If it takes a village to raise a child, it must take an entire city to raise two babies younger than age 2. As you settle into life with an infant and toddler, you might just feel like the whole city’s gone to chaos. Instead of pulling your hair in frustration, learn to prioritize. If you can’t keep up with housework right now, don’t worry -- it’ll still be there later. Enlist the help of family and friends so you can slip in a shower, a nap or a walk by yourself. Remember not to blink, as this precious stage will be over before you know it.
When you have one baby, sleep time isn’t easy but it’s relatively straightforward -- you sleep when baby sleeps. However, when you have an infant and a toddler, your eldest is down to one or two naps during the day and your infant doesn’t believe in sleeping just because the sun’s gone down. Nap during the day when both of your children are blissfully asleep, and utilize your support team to let you catch up on sleep as often as possible. Encourage Dad to help out with night feedings. Let your mother take the youngsters out for an afternoon walk. Accept your mother-in-law’s offer to cook dinner while you lie down for half an hour.
Scheduling the Seconds
When you’re exhausted and stressed out, sometimes the only way to remember to put the roast in the crock pot, feed the cat or do laundry before the towels get moldy is to write it down. Make a schedule for the week that incorporates all the “must-dos” and pencil in the “want-to-dos.” While your house might have passed the white glove test before, take care of yourself and your kiddos right now; worry about the dust bunnies later. Create a bedtime routine with baths and cuddles at the same time each night. Try to schedule mealtimes and nap times, too. Enlist the help of your support team to ensure you can schedule some "me time." Have your mom watch the kids while you go for a walk or get a manicure. Ask your "support team" to help out at least once each week so you can slip in date time with your partner.
While your toddler might not be old enough to take over kitchen duty, you have a helpful ally by your side. He can retrieve diapers and wipes at changing time, soaps and lotions at bath time and he can sing or talk to your infant to help keep her entertained while you whip up dinner. Praise your toddler for helping out and he'll feel like your young superhero. At times when your toddler can't help out, plan ahead by collecting a variety of activities he can use to entertain himself for short periods. Now he can color, model clay, look at picture books and play with magnets when you are busy with feedings and baths. Remember to keep the house baby-proofed so your toddler can’t find unsafe ways to occupy himself.
Smile and Laugh
Even the most meticulous planning will likely fall short at times. Baby’s cry at night will wake the toddler, who will start to cry, which will upset the baby. The only way to make it through the night -- and every night thereafter -- is with a good sense of humor. When your toddler ends up with more of her dinner on her face than in her tummy, just smile; after all, she’ll win the “dirtiest baby gets the bath” contest tonight. Try to hold on to your funny bone and snap a photo at every opportunity. When you look back at this toughest first year with two babies younger than 2, you’ll skip right over the exhaustion and remember every priceless moment that made you smile.