Your heart grows
Your heart grows – below I share tips for happily surviving 2 under 2. Everyone says it and it’s true – my heart didn’t divide, it grew. What an unbelievably incredible thing. I had my son in December of 2020 and then gave birth to my daughter in June of 2022. I’m completely obsessed with these two amazing humans. When I had my son, I never thought I could love anything else in the world in that extreme of a way. When my daughter arrived, that love multiplied. It blows my mind that something like that is possible. We feel incredibly blessed.
2 under 2
Now that I’m through it by 2 months, I’ve pulled together “11 Tips to Happily Survive 2 Under 2”. There are joys and challenges in raising 2 children under 2 years old. There would be one moment where I felt like superwoman; I’d be juggling it all seamlessly, living in a moment I had only ever dreamed of. Both my children giggling, playing, content, showing and embracing love for life and each other. In the blink of an eye it would switch. It would amaze me how quickly it can go from pure bliss to utter chaos. How could I go so quickly from feeling incredible to questioning whether I could survive another second? Holding and nursing one of my babies, while the other is screaming for me with tears in his eyes – the pain that brings on. I would feel my eyes fill up with tears and a burning sensation in my stomach. I wanted to be there for both of them. How could I be so happy and so sad in the same moment?
Why it’s hard
There’s something so particularly challenging about having multiple children that aren’t able to communicate their needs verbally. It takes everything in you to stay calm, read them, focus on the details of their behavior and then react. But with two children crying and yearning for your attention at the same time, how do you do it?
Layers of complexities
Sicknesses, colic, food allergies, etc. all add layers of complexities. When you’re dealing with your kids being sick, it’s tough to appreciate the present moment and where you are. This isn’t just true for 2 under 2, but for all kids. Time moves faster because you are problem solving your way through it, unintentionally wishing time away. I blinked and my daughter turned 6 months old. We were battling so many illnesses in those early months which made appreciating the supposed blissfulness of it all a little more challenging. She was hospitalized with RSV at 2 weeks old, but that’s a story for another blog post.
Why it’s worth it
It’s not all crazy though. Actually most of it isn’t! There’s something hugely wonderful about them both being in similar life phases. I would double up on the activities and to do’s for the day because both kids have similar needs. I got better at all of this as time went on. And as I got more sleep!
We’re finally in a great groove, being present and enjoying life together so I figured I’d share my wins (and struggles) with you. It’s certainly not always peaches (or Instagram worthy), but there are so many, I mean SO many, incredible moments that make it all worth it. So if you’re thinking about having 2 under 2, check out my suggestions below and prepare for your heart to explode! Seeing your children grow together, no matter the distance apart, is a love like no other.
11 Tips to Happily Survive 2 Under 2
1. Sync your kids’ schedules
Sync up their schedules as best as you can – meals, naps, bath time, bed time. Make them happy one after the other or at the same time. This will bring you enjoyable space in between your daily non negotiables like meal time and nap times. I’d print my favorite schedules and tape them to the fridge so I didn’t have to juggle in my head where we were at for the day. I used them as loose references. Two of my favorite resources are Moms on Call and Full Feedings.
2. Involve your toddler
I always give my older child “jobs”. “Grab mama a diaper, please.” “Show your sister your new car.” “Teach her how to use that toy.” “Please hand mama that book.” A friend of ours got him a personalized book from Wonderbly to read to help him grasp the concept of being a “big brother”. Highly recommend it!
Another great purchase is the Doona stroller. The handle can be lowered so your toddler can help push the baby. This is a personal favorite of our sons.
3. Avoid “blaming the baby”
It’s easy to accidentally respond to a needy toddler with, “I can’t play with you right now. I have to feed your sister.” What your toddler hears is, “Mommy can’t do what she used to do with me because of this new baby that’s around.” Rather say, “Mommy would love to play with you. Will you go grab that new toy in your playroom and bring it to me?” This creates time for you to do what you need to do with the baby without your toddler feeling like they are less of a priority.
Making both kids a part of the bedtime routine – big brother reading to little sister.
4. Toddler proof
Don’t forget to toddler-proof your home before the baby comes. It makes it so much easier to have spaces all over your home where your toddler can independently play. You won’t be able to chase them around like you used to, so be ready for it.
Lock off areas of the house that are a no-go and make rooms they can be in as safe for them to freely explore and help themselves as possible.
I got a ton of wonderful and effective ideas from the Montessori method, which puts a heavy emphasis on enabling independence.
- Door locks
- Invisible markers and coloring book
- Large washable crayons
- Roll of white kraft paper
- “Self-serve” toy bins
- Craft stations
5. Have people come to you
Invite loved ones to visit on your terms when you’re ready, in your own space, where you have a little more control. Packing up items for even a short visit to grandma’s house can take a lot of effort, so ask them to come to you until you’re ready to head out of the house. This could take weeks or even months! Listen to your body and what’s best for your family.
6. Schedule playdates
Scheduling time for your toddler to socialize, run around, play, giggle and learn new behaviors from their peers is essential to building their confidence. It also allows them to get their energy out which is beneficial to their physical and mental health. Inviting friends and family with young children to visit you and your new baby is an added bonus, a two-for-one visit and playdate.
7. Get out of the house
It might take a few months to get to this point and it might be chaotic but you’ll get better at it each time you venture out of the house. I promise you – it will help you feel normal. Start off small – maybe it’s just a car ride or a trip to the park. Keep it close by to your house in case you forget something or have blow outs. It won’t be the end of the world to get back home. Then graduate to restaurants or aquariums, once you’ve gotten better at mastering the juggling. But just do it! It’ll light you up to see your kids enjoy something new and it’ll help you feel good.
8. Take advantage of delivery apps
There is nothing like having fresh groceries delivered to your doorstep. Don’t make yourself crazy. If it can land on your doorstep, order it.
- An Instacart subscription is one of my favorite gifts for new parents. Use coupon code: G4B3B19144 for $20 off!
- Amazon delivery is also great for Whole Foods and last minute supplies
9. Car caddies
Create a caddy in your cars with the essentials: diapers for both, wipes, change of clothes, muslin blanket to double as burp cloth or blanket or to lay down on a surface to do a diaper change. This way if you run out and forget your diaper bag, you’ll survive.
10. Ask for help
This is something that looks different for everyone. Maybe it’s once a week, maybe it’s every day of the week. Whether putting your child/children in a daycare program or getting a nanny/mama’s helper is best for you, do it. And don’t feel badly about it! It’s important for both kids to have one-on-one time and socialization by learning from other children. It’s also important for you to be able to take a shower, guilt free! Don’t feel guilty about getting help, whatever that may look like for you. You know your limits. Listen to those limits and do what’s best for you, your children, partner and family. No one knows what’s best for your household better than you.
11. Show your partner love
Book the sitter and spend time with your partner – no phones, no kids. Your relationship and friendship with your partner is more important than ever.
Want some more information on this topic? Check out a related blog post for 9 Ways to Prepare your Children for Bringing Home a New Baby.