For three months now, I’ve been a member of the “Two Under Two Club.” It’s a crazy club with an unspoken sisterhood among its members. You can spot a “Two Under Two” club member from a mile away. She usually has a baby strapped to her chest and is chasing after a toddler. There’s a good chance she is reminding the toddler not to poke the baby in the eye. She might even be shaking a box of raisins towards the toddler, trying to bribe them to get in the car while the baby cries in the car seat. Moms in this club give each other knowing looks, laugh at the ridiculousness, help each other out, and never judge. We’re all just trying to survive this crazy, fun, exhausting, sweet season of life.
I’ve worn my “Two Under Two” badge proudly. In fact, I’ll actually be kind of sad when my kids grow up and I’m not able to say I have two under two anymore! But the past few months haven’t been all sibling snuggles and funny toddler antics. There has also been frustration, a constant mess in the living room, and endless amounts of guilt wondering if you are splitting your time fairly between the baby and the toddler. I’m definitely no expert, but here are a couple of ways I have kept my sanity while raising two under two!
- Get okay with the crying. When I was pregnant with my second son, I asked a two under two mom at the library for advice. She told me, “Someone will always be crying, and that’s okay. You just have to get used to it.” This could not be more true! As long as everyone is safe, it’s okay if one of your kids is crying while you tend to the other one. There is only one of you and there are two of them. Someone is bound to be crying. It might even be you.
- Get the right gear. Having the right gear in your house and in your car is essential. In my opinion, a bouncer chair, swing, some type of Ergo (or other baby-wearing device), and a double stroller are musts (we love our sit and stand stroller). You need safe places to quickly put the baby down when the toddler inevitably tries to climb on the counter or falls off the couch.
- Leave the house. Even if it’s just to drive through the bank, make yourself leave the house. Sometimes you just need a little fresh air to turn a bad day around.
- Practice the “we can always go home” rule. If you are feeling brave enough to leave the house and actually get everyone out of the car, remember: if it’s a disaster, you can always go home. It’s hard to take two small kids out in public! Meltdowns will happen. I always tell myself, if this isn’t going well, we’ll just leave. Simple as that!
- Go where your friends are. The first place I ventured out to after my second son was born was our local rec center for toddler open gym. I knew my friends would be there which made leaving the house for the first time with a toddler and a newborn MUCH easier. They could help me if I needed it and I knew they wouldn’t judge me if any of the three of us had a meltdown. Schedule play dates with people you know or head to a park where there will be other moms to talk to. Talking to other moms definitely helps me keep my sanity!
- Take a shower. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. 6 am or 3 pm when the kids are napping– just do it. The simple task of taking an uninterrupted shower now feels like ten minutes at the spa for me. Sometimes it’s my favorite part of day. Just peace and quiet in a hot steamy shower makes me feel like a human again.
- Listen to podcasts. When I’m stuck in the house with two crazy little humans, listening to podcasts makes me feel connected to the outside world. I listen to podcasts with topics ranging from parenting, to politics, to pop culture. I listen to them while playing with my kids, or in the car while we’re running errands. They are so young that they could care less about what we are listening to! On this same note, kids generally love all types of music. There’s only so much Raffi and Disney music you can listen to in a day without losing your mind. Switch it up and turn on a Pandora station you like! Our two-year-old loves bluegrass music now because that’s what my husband and I like to listen to!
- Pick your battles. Let your toddler play in the bathroom sink and throw rolls of toilet paper in the toilet while you feed the baby. Whatever keeps them occupied for ten minutes!
- Make chores an activity. My toddler loves to help me with chores around the house! Yesterday he helped me unload the dishwasher, collect and take out the garbage, wash the dishes, and change the laundry. Sure, the silverware sometimes ends up in the wrong spot and it takes a little longer to take the garbage out, but it’s an activity that keeps him occupied AND I’m able to get things done around the house! Plus, I’m laying the groundwork for my son to continue to help with chores as he grows up.
Are you surviving with two under two? What are your tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them!