how to get shit done while contact napping (toddler+baby edition)

Okay so we’re back with our contact naps! I’m writing this just on the cusp of my baby turning 6 months old with a toddler just over 2.5! And guess what? I’ve done 99% of naps with the baby in a carrier.. it just works for us!

I mean, would it be nice sometimes to just lay him down and walk away while I play with my toddler or clean something up in peace? Sure, absolutely. But that day will come, I know that. For now, wearing him makes it easy for me to keep him sleeping longer and tend to my toddler’s needs.

The biggest adjustment has probably been from my toddler who still hasn’t quite gotten the fact that she can’t yell while he’s sleeping. Truthfully, I get frustrated with her sometimes and end up walking away. I always try to set her up with some sort of toy or sensory play item before the nap, but it doesn’t always keep her occupied for as long as I’m hoping. Yes, that’s where screentime comes in.

My baby is also very distracted still with his feeds (though it’s getting better!!) so I have to make sure I’m in a quiet place when I feed him, again cue screentime… eek

I really do my best to not have any screens going whenever I can- it usually ends up averaging around 1 hour a day at this point, broken up between naps/feeding times. When my husband and I are both home, we aim to never have screens on and focus on outdoor and open-ended play!

Anywho, we have successfully (mostly) managed these naps pretty well with the toddler’s nap still being the main struggle of the day- but I’ve also been able to let that go sometimes! Sometimes she falls asleep where she wants when she wants, sometimes she falls asleep in the stroller, and sometimes we hop in the car. So far, the baby still has not easily fallen asleep in the car or the stroller, but the toddler has- so that’s what I work with!

Let’s start with a little example of my current day to day with a 5.5 month old:

6 am: Wake/Feed (he usually doesn’t feed when he wakes, but we’ll put this here for the normal babies, haha)

6:10: I get ready for the day while baby crawls around right outside the bathroom!

6:30: Usually the toddler is up around this time on weekdays, so she joins us – by this time we are usually heading into the kitchen to prep breakfast!

6:45: Eat breakfast, drink coffee (sometimes the toddler delays breakfast as she would rather play first thing, totally fine by me!) Baby plays as well. This is also usually around the time I will start unloading the dishwasher… if I don’t get it done, I will do more at my next opportunity!

7:10: the baby normally will start wanting to be held around this point as he starts to get tired! His wake windows are still around the 1.5 hr mark for the morning. I bop along while playing with them both for a few more minutes. I then begin to prep something for my daughter to play with!

7:20: Baby is in the ergo carrier (linked on Amazon). I’ll walk around, do whatever I need to do to get him to sleep while the toddler still plays!

7:30(ish): baby is asleep and napping! Toddler is generally playing- we try to make this our outside in the yard time for the morning light and because I’m not super worried if she wakes him for this nap since I have a chance the rest of the day to “recover” if he doesn’t get a long nap.

8:15: Wake, put baby on floor for independent time while I try to get something done/play more 1:1 with the toddler (even though I was probably just playing with her a little, it’s helpful for me to play with her when baby is not attached to me).

8:45: play with both baby and toddler! Brush teeth if we haven’t.. maybe prep a snack for the toddler and myself!

9:15: I’ll start to set the toddler up with something and generally the baby will start getting a little cranky by this time and want to be held. I will usually prepare the stroller at this point also (I set it up by the door ready to go)

9:45(ish): baby in the ergo! I’ve found the ergo has been better for naps at this age just to help minimize distractions since I can put the hood up!

10:00: Baby napping #2 — this is where things get tricky!! If baby naps for a long time- I’ll try to start the walk around 11 AM to get the toddler to sleep, maybe earlier. BUT let’s say baby only naps for 30 mins this day (this is, unfortunately, more likely for him…)

10:30: Wake, play (baby on the floor— he is currently army drawing everywhere which has made his wake windows a little shorter than the “average” 5.5 month old). Get something done that needs to for 15 mins! I make sure to really connect with the toddler here so she won’t fight her nap as much (hopefully). I play 1:1 with her if I can while baby explores, talk about the stroller walk coming up, etc. I also turn on all sound machines in the house and make sure the camera to my daughter’s bedroom is facing the hallway!

12:10(ish): Baby in Ergo since he had 2 shorter naps! Begin the stroller walk!

12:20: Both baby and toddler are usually napping after about a 10-15 min walk! I don’t watch toddler wake windows anymore- everything kind of goes around when the baby needs a nap. At this point, I pull the stroller into the house (I watch for the toddler’s body twitching to know we’re in a deeper sleep), I pull her right outside of her room in the hallway (this is why I turn the camera). I then put a portable white noise (already on) on the other side of the hallway to mask my footsteps if I need to run out to the kitchen. Baby is still asleep.

1:05: Baby wakes up (he’s still on 4 naps). This is the time that I shower and do my own little “self-care” quickly while baby plays. Sometimes I put lotion on, sometimes I shave my legs, sometimes I only do a body shower- just depends on the day!

1:50: Toddler wakes up— usually she will sleep 1-1.5 hours in the stroller! Sometimes she will want to go back to sleep and I’ll hold her or sit next to her on my bed or her bed.. just depends on the day!

2:00: Get toddler a wake up snack/mini meal!

2:45: Baby back in ergo. He tends to take longer naps in the afternoon, so this is definitely when I break out some screen time since my husband still usually doesn’t get home until 4-5ish!

3:00: Last baby nap of the day

4:30: Baby wakes up! I get dinner ready/warmed up for everyone, maybe put a few things away- baby and toddler play!

5:00: Baby bathtime routine! Then we play for some time. Usually my husband will get home around this time and/or I will have a telehealth call or get some work done for about 30 minutes if possible!

6:45: Begin baby bedtime — for us, this changes regularly. Sometimes it’s nursing to sleep, other times it’s walking around in a sling.

7:00-7:30: Our days fluctuate greatly still but this is about the time he would fall asleep on this day!! Meanwhile, my husband will be with my toddler. Sometimes I sneak out to be with them, sometimes I go right to sleep when the baby does! I know I need a lot of sleep these days and it’s just so important for me to get that to manage our days.

While my husband is with my toddler, they will play, get things done with the cats, clean up a little, and generally run the dishwasher! He also preps the coffee for us in the morning. We aren’t doing anything crazy these days and trying to minimize the need to “go go go” – this is what works for us! Focusing on the simple moments and loving our babies through that.

So – what questions do you have? Does this look like a day you could enjoy without the stresses of having to put baby in the crib and hope they sleep for awhile?!

In regards to the baby’s wake windows, I do watch them but I also watch his cues! If you are interested in naps, I have a mini course which just one of the modules from my BIG course –All About Naps! You can purchase it HERE! Or you can check out all my other various consults and courses that I have available.

As always, feel free to reach out via email (thesleepdpt@gmail.com) or via Instagram. And be sure to check out some of my other blogs on Normal Infant Sleep and Night Weaning that could be especially helpful for those in the newborn stage or in the toddler-weaning stage!

Have a wonderful day,

Jen

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Published by Jennifer Palmer PT, DPT

Instagram: @thesleepdpt Twitter: @thesleepdpt Facebook: The Sleep DPT Facebook Group: The Sleep DPT & Friends

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