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
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
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
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:
Wednesday: Mop Floors
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!
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.
Other posts in the Time Management 101 series
- Time Management 101: Stop Trying to "Do It All"
- Time Management 101: Determine What Your Priorities Are
- Time Management 101: Create a Time Budget
- Time Management 101: Create a Time Budget (Part 2)
- Time Management 101: Make a Personalized Plan
- Q&A Tuesday: How can I be organized when I have a nursing baby and toddler?
- Time Management 101: Make a Personalized Plan (Part 2)
- How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger (Part 1)
- How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger (Part 2)
- How to Get More Done in Less Time as a Blogger (Part 3)
- Time Management 101: Home Management (Part 1)
- Vlog: My Very Simple Homemaking Binder
- Time Management 101: Home Management (Part 2)
- Taming the Teenage Schedule
- Free Customizable Daily Docket now available for download!
- Managing Your Time When It's "Just You"
- 5 Time Management Tips for Busy Families
- Time Management Tips for Parents with Special Needs Kids
- 7 Time Management Tips For the Working Woman
- How to Manage Your Time (and Sanity!) as a Military Mom
- Time Management Tips for the Single Mom
- Motivated Moms Printable Chore Planner for just $3!
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