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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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183 Comments

  • Melissa 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • @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

    • Amanda says:

      @Guggie Daly, Anyone have good vegetarian slow cooker recipes? Slow cookers ARE a great time saver, but I only have a few things I know how to make in it!

  • The season is indeed short! Thanks Crystal.

    It is not very ‘green’ of me, but sometimes I buy paper plates when things are tough 🙂 It helps.

    • 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.

        • Wendy 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.

  • Alea 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!

    • Crystal 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.

    • Melanie says:

      so sweet!

    • @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.

    • Jennifer says:

      @Alea, I’m loving doing breakfast in my crockpot too….makes it so much easier in the morning!!!

  • 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!

  • Allison V. says:

    You said it!

  • 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”

  • 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.

  • kalla 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!

  • 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.

    • Amanda says:

      @Beverly, Made me cry!!!

    • 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.

  • CollegeSAHM 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)

  • mamarolf 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kristin 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!

  • molly 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!!!

  • molly says:

    Oh- baby & toddler here as well!

  • Kristin 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.

      • Kristin 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.

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Andrea Q says:

      @The Prudent Homemaker, Can you shower with the baby? Three of my four loved taking showers with me.

      • mary says:

        @Andrea Q,

        Me too – that is until he got to heavy!

        • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Hillary 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.

    • Kacie 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…

  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • 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).

  • 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!

  • Rose 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!

  • Lisette 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.

  • 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!

  • Merrilee 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.

  • Dee Wolters 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.

  • This is a fantastic post, Crystal! Thank you!

  • 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. 🙂

  • Shelah says:

    Good post. Good balance to the last one.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!! 🙂

  • 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)

  • 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 🙂

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 🙂

  • A.S. says:

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

  • 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!

  • One thing that helps me when waking several times during the night with a little one (neither of mine slept through the night until almost 15 months, and my first was still waking every 2 hours or so until then!) is to NOT watch the clock when you get up in the middle of the night. For one thing, it makes it hard to remember how _many_ times you get up, but it also helps (me anyway) to not wake up as much when I get up, so then it’s easier to get back to sleep (or sleep as I nurse – my first also took about 45 minutes to eat).

    As long as you’re sitting there watching the clock, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to become resentful of the little blessing that you have and all that they’re “taking away” from you.

    It’s MUCH better to have nighttime wakings be a blur.

    Works for me, anyway!

    • Rachael says:

      I like to use this time to catch up on television shows that I tape during the DVR. It makes the time go much faster, and I watch shows like Oprah that no one else in my family likes.

  • Windy says:

    I am in a similar season of life as you, Crystal… and I find myself thinking, “Wow! My babies are growing so fast!” Now, I am relishing in the little time I am blessed to have left with my 3 year old youngest daughter before she goes off to school. This is such a wonderful, wise post! Enjoy this time when your children need you most! It is often a difficult time, but when you come through it, you realize how quickly it has passed! I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! 🙂

  • I have found that making dinner first thing in the day is a huge help. My toddler can spend some time with me by helping, and it is a big stress-reliever to know that I don’t have to think about it later. Plus, we are able to have an earlier dinner time, which means we can get to bed earlier and still (usually) get the kitchen cleaned up beforehand!

  • marie says:

    I have to say that since finding this site a month or so ago it’s been a huge blessing to me. I often check it now and read through the comments to find strength and encouragement. I have twins that are 3 1/2 and am 6 months pregnant. The pregnancy has been an extremely difficult one. I had to be on a picc line IV at home and med’s they give cancer patients because I was that sick. I could barely get out of bed or stand up. My children would ask me, “Mommy are you ever going to play with us again.” At least twice during the pregnancy I reached rock bottom and felt I wouldn’t make it another day. But God in His goodness sustained me. My husband was laid off during those 6 months which was a blessing in disguise because he was able to manage the kids and the house. During that time I had to completely let go of everything.
    Now I am finially off the IV and med’s and slowly getting around but it’s taken a toll on my confidence. I am extremely weak and find it hard to stand even for more then 5 minutes. I remember the days of doing activities with my kids like projects, painting, coloring etc. Now it’s a struggle. I feel like I’m failing as a mother and wonder how will I manage with a newborn and twins. (never have I worried before about my abilities) We wanted this baby so much and she’s a true MIRACLE and yet I can’t enjoy this season of being pregnant. I know that once she comes I will be exhausted with the new life of a newborn. How can I find balance when I am where I’m at right now? Unfortunately, the TV is being used more often because I just am unable to function at a decent level right now and my husband just started working full time again.
    Sorry for my rant- but you all seem to have such great advice. And my soul could use some encouragement. I’ve never felt this way before even when I had newborn twins and no help. Thanks for listening.

    • Janet says:

      @marie, God bless you, Marie. It is good to have a place to rant sometimes. I was the other way around with my twins. I had a one year old while pregnant with twins. I did not get so sick like you, I can’t imagine that, but I remember well that feeling of not being able to stand for more than five minutes. We had lots of TV. But you know what? Your kids won’t remember much of it, if any. You will have plenty of time later to do more playing and painting. They will be happy to have another sibling to love. By the way, our kids now are 6, 5, 5, 3, and 7 months. So, I really appreciated this post too, because my house is in a constant disaster state! I don’t often take time to read so many comments but today it is encouraging. And again, may God bless you, Marie!

  • Christine says:

    I highly recommend cleaning up the kitchen in the evening, before going to bed. It makes it so much nicer to walk into a clean kitchen in the morning. I also like to prepare Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oatmeal (a crockpot dish), so breakfast will be ready, when we wake up! It is delicious and smells like apple pie! The recipe can be found here: http://christine-mary.blogspot.com/2010/08/apple-cinnamon-overnight-oatmeal.html
    Another thing I like to do, the night before we are having burritos for dinner, is to cook pinto beans in the crock pot, overnight. Then, the children and I have pinto beans with nachos for lunch, and pinto beans with our taco meat for dinner (in burrito wraps). Tammy shared a great post about making pinto beans in the crock pot here: http://www.tammysrecipes.com/node/4082
    As a busy mama to four blessings, 7 years and younger, I have learned that the crock pot is a wonderful servant!

  • Charity says:

    I know exactly what you mean Bridget! I have never tried to rise before my children. I have three littles (born in three yrs) and am 5months pregnant. I also have hypothyroidism and my thyroid levels go crazy when I am pregnant leaving me utterly exhausted. So between a thyroid disorder and pregnancy I have to take my sleep pretty seriously. i know I am a better wife and mother when I am rested, and so I don’t feel guilty at all for going to be @ 10pm and not getting up until my two oldest littles come to snuggle in bed with me around 7am. (And often times I still take a nap in the afternoon when they do!)
    It seems like everywhere (blog wise) that I read lately there are posts on how to organize your day/time, suggestions for routines/schedules, advice for how to plan your day without feeling overwhelmed with littles at home, etc. But when the women read the post and comment, they tend to compare themselves and their day to everyone else’s, resulting in feeling like they aren’t measuring up. I think it is vitally important for us to remember that none of us are alike, we all have different things going on in our lives and we just can’t compare ourselves to one another. (I know none of the posts where written for that prupose.) Don’t feel like a failure because you are different from someone else, and don’t let the thought of being imperfect drag you down. There really is no right or wrong schedule for your day. You have to do what works for you!

    And remember, this time with the wee ones goes SO fast. I know one day I will miss my bulging pregnant belly, I will miss the soft, chubby cheeks of my nursing baby boy, I will miss hearing “Mommy! Mommy!” twenty umpteen thousand times a day by little voices with sweet lisps. My crumb covered kitchen floor can wait, after all, it will still be there long after my children are grown…and I probably won’t find a full nights sleep as precious then 😉

  • Ashley Bass says:

    Thank you for sharing this information! I have a 2 year old and a 14 month old, they are 15 months apart…and life can be so hectic during the day with them. I feel like I never get things accomplished. At the end of the day, the house is in worse shape than when the day begin. I am also currently expecting my third, due in June, so I am even more stressed and worried about how I am going to keep up on top of things. Thanks for your tips and I need to try to develop them into my routine.

  • Tommie says:

    At my baby shower for my oldest daughter *now 19* one of the ladies gave me a framed needle point that read “Quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep, I’m rocking my babies and babies don’t keep” I know your feeling frazzled now hun, but following simple guidelines and keeping things simple and prioritize you will be fine. Then one day like me you will blink and they will be 19 and 16.
    I have that needle point saved for my daughters it brought me so much perspective I hope it helps them and you!

  • Jessica says:

    Thank You!! This is just what I needed today!

  • Peggy says:

    At this point you will need to go with the flow and get as much sleep as possible, nap when the 2 year olds naps and don’t be afarid to ask for some help, mom, friends. dad, or anyone that can. As the childern age you will get your life back to order. Don’t let little things get you out of sort. I raised 4 children and I can remmeber these times so well. It will get better:0)

  • Kate says:

    I guess my most obvious tip is to tell your husband what you need and ask for his support and help.

    DH frequently works 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, and yet he still insists on helping around the house and with our DD. I always get at least one day a week to sleep in for an extra hour or two.

    Right now he is on back-shift (6 pm – 6 am). When he gets home at 6:30 am, he will unload the dishwasher and put away any clean dishes before DD and I wake up. He also gets breakfast started. When she and I are up, we all have breakfast together as a family and then he goes to bed. She and I head to preschool/Grandma’s house and work.

    When he wakes up in the afternoon, he’ll put away laundry or start a new load for me to finish when I get home, run the vacuum, dust, or mop the floor.

    I am very blessed that he feels it so important to help us out even when working as hard as he does.

    Another thing that helped us was when we moved to a brand-new, but much smaller home, was that we had to downsize–ALOT. Getting rid of a lot of our “dust-catchers,” limiting DD’s toys, everyone’s clothing, etc., makes it much easier to clean. And perhaps not the most frugal/earth friendly suggestion is that on each floor of our home I keep a good quality vacuum, a mop, and in every bathroom there is cleaner and paper towels. I frequently clean the bathrooms while DD plays in the tub. I just rotate her bath-tub to whatever bathroom I’m working on.

    And whenever DD lays down, I do too. I may take the first 15 minutes to work on a short project, but I lay down and rest.

    Our house may not always be as clean as it could be, but it’s usually organized and picked up.

  • Jessica says:

    I have a 4 year old, 2 1/2 year old and 8 month old and having a simple routine really helps! I do one housecleaning chore each day during my youngest’s morning nap and smaller tasks immediately throughout the day. For example, I wash up the breakfast dishes right after breakfast – the kids can entertain themselves for the five minutes it takes and then dishes don’t pile up. I admit that I am a very organized person, but simply putting things away where they belong is how I can stay organized with three small kids. Instead of just leaving things in random places, I take the extra few seconds to put it where it belongs – it helps.
    I am not a morning person, so I prefer to shower and read my Bible after the kids go to bed – and I put them to bed at 10pm so they don’t wake up before 8am – works better for me!
    It has also helped to admit that there will be days that I don’t want to do this – that I would really like for someone else to be Mommy for the day – and it’s not realistic to expect every day to be great. But I remind myself that God is more than enough for me and that He will help me and provide me with everything that I truly need!!

  • Shannon says:

    My girls are 19 and 15 years old now. One of the things that really worked for me is they would both go down for an afternoon nap at the same time and I would lay down then, too. Even if I didn’t sleep there’s something very relaxing about the body going horizontal instead of trying to get everything done. I worked full-time when they were small so this was really great for the weekends.

    I agree with Peggy – ask for help if you need it. My mom would sometimes come over and just do my dishes or take the last feeding of the evening for me (I didn’t breastfeed for very long). Any help is relaxing.

  • Shannon says:

    I also wanted to add not to be too hard on yourself. You will make it through this season. I did and never thought I would.

  • Nicola says:

    What fantastic advice Crystal!! Especially the bit about giving up the expectation of a night’s sleep. My daughter only started sleeping through the night 2 months ago when she turned 12 months and already I feel like a new woman & that will come for you too Bridgit. I found the nights extremely difficult until my baby was around 8 months when I realised that going to bed every night hoping that tonight would be the night that I had a full night’s sleep was pointless. It just set me up for disappointment. There was many nights I cried through the feedings because I was just so tired. I realised that very soon she would be big and I would miss the cuddling time that we had together at night & I should cherish it while it was there (easier said than done 🙂 ) The day she turned 12 months, she slept through the night. She still wakes occasionally but you don’t mind that.

    Another bit of fantastic advice Crystal gave is to lower your expectations. I am a perfectionist. In an ideal world, I would clean a room from top to bottom. So, in the living room for example, the floors would not get cleaned unless the cob-webs were dusted out of the corners, the light shades, mantal & other funiture was polished, then the sofas & the floors were hoover and finally then the floor mopped. Needless to say, with 2 small children I never got very far with that task. Embarrassingly, it would sometimes be a couple of weeks before the floors in the kitchen & living room would be mopped. I finally had to admit defeat & let go of my perfectionism. Now the floors get a quick sweep & a mop every night after the kids are in bed. I spend 10 minutes on it at the very most as I don’t want to spend all evening cleaning. It may not be perfect but at least the floor are seeing a mop every day rather than once a fortnight.

  • I love this post! I have been there (and depending on the day, still there)! I have 4 children, the oldest is 5. The first two are thirteen and a half months apart and the rest are all twenty-one months apart! My seven month old usually sleeps through the night, but I’m still nursing! I understand the pressure of being “Super Mom” because my mom was one, now she has so many health problems and can’t work. I really believe that she did so much that she wore her body out! I have FINALLY come to the conclusion that if someone comes over and is disgusted with my house, then they probably have not been through this stage in their life yet and one day they will understand! The thing I try to remember is to see myself through my childrens’ eyes. I even ask my older kids, “What do Mommies do?” and if I am pleased with their answer, than that’s good enough for me (some answers I’ve gotten are: exercise, wrap presents (it was close to birthday time for him!), read books and love kids). All those answers I was happy with (although I was scared that “Watch TV” would be their answer! Here are my top tips: SLEEP when possible, take stock in Clorox/Lysol wipes, try to never leave or enter a room empty handed!

  • Anna says:

    I have been following your blog for a year. I am a single mom with 4 kids including a child with disabilities. My own health is compromised. I work full time outside the home and I am a professional. I had to learn the hard way to manage on my own when my ex left and has not been responsible. I first learned to pray and then I read about organization and living a simple life. Life started to get better and then an intruder broke into our home. He terrorized my family. It has been awhile but my children still do not sleep well. We all have PTSD but are grateful to be alive and well. I was again challenged in life and started reading again.
    The comments you made about a routine are important. Children thrive on a routine. The police caught the intruder. My family testified in court. One of the most important things I did to help my family was to keep them on a routine (but not be inflexible) during this time. We got up and had breakfast, everyone has chores to do before and after school. I made out a weekly calendar of activities and keep it posted on the refrigerator. We ate dinner together each night, went to church and church activities while at the same time going to court. Sleep was a tough thing in our household during those months but again, routine was important, a pretty strict bedtime, bath, putting on PJs, snack, story time (reading for older kids), quiet music, prayers for a restful night, night lights if needed, mom resting with children if needed, (my children’s pediatrician prescribed some sleep aids if children could not sleep) and the same routine every night. It took 2 years but the children finally are sleeping better.
    I was exhausted most of the time but my children mean everything to me. After what we went through believe me I would rather deal with sleepless nights. I will always be grateful that I am alive and well and that my children are alive and well. Sleepless nights are not easy to live with but they can be dealt with and “this too will pass.” My saving grace was my faith and having a routine. Time management is difficult but can be accomplished–find something that works but start with small goals and stick with it. Changes take time.

  • Melinda says:

    I love what you had to say about giving up the expectation of getting sleep and trusting God to provide enough. I have a suggestion for some of the mom’s with really little ones like me. Make a schedule but don’t put times on it. Start your day in the same routine but don’t watch the clock. Sometimes I do my devotions with my kids awake. I just give them some toys and read my Bible.
    Here is my schedule, without times.
    Wake up
    Bible Study
    Feed kids
    Feed me
    Empty Dishwasher
    Clean up Breakfast
    Devotions with the kids- read a story from a children’s Bible
    Homeschool morning work
    Give kids a break- do a little cleaning

    http://lindyandjeanne.blogspot.com/

  • Janelle says:

    Thank you so much for the helpful advice! I have a 2 year old and a 12 wk old. My maternity leave is just about up, which means that Monday I am going back to work. I am a surgical nurse who works 4 days a week, and I am often on call for the hospital. I am not really sure how I’m going to get everything done and still be a good Mommy. I really appreciated your tips on structure and praying for artificial sleep:) I’m going to miss my little guys so much, but I am confident that God will help me with the transition. Please keep our family in your prayers.

  • jenny says:

    Last year I had my daughter when our son was only 18 months. The first three weeks I don’t think that girl ever slept! She nursed 16-18 times a day. I didn’t get more that two hours of sleep at a time for almost 2 months. I had a c-section too, so I couldn’t lift my son. My husband was very busy at work, and that left everything up to me on more days than I wish to remember. I wasn’t sure how I would ever get things under control, and have enough energy left over to really enjoy my kids. I finallly realized that it didn’t matter if things weren’t perfect. Now a year later, things seem so much calmer ( most days!). I just try to get done what I can, let the rest go, and enjoy my babies!

  • Cathy says:

    FlyLady! Seriously, I’m in the same boat right now with an 8 MO who still wakes up several times a night. DH and I agree that right now I need the extra sleep rather than trying to wake up way ahead of everyone. My other kids are 2, 4, 6 and 10 but we put the 6 and 10 YOs in school this year (after 4 years of homeschooling) so I’m home with the 3 littles during the day. FlyLady and her “15 minutes” way of life keep the house clean (not perfect, but liveable).

  • Catherine R. says:

    This is me! I have a 3 month old and a just-turned-2-on-Sunday year old. This post was an encouragement… some of us know this stuff but still need to hear it, you know? Personally I have a chalk board between my dining room and kitchen. Each day after I’ve splashed some coffee in my face : P I stand at the chalkboard and write a list of things I want to do that day like shower, kid’s baths, walk outside and remind myself to make chicken legs for dinner. I need that because it gets so chaotic sometimes I forget to go to the bathroom or eat lunch.

    I was wondering if you use day-planners or could recommend one. I have always loved day-planners but some are better than others. I got one in the dollar bin at Target for 2009 and the space where you can write each day is too small, but then some day planners are way too delux for what I need right now (and too expensive). Any suggestions?

  • heather says:

    Once I shook off the morning fog today, I remembered the laundry tip I wanted to give last night!
    Bridget,
    If you have a newer model washer, see if it has a delay wash setting. I get distracted with my two little boys and after having to rewash clothes because I forgot about them after a day or two…
    I go down and retrieve my last load from the dryer and put another load in the washer, set the machine to start after we’ve gotten up. One less thing you have to remember in the morning and I can hear the beeper go off. Maybe time it so its ready to go in the dryer when the little ones go down for a nap so you can toss it in the dryer and then rest yourself knowing you’ve got clean clothes and it took only a few minutes to accomplish!!

  • Lynette says:

    One major thing is not to compare yourself with other moms! It may SEEM like they have it all together, but you may not be getting the whole story. When my kids were young, there was one particular mom that I was so jealous of because she seemed to have it all together. Her house was always clean, she was always welldressed and seemed to be well rested. Turns out, she was taking her kids to daycare 3 full days a week AND hiring a housecleaner twice a week. There wasn’t anything wrong with what this mom was doing – she just wasn’t a fair basis of comparison for me. So, don’t worry about what other moms do or don’t do – just concentrate on the basics at this point in your life. Keep everybody fed and clean, and enjoy this time because I can tell you, it goes by too fast! My kids are teens now, and I truly miss the closeness of the younger years. Try giving a 14 year old boy a hug and you’ll see what I mean!

  • Rainbow says:

    I love your last 2 sentences! I think we tend to get caught up in trying to have a spin and span house when what really matters is the time we spend with our family. I most certainly will alway choose cuddles over a super clean house. Thanks for reminding us to always take that time. 🙂

  • Christy says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned laugh! I remember those sleep-deprived months after my son was born. I found myself watching old cable re-runs of America’s Funniest Home Videos in the evenings somewhat regularly. Those would always get me laughing. Even if I only watched 20 minutes or so I always felt energized afterward. It’s like laughing lifts your spirits and wakes you up. It was so helpful for me. It still is now.

  • Sarah says:

    **tears** Thank you. I am the first-time mom of an 8 month old who hasn’t decided to like food yet – just mom – and who is getting up 2x a night for nourishment. I needed to hear this…

  • Karrie says:

    I hope the moms with babies will consider reading the book, On Becoming Babywise. It was written by a Christian doctor on how to create healthy sleep patterns for babies (and in turn, moms), and for decades, “Babywise” babies have been sleeping through the night by 7-9 weeks. I don’t know what I would have done if a lady at church hadn’t given it to me when I was expecting my first baby.

    These other tips are wonderful, too. And thank you, Crystal for the post, it’s very, very helpful.

    • Bridget says:

      @Karrie, We followed babywise more closely with our first daughter who did indeed start sleeping through the night around 7 weeks. Our 6 month old goes to be at 7pm and will wake 1-2 times around 4-5am to nurse. I’m not sure if it’s because of his size- he just needs to eat (he was born close to 11 pounds). I’m a night RN that works 3 nights a week and pump when at work, so part of me isn’t concerned with getting up in the night because I want to make sure my supply keeps meeting his demands. Or maybe maybe problem is putting him to be to early and trying to do to much with those “free hours.” I guess our situation is a little more complex (but really whose isn’t?) We defintaely haven’t followed babywise as closely as we did with our first, but have taken the basic principle/schedule to heart.

      Besides it’s not just the lack of sleep that gets to me but also my toddler is the one who has brought a lot of stress into the picture as well, going through what some optimstically call the “terrific twos” ;o) testing limits, etc. I’m deeply encouraged by this post and all the comments, knowing this season won’t last forever and I just need to cherish it. Thank you for all the reminders! 🙂

    • Kelly says:

      @Karrie,
      Oooow, can you tell me does this have any tips for older babies who have gotten into bad sleeping habits thanks to their busy mommies and daddies? My daughter is 12 months old and wakes up in the middle of the night multiple times and can’t seem to get herself back to sleep. We haven’t nursed during the night for eons. Thanks!

      • Karrie says:

        @Kelly, I know there’s a chapter on “Getting a Late Start,” and there are also other books in the series for each age group, but those books assume that you’ve adapted the “parenting philosophy” of the first book. I think it would still help you, even though you’d be able to skip some chapters. It’s an easy read, and it works!

  • Bridget says:

    This meant so much to me and was so helpful! Thank you! I take it to heart.

  • Stephanie says:

    I have a two year old and a nine week old- the toddler is the one not sleeping anymore. Before her sister was born she slept through the night, it is getting better but she is still up at least 2-4 times a night and up for good at 5am. I am so very tired and decided to pare back. If we make it to playgroup/storytime (both drop in) then great, if I am exhausted then we don’t. Right now I am only concerned with health and sanitation so I am keeping up with laundry, diapers, dishes, garbage and the cat. My husband is making dinner and doing the grocery shopping. I try to sweep every day and put the house back together before I go to bed. If that doesn’t happen then at least the dishes and laundry are clean, the garbage is out and the litter box doesn’t smell.

  • Cher says:

    Thank you so much for the reminder to give myself grace. I work part-time, have a 4yo girl, a 13mo boy and am 15 weeks pregnant (eek!). I REALLY needed that reminder to give myself a break and that this season is just that, a passing season. It’s so easy to get down on myself because I didn’t clean the house, when the reason was that morning sickness prevented it. Morning sickness will pass and my house will still be here, waiting to be cleaned.

  • jennifer says:

    Maybe it’s the fact that I am 38 1/2 weeks pregnant with my first child and VERY emotional but this brought a tear to my eye. I am anxious about the days that lie ahead and the precious little time I will have at home with my son before I must go back to work. This really puts things in perspective and I hope that the words of this post play back in my head to remind me to just enjoy each and every moment and let all the small mundane tasks that run my life now just wait for another day.
    thank you for these words!

  • Jennifer says:

    I can definitely relate. I have have a 24 month old, 6 month old and work 40 hours a week with a 1 hour commute each way. I’m up by 5am every day and come home to a disaster to clean up since DH is a SAHD with the kids all day. It’s exhausting! It helps to remember that this is a short season. They are growing so fast.

  • Stephanie says:

    It only took me a month of having my newborn son crying the entire time I was making supper and then stressing every weekend to get my home cleaned (I work full time outside the home) to figure out soemthing had to give. I’ve turned to freezer meals (what a life saver!) and also do a little cleaning every day. My house is never spotless top to bottom, but I know things get done regularly and I’m ok with that. It’s picked up every night when I go to bed, so I feel like I have order in my life. My son is now almost 4 and this has saved me so much stress! My husband and I are waiting on an adoption, and I know I will have to make adjustments to my routine and am looking forward to the change!

  • Kelly says:

    Oh my goodness Crystal, this post is such a blessing. I, too, am nursing and am also juggling a FT and PT job and have a husband who works nights. I feel so frustrated at the state of disaster my house is in and also at the fact that my husband is never home, despite the fact that it was our mutual decision for him to take his job so we could avoid daycare expenses. Thanks for the reminder that family, including my husband, needs to be first and that my daughter will grow up so fast, no matter how unorganized I am and how messy my house is. I think it will serve as a much-needed attitude adjuster that will help my marriage too. Thank you again.

  • Jennifer says:

    Ask a single gal pal to watch your kids as you organize now and then. As a single young woman, I miss being around children and babies since I grew up and honestly, when I am lonely I just want to be around healthy families. I would happily watch your children while you organized. I would happily entertain them at the grocery store as you run around grabbing necessities, I would happily feed them as you prepared dinner for your husband. Single people usually want to be in families, and as we don’t have our own-most of us would happily serve in someone else’s to be a blessing and to be blessed.

  • Angie says:

    Thank you for this post!!!! I have 2 small children and this is SOOOOO what I needed to hear right now!

  • Julie says:

    My one piece of advice for those with a new little one: accept all offers of help! I always felt so bad passing off my crying (colicky) infant to someone else even for a few minutes, or accepting meals or offers for babysitting. But, now I realize that they REALLY don’t mind, and they wouldn’t offer if they did. At the time I would have done anything to have 5 minutes peace from all that crying, but now I would gladly take a crying infant from another mother to give her a break. I wish I had realized how much others really did want to help and I would have taken them up on all those offers!

  • Shauna says:

    I used to try to clean my house all in one day but when I had my third child it became impossible. I had a 3 1/2 year old son, 21 month old daughter and my newborn son..I new something had to change.
    I have broken down my cleaning to not even everyday:
    Monday – vaccum and mop
    Tuesday –
    Wednesday – one week I dust the next week I change sheets on beds
    Thursday –
    Friday-
    Saturday – clean bathrooms and laundry
    I try to pick up everyday. On the days I do not have anything scheduled I try to do laundry, organize closets, anything extra that needs to be done. I try to keep my schedule flexible and open. That way if I miss a day such as Monday because I want to do something with my kids I can bump it to Tuesday and not feel overwhelmed because now I have twice as much as to get done.
    I also find it extremely helpful to start a load of laundry first thing in the morning and then you have all day to get it in the dryer, folded and even possibly put away.
    I manage to keep a pretty clean house even though I am not the best homemaker I am able to enjoy my kids and feel somewhat organized.
    Another wonderful thing that worked for me is when I was nursing I made activity bags for my other kids. (This was not my good idea but one a neighbor shared with me). They were only allowed to come out when I was nursing and they had special toys in them they liked. They were just things I had collected at dollar stores and such but the kids loved them. Then while I was nursing the kids were not whining at me or ripping apart my house and I didn’t have to always turn on the t.v. to keep them entertained.

  • redheadmommy76 says:

    Wow, I REALLY needed that. Thanks so much. I have a 6 yr old, 3 yr old, 19mo. old and 4 mo. old. I’m breastfeeding and taking care of the 19mo. old full time and the 3 yr. old part time when she’s not at PDO. I just can’t seem to keep up with any chores. I used to be so organized and such a meticulous cleaner. Now I just do what I can to get by. And, more often than not, my husband is kicking in extra help around the house since I’m breastfeeding every 1.5-2hrs for our baby who is underweight. I get the judgmental looks from his mom though. She never had this many kids or so many small at the same time. None of our family know what it’s like, but they sure do make their standards known. Ugh, just wish I had more moms in my situation closer to me. It’s nice to know I’m not failing every day like I feel like I am. I’m trying to do the cherishing a little more every day instead of letting the tasks run my life. Man, this is a tough gig. Sure wish there was a manual out there…

    Keep up the good work ladies & hang in there! 🙂
    John 15:5 “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

  • Abbie says:

    Thank you for this post! I am a mommy to a 4 yr old, 2yr old and a 2 month old! I know I set expectations way above what is reasonable and hearing that from someone else is good for my soul! I really need to get a simple schedule set like above.

  • Megan says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m in a similar position with a 7-month old nursing baby who wakes up two to three times each night. I’m a perfectionist to a fault, and it is SO hard to be at peace with not being able to accomplish everything I want to!

    This was a much needed reminder to cherish every moment with my precious son and lean on the Lord through this season in my life.

    Thank you!

  • Great Post Crystal!
    I agree with you and with so many of the commenters that said to enjoy this time and not to get too stressed out over the small stuff. It seems that you will never survive this stage of life, and before you know it you are already in the next one!

    One thing I would add is to make it a priority when planning those 5 homemaking tasks for yourself, to see what it is that your husband most likes done. If he could care less or doesn’t notice the floors being mopped, but gets frustrated that he has no clean shirts….make laundry the priority.
    Often times as homemakers we do the things that we most want done (which isn’t bad) at the expense of what our husband would most want done. But you need to ask him! Maybe he could care less about wearing a dirty shirt, but stepping in gunk from a dirty floor grosses him out! 🙂
    Blessings to all,
    Joy

    • Crystal says:

      Excellent point; thanks for sharing!

    • @Joy@thestayathomemissionary, It’s funny you should mention that. I did talk to my husband about that and wrote about it in in king of our castle. I was surprised at the results and found I could let a lot of guilt and pressure go because of it!

      I’ve only read part of the comments but am loving them! Life is pretty smooth right now. With a 2yo and 3yo, I’m in a pretty good routine right now. One that I am sure will go right out the window when our new baby arrives this spring! LOL. I’ll be needing this advice then.

    • chris says:

      @Joy@thestayathomemissionary,

      DH and I are bothered by different things. I guess I always felt that if sometthing was bothering him, maybe he should make it a priority to clean it 😉

      I was also going to say since the OP didn’t share if she nursed laying down or not. If she doesn’t I would highly encourage her to try and figure it out. Cosleeping and nursing in the sidelining position were a huge live saver for me. DS2 coslept. DH would get up once each night to change a diaper (DS2 slept poorly if he was wet). I never got out of bed unless I had too pee. Most of the time I was unaware of how many times I nursed (I am very nearsighted and can’t see the clock) and mostly felt pretty well rested in the a.m.

  • Sophia says:

    I needed this post today. I have a 28 month old son and a 4 month old daughter. I am nursing my daughter. Everyday I look around and see a disaster. It is so overwhelming. I don’t know where to start. It seems like I never have even 15 mins to try and do some cleaning up. I am always frustrated and stressed about the state of the house. It is getting in the way of me enjoying my children, which makes me feel so guilty. I try and remind myself that it is just a season.

    • Cindi says:

      @Sophia,
      Sophia,
      my boys are 19 months apart and I can remember just wanting to cry after we brought Kyler home. I would have a baby on each side of me, both wanting mommy and both crying…it was so overwhelming! Hang in there, I wish I could give you words of wisdom, but know that you are not alone (even if it feel like you are!).

  • Emily says:

    I haven’t had time to read through all the comments, but I’d recommend 2 books for you to read (I know, in all your spare time). Both recommend putting baby on a flexible routine of eat time, awake time, and then sleep time. Many people often switch the order of these last 2 activities, but awake time followed by sleep time naturally helps babies fall into a good sleep pattern and help them sleep through the night. I followed this type of flexible routine with both my babies, and they both slept through the night by 11 weeks. Of course it is best to start right away when a baby is newborn, but it can be done with a late start. The books are called “On Becoming Babywise” and “The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer”. The premise is very similar in both books, but Babywise some would say is a little harsher (I tried not to take everything literally in the book). Anyway, both might give you great ideas to get your baby, toddler and yourself started on a simple, flexible routine.

  • Trista says:

    Thank you SO much for this Crystal! I am in a similar situation…I have a 2mo that nurses every two hours and a 27mo old who likes to have constant attention! 🙂 I often am overwhelmed by how my house looks and how big my “to-do” list is. This was very helpful, and I will definitely be putting some of your tips to use.
    I do have a question though. Do you do your morning Bible reading with the kids? If you do, do you read a standard version of the Bible or do you have a children’s Bible that you use? I’m looking for some Bible lessons to do with my 2yo, but am having a hard time finding some. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Crystal says:

      We love The Jesus Bible Storybook for young ones. We also just read straight Scripture and stop to explain as we go along. There are a few other things we’re using which I’ll share more about in my post today.

  • Keri says:

    What great, true words of encouragement! I too find myself stressing out because the house is in chaos. But at the end of the day and this season of my and my children’s lives, I want to know that I spent every moment I could just loving on them.

    Thanks!

  • Amy says:

    I am a mother of 4 little ones under 7 years old and I’ve had my share of sleep deprivation! But as a doctor, I would ask everyone to look into the American Academy of Pediatrics position on to the Babywise program before considering it for your family. It has been cited in the medical literature as a cause of health problems in infants, including failure-to-thrive.
    Here is one side by side comparison that explains why pediatricians have issues with Babywise:
    http://www.gfi.org/java/pdf/AAP_BWise.pdf

    • Laura says:

      i have heard the same thing! i think there are SOME good things about this book, but i’m a little leery of some of it as well. I really like the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I felt that it had a more balanced approach… plus, it really worked with both my kids!

  • Traci says:

    Definitely not a time-management tip, but if you are nursing… have you had your doctor check your iron levels? Lack of sleep could be a factor, but if your iron is low it will make it even worse. When I was pregnant, I was extremely tired all the time until we discovered I was carrying twins and needed even more iron. It made a huge difference!

  • Cindi says:

    God must have sent this to me…yesterday I was feeling as though I could not do anything right, especially being a good mommy. I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 13 month old who is still nursing…(the baby is)…I was feeling very out of control and owerwhelmed…thank you for reframing the priorities. The boys will only be little once and the house will still be a mess when I get to it. i love the part about granting myself grace.

  • jill says:

    With 13mth old twins and now pregnant with our third baby and extremely fatigued and nauseated, I’m doing good to get the basics done. I used to try and get a project done during their nap. Now I take a nap too or I barely make it through the rest of the day. Hoping by the second trimester my energy level returns as there are plenty of projects around here to complete before this next little one arrives! Crystal is right, everyone is in a different season of life and that can change really quickly!

  • Stephanie says:

    Amy had a great post yesterday on a similar topic which I am sure will encourage everyone with a newborn! : http://amysfinerthings.com/newborn-daze

  • Kandice says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have a 7-week old and a 17-month old. I was just thinking this morning about the time envelope system and how it wouldn’t work for me at this stage in my life. With my girls being so young, its hard to plan for how much time they are going to need in a day, how tired I will be, or how much free time (if any) I will get. I knew the time envelope system wouldn’t work, but I didn’t know what to do instead. This is a great help, THANKS!

  • Christine says:

    I have been there! Do whatever it takes to get through and let everything else go. In another six months your life will be totally different. (I know, my daughter is now nearly 15 months and my son not yet 3!)

    I napped a lot in the afternoons when the kids were down. I also nursed my daughter in bed (something I said I wouldn’t ever do) because I couldn’t keep up with the 2-year-old otherwise. His dad got up with him a lot in the mornings – he was a 5:30 am waker. I found if I could sleep past 7, I always felt better, regardless of the total number of hours of sleep I got.

    And I totally 100% let my house go. 🙂 I helped enormously. My husband and I would clean together on the weekends or one of us would take the kids out for the morning while the other cleaned (or I put my feet up in a quiet place and had a cup of coffee). We also made mommy “spa time” – I’d take a bath on sunday morning before church and my husband cleaned the tub for me. No toys, no pink mold! Having a few minutes to yourself can make up for a lot of other things. Plus, remember by the time your kiddo is a year, you’ll feel a lot better.

    Also, it doesn’t sound like your baby is getting up much and your son seems to be getting up at a reasonable time. The fact that you’re so tired is a bit concerning to me. You also sound overwhelmed. Have you considered going to your dr? There are lots of causes for post-partum fatigue that can be addressed medically – thyroid problems, hormone induced fatigue (OCP use, nursing), anemia from the delivery that hasn’t resolved, post-partum depression. I’d consider seeing your physician. You may be feeling overwhelmed for good reason!

  • Renee Kammer says:

    This post made me feel alot better about myself, MaryBeth is part of Proverbs 31 ministries. “You don’t need more guilt and I believe that God has a special grace He extends towards you during this season of your life. Isaiah 40:11 says “He gently leads those that have young.” So don’t spend years as I did fretting over your lack of ability to have a morning quiet time in a quiet house before everyone gets up. Trust me, that time will come”
    http://www.marybethwhalen.com/

  • Amanda says:

    Something that I wholeheartedly recommend is freezer cooking. Before my three month old was born, I cooked for a week straight and made three months worth of meals, which I am just now using the last of. I’m planning another cooking day sometime soon, it’s exhausting to do it but the fact that you have a freezer full of meals is worth it!

  • Tiffany says:

    My children are 21 months apart, so my now-3-year-old was not even 2 when my youngest was born. He turned 2 when she was 3 months old.

    I’m an organizer by His design, but a couple things that helped me out:

    1. Make breakfast in batches. I would make enough pancakes to last 2-3 days and simply reheat each morning. My oldest would help me make them and we’d all enjoy.

    Recipe:
    1c Bisquick
    1.5c milk
    1 egg
    1/2c oatmeat
    1/2c chopped (small) apples
    1/2c canned pumpkin
    1T sugar
    healthy shakes of cinnamon and nutmeg
    –Mix and cook as directed on Bisquick box. The oatmeal, pumpkin and apple help to beef up the nutrition and I have yet to have one pancake go unfinished!

    Have milk/juice cups filled and ready to go the night before to make breakfast go more smoothly. If your oldest can, let them open the fridge and get their own drink out and then close the fridge. They can take it to the table, climb up into their chair and all you have to do is serve.

    2. Determine what can get done with the kids awake vs. with them asleep. Supervise your kids playing together while you fold laundry (we don’t have cable TV) and then sleep or study while they’re asleep.

    3. Plan every meal ahead of time. Know what you are going to cook so you don’t stress every day determining what to pull out of the freezer. Spend an hour on Sundays to plan out the week; make sure you have everything you need already in the house to eliminate last-minute trips. Incorporate a soup/sandwich night or breakfast for dinner or crockpot night or daddy-cooks-night. If you do all of those once a week, you’re down to only 3 nights to figure out! We do homemade pizza every Friday too, so now that’s only 2 left! LOL.

    4. Keep healthy snacks handy. Kids love to eat and play, so have bananas, crackers, pretzels, etc. handy so they can do just that. It helps to eliminate kitchen messes and you can always hand out a pretzel while nursing, lol.

    5. My oldest wanted to cuddle while I would be nursing the baby. Instead of shooing him away, I let him. He’d sit patiently with me while his sister nursed. It was awesome.

  • Christy says:

    I get up at 5:30 to go to work as a teacher every day. I know that some blogs I have read (not this one) stress the importance of a Christian mother getting up before her children and the 5 AM club, etc. I have even read one blogger who wrote that (in her opinion) you were not a good Christian mother if you stayed up later to do certain things; you were only a good Christian mother if you got up at 5 to do them. She even went as far as discouraging others that said they were night owls and trying to encourage them to get up at 5 instead. She quoted scripture (I can’t remember which one). My theory is do what works for you. I do not do very much before work other than eat, get dressed, get boy dressed on some days (depending on husband’s work schedule), maybe unload clean dishes from night before or start a load of laundry.

    My son helps me with clutter removal clean up on some afternoons and helps me with cooking on nights we don’t pull from freezer. I normally try to spend 1/2 hour cleaning, 1/2 hour on schoolwork, 1 hour relaxing–husband if home, computer, and/or cuddling with my dogs after my son goes to bed; I shower and prepare for next day before going to bed. Whatever doesn’t get done in that 1/2 hour, doesn’t get done. Of course, some nights like the night before report cards are due, I may spend 1 1/2 on schoolwork and no time on cleaning and less time on relaxing. If it is getting done, I don’t see a point in getting up at 3:00 and going to bed at 8:00 to do these things. Currently, I am 3 weeks away from my due date with #2, so I am spending a ton of time getting things ready for my long term sub and the housework is going by the wayside. It’s always a juggling act!

  • Appreciated this post. I have a 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and nursing 3-month-old.

  • I would recommend inviting another SAHM with similarly aged kids over for the day or afternoon. I love being able to visit with my friend while I’m cleaning up in the kitchen or working on dinner. When the older boys (both almost 3) are napping one of us can run a few errands. When the two babies get fussy it’s great to have an extra pair of hands to cuddle for a bit until we can get ready to feed them. Plus the boys get to work on their sharing and communication skills 🙂 🙂 Doing this has been my lifeline recently.

  • Beth says:

    I’d recommend cutting yourself some slack too, realizing that maybe while you don’t feel like you’re functioning as well in some areas as you used to, you may not be disorganized. I remember when my son was born someone asked- “aren’t you amazed at how much more organized you are now?” I thought they were crazy, but then once he got a little older and things just fell into place I realized that the organization had been there, it was just distorted by the overwhelming number of things to do.

  • Johnlyn says:

    Looking back now I wish I would have had this advice when my kids were little.

    Thanks for sharing Crystal

  • Aimee says:

    I wish I could give you a hug because I so know how you feel. Some people seem to do just fine with the sleepless nights and never ending feedings but I really struggled with it both times. The first thing that I would say is that I promise you it will get better. I would lie awake with our first child wondering if maybe, just maybe, I had ended up with the one child who never learned to sleep through the night! Alas, she turned out just fine and is a fantastic sleeper. 🙂

    The second thing that I would suggest is to consider sleep training (talk to your pediatrician first!). I know a lot of people have strong feelings both ways but I’m a huge proponent (as have been all of our pediatricians) once they’re at an age that they do not have a physical need for the middle of the night feedings (i.e., they get enough calories through daytime feedings). We started sleep training around 5 1/2 – 6 months with both kiddos and used a modified Ferber method (read the Sleep section of Baby 411 for the condensed version). It only took a few nights and I felt like a new woman both times.

    For the 5 AM waking, I’ve found the advice from Baby 411 to be useful which is to wait 15 minutes the first day before going in, then 30 minutes, and so on and see if you can get him/her to sleep until 6 over the course of a few days. It may not happen but 5:30 is better than 5!

    Lastly, you’ll have to decide how comfortable you are with schedules and how strictly you want to follow them. We made the decision to work toward a feeding schedule with our kids (this takes time and dedication) but were so happy we did. Since they eat at roughly the same times every day, we were and are able to plan our days accordingly. I do not accept invitations during naptimes and plan errands, etc. to not coincide with feedings. Everyone needs to do what is right for them but I’ve found that structure goes an awfully long way in reducing chaos. Taking a tired, hungry baby to Target is a no win for everyone involved.

  • Crystal, I love your blog but I also love your readers; they comments are always filled with awesome ideas, suggestions and thoughts!

  • Robyn says:

    I had to laugh a little when I read this, because I think God is taking a 2×4 to my head with this message! I have a 2.5-year-old and a 5.5-month-old and while my house has never been pristine, it’s certainly less so lately than it has been before. There are so many things I feel like I should do or that I want to do or even that other people wants me to do, and I’m learning that often the answer is just “no.” God’s been using several people in my life to remind me to simplify and lower my expectations for myself, and I’m struggling with it. I’m going through the list of demands on my time and thinking seriously about each one and why it’s there and whether or not there’s a better way to handle it.

  • Aleic says:

    Good thing you post this. I have a two year old daughter and a home based work right now. It is so hard still living under the roof of your parents when they would ask you to clean up all my kid’s mess, clean the bathroom, etc… This post encourage me to spend more time and love my daughter more and avoid the usual bickering of my father…

  • Jennifer says:

    I so needed this right now, I am one month away from having another baby with an almost 2 year old at home. I keep wondering how I am going to do it all. I feel like I cant get it together now as it is, let alone with a newborn. I am no supermom and that is ok, I will just do what I can.

  • This is one of my favorite posts after reading you for years!! I am only half way through the comments but plan to come back and read more.

    My children are almost the exact ages as yours so I am getting a little break right now too (so I started a blog). But didn’t do as your advice stated. I took TOO MUCH ON and was very unhappy. Kudos to you for encouraging women in the right direction.

  • Tracy says:

    I haven’t the time to read through all the comments so please forgive me if someone has already mentioned this, but as I read through Crystal’s post 2 things came to mind:

    Firstly: to focus on the basics is most important. Making a list of what is actually important helps.

    I am days away from delivering our 3rd baby. I found the first and second babies very easy – they were 4 years apart, we lived in a very small home without pets or a garden and since I didn’t even have a car, life was slow and simple. That was 10 years ago! I now have a very full life – large home and garden, work-at-home husband and 2 homeschooled children, aged almost 10 and 14. When I think about what the basics are, it seems daunting at first because its so hard to choose what is more important that something else. But, when I think really hard, and when I submit my thoughts and fears to the Lord, the answers get clearer. And I feel much calmer!

    Secondly: this is also a reminder that we need to be gentler on ourselves AND each other. I easily fall into a panic over the “what if” scenarios. What if my mother inlaw arrives unexpectedly and the last time I vacuumed was 2 weeks ago? I wouldn’t think this way if I didn’t fear her judgement, and I fear her judgement because she is so vocal about her opinions. She’s not the only one…..

    Lets remember that its not just what is said TO us that affects us either. If we hear a friend or relative saying unkind things about the state of someone else’s home, we’ll know exactly what they’ll think of ours in a similar circumstance!

  • Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the post Crystal! It was published the day I brought my new baby home from the hospital, and I have a 26 month old at home! I’m going to print it and hang it on my fridge as a reminder when I get overwhelmed!

  • Becky says:

    Thanks for this post, it was very encouraging! I have a 3 1/2 year old, 2 year old and 6 month old. I too would feel so overwhelmed sometimes but I have learned also to just take it easy. Set a few goals for yourself each day and try to accomplish them but I also realized that if I didin’t get it done then that is ok too. Having teachable moments with my children are much more important than getting the floor swept. The days are long but the years are short with our children!

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks. I have read and searched and made my own list of things to do daily, but something never quite fit right. I’ve tried it again and I’m already seeing more success.

    I can’t honestly say that it was because your system was unique to what I’ve seen or tried already. My lists were even very similar to yours (including time spent with the Lord each day). I think the kicker was the statement you made about not getting overwhelmed by the stuff you don’t have done yet because you know there is a time slot for it. For some reason that has really stuck with me and I’ve made it my mantra!

    Thank you again!

  • Renee says:

    Right there with you Bridget! Since June 2008 I have only slept through the night five times due to two pregnancies and two babies. My oldest is 20 months and my youngest is 5 months. My youngest one eats every 3 hours. Right now my sleeping schedule is I go to bed at 10 PM and get up at 8 AM and take a nap.

  • Sherry says:

    I appreciate you posting some of your prayers. I never would have thought to ask the Lord to “bless my day and multiply my time” or to
    “bless and supernaturally multiply whatever sleep I was able to get”. Since I started this, I have seen a difference in my day too. Thank you!

  • Homestead says:

    I love you and I love your readers. I have a 6, a 4 and a 15-month and I work 40+ outside the home and I love hearing how other women handle it all….. here’s my list….

    Take your vitamins, supplement with Vit D & iron, drink lots of water, brush your teeth and just let go and cry once in a while.

    Let the dog mop the kitchen floor, buy a roomba for the carpets, forgive yourself for making chicken nuggets and frozen corn for dinner…. again, and put a laundry basket in the bathroom (so you have someplace safe to plop the baby while you pee… hands free!).

    Let the kids wear their jammies all day sometimes, pass a kid or two through the shower while you are deep-conditioning your hair, play “doctor” every day (you, the patient, must recline on the couch and rest while the littles take care of you), and invest in a couple 20-minute cartoon dvd’s for the “witching hour” around 5 pm.

    Hug the babies, take lots of pictures and save emails back and forth with someone that you talk about your kids with (we call this the “baby book” at our house…. completely honest, detailed and dated). Oh…. and get pictures of YOU with the kids…. I regret not having any pics of ME with my babies…. lots of other people but I always wield the camera.

    I also find sleeping at red lights a viable option. Right?

    Most of all… remember you aren’t alone and this too shall pass!

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