There’s always this magical part of the year where my girls are just seemingly one year apart.
Now, my children are actually 18 (and a half!) months apart, but the “two under two” – that was a season that I will remember.
And whether you have 3 under 3, 4 under 4, or 5 under 5, whatever it is, I wanted to share an episode with you today that is really just a big hug.
This is a difficult season. But I want to encourage you with some thoughts and share with you something that truly saved my sanity and I hope that you never feel guilty about. Let’s dive in!
Get some sleep
If you have two under two, you’ve got to get some sleep. And maybe you’re rolling your eyes like Becca, that is the worst thing you could possibly tell me because I have a newborn and I’m not sleeping. And I get that there is an element of sleep deprivation when you have a newborn and we’re not sleep training your newborn.
But it is true. If you can get six unbroken hours of sleep, your mental health and your general health is that much better. In fact, postpartum depression significantly decreases your risks if you are getting six hours of unbroken sleep each night.
So if you are able to pump and have your partner give a bottle at some point overnight, I would definitely do that. Or if that means that we need to have you go to sleep as soon as your baby goes down to sleep at bedtime just so you can get as much as you possibly can. I want you to do that.
Remember to get some sleep.
And that old saying – sleep when the baby sleeps – it’s a little bit harder when you also have a toddler running around!
But when there is overlap you need to take that for yourself because giving yourself sleep during this time is literally the only way that you are going to survive because when you sleep is when your own health improves.
TV is okay!
In fact, TV is going to be your friend. So not only are my two girls 18 months apart, but three weeks after our second daughter was born, we moved from Louisiana to Virginia. Our house was in shambles because we were moving. We had everything in a pod except for some camping chairs, the TV, some things in the girls rooms. Very bare bones.
I leaned heavily on TV… and you know what? My now 4-year old? She doesn’t remember that time. In fact, I remember having my own guilt about how much TV she was watching.
But as we were packing up the house and preparing to move and I was trying to figure out how to feed the baby and how to get her to even fall asleep, even for five minutes, I had to lean on my TV friend.
So even if your little one is not interested in TV, but you know that they love games on the iPad, do not guilt yourself into that screen time! Please don’t do that.
Now, we’re not abusing it, and I know you’re not, so allow yourself the freedom to be able to sit in some silence! Maybe you give them the headphones for the tablet for a little while because you need not only the sleep but you also need some peace and quiet… and TV is okay. It’s not going to turn their brains to mush.
I know some people are anti screens for quite a while but if you need it, you need it.
Get your older child involved
The next thing I really want you to do is get your older child involved. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that your almost 2-year old craves responsibility, right? They want to be involved, they want to help. So give them a job.
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Have a basket of diapers and wipes available and ask them to please go get me a diaper when it’s time to change baby.
- The next thing I want you to do is get them involved with your newborn’s sleep, whether that’s getting a book for her bedtime routine or bringing you his sleepsack and zipping it with you.
Getting them involved in the process, whether that’s from diaper changes to naptime to bedtime routine, can help them adjust to the fact that their new sibling is sticking around for a while. It makes things a little bit smoother if you can help include them from the start about things that they can do to be part of it all.
Get a good quality baby carrier
If there is a big piece of equipment I want you to get, it’s a good quality baby carrier. I didn’t really use our Ergo Baby very much with my oldest but I wore that thing out with our 2nd kid. I went all kinds of places with our youngest in the baby carrier – it was so super helpful.
So if you don’t have one, I want you to research and find whichever one works best for you. You’re gonna have so many more on-the-go naps with this baby, and that’s great because they’ll become accustomed to their family life and your family situation! Because we had a young toddler, we went all kinds of places with both of them.
When she was a newborn, and taking 4-5 naps a day, I think only one of those naps was actually at home. As she got closer to 4 months, I made sure that 2 of the naps out of the 4 were at home, and the other 2 were on-the-go. Don’t stress over the fact that you’ve got to be home for tons of naps – you simply don’t. One for your toddler who needs to get out and needs to have that energy expelled but, two, for your own mental sanity!
(Don’t you dare feel guilty about getting out of the house more with this one either!)
Create a nap schedule that works for you
Now, speaking of naps, this is the juiciest part and the thing I’m most excited to share with you – I want you to create a nap schedule that works for you!!
Now, this is kind of rare, and I want you to hear me out on this. I am not about those parenting philosophies where baby’s going to adapt to the parents’ schedule, and it’ll be all about us as parents. Now, I did say that I will take all of those words back before I had kids. I thought that my kid was going to be on my schedule, and we weren’t going to change our life. 😆
But with two under two it’s SO easy to get nap-trapped!! You’ve got a morning nap, a midday nap for another kid and then an afternoon nap for the other child. It’s like nap, nap, nap all day long. When are you supposed to get some things in?
Here’s what I tell my clients. If we can maneuver naps in a way that works best for you and gets you out of the house and gives you some mental sanity, let’s do it.
For me that looked like capping my youngest daughter’s nap in the morning. I only let her sleep 45 minutes, which turned out to be her sleep cycle and I would go get her up out of the bed and we would immediately get in the car to drive to the gym where I took a yoga class. Then we’d drive back home, do lunch, have my oldest go down for her midday nap, and my youngest would overlap for about an hour – and it was glorious.
When your child has great sleep skills and is sleeping all night long, let’s make these naps work for you so that you can get done what you need to get done.
I hope you got some encouragement from this! Remember:
- Get some sleep
- Give them the tv or the tablet so you can have some sanity
- Help them learn how to give you diapers and help with sleep
- Get a good baby carrier
- It’s okay to manipulate their naps
Wherever you are in your journey, you are doing an amazing job and there is nobody else who could fit that role except for you.
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