My daughter was born when my son was only 20 months old, so I joined the two under two club. Even though my son will be three in a few months, I still consider myself part of this club. The age gap makes for an interesting dynamic in our home. Because my son is still quite young, he’s not fully independent. Heck, he’s not even fully potty trained! And with a young one is ready to walk, I’ve got my hands (and heart) full. A year of parenting two very little children has helped me learn a few tricks of the trade. Some of my experience might help you wrangle your older babies, too!
Plan Out Your Day The Night Before
A successful day of parenting two littles starts the night before! I’ve learned to make life easier on myself by folding my kids’ outfits together as a unit, rather than in separates. Any parent can tell you that a good night’s rest is crucial to have a happy morning. After dinner, we run through our routine: play time, brushing teeth, bedtime stories and prayers. My son (he’s two-and-a-half) begs me to sing to him. It’s not that he finds it soothing - he just wants to delay going to sleep! He’ll run through a litany of requests and won’t be happy until I’ve sung an entire musical.
The real fun starts after your toddler goes to bed - now you can finally get stuff done! It's the only time I can properly meal plan and make to-do lists or map out a schedule.
6:30 am rolls around and my daughter wakes up crying. My husband, bless his soul, fetches her from her crib and brings her to our room. I nurse her - she’s ravenous after a long night, so I’m stuck in bed nursing her for at least thirty minutes. At some point my son also gets up and lets himself out of his room. He comes running into mine and jumps up onto my bed, shouting, “I OPEN THE DOOR!” Yes, dear. You did open the door. I saw.
Your Toddler Shouldn't Skip Breakfast
I like pancakes as much as the next person, but little ones make a huge mess of the syrup. So I keep breakfast simple: yogurt, banana, and cereal. This is about survival, folks! Don’t make a fuss and give yourself a huge mess to clean up. After breakfast, I wipe the baby down and release my minions onto their toys. While they play, I clean up after our meal and gulp as much coffee as possible. Don’t skip this step, you’re going to need it.
Chaos erupts. My son has pushed the baby over because she dared to play with his toys. I employ a variety of techniques to smooth things over between my kids. Instead of giving my toddler attention for his bad behavior, I dote on the baby instead. After everyone has calmed down, I make my toddler apologize to his sister. If I can sense conflict is imminent, I tell my son to choose a toy to share. Take your pick - I’m still working out which of these is most helpful or useful for my own kids! Their effectiveness seems to vary from day to day.
Make Noise While Your Baby Sleeps
Around 10 am my daughter goes down for her morning nap. I try to clean up after the mess the two kids have created, but I don’t worry myself over it. Honestly, this might be the first chance I get to sit down all morning - and I take it. Protip: take a moment for yourself every now and then. Running yourself ragged does no one any good. My son usually takes this time to have a calm moment cuddling with me. I’ll read him a book or play a quiet matching game with him. Keeping the noise down helps my youngest nap more peacefully. Honestly, most of my attempts are futile; Shep will scream and shout and make a racket seven times out of ten. I’ve found the only way to survive two under two is that at least one of them is a heavy sleeper. From day one, don’t make a huge effort to limit the noise around them. Kids who are used to noise around them while they nap won’t be so easily disturbed by it as they grow older.
After my daughter wakes up from her nap, I send my kids to play in the living room. Lunch is never a fancy affair in our house. Most of the time I warm up leftovers from dinner the night before; we make a point of having family meals together. It keeps life simpler and it helps my kids expand their palettes. Typically lunch is messier than breakfast, so a post-lunch bathtime is nearly inevitable (at least for my daughter).
Work While The Kids Nap
Once lunch is done, bath(s) are done, and they’ve had a bit of playtime, it’s time for naps. Usually, my toddler will fight me on his nap. Sometimes I spend most of this naptime catching him sneaking out of his room and chasing him back inside. Naptime is just as much for me as it is for my kids. When my son seems to be fighting sleep, I compromise. He doesn’t need to sleep, but he MUST stay in his room and play quietly. This seems to do the trick while keeping the peace.
After naptime, the afternoon is filled with playtime. If we’re going to venture out of the house to a park or something similar, this is when we’ll go. I try to fit in some sort of educational activity during playtime, too. It’s not easy to find a middle ground. My daughter is barely speaking a few words, while my son is working on far more complex lessons. From my experience, catering to the more advanced child is the better way to go about it. My youngest has picked up on things I thought were beyond her! Give your little ones credit; they can learn more than we expect.
Consistency Is Key With Bedtime Routines
Playtime continues after my husband comes home, and then we have dinner together. Once everyone is cleaned up from dinner, I send the kids off with their father while I try to undo all the mess they’ve made throughout the day. We have established a consistent bedtime routine that seems to help the kids wind down for the evening. It begins with changing into their pajamas. Our toddler insists on picking out his own jammies. Next, we brush our teeth together. Monkey see monkey do! Finally, my husband tucks our kids into bed. My son always asks me to sing to him - I've started to make up silly songs because those are his favorite. They're finally in bed and ready for a good night's sleep! Rinse, repeat.
This probably doesn’t look too terribly different from most SAHM days. The only difference, really, is that my kids are too little to self-entertain. It’s a constant tug-of-war between them begging for my attention and me trying to keep up with them and the mess they leave in their wake. Most helpful overall advice I’ve ever received for surviving two kids under two? Lower your standards, and don’t sit down.
NEXT: Mama Needs A Nap, Y'all
What are your tricks for surviving life with two under two? Tell me more on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #TwoUnderTwo.