Managing routines for multiple children under 5 years old
The title of this article may leave many first time parents running in the other direction – more than one child under 5 years old at one time! The thought of more than 2 children at once under the age of 5 would scare me, and I have twins, but like I say to most people that make comments on my situation – you just have to get on with it. Not to say that I don’t love my twins and the time that I spend with them on my own but you do just have to get on with it. There will be a time when they don’t need you anymore and you will be longing for those cuddles and lack of independence (so I have been told!).
Through my training and experience I have learnt that the best way to survive and thrive with multiple children under the age of 5 is ROUTINE. Of course, things happen in life and you need to be flexible but the better the routine, the better your children will behave, sleep and eat. Young children don’t have the same brain capacity and capability as us to see the world as we do so a lack of routine or constant changes will just make them anxious and confused about what is expected of them.
Some of you may be saying ‘how can I keep a routine when I have a young baby, one toddler at nursery and one child at preschool?!’ It can be achieved but it takes a little bit of time to get settled and find one that suits you. I would consider the following steps:
Write down certain activities which happen on a daily basis which may include:
- Breakfast time
- Milk time (if still on milk)
- Time of when my child needs to get to and be picked up from nursery and/or preschool
- Lunch time
- Nap times
- Snack time
- Dinner time
- Bedtime (depending on age, this could be around the same time for all under 5)
Once these are written down, start to put these activities in order so that you can see when you can fit the activities in for each child
Check when you have ‘free’ time to fit in an activity out of the ordinary, for instance getting food shopping in that you have run out of all of a sudden, meeting a friend and child for coffee or going to the doctors and mark this time so that if you do have to pop out you know when this is possible and saves you panicking last minute. It is also good to mark this free time so that you can put regular activities in at a time that suits you ie. food shopping, seeing relatives or friends or booking in regular baby/toddler groups.
Making friends and relatives aware of your routine will help them understand why you have to meet them at certain times and when it is inconvenient for you and your family. You of course have to be flexible as their time and commitments are also important but letting them know will make them more accepting.
Finally, you may consider making sure that the little ones naps are fitted in at a time that they won’t be in the car or in a pram as you don’t want to get them into a habit where they cannot fall asleep in a motionless environment.
Hopefully you have found my suggestions useful but to all those mums with multiple children under 5, I salute you and may the odds be forever in your favour!
You are all doing a great job and we are all muddling through.
Written by Kelly from Little Well-Beings. Kelly is a qualified child sleep, behaviour and nutrition consultant who is also a qualified nursery nurse, has a Masters in Human Resources and is a busy mum to 2.5 year old boy and girl twins.
Little Well-Beings provides advice on child sleep, nutrition and behaviour so why not look at their website, Facebook page or Twitter page if you need some help in these areas
Twitter – lilwellbeingsuk
Facebook – littlewellbeingsuk