If you are a stay-at-home mom of a baby and toddler, these daily routine tips can help save your sanity. I’ve also heard daily wine and chocolate helps as well…
If you’re reading this, then let me be the first to say congrats!
You are the mom of a baby and a toddler and therefore you can do anything.
Let’s be clear that just because this post is titled “How to Manage a Baby and Toddler” it does not mean that we’ve got everything under control.
This is my house at any given time, but typically 5 PM:
- Toddler is crying
- Baby is crying
- Dogs are barking
- Dinner is about to burn on the stove
- UPS guy is at the door??
- Phone rings
By “How to Manage” what I mean is, this is how I structure my days, every day, with my baby and toddler, so that I don’t end up certifiable by 7 PM (did I say certifiable? I meant…certifiably insane. Yep).
A daily routine has been a sanity-saver for me as a stay-at-home mom. It also helps that my toddler knows what to expect and when to expect it.
Not only does this help minimize tantrums (I said minimize, not eradicate), it encourages her to be independent, because she feels secure and proud that she knows what she can and should be doing.
It’s also worth noting…
having a solid routine in place, and trying as hard as possible to stick to that routine after the baby is born, is one of the best things you can do for your toddler’s confidence, self-esteem, and overall feeling of security.
Becoming an older sibling to a new baby is a huge, HUGE change for toddlers and you don’t want to suddenly upend their world by never leaving the house or stopping all daily activities with them.
I’m not saying to be supermom by any means, just pick some simple things you feel you can stick to, like morning reading time or a set bedtime routine, so your toddler can feel secure in their daily life with you.
I also highly recommend purchasing Dr. Laura Markham’s book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings. I am 100% serious when I say that this book changed my life as a mom of two.
It’s easy to think that your toddler will naturally adjust to their new daily life, and it’s a mistake to think that it will be simple or come naturally.
Remember that your toddler was a baby (or still sort-of is) not that long ago. They had you all to themselves and now they have to share you – their favorite person in the whole world! Just promise me you’ll read the book. Life-changing. I swear.
As a stay at home mom of a baby and toddler, I bet you love the question “what do you do all day?”
There are really so many good answers to that question, both snarky and real, but I think in reality, someone who asks you that question truly does not understand the second-by-second demands of caring for two small children.
I wish I could tell you it gets easier, and in some ways as the baby gets older it does, but in a lot of ways, well, to sum it up, a moving baby + a moving toddler = crazytime. I once read somewhere that 1 kid + 1 kid does not equal 2 kids it actually equals 5, and let me tell you, it definitely feels that way sometimes.
More Toddler Routine Ideas…
- My 1 Year Old’s Daily Routine
- 18 Month Old’s Daily Routine
- Daily Routine with a Toddler & Preschooler
- 3 Year Old Morning Routine Makeover
Before we jump in, I’m going to warn you, this may be way too much info.
But if you’re anything like me, then you want all the info you can get. Being a mom of little ones is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life (aside from birthing said little ones) and I think often, as moms, we don’t share the play-by-play details of how we actually get from Point A to Point B.
New moms of two want to, and need to know:
- How do I grocery shop with a baby and toddler?
- How do I put both kids down for a nap?
Mama, I’ve got you covered.
How to Manage a Baby and Toddler as a Stay-at-Home Mom
Today I’m going to share our daily routine with explanations or “How-To’s” for several different scenarios. All of the windows of time given are approximate, and of course vary by day.
For reference, my toddler (Harper) is 2 years, 8 months old, and my baby (Penelope) is 8 months old.
6am-7am: Harper usually wakes up between 6-6:30 and P usually around 7.
- Unload/load dishwasher
- Start a load of laundry
- Feed the dogs
- Make/clean up breakfast
Baby: from 0-6 months I found it easier to just wear her for our entire morning routine. However, now that she is more mobile, she will sit on her playmat or in the exersaucer for a little while I cook, clean, etc.
Toddler: Harper almost always watches Daniel Tiger while I make breakfast. We try to limit screentime as much as possible, but anyone will two little ones will tell you, sometimes there is no “babysitter” quite like the TV.
8am-9:30am: If we are attempting to head out to the library, grocery store, playdate, etc.
- Get both kids dressed
- Pack snacks/lunch
- Load up diaper bag (obsessed with my Ju-Ju-Be Backpack)
- Have toddler go potty
- Load up car/get kids in carseats
Baby: If Penelope could talk, she would remind you how much she never wants to be put down, ever, ever, ever. And she’s just a baby, can you blame her? But sometimes a person needs to, you know, get dressed or go to the bathroom, and while these things can sort of be done while babywearing, it’s usually just easier to have a safe place to put the baby while you do these things.
Enter the pack-n-play. I keep one in my bedroom filled with baby-safe toys that she can play with while I get myself ready.
This works for two reasons:
1) My toddler cannot reach her in the pack-n-play. Toddlers are funny in that they love to help but often end up making more work by “helping.” BabyJail, I mean, pack-n-play, for the win!
2) I can keep a close eye on her while I get ready and I don’t have to keep popping out into the living room to check on her.
Toddler: If Harper didn’t finish her Daniel Tiger episode from that morning, I’ll let her finish it up while I get ready. However, if she already finished then she knows she can:
- do puzzles
- read books
- build blocks
No messy activities that require clean-up before we leave the house, please!
If we are not attempting to leave the house for the day, here is what a typical morning would look like:
- After breakfast clean up, take the dogs for a walk (baby in Ergo, toddler pushing doll stroller)
- Morning reading time, do Daily Calendar (I love this one from Melissa & Doug), independent playtime, etc.
- Around 10, I put Penelope down for her first nap. This is tricky because unless Harper is thoroughly engrossed in something, she has a hard time staying out of the room while I nurse the baby for her nap and thus the baby has a hard time taking said nap. So on days we are staying home, I don’t put on Daniel Tiger while I make breakfast, instead, I’ll let her watch it while I do the baby’s naptime. Something’s gotta give, ya know?
- While the baby naps I get some quality time in with just my toddler, reading books, playing dress up, etc.
- Around 11:30 we have lunch, and then we start our naptime routine (more on that below)
Alright, back to leaving the house…
10:00am-12:00pm: This is the “golden” time for toddler moms everywhere. Whatever you need to do out of the house, get it done now, before the naptime struggle becomes more real than ever.
Luckily, Penelope will usually nap right around 10, so she will often just sleep in the car on the way to wherever we’re going.
Okay, so here’s where I’m going to break it down, step-by-step. Cause when you’re on your own with a baby and toddler, you need need to have systems in place.
- Park near shopping cart corral/grab cart
- Put cart seat cover in/put reusable bags and diaper bag on bottom of cart
- Get toddler in shopping cart
- Put baby in ErgoBaby Wearer (if the baby needs to be changed, I usually do it in the trunk of my SUV since it’s just easier that way. Also if you don’t have a SnoofyBee – best get yourself one!)
- When I’m done shopping, I find it’s easier to do the opposite – take baby out of wearer and get her in her carseat and then get toddler out of shopping cart and into her carseat).
- Get stroller out of trunk
- Load up stroller: lunchbox, books to return, ErgoBaby, water bottle, etc.
- Snap baby’s carseat into the stroller
- Get toddler out of car
- Bring the whole circus into the library
Note: For activities in the morning I usually find it’s easier to use the stroller since I don’t have the benefit of having a shopping cart, like at the grocery store. This way I can lug in all the stuff I need (which is apparently everything) and if the baby is sleeping, I can just click her seat into the stroller while she sleeps!
If I’m taking my toddler to an activity in the morning I always bring lunch with me since I’ve found that by the time we get home, she’s just too tired to eat.
I usually bring something easy like leftovers or in the morning I’ll make a quick box of Annie’s Mac & Cheese and just throw in some broccoli or frozen peas.
12pm-1pm: Head home and get ready for naptime. And boy is naptime tricky when you’re flying solo and you have two kids with two very different sets of needs and it’s all happening at the crankiest time of day.
If you your toddler hasn’t already had lunch, this is a great time to have an easy lunch, right before naptime.
1pm-3pm: NAPTIME. Live it up, ladies. You do you. If you’re lucky enough to have both kids napping at the same time, just take a second and soak in the silence. Just let it all soak in. Easier said than done, though, right?
Here are 2 different scenarios that have worked for me:
Option 1: If toddler can wait, set up a quiet time space for them to play while you put the baby down first.
Note: This also may be way too much info, but for months we struggled with our toddler “saving” her # 2 for her naptime pull-up and I found that the pre-nap quiet time (where mom was otherwise occupied) was just the right amount of time for her to work it out, so to say, before naptime.
Option 2: If toddler absolutely cannot wait, and most often they cannot, keep baby busy in a pack-n-play or exersaucer while you put toddler down first (as quickly as possible without rushing them…yes, this is an artform).
Note: From 0-3 months a baby is usually fine just tagging along for the ride, resting in the crib or in a bouncer, but once they hit that certain mental leap, they’ll need much more of your undivided attention in order to fall asleep at naptime, which can make things tricky.
If your toddler is fighting you on naptime, I’ve shared my simple solution to naptime battles.
Alright, well that was a lot of information for one day.
Always remember that what works for me and my kids, may not work for you. I am not a professional in any capacity, just a mom like you, sharing her experiences!
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