In March of 2017, just 7 months after Emmy was born, we found out we were expecting our second child. #whoa.
While the feelings of joy were apparent, I couldn’t help but be a little worried about how I was going to handle having two babies under two years old.
With how young Emmy was, the early struggles of early motherhood were still very fresh in my mind. The sleepless nights, the breastfeeding learning curve, the colic… the newborn stage is tough! And more than that, Emmy was getting close to being on the move. How would I be able to keep up with her with a newborn?
Luckily, I had a few months to really think through how to prepare for this exciting change.
Controlling the Chaos and Clutter
Chaos seems to be the best way to describe what I think people envision when they think of having two under two. I’d be lying if I said our lives were chaos-free. We’ve had moments where both babies have diaper blowouts, both are crying, moments where I’ve been nursing newborn Nora only to see Emmy run in the room with an open Sharpie Marker…the crazy moments are inevitable. While you can’t avoid them, you can take on an attitude of embracing them. Our philosophy is, as long as everyone is fed, safe, and loved, it’s perfectly ok to laugh at what a whirlwind of a ride you are on.
So while I have definitely taken on an attitude of “laugh at the hot mess I am”, I still have a few hacks up my sleeve that seems to have really made things a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments where I feel like the day is running me and not the other way around, but I am working to make those less frequent.
Without fail, every Sunday evening a little bolt of energy goes through my body reminding me that my husband will be back at work the next day and I’ll be flying solo with two kiddos. I took on the task early on of prepping for the week. I really tried to pinpoint what moments in the day were the toughest for our family and find a way to prepare for them in advance. Here are just a few we’ve taken on:
Pre-made Snacks- Emmy loves her pretzels, raisins, and cheerios. She also doesn’t exactly have perfect timing when asking for these. So in order to keep her from getting worked up because I don’t have two free hands to pour it all out for her, I sort our small amounts into small Tupperware and have them stacked and ready in the pantry.
Assemble Sippy Cups– Attempting to match up sippy cup lids with a newborn in my arms is no easy task. So I take some time to make sure I have at least 5 sippy cups for my toddler matched up and ready for quick access. My top choice of sippy cup for some time has been the Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer. I’ve rarely had one of these leak and they are great at teaching kiddos how to drink from a regular cup.
Mother’s Day Out Clothes- Emmy goes to Mother’s Day out three days a week for just a few hours. I pick out her clothes for the day on Sunday to make sure we don’t go bonkers at 7 AM searching for matching socks.
Daily Activity Boxes– I started this before Nora even arrived and it has been such a game-changer. I have 5 labeled plastic boxes in a storage closet under our stairs. As soon as I open that door every day, Emmy rushed over because she knows what is in there! I take a few minutes every Sunday to reassemble, mix up and restock the contents of her boxes. More details here.
Decluttering, Organizing & Cleaning House
I know I am not the only one who is amazed at how quickly you accumulate so MUCH stuff with kids. Toys, clothes, gear, it’s just never-ending and it can quickly become a stressor. Add in having two under two and the smallest amount of clutter can make things quickly feel like you are losing control.
In terms of toys, we had 4 large plastic storage containers and divided the toys among them. We rotate out the toys every few days. Not only does it keep things cleaner, but it keeps it interesting for Emmy! You can read more about how we set up toy rotation here.
I have to admit that my overall standards of a “clean house” have changed since having Nora. While I used to clean (meaning vacuum, sanitize surfaces, dust, etc in all rooms and bathrooms of our house) every week, that just doesn’t happen anymore. And I am TOTALLY okay with that. I know that my priorities every day are my family and being present for them, so if that means the nightstand may gather a bit of dust, so be it. Having a “cleaning day” every 2 weeks or so is perfectly acceptable to me.
Baby Carriers & Other Essential Baby Gear
Baby b’Jorn and Baby Wrap by Sis and Sal
This is my number one piece of advice to future two under two mamas: You need a good baby carrier that is comfortable for you to wear throughout the day and in multiple scenarios.
Finding ONE baby carrier that met all of our needs was tough. I loved the idea of a wrap but knew that in certain scenarios, I would want something a little more rugged (lengthy walks, being outdoors, etc)
So I have both a Sis and Sal baby wrap and a Baby Bjorn. I usually keep the Bjorn in the car since I like to use it for cases where we are out and about. While I love the wrap, it can be kind of difficult to get it all set up standing in a parking lot. The Bjorn is easy to get on and get baby in just about anywhere. You can view current prices for the Bjorn here.
However, the Bjorn isn’t exactly the snuggliest thing and sometimes I just want those intimate cuddles from Nora. So I almost always wear the wrap while we are at home. I lace myself up in the morning and leave it on most of the day, even if Nora is out of it for an hour or so.
Baby Bouncer Seat
Having a small, portable seat for my newborn was a huge help in those first few months. As we moved from the kitchen to the living room then to the playroom, I was able to easily move the baby bouncer with us. I preferred a seat that had somewhat of an incline so baby could still see what was going on and be part of the action with her big sister. The Fisher-Price Baby Bouncer was my seat of choice. It is very lightweight, inclined, and has a fun bar with toys for baby (although I removed this pretty early on to make putting baby in/ getting baby out easier).
We had previously been using a sound monitor for just Emmy, but with baby #2 on the way, we decided it was time for a video monitor.
While the choices are endless when it comes to baby monitors, there are a few key features you need when searching for one when you have two babies.
First and foremost, you need it to have a function that rotates between both camera’s sound. The one we currently use switches back and forth between each camera every 15 seconds so we can hear if either baby is up and fussing.
The range is also important. Many times my newborn would be sleeping and I would be outside pushing my toddler in her swing. Making sure the baby monitor receiver could reach that far and still have a good read on the camera was important.
I also wanted a camera that had the ability to move once mounted to the wall. One of my favorite hacks, when I was a new two under two mom, was I would lock all the doors to rooms in our house (on the second floor) except for my toddler’s room and my baby’s room (the guest room, the spare bath, the office). This way, if my toddler wandered off while I was breastfeeding my newborn, I knew she would be in the hallway or in her room. I could simply use the baby monitor camera to look around her room and make sure she was ok. She really liked having that sense of independence as well!
Just like the baby monitor, I spent SO much time trying to figure out which double stroller to buy. I wanted it to be able to act as a travel stroller while Nora was still in her infant car seat but I also wanted it to have the sit and stand features for Emmy as she got older. After 3 trips to Babies R Us and Target, we finally settled on the Graco Ready 2 Grow double stroller.
In terms of steering, ease of use, and set up, it is perfect for us. The only issue we have is it is slightly too big for the back of our car (we have a Nissan Rogue). In order for it to fit, there has to be NOTHING else in the trunk and we have to take the snack tray and one of the sun shades off. It’s a hassle, but well worth it for how easy it is in all other areas.
For some strange reason, having two babies has not led to twice as much stuff in my diaper bag…. its more like FOUR times as much stuff. Our old backpack-style diaper bag wasn’t going to cut it.
We switched to a Lily Jade Diaper bag due to its extreme organization, large size, boatloads of compartments, and versatility of being either a backpack or shoulder bag.
In terms of a reasonably priced counterpart, I would suggest the Skip Hop Chelsea Downtown bag.
Diapers and Wipes and All the other Family Necessities
Speaking of diaper bags being full, we go through ALOT of diapers these days.
I started using Amazon diaper delivery with Emmy and it was very convenient. Now, it’s essential. I don’t know how I would keep up with who is low on diapers and how many wipes we have left and what not. So I have them delivered on a monthly basis and it is just so wonderful. You can sign up for a diaper subscription here.
When it comes to grocery shopping, I heavily depend on grocery pick-up services. In the close to 5 months since Nora has been born, I have maybe been in-store grocery shopping 5 times. So far, I am familiar with HEB, Randalls (Tom Thumb in some areas), Kroger, and Wal-Mart all having online ordering and curb side and delivery options.
When I do go grocery shopping (and non-grocery shopping trips, like Target and Home Goods and TJ Maxx… etc.), I love using the Binxy Baby Shopping cart Hammock. It saves so much room in your cart versus taking the infant car seat.
Preparing the Older Sibling
In order to get Emmy somewhat acclimated to a little sister coming, we got her a baby doll, complete with diapers and a binky. We would practice rocking the baby, singing to the baby, changing diapers, and what not. We would also talk about the fact that a baby was in Mommy’s belly just like her little baby. We also worked hard to have Emmy involved in helping prepare for the baby. When we worked in her room, we would always have her in the room with us.
To be honest, you can’t expect a baby younger than 2 to 3 years old to really understand what is happening but it’s more of just getting them used to the idea of there being another baby around.
We of course read a lot of books about being a bib sister. Again, I’m not sure how much this helped, but the welcoming of Nora home went very smoothly. Adorbable photo provided for evidence.
One of those most wonderful tips that someone gave us was to make the first meeting between siblings a neutral experience for the older one. When you bring Big brother or sister in to meet baby for the first time, it may be best to have them in a bassinet of some kind and not in mommy or daddy’s arms. This helps them absorb the excitement of the moment and not go into wondering who the heck this thing is that my mommy is holding instead of me?
When I was pregnant with Emmy I did a big round of freezer meals. I did it all in one day for about $165. Full details on the recipes here.
While preparing for Nora’s arrival, I knew I needed to be REALLY prepared with meals. So I made about 30 freezer meals. I made alot of the same meals I made with Emmy plus a few new ones! And while I TOTALLY anticipated being able to do a blog post about it, Nora ended up arriving before I got around to it! But lucky for you I have an entire folder on my laptop saved with some of my favorite recipes!
- Make Ahead Lasagna Roll Ups (we spit this one into two pans since it was just me and hubs who would be eating it)
- Tuscan Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes (The “homemade sauce” was intimidating to me and took longer than I usually spend on a freezer meal, but it was 100% worth it!)
- No Boil Cheese Manicotti (I was SO skeptical of this one. I did not think the noodles would actually soften when placed in oven, but they did!)
- Chicken Spaghetti by the Pioneer Woman (because she is the Pioneer Woman and everything she does it delish.)
- Crockpot Chicken and Gravy (no a full pre-made meal, but the ingredients are mostly dry so I just had them on hand to dump in the crockpot day of).
- Crockpot Country Style Ribs (served best with some Mac n’ Cheese in my opinion).
I know that the task of making so many meals at once sounds daunting, but trust me, it is WELL worth it! Recruit help! Call your girlfriends, mom, sister, whoever! I even got my husband in on the meal prep action the second time around!
Because Nora was born a bit early and spent her first days in the NICU, I began pumping the night I had my C-Section. By 30 days postpartum, I had 400 ounces of breastmilk stored in my freezer! More on that here.
Around 6 weeks of age, I started letting Nora have a bottle every now and then in order to help me have some one on one time with Emmy, catch up on sleep or have some much-needed “mom time”. Even though I knew I would be staying at home, I still wanted to have the ability to take some time for me when needed.
At 8 weeks postpartum, I awoke one morning with this terrible pain in my stomach, within just a few hours after arriving at the ER, I was prepped for surgery to have my appendix removed. I was SO thankful I had my stash at home. Nora was able to nurse for the 3 days I was in the hospital!
When the going gets tough…
I know I have already touched on this point, but I feel like I definitely needed to hear it multiple times before it really sunk in. It’s impossible to do it all and aiming to be super mom will likely lead to you feeling burnt out and missing out on some of the great moments that come with having two under two.
So let the dishes pile up if you have to, throw your hair in a messy bun, and just love on those babies! You won’t ever regret spending as much time with them as possible.