Two kids under 2: double the trouble or twice the fun? In all honesty, probably equal parts of both. If you’re stressing about bringing a new baby home while you’re still dealing with one kid in diapers, take a breath and get some great tips from moms who’ve been there.
“With two kids under 2, you quickly learn to prioritize and think on your feet,” says Deborah, whose son was 18 months old when her daughter was born. “Usually, it was my eldest who got my attention first, purely from a safety or sanitation point of view! If he had a dirty diaper disaster, I could pop his sister in her bassinet while I cleaned him up. Even if she was crying, I knew she was safe and warm. It’s OK to let babies cry!”
To make those moments when you feel like you’re being pulled in two directions a little easier, stock up on duplicates of all your most-used baby products and place one of each item in the rooms you spend the most time in. If you always have diapers, baby wipes, toddler snacks and juice bottles at hand, you won’t have to worry about leaving a child unattended (or dragging them around the house with you) while you search for things.
It can be tough to acknowledge your child's negative reaction to their new little brother or sister, but it's perfectly natural. "My 20-month-old daughter was extremely jealous of her little sister," says Jennifer. "At first, I tried to insist that she be nice to her, but it only made things worse. It wasn't until I gave my firstborn permission to have those feelings that we made progress. I told her that I understood how hard it was for her to share her mom with another kid, and I made sure I still had lots of one-to-one time with her, just the two of us."
A great way to encourage a positive bond between your under-2s is to let the older child "help" with caring for the newborn (such as picking out toys or clothes for the baby), then praise them for being a great big brother or sister.
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When a new baby arrives, family routines can take a bit of a hit, but it's important to try to keep your toddler's routine in place to help them adjust to the new arrival. This is where family and friends can really help out, by taking your toddler to their regular activity or mommy and me group. And when people come to visit the new baby, make sure your toddler gets plenty of attention too.
One of the most useful items for a mom of two under 2 is a sling. It keeps your newborn safe and close to you and keeps both hands free for your older child. Another product that will make life a lot easier is a double stroller, where both children can sit or lie down if they need to.
It's difficult to make time for yourself when you have two kids under 2, but it's not impossible. Make sure you fit regular showers into your daily routine, either when your partner is home or you have someone else there who can watch the kids for 10 minutes. You might still be exhausted, but you'll feel better for showering, moisturizing and putting on clean clothes.
If both children nap at the same time, take that opportunity to nap yourself or just relax with a cup of tea and a magazine. Don't knock yourself out trying to tidy up before the kids wake up. "I learned the hard way that my health was more important than clean kitchen counters," says Jessica. "I was making myself ill trying keep on top of chores with a 16-month-old and a newborn. So I decided I was going to have a messy house most of the time! My husband and I worked out a system where we both spent a couple hours on chores at the weekend while the other took the kids to the park."
"It was tiring when my kids were both under 2, but now that they're older I'm so glad they are close in age," says Carrie, whose daughters are 8 and 9. "They have lots in common, and have an incredibly close bond. And from a practical point of view, they go to the same school and clubs, making for easier planning — and less driving!"
Jennifer agrees that the positives of having two kids very close in age outweigh the difficulties. "I was done with my diaper stage in three years," she says.
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