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    Managing Time with Multiple Children

    Carrye D., MD, Women's Health Care, P.C. 11/19/2018
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    Julie Eichner, Carrye Daum, Jenny Stockburger, c.1987

    I’m not sure how my mom did it. I am the oldest of five daughters. Two and a half years after I was born, my mom had twin girls – three children under the age of three.  She didn’t stop there. She loved motherhood so much that she had two more daughters. She never complained, never seemed tired, always had a plan for dinner, and always seemed to be there for us despite having a career as an OB/GYN physician. She is Superwoman. My sisters and I have a running joke that we all are trying to #BeLikeBrenda as we start our own families. Now that I am an OB/GYN physician with two children of my own, I realize just how challenging managing my time can be. No matter what your other roles in life may be, motherhood is likely the most difficult. There are certain tips and tricks that I try to keep in mind when strategizing my time management with my children:
    1. Create schedules and routines when possible. Creating a basic structure for your day is important – arrange the necessities first, including wake-up, mealtime and bedtime routines. Make sure to also prioritize sleep, both for you and for your kids. Once you have the basic obligations planned, you can fill in the rest based on your children’s ages and needs.
    2. Realize that #1 may not always be possible. As easy as “create a schedule” sounds, it can be much more complicated than that – especially with a newborn in the picture. One fussy, sleepless night can be enough to turn your plans upside down. Do not blame yourself if your schedule falls apart.  It happens. Do your best.
    3. Herd them. Not to make our children sound like wild animals, but let’s be honest – sometimes it can feel that way. Creating spaces for my kids to share with each other has proven to be very valuable for my family. It could be a playroom, the corner of the living room, the backyard, or any common area in your home.  Sectioning off areas of the house where they can share a space can make it easier for you to keep your eyes on them at the same time. Try to have activities for multiple ages within those spaces so that they can co-exist (example- baby toys and toddler toys together in the same place).
    4. Let them help you. When age appropriate, engage your kids with what you’re doing around the house (cooking, doing laundry, feeding pets, taking out the trash, etc.). Doing household chores does not have to be a separate activity from hanging out with your kids. While your instinct may be to keep your children away from the task you’re completing, they actually may find it fascinating if you just let them get involved. The highlight of their day may be feeding the pets or helping you with dinner. 
    5. GET OUT. Make regular attempts to get out of your house for a change of scenery. Get some fresh air. Go to a park. Go on a walk around the block. Run errands. It is easy to get stir-crazy if you stay cooped up in your home. I’ll be honest – the thought of going to the grocery with both of my children can be slightly horrifying depending on their moods. It can seem like a huge feat to be responsible for multiple kids outside of your home, but there are ways to make it work. Go on a walk wearing your baby in a carrier while you push your toddler in a stroller. Have your toddler help push your baby in the stroller. Get a double stroller if that is an option for you.  You can use the same strategies in public places – putting both kids in a shopping cart, having one of them help you push the cart while the other rides, or – one of the best new ideas to surface in recent years – curbside grocery pick-up on your way home from the park.
    6. Set aside time for play. Some days, I get home from work at 5 or 6 o’clock, and it seems as though the countdown is on before my kids’ bedtime around 8:00 pm. Days like this can be difficult because part of that time is taken up by dinner, as well as the kids’ bedtime routines. Sometimes it seems as though there are too many tasks to cram into those couple of hours. I have found it important to take some time to play everyday, even if my kids end up going to bed a little later than planned. Even if you’re playing for 15 minutes after a long workday, you and your kids will feel better afterwards. 
    7. Be good to yourself. Find a time every week to do something for yourself. It could be anything - getting lunch with friends, working out, grabbing coffee, doing your nails, taking a nap. If you don’t have any options for childcare help to give yourself a break, you can even incorporate your kids into some of these activities – go on a jog with your stroller, for example.Take a nap while they nap. Set up a play date so that you can spend time with a friend. It is important to take care of yourself mentally so that you are best able to take care of your family.  
    8. SURVIVE. There is no perfect way to navigate motherhood. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Do what works for you.  Every day’s schedule may be different, and that is ok. At the end of the day, it is important to know that you did what you could to keep your family happy and healthy.  
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