10 things to consider for 2 kids under 2
I have had a few friends ask me to give some advice and tips on having 2 kids under 2, so I thought I would just write a little about it in order to help! I never thought I would be a mom of 2 so close in age, that was a surprise to me! Now that it has happened, I love it! That being said, it is a lot of hard work and some days are more challenging than others, but at the end of the day, I know I have worked hard because of how worn out I am! This blog is not to say that having 2 kids under 2 is harder than anyone else, parenting alone is by far the most challenging job I have ever had, and the most rewarding at times. Parenting has definitely thrown me out of my comfort zone of people pleasing and avoiding conflict, I literally laugh at that because I am thrown situations of conflict and disappointing children all day long. You can't survive motherhood without some discipline and disappointments along the way. Anyway, below are the top 10 things that have helped me the most over the last 5 months. I'm sure these will change once Luke starts to crawl, but nonetheless, I hope these are helpful! I know my friends' advice really helped me back in August!
10. Prioritize the older (at first). I don't mean neglect the newborn by any means! But by making your toddler the first priority, you can save yourself some bigger messes. When toddlers are ignored, they tend to get mischievous and potentially could endanger themselves. If you are approaching a feeding time, think about an activity or a snack that might keep your older child busy during a feeding of the newborn. I tried to have a schedule of activities, snacks or shows that would keep Noah busy during feed times, and eventually he really got used to it! Now he is on his best behavior during the times I feed Luke, and really plays independently when my hands are full. Also, in the event that both children are needing something at the same time, which happens daily, take care of your toddler first. UNLESS your newborn is hurting, or in some kind of an emergency, of course. By my experience, I could solve my toddler's problem a lot faster than trying to soothe a baby, and by taking care of Noah first, it diffuses a tantrum and keeps the environment somewhat calm. I'm sure this will all change in a couple of months when Luke starts crawling....yeah, I'm not ready to tackle that yet!!
9. Organize, organize, organize. This is definitely not my strongest attribute. Organization is hard work for me and does not come natural. I have really had to up my game on organization in order to survive this time in my life. Baby clothes, diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers, toddler snacks, sippy cups and toys....all things that should have some sort of order. We got a Sam's membership so I could stock up on diapers, wipes, formula and of course Goldfish crackers! We have wipes in every room of the house, and a Diaper Genie in each bedroom. Noah has a sippy cup for water, and a different one for milk, so I know which one can sit out and which one needs to be cleaned immediately. I make bottles for the next day late at night, so they are already ready to go for feedings for Luke. If we are going out the next day, I pre-make diaper bags, or my one big Mary Poppins' bag for what our activity is, with extra outfits, diapers, wipes, snacks, (everything except bottles and sippy cups). Toys have a specific place where they belong, infant toys are in a different spot than toddler toys. Obviously, the toys get scattered around all day long, but I try to "reset" the toys during nap time and Ryan resets them while I bathe the boys in order to keep our own minds' sane. Baby clothes I try to go through about once a month to put up clothes that no longer fit and replace them with bigger clothes. We have been extremely blessed by friends and family that hand down a lot of boy clothing, so I haven't had to buy a ton of new clothes or shoes.
8. Go with the flow, but set up a schedule. I am a pretty laid back person, but my typical schedule has saved me many times in keeping some time for myself. I usually get both boys up by a specific time, right now it's 7:30, of course I let them sleep until that, or if they wake before, I try to just adjust the schedule to whatever time they are both up. Luke is still not consistent completely with sleep so I have to be okay with that right now. Luke has a morning nap, but I have to wake him from it in order for him to go down at the same time as Noah for the afternoon nap. Noah only has one nap, 2-3 hours in the afternoon. I will try to keep that as LONG as I can! Putting both boys down by 1 pm each day has saved my sanity and allowed me to clean, work (yes I am a photographer and a professor, yikes!), and have a moment to myself to do whatever I need to do to take a break. (Sometimes that is napping too!) I try to not get disappointed if my schedule is ruined. Life happens and you can't stay at home every single day! If there is something else going on, I just try to have a game plan the day before just in case something is different. Our night time routine is pretty consistent as well. I try to feed Luke before our dinner so he is ready to play while we eat. Noah eats with us at the table, and then usually is playing while we finish eating. About an hour after dinner with bathe the kids together. Then I usually feed Luke right after bath time and he is ready to go down for the night. Noah stays up about an hour after his bath and then goes to bed around 8 pm. This is just what works for us and I hope it is helpful! Obviously every kid and family is different, do what works for you!
7. Don't try to keep up the people pleasing! This was a huge thing for me, because I am a natural pleaser and love to make people happy. That being said, having a toddler, this is impossible! If toddlers got whatever pleased them, no one would live past 3 years of age, ha! I try not to overreact to my toddler's tantrums and try to stick to whatever I have said regarding the tantrum. If the answer is no, I try to not waver in that. I wait for about 10 minutes, and usually the tantrum has passed. I just try to stay calm and not get too emotionally invested in my child's tantrum because I know it will be over soon.
6. Master the art of distraction. I have found that replacing a "no" with something else is a good way to diffuse an upcoming tantrum. Having a few small toys/books on hand when we are out and about is good. When I can see some cranky-ness coming, I pull out something new from my bag and rotate such things, so Noah can only see one thing at a time. This has helped grocery trips, errands, and other outings to last a little longer. Pointing out things that they haven't noticed helps too. Sometimes, I will put toys in a different spot and then when it's dinner time, and I'm cooking and Noah is standing at my leg begging for my attention, I open up one of the kitchen cabinets for him to see his long lost toy that he hasn't played with in ages (or in hours, haha) and that buys me a few more minutes to continue chopping veggies, or whatever I may be cooking that evening.
5. Be consistent. If you say yes, mean it. If you say no, mean it. And when you say it's bed time, bath time or nap time....do everything to make that happen! Hopefully our children will appreciate this one day!
4. Pray and take time for yourself. This is totally necessary every single day! For me, it is nap time. I get my best time for myself when the boys are sleeping and the house is quiet. I usually try to do this before I try to clean up or do any other tasks that need to be done. It helps me to refocus and gain some energy as well. On days where the kids don't nap...I take time immediately after their bed time to do whatever I need to do for myself. It's definitely worth it.
3. Try to get out of the house. This is definitely harder with 2 babies. It takes a lot more planning and physical strength. Noah wasn't really ready to walk beside me at first, so I was carrying a car seat, diaper bags and a 29 lb. toddler on my way out the door. Well, a month and an emergency room visit later, I had to change this because my back literally cannot take it. So, on the way out the door, I have Noah hold my hand and he gets joy out of pressing the button to unlock my car. Then upon returning to the house, if I have things to carry in, I usually give him a bag to carry, so he is distracted enough to go straight to the front door and not into the street. (usually the bag is something extremely light weight and not breakable of course) My schedule usually is different on days when we go out, even if I am home by our typical nap time. I try to just go with the flow because it is worth it to get out!
2. Prep cook the night before, make the crock pot your best friend. I try to think about dinner the night before, so I can chop veggies or do anything I need to get make assembly easy for the next day. I have learned to make a ton of things via crock pot, even if it is just the meat for a meal, it helps to be able to move around and not be standing by the stove for an hour during the late afternoon.
1. Love, love love your babies and don't wish for the next phase! I find myself easily saying, "Wow, I can't wait for..." but I don't want that ever to take away from the times that we are having right now. Yes, I can't wait for my boys to really play with each other, but I wouldn't trade it for these days of having them both so young, so cute and cuddly. I have literally seen a huge change in myself since Luke has been born. I am reminded of my days with Noah as a baby, and I want to just soak in these days as well. I try to daily be thankful for the current phase of each son. I love that Noah says a few words and a lot of gibberish that only a few can translate. I love that Luke is smiling big and starting to drool, but still needs me to hold him close and support him in order to sit.
The days of having 2 so close in age are LONG, but the weeks and months seem to fly by. So my main advice would be to soak in the good, endure the hard, and press on to the new challenges each day!