So you’re joining the prestigious ‘two under two’ club!
You’re about to embark on the wonderful madness that comes with a small age gap. I’ve just graduated from said club with most of my sanity intact, so that must be something!
Before my youngest was due to arrive, I obsessively worried about how on earth this was going to work. So many scenarios played out in my head. How would I logistically juggle the toddler’s needs with the babies? Would my toddler think she’d been replaced? And could I possibly love the second baby as much as the first?
Navigating life with two under two is no easy feat, it’s been a chaotic year with little sleep and plenty of adjustments made along the way. Trying to avert a toddler meltdown with a teething baby who won’t let you put him down is multi tasking at the highest level.
Then one day baby gives his first smiles to his big sister, they fall in love with each other in front of your eyes and the lows become worth it for those incredible highs.
Here are all my tips for making it through that first year:
Leave the house
Your partner’s back at work after the meagre two weeks leave, now you’re faced with the daunting prospect of leaving the house alone with two children. Try to find a local baby and toddler group, adult interaction can be refreshing and there’ll be plenty to entertain your toddler whilst you sneak in a cuppa (or two).
Practically, being organised is key. Pack the bag the night before and always have extra snacks and stories to hand to keep your toddler occupied if baby needs feeding.
Practice self care
Whether it be putting on some lipstick, treating yourself to a face mask, or curling up with a good book. Practicing self-care isn’t just vitally important for your own mental health, taking time to re energise helps you be the best parent you can be.
Involve your toddler
Involving your toddler in everything possible allows them to still feel connected whilst they bond with baby. Make it their special job to bring the nappy and wipes, have fun together bathing baby, read stories whilst feeding, or get them their own baby doll so they can role play along side you.
Be kind to yourself
When you’re stuck in Groundhog Day drowning in nappies and spit up, it’s easy to let mum guilt take over. Whether it be criticising yourself over your weight, how much TV time your toddler had that day, or that you were too exhausted to cook dinner so ordered takeout again.
Take a deep breathe, have a cuppa and remember this will soon pass. You can’t be everything to everyone all the time, we’re all human and mistakes will be made. Try to focus on the positives, laugh through the chaos and let everything else go.
Buy a sling
My must have item. The one thing I wouldn’t have got through the first year without. Aside from growing another pair of hands, having a sling frees you up to have that precious one on one time with your toddler and makes outings infinitely easier.
Embrace the chaos
Life is beautiful but chaotic with a toddler and a baby. You’re teetering on the edge of insanity from sleep deprivation, don’t exhaust yourself further trying to be perfect.
Focus on the essentials to get by, especially in the first few months. The house resembles a bomb site, the laundry’s piling up and there’s dinner to be made. Embrace it and find calm amongst the chaos.
Coping with the exhaustion
If you’re not feeding or changing a nappy, you’re wrestling your toddler down from scaling the bookcase whilst the baby finds that missing crayon and is lovingly drawing their first masterpiece all over the wall.
The mental exhaustion of motherhood is real.
Add sleep deprivation into the mix and you’ve got one tired mama. Take every opportunity you can to rest, leave the cleaning for another day.
Try to go to bed feeling positive, let go of any anxiety you may feel about the night ahead. Pouring your energy into reading yet another article promising to divulge the secrets behind babies sleeping through is draining. Accepting that frequent night waking is biologically normal for babies can be refreshing. Focus that energy on the positives in your life instead.
Try not to stress about keeping on schedule. So you were an hour late to a play date with a friend, making it out of the house with two babies in tow is still a win. Be as flexible as you can about each day, adapting the routine you may already have with your toddler to fit baby in.
Ask for help if you need it. Use family or friends for that well deserved break or time to reconnect with your partner.
If you’re feeling low or anxious don’t be embarrassed to seek support from healthcare professionals. There is support out there to help you cope if you’re struggling with your emotional health.
Have one on one time
Have as much one on one time with each child as possible.
In the early days, combat any jealousy your toddler is displaying by setting aside time each day to focus your attention solely on them. Paint a picture together, go for a walk and talk about what you see or simply cuddle up and read a story whilst baby naps. Let them know you understand it’s hard to share mummy, but you love them just as much.
If it’s possible, have someone look after your toddler for a few hours each week. You could join a baby class, or take a break at home with time to focus on your baby.
Try baby led weaning
Pureeing can at times feel like a military operation. Skip the step altogether and start your baby on solids. There is so many benefits to baby led weaning, and with two under two you can save yourself from adding yet another job to your to do list and feed all the family together.
There will be hard days and magical days. Crazy, loving, insane, wonderful days. Enjoy it. Don’t forget to take a moment amongst the chaos to sit back and wonder at these two beautiful humans you’ve created.
There’s an incredible adventure in front of you, be sure to have fun along the way.
Whether you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby #2 or they’re already here, you’re going to be amazing! Love yourself and your family, because at the end of the day that’s all that matters.