and really…really…really is not attempting to control your life and keep you up for the next 30 years. Other moms really HAVE had children who wake up sixteen times at night, and lived to tell about it. Other moms HAVE nursed a baby every.twenty.minutes.all.night.long. You are not, not, not alone. You are a good mom. The baby WILL eventually sleep better. And then, the floor will still need vacuuming. And think how satisfying it will be to clean up that big ol’ mess. :)

    • Rachael says

      I couldn’t agree more. Just get up with the kids and don’t worry about what others think. There are plenty of opportunities to teach children abou discipline throughout the day that it is not needed at night time. If you get tired, just try to lay down during the day. I even did this when I was working full-time. I just closed my office door for twenty minutes and laid down on the floor. I would eat a sandwich at my desk for lunch to compensate the lost work time.

  43. Laura says

    I think alot of it depends on how you’re wired. Some people don’t mind waking from a sound sleep to crying/screaming and hitting the floor running. I am not one of those people. But I would suggest at least rising within the same hour each day…of course there are exceptions, but it is healthier and your body likes things the same. AnD…You might discover some hidden secrets…like, the sweet stillness in the morning is even more lovely than sleep. :)

  44. A.S. says

    This is probably one of my favorite question/response ever. Thank you Bridget for asking, and Crystal, for your excellent response.

  45. TillyBell says

    You are such a blessing to me! Thank you. I have a 5 yr old, 3 yr old, and almost 20 month old and am in the early stages of a new pregnancy. In addition, I babysit for an 18 month old during the week. I am STRUGGLING! I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck every.single.day. I know that it’s just a phase and my husband is being absolutely amazing, but it’s still so hard to see things (the house) not being taken care of the way I know it needs to be and not be able to prepare meals the way I want to create them (as I learn more about myself, I’m learning that the meals I serve are definitely the way that I say “I love you” to my family so this is especially difficult to me). At any rate, your words that you’ve written were so helpful for me to read this morning. Thank you!