A parent’s practical guide to making time for yourself: With two kids under two
The first question my almost toddler asked me when he saw his baby brother for the first time was “What’s that? A baba?”.
He turned his back and walked away with a not too pleasant look on his face. Lol. From there I knew I was in for a bumpy ride.
Without a doubt, having two kids under the age of two is overwhelming. Whether you planned it or you had a little…unplanned surprise ….you now have two little humans who depend on you to take care of them.
It is tough. I will not tell you a lie. But trust what everyone around you says. It does get easier as they grow older.
As they both become more independent you will see the changes.
When you first become a parent of two kids under the age of two your needs…well, they get left by the wayside.
Truth be told it really does not have to be that way. There is hope! A lot of hope actually.
The key is understanding that your new role as a parent of two kids under two, simply means devising smart ways to manage your time.
By learning to save time throughout the day, you will have more time to spend with your kids and also more quality time for yourself.
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Let’s jump right in shall we?
The first element to successfully managing your time when you have two kids who may still be in diapers is preparation. The caveat? Preparing for the day with two under two never starts on the day of. Always the day before. This is a trick which is really important. Pay attention. lol.
Do as much prep work as you can the day or week before. This means, making baby bottles a day ahead, laying out clothes for the next day (down to socks) a day or a week ahead, and packing meals and keeping them in the fridge in order of use. This includes the packing snacks as well. These are all ways to save on time for the next day or week ahead.
I am sure that there is probably some fancy smancy name for this, but I call it Timed Tasks. See the stop watch on your phone? Maybe you don’t even know where the stop watch is on your phone? That’s okay. Get familiar with it. It’s one of your best friends as a mom of two. As you go through your day doing your chores, set specific time limits on how long you will take to do a task and stick to it.
During this time, block everything else out. Create unrealistic timed goals. Yes, that’s what I said unrealistic. If it takes you 45 minutes to fold laundry, during a timed task session, break this down to 20 minutes. You are playing a rush against the clock game with yourself. Quantity is the name of the game here. It doesn’t matter if the shirts are not folded with the collars laying flat, just fold them!
To make timed tasks work for you commit yourself to blocking out all distractions for that specific period of time. You will not accomplish a timed task if you are on the phone while doing it. Try to stand instead of sitting, if at all possible, when doing timed tasks. Block out TV, phone calls, anything that will distract you.
Timed tasks can work even when the kids are not napping. Keep toys around if the kids are with you. Place the kids in a safe place, like a highchair or crib while you focus on a timed task. Once the clock has timed out on you, evaluate how much more of the task is left and set your clock again for half the amount of time. You goal is to complete the task by the next sound of the clock. Ready, set go!
Use your “Idle” Time
One of the things that grinds my gears is hearing complaints that there is not enough time in the day. The truth is there is a lot of time in the day! A lot of idle time that could be used to get things done. How many times have you seen someone stand in the kitchen waiting for the microwave to go off? uh…valuable time being wasted here!!!
As a parent of two under two, you have to maximize your idle time to the fullest extent. It takes 3 – 5 minutes to wait for your food to heat up in the microwave. Do you know what can be done in 3 minutes? I’ll tell you. In 3 minutes you can can wash 2 – 3 baby bottles, fill them with formula and place them in the fridge. There! you have just accomplished two tasks in one and you fed yourself. Good job!
While you are waiting on your tea kettle to boil your water, empty the dishwasher.
By breaking up your tasks throughout the day and doing tiny tasks every time you have “idle time” you leave less big tasks to be done later down in the evening, thus saving you on time – valuable time for yourself. Learn to do two or more tasks in your “idle” time. While the kids are taking a bath, clean the bathroom sink. While you are waiting for the rinse cycle to finish fold some of the clothes in the dryer. Maximize the time that you would be doing “nothing” by doing something.
Go Hands Free
When you first become a parent of two under two there will undoubtedly be one child that requires more of your attention than the other, and many times if you have kids who are not the same age it is usually the baby. Learn how to go hands free as much as you can in the early stages. This will save you time throughout the day by not having to put down the baby to do your tasks. Learn how to fold clothes, load a dishwasher (a bit challenging, but can be done), with the baby strapped to you. Invest in a good baby carrier as this will save your life. No. Really. We invested in a carrier similar to this one. You will get so much more done with a baby strapped to you than having to hold a baby and attend to a toddler.
One of the best ways to economize on your time is to learn to do everything online. At least for the time being. Order your toiletries, your cleaning supplies, the kids diapers, everything that you need. Learn to go to your online stores, set up accounts and order whatever you need!
Put conveneince over price when you can. For instance, powdered baby formula is more expensive than the liquid version, however you can save time by pouring the ready made liquid versus having to make baby bottles with powder and water.
With baby number two I went for these versus powdered milk. Incorporate timed tasks (described above) in your online experience. Set your time clock and give yourself a specific period of time to get your shopping done.
Try not to browse and look at items you do not intend to buy. Go to your online store, pick up your necessities and check out. Think of the time you are saving by not having to drive to the store, find parking, and patrol down the isles with two babies in tow, who God forbid, you are not well equipped with snacks for, or who may potentially have a diaper blow out!
Clean up Once a Day
Your house may periodically look like a toy explosion just happened, mine does at times. Leave it that way. There I said it! Leave the mess. At least for a while. What can help you save time however is having the mess contained to one section of the house only.
Throughout the day, pick up any toys or games which stray away from the containment zone. lol. That way, when clean up time rolls around, you only have one messy toy area to focus on, instead of trying to clean up an entire house or apartment. The goal is to tidy up during the day but only do the real clean up once in the evening – before or after the kids go to bed.
Pick up baby bottles and put them in the sink as you find them. Put bigger toys aside closer to night time. Stack books one on top of each other in a corner to make pick up easier. As the kids get older make clean up time a game that you “play” before bed time.
I personally cringe when I hear other parents say that they just place all baby clothes in a drawer and pick from the drawer when it is time to get ready. If that works for you, then rock on! But in my opinion, organizing is one of the greatest time savers when you are a parent of two under two.
I challenge you to pick out a pants, shirt and socks in an unorganized drawer. How many minutes did it take you to do so? One or two minutes right? Multiply that buy 2 outfits per child per day by 7 days a week. That’s 14 to 28 minutes you just wasted in one week. Take it up a notch and organize inside the drawer with drawer organizers.
Your time is precious! You could have been spending those 28 minutes catching up on “This is Us”. Organize the kids drawers by clothing type. Do this once, and maintain it thereafter. Fold shirts and keep them in one drawer, or give them a specific space in a drawer. Pants, one drawer, socks one drawer (and please keep both pairs together.lol). Organize everything.
Get the kids on a schedule and stick to it
If you have not done so, start putting the kids on the same schedule. Start as early as you can with the baby. Select an early enough bed time. That way, when you put them down for the night, you can start the clock on your personal time.
Speaking of which – everyone loves a long hot shower. When you have two under two, in the evenings try to take shorter showers, give your hair 34 brush strokes instead of 54. Learn to cut your time on personal care. Just for the time being. You will have more free time for your hobbies and to just relax.
You have earned this time. Once you have learned to incorporate some or all of these methods into your daily life, you will find that you have more time at the end of each night…for youself.
Taking care of two babies at the same time is hard, but with these tricks you will see results and understand that it does not have to be difficult if you work smart!
Do you know other great ways to save time? Comment below and let us know!
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