I’m about to hold the terrifying title of “Mum to two kids under two”. I went through this six years ago, so, gulp, I know my world’s set to implode. Except this time the FOUR kids will outnumber us. I’ve already been forced to have the sex talk with my seven-year-old, and started preparing the older siblings for a new baby. Now I’m reflecting on the good things and the not-so-thrilling things about having two babies below two in good time to brace myself for this round. To all mums like me out there, I hope my moments of hilarity, agony and ecstasy ease your journey just a little. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be all kinds of crazy, busy wonderful…
THE HARD STUFF
Be forewarned, life is about to get reeeeal interesting:
* Jealousy is 100% guaranteed. Our Precious Darling Toddler is used to undivided attention and praise and won’t take kindly to being knocked off her pedestal. I shaved five years off my life when I walked into the room to Toddler hovering over Newborn with scissors. Lock sharp implements away.
* Being stuck on the couch breastfeeding Newborn for an hour every two hours with Toddler on the loose is dangerous. In just one day Toddler shut her fingers in a drawer, ate a six-pack of chocolate custards with a wooden spoon and unravelled an entire toilet roll. Tears will be shed, lots of them.
* Sleep deprivation + kid-wrangling = complete exhaustion. I lost count of the number of times I came home to a delivery sitting next the front door I’d left wide open. The memory of washing coffee off the side of the car after driving away with a latte on the roof is particularly special.
* Leaving the house in under an hour becomes mission impossible. Feed Newborn. Change Newborn. Convince Toddler to take off tutu. Pack bag with food, nappies, drinks and spare clothes x two. Retrieve toy Toddler just threw into toilet. Carry crap to car while trying to stop Toddler running on road. Newborn does a poo. Cry, go back inside and start all over again.
* Two sets of competing needs will inevitably lead to simultaneous meltdown. Channel your inner-triage nurse. Climb up and pull Toddler off bookcase, clean up Newborn poonami, then face-paint Toddler as butterfly. Newborn crying for two minutes will not result in immediate death. With any luck they’ll go to sleep!
THE BEAUTIFUL STUFF
It’s not all bad – promise. Here’s what makes the madness worth it:
- The sheer love between Toddler and Newborn reduced me to tears. From tender cuddles on beds and kisses on soft foreheads to Toddler rushing over to protect Newborn at the park growling “Hey, hands off, that’s my baby!” It’s enough to forgive Toddler for trying to suffocate Newborn with a muslin cloth mere minutes earlier…
- Having babies back-to-back means the tough stuff is over quicker. Suck it up now, and you’ll reap the dividends later. Once the youngest hits the magic age of two you’ll be nappy-free and through the worst of it.
- Mums and prams go together, and long walks save sanity. Two crying babies will turn into sleeping Newborn and happy Toddler after a couple of minutes pounding the pavement in the fresh air. Earphones will drown out crying for first five minutes.
- The food! Friends and family take pity on you and drop meals on your doorstep. And all that adrenalin coursing through your veins from breastfeeding Newborn while chasing after Toddler will burn a million calories. Pass the cake…
- Kids love routine. Nail dovetailed schedules early and enjoy a guilt-free daytime nap. Oh, exquisite joy. And before you know it they’ll be off to the same pre-school so you won’t have schlepp around town like you would with kids with a bigger age gap.
- You’ll form the most amazing mum tribe, bonding for life over critical issues like how to extract a marble from Newborn’s nose and how to bribe Toddler to eat kale chips.
MY PLAN FOR SURVIVING FOUR KIDS UNDER EIGHT
- Stay in Singapore with my helper. Say yes to every kind offer of assistance. And, unlike first time around, ask for help. Four kids leave no room for martyrdom. Baby number four won’t have one-on-one mummy time, but they’ll make up for it three times over with endless love and crazy antics from the kid crew.
- Self-care will be a top priority and Mum Guilt banished. If I can’t function, the family won’t function. And I’ll introduce a bottle early for flexibility.
- Date night will be on permanent weekly rotation. Kids have the power to rip apart rock solid relationships. The physical strain of caring for young babies and the mental exhaustion of older kids can take its toll. Only a united front will prevent mutiny. And there’ll be a strict no talking about kids rule (well, for the first hour at least).
- Raising independent kids while time intensive is essential. My older two are already following a list of daily jobs and taking responsibility for themselves. I’ll enlist their help to change nappies, make bottles and to teach the little ones how to put their shoes on and get dressed etc.
- It will be back to basics when it comes to baby gear. There’s so much stuff that you don’t need to buy for your baby. I’ll throw a nappy, wipes and clean onesie in my handbag and hit the road.
- I’ll go back to work part-time when the baby is six months old. The first time around I took five blissful years off, but I’m in a different headspace now. And I won’t beat myself up about it.
I’m confident I can do this without resorting to a backpack with leash – but I reserve the right to change my mind…
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