With Life + Style Contributor
Life with not one but two unstoppable, albeit adorable, critters can have you bowled over with boundless love. But for a love that’s so inexhaustible, it’s a pity we can feel as though we’re forever running on empty when it comes to getting things done. So what is life really like once the second baby comes along? Our Life & Style contributor Lucy Felton gives us an honest glimpse at life with two under two…
I’ve missed you Alex and Alexa mamas! I’m so pleased to be back with a Mother’s Day special, all about how I’ve been coping with two under two. Having babies close together is wonderful but hectic so here’s a little slice of what we’ve been doing in our house to adapt to life with two in nappies!
So straight in with the big news – my daughter Hadley was born 5th November 2018, Bonfire Night, and quite frankly the last four and a bit months have been a total blur. Hadley Posy weighed a very respectable 7 pounds 8 ounces, but we soon ran into problems with feeding. Arriving a little ahead of schedule, she just couldn’t latch on and was borderline jaundice so it took a long time to establish breastfeeding with my sleepy little bundle. I am happy to say now, a few months on, that all of that stress and worry seems like a lifetime ago. She’s such a smiley, happy baby which makes the (very) long days that bit easier and watching her and her big brother get to know each other and bond is the stuff dreams are made of. Pure magic.
Pale Aqua Cheetah Leggings
Candy Apples Braces Bloomers
But let me just get this off of my chest… My, oh my, two small people to look after is mind-blowingly hard. It’s pretty relentless and I’m not going to try and sugar coat it one bit. I always knew I wanted to have my children close together, it’s just something I was going to do and I didn’t think it over too much to be honest. It certainly didn’t occur to me how hard it was going to be.
There’s only 17 months between my brother and I and a very similar age gap between my husband and his sister, so we were all for the closeness of back to back siblings. The baby stuff all around the house, used in one go with minimal getting bits in and out of the loft. The thought of doing the school run in a solo hit and dropping them both off at the gates. Shared bedrooms, maybe. We had a very wholesome, shiny vision of what two under two would look like.
When Hadley was born there was about 22 months between her and Hector and hats off to my mum and my mother-in-law, they managed an even closer age gap and wow – it’s full-on. I think one of the biggest elements of two under two is that you actually have two mini humans in nappies, two mini humans that fully rely on a pram and two mini humans that need dressing, feeding, bottoms changed, baths, milk, snacks and that’s before you even get into the multiple clothing changes a day, cuddles on tap, wiping away of tears and oh yeah, you know you need to play with them and entertain them, right? There’s none of this staying in and pottering around the house business when there’s kids getting bored!
It’s a non-stop cycle of seeing to whichever child needs you the most at any one time. You have to prioritise and you have to pick. Who needs me more right now? Who can wait? It’s a whole different scenario to just the one baby! Hector needs his water refilled, OK, over to the fridge to do that. On no, hold on, Hadley’s been sick, where’s the muslin? Now Hector’s tipping all the Duplo out a little too close to Hadley’s head, oh wait, oh no, she’s rolled in it, there’s tears, she needs a cuddle. Forget the muslin, let’s cuddle, we’ll wipe the sick on your dress, no bother. Oh great, now he thinks he’s done something wrong, there’s more tears, he needs a cuddle too, wait a minute, which one of you has done a poo? Literally, that’s how my day goes. On repeat.
There’s always a joke between new mums that you never get to drink a cup of tea hot. Well with two under two, forget the tea altogether, you won’t even get as far as filling the kettle, let alone making it into the tea caddy. Everywhere I go, there’s the comments, ‘You’ve got your hands full.’ ‘Is there two in there?’ Well yes, there is, I have, it’s a double pram! (And by the way it’s like a truck to push!) A lovely mum came up to me at our weekly playgroup and told me that I looked like I had everything under control, that I had got this two-tiny-one’s thing in the bag. I thanked her but soon put her straight because looks can be deceiving and while I may look like I’m gliding along like a swan, I’m actually paddling away furiously beneath the water. Same on Instagram, the kind ‘you go mama’ DM’s that I’m quick to reply to with ‘I hope I’m not posting only the good bits, I do find it hard too.’ I’ve had a real bugbear recently about making sure my Insta Stories depicts a true reality of what life with two babies is really like, because only posting the shiny bits just isn’t real life is it?
Truth is, I felt fried for the first three months and a smidge less fried by month four, which is where I find myself now, headed into my third Mother’s Day having just steered an extremely testing and turbulent time of my life. A blend of devouring baby fog and total shock that I’d been thrown straight back into newborn life relatively quickly after I’d completed the first stint! Having just about mastered my routine with my nearly-two year old, the shift that happens when a new baby enters the family was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever been through. Going back to square one, if you like, after feeling like you’ve achieved and broken through so many of those milestones – feeding, sleeping, teething – it’s all right back there in your face again, the furious newborn screams, endless spit up and changing nappies every two minutes. But with that also comes the newborn snuggles, that smell of their head – what is that? Utterly infectious.
Stella McCartney Kids
Pink All Over Fruit Print Dress With Bloomers
My best piece of advice for any new mum going through a really tough patch is always the same – everything changes all of the time with kids and nothing stays the same forever. It’s something my own mum always said to me growing up and it’s stuck. Yes, it gets easier, I promise! With every development stage and milestone comes unique and separate challenges but no sooner are you questioning and quizzing yourself about one phase they’re going through or habit they’ve picked up, you’re onto the next conversation because they’ve over it!
I’ve had my fair share of bad days trying to acclimatise to life with two tiny ones and on the days I’ve felt overwhelmed, exhausted, lost or lacking focus, I’ve just tried my hardest to complete the next task in hand and forget the rest. Nine times out of ten, the next day is way better. These babies seem to have an inbuilt sensor that alarms when they’ve pushed mama too far! Then, a less testing day follows and with it, a chance to recuperate. It’s also really important not to isolate yourself and get out of the house. If you’re not one for groups and classes then that’s fine, but make sure you at least get out for a walk to the park. Grab a takeaway coffee and breath of air because sometimes that’s all that’s needed to distract both babies simultaneously and let you catch that much needed break.
I make sure my Insta Stories depicts a true reality of what life with two babies is really like, because only posting the shiny bits just isn’t real life is it?
I’ve put together a few Two Under Two pointers that I hope will help anyone going through a similar situation. Mamas who are about to welcome another bubba into the house, or maybe you’re not even pregnant yet but like me, you know you’d like to have your children close together. Perhaps you’re onto baby number three, four! Either way, I always love hearing from you all too, so be sure to drop me a note in the comments below and let me know a little about yourself. How many kids do you have? What are your baby-coping tips? How are you kind to yourself on the really tough days? Let me know!
When the Mum Fog hits
New baby fog is one of the weirdest things you’ll ever experience. It goes way beyond forgotten birthdays and sticking the car keys in the fridge. Pregnancy, birth, the fourth trimester and beyond, puts your mind and body through the biggest endurance test of its life. When you think you’ve just about used every last ounce of energy, the reserves seem to kick-in out of nowhere and you just carry on peddling away. So the next time someone close to you makes a joke about your baby brain, be sure to remind them that you’ve just grown a human being.
Accepting help is half the battle
You can’t do it all, not with two little people relying on you for everything. You’ll need as much help as possible in the early days if you’ve any chance of spending some time getting to know your newborn. Grandparents, best friends, neighbours, if someone is kind enough to offer to take the eldest to the park, out in the garden for a play or to bring their children over for a playdate, whatever works for you and means you can focus on the new baby for five minutes is good. Don’t feel guilty about it either!
Grab the chance to single-task
One of the hardest things for a mum is never getting a chance to single-task, we’re forever multi-tasking and our brains are running on all cylinders. When I’m feeling maxed out mentally, I’ll prioritise activities that let me single-task to give my mind a chance to switch-off. Hitting pause on the constant mama monologue, if you like. It can be as simple as strapping the kids in the pram and going for a walk. The fresh air and activity helps all of us. If there’s someone around, jumping in the shower works a treat.
Let the routine go sometimes
With baby number two, you just can’t hunker down and cuddle up with newborn quite in the same way. There’s a toddler up with the lark and raring to go, after all. Sometimes you’ve just got to let the routine go a little. A couple of mornings a week we’ll forget about breakfast at home, at the table in his high chair and I’ll just throw the kids in the pram and get up and onto our local high street super early. Hector eats his banana and something from the bakery for his breakfast and I feel like I’m getting a bit of a break from the day in, day out routine. It works wonders for my sanity!
Build your mama network
There’s also so much to be said for building your mama network. Get out to local playgroups and mama meets to have a conversation (moan) with another mum going through the same things as you. Knowing others are feeling the same as you and that you’re not alone really helps to hit reset on the mama wellbeing. Don’t worry about the littlest, you’ll do things with your newborn this time around that you wouldn’t have dreamed of doing the first time. I remember taking Hadley to soft play at about four weeks old, in a sling, so that Hector could get a runaround and let off some steam. They just slot in!
Two year olds will test the boundaries
Accepting that your two year old will start testing you, acting out a little and pushing their luck will stand you in good stead. They’re just looking for you to set some boundaries and it’s how they learn what’s right and wrong. Although it can sometimes feel like they’re doing in on purpose, they’re not, they’re just two! I’m trying so hard not to snap at Hector all of the time, especially when my focus has shifted onto his little sister. Find that extra bit of patience (yes it’s in there!) and trust it’s just a phase, like everything else.
Don’t forget to share your own advice in the comments below. You can find lots more fashion, baby and parenting over at my blog The Lucy Edit and Instagram @TheLucyEdit so please stop by and get involved in the conversation.
Catch you all soon!
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