I’ve been wanting to write this post… basically since I came home from the hospital with Loney, which is hilarious. But I feel like every single day we were learning and adapting so much! And all I ever want to do is talk about what I’m learning and share it with everyone. Obviously at one week in I had no business writing a “Transitioning to Two” post, but maybe now that we’ve been rocking two kids for 8 months I’ll have something good to share. Plus I have so many close friends and family members expecting or trying for baby #2 right now, so what better time to share?!
Of course – I am no expert. I have two very good, easy, independent babies who are basically exactly two years apart. But hopefully some of the things I’ve learned can be applicable to whatever twosome situation you find yourself in right now.
I have absolutely LOVED this transition. I honestly mean it. There have been rough minutes, rough hours, but I can genuinely say I have not had a fully rough day and for that I am grateful. Two kids is so much fun. We needed Malone so bad, and she helped level us up to a higher way of living. For me it was almost like two kids was easier than just one. With just Reese I found myself doing things just whenever, too much free time, too many excuses to just veg out on the couch. But with Reese AND Loney it’s like the perfect amount of stuff to do. It’s enough to set good routines to fill my day while making lounge time more defined and precious, if that makes sense? And the lessons I learn from Loney are so different from the ones I got from Reese. Two has just been great.
If you’re worried about two – it’s ok. It’s definitely an adjustment from just having a little accessory child. I suddenly felt like a real MOM. Like… two kids. That’s a bona fide family. But two is so great and so fun and so worth the extra crazy, in my opinion. And yes. You can totally do this. Below I’m sharing some specific tips, but really here is my bottom line of advice:
Seriously, Just Go Pee. With two kids everything seems so much more chaotic and urgent and crazy. If you let them, those two kids will run your whole day and your whole life. But you need to go pee. You need to eat lunch. You need to have clean underwear. Do what you need to do to feel human, and your kids will be fine – even happier. You’re teaching them that you are in charge and you’ll take care of everything. You’re teaching yourself that everything will be ok, and that your cup needs to be full before you can pour it out for others. Seriously. Just go pee. Two minutes of crying will be ok. Two kids will be ok. <3
Tips for Transitioning to Two
Before Baby #2
- Visualize: I spent those last couple of uncomfortable months visualizing what it would be like to do everything I was currently doing… but with another baby in tow. How would I negotiate the grocery store? Bath time? Packing for a short weekend trip? Daily routines? I knew getting Reese and a new baby in the car was gonna be a bit more of a hassle than just Reese, so it was less of a shock and an obstacle once Malone was here. Because I’d already mentally accepted it!
- Wean Binkies & Bottles: This worked for us, but I’m sure it won’t work for everyone so consult with your pediatrician as the final say. We went cold turkey on Reese’s binkies and bottles and it really really helped. Then binkies and bottles are JUST for the baby and it’s one less thing that confuses or threatens your toddler.
- Train Your Helper: Teach your toddler how to throw things in the garbage (dirty diapers hint hint), find and deliver the binky, bring in light grocery bags, put away their toys, dress/undress themselves, and other tasks appropriate to their age. Reese wasn’t being replaced because she felt needed and stepped into a new role. It helped me AND helped her!
- Safe Baby Spots: Have a place to put the baby down on each floor of your home, and even ideally in each room. A swing, bassinet, pack-n-play, crib, whatever. It’s also quite helpful if you can toddler-proof it, as your oldest might be very interested in poking and prodding the new bundle. Or try to share goldfish, like Reese did when Loney was a week old. Adorable and yikes.
- Independent Play: What are you gonna do while you nurse? What will your toddler do? Having accessible toys or books was critical for us. Teach your toddler how to play with something on their own. Stash toys in each room, so they always have stuff to play with no matter where you need to sit and nurse or change a gross diaper. Have recordings of their favorite show or a new series on Netflix or Hulu that they’ll love and save it for when you’re nursing or need to buy some time.
- DOUBLE STROLLER: I cannot emphasize enough how vital it is to have a double stroller you love and can easily use. With a double stroller you love, everything is easier and do-able. It’s a worthy investment for your sanity, AND your weight loss. Choose one that won’t make you too scared to bust it out in a parking lot. Choose one that isn’t too intimidating to go jet around the mall. Find a double stroller and make it a new prosthetic limb on which you can intuitively rely.
lol Reese’s face perfectly describes how she felt about Lone the first few days
BUT THEN THIS HAPPENED DAYS LATER
- Know Your First: I had high hopes and deep fears for introducing Reese to Malone. Reese had never been super interested in babies, she’s a bit of a bull in a china shop, and it had just been me & her for two years. Plus Reese is SO independent. Not just a punk toddler independent – like as a core value characteristic. After thinking and praying and reading all the blog posts, I decided that we would let Reese come around to new baby in her own time. We introduced them and tried to show her Loney’s cute hands and pretty hair, but Reese was NOT INTERESTED. So we backed off. Then when SHE chose to come around she was ready and we reinforced it with huge positive vibes and rewards (see next). And they have been basically inseparable ever since. I’ve been so proud of Reese for being nothing but kind and loving (maybe a little TOO loving) to her little sis.
- Only Intervene If Dangerous: I believe so hard in this one. Your kids sense your energy, so if the second your toddler goes to get close to the baby you tense up and get in their face and swat their hands or try to control them? That’s not communicating peace and love, and they’ll associate the nerves and displeasure with the baby. Babies are super resilient, and guess what? They’re gonna get your toddlers germs anyway! Let your toddler touch them, kiss them, prod their little bubble toes. When it inevitably DOES start to look dangerous, calmly sweep the toddler away and warmly thank them for being such a good big brother/sister.
- Solo Time: More and more I’ve realized the need for solo time with each of them, each day. When I put Loney down for a nap I try to give Reese some totally uninterrupted undivided attention – that’s when we read books or color or blow bubbles. Every day I put Reese in her room for at least 30 minutes (once she dropped the nap, before that it was 90-120) for “quiet time”/nap/independent play. Then I just play with Woney! They need it, and YOU need it. BONUS: You don’t have to stress if you can’t synchronize nap times! Look at it as a pro – you get uninterrupted time with each.
- GTFO: I cannot recommend this enough. Get the EFF Out. Get out of your house. Get out of your house. Get out of your house. Do it the first week (C-Sectioners – you are warriors and don’t do it until you are fully healed and ready). Do it every week. I love love love stay at home days. But you can’t do more than two of those in a row, seriously trust me. It can seem scary and like it’s too much work to go out for just a few groceries or to walk around Target, but if you don’t do it then it just gets scarier and more mythical. Nike. Just Do It. Get good at loading up your two kids. Get good at snapping into your double stroller. Get good at wrapping your baby to you in a parking lot before chasing your toddler onto playground equipment. It’ll be messy and awkward and frustrating and sweaty at first. BUT DO IT. You’ll get better and you’ll be glad you got out.
- Diversify Diapers: I had heard someone mention this, and then just stumbled onto it myself accidentally, but buying different brands of diapers for each kid is actually crazy helpful. Loney blows out a lot, and cheap diapers make it worse, so she always gets the Pampers or Huggies. Reese is older and not blowing out or leaking, so cheap Walmart brand works great for her. They look totally different, so when you’re snagging a diaper from your bag or a diaper caddy in the living room it’s much easier to get the right one for whichever kid you’re changing.
- Prep Work Saves: Every night, unpack and repack your diaper bag. Put the stuff in your car that you’ll need for tomorrow’s errands. Pack lunch/snacks. Lay out their outfits for tomorrow. Refill the diaper changing stations around your house. I know you’re so tired, but trust me! Prep work saves you time, stress, energy, and money. With two kids this is more true than ever, and I have a feeling it’s a survival tactic we’ll need when we move on to kid #3 and #4 and however more we have.
- Car Backup: I like to flatter myself that I’m pretty organized and prepared, but wow I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I realized I had diapers for Lone but not Reese, or I brought the sippy cup but not Loney’s bottle. Create a little emergency kit for the car – a few diapers, a backup outfit, a packet of formula, a snack… just in case. Two kids is just more chaotic and you’ll forget things – my car kit has saved my bacon more than once.
- *Seriously, Just Go Pee: This is my very best piece of advice for transitioning to two kids. Go pee. Get that Diet Coke. Stop to eat. It’s ok if people are crying. You aren’t being selfish. In fact, it’s so much more selfless to go pee, go wolf down some crackers, go finally make that stressful phone call, and THEN come back to deal with a fussy baby or needy toddler when you can be patient and totally present. In my worst moments with two kids I usually found it was because I had been needing to pee for an hour and just kept rushing from kid to kid putting out fires with increasing impatience and speed. I wasn’t really meeting their needs because I was just trying to get it over with, so everyone was just living in this perpetual state of stress and imbalance. Instead, I’d take 3 minutes to pee, eat something, brush my teeth, whatever I needed, then return ready to be a good mom. When I didn’t need to pee, when my stomach wasn’t growling, when I wasn’t nursing a dehydration sleepy headache, I could actually meet each need in it’s entirety. Your kids will take up all your time if you let them, and you’re a bad mom if your basic needs aren’t met. Be a good mom and take care of yourself too. Crying is not deadly; everyone will survive. I promise.
- Carve Out Kidless Time: With Reese, and early on with Lone, I pretty much woke when they woke and went to bed a little after they went to bed. But with two the demands are just doubled and your days will be more chaotic. Especially over the last few months I’ve made a better effort to get up before the girls and put them down before I’m ready to sleep. Then I have two pockets of time to get ready for the day, get ready for bed, and sneak in anything I need that day for my mental health. WORTH IT.
- Babysitter: Before Loney I had never had anyone but family and my closest friends babysit. Then I had two kids, and realized that there are a lot of things which are just NOT WORTH doing with two kids in tow. Plus *I* needed kid free time more than before. We still use family as our first resort, but finding a real babysitter was a literal game changer. When you have more kids you’re asking more of babysitters, so paying them can help eliminate guilt and burnout of your regular friend/family sitters. If you can’t or don’t want to pay, find someone with whom you can trade babysitting in your ward or neighborhood. Have someone you can call when you need it, and don’t spend time avoiding stuff just because you don’t want to do it with two kids – just get a babysitter of some type!
- Postpartum Is Unpredictable: Just because you felt great/awful after Baby #1 does not mean you can expect to feel great/awful after Baby #2. After Reese I had irrational anxiety as I fell asleep each night. After Loney I have had full blown postpartum anxiety and mild depression. Basically don’t feel like you’re doomed to PPD because you had it the first time, and don’t feel like you’re immune because you didn’t have it the first time. Just be aware of how you are feeling, talk to your spouse, your bestie, your mom, your sister, anyone who can be an external gauge of how you are acting/responding. Do regular check-ins with yourself and be ready to reach out to someone, because it can hit you totally out of nowhere and be really scary. Please take care of yourself and don’t stick your head in the sand. You are loved, you’re needed, you’re doing a great job, and you aren’t crazy.
- Dad Skills: Talk about expectations with your spouse and provide lots of opportunities for them to step up. Two kids changed our marriage in such an awesome and positive way. Team up and have a reasonable division of parenting tasks to help everyone fulfill their potential.
Most importantly, remember that you’re learning all this as you go, so give yourself some grace. You’re doing a great job. You’ll do a great job. Two kids is a blessing, a challenge, and the next step in the school of parenting. And I’m just so excited for you. <3 Good luck out there.