Our Evening Routine With Two Under Two

If you’ve read my previous posts (morning routine here and daytime routine here), you’ll know I’ve been sharing what a typical day looks like for us, if there is such thing as ‘typical’ with a 23 month toddler and a four month baby. Do pop and read the past posts to find out more about earlier in our day as this one exclusively focuses on the evening routine and how we go from having two wide awake kids to two hopefully soundly sleeping ones!

Prep:

The first thing I always do is make sure I have five minutes during the late afternoon/early evening to nip upstairs and prepare everything ready for their bedtime. I just find it so much easier if all the bits and bobs I need are laid out on the bed, especially if Dylan is running late and I’m starting the routine by myself.

We get both babies ready for bed in our room which works really well as it means we can all sit together on the bed and have some much-needed family time. Perhaps when they’re older they might separate into their own rooms but for now this arrangement is lovely for the four of us. So on the bed I lay out Max’s sleeping bag unzipped, his open babygrow for the night on top of that and then a nappy folded open on top of that – so everything is ready just to be popped on as quickly as possible. Then next to that there’s always a space with the wipes and empty nappy sack. Then next to that there’s Alexandra’s sleeping bag, pyjamas and nappy.

On the bed post we have talcum powder, Sudocrem and clippers if I’m planning on cutting anybody’s nails. On the bed there’s always at least one book. Then on the nightstand there’s a spare Max sized nappy, nappy sack, muslin cloth and two bibs. The curtains are closed and the lamp on with the main light off then in Alex’s room the blinds are drawn and her fairy lights are on.

If they’re having a bath then I’ll put his bath seat and the bath toys in ready plus have both their towels on the radiator, the shampoo and flannels next to the bath and a stool for comfort for whoever’s washing them.

All of that sounds exhausting but it’s honestly about two minutes’ work now I know what I’m doing with it all.

Dinnertime:

Max has his penultimate bottle at 5pm and then he will normally be in his bouncer, on his play mat or propped up on some cushions with a toy until we’re ready to go upstairs. Around this time I like to get his last bottle ready as this is a formula one (he has one formula and four expressed bottles a day so this is the only one I have to prepare rather than pump!) and he always has his daily vitamins mixed into this one just because it’s easy to remember to pop the vitamins in while I mix the formula. It then goes into the fridge as he’s happy to have cold milk (and does most the time as I obviously store my milk in there too!).

Then it’s time for Alexandra to have her dinner, which is always at the table on her booster chair – we like to make sure the tv’s off during dinner. If Dylan isn’t home yet I’ll usually eat with Alex then save his ready to heat up later. We then take her water bottle and his dummy, bottle and last dose of ranitidine (anti-reflux medicine) upstairs ready to wind down for the night.

Bathtime:

We only bath the children every other night unless they’re spectacularly filthy (let’s be honest I’m talking about toddler not baby here!). Max has his hair washed first then he goes in his towel into the bedroom to get into his night clothes while his sister has a little longer playing then washing her hair and cleaning her teeth. If they’re not having a bath then we obviously just skip this part and get them changed ready for bed.

Bedtime:

Alex loves reading books so we normally do one but more often two – she’s at the stage where she doesn’t particularly want to follow the plot but would much prefer to point out all the things she can see on the pages. She also likes to show Max different books which is great as it’s never too early to get them involved!

I’ll be honest there is normally A LOT of laughter, running around, hide and seek, jumping and other activities that wouldn’t happen at bedtime if I was solely in charge. But for Dylan it might be the only half an hour he sees the children in the day so he certainly makes the most of it! (He’s normally the one running around). While I always panic it’ll make her too excited to go to bed, I think the manic half an hour actually helps get rid of her last bit of energy for the day!

Then at some point (could be as early as 7.15pm or as late as 8.30pm depending how tired she is), we all do kisses, cuddles and high fives then Dylan takes Alexandra into her own room where they have a crazy routine involving hitting each other on the head with a balloon, counting in Italian and saying goodbye to the blinds?! It’s very funny to listen to and I can never replicate it properly when I’m in charge of bedtime on the odd occasion Dylan isn’t there (Alex is never too amused when I’m brought on as bedtime substitute!). Then he leaves the room and she’ll go to sleep, sometimes with a bit of shouting ‘ta ta. Night. Bye’.

In the meantime, I’ll have been giving Max his last bottle in our room and then we normally have a bit of a cuddle and he goes down into his Moses basket in there. He’ll also settle himself to sleep although sometimes I do cuddle him to sleep – just not too often so he doesn’t lose the ability to self settle!

And that’s normally the last we hear of either of them until the morning. It’s then time for me to express, Dylan to have his dinner and we both make sure everything’s tidy although that normally takes two minutes because I try and tidy throughout the day.

Writing all that down does make it seem like it’s a really rigid routine – but things do vary each day and the timings also alter depending what we’re doing and how tired the children are. I guess we’ve just found what works and doesn’t over the last four months of adapting to two under two – so these are the things that help us get both of our little sleepy bugs to drift off!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Daytime Routine With Two Under Two

Trying to change nappies normally descends into chaos!

If you missed it, earlier in the week I talked about our morning routine. Today I’m focusing on what happens after that! Daytimes massively vary in this house from ones where we seem to be on the go all the time to very sedate ones!

As I’ve mentioned in the morning routine post, Alexandra goes to nursery on Tuesday and Thursday mornings which means she’s there from 8am to 12.45pm and has her breakfast and lunch with them. On a Tuesday my sister and my nephew generally come over so I’ll spend a bit of time in the morning with Max and then they’ll arrive. On Thursday mornings, I use the time to clean the house – completing tasks like hoovering and dusting which are infinitely harder with two kids around! On those afternoons we don’t tend to plan much, as Alex never naps at nursery so she normally wants to sleep when she gets home.

Other days can involve anything including soft play, going to the park, play dates, walks, visiting my grandparents etc. Or if we stay at home then there’s colouring, lego, playing in the garden, so many different toys and (I’m not going to lie) CBeebies to keep us busy.

Feeding and expressing:

Max feeds every three hours at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm and then tends to have a nap from about 9.30am and then maybe two long naps in the afternoon, all depending where we are and what we’re up to.

Expressing is limiting me a little so I tend to only go out for a few hours at a time. At the moment I need to express six times in 24 hours to get enough for four bottles, so that tends to be around 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm then twice overnight. I do vary the times if we’ve got plans but do my best to get all six in during the day.

In terms of Alex, she eats at around 8am and 6pm and her lunchtime meal can be anywhere between 12pm and 2pm depending on when she naps – which happens (hopefully) once a day for (hopefully) at least an hour.

I’m sure all of this will change as Max starts weaning and needing less sleep in the day but for now that’s how we roll!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Our Morning Routine With Two Under Two

Morning pyjama buddies.

I’ve mentioned before we don’t have a strict routine for our toddler and that’s been the case for the baby too. If we end up going to bed half an hour late (or half an hour early!) it’s fine. We’re fairly flexible about all elements of the day but I guess over time you realise what works and what doesn’t work for your family and you loosely structure your day according to that. So while it’s not an exact timetable, I thought I’d share our 2 under 2 daily routine.

[I was going to write this as one post about our entire day but I realised there was quite a lot to say so I’m going to split it up into our morning routine, daytime routine and evening routine so no one goes blind trying to read it all in one go.]

So let’s start at the beginning (because it’s a very good place to start). Our mornings:

Tuesdays and Thursdays:

These are the days she goes to nursery and Alexandra has to be there for 8am so we tend to focus on getting her ready and Max will be sorted afterwards. I find it helpful to get up and ready while Alex is still sleeping if possible – and she does tend to need to be woken up on nursery days. Her outfit is normally left on the spare bed and the bag packed the night before (extra leggings, top and socks, sudocrem and either a sun hat and sun cream or a coat depending on the weather). It’s then left by the front door alongside her shoes to make it easier to get out.

Because she has breakfast at nursery and it’s only about four minutes away in the car we can get away with getting her up as late as 7.40am.

Wednesdays:

During term time, Alexandra does Tumble Tots which involves getting all three of us out of the house for 9.10am to be there ready to start at half past. Again I find it really useful to pack the changing bag the night before (if I was just going to TT and coming straight home then two nappies each, wipes, couple of nappy sacks and then just before we left water and a snack for Alex and milk for Max) and to get myself ready beforehand.

Then it’s downstairs for breakfast for Alexandra and I’ll feed and change Max while that’s taking place. Then change Alex and run around tidying up (if we were running late I’d leave this til after) and making sure I’d got everything before leaving.

Other days:

On days when we don’t have any commitments, it’s a much more laid back affair which can see us take a few hours to get ready. The priority is always changing Max’s nappy, even if he stays in his babygrow for a while, and giving Alex breakfast. She sits on a plastic mat in our lounge watching CBeebies for breakfast – which is something my husband Dylan started but it works really well in keeping her occupied until she’s finished and I’m ready to change her. Alex has cereal and/or toast with fruit and milk and/or water to drink every morning.

Max likes to have his first bottle of the day at 8/8.30am but is generally happy to wait even if he’s been up since 7ish (which is the earliest he wakes) so it’s a good opportunity to change the water and Milton tablets in the sterilising tub, do any leftover washing up from the previous day and get ready myself.

I try to bring down a stack of nappies and bibs plus a muslin cloth and we also keep our changing mat, nappy bags and wipes downstairs so that I don’t have to run up and downstairs too many times in the day. Once Max is changed I’ll turn my attention to Alex and then clear up her breakfast things.

Phew! It’s not until you write it all down that you realise there are a lot of things involved in getting two under two ready for the day! I imagine things will get harder once Max is weaning then easier once they’re both able to feed and dress themselves. Although then the nagging about getting shoes on and brushing teeth will amplify!

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

A tale of two births

After I had Alexandra, there was obviously a very extended recovery time from all of the physical things that had happened to me relating to CAPS. That meant that the recovery from the actual birth (physical and emotional) was somewhat pushed aside and I’ve never really thought about my ‘birth experience’ that much – that was until after I’d had Max and I had something to compare it to.

On paper, while the postpartum experience with Alexandra was about as horrendous as it gets, the birth itself wasn’t totally awful. Around 27 hours from start of induction to birth, her heart rate slowed down, gas and air plus pethidine for pain relief, episiotomy and ventouse delivery. Not totally without its hitches but a lot better than some of the stories I’ve heard.

Compare that however to Max’s birth which was like a dream – okay the induction itself took a lot longer and even the time between my waters being broken and baby’s arrival was longer, but I got to actually push this baby out myself!

I felt totally in control, once I started listening to my body I pushed when I wanted to, I felt like I gave birth. With Alexandra’s birth I felt like the doctors had done it and I was almost a bystander. The gas and air didn’t do much for me – whereas with Max because I felt much more in control I was able to take in the proper amount of gas and really feel the effects of it. Yes I would have liked an epidural but in hindsight I’m pleased they didn’t get to me in time!

I felt a real sense of achievement after having Max and it was made even better by the fact I was able to get up and walk around very quickly after. Obviously it’s really helpful when you’re birthing a 4lb 13 long skinny thing who ‘slips out like an eel’ in the midwife’s words, but I still feel quite empowered by the whole experience.

Does that sound cheesy?
I guess I felt like my body let me down a bit last time, firstly by needing that assistance to get my baby here and secondly because I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t cope as well as I wanted to during labour. And then there was the whole organ failure thing afterwards.

So this time I was shit scared of giving birth. I felt like I was going to crumble completely and spend hours saying ‘I can’t do this’ like last time (and I mean not just during the transition phase like you’re meant to but through the whole thing practically). I just did not want to go through labour.

Now I am so so glad we didn’t end up with a c-section which was being talked about at one point (not that there’s anything wrong with a section, needs must!) but for me I almost needed that little ‘yes I did it’ moment after!

Having children and not dropping or breaking them (and hopefully not screwing them up too bad) is one of the biggest achievements any of us can list, but I’m actually really proud of giving birth to Max and it’s not often you catch me praising myself quite so liberally!

Crazy how you can have two births only 18 months apart and feel so differently about both.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Take Two: Week 31

The bump featuring my nephew Zachary

Week 31 was fairly uneventful – although it’s getting to the point now where we’re on super alert in case something happens! The plan is still to get to 37 weeks although we know there’s a chance of induction before then. So it’s one day at a time at the moment.

I’ve been busy working a lot this week. I’m very lucky in that being a freelancer I can pick and choose what I do, but it also means some weeks are busier than others. It’s been a very welcome distraction from the worry of what’s to come! I’m intending to work right up until 36 weeks then having a week off before Baby 2 arrives, but that’s obviously subject to him staying put til then.

Symptoms wise I’m still getting away fairly lightly, and haven’t experienced any of the third trimester sickness (yet) that I had last time. I am super hungry all the time and eating enough for about 57 people, obviously tired and my back is achey but I’ve been very lucky symptoms wise this time. Although, you know, the whole ‘super high risk’ thing isn’t the best so don’t feel too envious of me!

I haven’t actually been to the hospital this week so a midwife appointment was the only thing on the calendar – all was fine there. Knowing we’re only five weeks away now we’ve reached 32 weeks seems very surreal – at this point last time I thought I had ten weeks because I was so sure I’d go overdue. I keep looking at Alexandra thinking she’s only got a very short time left as the baby! So many emotions about that, although she loves babies so much I’m hoping she’ll take to him pretty quickly. Or at least not strangle him.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

Take Two: Week 30

This picture is relevant, honestly…read on.

Week 30 really isn’t a milestone in your pregnancy, but somehow because it starts with a 3 and not a 2, it feels like one. I think especially when you know you’ll be delivering in a week beginning with a 3 not a 4, it makes it all seem eerily close. I don’t know if that really makes any sense but I understand it nevertheless!

This week has mostly been the same: feeling a little tired, struggling with my back and mostly just feeling HUNGRY. Like non-stop, I need to eat all the time, I’m angry because I haven’t eaten for ten minutes – although I’ve actually also got to the point where I’m quite looking forward to exercising after the baby’s born. I think about chicken nuggets a lot at the moment (I had not one single McDonald’s in the 11 months that I wasn’t pregnant between Alex and this baby. Now I could quite happily eat one every day. Nuggets are an all-consuming thought for me. I probably won’t get any work done for the rest of the day now because I’ll be thinking about nuggets).

In actual, important news I had a midwife home visit on Wednesday. This is where they normally talk to you about birth options I think (but obviously that’s highly irrelevant for me because I’m not giving birth in the county I live in) and they also chat a bit about breastfeeding. All the normal checks showed up fine, baby had moved again and was head up (I also got to feel his head which was pretty cool, the midwife said it was like a perfect little cricket ball).

Then on Friday it was back to hospital for a growth scan and an appointment with my obstetrician and rheumatologist. The scan went well, they estimated he was just under 3lb 12 and that equates to be just under the 50th centile. He’d moved again and was head down which is where we’d like him to stay! My regular obstetrician was on annual leave so there were some questions I went with which I’ll have to wait til next time to get answered, but overall the appointment went fine. I don’t have to see them again for another month which is longer than I was expecting, but I’m seeing the midwife weekly and the haematologist and cardiologist in two weeks so they’re definitely not leaving me to fend for myself!

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

 

Take Two: Week 29

Alex has been spending a lot of time practising how to look after a baby. It’s going well…

So here we are, into week 30 and reflecting back on week 29. Less than seven weeks left now til induction. I’ve just quickly read back by week 29 post from my pregnancy with Alexandra (you can read it here if you like) and the summary was the morning sickness was back, I was really tired and it was my birthday that week.

Well I’m happy to report that I’m not feeling sick at all this time round in the third trimester (so far) and clearly, it wasn’t my birthday this week! As for tiredness, I don’t think I’m as bad as I was last time – then I was getting up mid morning, needing a nap in the afternoon and feeling wiped in the evenings. Now Alex, working and various other commitments just don’t allow for that. It is getting more of a struggle to go out and do things, and I’m definitely starting to notice the bump slowing me down a bit now. But by and large we’ve been continuing life as normal here at the EE house.

My last lot of blood results have come back within normal range which is obviously great and there’s no concerns at the moment about myself or baby. He’s very active, a lot more so than I remember Alexandra being, and his little kicks and rolls are now becoming really obvious both on the outside and the inside. Alex was head down, ready to exit for basically the entire time but this one is in a different position every time I get measured.

We think we’ve finalised his name. For a long time we were scouring through boys’ names trying to find ones we both loved. Eventually we settled back on the name we would have used for Alexandra had she been a boy, but were looking for a longer version of it (so he would have a long name on his birth certificate and use either that or the nickname day to day, like we do with Alexandra/Alex) and we weren’t really set on any of them. So we think we’re just going to use the short one as it’s a name in itself and we don’t see the point of giving him a full name he never uses.

Nothing else to report at this stage, which is always reassuring!

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

 

Plans For Baby 2: Feeding

Today I wanted to talk about my plans for feeding Baby 2. A quick recap of the Baby 1 feeding story is that when I was pregnant, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself but ideally wanted to breastfeed. I breastfed Alexandra for almost a week after she was born. It was tough! The first issue we had was that she was hardly making any effort to feed, she would latch properly sometimes but then just sat there doing nothing – not particularly helpful! So we were topping up with expressed milk/formula from the second day I think and everyone at the hospital was spending an inordinate amount of time trying to help her start feeding properly. I’ve heard a lot of women say they didn’t feel supported to breastfeed while staying in hospital but I felt exactly the opposite, everyone spent so much time trying to help me.

I’d like to think we would have got over the first issue if it hadn’t been for the second: the fact that I was so poorly, trying to feed (or do anything) was horrendously painful. I had a scan which meant I had to express and throw all of my milk away for 24 hours which was the most disheartening thing ever – especially as I was expressing a ridiculous amount. It got to the point where I was crying every feed, which probably wasn’t helping Alex with her feeding issues (I’d probably be a bit weirded out if someone was crying at me every dinner time) and the midwives said to me they were concerned she wasn’t putting weight back on and could become jaundiced again.

So Dylan and I had a chat and we switched to formula and that was that. (I realise that was not a particularly quick summary!).

This time round, I would still like to give breastfeeding a go. I think it would be easy (and probably justified) for me to say let’s just formula feed and avoid adding any more stress on to the situation. But I know for me, I would feel incredibly guilty if Baby 2’s newborn days were less dramatic than Alex’s and we hadn’t at least tried to establish breastfeeding. I will still probably feel an element of guilt if we end up formula feeding, but at least I’d have given it a go.

Also I think there’s an element of ‘making it fair’ in my mind. I tried to breastfeed Alexandra, I want to at least give my second child that chance too! I know it’s ridiculous but they’ll never know, it’s not like he’s going to turn round to me in years to come and query why I fed his sister for a few days but didn’t with him, and equally it could work the opposite way. I could end up breastfeeding him for a year and then he would be treated differently to Alex.

I am firmly, firmly in the camp of ‘fed is best’ and really can’t stand the *minority* of breastfeeders who are so judgemental about formula feeders, as if they’re pouring vodka down their baby’s neck. But I do want to give it a go this time and it would be lovely for it to last a little longer than the first attempt.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

Take Two: Second Trimester Part Two

A growth scan at 26+6 showed Baby 2 flexing his guns!

Saturday marked a key point in my pregnancy: 28 weeks which is the start of the third (and final!) trimester. Although it feels like a significant date nothing actually happens – baby is still growing at the same rate and doesn’t magically have a spurt or start doing something fancy in there to celebrate. But still, the third trimester is when all the action happens ie getting the baby out at the end. If you’d like to read my Second Trimester round-up from my first pregnancy, you can do so here or you can read my summary of weeks 14-21 of this pregnancy here.

So how’s it been? Well, right now my main complaint is that the bottom of my back is absolute agony! I can rarely get into a comfortable position and when I do, manoeuvring myself out of it is just ridiculous. I remember my back aching when I was pregnant with Alexandra but I don’t think it was this bad – it’s probably not helping that I’m hefting a toddler in and out of her cot, in and out of the car and up and down from the table all day. I’m just counting down the days until such a time when I can actually do any of that without doing lots of swear words very loudly in my head.

I’m definitely feeling tired but as I mentioned in my previous update post, that’s fairly normal anyway with a toddler on the go all the time! If you compare it with Alex’s pregnancy too where I wasn’t getting up til late, then having a couple of hours’ nap in the afternoon then going to bed early, I’m doing pretty well.

I feel like we’re just in limbo now, we know 37 weeks is the end goal but every week we could be in a position where we need to get the baby out now. In a lot of ways I feel wholly unprepared for Baby 2’s arrival – like how the hell do you look after two small people at the same time? I took Alexandra and my nephew Zachary out for an hour on my own the other day and managed it fine although it takes SO long transferring two kids and their paraphernalia into a pushchair! But doing it full time? Help!

We’ve got most of the items you need for a baby like clothing, nappies etc and we’re picking up the car seat this week but I still have to finish my hospital bag and make sure all the plans are in place for Alex’s care while I’m in hospital.

As I did the first time round, I’ll probably update every week now until I have baby – which could be eight updates or could be a case of telling you next week that there’s a new arrival in town. Gulp.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x