One of the skills I’m learning to master with my two boys is making the best use of my time and maximizing our time together. My baby is now 9 months old and my preschooler is 3 and a half, so they have different needs and capabilities. For instance, while they both need to eat dinner every night, feeding them isn’t as simple as cooking one meal, handing the boys their plates and sitting back to enjoy my culinary creation while everyone feeds themselves. Maybe in five years that will be my reality, but right now, with two little ones to accommodate, my days are rather chaotic.
On top of navigating the daily grind, I’m also learning to divide my time between my two boys so they each get quality one-on-one time with mommy. Here are my tips for managing your time with two children:
- Two for one. Figure out what your children can do together – you’ll save time and your children will enjoy being together. Take, for example, bath time: once Julian was old enough to sit in the tub with his brother, our nights were transformed. The boys love splashing each other with water and I love the time saved by knocking out two baths at once! Other great examples include reading books, playing with toys, taking walks (double stroller for the win!), dance parties in the kitchen and grocery shopping (hello, racecar shopping cart). Also, while I’m guilty of cooking three different dinners on occasion, don’t fall into that trap – make one dish and, if need be, supplement with sides that you know each child will eat.
- Divide and conquer. Sometimes, it is best to separate the boys and have each parent (or caregiver) spend alone time with one of them. Right now we do this at bedtime. I give the baby his bottle and tuck him in his crib while daddy reads Lukas his bedtime books – usually I make it down for the last story, just in time for cuddles before my big boy goes to sleep. We also split the boys up for special “dates” with mommy or daddy (3-year-olds love to go for chocolate milk and coffee on Saturday mornings with mommy while daddy and the baby bond at home.
- Ask for help. I’m a firm believer that it’s okay to admit you’re struggling and ask for help when you need it. Let your spouse help if you’re usually the one in charge. Grandparents are also great helpers and love to swoop in and save the day, so give them the opportunity if that’s an option and you need a break (or want to have some one-on-one time with one of your children!). Mom-friends are great resources too – for playdates or lending an ear when you need to vent.
- Hug it out. I really believe that there isn’t much that can’t be fixed with a hug. When my 3-year-old is having a tantrum, I’ve learned that reasoning with him is futile, as is raising my voice. Ignoring the behavior often works, but most of the time I get the best results when I give him a hug. Furthermore, hugs are a great way to end the day, reminding me that the one-on-one time I crave with each child doesn’t have to be something out of the ordinary. I recently read that the most important time you spend with your children is at night as you’re putting them to sleep. Take that time to cuddle and listen to anything they want to tell you. And remember that quality time doesn’t mean quantity time – a hug only takes a few seconds, but can make all your child’s worries go away.
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