If you’re on social media at all, I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag #2under2, or some variant of that. Having two children under the age of two years old is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure! But it’s definitely doable, although it comes with its own challenges. Here are some tips to help you navigate the wonderful world of two under two!
It’s okay to ask for – and receive – help. Many of us feel like we need to be Superwoman, or Supermom (or Superdad!). We don’t. Let your partner know what you need; he or she won’t know unless you ask. If friends or family drop by to see the baby, ask them to hold them while you take a shower (or just 10 minutes to yourself!). If you’re feeling touched out after a long day with two under two, ask your partner to watch the kids while you take a drive to the store or have coffee with a friend. We don’t have to do it all, and people will understand that you need a break, too.
Make special time for your older child. Babies take up a lot of time, no doubt. Your older child might not want to share you initially, and that’s normal. Carve out some special time for the two of you – maybe that’s having lunch and going to the park one day a week, or a special snack time and story before bed each night. Make it a time where your focus can solely be on them. Be in the moment.
Breastfeeding and bathing. If you’re nursing both kids, as happens often times with two under two, it’s perfectly okay to tandem nurse, if you’re comfortable with that. If not, then please know it’s okay to resort to a DVD or television show while you’re nursing the baby. If you’d rather not, that’s okay, too! Put together a special box or bag of games, puzzles, or activities that he can do alone or with minimal help from you – and when you nurse, the toddler can browse through the box/bag and have some fun while you concentrate on nursing. For bathing, it’s okay if you don’t bathe both of them every day – if things are too hectic, give yourself a break and switch off with them. On days when the toddler needs a bath, put the baby in a bouncy seat or Exersaucer; when the baby needs a bath, why not put on a movie, have the toddler spend some time with your partner, or ask him to be your “helper,” and hand you the washcloth, shampoo, etc? If your tub is big enough, you can always put the baby tub in and bathe both kids at once (sans baby tub when the baby is old enough to sit up and support himself).
Sleeping and snacking. Once the baby is around 6 months old, try and coordinate nap times for both kids. Depending on the needs and routines of your kids, slowly moving your baby’s naptime to overlap with your toddler’s can make things much easier. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with feedings, know that you don’t have to be Betty Crocker. Don’t have time to make baby food? Store-bought is fine. If your toddler can safely feed himself some finger food, prepare some plates ahead of time, cover them, and store them in the fridge. When mealtime comes, simply heat them up.
Get out of the house! It sounds daunting, I know – but getting out of the house will give you (and the kids) a breath of fresh air, a much-needed change of scenery, and rejuvenate you. Put the kids in a double stroller, or strap on the baby carrier, and go to the local park, take a walk around your neighborhood, go to a kid-friendly restaurant for lunch or a snack, or even go to your best mom friend’s house for coffee and a playdate (for you and the kids, respectively!). It’s okay if the dishes don’t get done today, or the laundry sits for a few more hours. Reconnecting with nature or other people is healthy and necessary for our sanity. To make things even easier, stash a bag of diapers, wipes, pacifiers, swaddle/muslin blankets, and snacks in the car, to cut down on packing time for outings.
Moms with two under two (or three under three!), what are your tips and tricks?