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Managing the evening routine on my own

(22 Posts)
Lilliput Tue 05-Apr-05 21:58:10

My dh is a chef and therefore works evenings so I have to do 5 out of 7 evenings a week on my own with 2 year ols dd and 7 week old ds. I am stuggling with the evening routine of dinner bath and bed and beginning to feel very frustrated and also feel as though both my children are suffering from lack of attention. I have always bathed my dd before bed, now they have a bath together. This is tricky, it means leaving dd in the bath while I dress ds (I can see the bath from the bedroom where I am) which is not ideal and then leaving ds in the middle of the double bed, usually yelling his head off as he wants a cuddle after bath, while I dress dd and supervise teeth brushing etc. Before bath my poor dd watches far to much TV as ds is either having an evening crying fit or wants to be breastfed all the time so I can't play with her. I find myself getting quite angry with dd for not cooperating even though I can't blame her for attention seeking. I just wondered how other people cope on their own in the evening? Sorry abou the rambling.

ggglimpopo Tue 05-Apr-05 22:03:57

Message withdrawn

WestCountryLass Tue 05-Apr-05 22:04:51

Ahhh, you are really in that horrible stage! I don't know how many pans I burnt in the early days with two but it does get so much better and easier. I have have my two on my own every day as well so I do sympathise.

Initially I gave my baby a bath before tea and tried to feed her and get her settled so I could cook dinner. Dinner became very simple or I would cook something in the afternoon when I had more time and reheated it in the evening.Quite often DS would have his bath whilst I cluster fed DD sat on the bathroom floor and playing/splashing with my one free arm. It is a juggling act for sure!

Now everything is so much easier. DD goes in her bath chair with DS, she will go in her bouncer/walker whilst I cook and DS helps and we can eat together.

It does get easier but it is very difficult, just remember if they don't get bathed or dinner is a jacket potato, the world won't stop turning!

Lilliput Tue 05-Apr-05 22:09:50

I forgot to add that I do the days by myself too, just to make you feel even more sorry for me! Thanks for the support, anyone else with tips?

hermykne Tue 05-Apr-05 22:14:21

that was me last august/sept as my dh works away fr 24hrs home 24 then away again, i really was exhausted trying to get both for bed and dd hated me feeding ds, and i would end up crying, once i got so upset i screamed at her and gave her such a fright, then i rang my mum who reassured she wouldnt remeber and would smile at me 1st thing in the morn, which she did.

i was concerned the t.v was taking over her life but a general consensus was if it helped to get thru the 5-8pm slot then you need whatever you can get.

dd then got on my side and started helping me and she was great, it was about 8/10wks when it settled and she could understand my frustraion with the baby not going to sleep/crying.

after i got him settled i took her downstairs and we started a little ritual of a cup of tea and a chat which we still do and she loves it.

also i gave up giving her a bath every night, it was just easier to change her and do a bath in the morn when ds was awake and content.

i would be so wrecked by 8pm and fall into my own bed, feeling so angry that my time for me was gone, but its a stage in babyhood and it will pass. so i understand your emotions but it happens to lots of us if thats any comfort.

gingerbear Tue 05-Apr-05 22:14:43

my sympathy lilliput. I only have one DD 2 yr old, and she can be a handful at times. Could you bath DD or 'top and tail' her on alternate evenings ? I would feed DS, then get DD ready with PJ's etc, then get her to help you bath DS. Then all three of you cuddle on the bed, story.

I am sure other mums of two will have some better advice than me. Have often thought of how I would cope with 2.

Have you a neighbour or relative that could come and help out? (I hate asking too)

Caligula Tue 05-Apr-05 22:16:37

I'm honestly trying to remember if it was that stressful, and I don't think it was, but I can't remember why not. Maybe it was because I didn't do the bath absolutely every day. And - it's all coming back to me now - I think I used to do DS first (he's older), so that he was all ready in his jim jams and his teeth were brushed, when I put DD in the bath. He then "helped" me to bath and dry and dress her, so he was completely involved in the process - plus, she'd already eaten while he played in the bath with his bathtoys. (I'd just sit in the bathroom and feed her!)

That took some of the stress out of it. But you have to make sure that elder child is wearing a dressing gown so doesn't get their pyjamas wet, otherwise it gets stressful again!

hermykne Tue 05-Apr-05 22:19:07

lilliput i do the days too, and i aim to chores in the morn when they are both fresh and easily amused by themselves and then devote the afternoons to them, now we can go outside and play orwalk as the weather is better, then we come home and cook.

you ll be amazed how the two of them will become so engaged with eachother and you will be able to sit back and watch them interact.

mears told me that on one of threads back then.

your time is sacrificed for them at the stage you are at and there is hardly anytime or head space for you but it will improve.

do you keep them ina routine,u prob do, becuase i feel when its only one parent in the house the parent needs to know how the day is going to be, thn i am ready for it, if you get my logic

Lilliput Tue 05-Apr-05 22:22:25

My mum would come and help for the first 3 or 4 weeks but then I felt as though there would come a point where I had to cope on my own so I only ask for her help occasionally, she does quite a bit for me in other ways too. I started out bathing each of them on alternate nights but my dd insists on getting in the bath with baby brother and I am not firm enough to say no. I feel with her I spend the whole time saying don't do this, no you can't, don't touch etc so this means I let her get in the bath and so the juggling act continues.

hermykne Tue 05-Apr-05 22:25:28

lillypt it maybe enevitable that you will be short with her but you ll find the energy to be able to explain stuff to her again asto why she cant sholdnt etc etc

Lilliput Tue 05-Apr-05 22:26:05

I do try to keep some semblance of routine partly for my own sanity and because I feel as though my dd thrives on it. But sometimes it doesn't always work ou like that.

gingernut Tue 05-Apr-05 23:04:57

This is what I do (apologies if I repeat everything the others have said).

I start tea earlier than I used to so they are both in the bath by 5.45pm. I have a bath chair for ds2 which means I don't have to hold him all the time which helps. I get ds2 out first, dry and dress him in the bathroom (am lucky...have a big bathroom) then leave him kicking on the mat under a cheap play gym I bought from Argos while I get ds1 out and dry and dress him. They are both out and dressed by 6.15 pm. I then give ds1 a cup of milk to drink in front of the TV while I feed ds2. ds2 is usually settled by 7pm when CBeebies finishes, so ds1 gets his bedtime stories then. This means ds1 gets a treat (TV) (not so much of a treat these days ) and he gets my full attention when we're doing stories.

It works well for us at the moment because ds2's feeds fit in with it. He is 18 weeks now and in a daytime feeding pattern of sorts. It will be more difficult until your ds gets into some sort of routine, but in the early days when I had no idea when he'd want a feed I'd sit on the loo feeding him if he decided he had to have it at bathtime.


morocco Tue 05-Apr-05 23:22:06

it gets much better very quickly don't worry

at that age I only washed ds2 once or twice a week and I did it during the day. I fed them both in the early evening then rushed through ds2 s bedtime routine and had a strict 7pm bedtime for him while ds1 watched cbeebies stuff, after that I concentrated on ds1 and read to him etc and put him in bed around 9 so we had a good bit of time just the two of us. this meant leaving ds2 crying in his cot for a while and I would pop in and out to see him while playing with ds1 in between. i kpet up the large gap between bedtimes until ds2 was aobut 9 months
After about 4 months I started doing baths one after the other, getting ds2 in and out first of all before putting ds1 in the bath,then feeding ds2to sleep, then getting ds1 out of the bath;
I never got a bath seat but wish I had - once I started on baths together it would have made it much simpler. I still often leave ds1 in the bath while >I finish up ds2 - I can see and hear him from the bedroom and I used to get him to sing me songs while I fed ds2.
Now they bath together and have a whale of a time and its soooo much easier - hang on in there

jenkel Wed 06-Apr-05 00:07:44

AI have an 17 month age gap, at that age I bathed dd2 every other day. The day I didnt bath her I top and tailed her and then gave her a massage with olive oil, so at least she had something relaxing for bed. This has been our routine more or less since she was born. Tea quite late in our house, around 6, play until about 8 and then bath time for both, if I wasnt bathing dd2 she just sat on the floor in the bathroom and played whilist I sorted out dd1, then on to our bed, massage for dd2, dd1 sits on our bed and watches disney dvds whilist she drip dries. Then breastfeed dd2, which normally sent her to sleep, moved her into her cot, then sorted out dd1, read her a couple of stories and then she is off to bed. Wouldnt be able to do the routine without dd1 watching disney dvd's but she loves this, sounds awful but she doesnt watch much tv during the day. Now they both bath together and dd2 is now 1 year old and bottlefed, so much easier.

clary Wed 06-Apr-05 00:56:43

lilliput, I have 2x2yr gaps as well. DS2 is nearly 2 now so the evening routine is fine as the older 2 dress themselves etc, but I can see where you are coming from.
Don't recall what I used to do! but certainly have often done evenings alone as dh worked late etc. gglimpop's idea is a good one, couldn't you give ds a quick dip then b/feed/cuddle him in the bathrrom while playing with / chattng to dd?
Then when he;s a bit settled get her out and sorted?
Maybe even let her stay up 10 mins longer so you get a bit of time just the 2 of you after ds is in bed?

Prufrock Wed 06-Apr-05 15:07:13

I had to do evenings alone quite a lot with a 2 year gap. My routine was/is

5pm DD helps tidy living room of toys, then Cbeebies goes on (for first time since before breakfast, so I don't feel too guilty). I prepare dinner, ds watches either me or her and bf's as necessary.
6pm Dd and I eat, sometimes bf ds at the same time.
6.30pm All upstairs. DD helps get nappy/pyjamas etc whilst bath runs. DD and ds in bath together. Ds out quickly and wrapped in bathrobe (best purchase I made) so he's warm enough to just lie on bathroom floor whilst I do dd's teeth (in the bath) and wash hair. Then get ds dressed on bathroom floor whilst talking to dd. Then get dd out, and wrap her in her bathrobe and take her into ds's room to sit with me and read books whislt I bf ds to sleep. Then put dd to bed.

littlerach Wed 06-Apr-05 15:15:39

I stopped bathing DD1 every day wjen DD2 was born!! Too much stress! They go in togethet now, DD2 is 8months, and everything is much easier. I do sympathise as it is all so hard at first. But it really doesn't matter if they miss a bath (or 10!!)

Bozza Wed 06-Apr-05 15:20:20

Right when I had to do it on my own I did it like this. Try and cook earlier in the day and reheat. Then I would take both kids upstairs and bath them together, DD would lay on a baen bag mat thing so I didn't need to hold her and could clean DS's teeth in the bath. Then I would get DD out of the bath first and dried/dressed and she would lay on the bathroom floor while I got DS out, dried and dressed. Then would take them into DS's room and start bf DD while reading his story. Would lay her down on the bed while I cuddled DS/tucked him in and if she screamed so be it. Then went into her room, finished off feed and settle her.

Once DD could sit OK in the bath (she was sitting from 5 months so I was confident at 6 months) I would get DS out of the bath first. Also once I was more confident that she would settle OK, I fed her and put her to bed first - DS would go to his room to look at books. This is still the routine when DH is away.

Also if DD needed an earlier feed I would do it either while eating or would read to DS while feeding. Really didn't rely on TV that much.

collision Wed 06-Apr-05 15:20:43

Most MNs have said what I was going to say so I wont repeat it again. Just to say

It DOES get better!!

DS is 3 and DS2 is 20 weeks and I dont bathe them every day as I dont think it is good for their skin. Tea is earlier and then ds1 is in PJs while ds2 is fed.

Both in bed by 7.15pm and then I go to work (next door!) by 7.30pm!

Exhausting at first but I seem to have cracked it.

SamN Fri 08-Apr-05 21:43:16

lilliput, I know I'm coming in late on this thread. How are the evenings going? I really remember being so frazzled at a similar stage to you - and I posted on mumsnet too trying to find an answer. Then I worked through everyone else's routines trying to see which approach would work for me.

The cooking is the worst thing for me as it always seems to coincide with both of them being very demanding. The evenings that go well are definitely the ones where I have the meal planned and it's either something really quick I can bung in the oven and then take out 1/2 hour later, or something I've cooked earlier and can just reheat. Even preparing salad can be a nightmare with a grizzly toddler and a hungry baby.

We only do baths once or twice a week and both boys go in together now. When ds2 was younger he just didn't get bathed very often. And for a while ds1 watched lots of DVDs to keep him quiet as I got ds2 ready for bed.

Now ds2 is nearly 9 months and on perfect days the routine goes like this:

6.30pm (after tea) ds2 has a massage and ds1 can either 'help' or play on his own. Ds1 knows he has to be quiet while ds2 is going off to sleep. If he's not going to be quiet, he's not allowed in the room.

Breastfeed ds2 until asleep - by about 7 pm.

Then ds1 does his teeth, has a wash, gets changed and has a story - all one-on-one attention which he hasn't managed to have in the earlier part of the evening. Asleep by 8.15 if all going well.

I think, however, that it's not just finding a good approach, it takes a while for the older one to adapt as well. Ds1 is only happy with this routine because he's learned from experience that he does get the attention eventually. And perhaps he can only deal with the wait because he is older now, as well.

Anyway, hope you find some good ideas in these answers.

thinking of you

SamN Fri 08-Apr-05 21:59:28

lilliput, I've just thought of another thing. I remember feeling exactly the same as you about both kids suffering from lack of attention. Again, it's something both I and the older child took time to get used to.

Before ds2 came along, ds1 had me there for him all the time. With two children, you just can't be like that - and the baby's needs are far more basic so most of the time they have to be met first.

I felt as if I was telling ds1 to wait nearly all the time and it made me feel awful. I tried to work out roughly when ds2 would need feeding and make sure I wasn't expecting ds1 to amuse himself for too long a stretch. But he did have to amuse himself for a while. Which isn't a bad skill to learn, really.

We did have many days when it was me doing the screaming and shouting because I was just too tired and frazzled . And ds1 only learned to be quiet as his brother went to sleep because I would shut him out of the bedroom if he wasn't quiet. So we had several nights with him crying and banging on the door . It did make me feel sad for him and it may sound as if I was being a terrible mum, but I know I'm not - he needed to learn the new boundaries and one of those was that his brother needed to be allowed to go to sleep.

aloha Fri 08-Apr-05 22:07:51

We scarcely ever bath dd (8 weeks). She seems amazingly clean all the same!
I'd say cut out anything you can. can you read to your dd while you are feeding ds in the evening? I do feel for you. It all sounds very stressful. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine after they are both settled!

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