2 under 2 … can anything prepare you?!?

It’s October. Which means that next month is November. Obvious statement, I know. But since my due date is December 2, which is practically the same thing as November, that means that big brother | New Orleans Moms Blog we could have 2 under 2 … NEXT MONTH! Holy moly. Can anything prepare you for such a thing? It feels like we were just announcing our news!

My brother and I are eight years apart. Therefore, in my head, I have totally glamorized having lots of children close in age. They’ll play together and share friends and grow up to be completely and utterly inseparable, right? But I have a feeling that between now and then – that moment that they realize that they don’t just love each other but that they actually, genuinely like each other – we have our work cut out for us. Given that I know three other moms who are equally as insane as me over the moon about welcoming their second child in two years, I figured it would be wise to assemble some advice from moms who have walked this path before us.

So how exactly does the toddler entertain himself while I am busy feeding the newborn?

Raising 2 under 2 | New Orleans Moms Blog
Natalie’s family

Laura responded, “this topic makes me laugh because I am STILL trying to figure out this 2 under 2 gig! It’s hard. Harder than I thought. Grayson doesn’t watch any TV (trust me, not my choice…entirely the toddler’s!) so our biggest issue comes when I’m nursing Griffin. We bought new, special toys for G just for this reason. I try to get him to color, play with his Play-Doh, or his Thomas the Train busy book while I nurse the baby. Sometimes he does, sometimes he wreaks havoc on our house!”

And Natalie shared, “when I am nursing Conley, Nolan will bring me things like his toys to count (he’s in a hoarding phase!) or he’ll bring me a book to read. Sometimes I sing the alphabet with him or ask him to find one of his certain toys. My pediatrician also suggested having a separate toy box for the toddler when you are nursing so they know that they get to play with those toys at that time, making it fun for them.”

Stephanie, founder of one of our sister sites, San Diego Moms Blog, says that the best thing she did was create a ‘busy box’ for her oldest when she feeds the baby. In it are special toys that are new and fun and don’t need mama’s help: a drawing magnet board, stacking cups, board books, shape sorter and a ‘laptop’ for kids. She only gives it to him when she’s feeding or putting her youngest down for a nap; that way he is still really interested.

And Allie shared that with her oldest son, Vincent, she would go into a quiet place…but when Luke came she didn’t have that luxury, so she fed in whatever room Vincent was in. It helped her keep an eye on Vincent and also to keep them all together in the same room. She would just give Vincent a book, toy or snack to entertain him.

So…the logistics. How do you physically wrangle 2 little ones?

Laura’s biggest piece of advice is to buy an awesome baby carrier. She never “wore” Grayson but it is absolutely necessary when you have a small toddler running around. This is how she grocery shops with two and how her family plays outside. Thankfully Griffin (the newborn) loves the Baby K’Tan.

Stephanie also said that carriers are great to hold the baby and stay arms free to play with the toddler. She recommends the Beco Gemini, and I believe her because she wrote this detailed post on pretty much every carrier under the sun!

Is this a good time to think about school or MDO for the older one? (Side note: Thatcher is already in school since I work full-time, but I know a lot of moms think about this!)

2 boys under 2 | New Orleans Moms Blog
Grayson and Griffin

Laura enrolled Grayson in a Tuesday / Thursday MDO program at their church. At first she felt ridiculous since she is a stay at home mom, and she felt like it may be “lazy” to put her toddler in school. But now? She loves it and thinks it was a great decision for all of them. Grayson needed that break away from the house and the new baby, and Laura needed some alone time with Griffin. Grayson has become much better about being away from his mom and is already more independent. Laura is so glad that they put him in this program!

Natalie also enrolled her older son, Nolan, but said that this approach has its pros and cons. Nolan is having a hard time adjusting because not only does he have a new baby brother, he also thinks mom is dropping him off and leaving him. Natalie does enjoy that time with Conley, but she also has to deal with a cranky toddler because he doesn’t nap at MDO but won’t nap at home after the 20 minute nap there. MDO has also messed with the night time sleep as well (most likely because of all the changes!) Natalie started picking Nolan up at 12:15 before naptime so that he could nap at home, and now their afternoons are a tad more bearable!

Stephanie suggested that if you enroll the oldest in a program, do it a couple of months before baby so he/she doesn’t feel like you’re shipping him/her off to spend alone time with baby.

How do I ensure that the oldest still gets enough attention? Or that I am spending quality one-on-one time with the new addition?

Our brilliant and brave contributor Janie had this to say: “I think it is important to designate special time for the older child (story time, watching a movie together, or even a day out with mommy to play at the park while someone watches the new baby). The newborn will be getting lots of one on one attention and I did find the first couple of weeks after Camille was born was when Cooper finally formed a tight bond with his dad.”

Allie (who actually has THREE under THREE) shared this advice: “Do NOT feel bad about not getting to your oldest; they learn a very valuable lesson when they have to wait! I saw a huge change in my kids when they realized the world did not revolve around just them! They seem to have way more patience now that they have siblings!” And, she added that Vincent and she got a lot of time alone when Luke napped. She also saved special messier activities for this time {baking, markers} and also liked to take one or the other to run errands because it’s nice to spend alone time separately!

So what other advice would you give a mom about to experience 2 under 2?

3 under 3 | New Orleans Moms Blog
Allie and her boys

I love this advice from Allie: “Throw out all expectations…This was VERY HARD for me…In my eyes I had the whole mom thing down with Vincent…I could handle him and all the tasks of being a SAHM {I even nannied 3 kids when he was a babe}. Therefore I knew I could handle it ALL….But when Luke came I fast realized that I needed help…and guess what…I was far too proud in my mommy pants to ask for it…{BIG MISTAKE}I wanted to do everything myself {I am still this way lol} but I just did not want help…It backfired BAD…It turned into more stress than anything…I wasn’t sleeping and pretty much wasn’t functioning all because I wanted to do it all…Once I let those expectations go, things were much easier…The kitchen does not have to be perfect…The laundry can wait…I really got into the groove of things and enjoyed Luke more once I chilled out…So please take help those first weeks {months} while your settling into 2 under 2.”

And Janie offered these wise words: “I also think it is important to find some “me” time. Caring for 2 under 2 is going to consume what seems like every minute of your day and night! If you don’t have some time for yourself every once in a while, you will completely be on overload (grocery store, gym time, whatever it takes just to get a break for an hour or so). Don’t forget to make special time for your hubby either. The first couple of months are trial and error, but it will eventually all smooth out and you will discover what works and how to balance it all out.”

For those of you with multiple little ones … what other advice would you add?

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Ashley is the Co-Owner of New Orleans Mom, Red Stick Mom and Lafayette Mom, now the largest network of parenting websites in South Louisiana. Proud graduates of the University of Virginia, she and her husband Blaise spent time in Tampa and Scottsdale prior to settling down back home in New Orleans, something they both said "would never happen." An avid runner, she'll try any workout at least once and is always up for sweating with friends. When she’s not shuttling her 3 very active kids to school, gymnastics or baseball, you can find her cheering for the Saints, trying new restaurants or spending time with family and friends. She's also not afraid to return mediocre books to the library before finishing them because life is too short for bad books. A native New Orleanian, Ashley loves exploring and discovering the beauty of South Louisiana through her growing children's eyes.

16 COMMENTS

  1. My pediatrician first gave the advice – let the newborn cry a little bit while you’re taking care of your toddler, so that your toddler doesn’t think that crying = automatic attention. Sometimes this had to happen and I had to accept the crying.

    My two are 21 months apart. I accepted that crying was going to be part of every day. From one, the other, or both at the same time. There were moments when I was holding both as they cried and just bounced them.

    Sense of humor is KEY. Seriously. Life feels like a sitcom or a movie. I really did find it funny when my husband asked if I had time to make supper or if I had emptied the dishwasher from the night before.

    Get OUTSIDE. Get some fresh air. Doesn’t matter how long or where. I actually enjoyed taking them both to the grocery store. I’d wrap the little one up with me and push my toddler around in the cart. Now I have a backpack that I will carry my 16 month old in.

    EXERCISE. Seriously. You need it. Fortunately for me there is a gym – Get in Shape for Women 2 minutes from my house. I go 3 times a week for exactly an hour (that’ the way it’s set up). My husband deals with the chaos for a while – I know he can handle it and it’s good for them to have alone time with him as well. It was like boot camp for a while but he’s confident, has lots of patience and gets a taste of what my days are often like. When I’m gone for that hour, he’ll often joke “how long have you been gone – 3 hours? It feels like forever.” Ah, sweet justice.

    EAT FOR ENERGY. Our bodies need protein and water. Don’t drink tons of coffee and dehydrate yourself. Drink water!!! Cut down on your sugar. Your body will have SO MUCH more energy and you will feel so much better. Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, natural peanut butter, protein shakes. Once I changed my diet I could not believe how much more energy I had. I literally did not feel like I needed coffee to start my day some days.

    Find a supportive board or make a group of like-minded Facebook momma’s. People that aren’t going to spend all their energy complaining, but support you, share the happy and funny moments and help you feel like you’re not alone.

    Take pictures! The days might like they’re dragging but time will pass faster than you can imagine. Capture as many of those special moments as you can so you will be able to look back and remember them!

    • you have GREAT advice – my kids are 21 months apart also and like you said, there’s always one crying!! i just buy extra hair dye and i’m good to go!!!! i agree – get outside!

    • Thank you so much for your advice – this is great! So sorry that it has taken me this long to respond but between the toddler, work, blog and being pregnant … well, you get it! Thanks again!

  2. My first 2 darlings are 12 months and 3 weeks apart (currently ages 6.5 & 5.5 yrs old) and my 3rd & 4th darlings are a set of 16 month old twins. Needless to say we are becoming masters of the 2 under 2 stage.
    My best advice (that was given to me by another mom who had Irish twins, siblings born a year or less apart) is every 6 months or so it gets a little better. And it does! The baby will reach a new milestone (sitting alone, crawling, walking…) and the older one will grow too and start learning independence.
    Having a husband who is a pilot in the National Guard means I spend a good deal of time alone with the kids. When we had baby #2, he had to go away when she was just 3 weeks old for a month. I was determined I was not going to sit in my house and whine so I made it it a point to get out with both kids. My new motto became: Face it, Conquer it! It wasn’t easy but it definitely made me stronger. When we learned the planned #3 was really #3 & 4, I felt ready. I knew I could do it. As we face our second deployment in just a couple months I honestly don’t feel nervous. No time to sweat over the little things.
    “Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”

    • I keep hearing that the jump from 1 to 2 is the hardest, 2 to 3 is pretty easy and with the 4th it is just one more mouth to feed! Thank you so much for sharing your story and reading NOMB!

  3. I had 3 under 3 (my first two were 15 months apart and my second two were 18 months apart – all three girls!). Nobody has three under three without somewhat expecting to do so….so, I welcomed the chaos and challenge. The best advice I can give is to just always be prepared. I rarely leave the house without wipes (and diapers, of course), sippy cups of water, snacks, and at least one extra change of clothing. Doing so has calmed many situations and makes my life so much easier. Don’t expect a rigid schedule, don’t expect peace and quiet, and don’t expect things to go smoothly (ok, ever….but when it does happen, it’s a nice surprise). What you can expect is some strange looks from people when you go places (I always get glares when I bust into Chick Fil A or Wal-Mart with my double stroller and three small kids….whatever, people….yes, I have three small kids! Get over it!). You can also expect things to get easier day by day….I had three in diapers. Now, they’re 4, 2 and 1, and I only have one left in diapers. I can stop at a grocery store and pick up a few things with all three of them without much trouble. The older they get, the more they play with each other, the easier things get for mom. And the most important thing you can expect is a life full of love and wonderful moments. My life is NEVER dull. It is filled with sweet smiles and kisses, giggles and a whole lot of love. I would never have it any other way.

    • Isn’t it great how a mother’s heart can get bigger with each new blessing? 3 under 3 is hard but probably so much more rewarding than is possible to describe. Thank you for reading and commenting – and apologies that it took so long to respond!

  4. Some great advice and I love the comment from Angelie! Sometimes it’s hard to remember this is all a good thing because it can be really stressful… but IT IS! Amazing times ahead for you, Ashley. Take time to enjoy it. And everyone I run into says after age 3 it gets much easier. Remains to be seen…

  5. This seems to be so much harder on the stay at home moms. When we have a number two, Peanut will still attend daycare which means that I’ll have two of them only for a couple hours an evening and on weekends, when, most of the time, there are two parents around. I can’t even imagine having 2 kids (especially under 2) while nursing one and watching the other. Just cannot. Is Thatcher staying in daycare during your maternity leave?

    • He will stay in school, at least part-time, just because he loves it and seems to thrive there. But I agree that having them in school is almost a luxury in that sense because you have the option of a much longer break, if desired.

  6. My two are 16 months apart- now 7 and 8. It was tough but went by so fast. I look back in awe at how the time has flown by. Try to enjoy the moments, even the crazy ones.
    There are lots of positives of having them so close together. They are in the same stages in life (within two years) with food, diapers and potty training. This seems overwhelming at first but at least you get diapers out of the faster. And once they get old enough to really play together, the close age gap is a blessing. No need for play dates when they have each other.
    Enjoy every minute of it. Good luck!

    • I wish I could SLOW TIME DOWN! Where does it go? I am sure on some days you probably wish they were still little even if it was crazy – I know I will!

  7. baby wearing is a key! i got some plastic tubs from the dollar store and filled them with different things that my son could play with alone or with supervision from afar (him in play room and me in living room). he does watch some PBS and as much as i don’t want him in front of the TV, it is my saving grace sometimes. alot of times he will bring me books to read or toys to play with. now he’s 23 months and my baby is 3 months — so he’s now finding toys to bring to her – i’ll tell him specific toys to search for (i.e. Bring Ruby toys that make noise when you shake them) and that keeps him from climbing all over me when nursing the baby.

    it’s way harder than i expected – but i wouldn’t change it for anything. they LOVE each other so much. sometimes my son loves his baby sister a little too much! we prepared him by reading big brother books and telling him about the baby in mommy’s tummy — reading about the things he could do as a big brother seemed to help.

    there are plenty of days when i wonder why i had my kids so close – but other days when i wouldn’t want it any other way! now that my baby is 3 months things are getting easier and we are getting into the swing of things! the first 3 months were the hardest – especially the first 6 weeks…baby nursing almost constantly to establish milk supply, toddler wanting/needing mommy time, healing from c-section, adjusting to less sleep, etc. but things get easier!

    i also learned how to get out with 2 kids alone as soon as i could. we don’t like staying cooped up in the house – i felt like this was something that i needed to learn right out the gate. and we did it just fine! wore the baby and toddler was in stroller…now we have a double stroller and it makes outings even easier (City Mini Double 2012 is awesome BTW).

    • I think you are right that the first few weeks are going to be the hardest! I think that is what I am the most nervous about – knowing that I will be exhausted and not being able to necessarily “sleep when the baby sleeps” like you did with #1. We can’t wait, though! We have also been trying to talk to our son about the baby, and I think he gets it … he knows there’s a baby in my tummy, and he will kiss her (my tummy), which is sweet. Thanks for reading!

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