Updated: Nov 17, 2020
I always desired to have two children, but wanted an age gap of about three years. Things didn't quite go to plan...let's just say I was in absolute shock when I saw the positive pregnancy test when Mr I was only 10 months old! Having two under two is certainly a juggling act, one that you become pro at! I wanted to share a little about my experience having two children in two years. It's been a crazy ride, but one that I wouldn't change for the world.
I taught as a Kindergarten teacher for 4 years, then decided to have a bit of a career change and got an admin job. About one month after starting my new job I discovered I was pregnant…oops! This worked out perfectly though, as I was able to sit down and work with my huge belly, hehe. My husband and I had been married for almost 4 years and I had been getting clucky, so although it was a surprise, I was very happy to be pregnant. I had every intention of going back to work part-time… but that all changed after I had Mr I. I then fell pregnant again when he was only 10 months old – now that was a shock! Oh, my goodness, I will have two under two, I must be crazy! Miss C was born the following August, making them 18 months apart. Having a second child was certainly a shock to the system. To all other mummas out there with a newborn and a toddler – I know exactly how you feel – it is hard yakka!! Please know, you’re not alone. There is a learning curve, it is a juggling act…but you will get there! You will find your groove, and you will soon forget what it is like to only have one child.
For me, it was all about prioritizing. Whose needs ought to be met first/whose needs can be met faster/who is screaming loudest haha! I remember a couple of situations where I had to decide, instantly, who I needed to tend to. I was cleaning the toilet with bleach-based toilet cleaner (yes, I know probably not a smart move to begin with). Miss C came crawling down the hallway, picked up some foreign object off the ground and put it in her mouth. I honestly can’t remember what it was, but I know it was something I needed to get out ASAP. I had two choices - should I… a) Quickly dash to the bathroom in the next room to wash my hands, or b) Quickly flick it out of her mouth, risking possibly putting chemicals and/or gross toilet-ness in her mouth. I quickly decided on b), as I felt choking was a more life-threatening scenario. Another example: Mr I did a poo in his nappy and decided it needed to come off there and then. He ripped it off and started running away. I then hear Miss C, who is newly walking, toddling down the hallway, towards said poo - which had rolled out of the nappy as he ripped it off. Did I… a) Immobilise the 1 year old, b) Clean up the poo, c) Chase after the dirty-butted toddler running around the house (with the possibility of him smearing it goodness knows where). Well… I actually can’t even remember what I did, but I know we got through it with minimal mess (yay!) These are just two of many, many examples of life with two under two. #funtimes.
I also remember really struggling bathing Miss C during her newborn phase. We didn’t have a regular bath, just a deep, square, shower, that was way too low and awkward to bath her in, and we didn’t have a very big laundry or kitchen sink. I had a baby bath on wheels, that also could be used as a change table (p.s these are AWESOME, so handy!) If I attempted to bath her while Mr I was around, (remembering he was only about 19months), he would try to ‘help’, which ended in a screaming baby, water everywhere, a crying toddler, and a frustrated mummy…it was just not ideal. He did not want to play alone if he knew I was bathing her. So I ended up pulling a highchair into the bathroom, and giving him a small amount of playdough (which mostly ended in his mouth and on the floor) BUT it occupied him long enough for me to bath her! Win! Then as soon as she was old enough to semi-sit in a bath seat life became SO much easier!
Sometimes it’s a natural instinct to tend to the baby first, and then the toddler. But I learnt, sometimes it was actually easier to let the baby cry for a minute (it won’t hurt them, I promise!) and set the toddler up with something entertaining – whether it be snacks, books, toys or TV and then you can (provided the toddler cooperates) tend to the baby in peace (or semi-peace at least). I found it particularly hard when I was trying to train Miss C to sleep in her bassinette as she didn’t want to sleep if she could see her brother playing, so she needed a dark, quiet-ish room. I put a large pedestal fan in the lounge room outside our bedroom as white noise, meanwhile, Mr I was set up in the loungeroom, and I would run back and forth from patting her to checking on him. Oh gosh it was exhausting, and some days a complete fail. But she eventually was able to sleep unassisted and oh my goodness it was so worth it.
If I’m being completely honest, I often feel guilty that I neglected Mr I, and he missed out. During the last moments of my pregnancy with Miss C, I was just a hormonal, tired mess and DEFINITELY not my best self. Then when she was a newborn, I just needed him to be quiet and occupied so I could try to function despite being sleep deprived and completely overwhelmed. Those first few months were not easy. It is all just quite a blur, really. Having two under two is certainly a whole new world. In the moment, it felt like the time would never end. They would never grow up, I would never sleep again, never feel normal again. There were some awfully lonely, long days. So, if you’re feeling like this at the moment- mama I feel you. I really do. You just have no idea.
My advice to you – keep going. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day. If that means more screen time than you’d prefer, do it. If that means getting nanny to look after the toddler, do it. If that means toast, noodles and takeaway, do it. It is all, but for a season. If you have a support system offering help – TAKE IT! It does not mean you are failing or you are weak. If you have people offering to cook/clean/cuddle the baby/walk your dog…say yes! And If you don’t, then turn that TV on and take a minute to yourself. You’ve got this. I promise you, you will get through this. If you, or someone you know, is now or soon experiencing a similar two under two/newborn/toddler combo, please reassure them that they will find their groove. It does get easier. You come across different challenges, but once you are over that ‘hump’ you slowly start to feel life going back to (somewhat) normal. My private messages are always open, if you feel like no-one in the world understands you, I DO! If you have no other friends/family in a similar situation, I promise you there are many, many mamas who are. Talk to someone about it all – laugh about it, cry about it. It helps! Take care of yourself, just take one day at a time.
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Until next time,
Keep smiling mamas, we’ve got this!