By Megan Leary
My 14 month old daughter was eating lunch when I slipped away to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. The next time she saw me I was literally jumping up and down with a huge smile and screaming. She started to smile and scream with me throwing her spoon and its contents in the air. I wonder — if I knew then what I know now, how much quieter that moment may have been!
I planned for my son, just not his timing into the world. I knew that having two children under the age of two would be difficult, but I was wholly unprepared for just how difficult. Advice to me was sugar-coated: “It’s hard but it’s so great!” My advice to you, mama, waiting on number two with your first still in diapers, is this: “It’s great but HOLY DICK CHENEY MOTHER OF PEARL is it hard.”
Here are the top ten tips I would give to my fellow mamas of darlings who are less than 24 months apart:
1. Shop online.
For flipping everything. Clothes, cleaning supplies, bathroom necessities, laundry detergent, it is all a couple of clicks away. If you are not an Amazon Prime or Mom subscriber, I highly recommend it just for the free two-day shipping. I promise it will pay for itself and then some, if just for convenience alone.
2. Crockpot. Crockpot. Crockpot.
Cooking healthy meals was my biggest failure and biggest stressor as a new mom of two. I wish I could tell my past self to rely on and plan crockpot meals as much as possible. There are a slew of ideas on Pinterest – take advantage!
3. Focus on one when you can.
As much as you can, focus on one child at a time. They both need you fiercely. When my newborn slept I was all eyes on the toddler. Even if I was cleaning she was cleaning with me. And when I got the chance to pawn the tot off on a friend or family member I soaked in my newborn, hoping to not miss the chance of sketching his face into my memory.
4. Battle plan a grocery shopping trip.
Grocery shopping is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE. with two babies. But if you absolutely must do it, here is the ultimate parking strategy: park next to the shopping cart return, get a cart, put the toddler in the shopping cart first, put on your baby carrier and then retrieve the baby. Also make sure you have activities and snacks for your toddler at the ready, have your credit card out of your wallet and in a pocket beforehand, have your grocery list items in order (very important) and always ask for help out to the car. Once you are back at the car have your help unload the groceries, then cart the toddler over to the baby’s side, unload baby, cart around to the other side to situate the toddler, and then you are right there at a cart return!
5. Grocery shop swap!
Make a deal with a friend that you watch each other’s older children while the other grocery shops!
6. Wear your baby.
My son lived against me for the first few months of his life. I loved it and he loved it. It enabled me to still be there for my toddler and run the house. It’s the most natural place for a newborn to live anyway. He was like my little joey in my kangaroo pouch. He would peep his eyes out of the sling during wakeful periods and then go back to sleep against my chest. So in addition to being practical, wearing him provided some of my fondest memories from that difficult time.
7. Ask for and accept help.
You will be told several times “I’m here if you need anything!” Respond with “well actually,…” then pull out your ready-made list of items you need help with.
8. Eat chocolate.
Don’t feel too guilty indulging in your favorite vices. As long as you are still eating healthy and taking care of yourself it’s okay to find happiness in the form of your favorite treat. I don’t think I could have survived the first few months without my Starbucks hot chocolate!
9. Resign yourself to the following:
1) It’s harder than you are prepared for. 2) Your sink and laundry baskets will never be empty again. 3) Your toddler will be sad about it from time to time. 4) You will cry, or want to cry, every single day.
10. Forgive yourself.
You will do something every day that you will need to forgive yourself for. Making a lousy dinner, letting the tot cry while you feed the baby, being unable to take your family to the park on a nice day; there will always be something running through your brain at night when your head finally hits the pillow. When these thoughts occur, take a deep breath and whisper. “I forgive myself.” It really does help!
About Megan Leary
I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and a handsome baby boy. I am an advocate of natural and home birthing. I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating well, and most things natural in a mama’s life. Visit me and my friends at our blog www.hippieswithbabies.com.