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Any tips on getting through post-school/nursery to bath-time slot with 3 kids (1 newborn) & sanity still in tact?

(18 Posts)
Mumsfret Wed 29-Jan-14 17:01:39

Just recently added a newborn DD to our brood, which already consisted of 5-year- and 3-year-old DDs. Have parental help on-hand at the mo but am terrified of how I'll cope when they retreat (when youngest DD will be approx 6 weeks old).

Eldest DD often very grumpy/tired/argumentative, while middle DD usually extremely naughty/difficult, at this time of day. Add an unpredictable newborn into the fray; I'll surely go insane, right? confused

Any tips for survival?

bishbashboosh Wed 29-Jan-14 17:45:05


Seriously though I had 4 under 4 atone point, 3 of them energetic boys, so I feel your pain. Youngest is 4 now, oldest almost 12 and I really don't know how I did it, but it does get easier.

What helped me is a routine. So come home from nursery, tv while I make lunch. Lunch , then library, walk swings or shops, then home, story. Start tea while they're watching or playing. Stick them in high chair, seat or whatever, with pans or safe cooking utensils.

I was only half joking Bout the wine, a small glass before bath time routine helps, then bed time.

Make 5 mins slots of you time to look forward to to mumsnet or read


Mumsfret Sat 01-Feb-14 10:38:23

Ah, bishbash, thanks for replying. Wine indeed! Consumption has already gone up considerably since the new arrival!

Seriously though, it's always so good to get validation of your experiences from others who've been there, & your confidence about coping comes through in your post & gives me hope! In some ways I think the anxiety/anticipation is worse than the reality (although the reality can be pretty scary!). I think I may just have to accept a certain amount of craziness/shoutiness between those (witching) hours, and that stress levels will be a bit elevated for a few hours each day confused ???

Jellybellyrbest Sat 01-Feb-14 21:38:24

Will be there myself soon with DC4….8, 6, 22mths & newborn. My 22mth old is seriously attached to me. Finding the evening school /activity runs/cooking/homeworks difficult already, the constant "mama-UP!!!!" hard to deal with physically as my pelvis is giving up the ghost. In some ways it'll be easier not to be pregnant, but I am fully aware of what comes next!! Won't have help. I know I'll get through it, but am worried I'm going to be a horrible shouty witchy mum. No answers OP, but you're not alone!!!! Good luck!

Mumsfret Sun 02-Feb-14 13:40:11

Jellybelly, I definitely find I have more energy and stamina than I did in pregnancy so in some ways it feels easier now but - jees - those teatimes confused I guess it's more about how to handle the behavioural/emotional stuff now when there's less of me to go around.

Good to know I'm not alone, indeed I take my hat off to you with 4 so young to juggle. Wow!

Sometimes I wonder about employing help for 2-3 hours/day just to be able to pull them apart when they're pulling each other's hair out and I'm BFing a cranky newborn devote time to each child individually!
Sadly not easy to find help of this kind round here sad

TwittyMcTwitterson Sun 02-Feb-14 17:52:23

Could you/do you bath the two eldest together to cut the time down? I can't remember the ages you said but obviously this isn't an answer forever. I would suggest a small bouncer chair for the littlest one so they can be in the room with you and a firm routine for the eldest two. I'm on my first who is almost2.5 so am inexperienced in this I'm afraid.

Wine does sound like a good answer tho... ����

ViviDeBeauvoir Sun 02-Feb-14 18:11:48

I have 3 under 5 and youngest is just 1 now so I'm starting to get over the chaos and sleep deprived fog of the first year now!

Not sure I have any top tips as I think I just muddled through but I found the following helped initially:

Lower expectations re: everything! So, tidying, bathing every night, splitting time equally between the DC - if you aim low you'll always be doing better than expectation!

I used to call that time the 'witching hour' too because they'd all go a bit barmy (eldest wasn't at school then either). Youngest used to cry for an hour every night at 7pm on the dot so I needed to get Other DC into bed before then or all hell would break loose!

I had a swing in the living room and a bouncy chair upstairs and tried to sort out a box of activities for the eldest ones to do and some snacks they can help themselves to (we have a help yourself fruit bowl)
Slow cook meals so they're ready and you don't have to do anything except serve them up.
Tablet games/DVDs
Bath DC together (I still do this with all three of them!)
Have pyjamas laid out on bed.
My eldest two shared a room which meant I could put them to bed, while feeding DC3 - this made things much easier!

Then wine sounds like a good idea! smile

Bedtimes are lovely now and have been for a while. I love having all three of them.

Good luck! smile

Coveredinweetabix Sun 02-Feb-14 18:24:16

OP - I had a 15yro neighbour in to help with the witching hour when DC2 was tiny. She came from 5.30 - 6.30 (so had plenty of time to do her after school stuff, get the bus home, get changed & then come home). She was fab. I'd sit on the sofa & bf whilst she chatted to DC1, tidied up the toys etc & then we went upstairs for bath time and I'd either sit on the loo & continue bfing whilst she ran the bath, helped DD undress, make sure DD got washed & got her into her PJs. Or she'd cuddle DC2 whilst I looked after DD. It was brilliant to have another pair of hands. She came three times a week and I paid her £15. If I was having a disaster, she'd stay a few more minutes, other times, all was calm and she'd go a bit early. Even now (DC2 is 20mths) if we're having a rubbish day I'll call her & she'll pop over. She thought it was a great job and couldn't believe her luck at getting so much money!

WoodBurnerBabe Sun 02-Feb-14 18:28:19

Definitely bath together. Mine were these ages when DD2 arrived (they are 6,4 and 14 months now, so not far ahead of you!), I used to breastfeed her in the bathroom while other 2 in bath and then put her all milk drunk in her cot while I got the others into bed. They had story together and the a quick cuddle. DD2 sometimes woke up, but we managed quite well this way.

The after school period - I would feed them as soon as you get home with something, I would do muffins with peanut butter, toast, banana fritters - just gets them over the hump. Then tea about 5.30.

Mine watched more cBeebies and DVD's than I would have ideally liked, but honestly it won't kill them.

Detour via park on way home (with snacks!) was always popular. I used to get them sorting socks as well, for some reason this was v popular.

I had a sling for DD as well, she just stayed permanently attached so I could get stuff done.

It's hard with winter babies, it's so much more difficult to get outside! Accept every play date offer going and don't feel obliged to reciprocate for a while - although once over the initial couple of months, I actually found if they had a friend over, they played better.

Good luck, you will find your balance. And don't stress about the little stuff...

Coveredinweetabix Sun 02-Feb-14 18:29:42

My girl was also happy to empty the dishwasher, washing machine or tumble dryer which was brilliant when you were having a day when you'd been meaning to do something like that since 10am but hadn't had a chance. I'd made it clear to her (and her mum) that thus might be involved.
The brilliant thing about a 15yro was that she had no opinions on how anything should be done so let me muddle through. I think that on some evenings if a proper mother's help had turned up & offered advice I might have just burst into tears!

Layl77 Sun 02-Feb-14 18:36:04

Sling, Slow cooker, sling sling! If baby is unputdownable you can still so what you're doing now and have hands free. Slow cook most meals and rely on other quick meals for other nights.
The reality will be easier than the thought of it! Try and enjoy the chaos you'll miss it when they're older x

Layl77 Sun 02-Feb-14 18:38:24

Do they need bathing every night?

Geneticsbunny Sun 02-Feb-14 18:47:06

Hi. I am a month or so ahead of you. I have DS1 who is 4 and just started school, dd1 who is 3 and ds2 who is 10 weeks. I spend the pst lunch lull getting an after school snack ready and starting to prep dinner stuff. Then when we get in from school the older 2 can have some food and a drink straight away. Then tv and breast feeding till about 5. Then I put the dinner on with the littlest one in a baby sling and turn the tv off for a bit if they seem calm enough. The sling is a real life saver.

You are right. It seems scarier than it is. Also I feel amazing if everyone has food and there are no major traumas before bedtime. (sometime does happen).

mootime Sun 02-Feb-14 19:14:18

We are in a similar position. Ds1 is 4 in May, dd 2 and ds2 11 weeks. When in my own I start bedtime earlier. We go up at 6. I run the bath and put baby in bouncy chair while I put pjs in bathroom. Then all three in bath together. If you've not got one, you should get one of those reclining bath chairs for baby. The get ds1 and dd into pjs while baby splashes. They then play in their room/ watch tv on my bed/ play iPad while I get ds 2 dried and dressed, and if possible while I feed him and put him to bed. If they are tetchy then I read them their stories on my bed while feeding baby.
It's a juggle, and much more adaptable than it used to be, but the big two are usually tucked up by 7. Bath earlier definitely helps!
Good luck!

Mumsfret Mon 03-Feb-14 13:11:33

Ah, great advice from all concerned. Thank you. I'm feeling safety in numbers here and it really helps. Like, really smile

So: sling, check (I agree it's a life saver); slow cooker, check (well, looking at ordering one now); and have now moved bouncy chair upstairs for bath/bedtime routine. Baby not very keen on being put done at present but hopefully she'll get used to it? ��

Pleased also to hear that others are aaa reliant on TV and tablets to get through the difficult bits!

I do like to do bath-time with the eldest two - in together - most nights, not least to keep things in a predictable pre-bedtime routine but also because DD2 is going through a regression stage in terns of toilet habits (lots of soiled pants and an almost constant whiff of wee, if not poo confused). I'm going to look at that baby bath seat idea of mootime's for when baby is a teeny bit older (worry that the eldest two will drown her with their splashing at the moment, although I guess she'll get used to it - poor soul!).

Vivi, you're so right, I need a constant reminder to lower my expectations. Seems obvious but this is by far the most valuable advice. Need reminding daily! I have this loud and persistent inner critic which keeps forgetting! hmm

Weetabix, I want your neighbour! She sounds ideal! We live in a very rural area and our closest young neighbour is 17/18 (and getting ready for A levels). Also, her school day seems to go on until 6pm, unfortunately. I often think she'd be perfect for the role in many ways (kids love her). The main thing would be to enable me to do reading/homework with eldest and spend a bit of one-on-one time with (currently quite needy) 3-year-old. But then another part of me thinks it'd be quite awkward to have someone there during the most stressful time of day & it may affect the general family dynamic. Plus, she'd see me being witchy mum! Not sure I can bear the embarrassment!!!! confused

Anyway, thanks guys. I've enjoyed reading your experiences and coping strategies. Can't wait to be a little further along the line (in terms of coping confidence) but at the same time, like Lay suggests, I don't want to wish it all away as I'll never get this time back again.

mootime Wed 05-Feb-14 14:22:35

This is the chair. Apols if link doesn't click, am on phone.

Mumsfret Wed 05-Feb-14 18:51:26

Thanks mootime! Couldn't hyperlink directly but found the baby bath support on the JL website from the info in your link smile

Can anyone recommend which slow cooker to go for? Am sure there are relevant threads on M'net but was just being lazy wondering before I start searching!

Bumpsadaisie Wed 05-Feb-14 18:56:23

I only have two, aged 4.5 and 2 and a bit. I have recently started bathing them separately rather than together, so they both have a short bath on their own rather than a long bath together. Together they inevitably either argue or get up to mischief and it is actually easier to do it separately especially when you have an older one who like mine is tired after school etc.

I do eldest first, then she is allowed to go up to her room to draw/Lego while youngest has a quick bath and story. After he has had his story and song, its lights off for him and upstairs to do eldest's story.

Sometimes if DS has not had his nap I change it round so that he is first and DD second.

I guess with a newborn you could sling her while you did the eldest and then put her down last of all?

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