This question arrived just in time for our weekly Q&A.
Q: I have an 18 month old & 2 month old. My question is how do exercise your older child when you're alone with both? Before my daughter was born I'd take my son to the playground & he did a class at The Little Gym. Now he isn't getting the physical activity he once got & it seems to be affecting his ability to sleep. All feedback is greatly appreciated!
A: Oh, we never want anything to interfere with anyone's sleep so let's get on this question. First off, unless you're going to get a sitter, skip places like Little Gym with your toddler for a long while (until you can get both kids into the same class). I have a very vivid memory of a Little Gym class with my 18-month old son and my daughter who was about the same age as yours in the Baby Bjorn screaming her head off. I never went back.
You have a few options here of places to visit with toddler and baby to exhaust your older one:
1) Playgrounds. Remember that not all playgrounds are created equal so find a very toddler-friendly one and do what you can in the great outdoors with baby in the stroller, sling or carrier. They may be shorter trips than you're used to, but meet up with some friends so you have some helps spotting your toddler. He'll be tired when he's done.
2) The pool. It's summer now and while your wee one may not be ready for fun in the sun your toddler would probably love the play in the baby pool. Get some fun toys for the pool, have the baby again in a carrier or stroller and go until someone gets fussy.
3) Nature centers, farms or gardens. Bring the stroller along and let your toddler just go hog wild by running. You may have to run to keep up with him, but he'll be exhausted.
4) Backyard playdate. Even if you don't have a backyard, you probably have a friend who does. I always found yards, with friends of course, to be the best exercise for me. That meant baby could hang out, be changed and fed in privacy without too much sprinting and we might even be able to enjoy a cup of coffee while they played.
If you can't get out to exercise, have him help you fill the laundry basket with several trips back and forth or have your own at-home dance party. Remember that this phase is short and your toddler will exhaust from normal everyday stimulation. Before you know it you'll be chasing after him down the street as he takes off on his scooter with little one right behind. Then you'll be getting the exercise.