Inside: The solution for coping as a single mom. You need to set up a newborn and toddler routine that works.
I’ve had some questions lately from single moms with preschoolers about how to set up an infant and toddler routine that works. When I had littles who were little I wanted that too we all do.
Being a mom with an infant and a toddler is exhausting even when you have help. When you are a single mom with no help it is so much harder.
As a single mom coping with a newborn and a toddler alone it can be like running a marathon every day. It seems impossible and it takes everything you have to get through the day. At the end of the day, you know tomorrow will be the same.
Honestly, it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. But there is hope. Setting up a consistent newborn and toddler schedule will minimize the chaos and ensure that you and your littles get enough sleep.
Newborn and a Toddler Routine that Didn’t Work
I wasn’t a single mom when I had my babies, but I understand the exhaustion that comes with having a newborn.
My first child was born 6 weeks early and to be honest the main thing I remember about those early days of having him home is being exhausted. Not a little tired, but the mind-numbing exhaustion that made me crave sleep above all else.
The best advice I have for coping with an infant alone is sleep whenever possible. Let everything that is not essential go. I followed this advice myself out of necessity, but it did have a downside.
I remember having a neighbor stop by after my first child was home from the hospital and insisting I let her in the house. so she could give me something or other. (Really, who stops by the house of someone with a baby without calling).
I was mortified because there was nowhere for her to sit. I had covered the couch and chairs with clean unfolded clothes. Instead of folding them when I had a spare moment I slept.
My routine was to feed the baby, sleep for an hour or so and then feed the baby again. Sometimes I ate something while I fed the baby.
There was no place in my routine for folding clothes. My life was chaos because the newborn’s schedule didn’t allow for more than 1 1/2 hours of sleep at a time for weeks. Miraculously we did survive.
Surviving My Newborn’s Crazy Schedule
At the first check-up I asked the pediatrician what was wrong with the baby he said, “your baby was early and he is catching up”. He indicated it was a good thing that baby was eating every 1 1/2 hours with no thought that meant I was sleeping less than 1 1/2 hour at a time round the clock.
It would have been better had he impress ed on me that even though I was nursing baby’s father (who I was married to at the time) needed to do at least one of the feedings.
It would have been more helpful if he had told me giving him formula now and then is fine. Me having 1-1 1/2 hours of sleep at a time might actually cause depression, anxiety or worse.
Like I said we all survived. I didn’t realize a human can actually survive with so little sleep. Hopefully setting up a routine will take you less time than it did me.
When my second child slept 4 hours at less than a week old I shed tears of joy. I would actually stay sane. We were able to get a newborn and toddler routine in place in a few weeks. My toddler by then was sleeping at night. His nap time schedule was well established.
Why do toddlers need a routine?
Setting up a routine with children makes life so much more doable both for the mom and for the kids. Routine gives kids a sense of security. A toddler routine minimizes power struggles, maximizes cooperation and most importantly makes it possible for everyone to get sleep.
Without a consistent newborn and toddler routine, no one gets enough sleep. You are vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and irritability. As a single mom with little to no help that is a disaster waiting to happen.
Did I mention you need to sleep? Yes, I am a little focused on the need for sleep, I know, but at the time I was where you are no one stressed this to me and I was not thinking clearly.
To be honest I have some memory loss about the details of how got the kids on a schedule and kept from losing my mind those first few years.
How do I get my toddler in a routine?
I asked my friend Karen who has younger children for some advice on what to tell you about setting up a schedule for toddlers and newborns. She raved about the book, Rhythms, Routines, and Schedules How to Simplify Life with Kids.
I got the book and previewed it for you. Karen’s recommendation is spot on. The book is packed with practical information and no fluff making it a quick read. It will show you how to get your newborn and toddler on a schedule in short order.
If you are struggling with being overwhelmed with a toddler and a baby Rhythms, Routines and Schedules is definitely for you.
Lauren and Rachel know the challenges of establishing routines. Rachel had her fifth child before her oldest was 6 years old. How she ever had time and focus to write a book speaks to her phenomenal ability to schedule and organize.
They give you sample schedules from real moms so that you have some guides to develop your own family schedule.
The schedules in the book are based on the kids’ routine for a whole day. You will want to coordinate the kids’ schedules on the days you are with them and the days they are with another caregiver like dad or daycare.
Rachel and Lauren give you several tips that will help your baby or toddler cooperate with bedtime and naptime. If you are struggling with getting your kids to sleep you want the tips in Rhythms, Routines, and Schedules.
Imagine what life will be like when everyone is getting enough sleep and you have a predictable routine for your newborn and toddler. Get your copy of Rhythms, Routines, and Schedules and get rid of the stress and chaos in your life. Buy it here.
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Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
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