Today’s guest post comes from a fellow blogger who I ‘met’ on Twitter.
Sarah is mum to Daniel and Emma – both are under two years old (a 16 month age gap). She blogs at Let them be small about life with two under two and shares some of the activities they do. She can also be found on twitter – @MsSBurns
Surviving with two under two….
Having two children is challenging, no matter the age gap, but having two under two presents its own challenges. There’s 16 months between Daniel and Emma, and it’s hard sometimes to remember that Daniel is still a baby really too, and still very much needs my input into his play. Whilst he happily plays alone, he is inquisitive and wants (and needs) me to explain the things he sees to help him understand the world around him.
I thought I would share my top five tips for coping with two under two.
1 Accept that, sometimes, one of your children will be crying
I found this really hard to accept. It goes against all my instincts to leave one of my children crying. But the reality is, you cannot meet both their needs all of the time. Both Emma and Daniel go through clingy stages when they want me to hold them constantly. It’s not possible so sometimes I need to put them down whilst I change a nappy, sort a bottle or do lunch. The best way I have found to cope is with Emma, to give her a toy to play with. Now she is reaching for things this is so much easier as she will settle a bit easier with a few toys – rotate them so there is something new to catch her eye. I will keep talking as I leave the room, reassuring her I’m not too far away.
With Daniel I try to include him, so if I am sorting a nappy change out I ask him to choose which of the cloth nappies we will put on Emma, or I will ask him to choose a toy or book for us to look at when I come back.
2 – Fresh air helps
With one baby it can be hard work leaving the house but with two, it can sometimes seem impossible! I have had days where as I have strapped one into the pushchair the other has needed a nappy change. Get that sorted and them Emma is sick. Get that sorted then something else happens. It once took me four attempts to get out of the house. Some 90 minutes later I finally managed it. I was stressed, frustrated and annoyed, BUT, the walk to the greengrocers was great. Emma fell asleep, Daniel was happy as he could go to the park on the way home and I had a bit of adult conversation in the greengrocers. As hard as it is some days, getting out of the house is key. I try to get out each day, usually to buy fresh fruit and veg for the evening’s meal. Have a reason to go out and you will do. It also helps to have changing bags ready packed the evening before, so you can just grab it and go without having to check for spare clothes, nappies, wipes etc.
3 – Include your older child as much as you can
Now that Emma is almost six months old, she is so much more aware of the world around her, and adores Daniel, especially when he shares his toys. In the morning after breakfast, I like to sort out the washing and tidy the breakfast dishes away. I ask Daniel to show Emma some toys, so for example ‘Can you get Emma the owl?’ Can you tell Emma what noise the owl makes? It’s good for Daniel’s development and it builds into the daily routine the idea of sharing his things with Emma. She loves it reaching out for the different toys.
I also include him in nappy changes as mentioned above and he also helps when I am cooking by putting the veg peelings into the food recycling bin or taking some of the cutlery to the dining room.
4 – Books are brilliant
Books are my life saver. Daniel is super engaged in books – so I can read a story to them both and extend it in some instances for Daniel. We are big fans of Room on the Broom and Gruffalo here. So whilst we are reading I will ask him which animal is next, what the witch says and ask him to show Emma where things are. Emma gets loads of stimulation from the pictures and listening to the words and Daniel is extending his vocabulary too. I have also printed off colouring sheets for a lot of the books we read so after we have read them Daniel will happily do a bit of colouring and I can read another book to Emma.
5 – Cherish the moments you have alone with your youngest
When Daniel was small I used to enjoy lazy mornings. He would wake, feed and invariably go to sleep snuggled against me in bed. I could then read a book, catch up on the news etc. I don’t have this luxury with Emma, as Daniel wants to get up, have breakfast and get on with the day.
If Daniel was feeling under the weather then we could have lazy snuggles on the sofa or head back to bed in the afternoon for his nap, him snuggled warm against me. Again, Emma doesn’t have this luxury. To promote the closeness I had with Daniel I like to use my rose & rebellion carrier when travelling, so Emma is close to me. But on the occasions when Daniel is napping and Emma is awake then I give her a lot of input. Be that singing nursery rhymes, playing with the sensory basket or a bit of messy play.