That same week, I signed up to bring a meal to a friend who just had their second little one & casually chatted with a stranger at the park. She was holding her 2 month old, chasing her 22 month old around, making sure the toddler didn’t fall off the highest platform.
And it all got me thinking back to this time, one year ago.
Last June, when Emma was born and Addie was 17 months old.
I wrote a post last August about our first week without Ben. It was rough. It’s all very hazy, but I think I basically spent a few months feeling like “WHAT DO YOU TINY PEOPLE NEED FROM ME AND WHY DO YOU NEED IT ALL THE TIME?”
Granted, the baby part of having a new baby was easier the second time around – I didn’t stress very much about her sleep or when to feed her. All that newborn stuff was kinda like riding a bike, and Emma was a pretty easy newborn. The toddler-sized baby was the hard one.
Addie communicated pretty well (gestures, 2 word phrases and whatnot), but still lacked a lot of ability to express herself. She was still very much a baby. She needed everything done for her.
In a way, it kind of felt like twins. (I feel okay saying that because a good friend who has twin boys mentioned it to me in the first place – you’ll feel like you have twins!)
Except my older ‘twin’ had more opinions. Ha.
Honestly, I have almost no recollection of those first few months after Emma was born, except for the pictures I took.
As I was looking back through them, vague glimpses of memory came back. We spent basically the whole month of June like this. (Awesome portable infant basket I highly recommend*)
And our house always looked like this.
And my older baby usually looked like this.
Here we are, just over a year later, and things look a lot different. They often play together. There are wrestling matches and pillow fights. They play in the back yard and push each other on swings. They run races up and down the hallway and watch shows together. They know how to push each others buttons, make each other laugh (and cry). It’s not always rainbows and sunshine, but compared to last summer, it is a freaking picnic. It’s all relative.
We know several people who have had their second little one and they keep coming to mind. I’m empathizing with how exhausting those first weeks are.
Can I just say something to you, sweet parents who have a baby and a toddler at home? (or two babies…)
It’s going to get a little bit easier in a lot of ways, really really soon. There will be more sleep, less exhaustion. You will stop worrying about your older baby accidentally feeding the younger baby a giant grape. You will shower. (Dry shampoo it for now.) You will be able to successfully leave your house in less than 45 minutes and you will be able to get both of your children to and from a grocery store without tears.
You can do it. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Find your strength in the joy of the Lord.
Spend your quiet moments resting or with Jesus.
Do nothing else. There is no pressure. If your kids nap at the same time, praise Jesus and then do something refreshing. For me, it was painting furniture. Maybe for you it’s binge watching netflix or reading a book or a manicure.
Ask someone to take your older kid for a morning or a day.
Give yourself grace. You do not need to feel guilt right now.
Accept as much help as you can. (What, you want to take my kids for a couple hours?
I’ll miss them. How about a whole day or a week?)
Other random thoughts about surviving those first few months of life with 2 under 2.
It will be slow. You thought life was slow with one? It was. But, it is exponentially slower with 2. Accept it for the season that it is. I wish I had spent less energy being frustrated with the slowness of it all.
They’ll learn to talk. Pretty soon your older baby will learn to form sentences to communicate what he wants.
Showers. What worked for me was to shower during the newborn’s first nap of the day and put a show on for the toddler. I think Addie tried to go into Emma’s room to see her once or twice and I just explained that was a ‘no no.’ You could always let the toddler watch the show in the bathroom and lock the door to keep them in if they’re too young or you don’t trust them on their own.
Dinners. Any time you make something that can be doubled and frozen, do it. Just put the second one in your freezer. It’s usually NO extra work. If it’s affordable, budget for extra nights of eating out. Ask a close friend for help – one meal a week or something. Buy stuff that’s pre made. Frozen veggies, pre cut fruit, pre sliced deli meat and cheese, frozen chicken breasts trimmed and ready, stauffer’s lasagna. If your family eats frozen pizza, mac and cheese, and spaghetti for a few months, they’ll be fine. Do not pressure yourself when it comes to meals.
Naps. By the time Emma was born, Addie was down to one nap around 12 or 1. After the first month or so, when some of the newborn sleepiness wears off, I worked pretty hard to get them to nap at the same time, or at least overlap for an hour or so.
The patient song. People talk about how it’s hard for the toddler to wait on you to take care of baby. It’s an adjustment for them, and between the nursing and changing and napping and rocking and spitting and cleaning, there’s a lot of waiting. Addie loves to sing so I made up a song called “the patient song” to sing to Addie (the older one) while she had to wait on me to take care of Emma. It helped her pass the time while she was waiting and reminded her I hadn’t forgotten about her, nor was I ignoring her. It’s super dorky but it really did seem to help.
The patient song at our house is sung to the tune of “are you sleeping, are you sleeping brother john?” (the old folk/ kids song):
we are patient, we are patient
while we wait for what we want
with a good attitude with a good attitude
we are patient, we are patient.
It is so dorky, but it worked.