When I came home from the hospital with Kaitlyn (now 10 months), I was actually quite surprised on how easily it all came together. I wondered how a mom could do it with two without a schedule. Brayden's day was set--we had it down like clockwork. All I had to do was figure out how to work Kaitlyn's day in with Brayden's so we could have a calm routine.
Bonus number one with the schedule for me was that I had very few nursings where Brayden was able to wander the house on his own. He is a smart boy, and I knew he would quickly figure out that when I was nursing, I was a bit tied down. While he is normally a very good child, I didn't want to give him the opportunity to seize the day and go find mischief. I also wanted to be able to focus on Kaitlyn while nursing. We all know newborns are sleepy and require a lot of attention to get a full feed. Brayden was not accustomed to sharing his Mommy's attention for extended periods of time every day.
When we got home, I wrote out Brayden's daily schedule. I then wrote out a few different scenarios for Kaitlyn's schedule to see how I could get them to work together. I thought it through and picked the schedule for Kaitlyn I thought would work best for the family. When I have my next child, I intend to do this writing and thinking before the baby is born (long before; Kaitlyn was 3 weeks early). I then tried the schedule out and made adjustments where necessary. Sometimes things look good on paper, but don't work out in reality. In the end, this was what we came up with:
- 7:00 AM: Brayden woke up. He and I ate breakfast together and then cleaned up breakfast.
- 7:30 AM: I woke Kaitlyn up. She nursed. While she nursed, Brayden had TV time. He also liked to play with toys while "watching" TV. We keep a tote of toys in the family room. I would dump his tote out. Between the toys and the TV, he didn't get into mischief. Kaitlyn took about 20 minutes to nurse. I then bathed her when necessary (or sponge bath in the early days) and got her dressed for the day. A lot of times, Brayden would join me for getting Kaitlyn ready. He was very curious about her.
- 8:30 AM: Kaitlyn went down for her morning nap. Brayden took a bath. After his bath was done and he was ready for the day, he had solo playtime (independent playtime).
- 10:00 AM: Kaitlyn woke up and nursed. While she was nursing, Brayden was in solo playtime. After she was done nursing, we went and got Brayden out of solo playtime. We would all "play" until Kaitlyn's naptime.
- 11:00 AM: Kaitlyn went down for nap #2. Brayden and I ate lunch. At the time, it was summer so after lunch we went outside to play. I would just take my monitor out. It was nice for me to not worry about Brayden waking her up.
- 1:00 PM: Brayden went down for his nap. I usually put him in bed by 12:50. I would then get Kaitlyn up at 1:00 and nurse her. Then she and I could have some one-on-one time together.
- 2:00 PM: Kaitlyn went down for her afternoon nap. I also took a nap until Kaitlyn was 4-6 weeks old.
- 4:00 PM: Kaitlyn woke up to eat. I nursed her. My husband gets home by 4:20 each day. When he got home, he would get Brayden up from his nap.
- 5:00 PM: Kaitlyn took her evening nap. I got dinner ready and Nate and Bradyen played together. We then ate dinner and cleaned up.
- 6:30 PM: Kaitlyn woke up and nursed.
- 7:30 PM: Kaitlyn went down for a short nap and Nate and I got Brayden ready for bed. He was in bed by 8:00.
- 8:30 or 9:00: Kaitlyn woke up to eat. She ate and then soon went back to bed. This was our dreamfeed at the time because she absolutely would not wake up after that until late in the night--no matter what I did. As she got older, this feeding moved back to a more normal dreamfeed time.
As you can see, the daily schedule really worked out well. I was able to have one on one time with each child, we had family time, we had Mommy with the children time, we all got naps...it just worked out really well. Something we weren't good about in the beginning was Kaitlyn and Daddy time. We got better about it once we realized Kaitlyn was becoming very much a "Mammas Girl." It was easy for Nate to take Brayden and me to take Kaitlyn. And that was really okay for the beginning, but we soon realized we should have started Daddy time for Kaitlyn younger than we did. She is okay now, though.
As we all know, the baby's schedule changes very frequently as feedings are dropped. You just have to be flexible. The good news for me is that Brayden's schedule has been essentially the same for Kaitlyn's life. Kaitlyn now eats four times a day. Our current schedule looks like this:
- 7:15 AM: I wake Brayden up to eat (he will sleep a little later in the winter).
- 7:40 AM: I wake Kaitlyn up to eat. Brayden still has TV time while I nurse and feed her. I then bath Kaitlyn. I wake up before the kids and shower. I do my hair and make-up while they are taking baths between playing and washing.
- 8:30 AM: Kaitlyn is dressed and has her first independent playtime. While she has independent playtime, Brayden takes a bath. We haven't had any problems with this set-up. Brayden has never been one to take long baths, and if Kaitlyn did have a problem during independent play, I could easily get Brayden out of the tub while I went to check on her.
- 9:15 AM: Brayden is out of the tub by this time and dressed and ready to go. Kaitlyn is done with independent play by this time and ready for her morning nap.
- 9:30 AM: Brayden starts independent playtime.
- 11:00 AM: Brayden and I have lesson time. I will post more about this later. During this time we do art, music, math, reading, etc.
- 11:30 AM: We get Kaitlyn up. I nurse her, feed her lunch, and then get lunch ready. For Brayden, he often has his Nintendo time.
- 12:00 PM: lunch for Brayden and me. Kaitlyn will sit in her highchair with us and eat finger foods and play.
- 12:30 PM: Sibling playtime. Supervised. I try to back off as much as possible so it is the two of them, but Brayden is too young to leave him alone with Kaitlyn right now. Sometimes I will be in the next room listening.
- 1:00 PM: Naptime for both Brayden and Kaitlyn.
- 3:30 PM: Kaitlyn wakes up and nurses. Following her nursing, she has independent playtime. I then start dinner. Brayden gets up between 4:00-4:30.
- 4:40 PM: Kaitlyn eats finger foods while I continue to get dinner ready. Nate and Brayden have playtime together. For them, playtime is often doing little odds and ends, and this winter often involves shoveling snow.
- 5:30 PM: This is usually the time we eat dinner. Sometimes closer to 5, sometimes closer to 6, but usually 5:30. We eat and then clean up.
- 6:00 PM: This is usually when Kaitlyn requires her catnap. Some days she will go without it.
- 7:00 PM: I wake Kaitlyn up and nurse her, then feed her dinner, then get her ready for bed and read a story. Then bedtime.
- 7:30 PM: Brayden starts the bedtime process.
- 8:00 PM: Brayden is in bed by this time.
- That's the end for the kids.
This is what has worked for us. I soon intend to get Kaitlyn and Brayden starting the day at the same time, but not until she is a year old.
- Work in one-on-one time with each parent and each child. One way we do this is alternating who feeds Kaitlyn dinner and gets her ready for bed and who gets Brayden ready for bed.
- Have sibling playtime for the kids once they are old enough. It makes a huge difference in Brayden's feelings toward Kaitlyn. He sees her more as fun and someone he can enjoy rather than just the thing that takes up Mommy's time.
- Set it up so you have the least amount of stress.
- Remember, the schedules can be changed. Experiment and move things around.
- Remember, the schedules must change over time.
- Have time together as a family. This can be done both through dinner and activities.
- If your older child has a hard time while you are feeding baby, you can think of activities to do together while baby is nursing. One idea is reading. Of course, this can be hard if you are trying to keep a newborn awake, or even if you are trying to keep a 6 month old on task to eat.
There will be times you have to do bedtime alone (one parent or the other or both). There are a variety of reasons this will happen. Here are some tips for that:
- Get the older child's routine down to no longer than 30 minutes. This includes changing into jammies, potty breaks, teeth brushing, stories, hugs, etc. I say older child's because a baby doesn't try to drag it out like a toddler.
- If you bathe at night and are comfortable with it, try bathing the children together.
- I would put the younger child to bed first. For one thing, baby doesn't try to prolong the situation like older child does. For another, baby is usually less flexible and more dependent on bedtime being right on.
I have found it is much easier to get a set schedule with the second baby. You need there to be more predictability so you can be sure to attend to the needs of the entire family, so you stick to things better. Good luck. And as they say, double the pleasure, double the fun!