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Mums - I Need Your Advice! How Did You Handle Two Babies/Toddlers?


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Hi forum of eNotAlone!

 

It is very early days for me, but I have found out I'm probably a good couple of weeks pregnant.

 

I already have a little boy who turned 1 a few days ago. If this pregnancy goes well and we are lucky to have the baby, it means there will only be about an 18 month age gap between them.

 

This is everything I wanted, I did used to want an even smaller age gap but, I am feeling extremely blessed but a bit terrified at the same time! And everyone said you are more relaxed with your second?! Not up to now! Mums and Dads - how do you cope with 2 under 2?!

 

Any advice absolutely welcomed with open arms.

 

Lo x

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My daughter's 2 girls are 20 months apart and she runs her own small business, not at home but in her town. So yeah, she was busy and still is and the girls are 3 and 4. It was hard, she had to find babysitters and daycare and some of the sitters were awful so she needed to find others. She honestly was very worn out and tired. With the help of family and others she survived. Make sure you have good babysitters lined up and family support.

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Best wishes on a continued healthy pregnancy! I have one and my sister had 4 mostly close in age. I would start lining up mother's helpers (teenagers who can come over and help while you are also home) and also make decisions now about your priorities about house cleaning for example - meaning are you ok with lowering your standards, if not, what kind of help can you get to keep your house clean (and other non-child related things like food prep for yourself and husband, etc).

 

I also recommend the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen... and Janet Lansbury podcasts and articles (I realize they will be under 2 but I think you'll find some really good tips . Also if you have time watch Super Nanny past shows (yes I know it's a show and I think she and her insight are phenomenal).

 

Good luck!

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My oldest baby sister had three under 3 until my oldest niece just turned last month. Don't think there was more than a month-long gap between each pregnancy. I thought she was certified crazy, but she owned and loved the inevitable chaos. No advice I can personally offer other than the attitude that worked for her. I did buy her a couple of scientifically-based books on children's developmental psychology to help ground expectations of behaviors and cognitive limitations as they vary particularly wildly each year from infancy to adolescence, and she's at least claimed (granted, could be her being nice) it's helped tailor her thresholds and approaches to each of them.

 

The girls definitely have their quirks but are pretty amazingly well-mannered. My sister's got skin that's a good 10 inches thick, but she is human. She is fortunate to have incredibly supportive in-laws (they're located near her husband's family), so I'm sure they deserve a chunk of the credit. But I'm sure you'll do great. Best of luck and congratulations.

 

ETA: She's due for a fourth in May. So it'll be four under 4. I take back the "thought" she was certified crazy. She definitely is. Honestly, if you want me to ask her for any advice to relay, I'd be more than happy to.

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Congrats.

May I ask, what are you scared of? Real question, what are your fears, as maybe it will help to talk about it.

 

As you know, I'm not a mom. I do have tonnes of experience caring for children though, since I was young. It's not difficult , it's just takes being present . And you took to motherhood like a duck to water.

 

You've got this.

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Hi melancholy,

 

This is good and thoughtful advice but luckily I am in a position to not be working and will be at home all the time with both - I understand this still will be difficult keeping a house and cooking at the same time, I have a feeling I might be in for it!

 

How is your daughter feeling now? And how fantastic that she has her own business!

 

Lo x

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Best wishes on a continued healthy pregnancy! I have one and my sister had 4 mostly close in age. I would start lining up mother's helpers (teenagers who can come over and help while you are also home) and also make decisions now about your priorities about house cleaning for example - meaning are you ok with lowering your standards, if not, what kind of help can you get to keep your house clean (and other non-child related things like food prep for yourself and husband, etc).

 

I also recommend the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen... and Janet Lansbury podcasts and articles (I realize they will be under 2 but I think you'll find some really good tips . Also if you have time watch Super Nanny past shows (yes I know it's a show and I think she and her insight are phenomenal).

 

Good luck!

 

Hi Batya!

 

4 children! Oh my Gawd! Well what is her secret I really need to know?!

 

I have a problem Batya with being a bit of a control freak, me and my husband were "discussing" this last night and with me being early pregnant, I am overly emotional anyway so, to top it all off I felt very attacked by him but the long and short of it is I haven't ever left my little boy with anyone but close, immediate family for more than 3 hours so, I am working to try and loosen the grip if you get me. I always worry it's him that will be distressed but it's more me and my feelings really. I am a worrier as well which doesn't help.

 

I also find it VERY hard to lower my standards! It kills me. It really stresses me if things aren't perfect. I am a perfectionist by birth I think, I feel like it's in my blood and this is also one of my worries, how on earth can I possibly keep it all up and do it all? I am starting to struggle even with tiredness due to being pregnant and looking after my boy and home and husband and the baby isn't even here yet!

 

I will give your book a go.

 

Thank you,

Lo x

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My oldest baby sister had three under 3 until my oldest niece just turned last month. Don't think there was more than a month-long gap between each pregnancy. I thought she was certified crazy, but she owned and loved the inevitable chaos. No advice I can personally offer other than the attitude that worked for her. I did buy her a couple of scientifically-based books on children's developmental psychology to help ground expectations of behaviors and cognitive limitations as they vary particularly wildly each year from infancy to adolescence, and she's at least claimed (granted, could be her being nice) it's helped tailor her thresholds and approaches to each of them.

 

The girls definitely have their quirks but are pretty amazingly well-mannered. My sister's got skin that's a good 10 inches thick, but she is human. She is fortunate to have incredibly supportive in-laws (they're located near her husband's family), so I'm sure they deserve a chunk of the credit. But I'm sure you'll do great. Best of luck and congratulations.

 

ETA: She's due for a fourth in May. So it'll be four under 4. I take back the "thought" she was certified crazy. She definitely is. Honestly, if you want me to ask her for any advice to relay, I'd be more than happy to.

 

Hi j.man,

 

Thank you so much for this reply, and your offer to ask your sister! Y'know, if you could, it would mean a lot to me, if you have the time of course. I am really desperate for anyones experience on this. I mean, how on earth did she do it?!? How does she do it?!?! What's her home like? What's her mental state like! Did she set out for that many so close on purpose?

 

And also, I know this sounds completely superficial but I am a small minded woman after all who thinks only of these things ;) but, how on earth is her figure after 4 so close?!

 

Thank you, please ask if you can

 

Lo x

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Congrats.

May I ask, what are you scared of? Real question, what are your fears, as maybe it will help to talk about it.

 

As you know, I'm not a mom. I do have tonnes of experience caring for children though, since I was young. It's not difficult , it's just takes being present . And you took to motherhood like a duck to water.

 

You've got this.

 

Itsallgrand!

 

So nice to hear from you!

 

Well, I am scared because, I guess, the unknown? And, the idea of this struggle that I think most other people and our western culture perpetuates about more children.

 

My millennial generation are, I think, generally very pessimistic about children. Why have them? Waste of resources! I'm not ready yet. Always not ready, which makes everyone else think you have to have this somehow perfect situation of total perfection in order to even THINK about it! So, people I know look at me like I'm crazy when my situation is probably quite common, just not in my circle.

 

I think it's lovely that you say I have taken to it like a duck to water - I really hope that is true. I struggle almost daily inside my own mind sometimes about little silly things and I beat myself up often too, about how I could've gone the extra mile here or, I could've done more housework there etc but I guess that's my personality talking.

 

Do you have any practical advice on schedule when dealing with more than 1, especially young? Newborn stage! Lack of sleep all over again plus a near 2 year old is giving me the fear, not going to lie.

 

Lo x

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Hi Batya!

 

4 children! Oh my Gawd! Well what is her secret I really need to know?!

 

I have a problem Batya with being a bit of a control freak, me and my husband were "discussing" this last night and with me being early pregnant, I am overly emotional anyway so, to top it all off I felt very attacked by him but the long and short of it is I haven't ever left my little boy with anyone but close, immediate family for more than 3 hours so, I am working to try and loosen the grip if you get me. I always worry it's him that will be distressed but it's more me and my feelings really. I am a worrier as well which doesn't help.

 

I also find it VERY hard to lower my standards! It kills me. It really stresses me if things aren't perfect. I am a perfectionist by birth I think, I feel like it's in my blood and this is also one of my worries, how on earth can I possibly keep it all up and do it all? I am starting to struggle even with tiredness due to being pregnant and looking after my boy and home and husband and the baby isn't even here yet!

 

I will give your book a go.

 

Thank you,

Lo x

The thing is it is more horrible for you. Babies adjust to caregivers far more easily than you think they do . I own my own daycare and have worked with children for more than 20 years . The tighter the grip you have on the child the harder the situation . I have one mom like that who has a death grip on her child . But believe me the child adjusted it’s mom who hasn’t . And she’s just making her own life miserable . Her child is fine and happy all day . You can do it !!! I have 4 toddlers and 1 infant from 6:45 AM to 5 PM.

 

And I do know it is hard to let go of your child . I only ever let my mom look after my own . But really it only causes myhem to your own life as long as they are vetted people your child will most likely be OK .

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I personally never felt the need to leave my child as a baby with anyone else -we had a sitter (family friend and later a sitter) a handful of times at night and he was fine, and at age 3 he went to part time preschool 5 days/week and at age 4-5 he had a part time mother's helper (one of my relatives) over the summers. I worked at daycare, and taught, and nannied for years before having children and loved those kids and cared for them with all my best efforts and intentions. And that is how I felt before I had a child (that I wanted to be the full time caregiver at least for the early years- I was with him full time till he was 7 -other than he was in school and camp).

 

If I'd had to work before he started school of course I would have had a nanny, daycare -whatever we needed to do - but before preschool I didn't see a need based on my child, my education background, to leave him with a nanny/sitter "just because" or for socialization. And we had no family to watch him either. He was around a lot of other adults while I was there - I took him out all the time -we rarely stayed at home -the library, museums, the playground every day -where he was around other adults and kids and the librarian, art teacher, sometimes a music class ,etc. After age 3 I thought it was important for him to go to some sort of school and he did (at age 4 it was a full school day and has been ever since). I thought it was very important for him to treat other adults with respect so he had many teachers, counselors at camp, etc and when it comes to respect he does really, really well.

 

I know there are parents who find it important that their babies/toddlers be cared for by other people, that socialization is important before age 2 or 3 and to them I say -yes! Whatever works for you and your family - and whatever it's based on -science, a whim, anything in between - you are the parent, you know what's best.

 

If i could do anything different I might have done a "mom's morning out" a few times -in that way yes I was "overprotective" because in my years of child caring and while he was a baby I saw plenty of questionable and bad practices with young children who wouldn't have been able to tell their parents. Leaving him with moms I'd just me didn't seem right for me or my family. And it would have been very difficult for me to get him there and back in our situation. I would suggest a mother's helper while you are in the house a few hours a week or so so you can shower in peace, drink coffee that is actually hot, whatever you need. Happy to PM.

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Itsallgrand!

 

So nice to hear from you!

 

Well, I am scared because, I guess, the unknown? And, the idea of this struggle that I think most other people and our western culture perpetuates about more children.

 

My millennial generation are, I think, generally very pessimistic about children. Why have them? Waste of resources! I'm not ready yet. Always not ready, which makes everyone else think you have to have this somehow perfect situation of total perfection in order to even THINK about it! So, people I know look at me like I'm crazy when my situation is probably quite common, just not in my circle.

 

I think it's lovely that you say I have taken to it like a duck to water - I really hope that is true. I struggle almost daily inside my own mind sometimes about little silly things and I beat myself up often too, about how I could've gone the extra mile here or, I could've done more housework there etc but I guess that's my personality talking.

 

Do you have any practical advice on schedule when dealing with more than 1, especially young? Newborn stage! Lack of sleep all over again plus a near 2 year old is giving me the fear, not going to lie.

 

Lo x

 

Can you do a mother's helper? I'm not sure why you are focused on millenials. Many people of all ages have and adopt children -not just people in their 20s. I was 42 when I had my son, so was my husband. My sister had kids from mid 20s to mid 30s, many people have kids well into their 40s, and several of my friends had their first children in their 40s so I wouldn't focus on what seems to be some trend among "millenials". I'd focus on practicalities only.

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Life's journey is beautiful in part because we learn new ways to look at life along the way.

 

Think of what's important: you want your toddler to be comfortable emptying cabinets to play with the pots and pans. You want your kids to feel comfortable playing in their home (and your home). Start to define perfection differently.

 

Mothering both will be fun! When the newborn is new, you will be tuning your ears to understand Baby's cues. I had the grandparents around for help, but toddler wanted to stay with me all the time. The biggest help was having someone else make sure I ate three meals a day. You must take care of yourself!

 

As soon as you are able, put baby in a sling and hold toddlers hand, and go on a walk. Do this as often as you can stand it. Go to sleep when toddler does. Have someone else do as much of the housework as possible. You focus on bonding with these two sweet bundles of love.

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Life's journey is beautiful in part because we learn new ways to look at life along the way.

 

Think of what's important: you want your toddler to be comfortable emptying cabinets to play with the pots and pans. You want your kids to feel comfortable playing in their home (and your home). Start to define perfection differently.

 

Mothering both will be fun! When the newborn is new, you will be tuning your ears to understand Baby's cues. I had the grandparents around for help, but toddler wanted to stay with me all the time. The biggest help was having someone else make sure I ate three meals a day. You must take care of yourself!

 

As soon as you are able, put baby in a sling and hold toddlers hand, and go on a walk. Do this as often as you can stand it. Go to sleep when toddler does. Have someone else do as much of the housework as possible. You focus on bonding with these two sweet bundles of love.

 

OP and IamFCA: her suggestions remind me of a mom I knew when I gave birth. She'd been single and partly homeless and a teenager when baby 1 was born and a little older but unhappily married when 2 was born. She'd persevered and was so successful in every way. I panicked because I knew I'd be alone with my newborn starting when he was 2 weeks old, 2-3 days a week when my husband had to travel, no help from family (loved me and the baby and all but could not help due to age/disabilities). Yes I could have hired someone but I was afraid to. My friend had the same tone and advice as IamFCA did in her post and offered to come hang out with me at night but offered "look night and day are the same with a newborn - it's no harder at night in a way". So I didn't take her up on her generous offer BUT it was her positive "you got this!!" that really really resonated with me. She was right; IamFCA is also right IMHO -both attitude plus practical advice.

 

(Oh and another mom told me which is so right - get out every single day even if just for a walk around the block or to a coffee shop -with the kids, yes, but for your sanity!)

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OP and IamFCA: her suggestions remind me of a mom I knew when I gave birth. She'd been single and partly homeless and a teenager when baby 1 was born and a little older but unhappily married when 2 was born. She'd persevered and was so successful in every way. I panicked because I knew I'd be alone with my newborn starting when he was 2 weeks old, 2-3 days a week when my husband had to travel, no help from family (loved me and the baby and all but could not help due to age/disabilities). Yes I could have hired someone but I was afraid to. My friend had the same tone and advice as IamFCA did in her post and offered to come hang out with me at night but offered "look night and day are the same with a newborn - it's no harder at night in a way". So I didn't take her up on her generous offer BUT it was her positive "you got this!!" that really really resonated with me. She was right; IamFCA is also right IMHO -both attitude plus practical advice.

 

(Oh and another mom told me which is so right - get out every single day even if just for a walk around the block or to a coffee shop -with the kids, yes, but for your sanity!)

 

Thank you and yes -- "you got this" is perhaps - oddly - the most practical advice anyone can offer.

 

I will share a story. At nine months my #1 became attached to my hip. A very adaptable and quiet child, she suddenly required this constant attachment. I asked my (top in class, top school, practical) pediatrician, who asked Is something bothering you? Well, no, I said - but I am happily planning to host a large family celebration. That's it, she said. Your baby is picking up on your anxiety (which I didn't know I had), and clinging to you. No kidding: once the party was over, baby went back to her normal independent manner.

 

So whatever you do, however you do it, you've got this. Perhaps the biggest gift you can give them is a gift to yourself: accept yourself, accept your limitations, accept your efforts to improve. Do that, and they will learn by your example to love themselves, to accept that they will fail on the way to succeeding at a task, and they will keep striving to improve.

 

[Comment after writing: I did go on. Apologies. Is obviously my deepest passion. Ignore if you prefer, of course!]

 

It doesn't matter, but in case someone thinks it does: I am lucky to have many privileges. Still, know this: my then-H was absent. My family also was absent and uninvolved. His parents were enthusiastic but 8 hours away. We had almost no practical assistance, social interaction, or emotional support, after the first two months (soon after that, my mom died). Old house had major flood; toddler (once the water was low enough for her to help) and I cleaned it up. Heat busted; gas leaked; roof leaked. We handled it. By toddler-toddler age, exH was more brazen with his mistress; we finally split up and it bankrupted us. I moved us myself, painting and setting up house after kids slept. I am 90% time and money for them and glad of it because I am able to raise them as I intend. I had to give up the dream that the marriage represented (and would have delivered, oh well.) It was hard! And also, a sort of gift.

 

My three big lessons. (1) I've got this is perhaps your #1 mantra. (2) They know you before you do. So get yourself right from the inside out, because they will embody your inner character. (3) Respect them, as you expect others to respect you. Respect means they own their bodies, we don't. They own their choices. By 18+ months, they can look at a clock and know what it looks like, if not knowing the time per se. They can see that the clock looks the way it looks when it is time to brush teeth and put on pajamas. So, by two - two! - they can send themselves to prepare for bedtime. Teach them that, and hold them accountable: "Mommy is it time to go wash up?" / "I don't know, honey (but of course you do). Look at the clock and see what it tells you." Give them the tools and the time to figure it out.

 

When they get ornery, celebrate. "Sweet son/daughter, you know what? When your mood gets like this, it is because you are growing, and it can be frustrating to have new skills and little opportunity to use them. This is exciting! This means you are ready for more responsibility. Do you know how to clear the table after dinner? I will do the cooking, you clear the table, and then we can both/dad will do the dishes. Teamwork is dreamwork!" Yes its corny. And yes, you can clear the table so much faster. So, deal with it, or pick a different task. But do give them responsibility. It shows respect, it shows you believe in them, it shows them they are important. They value you so highly, they want the compliment of being able to contribute to your team. When your two year old is ready to go diaper-free, back him up. Take the risk with him. Go to the park! Yes you might have to sprint home, but so what. You are showing him he can learn, that it is okay to fail, that success takes practice. (Having a new sibling may delay this step for him... hard for you but its his way of adjusting to a new norm. His body, his timing.)

 

Oh - and yes, he can hold baby. He can settle on the floor and if you have that ring shaped cushion we called a boppy (??), put that around him to support baby. Teach him that he will learn from his younger sibling, and that the younger sibling will learn from him. Make them different people but equal in their ability to teach and to learn from each other. Because they will bring different skills and ideas to the family team.

 

Find a way to use distance, compassion, and self-care to serve your own needs and make anger unnecessary. This was the biggest gift of my journey. At 6 to 8 years old, they may test you, try to see if you will reject them. Hard! Read up well in advance so you can help them understand their emotions, and help them find a positive way out. It took about a year a piece, in my case. I felt like a clinical psychoanalyst. We implemented all the tools: tell me three things you are grateful for today. Or, Let's sing that hymn together before sleeping. Or, let's go see what its like to be homeless, to be in jail, to be unable to live in communion with others. (Seriously. I was at my wits end.)

 

For your son, and your sakes: consider that you will never be able to control them. Not now, not ever. You can not be with them 24/7. They need to learn to control themselves. I told mine that. I said if they can't, the rules change because I will do whatever is necessary to keep us all safe. But if they can control themselves, we can do anything. They did, and we have. Remember they own their lives, not you. When they wanted to quit school I said, OK -- let's talk about your career opportunities and entrepreneurship ideas, and see what interests you. When they didn't get a good test grade, I said, grades don't matter, unless you learn from the experience. What would you do differently? When they didn't get summer jobs; who cares? Oh, but no, I can't give you money for going out. Maybe have dinner here and then don't eat when you are out with your friends? When they wanted a ride to school but were otherwise selfish and surly, they took a bus. I will love them, but I will not violate my own boundaries while doing so. They ended up athletes with A averages, deeply challenging endeavors, strong sleep habits, and the reputation of being the nicest kids on campus. They obviously amaze me; I can talk about them forever (and have here, I am afraid).

 

That is how I did it. You do it however works for you. No matter what that is: Love yourself, let them see your limitations, let them see you set boundaries, let them see you fail, learn, try. Let them go. Potty training is theirs, brushing teeth is theirs, school is theirs. Let them fail early; the lessons are less costly than failing later. Believe in them, invest in them. They will deliver. Its the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever done. You will make a thousand mistakes. So what? If you are learning along the way, they will too. Humans are resilient. Let go and enjoy the ride. There is nothing harder nor more rewarding.

 

Bringing a baby into the mix is the same as any other challenge. You can even tell your son -- this is new for me too, let's figure this out together. You've got this.

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"We implemented all the tools: tell me three things you are grateful for today. Or, Let's sing that hymn together before sleeping. "

 

My son is almost 10 -for about the last 5-6 years we do the following every night before bed -we say a humanistic blessing (it's a blessing someone gave me in writing and I say humanistic because it is non-religious no mention of god -we are a religious family but I just loved the wording of this blessing) and we go over the three good things that happened that day -big or small or tiny. Some days it is hard to find three!!

 

I am all for resilience and independence - a friend recommended The Blessing of a Skinned Knee - great book for that -and I also recommend How to Talk so Kids Will Listen -never too early to read that. We have not done well with the resilience/independence thing and at the same time I will offer this tip which I think IamFCA gave as well. When your angel is tantruming/meltdown - if you are indoors especially and need to stay indoors -pick that time to have child help you with a task that requires physical energy but also a careful approach. So that is when I say to child in a no nonsense way -and normal volume of voice "ok - come with me-we're going to put away your clean laundry now" -and using that same voice and tone I will say - ok remember pants go in third drawer, underwear in bottom etc. When I first tried that it felt a little crazy -wouldn't a melt down child just throw everything around? Or worse? But if you pretend like you're cool, pulled together, and there is work to be done, so often they will follow suit -and get their energy out in a positive way.

 

Also something else I read -maybe by Janet Lansbury who I love - do not let your child's emotions drag you down - if they are sad/mad/frustrated that's ok - you don't have to go there with them. Don't mock them for their feelings but you don't' need to feel sad too. And your composure/positivity might help the child get recentered.

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