So here we are, out of the woods right? That’s it, this month I hung up my Two Under Two shoes and gracefully bowed out of the club as Rory hit his second year of life. I am no longer a Two Under Two Mum! It’s funny that label isn’t it. As though once the clock chimed for Rory to be 2 years and one day, things would miraculously get easier but obviously, the dilemmas of a small age gap are still very much present.
So anyway, I “Two Under Twoed” it for 8 whole months and I feel like now I am done I want to pass on my wisdom to future and present Two Under Two Mums. Here is what I learnt:
Being pregnant and managing a toddler is THAT bad.
First things first. Pregnancy. It t was hard first time around right? Now your back to backing that shit. Your body is like “wait, what?”. Your first baby sucked all the nutrients out of you. You barely had a chance to replenish before BOOM, baby #2 is sucking whatever you had left out of you. Two Under Two pregnancy is HARD MAN. Do not discredit yourself at any point.
Stair Gates. Highchairs. Car Seats. Anything. Anything that allows you to strap your kids in is going to help you out ten fold. Stair gates are essential to stop busy toddlers wreaking havoc in other rooms while you tend to your baby. Highchairs are great to keep them penned in and safe if you need to run to the toilet quickly. Car seats are great for a place to put your baby at playgroups while trying to wrangle the toddler out. I plan to keep Elin in her baby car seat for as long as I physically can (although her chunk is making it harder and harder to carry!). She’ll be crawling soon and then leaving anywhere will be a nightmare if they are both on the move. At least with a car seat, I can strap one child down whilst I deal with the faster, more agile one.
Train the Toddler.
There are a few key things that I trained Rory with that have made life 100x easier. Firstly, walking down the stairs by himself (holding my hand obviously, I’m not mental), secondly sitting on the step while I lock the front door (we live by a road), thirdly is to come with me when I take his highchair somewhere etc etc. These little things will make a lt of difference when you’re juggling a baby too. Try and think ahead while you’re pregnant. For me, I knew that stairs would be a mission once there were two of them so training him to walk down them saves me having to do two trips everytime we need to use them.
Don’t expect too much from the Toddler.
When you have a new baby, your toddler suddenly seems so grown up and it can be easy to get caught up in that. They’re still so young themselves though and are still dealing with huge developmental changes. Rory was in a great habit of waiting by the front door when he could see that I was getting us all ready to go out but obviously when I’m in the biggest hurry he dawdles about watching telly or pulling out a new toy. Obviously he doesn’t really understand what’s going on and if he doesn’t actually want to go out then he isn’t going to be excitedly waiting by the door. It’s easy to think they’re being naughty or expect too much of them because they’re now the big sibling, but they still need just as much guidance as before.
Is the guilt real?
Okay. So do you feel guilty because something isn’t right or because you’ve been told you should be behaving in a certain way? I.e. do you feel guilty because your toddler is suddenly having more screen time or going out less but they’re actually reacting fine its just in your head because you’ve been told that you should parent a certain way? Every single day I feel guilty for something but when I stop and reflect on my guilt, 70% of the time, the guilt isn’t real and the kids are happy as larry, I’ve just fostered the guilt from my own place of insecurity.
Allow ‘things’ to parent for you.
As soon as Rich went back to work I lived in toddler groups.We went every single day. It was just a really easy way to tire Rory out while I could kind of muck in a bit and keep Elin happy in the baby wrap. Now Elin is bigger and they are both 100x easier to manage we go two or three times a week instead, but at the time it was the best way to manage them. I would also buy Rory a toy pretty much every day! Never something big. Usually stickers or a new car from Poundland but they’d usually buy me an hour or so per day. Don’t feel bad for replacing yourself with an iPad/TV/toy etc. Your kid will. not. mind. Infact. They’ll probably thank you!
Look after #1.
Whenever people ask me what my advice is, this is always my biggest. Prioritise yourself. When it comes to my thoughts and concerns I double down on myself and the kids. I can’t think about anyone else and thay may sound selfish but its true. I don’t let exterior things impact us. If I feel there is a toxic person or relationship, I distance myself. I steer clear of negativity and I block out “you’ve got your hands full” comments. I prioristise self care and I keep our space positive. Its the only thing that doesn’t just get us through our days but it makes the days enjoyable.
There are very few places you have to be on time.
There are very few places where you actually have to be on time. Let me just repeat that, there are very few places where you actually have to be on time. Yup, now think about it. Friends are understanding. Toddler Groups are flexible. Most things can be moved around. Do not stress if getting the kids out the door for a certain time isn’t working. Take a step back. Breathe and slow down. If you are twenty minutes late but everyone is happy, that’s better than your whole day being ruined.
It gets easier.
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