Parenting any number of children of any age is no mean feat but having two under two seems to be the pinnacle of challenging sibling age gaps. For some, it’s the perfect way to get the early days out the way in succession and forges a close bond. Sometimes it’s simply a lucky surprise.
Mum of two under two, Elizabeth, falls into the latter camp. After years of infertility and miscarriage qualifiying her to begin an IVF journey, she was shocked to find she had spontanteously conceieved. Six months after baby Austin was born and whilst using contraception, she found herself staring at two pink lines again. Sixteen months later, baby Vienna was born: enter level two under two!
I remember holding that positive pregnancy test; I looked down at the two pink lines, I was stunned. My six month old crawled beneath my feet.
I was filled with anxiety and excitement. I knew navigating life with two under two wasn’t going to be a walk in the park but felt blessed to have fallen pregnant again, planned or not.
I’ll be honest, managing one child in nappies is often tough enough so adding in a newborn did feel like complete chaos. The first six months of parenting two under two was a surreal experience. A blur of nappy changes, sleepless nights…magic and love! I felt my mental health taking a dip and didn’t know anyone else with babies so close together. One day, I genuinely couldn’t remember the last time I’d brushed my hair or moisturised my face.
So I’ve written this for anyone who has also found themselves in, or preparing to enter, the two under two world. You’ve got this girl!
12 Things a Mother of Two Under Two Wants You to Know
- Other People’s Opinions Don’t Matter (but they’ll share them anyway!)
When you’re waddling with a protruding belly and a baby on your hip, you might come across some stares and really helpful comments (“you’re going to have your hands full!”) Someone even asked us if we have a TV in our house. People rarely mean harm, focus on your tribe; you’re going to be just fine.
- It’s a Big Adjustment for The First Baby (but they won’t remember!)
When you bring number two home, perhaps bring a little gift for number one; “look what your baby sister/brother has brought you!” Number one still needs all the cuddles and kisses too. Be patient with them, they’re still a baby. We’ve had a few moments where he has felt upset about the new addition but they’re really close now and I just know their relationship is growing from strength to strength.
- Money Can Be Tight (but you’ve got everything ready to reuse!)
We live a fairly frugal lifestyle but there’s always something waiting to break the piggy bank. We reused all our baby clothes but there are other items that your first child will still be using when you have two under two. Looking secondhand is helpful when you need duplicates – or a double buggy!
- Nail the Nap Schedule
We kept to a strict nap schedule with Austin (he was 16 months when Vienna joined us) and it was really helpful not to let that slide, even amongst newborn chaos. I try to get them napping at the same time, so I can breathe and refresh, reboot.
- Schedule in Time For Yourself
Arrange for your partner or a family member to take charge for a bit. Going for a walk, having a bath, watching some uninterrupted Netflix…You’re just as important.
- Include Number One in Number Two’s Care
We give Austin the opportunity to get involved; to fetch mummy nappies or hold the baby. It’s helped him to feel included and I think, reduced any rivalry.
- Build a Support System
I found a lot of lovely mums in playgroups, some of which have a similar gap to my own. Talk, talk, talk – whatever you’re going through, there is someone else going through it. Empower each other, support each other!
- Accept Help
If anyone wants to help, don’t be too proud to accept it and ask for what you actually need. It doesn’t make you a bad mum! I’ve had a lot of help from family, friends and our incredible local nursery. I’ve been very lucky – I owe a lot of people a lot of wine!
- Pick Your Battles
Be mindful of where to discipline: what’s important and what can be dealt with later on? You learn not to stress over the small stuff. If your toddler still has a dummy, or likes to sleep in your bed – does it matter? It’s only a problem if it’s a problem. Nothing lasts forever.
- Commit to Date Night
Investing in your relationship when you have two under two is really important. Put date nights in the diary! If you don’t have the childcare or the funds to go out, have a date night at home. Get dressed up, cook something special…you might even make it to the bedroom! Your relationship matters as well as – and for – the children.
- Get Organised
Having two under two has made me more practical and organised. I always think if I organise things as much as I can, if things go wrong; it’s just bad luck. I find comfort in knowing that I tried. Other days, you might just need to go with the flow.
- Enjoy it (but it’s okay if you don’t every day)
There have been days where I’ve thought I just can’t keep going. Then I blink, and time escapes. It goes fast and I remind myself that whilst now, I have my baby girl latched onto my boob and a little boy trying to climb me like a tree, one day they’ll be out with their mates and I’ll be their annoying mum calling them home for dinner. So for now, I attempt to embrace the craziness of life with two under two.
I was so daunted by having two under two that on reflection, I think I’ve coped better than I could’ve imagined. You will too. Love gets me through the rough patches. I’ve learned to be kind to myself and forgive myself when things go pear shaped. Being a mum of such young children so close together has created a shift in me – it’s given me a strength I didn’t know I had.
I’ve learnt to give up the guilt that often comes with two under two and disregard any negativity. Only I know what my life entails and what my day to day looks like and I know I’m doing my best.
SUGGESTED: Is there a best age gap between siblings?
Nice article! Sound, balanced advice. Everything’s a phase. Look for what you are thankful for, however small that might be.