Goodness me the past 10 weeks (technically 12 weeks by the time I have been able to publish this blogpost) have flown by in a hazzy blur. I’m writing this post so I can (hopefully) look back on these days and remember them if there is a third little one in the future. I”m also hoping this post enourages/inspires other moms and dads out there, and helps them in their own parenting journey.
I’m not really sure where to start, or whether what I’m going to share is even going to make sense and not seem like the jumbled thoughts of a half crazed person, but life with two under two is no joke. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for a second child, just the same as nothing can really prepare you for having your first baby (although friends with 3 kids have said the jump from 2 to 3 is nowhere near as hectic as the jump from 1 2 kids).
As this is a rather long post, I say grab yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee (something I haven’t had in 12 weeks!) and get comfy…
The hardest part of it all so far for me? My expectations of just about everything, from how much I expect Aaron to sleep, to how much I expect to be able to get done in the day.
Everly was a very easy and content little baba. She has always been a really great sleeper, and everyone told me that I just got lucky with her and that I wouldn’t be so lucky the second time around. Because of this (and my rather defiant nature!) I have been determined to prove them wrong…enter my unfair expectations and hence the frustration I have felt towards my little boy more often than I would like to admit. While he is definitely very different to Everly, I think rather than say he isn’t as good a sleeper as she was, I think the actual difference is that I am forgetting all the hard moments with Evs, and comparing Aaron to a very chilled 20 month old toddler who is firmly in her routine when it comes to naps. Also, when you have your first baby, you are able to give them 100% of your time and attention, especially if you are a stay at home mom, or if you work from home (although the fact that I work from home puts another spanner in the works as it’s one more thing to add to the expectation list). I wish I had been more thorough with Everly’s baby book and documented more than I did (although I’m so glad I did actually have a book and that I wrote the few things/memories down that I did…I wish I had noted more often what her routine was like, how much she slept and how often she fed etc) so that I have something to work from when going through the weeks & months with the next baby.
I’m pretty sure that Everly was napping (or rather NOT napping) for that long during the day at this age. I know she went through a patch of cat napping at around the 3/4month mark, but she did settle back into 2 long sleeps if 2-3 hours and one shorter one in the afternoon by the end of 4 months (I think!). I’m hoping I can get Aaron to link his day time naps soon, because those 45minutes that he does sleep fly by in the blink of an eye when you’ve got another one to look after.
And the next hardest part, trying to figure out a routine for two babies.
I still see Everly as a baby, even though she is technically a toddler. She’s still in nappies (although I’m pretty sure she will be out of them soon as she’s super aware and let’s me know whenever she is making a poo) but she also isn’t that confident of a walker yet (considering she has only actually been walking for 3 months). Thank goodness she is a very independent little thing and has always been very happy to read her books, toddle around and amuse herself. She has taken to the new addition very well, and has not been extra clingy or demanding of my attention. I was worried she would act up when she saw me feeding Aaron, and I had prepared for this with whole basket of new toys for her…but she surprised us all and has just gone about her life as though nothing has changed. I’ve been able to bring out these new toys for her and I to play with when we get a few moments alone together. And while she happily coos over him and talks about her ‘Arrow’, she has handled the disruption to her life (and most importantly) his, what seems like pretty much constant crying, far better than both Farmboy and myself.
Aaron had a very sore tummy from about weeks 5 - 8, and was very unsettled. He just wanted to be held, and he would scrunch up his legs, farting like a trooper, and just generally be very niggly most of the day. I tried just about every colic mixture or tonic I could find, and even though I found Bonnisan to help the most, I genuinely think the only think that cures that unsettledness is time. You WILL eventually get there, and their little tummies will eventually adjust to life outside the womb, but gosh when you’re in the trenches it really feels like it’s never going to end. My best advice is to find another mommy with a little one a similar age to yours so you can vent & encourage one another when the going gets tough.
What is hard when you are at home all day with your little ones, you really only have 2 hands, both of which are generally needed to take care of one baby. This means you often have to make a choice as to who should be left to cry/winge…and in our house it’s mostly been Aaron who is left to fend for himself as his needs are more simpler to meet. I know that if he has been fed, burped and changed, there really isn’t much more I can do for him if he is crying and I need to feed/help Everly with something. We have left him to cry for longer, and more often than I care to admit, especially over the last couple of weeks as he has really been fighting me at nap time, and I’m lucky if he stretches more than 30 minutes at a time. This really throws me as I am a BIG lover of routine, and right now he has little to no routine. He is also at that awkward stage where he isn’t strong enough to sit or hold his head up, but doesn’t want to just lie in my arms and snuggle. I remember Everly being at the same stage, where she wasn’t really old enough to engage much, but also wasn’t young enough to just be left to stare at a mirror for 15 minutes. We do have a full time nanny who is wonderful, and while her responsibilities mostly revolve around housework, she is amazing with Everly, and Aaron has spent many a happy hour on her back (this is where he sleeps the longest…much to my dismay…I do so vividly remember saying I would never have him carried around by someone and that he would just have to adjust to sleeping properly in his cot…how I have now changed my tune). BUT, even though we are having to work SO hard on his day time naps, he sleeps so well at night that I don’t know if I am allowed to complain about the day. He has been feeding once at night for the past 2 weeks or so, and this feed is usually between 3 & 4am. He then goes right back to sleep till the morning. We generally have to go in once or twice to give him his dummy, but I’ve found if I leave him for 5 minutes, he generally puts himself right back to sleep. So all in all, a baby that sleeps 6 - 3/4am and then until around 6 am must be a happy one? So then what’s up with the day time my boy?!
While I love and use my Ubuntu Baba carrier pretty much every day, what I can’t really do with it is sit down, and I don’t really like standing at a table when I am working on my computer. This is why I am so determined to get Aaron into a good routine for his naps, and have him nap as much as possible in his cot, rather than on me/in a carrier. It’s far less a case of not wanting to create bad sleeping habits, and more a case of me wanting to be able to actually have a bit of time without a baby strapped to me so I can sit down to my computer work (haha perhaps this is more of a dream right now than a reality) or be able to pick Everly up/play with her/wash my cloth nappies etc. But, for those times when he is just SO unhappy and refuses to nap in his bed, my Ubuntu Baba carrier is an absolute life saver, and has enabled me to multi task like nobody’s business…I have successfully breastfeed Aaron, made supper and been able to feed Everly her dinner, all at the same time. I may have collapsed in a head shortly afterwards, but we all survived and I only have the Ubuntu Baba to thank. On that note, make sure you’re following me on Instagram as I will be running an awesome giveaway in collaboration with Ubuntu Babe next month.
This is our routine at the moment…it’s mostly Everly’s routine as Aaron is pretty much unpredictable right now. I also haven’t figured out whether I want to have them both awake/sleeping at the same time so I get a proper break, or whether I actually enjoy being able to spend one-on-one time with each of them while the other one is napping. I also know first hand that just as soon as you think you’ve got things figured out, they go and change things up by learning a new skill, cutting teeth, reacting to vaccinations etc but it makes me feel better to have some sort of loose plan that I’d like them to be on.
Right now, this is what our routine looks like:
6-7am Wake up (They have both been waking up closer to 7am the past week but it can be anytime from 6 on the dot to 7…I leave Everly in her room to chat/read her books till as close to 7 as possible, but Aaron I go in right away as his cry has a way of eating into your very soul). Generally I’ve been able to feed and change Aaron by the time Evs is awake, so then I will go into her room, give her her milk while I change her nappy, and then she comes with me to Aaron’s room where they both have some play time.
8am Aaron’s nap time & Everly has breakfast. Aaron seems to only be able to be awake for about 45mins at this time, and it works well because I can pop him down and then make Everly’s breakfast. He then sleeps anywhere from 45 mins - 2 hours. Although it’s been far more often the 45 minute sort of nap, unless he is tied to Amahle’s back. I give Everly her breakfast and then we go outside for a walk to see the cows, go and feed the chickens or do some gardening together.
9am/9:30 Everly’s Nap time. Aaron is generally awake around this time and so I then feed and change him, and then we play together until he starts yawning (ideally around 10ish) and then I pop him down for a nap.
11h30ish Everly wakes up from her nap. I change her nappy and then she potters around the house until lunch time.
12 o’clock lunch time for Everly. Aaron may or may not be napping at this time, but if he is awake I’ll either put him in his baby chair and he watches us have lunch, or I’ll have him in the carrier so I can sort Everly out. Once she’s had her lunch she then has play time.
2pm - 3pm Everly has another nap/rest time. She isn’t quite ready to drop this nap yet, but doesn’t always actually sleep. I don’t actually mind what she does during this time, but it’s a quiet rime in the house as this seems to be pretty much the only time of the day when their sleeping has coincided. I change her nappy and pop her down on her bed with the curtains drawn, and she either has a small nap, or quietly reads her books/plays with her toys. She still does the odd 2 - 3:30/4pm nap, it all depends on how long her morning nap has been. She has also been generally quite cheerful on the days when she’s missed the nap/quiet time altogether, so perhaps it’s actually me who isn’t ready for her to drop that nap haha. Either way, when she does drop this nap I still plan on making this quiet time where she will be closed in her room to rest. She seems to enjoy this time, and very rarely fights me on it these days. She has gone through patches of being in there for up to two hours, in the dark, singing and playing her xylophone…funny thing. But like I said, as long as she isn’t crying and actually upset, I don’t mind what she does in there during that time.
3-5pm is general chaos. Usually Aaron is having a nap at some point, and Everly is happy to entertain herself to a point. But usually by 4pm I’ve got both kids outside for a walk/play in the garden, with Aaron in the carrier, and I’m silently counting down the minutes until bed time.
5pm supper time for Everly. Aaron is either being held by Dad if Dad is home at this time, or he is still in the carrier, having a little snooze while I buzz about the kitchen getting supper on the go and giving Everly her dinner. I also get both kids pyjamas and nappies ready, as well as their towels and Everly’s milk all laid out for after their bath. I also try to feed Aaron before bath time, no matter how soon before his last feed this ends up being. I want him to have a nice full tummy for the night ahead. Now that it’s winter, this is also usually when Farmboy will light a fire, something that is always a huge delight for Everly.
6pm bath time for both kids. We have gotten into a nice routine with both babes…I run the bath and then wash Evs and brush her teeth, and spend some quality time with her before hubby undresses Aaron and brings him into the bath where both kids have some fun splash time. I then take Aaron to his room for a nice massage, dress him and then he has a nice long feed. Then it’s a quick burp while I turn off the lights and hum our bedtime song, then a kiss and a cuddle before swaddling him, popping in his dummy and putting him down on our Nurture One Pillow. Hubby brings Everly into Aaron’s room to say goodnight to both of us, and then takes her to her room to get dressed and then she drinks her cup of milk and it’s story time and then straight to bed. Both little ones are down by 6:30pm and we collapse in a heap!
While Everly sleeps right through, I generally am up feeding Aaron some time between 3 & 4am and then whew…the whole day starts again.
It took a while to get the above routine down, and as much as possible we try to keep it the same even when we go away. Obviously there are times when Everly has nap later than she’d like/miss a nap altogether especially when we are out and about, but I find the routine is as much for the kids as it is for us parents. Aaron pretty much goes along with the flow right now, and as much as I would like to get his routine waxed, only time will tell whether this is even remotely possible with two kids. On that note, please share your routines with me if you have more than 1 babe and how you make it all work! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Something I have been asked a lot is how I ‘manage to do so much’ with having two kids. As luck/Murphy’s Law would have it, I have only recently (literally from the last few weeks before Aaron was born) started booking clients for the web design service I offer. I wouldn’t advise offering a new service to clients when you’ve just had a new baby because you will be torn between needing to care for your little one and having to meet deadlines for clients. Having lots of work has really wonderful, in terms of the extra income. I can now justify all the extra cloth nappy purchases I’ve been making (#jokingbutnotreallyjoking).
BUT, because I feel like a lot of you follow me on Instagram and may think I’m some sort of superwomen being able to juggle two kids and work at the same time, I want to say that my Instagram (along with just about every other person I know) is a highlight reel. I share the beautiful and the happy moments on it, and choose not to showcase the hard times (I use my Instagram stories for this because, yes, there are LOADS of hard times and LOADS of moments where I feel like I’m not going to get through the day and LOADS of tears and frustration). But, those moments pass, even when you feel like they won’t, and everything has a season. I’d say right now we are in the middle of a pretty tough season, but I know that we’ll get through it, and that I’ll probably forget just how hard it was. Choosing to share the good and the beautiful is a choice I make, and have always made with this blog and all of my social media accounts. And I hope this is why you follow along, and that the things I share make you smile.
So how do I manage to ‘get so much done’ you may ask? I try to stay very organised. This means I meal prep Everly’s food (so that all that is required for most of her meals is to take something out the freezer the day before). Because we choose to feed her real food (click here to read more about Everly’s way of eating) having her meals prepped before hand takes a lot of stress out of my day. I also make sure to try and make a batch of yoghurt every 2 weeks or so, so even if I run out of snacks, I know I can always rely on keeping her tummy nice and full with homemade yoghurt which she loves. I also believe that you have to prioritise your day, and that a happy mommy is a good mommy. I like being busy, and I enjoy the feeling of being super productive, and so I generally have a million and one things on the go. I love blogging, designing websites & photographing my kids and our lives, and so I make sure to carve out time (even if it’s 10 minutes here and there) to do those things that make me happy. I’ve also finally accepted there is no such thing as a lie in anymore (or any semblance of an afternoon nap), and I try to get up before the kids so I can at least drink a hot cup of coffee and get dressed before the chaos of the day starts. I don’t always get it right, and quite often Farmboy will pop in during the day and find me looking like a complete wreck, with one kid winging at my feet and the other screaming in my arms, but all make it to the end of the day in one peace, fed and relatively happy.
Some pearls of wisdom from my dear friend Sophie: “Aim for a good morning or a good afternoon, it’s very hard to achieve both and this way if it’s been a bad start to the day, you know things can only get better! It’s also much easier to focus on a few hours at a time, a whole day can seem daunting”
Also…celebrate the small wins with chocolate and the hard times with strong coffee! I don’t believe that food plays much of a role in affecting baby through your breastmilk, and I would much rather have the ‘fuel’ of a strong cup of coffee to keep me going through the hard moments, than be left feeling hard done by and then try to function to the best of my abilities…but that’s just my two cents.
Farmboy is still a farmboy, working hard all day. I often feel like we are ships passing in the night as he is up at 4:30 to go to work when I’m just crawling back into bed after feeding Aaron. Our marriage is strong though, and although we do fight and get frustrated with one another when our expectations aren’t being met (man oh man I believe expectations are the underlying cause of pretty much all fights between couples), we love each other and I would not be able to be the mother I am without him by my side. We do need to work on carving out more moments in the day/week for us to catch up and connect on a deeper level, so if you have any tips on this and how you navigate keeping your marriage strong when there are lots of little ones taking up all your time and energy, I’d love to hear from you too!
So there you have it, a little update on the past 3 months of being a family of 4. I feel like we are slowly emerging from the haze of the past 12 weeks, and I’m looking forward to the chaos (ahem, I mean, fun) that lie ahead in the months to come.