Two kids, guys—it’s no joke. We are just over two weeks in now with our two little ones and it has been pretty exhausting. I have been lucky to have two relatively easygoing newborns that sleep and eat well, but toddlers are a whole different story. Our little guy is giving us a run for our money. We are by no means experts in the two-kid family department, since we’re just getting started, but here are a few things we’ve been doing that seem to be increasing our likelihood of survival.
Plan some fun activities just for your toddler. I’ve known that mom guilt was a vicious plague since I was pregnant with Everest, but I had no clue how crazy it was going to get when baby #2 hit the scene. Watching Everest struggle with my newly-limited attention and his overwhelming emotions has been gut-wrenching for me at times. One way I have handled this is by scheduling some fun “just for Everest” activities. So far, we’ve taken him to the dinosaur museum and to our town splash pad. He had a blast (if you can’t tell from the cover photo) and it at least temporarily distracted him from the woes of life with a new baby—the mom guilt for not taking it easier and holing up at home with Dahlia, well, that’s another story.
Make sure naptime happens—no matter what. This is for your sanity as well as theirs. In our house, we call it “quiet time,” the designated time after lunch when Everest goes to his room to play, read, or nap for two hours (99% of the time he is napping within 15 minutes). I needed this time before Dahlia arrived, and I need it even more now that she’s here. I wish I could say that I follow the ol’ “you nap when they nap” mantra, but I typically use this time to get some work done. This is the one time of day that I can be sure of having some time for myself, and I try to get a 7-8 hours of sleep at night so that I can use naptime to my full advantage.
Get yourself a baby wrap. I have liked the idea of baby wearing since I first had E, but now it has become essential for us. Doctor appointments, trips to the market, family walks, you name it—I’m probably wearing a wrap (my favorite right now is the Solly Baby Wrap). In addition to making things easier (because who wants to lug around a carseat?), I have found that it helps with some of the aforementioned mom guilt, since I get to snuggle and “hold” my newborn while still having my hands free to play with my toddler. Dahlia likes to be held, too, so this seems to help us avoid any crying fits, as she is always calm (or sleeping) when in the wrap. It's a win-win for us.
Work on your redirecting skills. Don’t put your fingers in your sister’s eyes. Don’t put your sister’s bottle in your mouth. Don’t jump on your sister. Please stop shouting in your sister's ear. The first few days home with our two little ones felt like we were constantly telling Everest “no.” I’m pretty sure he was feeling it, too; I could see the frustration and disappointment on his face. It is really important to us that Everest doesn’t feel left out or resentful of his little sister, so I quickly worked on redirecting him instead of simply telling him to back off every time. This obviously doesn't mean letting your toddler do whatever he/she wants with the new baby (I'm pretty sure Dahlia would be deaf and have several broken bones if we left them unsupervised for more than thirty seconds) but we have been trying to show him the best ways to snuggle her and care for her so that he can feel included and important. There are definitely still times where a “no!” and quick intervention are necessary—E loves the new baby and sometimes is dangerously enthusiastic about it—but I noticed how much smoother things have gone since we emphasized gentle redirection over correction.
Anyone else feeling totally overwhelmed by the more-than-one-child situation? I thought I had my hands full chasing after our little dude, but chasing after him while holding/protecting/soothing/changing/feeding a tiny little newborn has me hitting the sack every night wondering how I made it through the day alive. I can already see that returning to the productive individual I was a month ago isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong—we couldn’t be happier to have added our new little bundle of joy to our family—but it has come with way more exhaustion and confusion than the first did. I know there is a learning curve with every baby and that patience needs to be my new motto, but that isn’t easy for this overachieving busybody.
What have been your tricks and tools for surviving life with two littles? Do tell!!
Jenna is a writer, educator, wife, and mama living in Colorado with her husband and two children. She founded American Ingenue as a personal blog in 2008 after losing her mother to breast cancer, using the forum as a reminder to live life to the fullest. Jenna loves cooking, dreaming, and adventuring with her family. She has been inspired to share her experiences with others as she navigates this crazy life and strives to have "it all."