Oh my goodness, this was a very highly requested post. Two under two is no joke, here. I hope you all know my intentions are not to write this as a “how to”, but how we are trying to manage life with two kids under two. What’s working for us, and what isn’t. My hope is that maybe I can teach you some tricks, and maybe you can teach me some too!?
So, first I want to start off by saying that my first month with Nora was pretty terrible. I feel like I didn’t get to enjoy it. She was super fussy, gassy, never slept and seemed to always be crying when she was set down or not nursing. She wasn’t one of those “I’m either sleepy or hungry” newborns. She was just ticked unless she was nursing or (finally, but rarely) sleeping. When she was up during the night, it wasn’t because she wanted to nurse, it was because she was in pain and gassy. I was seriously having such a hard time. Plus, that took even more time away from enjoying Cam. I was always tired (which is typical for the newborn period), but I knew something just didn’t seem right. Always trust your gut, mamas! I got info from other moms about tongue tie, lip tie, colic, reflux, etc. We tried probiotics, gas drops, saw a specialist, a lactation consultant, and our pediatrician to figure out what was going on. Was it colic? Was it gas? Was it just her “personality”? We tried a couple different things and finally got some information about silent reflux. Our ped started her on Zantac twice per day and within 4 days she was a whole new baby. I was SO glad we all figured it out and it has helped her. She absolutely hates getting the medicine, but we manage. We also decided to move her to her own crib/nursery at about 6 weeks and it was a godsend. I think the little noises we (and our dogs) were making at night may have woken her up more often than we thought. She started giving us 4-8 hour stretches at night. We did the same when Cam was 6 weeks and it worked out really well for us. Plus I am not one of those “sleep in my room until your 25 years old” moms. No judgment, just not me!
Next, I will just say boys are SO different than girls when it comes to a new baby in the house. Cam was really not that excited. He was fine, but the transition seemed a little harder for him. I somewhat anticipated that even though everyone would say “oh he’ll love his sister, just wait!” while I was pregnant. He tolerated her, but wasn’t obsessed like some siblings are. He is too young to really understand, though, and they’re growing on each other- just keeping it real! Now that she can coo, smile, and interact he is really liking her (but still a tad rough, ha!).
“s c h e d u l e” (it’s in quotes for a reason)
So here’s how our days have been going and how we are getting by:
(Tuesdays and Thursdays I have been still sending Cam to his sitter so he gets interaction with other kids his age, which has been great for extra bonding time and snuggles with Nora while he is away).
7- 7:30 With Nora sleeping better (she usually gets up 1-2x per night) we usually wake up “for the day” around 7-7:30. I nurse her as soon as she gets up and then talk to her play with her while she’s awake and happy. This is her favorite time of the day- she’s so happy! Then, I put her on her playmat or her boppy lounger and make Cam some breakfast once he wakes up. Sometimes he will wake up super crabby, so I have to hold him, give him some milk in a cup and give him some lovin’. Once he eats, he is usually a lot happier (duh), and plays with his cars. By this point, Nora is starting to get fussy because she wants to eat and take a long morning snooze.
9- 9:30 I nurse her again and either let her fall asleep on me, or put her in her crib to sleep. Normally, (if Cam keeps somewhat quiet) she will sleep about 2 hours or so. It’s hard letting her sleep on me when Cam is home because he wants to play and will come try to pull my hand and stand me up to lead me somewhere. I feel guilty when I say no because Nora is sleeping on me, but at the same time I don’t want her to wake up. It’s hard. Super hard. If she gets a good nap, she wakes up ready to nurse again around 11-11:30.
11- 11:30 After I nurse her, I put her on her playmat or momaroo while I make Cam lunch. I try to be pretty hands on during lunch, but since Cam is in his chair, I can pick Nora up if she starts fussing and still talk to him while he eats. Once he eats, I clean him up, then he is super hyper and wants to play. I play with him and keep Nora nearby as well so she can see us. Usually everyone is pretty happy at this point.
1- 1:30 Both kiddos start getting a little crabby around this time. Both of them are usually ready for a nap. Big time. I try to get Cam down first, because then I can nurse Nora and let her fall asleep on me (unless I have some major chores to do). I do just let Nora fuss a little bit while I get Cam ready for his nap and wind down. It’s not going to hurt her, but sometimes she is perfectly content. Gotta do what you gotta do! I would wear her in my baby wrap or sling while I got Cam ready for a nap, but sometimes he likes to cuddle and gets mad if I am holding her while he is winding down, so I just wing it. Once he is asleep in his bed, I change and nurse Nora, then let her sleep on me or put her in her crib to sleep. Depending on that situation, I will either watch TV or work on my phone while she naps on me. If she is in her crib, I try to do some meal prep, laundry, house cleaning, dishes, etc while they’re asleep. Or hey, maybe shower and eat?! Depends.
3- 3:30 Usually they both wake up by now. If Nora naps in her crib she won’t even sleep 1 hour, but if she’s on me she will #momlife. When Cam wakes up I get him a snack and some water and he usually watches TV or plays for a while. I change Nora again and probably nurse her if she’s wanting to. Then, I get on the ground and play with both of them again. Sometimes I will have to hold Nora while I play with Cam if need be. Otherwise, I put a blanket on the ground and set her next to us so she can be “involved”, but I can still focus a lot on Cam.
5- 5:30 Nurse Nora, make Cam dinner, make hubby and I dinner, let Nora take a quick cat nap in my sling so she’s not overly tired at bedtime.
6- 6:30 Dada’s home! He plays with the kiddos while I finish dinner (some nights), or he makes dinner while I run around like a chicken with my head cut off (most nights) giving baths, nursing, dealing with tantrums, etc.
7- bath time and wind down time. Cam would live in a bathtub if he could, but the nights we don’t do baths for him, I try to get him to wind down by holding him while we watch one of his shows or read. Usually this can take 1-1.5 hours because he is a BUSY body. Plus, Mark and I are trying to eat our dinner in this time frame. Nora only gets baths 2-3x per week so we don’t dry out her skin. Her baths are usually pretty quick and easy since she doesn’t “play” in there yet (Plus, I do it at work all the time, kind of a newborn bath pro, HA!).
8- 8:30 bedtime for the kiddos. I usually give Nora her Zantac at 7:30, then nurse her right after to help take the taste out of her mouth and fill her up for bed. Lately I have been nursing her to sleep (don’t judge), otherwise, she likes to be rocked to sleep. She usually is actually sleeping by 8:15- 8:30ish. Cam is more like 8:30- 9. While I am nursing Nora and putting her to sleep in her room, Mark is usually keeping Cam calm and quiet with a book or the TV #parentsoftheyear. Again, do what you gotta do! Then, one of us will put Cam to bed in his room (depending on how long it takes to get Nora down). There are times when I put Nora down, thinking she is asleep, and within 5 minutes she wakes up crying to be rocked again. Mark and I will occasionally “take turns” going in and rocking her, while the other puts Cam to bed.
9 (ish) our time ahhh finally. We usually watch our favorite shows and just hangout. The battle is always- should we go to bed just in case it’s a bad night, or should we enjoy this relaxing time. Normally it’s the latter. Once I return to work in a couple weeks, this will have to be my bedtime the nights before I work (I only work 2 days per week, but have to be clocked in by 7AM). Of course, I will probably spend this time getting my milk ready for the next day to send with Nora to the sitter, then go to bed. I like to have everything prepared the night before, so Mark doesn’t have to do much in the mornings I work. It’s already a lot for him to get both the kids fed and prepped to go to the sitter’s, so I try to help him be prepared as much as possible.
*Once I return to work, I will likely get up to pump at 5:30 (or would nurse if Nora happened to be awake), get ready for work, and leave. Mark will then give her my pumped milk via bottle when she would wake up.
This is what our days have been looking like for the most part. There are occasional play dates with friends, lunches with dada, or trips to the doctor scattered in there; but having maternity leave in the winter leaves a little to be desired… not much you can take the kids to go do. There are some fun toddler play places around us, but with the RSV, flu, and measles outbreak in the area I chose to stay away. With the spring coming, I cannot wait to get out with them! Like I said before, I work 2 days per week, so the other days I will be home with the kids still. I will be taking them out to do all kinds of activities and cannot wait!
What I have learned so far about a toddler and newborn is that you HAVE to be flexible, but also have a routine. Catch 22, I know. It’s so important to start the day off happy and end the day happy. That’s what your kids will remember the most. All the stuff in the middle can be a cluster f* and that’s okay! I feel like it’s important (as far as sleep) to stick with a routine every night. Same thing, no matter what their mood is. With Nora we started a routine as soon as she went to get own room at 6 weeks. We change, swaddle, turn sound machine on, nurse, lay down. Repetition is key. During the day I try to just go with the flow a bit. If the kids are crabby or tired before the “normal” nap time, you bet I will let them nap. Or, if they’re not tired at “normal” nap time, maybe they’ll play for 30 minutes and be ready for a nap. It just depends. You have to adjust to what they need. We cannot be stuck to a specific schedule. Especially since we like to do things in the spring and summer. I will make sure my kids nap, but it may not be RIGHT at 1:00 and that’s okay. It has to be.
Another important note- I am very hard on myself as a mom, so having mom friends to vent to/ share with has been extremely helpful for me. Surround yourself with people who are real and don’t make you feel like you’re not doing something right. Every parent does it differently. Don’t compare and don’t let people make you think they seriously feed their kids avocado toast every morning in nice clothes with their hair and makeup done and happy babies 24/7. NOT. TRUE. It’s not. Most days I look like a trainwreck, but feel like the best mom in the world if my kids are happy and have a good day. I could care less to look amazing while I am sitting at home with kids who just care that I am present. There are some days I will get ready when I have time, and you bet I document it!
All in all, two kids under two has been hard for us. The transition was difficult for Cam (still sometimes is) and it makes me guilty. They both need me at the same time and it’s stressful. And that happens a lot. They both have different needs and that’s hard. They don’t always nap at the same time and that’s hard. It’s just plain HARD. But, I wouldn’t change it. We are starting to get into a little groove (I like to think). Plus, it’s all worth it when Cam is having fun, or wants to hold Nora — or when Nora smiles at Cam or myself, coos and plays, or when they just give me a look that lets me know I am doing something right.