I remember the very first night we were home as a family of 4. Aadam used to sleep through the night in his own room at that point (I don’t know how we have regressed so much), and toddle into our room at about 6 am. He came through to our room while I was feeding Yusuf and proceeded to break into the most heartbreaking cry ever. My little 18 month old baby was devastated that mama had another baby on her chest and just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t holding him.
I am certainly not the first mother that’s had two under two, in fact in my circle of friends the majority of us have had two under two at some point (clearly we are all daft), but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. NOT ONE SINGLE THING.
I remember being pregnant with Yusuf and looking at my 13 month old toddler trying to take his first steps, wondering how on earth I could have another baby in a few months when my baby was just a baby. I worried so much about Aadam and how he would adjust or how I could ever give him the attention he deserved. Having such a small gap between my boys meant two things. Firstly, I had an extremely active second pregnancy. Climbing my jungle gyms and pushing a pram while I was 9 months pregnant was normal. The second being I was absolutely determined to have my second baby naturally as I could not fathom walking around with a Cesarean section scar aching while my toddler was running around. People underestimate the monumental shift that going from 3 to 4 is. Gosh, I had just gotten used to being a wife when I had to adjust to being a mum for the first time and a family of 3, and suddenly we were transitioning to 4 !
Through it all, I made it, and now my boys are the best of friends. They fight like cat and dog, but they also proudly declare that they are each others best friends and it is the most beautiful thing to see. So here are a couple of pieces of advice I gathered when dealing with 2 under 2.
1.Call in the troops
If your mother or mum in law offer to come and help out with the new baby, TAKE THAT HELP! You will need every extra paid of hands you can get in those first few weeks. Dinner time with a 16 month old and newborn around? It’s a little trickier than before and having that extra set of hands is a welcome relief.
2. Prepare your partner
You have only just adjusted to your new little family when suddenly you are welcoming one more. It is stressful on your partner and they may get bumped down the ladder in terms of priority for a few weeks. Make sure they know you love them and together you will weather the storm. Make time wherever you can to sneak in some alone time. We had our nanny in one weekend for an hour one Saturday and quickly snuck off to the beach while the babies were having their morning nap. It was just one hour but I will never forget that time.
3. Your toddler will get jealous, your baby will not.
I know this sounds harsh but my aunt gave me this piece of advice and I never looked back. Apart from feeding and nappy changes a newborn doesn’t “require” a lot. Have a mobile bed set up in your living area and whenever baby is sleeping try to devote your time solely to your toddler.
4. Get your kids excited about the baby
Easier said then done when your toddler is only 15 months old. By the time I was 8 months pregnant though, even though he couldn’t speak yet, Aadam would kiss my belly at night and give his brother “hugs”.
5. Invest in a carrier
I feel like this should be priority number one in terms of importance. I had various slings and wraps when Aadam was born but to be honest, I never really used them or got the hang of them. Fast forward 16 months and my baby wrap became my best friend and saving grace. With a toddler you NEED that pram and you NEED two hands. I would carry Yusuf around on me most of the time and had my hands free to tend to “big brother”.
6. Try to synchronize nap times
However you do it, it doesn’t matter, but it will be a game changer. Of course one being a newborn and the other a pint-sized toddler they wont sleep all at the same time but for your toddlers morning and afternoon naps try to get in 45 minutes where you can. I have no shame in saying many a time I chucked them both in the car and drove around until there was silence.
7. Balance your attention
Think of a triage system in hospitals, and yes, your house will resemble the emergency room quite a few times. I typically prioritize based on whose need is bigger or more “urgent”. If the toddler is crying because he can’t get because he can’t reach his toy, and the baby is crying because she is hungry, the baby wins. But if the toddler is crying because he just fell down and needs help, and the baby is crying because he needs to be burped or held, then the toddler wins that time.
8. One day at a time
This is the GOLDEN rule. ALWAYS. One step forward, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Each day it will get a little easier, each day they will grow a little bigger. The younger baby will grow up much quicker and the moment he/she is sitting you will blink and they will be crawling, and then…… well then the real fun starts!