Tantrums: Not Everyone is Judging You

My child having a tantrum on a town-centre bench, because she wanted to go home for lunch and we were going home for lunch…

You know when you’re out and about with your little darlings and one of them absolutely loses it. You’ve probably been dealing with this all day (or since their first birthday, terrible TWOS my arse) and you’re probably absolutely sick of it. You want to lie right down on the floor next to them, scream 20 decibels louder than them and flail about like a dying octopus. Except you don’t have the energy, so you grit your teeth and try to work out how to get them into the car without making it look like you’re snapping them in two as they alternate between making themselves completely rigid head to toe and trying to kick/punch/poke you.

And then you happen to catch a glance of someone giving you the look. The look you’re dreading. In a split second, your mind tries to work out if they’re judging you, and what the hell you’re going to do about it.

Let’s be honest, what you’re going to do is try and pretend you haven’t seen them while continuing with the task at hand: stopping the tantrum. You’re going to go home and think about their judgey look all night, and maybe into the next day. But soon enough you’ll forget about them and their furrowed brow will be history.

However, I have a theory to propose. And that theory is that, no matter what it feels like at the time, not everyone is judging you. Now, back when I was a teenager and probably into my early 20s (probably even when Alexandra was tiny before she learned to talk and be difficult about stuff for absolutely no reason), I probably did look at other people like WTF why can’t they control their child?

I can pretty much forgive myself and anyone else who hasn’t experienced the full force of a toddler tantrum that THEY have to sort out rather than getting to merrily stroll on by and live their day without having to deal with a mini meltdown about yoghurt or some other ridiculous shit. I also think some people whose children have way passed the tantrum age (at least 30+) have probably forgotten what it’s like so, while their judgement is unwarranted and they should pipe down, we can just ignore them.

However, there’s a whole section of society out there who either owns or has recently owned a toddler. That means there are a whole load of people who know exactly what you’re going through. Because anyone who says their toddler has never cried for the world’s most ridiculous reason is lying.

So, if you get ‘the look’ from someone in that category, I’m willing to bet the look is actually a transmission of the following thoughts: ‘ah no, I am SO glad that is not my child today/I’m so glad my kid is at nursery so I don’t have to deal with them today/I hope that kid stops wailing soon cause that woman looks like she’s had enough/shall I go and help? Would it look like I was being an interfering busybody?/Why the hell are toddlers so difficult?/Does she need a hug?’

I have thought all of those things multiple times when I’ve seen someone experiencing their toddler being a dick. And I’m willing to wager that other moms have thought the same things too. It’s so easy to think everyone is judging you when you’re having your worst day ever with the kids. And it’s easy to feel alone (especially if there’s more kids than adults and they’re all having a cry). But actually that look might be one of solidarity.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Finding It Hard To Write

Not in any way related to the post, but this is my toddler dressed as a monkey in a rather nice little tea shop eating a banana.

We all go through phases don’t we, where the blank page never fills up, where inspiration to sit down and type just doesn’t come. I’ve been feeling a bit like that about this blog recently, which is a shame as it’s intended to be a record for when my kids are older and they (or more likely, I) can read back at all the things they did, the highs, the lows and the inbetweens too.

Life has kind of kicked up a gear from the franticness of the early days of having two under two. Two whole babies to look after compared to one of me (with two of us of course during the evenings and weekends!). Nine months of that and then all of a sudden it was time to think about that four letter word again – work. I’m massively enjoying being back into the world of work but the dynamics are very different again.

Up until I was 12 weeks pregnant with Alexandra, I worked full time (and overtime! And time over that too!) and life was very full with not only my real job but also the volunteer work that I did in my spare time (running a mental health group). Then I upped sticks and moved in with Dylan and suddenly I had not a fat lot to do. I spent a lot of my first maternity leave napping, eating and watching pointless television. Now, I wish I’d done something more productive with that time. But equally I’m happy I had that wind-down time that I probably won’t get again until I’m 80. Then I had my time off with Alex where I learned how to be someone’s mom before I started freelancing – doing bits and bobs while she was napping, occasionally taking her along to a work meeting and she’d sleep in the pram or smile at everyone, setting up stuff for her to play with so I could work at our dining room table.

And then came maternity leave with Max and then came, well, now. Each and every day is so full on because even if we don’t go anywhere, there’s two bums to keep clean, two mouths to feed (constantly!), arguments over toys being MINE, washing to do, a house to keep clean, more snacks, more food, bottles, baths, bedtime routines. And that’s without nursery drop offs and pick ups, baby groups, play dates, errands, doctor’s appointments. So I’ve resigned myself to the fact the daytime is not going to be my friend in terms of work and I’ve generally been starting my working day at 7.30pm. It’s going well so far, I think. No one’s emailed me back to say THIS IS SHIT so I’ve either been writing okay or everyone’s too polite to say anything! I should hope it’s the former seen as they’re paying me to do it.

So in between my 12 hour days working as ‘mom’ with the kids, the couple of hours working at night, writing the occasional blog for the Motherload and occasionally talking to my husband, I’ve not had much headspace for this blog.

This whole thing comes across a little as a moan about how busy I am (which it’s not intended to be, I actually think I function better being busy and I love both my work and my homelife even if both can be challenging at times) or just a whole heap of excuse about my lack of blog writing. Which again, is unintended. I hope to always carry on this blog. I hope to be talking about my grandchildren on this blog one day (although of course my two are going to stay little forever and never fly the nest and have kids of their own!).

Anyway, it’s very late and I’m about to go to bed. Max is stirring a little so I’m hoping the murmuring over the monitor won’t turn into a full blown cry!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

It’s Just A Phase

Hopefully making a mess is a phase too.

If you’re a parent, how many times have you heard the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’? I’m willing to bet if you times your child’s age in seconds by infinity you still would be way off. In fact, I said it in a group chat with my NCT friends less than 24 hours before typing this post.

It got me thinking. It’s probably one of the most common parenting phrases (alongside ‘they grow up so fast’ and ‘why is Bing such a knob?’) but in my experience, it’s also very true. It’s not just one of those things old ladies have learned to say so that they sound like a herd of sheep all bleating together ‘it’s just a phase’. Every single thing ends.

That means the lovely things: like that newborn smell, the way they curl up like a little Quaver crisp on your chest for the first few weeks, the little snuffling noises they do (I can’t carry on with this list or I might cry thinking about the cuteness of that early time). But it also means the shit things too. I remember Dylan saying to me before Christmas when we were going through that awful time when Max just forgot how to sleep and sometimes the only way we could get through a night was having him in our bed for a bit, that he was worried we’d get into a habit that we’d never get out of. I replied that even if we did, I’ve never ever heard of a 15 year old boy wanting to get into his parents’ bed overnight so eventually we’d get out of the habit (as it was we somehow muddled our way through that time and he hasn’t been in our bed for months).

The whole sleep thing was awful. We knew it would end and we knew that while we could try and influence it in some ways – adjusting nap times, making sure we were consistent with our approach at night – some of it would just be a matter of time. Time to get over the constant colds he was experiencing. Time to cut those first teeth through. And time to just get past that developmental stage.

The same goes for the horrendous toddler tantrums we had at the start of the year. For a few weeks, pretty much every day with Alex made me want to cry. There were glimpses of the funny, intelligent, lovely little girl but there were also hours each day where I just wanted to run away! Again, a developmental stage I think as she got noticeably better (not cured: the tantrums are still there like you’d expect from a two year old don’t worry!) the day her speech got dramatically clearer and her sentences got longer.

Every single thing that happens in their life is just a phase, some of them you barely get through by the skin of your teeth, some of them exhaust you, some of them make you cry so much your face hurts constantly. Some of them delight you, some you never want to end.

It’s not actually that reassuring at the start to hear ‘it’s just a phase’ as you want to do something to fix them, to hurry past that time of them being unsettled or unhappy (or making you unhappy!), but I think certainly for me the more phases you go through, the more you learn to try and not get as wound up by them. To let them pass. To just get through them the best way you can.

However, for those offering up the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’ perhaps you could add on another phrase which will offer more comfort? For example:
‘It’s just a phase…but here is some chocolate to help you get through it.’
‘It’s just a phase…but do you need a couple of hours off? If so, I can look after baby.’
‘It’s just a phase…but here is what helped us get through that phase.’
‘It’s just a phase…you’re doing a great job.’

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Cost of a Nap

Remember in the ‘good old days’ when you used to just go for a drive aimlessly? Quite often my first boyfriend and I would just get in his car and drive around of an evening, even though we were absolutely skint. Now you need a ridiculous amount of money to be able to indulge in such luxury and I feel like suggesting going for a drive without a destination is akin to asking if you fancy an impromptu holiday! Myself and Dylan hardly ever get in the car unless we have somewhere to go.

There is a point to this, I promise.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about switching the kids around so that Alexandra was in the bigger room in a single bed (here) which all went very well. However, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how you get a toddler to willingly get into their bed and nap. Alex has once, ONCE, got into bed and said ‘I tired mommy’ but by the time I’d closed the curtains she was back up again and couldn’t be persuaded to go to sleep. Once in desperation, I put her back into the cot in the nursery for a nap. But this just isn’t sustainable – I need the cot for Max’s nap and also if she really wanted to Alex could get out of the sleeping bag and out of the cot which clearly isn’t super safe.

So I’ve resorted to going out in the car and just driving around until I think she’s asleep, and then attempting to transfer her into the bed when we get home. This has varying levels of success:

About 20 per cent of the time, she falls asleep and stays asleep when I put her in the bed.

About 20 per cent of the time, nobody falls asleep and I just get two very confused faces when I stop the car like ‘why did we just drive round in a massive circle?!’

Around 40 per cent of the time, the wrong child falls asleep.

And the other 20 per cent of the time, Alex falls asleep and then wakes up when I try and take her out of the car.

So essentially, my new ‘desperation drive nap attempt’ technique is a little bit rubbish. However, as my success rate of getting her to fall asleep in her own bed is currently 0 per cent, it’s better than that right?

If Alexandra was ready to give up her nap then I wouldn’t be too bothered (although now Max has a regular nap schedule it would be lovely to have an hour child-free to work or do something productive in!) but she’s clearly very tired and her behaviour hasn’t been the best since the New Year when we swapped the bedrooms. It could be that she was going to take the Terrible Twos up at notch at this point anyway, but I’m sure tiredness plays a part in the silly behaviour we’re experiencing.

Alex is very much (and has always been) of the mindset that if she doesn’t want to do something, she won’t do it. And you could say well you’re the parent, just make her. But how do I persuade a child to sleep when, short of installing a lock on the outside of her door and barricading her in to her room (where let’s be honest she’d just throw everything out and scream the place down), I have no way of physically keeping her in her bed. When she was still in the cot, she’d protest about nap time then realise she might as well just lie down and go to sleep as that was the only option open to her. Now, just leaving the room and coming downstairs is her preferred option.

So a couple of times a week you’ll find me just aimlessly driving around trying to get my child to sleep while pretending I’m not paying through the nose for the pleasure!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

All I Want For Christmas Is…

Having an under-table party. I wasn’t invited.

We’ve all got something we’d like the big bearded man from the North to bring us on the 25th, right? This year my Christmas list is depressingly short. I don’t want clothes because the fanciest place I go to is baby group. I don’t want books cause the last time I read a book was during my first pregnancy. Alcohol and chocolates are both out of the equation. And I have far too many socks already.

So I got to thinking, what would I REALLY like as a mother this year? Aside from all that guff about cheer and happiness and world peace. What would make my life about a zillion times better? Here is my by-no-means-exhaustive-at-all-I-just-wrote-this-while-they-napped-SIMULTANEOUSLY-for-once-HURRAH list:

The ability to go for a shower and not have to stop the water at least five times because I can hear imaginary baby cries. Or just to learn that they’re never crying and it IS just my imagination.

To go to the shops without coming back with some sweets that I had to bribe the toddler with and a new outfit for the baby even though he has more clothes than the Kardashians.

To go out and come back with all the baby socks, dummies and sippy cups I left the house with.

A Sunday morning where you look at the clock and say ‘nah, it’s only half nine, I won’t get up just yet’.

Naps to continue until both children go to school.

Delivery drivers to never arrive when either child is sleeping.

The toddler to decide she wants the first thing I suggest for lunch, not the 47th.

A washing up fairy.

Never to have that awful feeling when you lose sight of your kid at soft play, frantically search for them for a minute and then they suddenly appear in a place you’ve already looked five times.

For them to finally make the episode of Bing where Flop finally flips and tells him what an ungrateful, whiny little nause he is.

Failing all that, just no tantrums for a week.

Failing all that, just no tantrums for a day.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Ten Stages Of A Toddler Tantrum

Moments before a mega tantrum.

If you’ve never experienced a toddler tantrum, then either you don’t own a toddler or you’re lying. Even the most angelic of small people can turn into the biggest wailing, flailing mess on earth occasionally. It’s just one of those parenting hurdles we all face. However, despite it being a complete losing battle to try and reason with a tantrumming toddler (side note: why is tantrumming not a word? And should it have one M or two?), I hereby share what I consider the ten stages of dealing with a toddler tantrum. A bit like the five stages of grief except no one judges you when you’re grieving.

  1. Prepare: It’s like being trapped in a zoo enclosure with a hungry lion. You can see exactly what’s going to happen. You can’t run (apparently leaving your child at the park and making off as fast as you can in the opposite direction isn’t acceptable). So you have to make something else seem like a tastier treat than you, whether that’s an actual tasty treat (‘here, have some sweets, chocolate, crisps, ten Fruit Shoots, ANYTHING that will stop you crying’) or the lure of something fun like shouting at ducks or shouting at mommy to push you higher on the swing.
  2. Accept your fate and start silently apologising to other people at the park using only your eyes. Try to convey a deep sense of sorrow while also reassuring that you usually don’t stand for this kind of thing.
  3. Bargain: hissing ‘please don’t start making a scene, I’ll let you skip your nap and then stay up til 10pm if you just stop crying’ has been proven to work on a toddler beginning a tantrum approximately zero times ever, but it’s still worth a try right?
  4. Ignore: it’s fine, I’m just strolling through the park with a howling toddler and it’s all completely dandy, I’m not about to cry myself and then spend the rest of the day wondering what I did to deserve such a devil child. In fact, they’re shouting so quietly I can barely hear them.
  5. Plead: ‘whyyyyyy are you doing this? Please just stop. Please.’ This would have a better success rate if they could actually hear you over the sound of their intense wailing.
  6. Lose your shit: luckily, they’re crying so hard by this point they have no idea what you’ve just hissed under your breath. Extra points if you threaten to leave them on the steps of a nearby church. Unfortunately, no extra points if you actually go through with that threat.
  7. Ignore: this might seem like the same as stage four but it’s not. By now you’re so fuming that you’ve given up pretending you’re enjoying a lovely walk and admiring the trees, instead you walk at a pace akin to Mo Farah in the last stretch of the Olympics and silently fume about how awful toddlers are.
  8.  Praise other child: ‘Aren’t you such a good boy? You can come to the park EVERY DAY because you don’t cry!’ This step is partly to see if toddler will realise what they’re potentially missing out on by trying to ruin your life every time you step outside your front door, and partly to point out to passing strangers that you’re in partial control and one of your children isn’t acting like it’s the end of the world.
  9. Offer snacks: you may have done this earlier in the process, but now you’ve got their attention by essentially telling their sibling how amazing they are, a snack might just be the tipping point back to normality.
  10. Peppa: when you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s time to fall back on the person who taught them how to be a brat in the first place. Switch on an episode, hand them the phone and watch the tears dry quicker than you can say ‘muddy puddles’.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Being In Charge

When Dylan told me last year he was going to go to the Dive Show for the day, I waved him off to get his train and didn’t really think anything more of it. My best friend Amanda was coming over for the day and I was looking forward to that. At some point during the afternoon, he called me. I thought it was to tell me he’d found a wetsuit but no – he’d found a holiday he wanted to go on. We had a brief chat about it and he booked it that day.

At this point we knew we were expecting Max so I knew I’d be at home with a 2 year old and a baby of roughly six months. Dylan’s been diving for a long, long time and in fact when we went abroad last year spent a couple of days under water so it wasn’t really a surprise that he was heading out by himself for just over a week.

I had a lot of negative reactions to him going with many saying they wouldn’t ‘let’ their husband go and leave them alone for 8 days. My response to that is well he’s an adult, I can’t really stop him doing anything and if I have a strop about it then he’s only going to resent me trying to stop him enjoying his hobby. Plus 51 weeks this year he’s been a hands-on dad and a great supportive husband so who am I to deny him one week where it’s just about him?!

So roll on September and I was bidding him goodbye on an early Friday morning as he headed to the airport. I of course was shitting myself. Clearly I can keep two children alive and fed for a day but the thought of also being in sole charge every night too was something else. I had an irrational fear that Max would suddenly reherniate and we’d end up in hospital again and I’d have to try and juggle caring for Alex around that (To explain that one, I am a life-long sufferer of anxiety and I am absolutely excellent at imagining the worst possible disaster scenarios all the time. I’m also a mother and that comes with a constant worry that your child may get sick, injured or blind your other child with a crayon, right?).

I think the biggest issue was the fact I knew he’d basically be out of contact for most of the week. He was on a liveboard in the middle of the Red Sea and apparently they’re not well known for the excellent wifi out there. I did manage to speak to him briefly twice I think while he was out there (once when he was about to come home), but for the rest of the week there were no phone calls to say ‘what do you fancy for dinner?’ or ‘guess what your child’s done now?’ Despite the fact we’ve spoken the majority of days since we met in September 2009, I didn’t realise how much I relied on him until that week.

Max came down with a cold which was the major complication of the week really. I had envisaged a week of dealing with toddler tantrums but in reality our oldest was excellent (she obviously had a couple of moments where she was less than golden but on the whole I can’t complain at all). However the night before Dylan went, Max transformed himself from a baby sleeping for 11 hours at night to one waking up at the slightest sound and needing patting/dummy/comfort about 50 times before the morning.

I’d get up to express, get downstairs and have to go back up to settle him down. Repeat this process about five or six times every time I went down! At first I thought it was just his cold but as that cleared I became convinced his reflux medication wasn’t working as effectively as it’s weight based and he’d put on a few pounds since it had been increased last (once it was increased he started sleeping again so I was right).

I had some help in the week – firstly staying overnight at my parents’ house which was lovely and then Amanda stopped over one of the nights.

I cried twice. And I missed Dylan A LOT. In fact I think absence made the heart grow fonder and I sure as hell appreciated everything he does a lot more in the weeks after he came home! But on the whole I kinda had my shit together and that was a nice feeling when I looked back at the end of the week and realised I’d done it.

It sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it? So many people cope on their own with children, or have partners who work away a lot. But I guess it was just a big change from us to go from having daddy around to not being able to call him. It’s definitely made me take my metaphorical hat off to anyone going it alone though!

(Oh and before I get the ‘when are you having a week away?’ comment, I’ve deferred mine until the kids are teenagers and then I will gleefully board a plane and leave Dylan to fend for himself with two feral youths!)

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Becoming A Mother Then Adapting To Two

There’s always a lot of talk on ‘mommy forums’ about what’s harder – the leap from no children to one, or from one to two (obviously higher as well but I have no experience of that and the thought of four/five children is a little hive-inducing to say the least).

Personally, the leap from being childless to having a baby was huge. It completely tilted my world on its axis and made me think, behave and feel totally differently about pretty much everything. I think that may have been amplified by the fact I hadn’t been with Dylan for very long (Alexandra was born 13 months after we began officially dating, although we had known each other for years beforehand so he wasn’t a stranger!) so in the space of little over a year I had gone from single journalist, living in a house share, doing pretty well what I wanted with my life, seeing friends ALL the time – to being engaged, living with my partner and now having a brand new baby.

Of course, add a two and a half month hospital stay into the mix, the emotional aftermath of an intensive care stay and the long recovery and struggle to get my body back to as ‘normal’ as possible, and things were never going to be easy. I was so incredibly lucky, especially given a history of mental health issues, to not get post natal depression or become unwell with anxiety and depression again. But it was hard.

Like any new mom, I had days where I just thought it’d be easier to stay in the house than try and transport this whole other person and all the things she needed around. I had so many days where I just wanted to hand Alexandra over to her dad when he got home from work and let him deal with the bath and bedtime routine to enable me to have some space and time.

I didn’t really wear make up or do my hair much, a real change from before when I was working and had nice nails and made an effort most days. I would scroll through past instagram pictures and feel a bit nostalgic for that old person. And then I got to a point where I thought you know what, I can get some of that back. I can make time to wear make up or do something I want to do. But I’m never going to get it all back. I’m never going to be Harriet first anymore, I’m always going to be Alexandra’s mom first.

And so as our bond grew I tried to relish it a bit more, to enjoy my new life rather than comparing it to my old one. And I still had days where it was rough – it’s NEVER going to be easy when you’re a parent. This was our new normal.

Then the world tilted again, we found out we were expecting our baby boy. Max’s arrival certainly came with its own set of problems. No one can watch their child on a ventilator or get diagnosed with a condition with a 50 per cent mortality rate or go down for surgery at 11 days old and not feel like a different person.

But crucially this time round I didn’t have to learn to be a mom. I was already well practised in the practical side of things – the bath time routine, the nappy changing, the changing bag packing. There were places I simply had to be with Alexandra like nursery or Tumble Tots or just getting out the house for a walk to stop her chucking all her crayons on the floor for the 95th time that hour.

So it was no longer a case of sitting there thinking about how different life was and building up the confidence to not think someone in Starbucks is going to judge me if my kid starts crying. It was all about adapting to being outnumbered. I’m not going to lie, two instead of one is an adjustment. You have to think about the logistics of everything – and sometimes you just have to let one of them cry.

If you’ll excuse the language, I said to Dylan the other day: sometimes one of them is being a dick, sometimes both of them are being dicks, sometimes neither of them are being dicks. If no one is being a dick it’s great, if one of them is then it’s manageable, if both of them are then it’s terrible!

Do I feel differently being a mother of two? Yes absolutely, but mostly in positive ways (except the fact my hair has genuinely started going grey). I’ve been finding time to do my make up most days and indulging in as much TV that I want to watch when Alexandra is napping to counteract all the CBeebies I watch these days. I haven’t yet managed to use any of the bath bombs I got for my birthday in early July but I will at some point and right now a cuddle with Max or reading a book with Alex is much better than a soak in the tub.

There is something so magical about watching your children interact with each other and I feel so content that we’ve created two babies who will always have each other, who will grow up side by side and – although they may fight and may not get on as adults – will always have that sibling bond that you can’t get from anyone else in life. To me that’s a fair trade for any of the sanity, hair or free time I may have lost by having two children.

The leap from zero to one was monumental and probably the biggest change I’ve ever made in my life. But in a lot of ways one to two felt natural and the learning curve this time was less steep. Life with two is busy, manic, stressful, nonstop but I have at least one moment in every day where I look at them and feel so so glad that we have two. It just feels right.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two: Real Survival Tips Part Two

I’m back after a small hiatus during which I was in sole charge of two tiny beings for eight days. I’ll talk more about that soon but for now I’d like to share the second half of my survival tips for two under two (first part here):

– Be proud. It’s so easy to beat yourself up because your oldest ate something that wasn’t organically grown and picked by monks singing Mozart, or whatever it is that we’re meant to be doing with our food these days, or the baby has watched more television in one day than your toddler was allowed to watch in their entire first year on earth. But having two children, especially two so close together, is really tough. So try (and the irony of this advice is that I find it ridiculously tough to actually do this) to feel proud when you get to bedtime and you haven’t sold, broken or dropped either of them. Whether it’s getting out for an hour, teaching one of them something new or simply just remembering to feed and change them – there will be something positive that you’ve done that day if you think about it hard enough!

– Be your kind of mom. Basically do it your way. If you want to hire a nanny, babywear, helicopter parent, attachment parent, send them off to boarding school the second they’re old enough, never let them out your site, as long as you’re not harming them in any way (kind of goes without saying) then it’s all good. Having your first baby is a steep learning curve and you generally get advice from every person in your life. By the time that baby becomes a toddler you’ve probably sifted out the bad and ugly advice and only taken on the good. So when you’re doing it second time around – and so soon after the first! – you should absolutely own it and just go with your own flow. Certain things my friends, family and random strangers I follow on social media (creepy) do aren’t for me; I’m sure those people are looking at what I’m doing being all HOW MANY times has she taken them to soft play this week? WHY won’t she let the baby go to nana and Grandad’s on his own yet? WHY do the kids not go to bed at 6pm? But you know what, it’s working for us right now. That’s all that matters.

– Last piece of advice: enjoy it. Look at the two humans you created laughing and smiling at each other and savour the moment. I’m not going to get all hashtag blessed on you but despite its many, many difficulties, rearing two monkeys is incredible because you get to watch their relationship bloom and blossom. Yes sometimes they might be smacking the shit out of each other or trying to roll the baby off the sofa – a new trick in our house – but sometimes you’ll watch them giggling together and your heart will be so incredibly full.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Two Under Two: The Real Survival Tips Part One

Way back in May, I wrote a somewhat tongue in cheek post about survival tips for those of us lucky enough to have experience the mind-boggle that is two under two. Now that we’ve lived the experience (for five whole months and three days) and come out the other side relatively unscathed (or at least all still alive), I’d like to talk a little more seriously about the things that have got us through the experience. [I’ve now half written this and realised it’s going to be long as so I’m going to split it into two posts] If anyone has similar tips about how to deal with a two year old and a small one too (he’s really not a newborn anymore is he?!) I’m all ears.

– Organisation is king. You will genuinely never leave the house if you’re not organised – or you will but you’ll end up going mental ripping apart your changing bag wondering why the hell there’s no bibs in there and whether you can fit the baby in his sister’s nappies or the other way round. I’ve posted before about our routine and how much prep I do through the day to get ready for the next stage. Do whatever works for you. Get night clothes laid out on the bed ready to change it to. Have tomorrow’s clothes picked out nice and early. Spend five minutes restocking the bag with wipes, raisins (you can actually get fined by the parent police if you don’t have at least one box of raisins for your toddler in your bag at any time) etc every morning. Just make sure what you’re doing does work. I read somewhere having a second quadruples your workload rather than doubles it but don’t let everything get on top of you! Just like having your first, at one point it’ll become second nature to know how much stuff you need each day and how much time each part of your routine takes.

– Don’t let the laundry win. It’s easy to let it overwhelm you and especially when you’ve got two under two because the little one is producing a horrendous volume of soiled clothes between all the pooing, sicking and dribbling they do, just as the toddler is becoming messier than you ever dared imagine. So instead of sitting mournfully looking at the basket wondering how the hell you’ve got an extra 43 loads of washing a week when babies wear such tiny clothes, just get some done. Some people find it easier to do one a day, I tend to go for doing two or three loads every couple of days. Maybe make it your partner’s job – not the only job they do obviously but one of! So they just whack a load on before work or something like that. Just don’t get to the point where you’re using socks to wipe the baby’s face and turning your underwear inside out. No one needs that.

– Crying is okay. There’s two aspects to this point. Firstly it’s okay to have a little sob yourself sometimes, let the hormones out, do an ugly cry and wonder how the eff you’re going to get through the rest of the day. Secondly, there’s one of you (assuming you’re at home with babies and your other half is at work) and two of them. It would be lovely if they co-ordinated themselves so they cried at different times but they don’t bother to help you out in that matter. Sometimes both of them will be crying at the same time and you can’t beat yourself up about having to leave one of them at it for a while. You just need a ‘who needs me more’ quick evaluation system. If toddler is crying because they want a drink or snack and baby is crying because they need feeding, changing and then cuddling to sleep then clearly it’s going to be easier to spend one minute getting a snack and a drink from the kitchen to keep your toddler happy to then turn your attention to the baby as the feed and cuddle will definitely take longer!

That’s all for now but I’ll be back soon with the second half of this post!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x