Whenever I’m asked about the four-year gap between my children, and if I planned it, I don’t hesitate to tell whoever is asking about how it was solely by God’s grace that I have that age gap between them.
Because I do remember how I cried the day my second pregnancy was confirmed, both at the scan center and the doctor’s office. I was so worried about how I was going to survive, so imagine the way I felt when I found out that a young lady, whom I knew had just had a baby, was expecting yet another. Her first child is just fifteen months old.
I just kept saying, “She has power oh” and “The Lord is her strength.” True, she’s young and has plenty of energy to deal with a toddler and new born, she also has the help of her mom, but I certainly do not envy her. Because you see, no matter how many months her mother stays, one day she will leave, and there she will be with two children, one who is still in diapers and not walking yet, alongside a milk guzzling baby. Now, that is when the work will really start.
During the naming ceremony of the baby, many older moms, including the pastor, kept hinting at the need for her to take her time before trying for another baby. It was hilarious the manner in which people tried to say “chill out” without being seen as overstepping their boundaries, but I guess the message was passed loud and clear.
Moving on, I spent the weekend with a mother of two under two, Susan, and watched her routine, even though it was one that meant she got next to little sleep, but she’s coping well and her babies are thriving.
So, here’s from her fountain of knowledge, some tips you can use to survive having two babies who are both under two, if you are in that phase, or you are going to be soon.
Expect and accept jealous behaviour
Susan told me how her older child started to exhibit strong jealous traits just months into her pregnancy, I mean, even before she was showing, she wanted to be carried, and threw tantrums at will. In fact, the nine month journey was filled with lots of drama from her first child.
It didn’t get better when the new baby arrived. If anything, her daughter wanted more attention. Threatening to beat her didn’t work. Spanking her when she was beyond frustrated only made things worse.
So, what did she do? Rather than threaten, she involved her daughter into the routine of her son. She is there when he has his bath, when she feeds him, etc.. So, while Susan spends time taking care of her son, her daughter doesn’t feel left out.
Susan recognised the fact that, if she was in her daughter’s shoes, she would most likely be jealous of the new guy on the scene, who was taking all her mom’s attention. Her older sister, who is only a year older than her helped with that.
Even with all the time spent taking care of her son together, Susan still has one–on-one moments with her daughter, whilst her son sleeps.
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.
Though not technically twins, but erm, two children under two still means double the baby meals, diapers, wipes, juice boxes and all the works.
So, make double provision for all the essential baby products you use daily and consider putting 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.
While at it, you will need to be able to make decisions fast but let these priorities guard you; safety and sanitation. The child who is mostly at risk gets your attention first and a baby with a dirty diaper gets priority over a crying baby. It’s painful, but it’s really okay to let babies cry.
Ask for help
As a mother of twins, I know how important the support of other people is in taking care of babies and a mother of two children under two shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, but rather of strength.
When a new baby arrives, family routines can take a bit of a hit, but it is 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 filling in the gap, where mom isn’t available.
And please, when people come to visit the new baby, make sure your toddler gets plenty of attention too.
Take care of yourself
Parenting is the best excuse anyone has to stop looking out for themselves. I mean, it’s a 24/7 job, no holidays, no breaks, no sabbatical…always on the job but mehn, it’s just so the wrong way to go about it, because we also serve as examples to the children we are bring up.
Yes, it is going to be difficult to make time for yourself when you have two kids under 2, but it’s not impossible.
Regular showers, changing into clean clothes, while your partner is home or you have someone else there who can watch the kids for 10 minutes, will go a long way in making you feel better.
And if luck smiles on you in the form of both children napping at the same time, take that opportunity to nap yourself or just relax with a cup of tea and a magazine.
That is not the time to be doing domestic goddess. You will be fine with a little bit of dirt around your house.
Calm your OCD. It’s all for your health and the good of your children.
So, that’s what I learnt over the weekend, even though I know I have disrupted Susan’s routine with my presence a bit, because she had an extra pair of hands, which aren’t always available, but I do know that she will bounce back in no time.
To the mamas of two babies under two, I hail you! You are the real MVPs.
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