My (Aspirational) Maternity Leave Routine With a Toddler and a Newborn

Grace Girl was born three and a half weeks ago, and while adjusting to having 2 littles at home is not easy, I am having an easier time of it than I did the first time around. Part of what makes it manageable is getting into a routine that works for us and ensures we are taking care of basic needs every day (eating, sleeping), as well as mental health needs (morale-boosting activities, ie. getting out of the house).

A few notes:

This general routine is what we aim for, but every day is different. Some days really do go about like this. Other days, we are all still in our pajamas at noon and I am crying right along with a grumpy toddler and overtired newborn, while we sit on the couch watching “Finding Dory,” (that movie was so cute, by the way. Should I blame the fact that the ending made me cry on postpartum hormones?).

Other stuff:

I feed Grace Girl whenever she is hungry, and I don’t let her go more than 3 hours between feeds during the day. She tends to eat every 2.5-3 hours most of the time. At night, I let her sleep as long as she will (we first got clearance from her pediatrician on this, as Warrior Girl was slow to gain weight and we had to wake her every 2 hours for night feeds for several weeks. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds).

I am trying to get into the routine of giving Grace Girl a little tummy time before each feed, and then trying to keep her awake for a bit after each feed (so she doesn’t require nursing in order to fall asleep). I am also working on putting her down awake some of the time. These things still only happen a minority of the time, but I’m trying to start now to build good sleep habits. I got most of these tips from this site. Time will tell whether I’m able to stay consistent with this, as I was basically the worst sleep teacher ever with Warrior Girl.

While every day is different and it’s far from perfect, here’s how we’re making it work so far (on an ideal day):

5:30-6:30 am (ish) – Grace Girl needs a feed around now. She is currently sleeping in a Rock ‘n Play next to the bed, so I just bring her into bed and feed her side-lying so I can squeeze in a bit more shut eye before it’s time to wake up for the day.

7:00 am – Put a sleeping Grace Girl back in her Rock ‘n Play and bring it out to the kitchen/living room so I can monitor her better. I wake up Warrior Girl if she is not already up. Letting her sleep in ruins naps and bedtimes and is generally not worth it.

Warrior Girl and I snuggle on the Lovesac while we wait for water for our oatmeal to boil. I was so happy when I realized I could stagger wake-up times for Grace Girl and Warrior Girl to make things more calm and reduce jealousy for Warrior Girl, who is used to getting morning snuggles with Mommy.

7:20 – We eat breakfast and sometimes listen to cute kids songs like this one or these morning affirmations.

7:45/8 – It is now all about getting as much accomplished as possible before Grace Girl wakes up/needs her next feed around 8:30. The primary goal is to be ready for the day by this time. Sometimes it happens, sometimes we’re sitting on the couch watching kid’s music videos in our pajamas at that point with no aspirations to do otherwise.

Here is what I aim to do during this window of time:

  • Diaper change for Warrior Girl.
  • Make a green smoothie. Maybe. If I feel like it. Let’s not get carried away here, people.
  • Get Warrior Girl dressed. She loves choosing her clothes so I try to give her a couple acceptable options. Otherwise it is pajama pants and bunny shirt every. single. day.
  • Then Warrior Girl and I go into the bathroom and she stands on a stepstool to “brush her teeth” while I fix her hair. Then I help her actually brush her teeth and do my postpartum version of getting ready for the day while she imitates me. Postpartum “getting ready” involves dry shampoo, baby wipes to the armpits, and a top knot and earrings if we’re getting really fancy. In that awkward in-between maternity clothes and regular clothes stage, the uniform is leggings and a loose T-shirt (for easier nursing access) every day.
  • If we are really lucky at this point and Warrior Girl is being a magical cooperative toddler unicorn, we may unload the dishwasher at this point. Shoot for the stars, people.

8:45 – Breastfeed for Grace Girl. The hardest adjustment has been dealing with jealousy during breastfeeding. Now that Grace Girl is latching and eating better, I try to read stories to Warrior Girl so that both girls get some tlc and attention during this time.

Alternatively, if I am fresh out of f***s, I might just let Warrior Girl look at pictures/watch kids music videos on my phone during this time. (That is how I ended up posting a rando picture of my carpet on Google plus, courtesy of Warrior Girl. She also somehow took an awkward close-up of my face and sent it in a group message to several friends… That was equal parts amusing and narcissistic-appearing).

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Here’s a photo Warrior Girl took on my phone of her baby doll and baby’s binkie. Notice the artistic placement of the binkie… Blooming photographer for sure.

 

10:00 – Get out. Hopefully. I am a person who needs to get out of the house on a regular basis, even if it’s just for a walk around the neighborhood.

For walks, I push Warrior Girl in the stroller and wear Grace Girl in the carrier.

Depending on how long we will be gone, I will frequently pack up some burritos or cheese, crackers, veggies, and hummus so that we can eat lunch while out and about.

We might visit friends at this point or go to the park (Theoretically. I haven’t yet brought both girls to the park by myself. #goals). Our local library has storytime and “Music and Movement” as well a few mornings a week, both of which Warrior Girl LOVES.

Once a week this will also be grocery shopping time, but thus far we’ve avoided the grocery story by eating freezer meals and letting my mom shop for us when she comes to help out. #thanksmom

11:30 – Grace Girl breastfeed.

12:00 – Lunch. We always do simple lunches, such as bean and cheese tortillas, or scrambled eggs and toast. J has been coming home for lunch to visit us girls since I went on leave. For the first couple weeks, this was often our only chance to have a conversation during the day.

12:30 or 1:00 – Warrior Girl’s nap. I wake her up after 1.5 hours or she won’t go to bed at night. Lately I’ve been trying to meditate for at least a few minutes and/or get some writing/blogging in during this time. Other days, I just snuggle Grace Girl and read on the couch. Depending on my level of exhaustion and Grace Girl’s level of fussiness, I might pass out for a nap instead.

2:00 or 3:00 – Warrior Girl wakes up. Since Grace Girl is likely to be hungry around this time, I try to already have a snack out on the table for Warrior Girl to munch on when she wakes up.

I used to spend time in the afternoons cleaning with Warrior Girl’s “help,” but since Grace Girl’s arrival, Warrior Girl really needs/wants attention and Grace Girl frequently needs/wants to be held. Consequently, I will often pop Grace Girl into the carrier or let her sleep in the rock ‘n play while I play with Warrior Girl. I try to give her some good one-on-one attention here when I have the mental capacity.

Some days, we play a game where she is the mommy and I’m the baby and she’s putting me to sleep. I use method acting to really get into the role here and actually sleep. 😉

4:00 – Pop a freezer meal in the oven. Eventually I’m going to run out of freezer/convenience meals. I would like to believe I will then simply…start cooking again… That could happen, right?

4:38 – J gets home. I am overjoyed to have help and another adult to talk to.

5 – Dinner. We eat super early because we are always hungry by this time and I don’t approve of snacking and ruining our appetites for dinner. People best be hungry when they come to the table! Ahem. That being said, I’m a big fan of snacking after dinner. Inevitably, Grace Girl always wants a feed right around the time we get dinner on the table. Because of course. It’s fine, I love cold food.

After dinner, J plays with Warrior Girl while I clean the kitchen/return the house to a reasonable level of chaos. Before maternity leave, I never cleaned in the evenings, due to no longer giving any f***s by that point in the day. Now, however, cleaning while J takes care of the littles is practically therapeutic. It’s my quiet time to myself to think without anyone demanding I swaddle their baby doll. Ahhh….

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One time I even made Warrior Girl’s bed. Literally only one time.

 

7:00 – Get the babes ready for bed. Before Grace Girl was born, J did bedtime prep and I put Warrior Girl to bed. We have now switched roles because post new baby, bedtime started taking 2 hours due to Warrior Girl not wanting me to leave the room. J now bribes Warrior Girl to go to sleep by herself with a “gummy bear” (read: multivitamin) and it works like a charm. #thankheavenforhusbands #couldntparentwithoutbribery #inpsychologywecallitpositivereinforcement

8 – Warrior Girl asleep. J and I may watch an episode of something and snack on something indulgent while I give Grace Girl a bedtime feed. Occasionally, I use this time to blog/read/do something borderline productive. Only occasionally. Let’s not get carried away here, folks.

9 – J and I aim to be in bed early to prepare for the nightwakings to come. (He does diaper changes, I give the “bobby,” as Warrior Girl calls breastfeeding). Grace Girl tends to be hard to get down for the night due to spitting up and burping up a storm, so I often read on my kindle while endlessly burping and breastfeeding Grace Girl. Eventually, she goes to sleep and I rejoice as I zonk out in a manner that suggests I have been drinking heavily or taking sedatives, when in fact I am really just the mother to a toddler and a newborn. 😉

 

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How do you/did you find balance in your life with littles? What is your daily routine like?  Share in the comments below!

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Jessica | 29th Jan 18

    Oh gosh, I am pregnant with a toddler. I think I just read a glimpse into my future. This really hit home for me!

    • Margaret Sky | 30th Jan 18

      Congrats and good luck to you!

  2. Evelyn, PathofPresence | 30th Jan 18

    I’m a proponent of attachment parenting and have 2 babies. They are no longer in the toddler stage, my youngest is almost 5 years old. One of the biggest blessings I learned was to go with the flow. Some family really really feel it is important to have regimen in their routine. Although I had a general outline, I basically allowed life to lead. Baby’s hungry? I’ll feed her! My 1st born needs more attention? Let’s see how we can integrate the love <3 Over time, a routine emerged that life dictated and the days flew by in bliss.

    • Margaret Sky | 30th Jan 18

      Sounds like you found the perfect parenting style for your family! <3

    • Margaret Sky | 30th Jan 18

      Yeah…going with the flow is not my strong suit! 😉

  3. Shell | 30th Jan 18

    I remember those hectic days with a newborn and a toddler!! Life sure got hectic but those moments passed so quickly…. I can close my eyes and see my toddler and wee one like it was yesterday but now they’re 17 and 21 and I don’t know where those moments in between went…. Enjoy every hectic moment for now because in the blink of an eye it’s gone…

    • Margaret Sky | 30th Jan 18

      Right? It already feels like it’s going too fast.

  4. Jasmine - LoveLifeLaughMotherhood | 30th Jan 18

    crazy days with a newborn feels so long ago (now he’s a toddler) but our routine is always evolving

    • Margaret Sky | 31st Jan 18

      Isn’t it weird how, once a stage is over, it feels so long ago and hard to remember? Or is that just me?

  5. Amber Starr | 30th Jan 18

    I remember those early days! It’s tough when you have two and they are both so young! I love and totally relate to your post partum getting ready! That’s still me some days and mine are 2 and 4!

    • Margaret Sky | 31st Jan 18

      Haha let’s be honest…that was sometimes my “getting ready” before kids.

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