Owning Two Toddlers

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I think the time has definitely come when I have to admit that Max is no longer a newborn, and he’s not even a baby anymore. In fact, he’s a fully fledged toddler with his own likes and dislikes, feelings and thoughts about things. He can walk, talk (shout) and has countless opinions which he now voices loudly. With Alexandra not yet at school she’s still technically a toddler – which means I own two.

When I was pregnant with Max and shortly after, I read a lot of people saying the first year with two under two is the hardest. Personally, and this could just be with the benefit of rose-tinted hindsight to mix a couple of metaphors, I think it’s much more difficult once you have two mobile children who aren’t quite independent yet. Sorry to be a doom and gloom merchant! Yes the first year with two tinies is really difficult – you’re tired, everyone cries a lot, you’re constantly changing a nappy while nearly wetting yourself cause you’re so busy, and you’re also tired. Did I mention that bit? But if you’re lucky enough to have a second child that you can put down then you do exactly that, put them in one place where they stay until you move them. You have to remember to feed, wind and change the smallest one but you don’t have to reason with them as to why they should let their sibling watch their favourite programme for once, or why it’s not nice to hit them in the face with a plastic spade.

And there are lots of nice bits about having two so close together – popping them in the double pram and walking at a normal speed rather than taking a zillion years to get anywhere with a slow toddler in tow, not having to toilet train anyone, and the fact if your oldest still naps then you might once in a blue moon get that magical occurrence of a joint nap!

Now, there are lots of upsides to two toddlers – my two absolutely adore each other 50 per cent of the time, Alexandra ‘reads’ her books to Max, they love the same types of toys, and he comes up to pat her on the arm gently if she’s upset. Yes, that does leave the other half of the time when at least one of them is having a tantrum (threenager and terrible twos is a delight!) or they’re slapping each other. I am more tired than I’ve ever been, and some days I’m looking at the clock willing it to be bedtime when it’s still before 9am. Max has the energy of about 50 people combined into one tiny body, and they’re both sending me grey faster than I would like.

But we get to do so many fun things with them as they both love being outdoors, and they are both really funny. Alexandra in particular comes out with some blinders, but Max also makes us laugh constantly with his zany behaviour!

We are speeding towards the time when Alexandra makes that leap into being a proper little girl and going to school, and two years after that her brother will join her. And I know I will look back on these toddler days and think wow that was tiring, but wasn’t it fun too?!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

No Two Are The Same

I read a really interesting Instagram post from Poppy Dinsey the other day – she’s got newborn twin boys (who are ADORABLE) and she wrote about how fascinating it was that they were so different when they’re being raised exactly the same way, at exactly the same time. I think it’s very easy to place a massive focus on what we as parents are doing when it comes to raising the children, and to almost forget that the child also has a say in how they’ll turn out. Some of it has got to be nature rather than nurture, right?
So many of us are obsessed with whether our baby will be a fussy eater, whether they’ll sleep through the night, whether they’ll have colic or reflux or any number of other common tiny person ailments. We read baby books and consult others who are further along in their parenting journey, and worry and fret constantly about how we’re bringing them up. And yet from day one they have their own little personality, very quickly they have likes and dislikes. And I guess part of the joy of parenting is discovering their little quirks? (Unless their quirks are just enjoying crying ALL the time).
Certainly for me, it’s very true that you can have two children who can be really different. And while no doubt there are some things we’ve probably changed in terms of our approach this time round, like maybe being more relaxed or caring less about whether it’s ‘okay’ to rock the baby to sleep, some of it is definitely influenced by them.
Cuddles is the area that springs to mind when I talk about this subject. Now, you could say my babies had very different experiences when it comes to cuddling. Alexandra had hardly any with me in the first few months of her life, although clearly had plenty with other people, and as a result whenever I tried to get her to lie on my chest or snuggle up with me later on down the line, she normally tried to head-butt me and squirm away as fast as possible. Max was in an incubator for a lot of the first two weeks of his life, so whenever we had the chance he was out and having cuddles. Now at nearly nine months old, I still spend a lot of time cuddling him. He likes to be rocked to sleep if he’s overtired or teething or just because. We are making progress with Alex though and she now asks for cuddles before bed! And sometimes she runs up to us and throws her arms around our knees or gives us kisses. Very cute.
Our teething experience has also been different. Alexandra didn’t pop a tooth out until she was nearly 11 months old and hasn’t ever really struggled so aside from a couple of sleepless nights there hasn’t really been any issue. Max has had a really hard time with his – the first one popped through this week and the second is nearly there. You can tell they’re really bothering him.
Max will be on first name terms with the doctors as soon as he can talk. Alex on the other hand has been to see the GP once (for a rash that I was pretty sure was viral but wanted a second opinion on). I hope I’m not jinxing that!
And Max definitely started babbling earlier than his sister and is much more vocal. Only time will tell if that means he’ll start talking sooner!
Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A New Sibling

Alexandra talks Max through how to use his new baby gym.

Bringing a new sibling into the equation is always going to be tough. Whether you’re nine months or 19 years old, you’re going to be affected in some way if there’s suddenly a new tiny thing living in your house that demands attention 24/7 and gets loads of cuddles from not only your mom and dad but from all your visitors too.

But there are ways to minimise the green-eyed monster (although you’re always going to get one or two jealous moments!).

Alexandra was 18 months when her brother was born so her understanding of what was happening was fairly limited, although she obviously knew something was happening.

Before baby’s born:

– Keep them involved is my main advice. Alexandra came to some of my scans to see her brother on screen before his grand entrance. We showed her things we’d bought for baby, talked to her a lot about her brother and she spent a lot of time patting my tummy and talking to him through my belly button.
– Spend time with them. Sounds silly but it’s easy to get caught up in the pregnancy whirlwind and also to want to rest up as much as possible, especially in the third trimester. However I tried to use my pregnancy as a time for Alexandra and I to cement our bond and spend plenty of time playing, knowing my attention and time would be divided very soon.

Once baby arrives:

– Keep the status quo. Don’t switch up the older sibling’s routine to fit in with the baby, do the opposite if you can. For example we’ve incorporated Max into Alexandra’s existing bath and bedtime routine. We still eat meals at the same time, even if it means one of us has to cuddle or feed Max during dinner. We’ve been going out as much as we can and Alex has still been attending nursery even though I’m on maternity leave. So yes things are different now she’s got a brother, but we’ve tried not to turn her whole world upside down.
– Get them involved. Their age will dictate how involved they can be, but simple things like asking them to fetch a nappy and wipes for changing time, or helping them hold the bottle during feeding time, can help them feel like they’re doing a great job supporting you and bringing up their little sibling. Alex is chuffed whenever she gets praised for helping Max.
– Get visitors on board. Luckily our friends and family have been amazing about ensuring they give Alex plenty of fuss (does that phrase make her sound like a puppy?) when they come to our house, and many of them have brought a little something with them for her if they’ve been bringing a gift for Max which is incredibly sweet. Having people pay her plenty of attention means Alexandra doesn’t really get jealous when we have visitors.

I’m not painting the whole two under two, new baby, new sibling scenario out to be amazing and all rainbows and butterflies – but it is working out much better than I envisaged when we found out we were having a second baby. It helps that Alex is incredibly independent and has a good comprehension of lots of things we talk to her about – and that Max is a fairly chilled baby. But it also helps that we work as a team and ensure both of us spend time with both children. We’re getting the odd moment of jealousy but it’s so worth it to see the sweet moments where she holds his hand and kisses him, or the way she now hi fives him before bed as well as her dad and I.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x