I tried my best to prep myself for what it would be like going from having one kid to two, but because I didn't really know what to expect, I just had to wait and see what it would be like and then figure it out! Here's some advice I would have given myself before Nolan was born if I could:
- Make time to take care of yourself so that you feel good enough to take care of your kids. No matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I've started showering before I go to bed. Trying to get myself plus to kids ready in the morning is not quick, so if I don't have to shower and blow dry my hair in the morning it saves a lot of time! I can throw my hair in a pony tail and put on some mascara and clothes in 10 minutes. I may not look the fanciest, but at least I don't stink.
- Tone it down in the baby schedule department. With one kid it's easy to be home for every nap, start your morning at the same time each day, never have a late bedtime, etc.... but it is a lot harder to do that with two kids. Beckett is used to being on the go, having play dates, and going places practically every day. Not everyone is this way, but we both get really grumpy and our days get really long when we stay home. Nolan is definitely still on a routine/schedule, but I've learned to be much more flexible with it than I was with my first baby. He sometimes takes more naps away from home than in his crib, but he is still happy and sleeping well so I guess all that stress to do things perfectly the first time was kind of a waste!
- Plan ahead, utilize the internet, and avoid running errands whenever possible. Going shopping with two kids is tiring and stressful for me. They are both generally well behaved, but just getting in and out of the car, buckling two car seats, and dealing with the heat makes us all grumpy. I have Amazon Prime, Amazon Mom, and online grocery shopping so I literally never have to step foot in a store if I don't want to. I plan meals and grocery lists 2 weeks at a time. Anything not Wal-Mart or food related I can buy online and have it shipped in 2 days. As long as I always plan a few days ahead, I can avoid running last minute errands.
- Don't feel guilty for letting your toddler spend ridiculous amounts of time watching TV the first little while when it feels like all you're doing is feeding and rocking the baby all day long; two tasks that are impossible to do with a toddler climbing all over you. It will not last forever and your child will have no long term damage from a few months of too many episodes of Little Einsteins. I have a million kids apps on my phone that let Beckett have access to more cartoons than I ever dreamed of as a kid. He knows that whenever Nolan wakes up and I need to feed him or when I need to rock him to sleep he can play on my phone, and that's the only time he can play on my phone. The first month or so nursing took up to 20 minutes, and getting him to sleep took just as long. Now he eats in like 6 minutes, and usually goes to sleep in about 3 so Beckett is not getting near as much time on my phone.
- A good friend of mine told me that if both kids are crying at the same time, take care of the older one first. They are the one that will remember if you don't, and it could put them in a bad mood for the entire day.
- Don't count on alone time except for anytime before 7 AM and after 8 PM. I was so used to waiting to get things on my to do list done during Beckett's naps, that I found myself getting frustrated when both kids didn't sleep at the same time. Beckett has several days now that he doesn't nap at all, and even if he does, chances are it's going to be when Nolan is awake. So I've figured out how to clean, cook, and workout with my kids instead of waiting for them to be asleep. Beckett actually gets excited on the days I do laundry because we get to do "laundry stories". He sits on the floor of my closet while I put all the clothes away. While I'm doing so I tell him super exciting stories (unlike the peaceful bedtime ones he is used to). His current favorite is The Hobbit.
- Take advantage of nap time. Nolan takes five 45 minute naps each day. I generally pick one that Beckett gets to watch a movie during so I can have some "me time". I usually spend this catching up on work e-mails and cooking dinner. Then I make sure to spend 2 of them giving Beckett my undivided attention and playing whatever he wants. He usually wants to bounce on the tramp and go long boarding. If it's too hot outside, we play trains or read books. I've noticed if I don't do this he starts to get whiny and jealous when I'm paying attention to Nolan, but if he gets in a few solid doses of mom time during nap time then he's more content.