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

What The Pox Taught Me

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Well it has been a while hasn’t it? I have been prompted out of my blog semi-retirement (okay, not retirement, more like a really really long holiday/gap year) by something that happened last night. I’d written a blog on The Motherload entitled ‘Five Parenting Phrases That Need to be Banned‘ last June – I remember it attracted a few funny comments at the time on the group, but randomly CBeebies HQ shared it on Facebook yesterday! I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty exciting watching the likes and shares creep up and seeing some of the hilarious responses. And it made me feel a bit sad that I hadn’t blogged in so long!

My issue has been dual fold and involved both time and motivation. Bizarrely I haven’t really felt compelled to sit down in front of a laptop for a non-work reason, and I didn’t want to force myself to write – that doesn’t seem productive in any way.

Anyway we are where we are. I used to feel compelled to apologise when I’d been away for a while (I used to write three times a week back when I was pregnant for the first time, can you believe it? But then I also used to nap most days and I’d never seen an episode of Paw Patrol so…)

Life updates:

The last few months have been full on to say the least. Who’d have thought having two toddlers would be tiring?! WHAT. Other than the day-to-day ups and downs of life with two (no longer) under two:

  • Alexandra, who is still referencing her birthday ‘next week’ (end of August) approximately every three hours, got a place at our first choice primary school. I wasn’t one of those parents up at 2am frantically refreshing my emails to see if the offer had landed yet, but I was pleased as we really like the school – and by we, I mean Alex as well as I was keen to involve her in the decision despite her being so little.
  • The baby turned two. It’s been a bit of a stretch calling Max a baby for a while, but now he’s definitely officially a toddler and there’s no denying it. Remember that advert from ages ago where the drunk teenage jumps off a building thinking he can fly? That’s like Max day to day without any alcohol involved. He has zero sense, zero fear but he also runs up and gives me the biggest kiss ever if I tell him I love him – a toddler of two sides.
  • For a long time we’ve been watching the first four series of Paw Patrol on Netflix, then we discovered that Amazon Prime has five and six for free too. Alex calls it ‘new Paw Patrol’ and we have now watched each episode approximately 37647568 times. Last night, Dylan and I had a serious discussion about why Jake isn’t actually such a cool guy as well as ranking the pups (Rubble is Dylan’s fifth favourite…which is clearly absolute BS!)

And lastly, as you maybe gleaned from the title of this blog, THE POX invaded. I feel like pox needed to be in caps because it’s such a big household event – you’re sort of primed for the fact it’ll happen at some point as your kids grow up, but you have no idea when. And then it hits! So here’s five things I learned from both Alexandra and Max having the pox:

  1. People will feel really bad when the second one gets it (Max’s spots appeared 15 days after Alex’s – incubation can be up to 21 days according to the NHS website so there can be quite a gap between the two). But actually you feel slightly relieved that it’s going to be all done and dusted in one go, so you don’t have to worry about it again (and the side effects are meant to be less severe the younger they are?).
  2. They might surprise you – the children that is, not the pox. Alex doesn’t normally like too many cuddles and kisses, but she became really clingy on the days where she didn’t feel well, wanting me to stay with her in her room. I was expecting Max, my already much more cuddly child, to be the same or worse; but actually he sailed through pretty much acting as normal.
  3. Being inside sucks! I’m someone who doesn’t mind being at home a fair bit, but having spent most of the month of April stuck inside, I started to feel a bit twitchy. Last week, Dylan offered to pop into Asda for the bits we needed on his way home and I practically begged him to come home so I could go instead – those 20 minutes were the highlight of my day.
  4. You’ll muddle through. The week Alex had hers, the plumbers were in fitting our new bathroom so we had no access to a bath to help soothe her pox. They appeared on a Monday (the pox not the plumbers) and by the latter end of the week I felt so behind with everything in the house and work, but somehow we got back on to an even keel and no spinning plates smashed completely, despite being a little chipped in places.
  5. Life is mean – I’ve never had pox so my major worry has always been that I’d get it at the same time as the kids which would present difficulties if I wasn’t well enough to look after them. So far, nothing has happened but I did manage to get a horrible bug just as Max was starting to recover from his. Thanks life!

The spots are healing now, and the horrible all-over itchy feeling I’ve had for the last four weeks despite not having it myself has almost gone! So here’s to May and good riddance to the pox and the month of April!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A Catch Up

I know, I know. My children have pretty much grown up and moved out since I last blogged. Well not quite but I now own a THREE year old. Three! And the other one is hurtling towards that 18-month mark with gusto. There have been some big changes over here and there have also been some lovely days out and a little holiday.

Holiday: We popped to Bournemouth for the week (‘popped’ implies it was a casual jaunt rather than requiring about 64 suitcases, enough clothes to cover a small city full of children for a year and the downloading of umpteen episodes of Paw Patrol on to the tablet). It was a really fantastic holiday involving plenty of beach time (child 1 got braver in the sea as the week went on until she was tummy-deep in the water, while child 2 preferred to throw a football into the waves and then shriek until someone fetched it back for him. Constantly), getting our money’s worth out of our annual National Trust membership (matching anoraks and socks and sandals not compulsory), visiting Peppa Pig World and the Oceanarium. And child 2 was so worn out by the sea air he slept soundly all week which would be my top reason for moving to the seaside immediately.

Birthday: Alexandra turned three at the end of August and had a whale of a time celebrating. Of course at that age opening cards and presents is basically the best thing in the world, and she also went to soft play with her friends and ate cake with her nana and grandad so her whole week was full of fun. Also it’s been better for me because since about June she’d been reminding me at least 10 times a day that ‘I’m going to be three on my birthday’ which was starting to wear thin. Now she only reminds me every other day of her age. Normally when she sees the number three.

Nursery: Now she’s three she’s eligible for the funded hours at nursery so we’ve increased her time there and this week she’s been 8.30 til 4 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. It’s quite a leap up from two mornings a week and she’s been very tired after a day there but is absolutely loving it. In fact the first thing she said to me after pick up on Monday was ‘can I live at preschool please mommy?’

Other child is less keen on nursery. Max had his first proper day there on Tuesday and was unsettled all day and wanted to be cuddled constantly. Hopefully next week will be an improvement although his schedule is all out of whack at the moment and I think it’s going to take a while for him to get used to the changes of when his sister is here and being away from me for a whole day.

Well I’ve just about found time to squeeze writing a blog for the Motherload and typing this before what should have been a nice long nap for Max has come to an abrupt end! More soon I hope. By soon I mean in the next decade!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The First Year Is The Hardest?

When I was pregnant with Max and even when he was born, I read and heard a lot of people talking about how the first year with two small children is the hardest. That once you’ve got past that then you’ll be home and dry, pretty much.

It makes sense. The more independent they get, the better things should be. You’re in a routine and you kind of know what you’re doing. But I think I’m genuinely more tired right now than I’ve been at any point of having two – even the very early newborn days. Maybe it’s just me forgetting what the first few weeks and months were like, but even as I write this (at 10.54am) I feel like my eyes are closing and I could quite happily go to bed!

Maybe some of it is because I’m doing more now. In the early days, it was all about just keeping the kids fed and their nappies changed and trying to get at least one of them to nap. Now there’s work to think about, and we try and get out as much as possible. Now Max is on the move (nearly walking!) I feel like he requires so much more attention. Alexandra is pretty good at playing independently so I can get on with washing up or hanging out the clothes to dry, or whatever needs doing, and when Max was tiny I could just plonk him in his bouncer for a few minutes. However now I’ve constantly got him hanging off me! And then Alex will have a request – probably for a snack – and then before I know it, it’s taken ten times longer to get something simple done!

I try and be as organised as I can, get as much done as possible while Max naps, and not worry too much that there are jobs like cleaning the skirting boards or tidying out our shoe cupboard that have been at the bottom of the to do list for weeks and weeks. But I’m someone who likes getting things done!

Part of the issue is in the early days I was quite happy to maybe get out the house for 20 minutes for a walk, and that might be the only time we ventured out that day. Now the children are much more demanding of activities to do, and need wearing out a bit each day! So we’re physically out of the house much more – and when we are home I’m rushing around trying to tidy or clean up, or quickly send some emails, or pack bags and lay out clothes for the next day.

I’m also not helping myself as I’ve started watching Love Island so now I need an extra six hours a week on top of all the extra time I could do with for chores and productive things.

Red Bull are rubbing their hands with glee though as I’m basically treating it like water these days!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

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

A Big Girl Bed

For so, so, so, so long we’ve been talking to Alexandra about her big girl bed in her new big girl room and we finally made the transition over the Christmas holidays.

We knew as soon as we found out we were expecting baby 2 that we would move baby 1 into the bigger bedroom (she had been in the nursery ie the box room since leaving our room at six months) and then I think had we had another girl, they would have shared and we’d have used the third room for storage and/or a study. Anyway, Max is very much a boy so it was decided unfortunately as he was the second child he’d have the smaller room.

What with work, two children, various other commitments and a multiple of problems along the way, it took until a couple of days post Christmas for the room to be ready. We’re really pleased with it – we decided to use the light green and pink accessories already up in the nursery so picked green walls, white furniture and pink curtains (as an aside I’m SO glad we didn’t pick pink paint as I think it would have just been too girly and saccharine sweet). During the day, Alex really enjoyed playing in there (lots of her toys and books are now in there alongside her new dolls’ house).

And then it came to bedtime.

She was truly reluctant to get into bed at first, wanting me to lie down instead and then running off. Eventually Dylan and I swapped places and he went in to get her sorted. There were some tears (from her) but around an hour later she’d finally settled and that was the last we heard of her until 8.30am the next day when she burst into our room (she can now open the doors in our house even though they’re the twisty knob type handles that I struggle with!) shouting TAA DAA. The entrance was hilarious, cute and I feel well deserved given the fact I fully expected to be in and out with her all night.

The next day it took even less time and now she’s fairly happy with trotting off into bed, although she demands an extra story in her room. The first couple of nights there were a few times when she escaped onto the landing but that’s stopped now and so far, touch wood, she hasn’t got up in the middle of the night. In the morning, she’s either been coming into our room (but at a decent time so that’s fine!) or playing quietly.

Our one issue is I have no idea how to get her to stay in bed and go for a nap? As a result she hasn’t had her eyes shut during daylight hours (except once when she fell asleep on her trike the other day). Do I pop her back in the cot in the nursery? What if Max needs to nap at the same time? Do I just accept she doesn’t nap anymore? Do I have to drive round and round for two hours each afternoon so she can sleep in the car?

Of course, our other issue is now Max is in the nursery and he has completely malfunctioned and decided to sleep like a newborn – except he was a regular ‘up every three hours’ newborn so this is even worse. I shall save the sorry tale for my next post!

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

Balance? Where Are You?

If I stopped going to Asda, I reckon I’d have about 89 extra free hours a week.
Kids are not dressed as it was pyjama week at baby class, not because I’ve given up.

Among the many glib cliché phrases used around/to/about mothers is this idea of ‘finding the balance’.

When you’re younger, finding the balance maybe means not getting completely off your face every weekend so that occasionally you can spend a Sunday doing something other than watching Netflix and crying cause your face feels like it’s going to fall off. Or sometimes not working late and coming home to actually cook something in your own kitchen.

Then you have a baby, and you’re encouraged to spend all your time gazing at this little tiny newborn because you’ll NEVER have this time back again and who cares about having clean pants anyway? But in reality did any of us heed this advice and stop doing the housework completely?

And then you get to a point in life where you have two children who basically take up 100 per cent of your brain space and most of your time, energy (and patience of course). And you find yourself wondering whether you’ve got the balance right?

I mean sure, on the face of it, we’re swimming along kind of okay and nothing has sunk yet and we all normally get fed and washed during the course of any one day. Some days the baby naps on me and I get to watch mindless television for two hours while also looking at Instagram because there’s nothing else you can do when squashed beneath a quietly snoring infant. Some days I cook something vaguely presentable for dinner that isn’t beige and has more than one vegetable in it. Some days I wear make up. I’ve had a shower every day since I got home from hospital with Alexandra, my firstborn, because I decided not showering dipped below my ‘lowest acceptable standard’.

But the thought of all the things I didn’t do again – well I try not to go there else I’d never switch off and go to sleep at the end of each day.

Between feeding (a lovely mixture of bottles, weaning and food for the toddler too, as well as eating ourselves), expressing, changing bums, getting dressed, going out and actually doing something with the kids, nursery drop off, nursery pick up, baby class, endless shopping trips for avocado and parsnips (because the baby can actually eat them), rocking to sleep for naps, baths, washing up (I have no idea how we manage to use the entire contents of our kitchen cupboards approximately 46 times every single day), I feel like there are so many things which get pushed to the bottom of the list.

I agreed to write a press release for someone weeks ago and only just did it today, I have more ironing than I’d like hanging on the back of the bedroom door, the house is vacuumed fairly regularly but jobs like wiping down the skirting boards and cleaning the oven get left or just half arsed very occasionally, there are all sorts of other things languishing at the bottom of my to do list which may just never get done.

And yet, I do have spare time. Maybe if I used the time while I’m expressing more effectively, or didn’t watch as much Netflix in the evening, or maybe got up a bit earlier, then I could achieve so much more with my day. I’ve joked before that when Dylan comes home and asks me what I’ve done, my stock answer is: ‘kept the children alive’. Sometimes, I’m actually deadly serious and I couldn’t tell you anything else I’ve managed.

Have any of us really got the balance right?

Does anyone go to bed thinking: yep done everything without burning myself out? Does it matter that some days I look like I got dressed in the dark? That I’ve been to the gym three times I think since Max was born back in March? That I have utterly no idea how I’m going to squeeze any work into this scenario once I finish my maternity leave at the end of the year?

I would put ‘try and find a balance’ on my to do list, but we all know it’d end up right at the bottom somewhere between ‘learn how to make soup’ and ‘pluck your eyebrows – they’re a state’.

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