Sunday, November 8, 2009

Balancing Different Schedules

I know that we have talked some about having two or more children, but I am hoping that this will help answer some specific questions I have in regards to juggling kids' schedules. I am due with baby #2 in 5 weeks and for some reason this has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been wondering how moms keep two kids who seem to be on totally different schedules happy and content. Do they schedule their day around their infant assuming that they are young enough to "go with the flow" or do they schedule their day around their older child because they are more flexible? Make sense?? For example, my toddler (almost 2) takes one nap in the afternoon from about noon-3. I remember when she was taking 2 naps a day that she slept from about 10-12 and then again form about 3-5. So I found myself wondering--does a mom with two kids who nap at those times just not go out during the day? That doesn't seem feasible since we all have our to-do lists to accomplish as well as getting out of the house to have fun. So how do you balance it all? I know that each child is different and that different scenarios work for different families, but please share what has worked for you and maybe that will help get some ideas flowing!


Universitybabe said...

I am quite positive that many out there would classify me as a natzi mom. I refuse to let my schedules always be dictated by children. Yes, having a schedule and routine can make things easier and yes, some kids really need the routine. That being said, All four of my infants have been pretty easy going. I usually let them adjust to us. There are a couple of phases when it is easier to stick close to home so that they will sleep better and with less struggle for me. Usually though. I shoot for EVERYONE getting quiet time in the afternon (for us, most typically after lunch.) Before I had kids I really struggled watching a nanny who went to go grocery shopping but when the child fell asleep in the car seat on the way turned around an went back home. Sorry, this is so long. Anyway, right now the infant usually is the first one up in the mornings but he usually goes back to sleep allowing me to get my other children up and moving. Then if he is having a tough time I can put him down for a nap pre-lunch. If we are running errands though he tends to get enough nap then that he doesn't need more till the hoped for time. My other children, 2, 3, &5 all push through till after lunch. (sometimes they are tired before but I try to keep them up simply so that I can get a few minutes to regroup by myself.) Usually my kids nap from about 1-3 or so. The older ones know it is quiet time and grab books and blankets and read if they are not tired enough to sleep. Occasionally, when naps are missed-- uually because something fun is going on the are ready for bed WAY earlier than normal and I willingly let them go ;-) I can make adjustments as needed but this works for us. I still get things done and as long as I compensate for extra tired/sick/ or overly rested children they are pretty flexible for me. One warning, love the kids and give them the time they need but be wry of teaching them that the world revolves (or even that mom revolves) around them and their wants.

Erin said...

This was really tough for me to figure out. In the beginning the baby sleeps anywhere, so I just kept with my toddler's schedule since I could still take the baby while she was asleep. It got harder and harder as her sleeping schedule changed and she needed to be in her crib for naps. The hardest part was when the baby napped in the morning, the toddler in the afternoon, and then the baby right after him. I felt like I could never go anywhere! It took some time adjusting, but I finally got them to take their naps at the same time. I still find that mornings are the best time for me to get out and run errands, because the baby can still sleep in the car if she needs to. The afternoon is harder because after lunch and naps, it's time to get ready to start dinner and the evening routine. I honestly prefer to just go by myself when my husband gets home or after the kids go to bed anyway. It's just so much easier to go to the grocery store and get things done without the kids with me! We do try to keep the kids flexible though, so if something comes up we don't all have meltdowns.

Jared and Delia said...

I agree with Erin. We scheduled the baby around my oldest son most of the time at first. He slept in his car seat so that worked fine. As he got older and had two naps (still does but is transitioning to one), we adjusted more to the baby since my older son doesn't nap. He has quiet/TV time during his nap.

Personally, the first month or so after the baby was born we just stuck to home. We would go on walks and do simple fun stuff like that. To grocery shop I would wait to do it at night like Erin, and I took my oldest to do something fun just for him a few times per week- I signed him up for soccer or just getting out just us two. As the baby started to sleep and eat more predictably (and he wasn't so new that I was afraid to get him out around a lot of people)... and I felt better I worked out a schedule that I liked and that suited my baby's temperament. You can't really know that yet until you give them a few weeks- I think anyway. Then I adjusted my schedule as my baby grew, and then again, and again every month or so. I know that worry that you are feeling right now. I just had to keep telling myself to take it a week at a just worry about how to make this week work. Eventually we got to a more long term yet flexible schedule, which we are on right now and have been for 5 months or so. Good luck!

Tannie Datwyler said...

I'd say not to stress it either. YOU will figure it out faster than you think.

I am HUGE on scheduling, but I learned that you can't always stick to the schedule. This was SUPER hard for me because I am very organized and I try my best to stick to a schedule with my kids. I agree that for the most part it would be best to stick more to your toddler's schedule since the baby is so flexible and can sleep in the carseat. However, my son was NOT flexible, so at around 3 months we had to play off of HIS schedule instead of my daughter's and that worked too. You will see what your baby is like and that will help you in your choices. I've done both and either works.

One suggestion for naps. I always put my little girl down around the time that my son took an afternoon nap. So for example.... when his "afternoon" nap was around 11:30, I'd try to get her done with lunch as fast as possible and put her down around 12:00. But later my son's nap switched to more like 1:30 or 2:00. So now I put HER down first and then he goes down. But in either case, I got AT LEAST 30 minutes to an hour by myself. Not as ideal as having 2 or more hours alone, but I needed a small break and I needed to take a nap. So if your toddler is amenable, change her naptime to fit your baby's so that you can get some time to yourself.

I also liked how you said, "how do you keep two kids on different schedules happy and content?" Well, here is the truth.... you don't always. There is more crying and more giving from both sides. But everyone will adjust.

In addition to that... after 6 months everything is usually clicking along just fine, so if the first few months are rough, they will get easier!!

Jared and Delia said...

I like what Tannie said about making sure everyone is happy and content. That is another thing I had to learn to be flexible with. It killed me at first to not be able to give both children what they needed right when they needed it. Both kids ended up crying and waiting more than I would have liked, but I think - now anyway - that they are better for it. They learned give and take and patience...and frankly so did I.