Wednesday, 18 March 2020

PARENTHOOD: 20 Ways to Make Life Easier when you have More than One Child

PARENTHOOD: 20 Ways to Make Life Easier when you have More than One Child
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Life is busy at the best of times, but when you throw children into the mix time just seems to disappear. Getting jobs done, keeping a household running and staying on top of the to-do list can be such a challenge for parents. As someone who has recently welcomed our third baby into the family I am all too familiar with the struggles of daily parenting life and have had to quickly learn hacks, tips and tricks to make our family life easier. Some of them are really small things, but they make such a difference and I hope that they can help you too.

Constantly and consistently using time efficiently is the only way I've found to manage to the demands of three children; there is certainly no time for relaxing while all three are awake! To give some context my children are four and a half years old, two and half years old and three months, so during term time my eldest daughter is at school and my middle daughter goes to nursery two days a week. I work from home and therefore don't have to juggle going out to work, but there does lie a whole other range of challenges that I could talk about.
Many of these tips/tricks/hacks I've been using since having two children because for a while it became a matter of survival. I have to admit that I found going from one to two children incredibly hard, so establishing a routine and doing anything to make our lives easier became essential. I by no means do these things everyday, but by doing some of these some of the time I have found that going from two to three children so much easier.


20 Ways to make life easier when you have multiple children


1. Set out your children's clothes the night before - it saves time, is one less thing to think about during the early morning rush and ensures they have clean school uniform to wear if they're at school.
2. Use toothbrushes with a suction base - this may sound a bit silly, but by buying the toothbrushes that stand up using a suction base (available from most supermarkets) it means you can prepare the children's toothbrushes with toothpaste in advance and they don't make a mess everywhere.
3. Set out bowls/spoons/plates and cereal boxes the night before - again, it's a time saving tip but also helps if you have a small baby and have to do most things with one hand. It means that breakfast can be served in seconds and/or the children can help themselves depending on their age.
4. Take everything you can out of packaging - when unpacking your food shopping take the time to remove any additional packaging there may be, so that you can grab things with one hand at a later date. This could be kitchen roll, toilet roll, multipack of crisps, cereal bars etc.
5. Always have bread in the freezer - there are always those days when the cupboards are bare or you suddenly have little ones requesting a snack, so keeping bread/thins/muffins/crumpets in the freezer means you are always prepared. 
6. Carry a water bottle around with you - Finding the time to drink water can be tricky as a parent, but I've found that carrying a reusable bottle around with me has helped a lot. Personally I've found that having one with a straw is the best, but you could use any reusable bottle.
7. Pack nursery/school bags the night before - Leaving this until the morning can add so much stress, therefore getting it done the night before eases that. If there is a lot to remember in a certain week regarding nursery or school I will write a list out for each day, so I can quickly check their bags in the morning before we leave the house.
8. Babywear - If one of your children is a baby then I honestly cannot recommend babywearing enough, although if you already have a child then chances are you already know how revolutionary it is. The luxury of having two hands can never be underestimated when you have a baby and it enables you to get jobs done more quickly. I really like the Baby Bjorn Move*, Ergobaby 360* and Fornessi Wrap

9. Make yourself a packed lunch - On those days when you know you're going to be really busy make yourself a sandwich and pop it in the fridge to eat later. It means you don't end up with biscuits for lunch and you can also do this for your children too.
10. Do homework as soon as you get it - If you have a school aged child then doing homework as soon as you get it ensures it is done and not forgotten. There is so much to think about when you have children that getting things like homework done as early as possible means you have one less thing to think about later. 
11. Create 'independent stations' - Giving the older children independence not only keeps them happy, but also makes your life easier too. This could be spare pants in a basket if they're toilet training or hats/gloves/scarves in a box next to the door or plastic tableware in a cupboard they can reach in the kitchen or clothes in under-bed storage containers for them to get out themselves etc. 
12. Batch cook healthy meals - Filling the freezer with healthy homecooked meals every now and again makes life so much easier in the long run. Just remember to get it out the night before to defrost in the fridge and then heat it up when needed. Some of my children's favourite batch cooked meals are: lasagne, cottage pie, soup, mini toad in the hole, risotto, Spaghetti Bolognese and stew. Another quick tip is to always have couscous in the house, as it is the quickest way to add a hot carbohydrate to meal. I've also found that preparing food in bulk helps, which is why we've been using EasiYo to make natural delicious yogurt 1kg at a time. 
The easy three step process allows you to have homemade yogurt in 8-12 hours (or overnight), so I will mix up the yogurt powder the night before, pop it in the EasiYo Yogurt Maker, pour in boiling water and leave it overnight. 
By the morning we have 1kg of creamy homemade yogurt, which we've been enjoying with fruit, granola, overnight oats, on pancakes/waffles, as a pudding for lunch or dinner, in smoothies and yogurt ice lollies. You can also use their wide range of yogurt flavours (including: Fat Free Natural, Greek Style Blueberry, Greek Style Mango with Coconut Bits, Greek Style with Honey, Banana, Crème Brulee, Mango, Vanilla, Strawberry, Cappuccino etc.) in cooking and baking, such as apple bread, banana yogurt, chocolate and cranberry cookies, yogurt naan bread and pesto yogurt dip


13. Find a daily routine that works for you - Establishing a routine quickly makes life so much easier; it will be different for every family and even each day, but trialling various timings until you find the perfect one for your family is key. Our rough routine on a school day is: 
5.30am - Isabella and Poppy wake up
7.15am - Breakfast
7.45am - Children get dressed
8.15am - Downstairs for 15 minutes of television
8.30am - School run
9.15am - Play or go to toddler class
10.45am - Poppy naps
12.30pm - Poppy wakes up and we have lunch
1pm - Play
3pm - School run
3.30pm - Back from school run and do Isabella's reading/homework 
4pm - Television/play time
4.30pm - Dinner
5pm - Bath
5.30pm - Books
6pm - Bed for Isabella and Poppy
14. Take snacks everywhere - There never seems to be an occasion when a child doesn't want a snack and they are handy when they need a little bit of encouragement to do something. I usually have a pack of raisins in my coat pocket, as well as a changing bag full of snacks!
15. Multi-task like a pro - There have been many times I've thought...who knew you could do so much at one time?! I've been wearing and feeding Rory, doing the school run, pushing Poppy in the pushchair, holding a conversation with a fellow parent and making a mental list of what needs doing when we get home; all at the same time. You just do, don't you? 
16. Write lists for every aspect of your life - I don't know about you, but if something isn't written down I will forget it. Having lists for anything and everything helps to keep your life organised and are there to refer back to or for a partner to see what needs doing too. 
17. Keep your family calendar updated - Having a calendar that everyone in the family can see helps to make sure plans don't clash and it is known where everyone is meant to be at any one time. 
18. Get yourself ready first - This may mean getting up earlier or asking your partner to watch the children while you get ready, but by being one step ahead makes the whole morning run smoother. 
19. Make toys easily accessible - Having boxes or baskets of toys at your children's height means that they can access a range of entertainment without needing your help. This, of course, can mean they make more of a mess but it also means that they can keep themselves happily entertained during long feeding sessions or when you need to get jobs done. 

20. Encourage help - If you make the mess, then you have to help tidy it up. Depending on the age of your children will depend how much help they can offer, but it is a really important life skill to be able to tidy up after yourself so encouraging that from a young age is setting them up well for life. Isabella and Poppy are always really helpful at tidying up and are now old enough to tidy up by themselves. When they were younger we would do 'teamwork', so that I could model what to do and where the toys go. I have also found that instead of worrying about tidying up constantly throughout the day we tend to tidy up at certain times. These are usually before school, before lunch and before bed, which means that the house is rarely left in a big mess when we leave the house. 

What are your top tips for managing family life with more than one child?

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x
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6 comments

  1. Great post this! So much great advice, will have to show my Sister this who has two kids and it's without doubt a struggle at times!

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  2. Some great tips here! I only have one child but I think a lot of these can be adopted for no matter how many children you have. This is going to be so useful for lots of mums!

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  3. Loads of great tips here. I often preprepare item like clothing, school bags, lunches the night before to save me the time and hassle about worrying about them before we head off for school.

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  4. I do a lot of preparing the night before and I unpack everything out of additional packaging so it's a quick grab and go. I don't have a routine like you. My youngest with SEN takes an hour to get ready in the mornings as she is so easily distracted and then gets into a state when I ask her to be quicker as we are running out of time but we manage to make it to school on time!

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  5. Such a great post. With 3 grandson I certainly agree that getting stuff ready the night before is a great help.

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