(see more photos of Hayes on KateLovePhotography)
I'm definitely no expert, but I like to think I've learned a few things from surviving the first few months of being a mom of 2 kids under 2 yrs. My boys are 19 months apart, so for a while there it really was like having 2 babies. Someone always needs to be fed, needs a nap, needs a diaper changed, and just needs YOU. Now I feel like my head is above water, and I just have one baby and one toddler. Although they are both still very needy and dependent on me, everything is getting much more manageable. Here are a few of my tips for surviving those first few months.
1. The first 3 (at least) months are pure survival mode. Don't plan to entertain guests, bring other people meals, or attend any big events. Everything is so unpredictable, that unless you have an army enlisted to help, not much else will get done.
2. Don't go anywhere for the first few weeks. This was very hard. I think because you are now stuck at home with 2 kids, you start to get that crazy feeling of needing to get out of the house even sooner. Resist the urge!! Even though you think you want to go to story time at the library, just wait a few more weeks! There are so many things that can and will go wrong the first fews weeks, it's best to just wait until you are more comfortable and have things a little more under control. Otherwise you end up with 2 crying/fit throwing babies in public, without enough arms, on the verge of tears yourself and you can't even wrangle yourself and kids to get to the car and go home (because again-not enough arms). Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.... ha. There will be plenty of time to get out the house later. Just stay home for a while, it's best anyways for the kids have normal routines and the comfort of their own home.
3. Invest in some good baby carriers. I prefer the Moby wrap for newborns and the Ergo once they can hold their head up well. The Moby is particularly great for having 2 little ones because you can wear the newborn in such a way that really snuggles them in safe and secure that you can still bend down, pick up, and even carry the toddler at the same time. I never felt like I had to hold Hayes's little head up while I bent down to pick up Kyler. And the Ergo is great for when they get bigger because, in my opinion, it is the most comfortable and the best for your (and the baby's) back.
4. Have food easily accessible. With your hands so unbelievably full those first few weeks, eating and hunger is usually the last thing on your mind. I would literally forget to eat the entire day, and then end up having the shove my face the next few days to get my milk supply back up (which is totally possible btw-just eat a ton and drink a ton of water!). You won't have time to make great meals during the day, so keep the fridge stocked with ready to eat food. I like to keep a big tupperware of chicken salad in the fridge, energy balls, fruit salad....basically anything that you don't have to heat up, put together or prepare.
5. Dont' feel guilty about using the TV. I hardly ever let Kyler watch TV, but I have had to come to terms with it the last few months. It is safer to have Kyler sitting still in front of the TV while I rock Hayes to sleep in the dark nursery than to have him roaming around the house unsupervised. There are just still too many potentially dangerous situations for him to get into at this age.
6. Let your older child help. They may not actually be helping, but even if they are just standing next to you and "helping" you change a diaper, they aren't getting in trouble elsewhere. Kyler is great at rocking Hayes's car seat while I grab everything to get in the car. He also loves to help "wash" Hayes in the bath by rubbing a wash cloth on his feet in the tub. If they feel like they are helping you out, it makes them feel involved, appreciated, and valuable as an older sibling. It also keeps them occupied :) win win!
7. Teach your older child to climb into the car. This happened very early for me because I have such a small car. But you might be surprised how young a determined and independently-minded child can learn to do something. Kyler can walk to the car holding my hand, climb up into the car and into his car seat all while my hands are full with Hayes. This has been a huge life-saver since parking lots are so challenging with two little ones.
8. Try to maintain your routines. We have always had a great bedtime routine that we do for all Kyler's naps and at night. We sit in his chair, read 3 books, sing 3 songs, pray and lay him down. Since Hayes was born, there is about a 70% chance that he will begin screaming, need to eat, or need to be held right when it's time to do the bedtime routine. I never want Kyler to feel slighted, so even if I have to take care of Hayes and push Kyler's sleep back a little, I still always try to do the full routine. I always want Kyler to know we care about his needs just as much as Hayes....and a bedtime routine is a real need for him.
9. Remember that it DOES get better and easier! The first few months are the absolute hardest! Every week seems to get a little better so just hang in there.
Of course I am still learning and still struggling. If you have any tips or anything to add, please share :)