My first son was about 6 months old, when we started discussing having another. He was starting to sleep through the night regularly. He was learning to sit. And isn’t it the cutest when they just sit on a blanket in the middle of the floor, drooling on a few toys!?? He could smile and laugh with you. All you had to do was jump up and yell BOO to get instant giggles. It was so fun trying to feed him his first solid foods. This was EASY, right? I mean, sure he cries occasionally, but we could take him to the bar in his infant carrier. Life was great! We still had a sense of US. This parenthood thing was not nearly as demanding as I had expected it to be. There were long nights. And moments. Don’t get me wrong. But, nothing to curb the idea in our head that it was time to have another. Wouldn’t it be so great to have another? They’ll be best friends. I’m doing this for my first born, right??! No better gift than a little brother or sister. Damn. We are giving, loving, and nearly perfect parents – much like this:
When he was just 7 months old – I knew before my period was even late. Since I had been through this before, the signs were easy to detect. It was exactly as with my first, and hell, it was like yesterday and the symptoms were so relatable. I was pregnant. YAAAAY. And, oh shit. The baby was up 4 times last night. Why did I friggin sign up for this again? But, YYAAAAAY!!! Look how cute he is over there, just sitting still on his blanket, drooling on some toys. I can do this. This is so easy. There will just be two of them sitting on the floor together. They’ll probably play patty-cake too. OOOOOH. I just love patty-cake! OMG! I’m so excited. TWO babies. EEEK!
Someone forgot to tell me that the first one will no longer just be sitting on a blanket, by the time the second one arrives. In fact, he will run. He will run away from you. He will hide. He will laugh at you. He will mock you. He will be…..A TODDLER. So if you are thinking about having two “babies,” think again. When your baby is 6 months old, come borrow my now 20 month old for the day. I promise you, it will give you a far better sense of what to expect with two under two. And likely, it will make you wait just a littttttle bit longer. I remember leaving my second on the living room floor, on his blanket, drooling on some toys. Cute, right? The toddler was in his room, on the far end of the house, reading in his room. Cute, right? Perfect. Let me just use the bathroom. Wrong, lady. You don’t get to pee in privacy. I come out, and my baby is MISSING. He can’t even crawl yet, and he’s gone. Vanished into thin air. OMG. My toddler ate him. He must have – what in the hell. Franticly, I start running around the house. The toddler did not eat him – he’s still in his room reading. Ok, yeah, it’s kinda cute. What in the hell?? Where did the baby go? I frickin’ lost my baby. I was gone about 25 seconds. Turns out he just rolled himself behind the couch, about 4 feet from where I left him. But, my first thought was, the TODDLER DID IT.
Everyone says I’m in the thick of it now (an almost 2 year old and a 3 year old). “It gets better,” they say. “They will be best buds,” they say. I’m waiting. Possibly counting down the days. Yesterday, my oldest grabbed the youngest by his hair and threw him to the ground. Did I mention they were just watching TV, and the attack was completely unprovoked. Sweet, right? And one day, I hope to write another post of survival for this time period. But, first, we must survive. In the meantime, here’s a bit of veteran advice from how you may possibly live through the first year of “two under 2.”
8 SURVIVAL TIPS FOR TWO UNDER 2
1) SYNC NAPS: A good friend offered me this advice, and I was very adamant about getting this down ASAP. My newborn was just 3 weeks old, and my toddler 17 months – and at 1pm every. single. day. they both went down for a nap. It did not matter if my newborn had slept the entire morning. It did not matter if we had a play date scheduled. I revolved my entire day around the 1pm nap. And. IT WORKED. My kids were both sleeping at 1pm every day. Sometimes, I got 20 minutes to myself. And sometimes, I got 3 hours. But, it is a must. Get your kids to take one nap a day – at the same time. This is a non-negotiable priority. And to this day, my kids still nap and I still get some much needed me-time.
2) MEET THE NEEDS OF THE OLDER CHILD FIRST: A veteran mommy of twins, gave me this advice. I was really struggling in my first few weeks home with the baby. It seemed like my toddler was acting out more than ever. A combination of jealousy, major life change, AND mommy always putting him second really just pissed him off. So, a friend told me to start meeting his need first. Get him that glass of water, and let the baby cry for an extra 10 seconds. The toddler has feelings. He can easily be satisfied, if you just answer his need first, before you tend to baby. Obviously, a few things cannot wait – but any bottle, any wet diaper, any cry can wait a few seconds if your toddler is also demanding something of your time. It made a world of difference, when I started meeting the need of the older child first.
3) RAINY DAY BOX: I had a baby “sprinkle” while pregnant with my second. Most of the ladies there had 2 children. I was picking their brains for all the advice I could sponge up. Many of them suggested keeping toys put away in what I call a “rainy day box.” We received quite a few sibling gifts and books for my first born when baby came. I put all those toys away, until the moment when they were needed. If you need a few extra minutes to nurse. If you need some time to put on your makeup. If you want to poop alone. Pull out the rainy day box. It will keep your toddler fascinated so that you can give your undivided attention to something/someone else for a few moments.
4) TAKE THE HELP: If someone says, “let me know if you need anything” – LET THEM KNOW. Ask them for a freezer meal. Ask them to watch your kids for 20 minutes so you can take a hot shower. Let hubby take them on a walk around the block so you can watch a 30 minute DVR show. People offer help because they mean it. But, often, it’s up to you to follow through and take the help offered. Taking help, does not make you less of a mother. In fact, I think the relief given when someone is helping you will make your spirits lift and will positively impact your interactions with your spouse and children that day.
5) CONVENIENCE SHOPPING: If you are one of the 4% of the population that does not yet have Amazon Prime, stop reading this article, and sign up immediately. Did you know that you can have something delivered to your doorstep in an hour. AN HOUR, people! Diapers? Poof. There they are. Case of wine? Bam. You’re welcome. In addition to Amazon – there are many other ways to conveniently shop online. Shopping with two children is hard work. In fact, some countries use it as a form of torture. Avoid it at all costs. Target online – free delivery with $25 purchase. Is it even possible to spend less than $25 at Target. I think not. Grocery delivery. YES – many stores are starting to branch out and offer home delivery. There are also some companies that offer delivery of combined stores like Trader Joes, Costco, Whole Foods, and more. Check out Instacart.com. You’re welcome. Again.
6) FEEDING INDEPENDENCE: This is one I discovered on my own. And, it really allowed my toddler to feel proud of himself, and allowed me an extra hand at meal time. Find ways to let your toddler feed himself…..neatly!!! Instead of giving him a yogurt tube – freeze it. Instant popsicle and far less mess. Or, follow my steps here for yogurt chips which they can eat with their fingers, versus you running back and forth with a spoon for each child’s mouth. What about food pouches? They are full of veggies and fruits, and kiddos love them. AND, they love to squeeze them all over the place. Not anymore – behold the Easy Pouch Independence. Kids can self feed and not make the big ass mess for you to clean up. Brilliant!
7) DIVIDE AND CONQUER: My husband named this tactic. Basically, one parent takes one child. The other parent, takes the second child. Can I just say, it is nearly like being on vacation, when I am responsible for just one of them??! I can seriously run errands in half the time. I can enjoy some one on one time that we desperately needed. And one weekend day, every week, we are sure to divide and conquer. Likely, in the beginning, mom will be responsible for the newborn. But, as they grow, it’s so fun to switch them around. Actually spend a few minutes focused on just that one child. Listen to them. Spoil them. It’s very rewarding. I love these days.
8) FIND A SUPPORT SYSTEM: For me, I’m a pretty social person. When I spent the first 4 weeks with my newborn at home, I started getting very bluesy. My girlfriend suggested I join a stroller workout group. I had never heard of such a thing, but i researched it immediately, and signed up for a class the exact moment I was clear of my postpartum checkup. And, 3+ years later, and 4 different stroller groups in 4 different cities – it has been life changing. I’ve met amazing friends. My children have an instant playdate 3 days a week. They are learning healthy habits through my example. Self care is so important to your mental and physical well being. Not to mention the endorphin high is very much necessary when I am often so tense. Other support systems that I have found helpful include online bloggers with similar mindsets as my own (sarcastic, dry, rigid). Mommy play groups which often offer Mom’s Night Out events (going to a wine bar tonight…..HOORAY!). It takes a village. You don’t have to mother alone. In fact, you shouldn’t. You will find much light in your day, if you have support to look forward to.