Congratulations on your second baby! Caring for two kids under two is certainly not for the timid.
I don’t know if you intentionally wanted to have two kids under two or if it was a surprise. Either way, get ready for an adventure. Having two kids under two is double the work and double the fun. I’m not going to lie to you- IT IS HARD WORK. It’s a lot of work and it is tough at first but… IT DOES GET BETTER.
There’s a lot of learning and adjusting as you figure out what works best for you and what doesn’t. Everyone will offer advice. You’ll pick up new tips and tricks. Be open-minded and try a little of the advice here and there. See what works and what doesn’t.
Parenting and being a mom are not linear. Be open to learning, changing, and developing. You’re constantly learning new things, changing as you learn, adapting to the needs of your children, and evolving just as your kids are growing and developing too.
I wanted my kids close in age because I wanted them to be best friends, share experiences, and always have each other to depend on. However, when we found out that I was pregnant again before my firstborn son was one, needless to say, I was nervous, scared, excited, and terrified out of my mind. How was I going to manage two under two?
Now that my kids are 1 and 2, I can tell you it gets easier with time. You grow and adapt to the needs of your children and adjust to having a new family member. It’s tiring and challenging but also exciting and rewarding as well.
Here are my tips for managing life with two kids under two. Some may work for you and some may not- but do what works best for you and your family. The dynamics of every family are different. I hope that you’ll find these tips helpful and insightful. And congratulations on the latest addition to your family!
Take it One Day at a Time
Some days are going to be more challenging than others. There will be times when both of your kids are going to be sweet, happy, and playful. Other times, they’ll both be crying, screaming, and fighting non-stop. Just remember during those tough moments that it doesn’t last long. And remember on those tough days that it won’t be like this forever. The day will come to a close and tomorrow is a new day to begin again.
“The nights are long but the years are short.”
There are going to be moments when you’ll feel like you’re drowning underneath the mounds of diapers, piles of laundry, and endless crying and screaming. Trust me, I’ve been there. But you have to push through and know that you are doing the best you can as a mom.
Take things slowly. One day at a time. This will be a short period in life and you’ll look back with memories wondering how you made it through but you did. You will get through this and they will be the craziest and fondest memories. You’ll just need to take it one day at a time.
You are the Perfect Mom for Your Kids
You don’t need to be perfect or have the perfect body. The kids don’t need to have the perfect nursery or the perfect Montessori playroom. Your kids love you the way that you are. You are the perfect mom for them. YOU ARE WHAT THEY NEED.
Don’t feel as though you need to quickly “bounce back” and get your pre-baby body back. There is no timeline for when you need to get back in shape. Don’t put an enormous amount of pressure on yourself and don’t feel as though you need to be perfect.
There’s a lot of information in the media about having the right toys and playing the right games for your children’s development. If you’re able to do all of those things, then that’s great. But if you’re just trying to get through the day with the basics of feeding, changing, and caring for your kids- that’s fine too. Don’t feel pressured if you feel like you’re not doing enough for your kids because you are.
There are going to be days where there are crumbs all over the floor and milk stains all over your shirt. The house won’t be clean. And the dishes haven’t been washed. That’s okay. The home does not need to be perfect. Lower your expectations. Do the best you can for that day and continue tomorrow.
Some days you’ll be able to cook dinner and other days, take-out or frozen dinners will be easier. If eating dinner on paper plates works for you- do it! Do what works best for you and your family on that given day and be flexible. Go with the flow and know that it doesn’t all need to be perfect.
Don’t get caught up in the comparison trap and compare yourself to other moms on social media. People will only show you what they want to show you. You are doing the best that you can and don’t believe that you have to be perfect to be doing a good job. You’re doing great already.
Ask for Help
When they say it takes a village, they really mean it. In the old times, it was normal for women to help other women raise their children. Children were brought up in communities where there was extended help from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors. It was a community that helped pitch in their efforts to help care for young children. Women are not meant to raise kids alone.
If you have family or friends that live close by, ask for help. Take all the help that you can get and ask for more help if you need it. Family and friends can help watch one or both of the kids while you get some rest. You can ask a family member to take your toddler outside to the park or to the mall so that you can spend some one on one time with your newborn.
Asking someone to help you watch the kids so you can take a breather is necessary.
When my second was born, my mom lived with us for the first month and helped us watch my firstborn while we transitioned to two kids. She played with him and helped feed him so that I could rest and breastfeed my second. The extra help was life-saving during that first month when I was getting very little sleep.
Even if you don’t have family nearby, you can ask a neighbor or friend for help. You can also search for mom support groups through a community center, the hospital, or apps online.
Meal Prep / Cook in Bulk
Cooking takes a lot of time. From planning meals for the week, grocery shopping, preparing meals, cooking, and then cleaning up afterward- it takes a lot of time. Try to cook in bulk and make freezer-friendly meals.
I cook in enormous quantities. I have a large 12-quart pot where I cook large amounts of soup, beef stew with carrots and potatoes, chicken curry with carrots and peas, and a few other staple recipes. I baked large amounts of chicken or salmon in the oven and steamed pounds of broccoli or green beans. I stored it in an air-tight sealed container. My family would rotate between the same few meals for a few days before I would cook again.
Cooking in bulk means that you don’t have to spend every day cooking. You will have more time to focus and spend your energy elsewhere- caring for kids, cleaning, resting, and taking care of yourself. If you have a crock pot that you can dump a few items in and let it cook throughout the day, I recommend that too.
Double or triple the recipe of whatever you’re cooking. You’ll have extra and you can store it in an air-tight sealed container. Freeze it and you can save it for those days when you don’t have time to cook. This will come in handy on those days when things are a little crazier than normal. You can just take a meal out of the freezer and reheat to eat.
Communicate You Feelings
Let your partner know how you’re feeling and what you need from them. You both are going through this together and may be feeling overwhelmed, excited, and exhausted altogether. Communicating your feelings, sharing your frustrations, and venting about your struggles can help.
Don’t forget to celebrate the little wins. If your toddler played or ate by himself for 10- 15 minutes, allowing you some time to take care of the baby or just have time to yourself. Celebrate that win. Celebrating those little wins throughout the day will remind you that there are things that are going well.
Set Up the Toddler and Newborn Area Next to Each Other
Designate one area of your home where you can take care of the baby and watch your toddler play in a safe space at the same time. You will be able to feed, change, and put the baby down for naps while keeping a close eye on your curious and wandering toddler.
We designated our living room to be a play area for our toddler and the baby’s space during the day when my husband was gone at work. I was close to both kids at all times. This made tending to their needs quicker. We moved a pack n’ play into the living room so that my infant or toddler could take turns napping in there.
We also had a diaper caddy that had everything we needed for changing our baby and toddler. The diaper caddy had our diapers, baby wipes, baby bum lotion, lotion, and all the essentials. Everything was within easy reach for us. This made it easier for us to change the baby but also keep a close eye on our toddler while he was playing. We didn’t want to leave our toddler playing outside in the living room, unattended while changing our baby in the nursery.
Set a Routine
Routines are great because it’s predictable. You know what your day will look like and can plan ahead and prepare the night before.
Consistent routines create structure and are helpful for toddlers and babies as they are developing. Toddlers thrive because they know what to expect and they’re less likely to melt down with a tantrum.
Having both of my kids on the same routine has been a lifesaver for me. Especially getting them to nap at the same time. I’m able to rest, eat in peace, prepare dinner, start the laundry, clean the house, and get a lot of work done when they both nap at the same time. Having both kids nap at the same time will be your best mom hack. It took about 2 months of tweaking their schedules so that they would nap together but it was worth it.
It took about 2 months to get both of my kids to nap at the same time. The baby was still taking several small naps throughout the day and my toddler was taking one long nap in the middle of the day after lunch. We had to slowly drop my baby’s naps one by one until he was only taking one nap in the middle of the day like his older brother.
Having both kids nap at the same time has allowed me to have some quiet time to myself so that I could get some chores done, prepare dinner for the evening or just sit and have some quiet time to myself. Having both kids nap at the same time is probably one of the best things that you can do for yourself as a mom.
Some tips I have for getting them to try to nap on the same schedule is trying to adjust one child’s schedule to the others. My youngest was still napping and waking up several times throughout the day and night. During the day, I would try to keep him up a little longer or let him nap a little shorter so that his sleep schedule would gradually coincide with my toddler. It took a few weeks to adjust their schedules but eventually, they were able to nap consistently at the same time. That is probably one of the best mom hacks that I can give to moms with two kids under two.
Going outside and getting some fresh air is good for your physical and mental health as well as good for your exploring toddler. It’s good to get outside and get some sunshine and fresh air if you’ve been cooped up inside the house all day caring for your little ones.
Even something as simple as sitting outside with your baby while letting your toddler explore in the backyard can be good for your mental health. I enjoy is sitting outside in the early morning and sipping my hot cup of coffee while everyone is still asleep. I really believe in the benefits of sitting outside, soaking in the warmth of the sun and reconnecting your breath with nature.
There are a lot of activities that you can do with your budding family that are both fun and interesting. Some activities can include:
- Going for a walk
- Going to the playground
- Going to the mall and playing in the kids’ area
- Going to the library for toddler storytime
- Going to the zoo
- Having play dates with friends or local moms at the park
- Sitting outside in your yard while your toddler plays safely
Make it a point to go outside at least once per day. Physical activity is good for boosting endorphins and making you feel good. It will be good for your mental and physical health.
Be Kind to Yourself
Being a mom is extremely challenging and tough work. There are days when it just feels like the work never ends and sometimes it doesn’t because you’re still feeding in the middle of the night or your baby or toddler will get up several times in the middle of the night and still need you. The work is never-ending and you’re constantly giving, giving, and giving.
Don’t forget to make time for yourself and be kind to yourself.
Put aside the mom guilt and put your feet up even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Take some time to do some self- care. It’s OK if things are not perfect in this season of life. You are learning, growing, and adapting to life as a new mom of two. Embrace the challenges and learn as you go. Being a mom of two means double the work, but also double the hugs, kisses, and fun.