Our Evening Routine With Two Under Two

If you’ve read my previous posts (morning routine here and daytime routine here), you’ll know I’ve been sharing what a typical day looks like for us, if there is such thing as ‘typical’ with a 23 month toddler and a four month baby. Do pop and read the past posts to find out more about earlier in our day as this one exclusively focuses on the evening routine and how we go from having two wide awake kids to two hopefully soundly sleeping ones!

Prep:

The first thing I always do is make sure I have five minutes during the late afternoon/early evening to nip upstairs and prepare everything ready for their bedtime. I just find it so much easier if all the bits and bobs I need are laid out on the bed, especially if Dylan is running late and I’m starting the routine by myself.

We get both babies ready for bed in our room which works really well as it means we can all sit together on the bed and have some much-needed family time. Perhaps when they’re older they might separate into their own rooms but for now this arrangement is lovely for the four of us. So on the bed I lay out Max’s sleeping bag unzipped, his open babygrow for the night on top of that and then a nappy folded open on top of that – so everything is ready just to be popped on as quickly as possible. Then next to that there’s always a space with the wipes and empty nappy sack. Then next to that there’s Alexandra’s sleeping bag, pyjamas and nappy.

On the bed post we have talcum powder, Sudocrem and clippers if I’m planning on cutting anybody’s nails. On the bed there’s always at least one book. Then on the nightstand there’s a spare Max sized nappy, nappy sack, muslin cloth and two bibs. The curtains are closed and the lamp on with the main light off then in Alex’s room the blinds are drawn and her fairy lights are on.

If they’re having a bath then I’ll put his bath seat and the bath toys in ready plus have both their towels on the radiator, the shampoo and flannels next to the bath and a stool for comfort for whoever’s washing them.

All of that sounds exhausting but it’s honestly about two minutes’ work now I know what I’m doing with it all.

Dinnertime:

Max has his penultimate bottle at 5pm and then he will normally be in his bouncer, on his play mat or propped up on some cushions with a toy until we’re ready to go upstairs. Around this time I like to get his last bottle ready as this is a formula one (he has one formula and four expressed bottles a day so this is the only one I have to prepare rather than pump!) and he always has his daily vitamins mixed into this one just because it’s easy to remember to pop the vitamins in while I mix the formula. It then goes into the fridge as he’s happy to have cold milk (and does most the time as I obviously store my milk in there too!).

Then it’s time for Alexandra to have her dinner, which is always at the table on her booster chair – we like to make sure the tv’s off during dinner. If Dylan isn’t home yet I’ll usually eat with Alex then save his ready to heat up later. We then take her water bottle and his dummy, bottle and last dose of ranitidine (anti-reflux medicine) upstairs ready to wind down for the night.

Bathtime:

We only bath the children every other night unless they’re spectacularly filthy (let’s be honest I’m talking about toddler not baby here!). Max has his hair washed first then he goes in his towel into the bedroom to get into his night clothes while his sister has a little longer playing then washing her hair and cleaning her teeth. If they’re not having a bath then we obviously just skip this part and get them changed ready for bed.

Bedtime:

Alex loves reading books so we normally do one but more often two – she’s at the stage where she doesn’t particularly want to follow the plot but would much prefer to point out all the things she can see on the pages. She also likes to show Max different books which is great as it’s never too early to get them involved!

I’ll be honest there is normally A LOT of laughter, running around, hide and seek, jumping and other activities that wouldn’t happen at bedtime if I was solely in charge. But for Dylan it might be the only half an hour he sees the children in the day so he certainly makes the most of it! (He’s normally the one running around). While I always panic it’ll make her too excited to go to bed, I think the manic half an hour actually helps get rid of her last bit of energy for the day!

Then at some point (could be as early as 7.15pm or as late as 8.30pm depending how tired she is), we all do kisses, cuddles and high fives then Dylan takes Alexandra into her own room where they have a crazy routine involving hitting each other on the head with a balloon, counting in Italian and saying goodbye to the blinds?! It’s very funny to listen to and I can never replicate it properly when I’m in charge of bedtime on the odd occasion Dylan isn’t there (Alex is never too amused when I’m brought on as bedtime substitute!). Then he leaves the room and she’ll go to sleep, sometimes with a bit of shouting ‘ta ta. Night. Bye’.

In the meantime, I’ll have been giving Max his last bottle in our room and then we normally have a bit of a cuddle and he goes down into his Moses basket in there. He’ll also settle himself to sleep although sometimes I do cuddle him to sleep – just not too often so he doesn’t lose the ability to self settle!

And that’s normally the last we hear of either of them until the morning. It’s then time for me to express, Dylan to have his dinner and we both make sure everything’s tidy although that normally takes two minutes because I try and tidy throughout the day.

Writing all that down does make it seem like it’s a really rigid routine – but things do vary each day and the timings also alter depending what we’re doing and how tired the children are. I guess we’ve just found what works and doesn’t over the last four months of adapting to two under two – so these are the things that help us get both of our little sleepy bugs to drift off!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Plans for Baby 2: Routine

It’s inevitable when you’re looking at becoming a parent that you start thinking about all of the things you will (and won’t) do and what your preferred options were. Now that we’re set to become second-time parents (fourth time for Dylan, but second time together), in some ways it’s easier to plan because you know what worked and what didn’t work but you also have no idea how your baby will differ from the one you’ve already been through all of this with – you know what they say about the best laid plans!

Anyway, I thought I’d share what our plans are with Baby 2 – things like weaning, feeding etc. But first up: routine.

Routine is one of those areas where there’s such a huge variety of opinions, from people who think you should probably buy your child a calendar while they’re still in utero and plan every second of the day out to those who have no plans to introduce any kind of routine.

With Alexandra, we were much closer to the second option. Luckily, she’s a very adaptable little thing and so she’s never really thrown out by going out at different times and having different things to do on each day. She just goes with the flow and (besides getting grumpy if she hasn’t had enough sleep – don’t we all!) as such we haven’t ever had to say ‘we can’t go out in the morning because Alex needs a nap’ or anything like that.

When she was little, we let her get into a sleep pattern which happily ended up suiting all of us. It means she goes to bed a little later than most of the other toddlers we know, but that also means it’s not a problem that we generally don’t eat til half six and it gives Dylan more time with her in the evenings. She likes to nap around 11am but if we’re out or she’s at nursery she generally won’t sleep now, but then she’ll go down for longer in the afternoon.

With Baby 2 we’ll probably do the same where we try and have a less structured routine. I’ve heard a lot of people say second babies just go with the flow so that’s reassuring. Because I generally use Alexandra’s nap time to work (slash occasionally just sit and look at Instagram) it won’t matter too much if their naps don’t synchronise in the early days. Alex will carry on going to nursery two mornings a week during my maternity leave so I guess it would be good if he was asleep for at least some of that time so I can clean the house, do laundry etc but if not we will just have to work around it! I’m also hoping to use those two days to run errands that will be harder to do with a toddler AND a baby.

Overnight, it would be EXCELLENT if he decides to sleep through early on like his sister did, but part of me is expecting a horrendous sleeper to make up for how lucky we were last time. Dylan is convinced the fact that we did certain things helped Alex sleep through earlier so we will be doing them again (and I guess that will be the test of whether they had an impact or not!): those things were mainly about establishing the difference between night and day so whereas we’d talk to her and interact with her during feeds in the day, we wouldn’t really interact with her during night feeds (unless she was upset obviously! We’re not totally mean) and we’d just have the en-suite light on with the door open enough for us to see what we were doing, rather than turning a light on in the bedroom, which hopefully reinforced the message that we were being quiet and going back to sleep!

Essentially, Baby 2 will have the chance to set his own routine just like Alex did, but with the vague hope that they marry up in some sort of way otherwise I’ll be stuck in the house rotating which child is asleep at any one time! Wish me luck.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x