Some sweet and giggly moments of brotherly love I was lucky enough to catch on camera between these darling boys of mine while we put away the clean laundry. I cried while I edited these photos, that's how much joy they fill me with. Their happiness radiates and is absolutely contagious.
I spent a significant amount of time when I was pregnant with Wes wondering how it would all pan out having two boys to wrangle instead of one. Was there really, truly enough love to go around for both of my babies? Would I ever be able to get dressed or make it out of the house before they each turned five? The exhaustion was surely going to kill me, right?
So many thoughts consumed my mind about how to do it all, and I am still figuring it out one adventurous day at a time, but I have a handful of tips I wanted to share that helped make the transition from one to two kids fantastically manageable (most days, anyway).
1. Get on a routine and stick to it. This is an essential step to make sure your head doesn't fall off when you are frantically pulling your hair out from the stress of having two children. (You don't know stress until you have two — or more! — hungry children screaming their guts out and expelling tears, like, an entire foot from their body just like it looks in cartoons.) You automatically get one million points if you can manage to get your kids on the same napping schedule, if they both still nap, so that's a good goal to have in mind. It's that heaven-sent dual nap time that allows me time to blog, catch up on emails, clean, eat Nutella straight from the jar while watching trashy reality TV shows, you name it! I think a routine gives little ones a sense of security, which leads them to have a happy disposition that makes life for everyone a joy. Our routine roughly follows this schedule:
6-7 am: wake up and eat breakfast
7-8 am: watch educational morning show
8-9 am: play
9-10 am: put Wes down for nap around and do tot school activities/one-on-one time with Luke
10-11 am: get everyone dressed and ready for the day
11-12 pm: eat lunch
12-2 pm: go out for errands and outdoor activities
2-4 pm: come home and nap time for both boys; free time for meeee!
5-7 pm: make dinner and eat; clean up house
7-8 pm: bath time, good night stories, and then bed time! Hooray!
2. Declutter and simplify the home and gear as much as possible. I inherited packrat tendencies, so I naturally tend to hold on to things I really don't need, but keep on hand just in case it would be useful for some ridiculous hypothetical situation that has about a .000001% chance of happening. Especially with baby stuff. I made a list of baby essentials for the second baby here, and I've even whittled that one down. Too much crap = a fabulous way to drive yourself bonkers with keeping things clean and organized, so do yourself a favor and get rid of everything you truly don't use. A good rule of thumb I go by is if I haven't used it in over a month (with the exception of medicine and seasonal toys) it's outta here! I mean, do you really need a different pair of baby nail clippers for every day of the week and that janky toy set that is missing half of its pieces? No! Send that stuff to the donation center! Also, plastic bins and baskets will be your best friend for storing things. And you'll probably need about 50, FYI. (Yes, even after your declutter session.) This simplification also extends over into the contents of your diaper bag. You do not need two meals for each kid, five outfits for accidents, a toiletry kit, or 20 diapers. I promise. It will all most likely just get trashed in the process and add more to your cleaning list in the end.
3. Buy a baby carrier. Seriously. It's my saving grace, hallelujah! There are a plethora of options out there, but I personally prefer using a baby wrap. Solly Baby is the best one I've tried yet (and I've now tried three!) because they have just the right amount stretch to keep the baby comfortable on me, but enough hold so it doesn't slip and loosen after multiple hours of wear. Also, the wraps come in wonderful color options and patterns, they are lightweight, and are easy to care for. Without my wrap, I would never leave the house, and I literally mean NEVER. This is actually my main tip that keeps things doable for me as a mom of two kids ages 2 and under. I suppose it should be the first highlighted on this list. Oh well. I am leaving it where it is, because, hey, these are all important tips. Anyway, I am able to go grocery shopping, play with Luke at the park, and get stuff done around the house because of it. Wes is happy as a little clam and doesn't make a peep when he is in it.
4. Take time for yourself. This definitely falls into the category of easier said than done, but it is so incredibly necessary for your own well-being, which directly translates to the well-being of your kids. I often find myself wondering if I am warping into a co-dependent mom with so much "little" everything in my life. Honestly, sometimes I feel like a more loving, endearing version of Miss Hannigan singing, "Little boys, little boys, night and day I eat, sleep and breathe them!" Although lucky for me I have man to nibble on my ear. TMI? Moving on. The takeaway from this tip is to make the time to do something you love that makes you happy. Even if it means hiring a babysitter, or dropping the kids off with a friend for a few hours, do it! It's amazing how much of a booster a small, solo date can give you.
5. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I need to listen to my own advice in regard to this pointer. A fair chunk of the moms I know live close to their immediate family, so it's easier to get the parenting support that is needed when a set of parents or in-laws lives near. Sick days aren't so bleak because there is a grandma to come to the rescue, or a last minute appointment can be squeezed in since the kids can be dropped off. Well, this isn't the case for us, although we do have Matt's brother and his family who live about 45 minutes away and help any chance they can, but they have a busy little family of their own. And I really struggle with asking friends or family with small children of their own to help out. I suppose I just hate the thought of putting anyone out. Deep down inside of me lives a people-pleaser, and inconveniencing others feels like I'm breaking a cardinal rule in the world of people-pleasing. I should just get over it, because I certainly don't feel that way when others ask me for help! In fact, it's just the opposite. I always feel a sense of gratification knowing that people are comfortable in asking me to help a sista' out. You know? Where else did the "it takes a village" saying come from?
The transition of becoming a mama to multiples can be dizzying, but it doesn't need to be terrifying. With a little patience with ourselves and a whole lot of love for our kids, the switch from one to two has its own natural way of working out. And it just so happens to be even more rewarding and overflowing with love than you could ever imagine.