I’ve spent the past few weeks doing lots of reflecting and celebrating. My first born has just turned two, my second born’s first birthday is looming. We made it. We muddled through. It’s a massive mile stone and I finally see that although slightly manic at times, it has been a super intense but relatively short period of our lives.
When I found out I was almost over the first trimester of my second pregnancy, 7 months after my first pregnancy, I was desperately searching for advice on how people actually manage it! I was so worried and frightened about how we were going to keep two tiny people alive, let alone happy and function as a family. I needn’t have worried. You really do just muddle through to make the best of things! It’s probably mostly the same as going from one to two children, regardless of the age gap!
Here are some of the things that I wish somebody could have told/shown me in those weeks, when I was desperately soul searching, after I found out I was expecting so soon again:
- Ask for help – I wrote a post about elephant parenting (see further down the blog!). I really could not have got through the past two years without the help of my ‘herd’ of family and friends. Don’t be too proud. It really makes such a massive difference when you have two (or more!) little ones who need you equally.
- Take the easy option – easy oven or no prep dinners, shop online, get a cleaner, ask someone to do your ironing. Whatever it is, give yourself a break. Looking after the babes is hard enough and all-consuming without all the other life admin to manage. It’s for a short period of time.
- Put the TV on! – I still beat myself up about the amount of screen time Harrison has while I catch 20 minutes to myself or am trying to sort the washing or dinner. Cbeebies has been my imaginary knight in shining armour in the past year. I quite like watching it too! We do lots of activities and go out and about to counter balance it. TV is ok, really it is.
- Coordinate if you can – nap times, nappy changes, bed times, meal times; whatever it is, coordination has been key for us, for our sanity and to make life manageable. Obviously there have been plenty of occasions where this does not happen at all, but when it has, I have made sure I’ve sat down with a cuppa before ploughing on with the million and one jobs I’ve had.
- Get out – Give your day a purpose. Shortly after Molly was born, we had some very heavy snow and were pretty stuck at home for most of that week. I HATED it. We couldn’t get out. Harrison was like a caged animal! Since then, we plan our days to go out in the morning (usually to a group of some sort – I crave interaction/company of other grown ups!!), nap, lunch and then another activity either at home or out again in the afternoon. Do what works for you, but always give your day a purpose, it allows you to stay in charge and helps stop the sometimes lonnnnnng days at home from dragging.
- Reach out – I really didn’t realise how common it is to have children close together. I really felt quite alone at the thought of having two really small children, however I’ve made some nice friends and have been able to compare notes with so many other families who have been going through the exact same thing as us, from lots of the toddler groups, singing groups and classes we have been to.
- Use childcare – We kept Harrison going to the childminder for two mornings a week A) to keep him in his routine, B) to reserve his space for when I needed to return to work (even though I was still unsure about when that would be!) C) So that Molly and I had some time and space to bond without an energetic toddler monopolising our time together.
- Accept that some days will just be a bit shit – illness, teething, tantrums, poonamis just as you’re about to go out, trying to discipline a toddler, sleep deprivation. Need I go on?! Tomorrow is always another day.
- If in doubt – BISCUITS, GIN, CALPOL. In no particular order. You’re welcome.
To summarise. You will get through it. You may even enjoy it! It really does go so quickly and just when you feel like it is a never ending race of changing nappies, making bottles and wiping multiple snotty noses, you’ll look at these perfect little human beings that you have made and wish you could go back to the early days of them needing you constantly!
The next big milestone for us all is my return to work. Wish us luck!