I hugely underestimated how difficult looking after two under two would be. They both have such different needs and both need a lot of my time individually and last week was a perfect example of that.
Mabel had her eight week immunisations and was clung to me all afternoon screaming and sleeping sporadically. Elsie has had the runniest of noses and every time she walked past me she needed a nose wipe otherwise she would have ended up eating it! Yuck! So, I had to juggle Mabel in one arm whilst chasing Elsie around the house to wipe her nose. Which she absolutely hates having done. It’s exhausting being torn from one thing to another and never feeling like you’re able to give one the attention they need.
A lot of people have said “I don’t know how you do it” or “how do you get Florence to school on time? I’ve only got one kid and we’re always late!” Which got me thinking…I think I’m slowly developing little ways to get us through the day as smoothly as possible so thought I’d share them with you guys in hope that they might help some other struggling parents or parents to be of two under two….
1. Meal prep
I really should take my own advice here. The days I have a meal prepped and ready to serve up are the days I find to be the most successful. However, as I’m only human I don’t always have a meal prepped. Good meals to make beforehand are; any kind of pie (cottage, shepherds, fish, chicken), lasagne and chilli con carne to name but a few.
2. Use nap times wisely
If they both sleep at the same time do any essentials chores e.g. bottle washing or a load of laundry but make sure you grab ten minutes for a cuppa. Having those ten minutes to do nothing really does make a difference to my sanity for the rest of the day.
If they don’t nap together use the time to spend quality time with whichever is awake. Half my daily battle is the guilt I feel from not dedicating enough time to each child.
Keep snacks on hand. Elsie is easily distracted with a snack and while she’s eating in her highchair I can reply to any emails I have or do a quick 5 minute job like unload the dishwasher.
4. Do nothing!
It’s easy to feel like you should be doing something whether that be housework or setting up some crafty activity. You need to accept that some days are just going to be about sitting on the floor and playing or watching Mr Tumble on repeat! Some days you’ll be tired and have the motivation of a sloth or the kids won’t let you get on. But that doesn’t matter. Tomorrow’s a new day so just enjoy some down time and try not to get frustrated.
It’s taken me months to be brave enough to go to the local playgroup. I was always worried everyone would know each other and I’d be a lemon but I was pleasantly surprised. The group’s lovely. Everyone’s very friendly, Elsie loves the array of toys on offer and it gives me a couple of hours where I don’t feel guilty for not playing with her as she’s off doing her own thing. It’s lovely to see her interacting with other kids and seeing what types of toys she chooses to play with and it breaks up the week. I really wish I’d gone sooner!
6. Fresh air
Get some fresh air everyday – it will make you feel a million times better. I know, I know…sometimes you just can’t be bothered to get everyones shoes and coats on or deal with the tantrums when getting in the car seat or pushchair but I promise you it will be worth it!
7. Messy play
Now this is something we definitely need to do more of. I need to get on pinterest and get some ideas. Elsie loves getting messy – me? Not so much. But….if it entertains her for half an hour it’s worth the mess I reckon.
8. Break the day up
I always like to think of the day in sections; breakfast, school run, morning, lunch, nap time, school run, play time, dinner time, bath time and, my personal favourite, bed time. It makes the day seem more manageable when looking after two under two and I try to not let myself think about the day stretched out in front of me and just focus on what we’re doing at the time.
9. Switch up toys
Dig to the bottom of the toy box and rescue those toys that never see the light of day. Display them in a box or basket or pop them somewhere your child will find them – they’ll have forgotten they even had them and no doubt play with them for ages! Also, if you have old mobile phones, sets of keys (obviously be careful they’re not too sharp) or TV remotes, just pop them in an old handbag for your kids to play with. They’ll love it as they’ll think they’re playing with something they’re not supposed to and it will buy you some time to get things done.
10. Weekend prep
‘A Sunday well spent brings a week of content’ – I’m not sure who said that but it’s pretty accurate. If we take the time to get all the washing and ironing done over the weekend then the week is always much less stressful. Making sure you have a weeks worth of school uniforms for older kids or even enough pairs of socks for your toddler will save all those mini meltdowns we all have midweek!
Just a little note….I don’t have my shit together and I frequently have days where the kids or work or the combination of juggling both just makes me cry. And thats ok. Not every day is going to be a walk in the park.