When my baby was 8 months old, I got one of the happiest surprises of my life. I was going to have ANOTHER baby! Surprise!
And while this was joyous news for my husband and me, it was also a little terrifying. Our children were going to be 17 months apart.
How were we going to survive two under two?!
But as I write this today with a 6 and 7 year old, I can truthfully tell you that we did survive. A lot of those early days are a blur, but we survived.
So here are 5 things I know about having two kids under the age of two:
1. Register for Diapers and Wipes
Unless you are some kind of potty-training wizard, you are going to have two kids in diapers. Those are just facts. So whenever your kind-hearted friends and co-workers ask you what you need for the new baby, don't say, "Oh nothing, we've got it covered." Say, "All the diapers and wipes! Please!"
Because with two so close together, you probably do have a lot of things covered. You may need another car seat or another crib, but chances are all the baby gear is still spread around your house in some fashion. What you are really going to need are diapers. Lots and lots of diapers.
2. Find a Good Baby Carrier
Even if you managed to make it this far with your first-born without a baby carrier, you are going to need a good one when baby number two comes along.
Your oldest is still dependent on you for almost everything and there will be days when the new baby just doesn't want to be set down. If you are a fan of less crying (which I definitely am), that carrier will be a lifesaver. The little one can snuggle up on you while you give the big one some dedicated time and attention.
A good baby carrier is also great for running errands. I would wear the baby and strap the toddler into the shopping cart and still have two hands free to get stuff done. I am a big fan of the Baby K'tan and the Ergo, but honestly there are so many wonderful choices these days I'm sure you can find something that works for you.
3. Let It Go
And I'm not talking about Elsa. I'm talking about all the other things that don't qualify as keeping someone alive. Just let those things go.
Is the laundry piling up? Just get more clothes hampers. Too many dishes in the sink? Stock up on paper plates. Nothing to eat for dinner? It will be okay if everyone has pizza again for dinner tonight.
But are the babies fed and clothed (it's okay if those clothes are covered in spit-up and peanut butter) and loved on? If yes, then you have done a great job today. That's all you need to worry about. Everything else? Let it go.
4. Take Advantage of Those Naps
One of the best things about two under two is that your older one probably still takes a really long afternoon nap. You need to capitalize on that.
Remember what I said above about letting things go? I'm serious about that. If the baby and the toddler are sleeping at the same time, do not use that time to wash dishes, fold laundry, or straighten up the house. DO.NOT.DO.IT. Instead, you need to sleep, too.
Sleep is key to a happy, healthy life and without enough sleep, you cannot function. Neatly folded clothes and a clean kitchen are nice, but they are not essential to life. Sleep is.
5. Ask for Help
I saved this one for last because this one is so important. You have to ask for help during this time in your life.
I know, I know. If you are anything like me, that's a hard thing to do. But you know what? The people that love you really do want to help.
Some people are great about just stopping by with a casserole, but there will be plenty of other people that say, "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help?" You have to start answering those people with real, solid directions. Instead of saying, "Thanks, I'll let you know." I want you to say, "I'd love it if you could take the toddler to the park for a little bit this afternoon," or "It's been a while since I showered. Could you hold the baby and put something on TV for the big kid so I could do that?"
And if you don't have the support system in place to do this or you're really uncomfortable asking your friends for help, this is why postpartum doulas exist. But no matter how you go about doing it, learn to ask for help. That whole village thing is real.