5 Tips for Staying Sane with a 1-Year-Old

Not that I’m any kind of expert.  In fact, as I sit down to write this I’m feeling a little insane because it just took Alex a really long time to go to sleep for the night.  I do, however, have a few things that really work for me, so I’m going to share.  I’d love to hear your tips in the comments because this toddler business is definitely a learn-as-you-go venture.

#1  Get dressed every morning.

Even if you don’t think you’ll be leaving the house that day, put on “real” clothes at the very beginning of the day, put on enough makeup that you wouldn’t feel embarrassed if someone dropped in unannounced, and make your bed.  You could do just one or all of these things, but I guarantee that it will make you feel better, more productive, and more awake.  I haven’t been doing this for long, but I do know that when I go straight from pj’s to jeans, wash my face and put on just a little makeup, and make my bed- all before going downstairs to have breakfast- I feel ten times better than if I slum around in my comfy pants and robe for half the day.  When that happens I end up scrambling to get dressed just before my husband gets home and then I feel like my day has only just started as it’s ending.  Yes, sometimes it feels silly to make the bed when I know that Alex and I will be napping in it again in a few hours, and sometimes I wonder why I’m delaying breakfast to make sure I’ve got my mascara on, but all I know is that it makes for a better day.

#2 Keep breastfeeding.

If you want to keep breastfeeding and you don’t have any good reason to quit, don’t stop just because you’ve reached the year mark.  I can’t tell you how many times lately I’ve been so thankful for “milkies”.  When Alex was cutting 4 molars at once and was feverish and miserable and food hurt to chew, he could and did still want to nurse. When he was unusually clingy and cranky for a few weeks due to who-knows-what, an extra breastfeeding session was often just what he needed.  I’ve heard from other moms that breastfeeding through the second year can be a life-saver for stopping those toddler tantrums.  In any case, there are so many advantages to breastfeeding during this time, even if you don’t count the health benefits.  It truly keeps us both sane on those days when we just need to slow down, take a deep breath, and reconnect.

#3 Clean the high chair right away.

Don’t laugh.  I’m very serious about this.  I’m a little bit of a high chair nazi, and I neeeeed to have it cleaned as soon as possible after Alex vacates it.  Nobody wants to scrub a crusty high chair and nobody wants to come to the next meal to find leftovers from the last meal still smeared in the seat and over the tray.  I always breathe a sigh of relief once that high chair is gleaming and back in it’s “spot”.  You could extend this tip to the entire kitchen.  I spend so much time in my kitchen each day planning, preparing, eating, and cleaning up from meals that I’ve found keeping on top of things in just this one part of the house really makes me feel so much better.  If my kitchen is dirty, I don’t even want to begin cooking, so I really focus on emptying and refilling the dishwasher, putting away food, and wiping the counters promptly after every. single. meal.

#4 Keep your toddler involved.

Sometimes, yes, it takes a whole lot more time to let Alex hand me clothing one by one to fold than it would be to grab and do it myself, but I have found that when I do let him be involved in what I’m doing, it’s worth it.   Alex wants more than anything to watch what I’m doing and to help out.  Of course I can’t always hold him in the kitchen (like while I’m chopping onions) or let him pitch in on projects (like when I’m cutting fabric), but taking the time to involve him when possible really cuts down on the tantrums and the frustration.  Things actually become more enjoyable because I feel like I’m doing something fun and educational with my son instead of hurrying to get it done before he needs my attention again.  Even something as simple as asking Alex to close the fridge or cabinet really makes him feel important, and I love to see the satisfaction and joy on his little face when he knows that he’s helping mommy.

#5 Go to story time.

Maybe your library does a story time and maybe they don’t, but it’s worth checking out!  We’ve only just begun going to the one at our library, but it’s already been so good for both of us.  It’s easy (no planning or effort on my part besides just getting us there), it’s free, it’s social time for both of us, and it gets us out of the house in the wintertime for something besides grocery shopping and church.  Oh, and we can change out our library books each week.  Our library really is amazing, and after the 30-minute baby story time geared toward those 18 months and under, they have a 30-minute play time called ABC Activity where they bring out bins of fun toys (that get cleaned regularly, yay!) and the babies all play together while the moms talk and play along.  I love love love to go in there and see all the adorable babies sitting on their mommy’s and daddy’s laps, and I love knowing that Alex is getting a chance to learn some sharing and do some side-by-side play.  I still feel a little shy with the other moms, but I have had a few conversations.  Even a little bit of adult interaction goes a long way for me these days, and I always feel so good on story time day!  I know that there are some great mom groups out there you can join as well.  I haven’t looked into that, but it would be another option for a guaranteed social hour on a regular basis.


Well, that’s what I’ve got!  Some days I still feel like I’m barely treading water, but those days are finally more the exception now than the rule.  We’re all adjusting to life as a family of three around here and, my husband and I both agree, we love the age of one!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashelle
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 02:23:54

    I don’t even have kids yet but I think this is a really great post, and your points are things I’ll definitely be trying to remember when I have kids of my own 🙂 Not too many moms have brought up suggestions like these, I don’t think. I can totally see how they would work for me too.


    • travelnole
      Jan 26, 2014 @ 02:33:23

      Thanks! And thanks for commenting! After I wrote this I was a little worried that maybe I forgot something really important, but these really are the things that come to mind when I think of what makes life go smoothly these days. If they’re things you might not hear elsewhere, then yay! 🙂 Sometimes those seemingly mundane or obvious tips are the things I wish someone had told me before I had a baby.


  2. andi
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 21:51:32

    lol i know its weird but the playtime applies to dogs too. going to the park every single day and running and playing with other dogs has really calmed jack down. hes less wild and doesnt get into everything as much. sorry dont have kids so i use dog stories to relate. also from the video you posted of Alex putting away dishes it looks like he almost has it down. if he just could have gotten that door open i think it would have been a done deal.


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