When we had our second child our entire routine changed. It was a lot harder balancing out the needs of a toddler and a baby. Honestly, I look back and don’t remember a lot of my second child’s baby years unless I have a picture to refresh my memory. I was in survival mode. Now we have three children and although life can get exhausting we have figured out a lot of tips and tricks along the way to make life work in our favor so we’re not just in survival mode. Along with what has worked for us, I asked other moms of multiples for their best tips, so without further ado:
16 Tips and Tricks for Moms of Multiple Children
Tip 1. Create a mandatory nap or quiet time for everyone
With three children at home, it is easy for me to get overwhelmed and overstimulated. I absolutely need moments of quiet and calm to regroup. These moments rarely happen naturally so I create them for both my kid’s benefit and my own. My kids are currently 1, 4 and 7 so the older two don’t always take naps. When my 1-year-old lays down for her afternoon nap, my older two have a choice to go lay down, read or color. Once they are settled, I will either go lay down and try to sleep, read, watch my own TV show, or go to my office and work on my blog. I do not use this time for chores because that doesn’t help me feel refreshed and #12 has helped give me peace of mind.
Tip 2. Make time for yourself
Along with #1, moms are constantly giving of themselves but you don’t have anything to give if you aren’t filling yourself back up. I know many moms feel selfish for doing things for themselves and they continually put themselves last. Please stop doing this! It will only lead to burnout and a grouchy mom and no one needs that. You are a priority and you have to be in a good space mentally in order to be your best for you children. Make time to do something you enjoy and don’t keep putting it off. It doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. I enjoy going to Target alone, going to get myself a coffee and not have anyone tagging along, giving myself a pedicure at home, running errands alone and rolling down the windows and cranking up music in the car, staying up after bedtime to watch my own TV shows. I also have a cleaning job in the evenings and although it is work, I have the place to myself to listen to music or a podcast or even just be alone with my thoughts. Time away, even mentally, is necessary for our well being.
“Let your children see you taking time for yourself! Even if its only 10 minutes. It teaches them patience, selflessness, among so many other qualities we all want our children to have.” Caren mom of 3
Tip 3. Make opportunities for one on one time
This was the first piece of really valuable advice I received when I was pregnant with my second. At times I will do something simple like have one child run errands with me or come help me at my cleaning job. Other times we have put mom dates or dad dates on the calendar. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as they have your undivided attention and feel valued. I have seen my children light up every time we spend time with just them.
Tip 4. Teach them responsibility
There is no reason we should be doing everything for everyone. I don’t think we give our children enough credit. They are very capable and willing to help out around the house from a young age. If we instill habits in them when they are young, it will become a building block for the future. Not to say they will do chores willingly and with a smile as teenagers, but we still have to teach them how to take care of themselves and the home and expect them to help. At the age one, my daughter puts her toys back in their baskets and tries to wipe up her spills with a rag. My 4 and 7 year olds help with a few chores every day after school so I can have time to enjoy being with them instead of trying to just keep up with housework. My 4-year-old still complains about having to do chores but one day when she was particularly whiney I got down and looked her in the eye and calmly asked her whose house this is. “Ours,” she said. I asked her who needs to take care of it. “All of us,” she admitted and quickly finished her chore without a complaint. Instilling the notion that we all take care of our living space is extremely important for the whole family now and when they are out living on their own.
Tip Tip 5. Let them fight
I’m not talking knock down drag out fights here, I’m talking about problem solving. Figure out how you are going to teach conflict resolution in your house and let them practice it with each other. This is a skill that many adults struggle with. I have a hard time confronting people, but it is our job to teach our children how to stand up for themselves, how to respectfully disagree, how to compromise and solve problems. Their siblings are the first people who will push their buttons and allow them to develop those skills. Don’t be too quick to solve their problems for them, but let them know you are there if they need help coming up with a solution. With this said, I asked my husband what advice he would give to parents of multiple children and he added, make sure they get time alone. If siblings are always with each other and don’t have breathing room they will be more likely to fight just because they don’t have any time alone.
Tip 6. Nurture your support system
Your support system in parenting is someone who you value, who you can talk to honestly about your struggles, someone who has your back on your bad days and celebrates your little victories. Everyone’s support system looks a bit different. For some it is a spouse, a friend, a parent or sibling, an online community (like this blog!) but whoever it is, take good care of that relationship. I know it is easy for me to get lost in all of my parenting responsibilities and not take the time to listen to how my support people are doing. Don’t let your valuable relationships become one-sided; take good care of the people who care for you.
Tip 7. Be consistent
If your boss says you will be reprimanded for getting to work late, yet you show up late and nothing happens, do you think you will rush to work the next time you’re running late? Probably not since there were no consequences. It is the same for our children. Be realistic in setting consequences for certain behaviors and follow through on them. Empty threats do nothing but diminish respect in the eyes of our children. If you aren’t going to tolerate talking back, make it clear what that behavior looks like, what the consequence will be and enforce the consequence every single time.
Tip 8. Always keep learning
“Learn as much child psychology as possible for several reasons: you learning will encourage your child to learn; which you can share with your child what you are learning and if you understand how your child’s brain functions it will dramatically decrease chaos in your home. Your home doesn’t have to be chaos no matter what society may say! Kids are chaotic when they are misunderstood.” Caren, mom of 3
Tip 9. Look for free events
There are so many family friendly places around but to pay admission for 4+ people gets pretty expensive. Instead, I keep an eye out for their special events and free days. Our local children’s museum has a Free Friday the first week of each month, the library has tons of family events that are always free, the art museum has family nights that are cheap and family friendly, and there are many summer events that are free for the community. Find these places in your area on Facebook to watch for special events or promos.
Tip10. Plan ahead
“Organize and plan. Menu plan so on busy nights so you aren’t scrambling to figure out meals, always have snacks ready, lay clothes out the night before, basically just do as much ahead of time as possible. Also, write down everything on a calendar so nothing is missed (even small things like show n tell or wear a certain thing to school, etc).” Lorelei B. mom of 2
Tip 11. Meal Plan and Prep
“Have a freezer, fridge and pantry checklist/inventory that is erasable! When you use something change your tally! That way you know what you need when you shop! Menu plan, weekly/fortnightly/monthly, whatever works for you!! Then plan your shop!! And catalogue shop the specials as much as possible! Bulk buy when you can!” Annette F.
“Set eating times so your children aren’t asking for food all day which will help with clean up, teaches patience, and gets them to eat during their meals.” Caren, mom of 3
Tip 12. Create a cleaning routine
The more kids there are, the more messy your house will get. Cleaning up doesn’t have to take over your life and your house doesn’t have to be a tornado all the time. If you create a routine that works for your schedule you aren’t trying to do everything all the time or leaving it until you just can’t take it anymore. For more ideas on how to create a cleaning routine check out Mother Like a Boss.
“Don’t worry about the house so much. I did this raising my 5 kids and missed out on so much valuable time. Play with the kids and do more playing. Sit on the floor and play whatever they want because you can’t take back this time!! Make tons of memories and moments they will remember.” Darla J.
Tip 13. Use Idle Time
“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.” from Sam at This Way Mommy
Tip 14. Save, swap and sell clothes
If you have more than one child of the same gender or might in the future, put their outgrown clothes in a storage tote, label it with the size, and put it in storage. If you won’t be using that size again give it to a friend who will need it soon or swap if they have something you might need. If you don’t know anyone who may need it, sell the clothes online or at a local kids consignment store so you can get store credit or cash to buy what you need.
Tip 15. Be Flexible
“Remember that every child is different, even though you try to treat them the same while using what you learned with your earlier babies, it’s still going to be different things that work or don’t work for each child. It’s okay to make mistakes, just like you discover once you have your second child that your first survived despite what you did, not because of it, most parents don’t end up ruining their children’s lives terribly easily.” Anita B.
Tip 16. Let go of perfection
“Let go and let God because you can’t do it all or control it all! The socks will not always match and the faces and fingernails will not all always be clean. Make sure they have on undies and semi clean clothes and it’s all good. When there are more kids, there’s more noise and mischief so stop apologizing for your brood who just dismantled the end cap on aisle 9. Remind yourself of your full heart, home and lap. Do your best, drink the coffee, don’t try to control everything and just ride the storm you created. They’re gonna eat dirt, they’ll bleed and maybe break bones, there will be messes (on messes on messes), and you’ll occasionally feel like a sleep deprived lunatic. But! When you do your best and stay calm and focus the best you can, it’s gonna be just fiiiiiiiine. And so will they.” Stephanie from Mommy Runs On Coffee
Hi! I’m Nicole, creator of Learning As We Go. I’m a mom of 3 busy girls, so I get through my day with copious amounts of coffee and prayer. Family life can be like a roller coaster, some moments are incredible and you feel so blessed and other moments you are hiding in the bathroom just to get a moment of peace. I’m here to help you feel like you’re not alone in the wild ride that is parenting and I have some fun new ideas along the way like How to Teach Your Child the Alphabet. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!
Header photo via Bar Lazy J Y Photography