It used to sound much more daunting to say I have “Two under two.” However, the truth is having a one year old and newborn is much easier than managing twins or two toddlers.
As my daughter quickly approaches four and my son three, I feel like a battered, but brave warrior in an amazing tribe I never thought I’d join. I wasn’t going to be a mom; I was just that gal who wasn’t going to get around to having kids. And then BAM: two unplanned kids in two years!
Having two kids so close in age has its challenges; although having kids at all, especially for a self-professed non-mom type, is no walk in the park! Here’s a few things I’ve learned while having two wonderful “surprises” so close in age:
- There are no cameras on you and no one knows if you accidentally bump one child’s head on a wall as you are turning to respond in a panic to your other child’s mischief. And this will happen many times and in various forms and it is OK.
- You should always, always wear a raincoat when handling your children; liquid in some form – snot, drool, milk – is always finding its way from your kids to you and raincoats don’t stain.
They share the same genes but no two kids are the same. Our daughter’s introverted, highly sensitive (drama queen!), focused and enjoys reading, doing puzzles and bossing around her brother. Our son is extroverted, a chatter box, all BOY and loves harassing his sister. He has no fear and goes after things with absolute abandon, like the doggie door! He likes to run – everywhere! – carries and sleeps with a sword and cannot sit still (or stay in bed!).
- Accept that random stains will be a part of your life – see bullet two – and they will magically appear everywhere. This is a badge of honor and you’ll no longer attempt to clean them even if they happen to be on your suit just prior to an important meeting.
- All gadgets should have a tacky strip on them because they will inevitably fall to the floor the minute you set them down to rush off and prevent some toddler catastrophe. Or said toddler might use it to smack his/her sibling in the head. My phone has more bumps and bruises than either of the kids.
- Toys that are popular and beloved to your older child will eventually become contraband when her younger sibling tries to ingest them. Case in point, our daughter loved stickers. So did our son: he loved to stick them in his mouth and choke. Bye-bye stickers!
Grocery shopping with kids is never, ever a good idea but you’ll do it anyway.
- You will forever and always select the wrong item in any situation causing inconsolable fits of rage. The pink princess cup, the ONLY cup she would drink from just hours before is suddenly the cause of tremendous angst. You are a horrible excuse for a mother…. until she need’s something else.
- And if you let them participate in the process of selecting said items you’ll become a pawn in the game of “I want it/I don’t want it.” Which eventually leads to selecting the item for them and then you’re back to being a horrible excuse for a mother… until they need something else.
- Limit the number of “loose part” toys to one or none. I’m talking about blocks, flashcards, puzzles, etc. Yes, they promote tactile dexterity but they also create an ever-loving mess (yeah, encourages creativity too – bah!) – and you know they move from one mess to the next and guess who gets stuck cleaning it up?
- Once you have two demanding, high-energy toddlers in the house you will turn on the TV and you will NOT have an ounce of guilt over using (abusing) it when you need to find a little order and peace from the mania.
- No matter who you are, what you do or how hard you try, your house will never be clean, there will always be dishes in the sink and laundry to clean or put away (ALWAYS!) and your car will forever resemble a dumpster –we’ve even had ants in our pants (true story).
- Napping and bedtime which used to be such a dream when they were babies is now a nightmare. Toddlers have boundless energy and are keen manipulators; they try to wear you down, drive you bonkers and likely succeed before they pass out. There are nights we go to bed before them – Toddlers 1, Parents 0.
- You’ll find that sometimes the one whining is you. “Why don’t they listen?” “Why is Daddy so much more interesting than me?” “Will I ever sleep through the night uninterrupted again?” “I just want one minute of silence!”
- You will go demon on your children and likely your spouse at least once a month, maybe once a week. Perfectly normal. No explanation needed here.
- Eating a meal or going to the bathroom without interruption will be a luxury.
- You’ll tour every public restroom in proximity to your toddler(s) and regardless of what you say they will touch everything, multiple times, and they won’t immediately burst into flames. I no longer bother trying to do anything other than wiping down the seat because really, by the time I do anything else they’ve touched the door, the trash, and tossed around a used feminine product (true story!).
- You’re not alone in being relieved or even joyous at the thought of an hour or more to yourself to do anything but be a mom. Of course, you’ll likely spend that time doing something mom-like: dishes, laundry, cleaning, napping…or you might not know what to do at all!
They are the best of friends and you’ll be amazed at how much they love one another. They do everything together to include fighting with and blaming the other, but glory be, they are fabulous at entertaining each other!
While I did not plan on having kids 13 months apart, I can honestly say I have no regrets. I have my moments – really, really bad, ugly moments – but I’m very happy to say I’m a mommy. And while I might not be the most graceful, competent or natural mommy, my kids are healthy and happy (most of the time). Now if I could just get them to stay in bed…
OK mamas, what else would you add to my list?