22 Months. That’s the age difference between my son Cruz and his baby sister Cienna. Two kids under the age of two. A toddler and a newborn. Yikes.
The first three months have been the most trying, loving, exhausting, amazing, beautiful, frustrating months I have EVER experienced. Some days it’s me vs. them. Some days it’s so smooth it’s unreal.
First of all, my son is definitely fully embracing the “Terrible Twos.” He’s a full-of-life and empathetic little guy who’s experiencing some big emotions. Basically he’s having massive meltdowns and tantrums and it’s been a quite the learning curve. He’s also always been a terrible sleeper. Add a colicky baby to the equation with a husband that works from 4am to 3pm. It’s been a challenge but you just gotta make it happen.
Here’s The Facts
It’s not necessarily the newborn that’s the hard part. It’s the toddler.
Think about it: you’ve already done the newborn thing. For the most part, you know how you’d like to feed them, where they’ll be sleeping, how you’ll get them to sleep. You already know what to expect, mostly. Like I said…it’s your toddler that will keep you busy and you already know them and their routines!
Easy, right? Well, not exactly.
When I was pregnant, I kept hearing that having two under two is hard but doable. And it is. But there’s been some unexpected wrenches thrown in that I wish I could have prepared for.
My Top 20 Survival Tips
1. Tantrums: The Terrible Twos. I totally didn’t think of this but OBVIOUSLY we’d be dealing with this. Research it, ask your friends what to do, come up with a game plan. I was totally caught off guard when the meltdowns started. The tantrums are just about under control now but we all had to learn QUICKLY.
2. Potty training: SURPRISE! When I was due with baby #2, sure enough my toddler started ripping his diaper off and showing major interests in potty training. Impeccable timing. Again I was totally effing clueless on what to do.
To make our lives easier we’ve been loving the Baby Bjorn Toilet for our son! It’s so easy to clean and we can put it anywhere and we don’t have to run to the bathroom together, he can just go on his own. THAAAANK GOODNESSS!
3. Jealousy: Cruz loves his sister, but every now and then he gets extremely jealous, especially when she starts to cry. We show our toddler as much attention as possible. Tell your family members and let them know the game plan. We told them they should greet our toddler first. Big hugs and high fives. Everyones excited with a baby but your toddler needs the attention more. It’s really helped!
4. Babywear: There’s no way I could do this without babywearing! You need both hands when it comes to a toddler and what better way than to wear your baby? Cienna naps in her carrier while I take Cruz to the park. I’ll even wear her througout the house when she needs to be held and I need to make breakfast for Cruz. I’m torn in every direction all day long so it’s important that I’m able to multitask.
I use both the Ergobaby 360 and the Boba Wrap. I used the Ergobaby 360 4 Position Carrier with Cruz and I use both wraps with Cienna. The Boba is a traditional wrap and is super cozy and comfy for baby. I use the Boba at home and the Ergobaby when I’m out and about. The Ergobaby allows me to chase after Cruz and play, and I know little baby Cienna isn’t going anywhere.
It’s really supportive for baby, adjustable and meant to grow with them from newborn to toddler. It also provides support for your back which is super important.
5. Feed baby when toddler eats/has alone time/ any time you can. If I stuck to a structured feeding schedule my toddler would have lost his mind. Luckily she nurses quickly which is really helpful. My son would nurse for an hour every hour and a half and I couldn’t cut it short. Every baby is different so you’ll just have to come up with your own rhythm.
6. Toddler proof everythin: Do it right now. You don’t want to be feeding your baby immediately after labor/c-section and then hear a crash or “ugh oh” from the bathroom or kitchen. DO. NOT. WAIT.
7. Naps at the same time: Do it so you can nap too. or just for your own sanity. Having even 20 minutes where you’re not needed can be pretty effing nice. Like just about the best thing ever when you have two under two.
8. Bed at the same time. Cruz needs me to put him to sleep. Baby needs me to put her to sleep. It works because we co/sleep bed share side car crib etc. I asked my husband what his top recommendation for parents would be and he said, without a doubt, a sound machine. We use our every single night. It just adds white noise and eliminates that total silence where you can hear every creak in the house. The kids sleep really well with it and it Let’s us chill out a little.
9. Empower your toddler to be your “big helper” Cruz loves to help. He’ll grab me diapers or wipes and will throw them out for me. Helps he’s fascinated with poop. Parenting is weird.
10. Change everyone’s diaper at the same time (??) This is a common piece of advice. I never followed it. Why change a clean diaper on one when the other is dirty. The kids don’t poop at the same time so why spend my day changing clean diapers? Change them when they’re dirty. I’m trying not to start a tantrum, thanks.
11. You’re gonna hate this one but it’s my sanity Saver: Wake up before the kids. Like an hour before. For me it’s 5:30. And I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. But I need a shower to feel human, to feel like I can take on the day. My hour is my most prized time: I’ll shower, get dressed, put a little makeup on, plan out our day, pick up the house, do dishes, get breakfast ready and work on the blog. If I didn’t do this I’d feel like an unkempt scrambling mess that just could t catch up during the day. You have to stay on top of things of else you just won’t survive. Period.
12. Enlist help. Don’t wait. Ask for help. ASK FOR HELP! My in-laws take Cruz for a couple of hours each Friday and let me tell you it helps me so much! My mom lives two hours away but we spend at least one weekend a month together. Why? As my husband says “More hands!!” The more hands there are to help us the better. Don’t be shy- it’s good for everyone!
13. If you can, see if your baby can take a bottle here and there. My sweet darling Cienna won’t take a bottle but we’re making it work. I love nursing her, but I don’t always want to take her with me to the dentist. Plus sometimes my son needs me, and if I’m nursing the baby it would definitely help if she could take a bottle from my husband every once in a while.
14. Embrace online shopping for everything you do. Amazon Prime (get a 30-Day Free Trial HERE!), Amazon Fresh (get a Free Trial HERE!), Ebates (where you can order literally everything from and get cash back, like from TARGET!)...You name it they’ll deliver it. If you’re brave you can try grocery shopping with just yourself and the two little ones. It’s tough but doable.
15. Work on your marriage beforehand: After having baby number 2, the opportunities for one on one time with your partner are slim. Have your much needed conversations now. Work out your issues. Plan your future vacations. Make time for each other. Strengthen your marriage if it needs strengthening. Show your love for each other because you need to be able to rely on the other person to help you find strength during the hard days, and vice verse. Communicate communicate communicate.
16. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: If that means you need to go to a yoga sesh alone then that’s but what you do. If you need to eat an ice cream sandwich outside with no interruptions, then thats what you do. I was pregnant with Cruz, nursed him for 16 months. For 3 of those months I was pregnant AND nursing and now I’m nursing the baby. My body has been someone else’s thriving source for the last 3 years. So you know what? I do what I can to take care of myself and not lose my mind. I put makeup on when I need a pick-me-up. I blowdry my hair at 5:30 in the morning because I know it will make me feel great. Do what you need to- its ok. It’s IMPORTANT.
17. Routine for the house: Stay on top of chores. Maybe husband works 60 hours a week MINIMUM so I try my best to keep the house as clean as I can. NOT because it’s my role or whatever, but because it’s EASIER. I’d rather wipe the microwave out once every other day then let a months worth of food bake onto the walls and have to spend an hour chiseling it off. Dishes are daily. I sweep daily. Laundry every 3 days. Vacuum once a week. You get the point.
18. Routine for the kids: I don’t have time to come up with new activities every day. My brain is torn in 30 different directions at al times of he day so a routine he to me is key. As a sanity saver, Cruz is now in preschool 3 days a week, 4 hours a day. Once a week we go to a play group called the Duckpond here in San Jose and in the afternoon so we all go to to the park. It’s just about the same each week. Right now Kindercare is offering you a week off of tuition- we really love it and Cruz is so happy there! Mention me and I’ll get a week free too!
19. Get the kids organized: Pre-pack a bag for swimming if it’s summer. Have diaper stations filled with wipes/diapers/change of clothes/bibs/rags/layettes/blankets in strategic places in your house.
20. Stay organized in life. Bills on auto pay. Designated area for kids clothes. Keep things organized so you know when you’re getting low on something and you can order it. Put reminders on your phone or on post-its or whatever your method is, but have a method.
The “Rules” I Break
Here are the rules I break in order to survive and idgaf if it’s wrong. It’s SURVIVAL. All rules go out the window.
1. I nurse my baby to sleep: She’s really good at falling asleep on her own (I didn’t even know babies could DO THAT so believe me when I say I’m thankful and appreciative of the universe to let that happen this time around) but not 100% of the time. Sometimes I just need her to go to sleep faster because my toddlers one Youtube commercial away from a massive bedtime meltdown. I don’t have the energy or time to play the rock in arms/ set down in crib/wake up game over and over again. Sorry but mamas got stuff to do, like sleep. I mean, check Facebook.
2. I’ve got Puppy Pals recorded on my DirecTV like it ain’t no thang: Why? Because I need to distract my toddler with his favorite show, or calm him down so I can feed his sister or prevent or cut short a massive tantrum. Or get Hulu or Netflix and have it on your phone/ipad/tablet/tv everywhere.
3. We co-sleep/side car all at the same time: Baby is in her crib with one side off, attached to my bed securely and safely. So she sleeps in her crib but I can lean over and feed her and scoot her back over to her crib while Cruz sleeps next to me, and matt is on the other end. Crib+ Eastern King bed = so much room.
4. I bribe the hell out of my son. Well just when it comes to potty training and You know what..it’s working. Duh. But the lesson here is do WHATEVER you need to do to make it work for you and your family. If you gotta bribe em, do it. If you need to stick them in front of an iPad, then do it. Don’t feel shame- it’s survival of the smartest and sometimes you gotta play dirty to win the game (but I’ll teach my kids otherwise *wink wink*)
And you know what, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my family. I love this experience. It’s absolutely worth it.
Good luck. Find some positive mantras to repeat to yourself. You’ve got this, and remember it takes a village or an awesome Disney show. Whatever 😉
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