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— The logistics of getting anything done when you have children —
Parenting does not come with a manual. We all know that. (Although I do plan to write one, so stay tuned!)
Want to know another thing it definitely does not come with? A logistics aid. A what?
Let me explain.
During your pregnancy, if you so choose, you can take classes on pregnancy, basic parenting skills, and several different approaches to childbirth. But there is not one single class on momming life hacks. I mean, I’d pay for that!!
Before you became a mom, you were an adult. A singular adult who tended to your own needs. If you wanted to shower, you did it. If you wanted to shop for groceries, you did it. If you wanted to pee, you did it. If you wanted to grab a coffee super quick, you just straight up DID IT. But how the heck do we do all of this adulting when we are so darn busy Momming?!
I am not saying these are the only ways to life-hack the work of being a mom while tending to other adult duties — simply, these are what have worked for me. If you have other tips, please share them in the comments!
- One of the best ways to ensure you get the time needed to get yourself ready for the day is to wake up before your children do. Now, as I’ve shared before, I am a sucker for sleep, so this is not always my preference. But on the occasion that I am game for sun-up before they are (or the okay-to-wake clock buys me extra time), I enjoy showering, styling, and dressing according to my own needs, without being pulled by theirs. This can cut some serious time in the morning routine, which for our family often is a two-hour lag time. Seriously. I need the kids up usually about two hours before we need to leave to ensure that I can get them ready in time. It’s one part that mornings often run slowly, and another part that toddlers hardly do what you ask of them.
- If you’re like me and you don’t always want to sacrifice sleep for morning prep, then some of the work will come at the end of the day. I have learned to love an evening shower. The kids are asleep, or asleep-ish and maybe needing some care, but Daddy can deal because I am showering. This works for me because I go to bed with wet hair (and no it doesn’t get me sick), and when I wake up, all I need to do is dry style with the curling or straightening iron, or do nothing. No blow dry needed here, folks!
- When it comes to bathroom needs, I either wait until the kids are playing somewhat nicely to run away quickly, or I bring them along. It’s one of those things that felt awkward at first, but now feels completely normal. When my first child was a baby, I was so anxious about leaving her alone that I’d put her in the RockNPlay and bring that into the bathroom with me. Besides being able to keep eyes on your curious kids while you’re indisposed, there’s the added benefit that they may become more comfortable with all things bathroom which will hopefully help when it’s their turn to learn how to use the commode.
- Anything that I can do for myself by using the mirror in the entryway, I will. For me, this usually means makeup and hair pins. My daughter is notorious for getting into things she shouldn’t, or for trying to kill her brother with love, and as such I cannot leave them alone for long. Now, my makeup routine takes maybe 5 minutes (I’m a less-is-more girl), but those five minutes can mean the difference between happy children and screaming ones. Hence the public makeup application. Bonus is the entryway mirror has loads of natural light, so my makeup probably looks better anyway when it’s all said and done. And when it comes to my hair, even a simple braid or pinning the front back is a couple minutes that I can spend using the mirror closest to the kids so I can watch them all the while. Multitasking at its best!
Loading and Unloading the Car:
- With one child, I encountered the concern about what to load first, my baby or all the crap that I lug around that I cannot carry at the same time as said baby. I learned quickly to load up baby first, and unload baby last. This allows my child to be secured while I run in and out of the house to grab and deposit items as I load and unload the car.
- Now, let’s throw another child into the mix. What do we do now? The same as far as child vs. items goes. But what about the order of children? It depends on your children and their personalities. When loading the car when my son was a newborn and my daughter was just shy of 2 years old, I would set the infant bucket seat with son buckled in down next to me as I buckled in my daughter, and then I’d click my son into place. I’d do the reverse on exiting the car; first remove infant bucket car seat, then remove toddler daughter. The idea behind this was that my daughter was my wildcard — I wanted her secured first and released last.
- My daughter is now just shy of 3 years old, and my son is the wildcard toddler. With this shift I know that my daughter understands better the danger of cars in the road and so she clings to me more. Also, my son is now in a convertible car seat so I can’t just unclick the whole thing. So I have reversed my child order. I put in my son as my daughter has a hand on the car or on me, and then I put her in. When we exit, I get her first, and then my son. Child order aside, I still will load and unload items like groceries while they’re buckled so that I know where they are and that they are safe. To ensure I never forget them in the car — which is a real concern — I always roll the windows down or leave their doors slightly ajar during this process.
- Who knew doing errands with children can be tough?! Um, everyone, everywhere, who has ever had kids. This is a million dollar tip — you can Venmo me later: Park as near as you can to a shopping cart return bank. When you place your child in the car and need to return the cart which is a ridiculous way up the parking lot, your heart will race. You don’t want to leave the windows or doors open, but you don’t want the child to overheat, and you don’t want to be gone for long, and what if someone sees your adult-less car with children in their seats?! Maybe you don’t have the same anxieties that I do, but still. If you are parked right next to the trolley return, then these anxieties are allayed. Another option is filling up your trunk with your shopping goods, and keeping the kids in the cart until you return it. This then presents the challenge of trekking multiple kids across a parking lot back to your car, but that may be better option for you. Again, so much depends on your child(ren) and personalities.
- I recommend to consolidate errand trips so that you aren’t taking the time to load up the kids for just one quick stop. If you’re going to go through all that effort, make it worth it. Additionally, you could plan your route so that you’re starting at the location furthest away. This makes the subsequent trips feel like you’re that much closer to being done.
- To make your life easier, plan your outings around naps, or with naps, depending on your child’s sensitivity to movement or transfer. When my babies were newborns, I went everywhere with them, either keeping them in the car seat (not recommended for over an hour or two) or transferring the sleeping babe into a baby carrier where they could continue their nap curled up on my chest. Once they became more alert and less likely to sleep on the go, I began planning errands around the nap. I even often would plan outings to end around the start of nap time, so that, with any luck the kiddos would fall asleep in the car, and I would transfer them to their cribs upon returning home. I loved this because it would save the hassle and time of putting them to nap, meaning I could start some mom-break me-time sooner.
- When I only had one child, I would often use the car seat and stroller travel system as my shopping cart. I’d click my sleeping baby in her car seat into the stroller, and use the basket underneath to hold my shopping. Most stroller baskets cannot hold too much, so these were smaller purchase shops. PSA: Whatever you do, please don’t put your baby and their car seat into the seat section of those metal shopping carts! They are not designed for this and your baby can fall, car seat and all. If you plan to take baby and car seat along without the stroller, put them in the basket of the shopping cart.
- I am a big fan of doing a quick sweep, load of dishes, or load of laundry while the children are in their highchairs enjoying some yummy eats. I find this to be so helpful because the children are content, they do not need much aid, and they are out of my way. My time is limited, but I work fast.
- Another way to accomplish this is with baby carriers. My daughter didn’t love them, and I didn’t push it, because I didn’t need to with her being an only child. But when my son was born, I knew if I didn’t wear him, then I would get nothing done. He also was not the biggest fan of being worn at first, but he learned to love it. With him being the second child, he kind of had no choice! The carrier was also how I was able to get on the floor and play with my daughter, or tend to her other needs, without having to put my son down. Carriers for the win!
- If I haven’t taken advantage of the children’s mealtime, because hey, Mama gotta eat too, then I employ their help. We all know a child’s help isn’t always oh-so-helpful, but a mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do.
- Technology is not supposed to be a babysitter….but it’s a super helpful tool to be used as needed on occasion. You can bet I put on some Peppa Pig or Little Baby Bum nursery rhymes to satisfy my children for a short stint in time so I can get some house work done. (Full disclosure: Let’s be real. TV time is sometimes used as a babysitter while I take a much needed mom break. Everyone does it. It’s okay. Your child’s brain will not rot. Just make sure that TV is not the only engagement your child receives.)
- My final point for house needs also falls under self-care needs — I strongly recommend a consistent and early bedtime. (I recognize every family’s situation is different and this is not always possible). I aim to put both kids down by 7pm/730pm each night. This allows me at least a couple hours to do whatever it is that I need or want. Often, these hours are for me and my husband to catch up and to veg. I have Mommed all day, and it’s time to clock out and return to regularly scheduled adulting.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below!
Hugs and love,
Christina is the writer behind the blog Real Life Mama. She is a mom two littles, a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. Christina and her family live in San Diego, where she is a full-time mama, part-time mental health therapist (LPCC), and round-the-clock blogger, writer, and author. If she ever gets a moment to herself, she can be found singing at the top of her lungs, cooking, and crafting. Thanks for reading!