Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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6 tips for solo parenting in the evenings

With our current work schedules, I do dinner and bedtime for the kids 5 nights a week. As any parents of young kids out there know… 5 PM till bedtime is like the hardest time of the day. So many things to do and manage with little, not-very-independent kids. It is exhausting. It’s been a few months of this now and I’ve come up with some creative tips and hacks for making it easier! 

I realized that none of these involve screen time or having someone else watch the kids--also great options, but these are a little outside the box!

6 ways to make solo parenting easier in the evenings

1. Walks. My favorite type of farm-it-out parenting, because I get a walk in and I can make nice conversation with Otto (or listen to a podcast if he’s not chatty), and he’s not getting into things and asking for something new every 5 minutes. We take either a "stroller walk" (where I put both kids in the stroller) or a "bike ride walk" (where Otto rides his little balance bike and I wear Lucy in the carrier), almost every day after work. We have a couple different routes we do in our neighborhood, and with both of them in the stroller I can go 2 miles or so and actually get my heart rate up, and it’s fun to watch the seasons change and talk to Otto about flowers and birds and things. It's not a "workout" but sometimes is all the physical activity I have time for. And it gets me 30 minutes or an hour closer to bedtime! I’ve also recently started putting in one earbud in listening to a podcast, another thing I don’t really have much time for these days.

2. Don’t make dinner. Obviously you have to have dinner. But making dinner while watching or at least ear-supervising two little kids is can be SO difficult. One night a week my parents bring us dinner which is amazing. The other nights, when I have my act together, I start something in the slow cooker in the morning, or we have a lot of leftovers. But if we don’t, I can serve a funny dinner of frozen broccoli, lunch meat, and other things that are easy to throw together. It’s not gourmet but Otto doesn’t mind it, and it’s so much easier for me I don’t really mind either. (Not great for Jason when he gets home, but… Sorry, babe.)

3. Do chores before they go to bed. This doesn't make the child-watching part easier (the opposite, really) but it makes the evening after so much better. Something about coming downstairs after putting two kids to bed to a kitchen of dishes and food still out, plus mail to bring in, plants to water, laundry to do... it's just overwhelming and depressing when all you want to do is lay on the couch (or in my case, work on my laptop till Jason gets home or I go to bed). I usually save my to-dos for the day for the evening (not recommended--but it's how it goes when I work my day job all day and have blog, podcast, etc. stuff to do) and adding dishes onto that sucks. So I try to get things cleaned up while the kids are playing and dinner's cooking.

4. Babywearing. If I want to fold laundry or get a head start on the dishes or put things away in different parts of the house, I can put Lucy in the front carrier (which she absolutely loves) to get stuff done. I ask Otto, do you want to come with me or do you wanna stay? His answer usually depends on how engaged he is with his toys at the time.

5. Compromised baby bedtime routine. I am all for all the baby sleep advice about taking away the distractions, giving them a nice peaceful routine before bed, etc.... but it's just not possible when you have to put both kids to bed by yourself. What we do now is, after dinner, we got to the living room and I nurse Lucy while Otto plays or we read books. I give her a bottle of pumped milk also while sitting on the couch and watching Otto. Then we all go upstairs together and he helps/watches me put her to bed, or plays with his stuffed animals in his room. He's learned to be quiet when I'm singing to her, though is still unpredictable! I'm not sure this method would work very well for a baby still learning to put herself to sleep, but thankfully we had worked that out by the time Jason started his current schedule. I sing her a couple rounds of alternating ABC's/Twinkle Twinkle and put her down awake, and she usually falls asleep without much fussing. 

6. Early bedtime. Well, not early--we have the same schedule for us and the kids 7 days/week, but not late! Sometimes we let it go a little later on the weekends or when we have family over for dinner or something, but when it's just me, I make sure to do dinner right at 6:00 PM so we can do a little playing after, finish feeding Lucy around 7/7:05 PM, and head upstairs right after. Then I can finish with Otto by 7:40 and get to my evening tasks. Sometimes sitting around the dinner table I think, "ugh, this is hard," but then, "but I'm so close!!!" It helps!

Parenting is hard no matter what your schedule is but those afternoons/evenings can be so rough. Hope these are helpful!!

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