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Tips - How to survive a long work day with little kids

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nasty_buddha
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#1

Hi EB

Thought I'd ask as struggling here. And feeling guilty seeing my kids struggle.

I've increased my hours and on 2 days I do 9 hour shifts. I used to do only 6 hours.

I have 2 kids 2 and 4. The long days are understandably harder for them. The 4 year old does not sleep at daycare. The 2 year old does occassionally.

Due to my location, traffic and travel for work, on these 2 long days this translates to
-530am wake ups
- breakfast lunch morning and afternoon tea at daycare
- home at 6pm if i get out of work on the dot.
- chaos trying to shower and feed kids a precooked dinner. Both kids are grumpy, fighting more, trying to get to their toys when there is no time to play and in what seems to be (from what I have seen others post) a typical post daycare ferral kind of behaviour from the kids
- they are taking more than the usual time to do any of the tasks of showering, dressing, brush teeth and hair, eating can take an hour etc which translates into 8pm bed time and lots of pushing boundaries as they are way overtired.


On days I don't work:
Usual bed time is 630/7. Usual wake up is 630 for 4 year old, 730 for 2 year old.

So.... any ideas on how to deal with this chaos apart from resigning?
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#2

How long is the car trip for the kids? Would dinner (simple as a sandwich) in the car on the at home work? Toys in the car? My expectations would be pretty low for a 2 and 4 year old who had been up at 5:30am and not home til 6pm. I’d probably just implement something like “robot Mum” where Mum does everything like dress them/brush their teeth, shower them, feed them and make it a very quick game in bed ASAP.
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nom_de_plume
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#3

Given its only two days per week, I'd do the following:

Does your daycare feed them a cooked lunch? If so I'd just do a sandwich (jaffles if you want to get fancy), eggs on toast or snack plate for dinner and let them eat their main meal at daycare.

If they're not that stinky or dirty I'd also forego the shower in the evening and just wipe down pits and bits. They can have a proper shower in the morning if they're more amenable then.
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StillFreddiesMum
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#4

For those 2 days a week I would -
Drop the shower / bath (maybe do the next morning if possible?)
Have something very simple to eat for dinner - toast / eggs / cut up veges
Make the focus on getting home and eating / brushing teeth / quick story and straight into bed
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LemonMyrtle
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#5

(Note, I only used child care for 1 child for 1 day a week, so this may not work for 2 kids 2 days, but this worked for me)

I agree with the above. Do a quick car-dinner if you have time, even just a muesli bar or squeeze yoghurt. If they don’t want dinner, skip it, give them a morning snack instead. Skipping dinner 2 nights a week is Ok. Tired kids aren’t usually in the mood to eat much.
Then focus on quality mum time, a big hug on the couch and some quiet TV or a story, just chill together, lie in bed together, have a bath together, try to relax and have a bit of quiet fun (I know, easier said). Then straight to bed early, 6:30 or 7pm, no showers unless they’re filthy. Just pyjamas teeth and bed.
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MyOMy
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#6

I do 12 hour days so I understand the struggle!! Firstly scrap the shower for the kids, unless they’re excessively dirty/stinky they don’t need to bathe everyday. Then pre plan easy dinner,s something you know they’ll eat ie toast, fruit platter, scrambled eggs etc whatever you know there won’t be battles about, remember they eat healthy as daycare so feed them whatever makes life easier for you. And try make it fun, a picnic on the floor etc so you can all sit down together and begin the wind down. Limit tv and start bedtime routine, read some books or quiet activity together to wind down after the whirlwind of getting home.
It gets easier as they get older x
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Rosie28
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#7

Put them to bed in their clothes for the long day- saves dressing them. I’d also forego the bath that night and even ask the carers to change them into PJs at the end of the day.
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QuirkyMum
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#8

All of the above, most importantly dinner in the car!!!! Even if it is 5 min drive squeezy yogurt or rice cake with avo ( cut right in the car - takes 10 sec) and they will be fine.
If they are too tired to eat, milk before bed twice a week is fine.
When home, rush to the bathroom, wash hands up to the elbows, wetting their sleeves. Oops! Let’s change wet clothes. Full change of clothes in comfy clean home clothes they can sleep in or straight into pjs if they don’t complain (wiping private parts with wet towel/changing undies/nappies along the way). Wiping faces and dirty feet.
Get yourself changed.
Kids can have 30 min of quiet playtime with toys leaving you to have quiet dinner.
Then bedtime ( can be together/in your bed/whatever works to get them to sleep quicker after such a long day). I’d turn on sound of rain on a tin roof/nature sounds.
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Prancer
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#9

It is a big ask having them up at 5:30am - I know I would struggle and be cranky by the end of the day! Agree with eating in the car, particularly if the whinging starts in the car or they are too tired to eat. Daycare might even let you preheat stuff before you go. Or ask about paying extra and them being fed tea in care. I would try and be present as much as possible. So just try and spend time with them as soon as you get home whether it is a game, stories or walk. If they are happy playing, use that at a time to do jobs or sort out more substantial food for you.

Can you choose your days? If the kids are already cranky on a Friday make that a long day. And having a break in between long shifts may allow for recovery, but on the other hand it may be preferable to get it over and done with the two days.

Can you do something enjoyable with them at bedtime so they get there quickly? My littlest one particularly loves when I tell stories about when they were a baby or we look at old photos, and then when I lie with them for a bit afterwards. Anything to get them in bed earlier may result in them nodding off when they are lying down.
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Spidey_Senses
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#10

Are the 2 days consecutive? If not I would skip the shower and just do it the next morning or whenever. Unless they are totally covered in mud or something.
I also find kids get really hungry after a day at childcare and need extra snacks around 4:30ish or whenever you pick them up. Have a banana or something ready.
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Jersey Caramel
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#11

Do you have a partner (or grandparent living close by) and if so, would it be possible for them to do either the drop off or pick up to make it a bit of a shorter day for the kids. 5.30am wake up sounds really difficult! We used to do DH would drop to daycare sometime between 8-8.30am and then head to work (arriving a bit late, but would then work later into the evening if needs be), and I would work from 7am and be back for pick up around 4pm. I know it might not be possible in your situation.

I definitely remember feeding DS1 dinner while he was in the bath in order to truncate the bedtime routine!
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MB530
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#12

I’d also do dinner in the car or drive through take away if needed, skip bath if possible or quick 60 second spin around under the water and rinse under the shower (I warn them if it’s a 60 second shower day and counting together out loud helps) plus no pyjamas just dress at night time in clothes for the next morning.
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Kadoodle
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#13

Mine just got lifted into the car still snoozing and got dressed a ldc. I found having tea in the car on the drive home (and by tea I mean a sandwich and squeezy yoghurt) and then teeth, pjs and bed as soon as we got home. I’d usually fall asleep as soon as they did.
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Princess Peach
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#14

Shower instead of a bath if your kids bought as much sand home as mine would - 2/3 minutes is ample.
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TinyGiraffe
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#15

DD was at daycare for pretty much opening at 7am until just before closing around 5:45, 5 days per week from when she turned one as DH and I both do long hours. This would mean a 6am wake up and 7:30 bedtime. Things have shuffled slightly at the moment as I am on mat leave but will soon be back to doing the above hours for 2 kids. Some things that helped us is I tried to make her dinner the night before either of our leftovers or a picking plate and just don't stress too much if she eats much of it as I know she eats well during the day but still has milk at bed. Showers straight after dinner (always filthy!) then into PJs and a story before bed. To make the evening faster we also sometimes do her in the shower with me so I'm not having to wait so late for my shower. Once asleep I would repack her bag ready for the morning.
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riotproof
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#16

if the wakeup is so early. are they travelling a long way?
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MB530
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#17

Just carrying them into the car in the mornings while they’re still asleep and letting them wake up during the drive might help too.
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Julie3Girls
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#18

Most of it already said.
Mornings ,.. you must have a reasonable car ride - eliminate everything you can in the morning. Have stuff already in the car, either travel in pjs, or sleep in clothes they can leave on during the day. Not really much difference between pjs and shorts and tshirt for kids. Let them get more sleep in the car. If that 5:30 wake up is 30 minutes for dressing and getting moving, just putting them in the car gives them that little bit extra time in bed.

Evenings ... easy dinner. The huge advantage of daycare is the meals, you loose that once they start school, you can do snacks for dinner, as long as tummies are full enough to sleep. Don’t make it a fight, everyone is too tired. If it’s a long drive, then food in the car is good, gets it out of the way and means once you get home, they can just sit with their toys for a little bit. New bath toys to make a bath into playtime, nice relaxing way to get clean, have play and relax for bed, which you have time for if you cut down eating time.

Daycare .. probably not a lot they can do to help, other than maybe working a bit more to get the 2yr old to day nap. But with some kids it’s just impossible. Do let them know you are struggling on those days, they can try and make sure they eat well those days. And they know your kids too, they might have suggestions.

Work ... is there any flexibility. Can you split your days differently? Three 8 hour days instead 9,9,6 Just the hour can make a big difference.
You didn’t say how many days you worked ,.. sometimes more days with shorter hours is a better option. I used to do 3 short day, instead of 2 long in order to fit in with school.
What days of the week - I’d try and do them early in the week, kids are far more rattier by Friday. But on the flip side, Friday is often a quieter day at childcare, depending on the centre.
If you have a partner, any flex there? Can you both shift hours to allow for someone to pick up earlier, or call in other family members for an early pickup. The early morning start isn’t nearly as bad if they are home a bit earlier in the afternoon.
Was the increase in hours your choice? Is reducing back an option. Rather than resigning? Any work from home options (you or partner) even just an hour to allow leaving that bit earlier,
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Sancti-claws
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#19

A girlfriend of mine's son honestly thought that tinned baked beans and spaghetti were eaten cold because his mum would give him one with a teaspoon when she put him in the car on the way home from long days like that! He is now 26 so hasn't affected him too badly.

Sleep in clothes and special you and them time to relax at the end.

Sponge bath if necessary.
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g_uzica
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#20

Sancti-claws wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 7:11 am A girlfriend of mine's son honestly thought that tinned baked beans and spaghetti were eaten cold because his mum would give him one with a teaspoon when she put him in the car on the way home from long days like that! He is now 26 so hasn't affected him too badly.

Sleep in clothes and special you and them time to relax at the end.

Sponge bath if necessary.
You're supposed to warm up the baked beans?!?! Due to allergies this was an easy meal for DD multiple times a week when little or for all of us on holidays when out and about. Add a piece of bread (buttered or not) to turn it into a gourmet meal :rofl:

We preferred the beans in ham sauce rather than the tomato sauce.
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Fruitmincepies
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#21

Yep I’ve purposely never heated them for my DD - she didn’t like things to be hot so I would have been heating them, then letting them cool anyway. It makes them a very easy meal :lol:

OP sandwiches for dinner, a quick wipe over with a damp cloth, and some time for the kids to play sounds like a good plan to me. I’m surprised that your 2yo isn’t napping at daycare, aren’t all the other kids still napping? Mine generally went along and did what all the others were doing.
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#22

Yep ditch the shower, really not necessary. It’s also a lot of hassle at the end of the day for you.
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Silverstreak
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#23

Agree with ditching the shower in the evening, I'd just wash hands and face and shower them in the morning when you can.

With the dinners, agree with toasted sandwiches, yoghurt etc in the car if they've had a hot lunch. Otherwise, give them easy finger food or literally spoon feed them a pre made casserole when they get home, if it won't take them too long to eat it.

I would still be brushing teeth in the evening, but wouldn't worry about brushing hair too much, easier to comb it when it's wet after shower.

Also, DS doesn't wear pyjamas, he just sleeps in the comfortable t-shirt and trackies he's worn that day (I change him out of his school shirt), so if your kids are wearing comfortable clothes, I'd leave them as is.

With the fighting over toys, maybe for the evenings just have a small separate box each left out that they can play with? They might be having a bit of sensory overload, as well as being tired. Or do a quick story time, where they each choose a book to be read and you all get a cuddle together on the couch.

Slightly off topic, but we have recently acquired a timer that shows the time left in red (DS has ASD) and I am using it as much as DS. I set it for half an hour, an hour etc and explain what happens next when the timer goes off. Not sure if this will help your kids stay on track re eating and playing before bed, but it's made our lives much easier. I also use it when cooking, lol.

Good luck and all the best.
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