Guest Post by Marissa LaBuz (aka Just Simply Mom)
If you’re a mom to two under two, you definitely know that it is no easy task. Having multiple children within two years of each other can certainly be tough at times, but it does have its advantages.
Depending what stage you’re in of the two under two life, you may have different struggles. If you’re just starting out, you may be trying to figure out how to manage newborn sleep schedules with a very young toddler who needs a lot of help, or perhaps your youngest just started walking and now you’ve got two toddlers on the move with not enough eyes, ears, or hands to manage it all.
Whatever stage you’re in, I meant it when I say, it does get easier. I feel more in control than ever and I’ve learned so much more as I go on.
I’ve gotten into a good routine and am learning how to manage my time and space better to make life a little simpler. Even though most days run smoothly, children are unpredictable so there are always days that are just a bit more chaotic than others.
Although life is a lot busier, in some ways having two kids has made me a better mom. I’m less anxious and worried over the little things.
I also have better time management because I know there’s no way I can make it anywhere on time if I don’t start the process way ahead.
The tips below have helped me to stay in control of my life with two under two and will hopefully help you as well. There are easy days and tough days, but you always get through it!
Toddler proof your home.
Your oldest will surely be into everything and you just won’t have the ability to keep a close eye on them 24/7. Make sure that your home is as toddler-proofed as possible in order to eliminate any potential messes and catastrophes before they happen. This means locking all cabinets, garbage cans, & toilets, keeping doors closed to rooms and closets, and not leaving anything out within a toddler’s reach. It will save you so much time if you’re not cleaning up after him/her all day. Also, if you're heading out, don’t even try going to a house that’s not baby proofed! It’s hard enough to chase around a toddler, but when your crying newborn needs to eat, it can be tough.
Synchronize nap times.
Sync up both kids’ nap times so you get at least one block of time where both kids are asleep. You’ll need that ‘me’ time so pick one nap of the day where this can work.
Plan out your day and have things ready the night before.
If you’re planning on leaving the house the next day, make sure everything is packed, ready, and waiting by the door or in the car the night before. Pack the diaper bag completely, keep any refrigerated items you’ll bring in a bag in the fridge, have clothes laid out, and jackets and shoes by the door. Also, have a time frame for leaving the house and know what you will need to do in order to get out on time.
Give yourself A LOT more time that you think you need to leave the house.
Even if you’re all prepared the night before, you’ll always need more time! Factor in extra time for last minute diaper changes and spit ups, getting coats and shoes on, and putting them in the car seats. It seriously takes a lot longer than you think!
Be flexible with your schedule/routine.
I had my one year old on a really good schedule before the baby was born and it all got shaken up once we brought the baby home. I tried to be strict with a daily routine for both of them at first, but it just kept getting thrown off. You should definitely have a general flow of the day, but try not to get flustered if your times get thrown off because babies can be unpredictable!
Clean as you go.
Mealtimes tend to be the time where most of the mess is made. I used to be able to leave things out and clean up throughout the day, but now I don’t have that extra time to do it. Tidy things up as the toddler messes are made (and while your toddler is strapped in their highchair!)
Have visitors come to you.
Getting out of the house may be a struggle, so make it easier on yourself and have people come to you. Sure it may seem like an annoyance to have the house cleaned and waiting on other people, but in my opinion, it was much easier than leaving the house.
Use delivery when you can.
Don’t give yourself too many jobs to do. Grocery shopping and cooking being two of them. I LOVE having a week’s worth of groceries showing up at my doorstep with the click of a button from services like Shipt and Instacart. I also use meal delivery services, like Hello Fresh and Home Chef. I’ve realized that certain things are not worth my time (like grocery shopping) and that I’d rather use that time to spend with my family.
Leave the shopping for when you have help.
If you don’t like the idea of having groceries delivered, save that errand for when dad is home from work or if the grandparents can babysit. Sure it’s doable to run errands with 2 little ones, but it's not as stress-free as going by yourself. I usually save these trips for after my husband comes home from work and the kids are sleeping or napping.
Don’t overextend yourself.
Don’t take on too much too soon. If you tell yourself you need to have the house cleaned, laundry done, dinner made, work started, and shopping done, you’re going to be very discouraged when you realize there’s no way you can do it all. Give yourself just one thing a day and if you accomplish that, do another. If you need to hire a house cleaner or get take out, that is okay and better for your own sanity!
Put the baby down for naps.
Some parents get in the habit of holding their baby for all of their naps because that may be the only place that they fall asleep. This may be ok when you just have one child, but not with two under two. You’ll need a lot more multitasking abilities when you’re catering to your older child. So get your baby used to being put down often and have them develop good sleep habits early on.
Use a baby carrier or wrap.
Although putting your baby down is the easiest way to get things done, sometimes they just won’t allow that. When your newborn needs to be held and you have a million things to do, these are a must. I use the Baby K’Tan Wrap around the house and it allows me to carry the newborn hands-free so I can cater to my toddler’s constant needs. It works great!
Wake up early.
This is one of those mom hacks that’s still hard for me to do, but when I do it, I feel so great! It’s difficult to set an alarm to be up before 7am when you’re awake multiple times during the night with a newborn. However, if you do get into a routine of waking up before BOTH children, you will be able to get so much accomplished, even if it’s just your early morning social media scroll and cup of coffee.
Get the toddler to help you.
If they’re in the early one year old range, they won’t be able to do as much, but you can keep training them to understand your needs better. My daughter has learned to get things for me while I’m nursing (burp cloth, socks, bib), clean up her spills and messes, put the pacifier in the baby’s mouth when he’s crying, etc. Have these items easily accessible so he/she can help out. Your toddler will also be so excited to be able to help.
Once your baby is a few months old and you’re not as worried about the toddler trampling him, then they can actually help you entertain your baby. Once my little one was about six months old, my toddler could go over and play with him if he was crying. She can bring a toy over, touch his legs, or just smile at him, and he is immediately happy.
Although my oldest still couldn’t do that much for me, she helped out in little ways. For example, she learned how to get me a burp cloth for the baby, wipe up her messes, and hand me wipes.
Get out of the house.
It can be so easy to stay inside at home all day because it’s just easier. The process of getting both kids dressed, fed, coats and shoes on, and put into the car seats just seems like so much work and that’s just BEFORE we even leave the house. However, staying inside all day can really do a number to your mood.
It’s important to make plans or have a schedule so that you feel human and not just a slave to spit up and dirty diapers. I went to a mommy-and-me class a few times a week and tried to plan play dates when I could.
Make sure your toddler has independent play.
Nap time can fly by and as much as you try to sync up naps, it doesn’t always work out that way. You may need more time to yourself even after naps. Dedicate a time and space where your toddler can go that lets him/her to play independently without you by their side so they aren’t roaming the house, creating a mess.
I use an open play room that has a baby gate which I can shut. You can also use a play pen or even their own room if there are things in there to occupy them. Set aside a time that they will stay in there for at least 20 minutes so you can continue to get things done.
Promote independence in your toddler.
Get them started on being more independent, as much as possible. This may take time, but it will make your life easier in the near future. Start potty training early, teach them to dress themselves or help with dressing, brush their teeth, put shoes on, etc.
As your oldest grows, they will be able to communicate more which is a huge help. This causes less meltdowns and makes it easier to understand their needs.
Seriously. Some days I am just so busy and forget to eat. Then it’s 4pm and I need to start making dinner. Try to eat when your kids eat so you’ve got energy for the day.
Find your “village.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child, right? So find that group of people who lift you up and help you when you need it. It could be friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, or whomever is willing to listen.
Sometimes you just need people to talk to (especially other moms) who understand your situation and what you’re going through. Maybe you need to vent about how stressful your day was or ask someone their opinion on different baby products while you’re at Target. Whatever the reason is, you need a group of women (or even just one) who totally get what you’re going through.
. . . . .
Have confidence that you are doing the best you can, mama! There’s no one better at raising your children than you. The days are long, but the years are short. Even though managing two under two can be a stressful time, you will look back and be so proud of how great you did.
I’m Marissa! My days are filled starting tickle wars and dance parties with two energetic toddlers and wondering how long I can leave the house a mess until my husband notices. When I don't have my hands full of children, I enjoy a glass (or 3) of wine, reality tv, and country music. I blog over at Justsimplymom.com and Teachinglittles.com, and also design printables on my Etsy shop, Just Simply Mom Designs.