Supercharge Your Day: Strategies for Busy Parents of Babies and Toddlers

We’ve all been there. You start the day, optimistic about how much you’re going to tick off your to-do list. Then before you know it, it’s 9pm, and you haven’t even found the time to make yourself dinner. To make matters worse, your baby is struggling to settle down, and there’s a mountain of laundry staring at you. How do parents find time to manage their child’s needs while squeezing in some time to relax?

Juggling responsibilities is one of the toughest challenges for parents of babies and toddlers — particularly if they’re doing it alone or holding down a full-time job. It’s easy to forget how much work is involved with childcare when you’re preoccupied with everyday tasks. We’ve polled our audience and found that these are some of the biggest challenges faced by parents of babies and toddlers:

  • Household chores: Cooking meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry — it gets to be a lot! 
  • Lack of flexibility: It’s normal to miss the spontaneity and flexibility of pre-child life; many parents have difficulty planning social events around the unpredictable nature of parenthood. 
  • Balancing responsibilities: Many parents of babies and toddlers are also workers, students, or caregivers for elderly family members. Balancing these responsibilities can be highly stressful and complex.
  • Daily care routines: You’re constantly on-call for your baby’s needs. Somebody needs to start paying you overtime, stat! 
  • Childcare appointments and drop-offs: Even if you’re not with your little one 24/7, organizing drop-offs and pickups can be hectic.
  • Lack of sleep: As parents are well aware, babies and toddlers have irregular sleep patterns involving frequent nighttime wake-up calls. Parents of young infants are particularly prone to sleep deprivation, making juggling everyday tasks even more challenging.
  • Interruptions: It’s almost impossible to predict when a baby will need soothing, feeding, or diaper changes, meaning parents tend to face time-consuming interruptions throughout the day.
  • Lack of time for self-care: With so much going on, parents often deprioritize activities they enjoy, making it hard to squeeze in time for self-care.

With so many challenges to overcome, it’s no wonder parents of babies and toddlers often feel a little frazzled. However, it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. While challenges are inevitable, there are measures you can take to streamline your day and achieve your goals (with a little time to spare!). 

1. Stick to a morning routine

Mornings can be hectic at the best of times, particularly if you or your partner need to dash off to work. A combination of morning feeds, time-consuming grooming routines, and daycare drop-offs can make you feel burnt out before the day has even started. Fortunately, establishing and maintaining a morning routine is a great way to reduce your mental load and ensure the day starts on a positive note. Handy tips for drawing up your routine include:

  • Wake up before your child: If possible, wake up before your baby or toddler to give yourself some time to think and reflect in the morning. Many people have their best and most creative thoughts in the early hours!
  • Indulge in a little self-care: While it may be tempting to leave self-care rituals to the end of the day, activities such as yoga, meditation, or journaling can help prepare your mind for the day ahead. While it may feel selfish to focus on yourself first thing in the morning, practicing self-care will recharge your batteries and boost your mood, equipping you with the resilience you need to look after your loved ones. 
  • Prepare for the day ahead: Planning for the day ahead is a great way to streamline chores and other responsibilities. 

2. Don’t forget to exercise

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is crucial for your physical and mental health, ensuring you have the strength and spirit necessary to care for your little bundle of energy. We know finding time to exercise can feel like a pipedream for busy parents. However, we have a few handy tips and tricks up our sleeves to help you discover your inner gym bunny, including:

  • Go for a walk with your stroller: Running or walking with a stroller is a great way to boost your cardiovascular health while spending time with your child. Walking in particular is a great way to reduce stress and decrease inflammation in the body. If you’re using the stroller off-road, you’ll of course need to be careful about the surfaces on which you’re running. For dedicated runners, it’s worth investing in a jogging stroller with tough tires. 
  • Exercise in the morning: Many people find it easier to exercise in the morning, before the day has a chance to get hectic. By the end of the tiring day, the last thing most parents want to do is slip on their running shoes.
  • Use playtime as an excuse to exercise: Once your child reaches their toddler years, they’re able to run around and play simple games. You and your child can both enjoy exercise by dancing, stretching, playing ball games, exploring new places, and swimming. Just make sure it’s a safe, age-appropriate place for your toddler to play, of course!

3. Make the most of naptime

Growing babies and toddlers need to nap during the day, giving you time to explore your own hobbies. As well as crushing your list of daily chores, you could spend some time on your passion projects or catch up on some much-needed rest. It can also be a great time to spend some quality time with your partner!

4. Simplify your meal planning

Fueling your family with nutritious food is vital for ensuring everyone stays healthy and feels energized throughout the day. Developing minds also require plenty of nutrients to help them learn and thrive. But let’s be real — we all know the importance of healthy food, but cooking every evening can get tiring, particularly if you’re preparing separate foods for your little one! Fortunately, a little preparation goes a long way, helping to slash your time spent in the kitchen. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Find your staple meals: If you’re an inexperienced cook, you may feel a little out of your depth when it comes to making meals from scratch. However, cooking gets easier with practice, and having 4-5 go-to recipes that are easy, healthy, and tasty can take a lot of pressure off your evenings. There are plenty of simple recipes out there for kitchen rookies. Tasty recipes to try could include grilled chicken or tofu salads, veggie stir-fries, lentil soup, baked salmon and vegetables, and Mediterranean pasta. For breakfast, making huge batches of overnight oats can save you tons of time in the morning! 
  • Plan your meals at the weekend: Planning your meals for the upcoming week is a great way to eliminate the daily stress of deciding what to eat. Plus, it can help cut down on food waste and make grocery shopping much easier.
  • Prep ingredients in advance: If you find yourself with a couple of hours to spare, this could be the perfect time to chop veggies or marinate some meat. You’ll thank yourself later when the cooking process is super smooth! If you don’t have the time to chop and prep your ingredients yourself, plenty of supermarkets offer pre-chopped vegetables for only a slightly higher price. There’s no shame at all in buying some time-savers! 
  • Try out some new kitchen tools: Some kitchen tools are perfect for simplifying your meal preparations. A food processor or blender, for example, could prove invaluable when you want to puree ingredients for your little one. A slow cooker, on the other hand, is excellent for one-pot dishes that don’t require too many steps. 
  • Get into batch cooking: Batch cooking involves cooking large meals and refrigerating or freezing several portions for later. If you don’t enjoy cooking a meal from scratch every night of the week, batch cooking allows you to enjoy healthy, delicious meals with little effort. Just remember to label and date your meals to ensure you eat them within a safe timeframe.  
  • Feel free to have fun: While cooking may feel like a chore, it can also be lots of fun, especially for curious toddlers. Experimenting with flavors can be a great way to get your little one involved in meal prep every once in a while. As well as improving your experience of cooking, experimentation will introduce your child to a host of new nutritious foods and help them appreciate complex flavors.

5. Find time to relax

We’ve said it already, but it always bears repeating that parents should find time for rest and self-care. As well as helping you recover from the stress of parenting, prioritizing self-care will teach your children about the importance of healthy self-care rituals. If you’re struggling to give yourself the time and attention you deserve, it’s worth trying the following tips:

  • Sign up for hobbies that suit your interests: Finding fun hobbies is the first step toward making time for yourself and nurturing your all-important mental health. You never know — you may make friends and strike up conversation with other like-minded parents!
  • Schedule your ‘me-time’: Let’s face it — it’s hard to find any time for yourself if it’s not part of your full schedule. Don’t be afraid to schedule a ‘me-time’ session at some point in the week. If you don’t have the funds available for a nanny, a friend or family member may be available to provide support. 
  • Learn some stress management techniques: Practices like deep breathing and mindfulness are perfect for calming the mind and body during periods of acute stress. If you’re new to the world of self-care, why not take a mindfulness class or tune into a meditation podcast? Meditative practices are extremely effective at helping you cope with stressful situations in the long run.

6. Practice time management and communication with your partner and loved ones

Lack of communication between parents and family members can lead to scheduling issues at best and resentment at worst. If you parent alongside someone else, we recommend delegating your responsibilities evenly and checking in with each other frequently to ensure you both feel supported. This simple step will prevent burnout and could even protect your relationship in the long term. If you find that parenting tasks are impacting your relationship with your partner, friends, or family members, we recommend the following steps:

  • Prioritize: Sometimes, tasks can be left for a few days or even weeks. When planning your week, don’t be afraid to split your activities into essential and non-essential tasks. Then, you can adjust your plans to see friends and family if necessary. You could even delegate non-essential tasks to willing loved ones. 
  • Adopt new time-management techniques: While to-do lists and calendars may feel a little dreary, they can help ensure you complete essential tasks and free up time for fun activities.
  • Create a support network: Building a support network of friends, family members, and other parents will provide you with the advice, resources, and emotional support you need to juggle a busy workload.

Try our time-saving hacks and share them with friends!

While parenting is challenging, it doesn’t have to burn you out. By adopting just a few of the habits listed above, you can supercharge your days and ensure your family remains happy and healthy.

With this in mind, spread the word among other parents and remember to support each other through tough times! There’s nothing like community to keep you grounded and calm.

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