7 Practical Tips for Raising Two Under Two
Congratulations on your pregnancy! While adding another baby to your family is extremely exciting, when your little ones are going to be very close in age, you may be looking at your first-born wondering how you’re going to give them the time and attention they need while going through the eat, sleep, change, repeat pattern of newborn life.
Although nothing may truly prepare you for the two under two stage, we hope that this list of 7 practical tips will help you manage these sometimes chaotic days, until you fall into a routine that works for you and your family.
Sync up a couple nap times
While it might not happen right away, you may be able to sync up one or two of your newborn’s and toddler’s naps. If you can get them both down at the same time, you can choose to catch up on housework or other responsibilities. However, if you feel yourself burning out, it may be best to use this time to indulge in self care, which is much more important than if the dishes are cleaned!
Your newborn will be napping more than your toddler, so use this time to bond with your toddler. You’ll have your hands free during this time (which isn’t common when the newborn is awake), so you can play with your toddler, go outside, read books, and other activities that are more difficult when your newborn is awake.
Use baby wearing to multitask
Baby wearing is definitely a must when you have a newborn and an energetic toddler running around. When your newborn is in a sling or baby carrier, it frees up your hands, so you can wash dishes, make meals, change diapers, and play with your toddler. At the same time, even if your focus isn’t entirely on your newborn, baby wearing promotes bonding and attachment with your newborn.
Using a sling or a baby carrier in public is also a lot easier to manage than hauling around a pram. Your toddler will probably be looking to hold your hand in public, so when you baby wear, you can do so with no issues (and no one-hand pram steering).
Do your best to get out of the house
Being in your home day after day with a newborn and toddler can be overwhelming. Remember that when you’re feeling a bit cramped or like you need some fresh air, stepping outside for even just a few minutes a day can be great for your mental health. Strapping the newborn on and bringing your toddler outside, if even just in the backyard or for a walk around the neighbourhood, can bring a sense of calm to the entire family.
If you’re ready to go out on bigger outings, trips to the library, park, or a café are possible, even though they may be daunting. For the first few trips, you may want to have your partner or a friend with you to help out until you build up the confidence to do it on your own. Playgroups are also a great way to keep your toddler entertained while connecting with other mums in your area who are in the same position. Just pack lots of snacks for your toddler, double (or triple) check your nappy bag, lower your expectations, and enjoy these little outings!
Encourage independent play
Bonding with your toddler and spending quality time with them is essential during the two under two period. But sometimes, it can be a lifesaver when your toddler can entertain themselves, even if just for a few minutes while you catch up on other tasks or feed your newborn. Encouraging independent play with your toddler is a long-game while they learn how to play on their own and build their attention span.
For a 12-month-old, you’ll probably only get about 5-10 minutes of independent play time before they get bored, but this will build as time goes on (and even just 5 minutes can seem like an hour to a mum with two under two!). Here are some tips for encouraging independent play:
- Once your toddler is happily playing, don’t hover – walk away and see how they go.
- Let them play with toys that you know they’re naturally drawn to, rather than toys that you want them be interested in.
- Keep the toys to only a few – sometimes too many options can overwhelm toddlers.
Prioritise meal planning
When you’re busy juggling a newborn and a toddler, one thing that often slips through the cracks is your own nutrition. When you’re constantly running on empty or junk food, it really takes a toll on your energy levels (which are already probably pretty low). This is why meal planning and prioritising your own meals is so important when raising two under two.
There are multiple ways to meal plan to fit your lifestyle, including:
- Limit how many meals you try to cook: Even if you enjoy cooking, you may not be able to cook three meals a day. Instead, try cooking dinner each day, and then enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. This leaves you with only breakfast to prepare, which could be fruit, yoghurt cups, or another no-cook, grab-and-go option.
- Cook a large batch and freeze portions: Each week, or every few weeks, you may want to ask a family member or a friend to come over to help while you bulk prep meals. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even just a supersized portion of spaghetti can be easily frozen into portions and reheated.
Stop trying to do it all
As parents, we try to do everything all by ourselves and ignore our own needs. While this may have worked out with one baby, it’s going to be a lot tougher now that you have a newborn as well as a toddler who needs your attention. During this time, really embrace learning how to let go of the little things and just do your best, even if that means letting some less-important tasks slide.
For example, your toddler isn’t going to tell if you made him a homemade dinner with three side dishes, or if you just threw some leftovers on a plate because you didn’t have the time for a fancy meal. Or if you need to get some housework done, it’s perfectly okay to let your toddler watch a show, instead of constantly lining up learning activities.
Accept and ask for help (then ask again)
We know… you see this on all the other parenting advice articles, but it’s because accepting and asking for help is that important for your mental health. We know it can be hard to reach out to someone to help, but most of the time, you’ll find that your friends and family are readily available and want to help.
Taking it a step further, we want to remind parents that even if you’ve asked for help already that week, that doesn’t mean you’re cut off from getting some help again. Rotate through your friend and family, lean on your partner, and shamelessly ask for help when you need it. Some specific tasks you can ask for help for include:
- Taking your toddler to the park while you bond with your newborn
- Cuddling your newborn at home while you bond with your toddler
- Bringing you some groceries or baby supplies that you need
- Doing some housework like cleaning bottles, doing dishes, folding laundry, etc.
Raising two under two isn’t always easy. It can be loud, messy, and sometimes a bit chaotic as you learn how to split your time between your newborn and toddler. But as with all phases of parenting, this too shall pass. But don’t be counting down the days! This is also a beautiful time while watch how your little ones start interacting with each other and building their relationship.