Surviving life with 2 kids under 18 months

Yes, there are people who have two kids under 18 months.

Planned.

No whoopsies.

When my eldest child was 6 and my toddler was not quite one and a half, we added another baby to our family. My two middle children are 17 months and 2 days apart to be exact. Now aged 3 years/9 months and 5 years, they are as thick as thieves. Best friends. Seeing them together makes my heart ache with love and joy (except when they are being little shits, obvs!)

I enjoy them.

I enjoy their company.

They make me laugh.

This wasn’t always the case.

Rewind 3.5 years.

I knew that having two babies so close in age would be tough.

I was prepared for 2 hard years.

I had done my research.

I was ready.

I had my game face on.

But, by Jesus……

So cutting to the chase: in effect, you have two babies who are completely dependent.

Needing to be fed, dressed, changed. Two babies in nappies, who nap, cry, whinge, whine, poop, need to be held and cuddled, soothed and settled. Who can’t talk. communication is a guessing game. If one wakes up by night, the other one is sure to follow. Apply the same principle to sickness. Two babies who have not yet mastered the basic concepts of life, climb on stuff, fall off stuff and eat lego. In other news, they are in need of constant supervision and care.

For the first couple of months, to allow myself to heal, recover and bond with my new baby, I sent the toddler to crèche. My eldest had just started school so I had quiet time to feed and focus on the new baby.

After about 6 months, I felt it was time to keep the toddler home and rise to the challenge. I wanted to be able to be with both of them. After all, that’s what a mother is meant to do, right? If I said I felt ready, I’d be lying. I didn’t feel ready. (Big shout out to Mama guilt. You’re a killer!).

So started my days of being at home with a baby and a toddler.

It was hard.

As hard as expected. Maybe harder. It took time to adjust to the new dynamic with two such small ones to take care off. It took time to not feel anxious every morning my husband left for work. And it took me a while to build up the courage to leave the house with them. I spent the next 12 month or so choosing and prioritizing between who needed me more. Physical need over mental need. I spent the next 12 months looking at the clock wishing for the time to pass. I spent the next 12 months tired. Worn. Slightly on edge. A little overwhelmed. Smiling through it all. I learned a couple of survival tricks along the way.

I started baby-wearing to have my hands free for the toddler.

I became an Ace at multitasking.

I became a Pro at prioritizing.

I survived. And so did the kids.

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Here are some facts about having 2 kids under 2.

  1. The first 18 months or so suck. There is no other way to say it. It is hard. It is physically exhausting. It is mentally exhausting. You are tired all of the time. When one baby wakes up, the other needs to go down.When one has a poo, the other has a poo. Mealtimes are just a mess. Most times, both need you at the same time. I stood in the hallway many a time, slightly panicked, looking from right to left, thinking, “Where do I go first?'”
  2. Perhaps, now isn’t the time. Now isn’t the time to take over the world. Or do things such as wallpaper the bedroom. Now isn’t the time to start baking your own bread or start inviting friends over for dinner. Now isn’t the time to watch that late night movie. Accept that and be ok with it. Be ok with putting certain aspects of life on hold while you adjust and survive. The time to do those things will come again.
  3. Team work is key. Share the work. Share the pain. When my husband came home, neither my day or his day didn’t end. Instead, we shared the workload until the kids were in bed. This means bath time was a team effort. Putting the kids to bed, we divided and conquered. We sat down together for the night when everything was done. You are both in this together. And because you will be absolutely jaded, be kind to each other. Cut each other some slack. Fatigue paired with exhaustion can be a monster.
  4. Every day it will get better. Every day it will get easier. You are growing as a parent each and every day. You are growing into the responsibility. And as you grow, your kids grow, too. Before you know it, you are watching your kids play together and making each other giggle (right after they tried to kill each other) It is then you will realize that you wouldn’t have it any other way. Every tear you shed, every sleepless night you had and all of the frustration will be so worth it. Keep reminding yourself of that.
  5. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Every day everything doesn’t get done. Some days everything got done. And that is ok. Don’t expect to be able to accomplish half of what you were able to do before. Don’t stress yourself and accept that for now your primary role is to keep those two little babies happy, fed and loved.
  6. Chances are you won’t have your poop in a group. Let go of trying to be on top of everything. Get used to being tired, exhausted and use your energy resources wisely. Slow down. You never know what the next night will be like. Because you are now catering to two small peoples’ needs (or perhaps more), it’s ok to be late on occasion, or cancel dates and appointments because you had a nappy malfunction or someone threw a shit attack just as you were leaving the house.
  7. Invite people over or go to meet people. Toddler groups and play dates kept me sane. It was my safe place where I felt comfortable going. I yearned being around other adults who totally got the situation and it helped kill some of the long hours until my co-pilot arrived home. It was a safe place to bring the kids. Chances are people there are in the same boat as you hanging on by the skin of their teeth. It’s a great change of scenery for the kids and for you.
  8. Routine is your life saver. Establish some fix points in your day. Create a routine that works for you and the babies. I established a solid routine where my kids ate at the same time and eventually napped at the same time giving me a chance rest and recharge. Bedtime routine was the same. At 7pm both smallies would be in bed meaning there was an end in sight after a long day and a guarantee of some well-deserved adult time. You need this!
  9. Look after yourself. And by this I mean ask for help if you need help, something I didn’t do enough. Have routines for yourself, like eating to replenish your body (especially if you’re breastfeeding) and getting enough nighttime sleep. Cut yourself some slack. You know you are doing your best. Becoming the parent you want to be is a journey. Have a little compassion for yourself, and remind yourself of all the ways you are getting it right. Mama guilt? Flip it the bird.
  10. Don’t wish their childhood away. Like I did. I won’t say “Enjoy every minute”, because you won’t. Take the good with the bad. It won’t be this hard for long. Every day will get easier. The kids will get older, more independent, and more self-sufficient. You will be able to communicate and reason with them. They will not need you like this forever.

So, I am sending all of the extra love, patience, and energy I have to you. You are not alone. You are stronger than you think.

So, smile that smile, and give those hugs.

Let’s turn this day into a good one!

Give me some knuckles!

I am on Facebook.

This article was first published on Huffington Post.

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18 thoughts on “Surviving life with 2 kids under 18 months

  1. Fab tips. Though they’ll be almost 3 years between my two (bar 4 months), I still worry it’ll be difficult, but thankfully A is getting more independent. My cousin has 5 under 5 so I’ve no idea how she does it! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

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  2. Sounds tough but wont it be nice getting all the baby stuff out of the way. We’ll just be putting all the baby stuff away then getting it all out again at this rate. Sounds like you’ve got some great coping strategies…but I still think you’re nuts 😀

    #fartglitter

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  3. Oh my gosh sounds like I will have my hands full soon. It’s great to hear that you all survived and I’m pleased I’ve gone and bought a Close Parent Caboo sling. I do hope I’ll still be able to get out of the house once in a while. Thanks for the tips I believe they’ll come in handy. #MarvMondays

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  4. This is such a good read. Wow to 2 in 18 months. We went for 3 under 4 – and like you I look back and those early months were tough – I have to say that I’m not sure that I really enjoyed it – how awful is that? Tears were always close and the sleep deprivation made me horrible but now I wouldn’t change it for the world – they are so so close and it is just wonderful to see them all get on so well – the banter is brilliant, the ganging up on the parents to be admired but they are a unit and have such an unbreakable bond it’s truly great to watch #MarvMondays

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  5. Oh absolutely loved this post it meant a lot to me, I have two babies with 11 months between them, one is now 11 months and the other is 22 months. We are in the throws of the baby days and my god it can be hard. The lack of sleep, the constant demand they have on us for everything and the fact that we just have to do absolutely everything for them. There are some great tips there, now definitely isn’t the time, baby groups are key and we have a bedtime routine that sees booths babies in bed for 7.30 and a light at the end of what can be a dark day. Crucially though whilst it is tough, I wouldn’t have it any other way, it is already easier now than it was 6 months a go so I believe it will only get easier and like your two I so hope they will be great friends growing up, I can see the bond forming between them already. Wonderful post thank you for sharing xx #marvmondays

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    1. ah thank you for the lovely words. I am so glad that this post reached you and people like ourselves with kids so close in age. Of course we wouldn’t have it any other way. But honesty is key. It is hard. full stop. Soon we will emerge from the fog and fully and truly enjoy parenthood. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is really excellent advice. I didn’t have two under two but my eldest had just turned two when his sister came along. It is incredibly tough even with a slightly bigger gap. But what you say about it getting easier is sooo true. #bigpinklink

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  7. Gosh, it does sound so incredibly hard during the early days, but it is definitely a joy to see the siblings so close now. My first two were quite close in age (not as close as yours) and were definitely best mates from an early age. They always had each other to play with and even now that they are older, they have amazing conversations so i do see the benefits of a small age gap. Good advice for someone thinking of 2 under 2. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

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  8. Good advice. Mine have 15 months between them & eldest hasn’t started nursery yet, so they’ve both always been home with me (youngest is 1 year 10 months now). That age gap wasn’t planned for us (we wanted two & QUITE close together, but not that close!) I think perhaps that helped in the end – because I thought it was going to be harder than it actually was! It is certainly busy, and hard to balance everything, but it was easier to adapt than I was expecting, & I love how close they are to each other. I actually think the current ages might be the most difficult, simply because they are now both very active, but not very compliant, & therefore hard to manage on my own out and about. Esp as I have no car during day so have to walk everywhere, & youngest needs pushchair some of time so have that & both of them running about! #fartglitter

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  9. This sounds incredibly difficult but rewarding too as they get older and have that amazing bond. Great tips for others in this stage too
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

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  10. OMG thank tou for this post! There are 18 months and 7 days between my two (my newborn is coming up to 6 weeks) and you’ve just reminded me why we decided it was a good idea to have two so close together. It’s funny how everyone says it’ll be good ‘in the long-term’ and there is definitely truth to this. I’m trying to focus on each day as it comes – some better than others. We don’t have any family around to help, so it makes things doubly tough. But there are equally so many moments to treasure and I’m trying to focus on that.

    I particularly laugh at your tip no. 2 – ‘now isn’t a time to start something new like baking bread’ – haha! Just before mat leave I thought it would be a great idea to start a blog!! One spangly new baby later (and no hands free ever. Well, except after 9pm when I’m holding a g&t) and I realise I’ll be happy if I manage one post a month. Or two.

    Thanks for reminding me there’s light at the end of the tunnel and for not wishing these precious years away, despite the hard days. Xx

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  11. “The first 18 months or so suck” Thanks for your brutal honesty! Finally! I kept hearing that it gets easier after the first 6 months. Mine are 7 months and 19 months old, and while it got slightly easier, it’s still not easy! I can’t help but think, “what am I doing wrong?” Thanks for all the great tips. I may need to come back to this post when I need to remind myself to be a little easier on myself 🙂

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