I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately how life with two kids under two years is! If it weren’t for those two extra months, we’d actually have two under ONE year! Wilson is a mere 14 months older than Lily Ryan!
But to answer the question I’m so commonly asked these days, life with two super young kids is hard but SO awesome! Although I do not claim to be any kind of expert parent, I do have a few tips, tricks, and helpful hints for making life with two under two work for me! Maybe this will be helpful for some other mommies too!
1.) An awesome spouse is the way to go. Without an incredible husband, I’m pretty sure I, as well as our kids, would not be alive right now! As Price likes to say, “It’s all hands on deck all the time!” I’m so thankful to have an awesome husband who comes home from work and helps me get kids fed, bathed, and asleep. We have each experienced the night time madness as a single parent, and it is 110% easier with a helping spouse. The first time I had both by myself, I texted Price telling him that I hoped we were all alive when he got home. His first night of keeping them by himself was filled with “I’m not cut out for this. What do I do?” texts. But you know what? We both made it and our kids are alive and well! Baptism by fire. We know we’ll have to get used to making things happen as a solo parent more often, but boy am I so thankful for my wonderful spouse! Especially during these first few months! We haven’t been able to do our own things quite as much at night yet, but once we get Lily Ryan on her schedule, things will ease up significantly! (More on the schedule shortly!)
2.) You gotta pray. Hard. As all mamas know, one newborn by himself/herself is hard enough. One toddler by himself/herself is hard enough. But when you have one of each at the same time, there’s no way to get through the surprises and sleep deprivation without the help of the good Lord above! Without Him giving me patience and energy, I’m pretty sure I’d be a complete, total, and utter wreck. In the chaos of parenting, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that children are amazing and incredible blessings. Gifts from God. Little miracles personified. I actually had a friend share with me that she knew of a mama who prayed every night before she went to bed for God to allow her to feel rested and energized the next morning even if she didn’t get much sleep. I’ve begun to pray that and the Lord has totally answered my prayer! He knows that I’m not much of a morning person, yet He gives me what I need to get up and going with a good (or at least decent) attitude every morning! Oh, and coffee definitely helps. I do not let us run out of these!
3.) Embrace survival mode. You’ve gotta put yourself into survival mode those first few weeks. When people offer to help, say yes! When people offer to bring you food, say yes! And follow it up with many many thank yous! There is no shame. This is what makes survival mode possible. Nap when the baby is napping. Go for a drive just for the sake of quieting a crying baby. Don’t feel bad if you need to just set the baby in the crib for a few minutes and walk outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. If pumping and breast feeding is too tall of an order, don’t feel bad about supplementing with some formula. Or switching to formula altogether. I speak from experience on all of these things! And here I sit as a sane mother. (I think I’m sane anyway?! My friends and family may beg to differ!) 😉 A few weeks ago, I thought I was going to go out of my mind because it was near impossible to nurse/pump for Lily Ryan with little wild man Wilson running around. I have SO MUCH respect for mothers who can make breast feeding work in situations like mine. I just couldn’t seem to get my act together and get that working for me/us!
4.) Getting on an eating/sleeping schedule. My sister-in-law told me about the book 12 Hours’ Sleep by 12 Weeks. This book worked like a freakin CHARM with Wilson, so we are doing it with Lily Ryan now. I’ll admit… The month or so that it takes to switch to a strict eating and sleeping schedule is hard. I lovingly call it “hell month.” But by the end of the program, if you follow it correctly, you’re guaranteed to have a baby who eats 4 times a day and sleeps 12 hours at night! It’s the best thing ever, but you gotta put in the work. With Wilson, I didn’t find out about the book til he was about 8 weeks old, so we started it when he was 8 weeks. With Lily Ryan, she met the requirements necessary to start at 6 weeks, so we got her on a feeding schedule a little earlier. Knock on wood, Lily Ryan has been sleeping through the night for a couple of nights now. At 9 weeks old! I HIGHLY recommend this book to any mama who is looking to get back to sleeping soundly for more than just a few hours at a time! You can buy it here if you are interested! Knowing that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel known as sleep deprivation is HUGE motivation for me! And takes a major load of stress off.
Related to this, I would recommend staggering the feeding times so you can be sure to get each kid fed without too much chaos! I start feeding Lily Ryan at 8:00, then I get Wilson up at 8:30, fix him his yogurt and waffle, and let him feed himself while I finish up giving Lily her bottle! At night, we give Lily Ryan her bottle at 8:00 then put her down around 8:30. That’s about the same time we’ve been putting Wilson in the tub to start getting him ready for bed! Now, the difficult part when you’re alone is keeping an eye on Wilson while giving Lily Ry her bottle during that 8 to 8:30 window! Ha!
5) Remind yourself that it’s all going to be ok. Things are not always going to be perfect. In fact, for me, they are almost never perfect! And that is OK! It keeps life exciting. If I didn’t have time to change Lily Ryan out of her PJs before taking Wilson to school then running a couple of errands, it’s totally fine. If I forgot to buy whole milk for Wilson and he has to just get by on water and apple juice for a day, no big deal. He will live. If I have to let Wilson out of my sight for a few minutes to clean up a Lily Ryan blowout, sure he might make a mess by unrolling an entire thing of toilet paper in our bathroom, but he’ll survive! That’s why we baby-proofed the house. Peace o’ mind! It’s all going to be alright! Of course I try to be the best, most careful mom I can be, but things going perfectly all of the time is just not an option when you have two little ones so close in age! During a blow out change when I can just hear Wilson making a mess, I revert back to tip #2: PRAY! 🙂
6) Take your birth control. I have a daily reminder set on my phone. 🙂
7) Look for things that both kids love! For us, this is going outside, blowing bubbles, dancing around the room (Lily in the Baby Bjorn, Wilson on the hip, all three of us spinning around the room), eating (if both kids are awake at the same time and it’s time for Lily Ry to eat, I put Wilson in his high chair and give him a snack, too!), reading books, and of course napping!
8) Don’t try to do it all yourself. We have Wilson in a wonderful Parents’ Day Out program a few days a week, we have an amazing sitter who keeps Lily Ryan while I work part time, and my mom also helps out some. So I am home with them both by myself a good bit, but I also have a good bit of help, which definitely keeps me mentally stable!
9) Make time for your spouse. Two young kids can be a bit of a strain on a marriage. So spending quality time with your spouse is a MUST! Your relationship with your spouse is EXTREMELY important! I mean, they are your partner in this crazy journey! So you have to figure out how to make time to go on a date every so often and keep that relationship a priority. We have been blessed enough to have some great babysitting options available to us. Our church also has a Parents’ Night Out once a month where we can drop the kids off and enjoy a few hours as husband and wife! My advice would be to take advantage of the opportunities you have to leave the kids with grandparents, babysitters, etc. and get out. So important!
10) Don’t try to take the car seat in everywhere. I don’t know about other mommies, but when Wilson was a little baby, if he was asleep or comfortable in his car seat when we got to the store, restaurant, church, etc., then I would leave him strapped in and take the whole car seat in. It just made sense! But fast forward 16 months… Carrying a 25 pound toddler plus a car seat with a sleeping baby ain’t happenin’ for me! If Price is with me, we will get the Bob out and stroll baby girl in in her car seat, but if I’m by myself, it is easiest for me to put her in the Bjorn on my chest and just carry Wilson. If she wakes up when I’m transferring her from car seat to Bjorn, she usually falls right back asleep because she LOVES being right there close to me!
It’s also a great workout! And it saves you from having to lug way too much stuff into wherever you’re going.
11) Talk to other mommies! Talking to mama friends is a wonderful support network that has been so helpful for me! I have a group of friends I text when I have a question about how Wilson is acting, or how Lily Ryan is eating, or just whatever. I also love hearing from all of you! If any of you have any tips or tricks you want to share, PLEASE do! I love hearing how other mamas do it.
Again, I do not claim to know much about how to be a great parent, but these are things that have really helped me and Price over the past few months! I really would love to hear from all of you, too, if you have some wisdom to impart!
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! XOXOXO!