Q: Can you provide some tips on routines or what I should be doing the night before to make for smoother next day for two-under-two?
A: For the first 18 months or so of the smallest member of your Bunch’s life, your least favorite times of day will probably be early morning and bedtime. While we know nighttime is crazy with getting everyone cleaned up and to bed, it never seems near as hectic as the morning. To make the morning easier, we always recommend prepping--even a little bit--the night before to help you mentally prepare for the chaos in the morning. (We know this means more work after they go to bed, but we promise it's worth it!)
Before we suggest some routines, we want to remind you that things need a place. It has taken us many years of practice to discover this, but you have to channel your inner preschool teacher and designated places (even better if that place can be a bin or basket) for every thing. Buy big bins (for all floors) or containers and shove your toys in them. Organizing toys for babies and toddlers is an exercise in futility – spare yourself. You can go through once a quarter or every six months and pare down/organize, but day-to-day just shove/hide it in a container.
Now here is our unofficial (and always editable) list of night time reset routines:
- Pick up toys (aka throw in bins)
- Clean the kitchen each night and enlist hubby’s help. We're talking wipe down the counters and put stuff away. Not really clean the kitchen. It is a sanity saver to start the next day with a clean slate!
- Only sweep your floors once a day (but wipe up sticky spills as soon as they happen). Nighttime seems the best solution for this since it will actually stay clean for 8 full hours!
- Restock dressing/diaper changing areas on all floors. Since it is a pain in the neck to travel back and forth from areas as a unit, try to bring everything you need to get everyone dressed into the kitchen/dining area when you bring the children in for breakfast. This means diapers, clothes, shoes/socks, toothbrushes (you should already have these at your kitchen sink, per our earlier recommendations). Don’t forget any combs or hair stuff you might need.
- Pick out clothes for the next day. Actually, we suggest this so you ensure you have clean clothes. Ironically the person that's likely out of clean clothes is you. Especially if you work, make sure you have all things for dressing everyone in the morning.
- Ensure all papers are signed and bags are packed for daycare/preschool.
- Set your coffee pot to 'go' so you don't have to manage this. Even better if there's a timer that has it waiting for you when you wake up.
We assure you that this lesson in resetting won't be wasted! Because right now that our own kids are school-age, we are spending each evening making lunches, signing papers and restocking back packs for the school rush.