My children are 14 months apart. I fell pregnant with Bessie when Sonny was a mere six months. How, you ask? I’m still not entirely sure what happened. I think we must have shared a towel, as six months in we were both still pretty shell-shocked and knackered from the storm that is new parenthood. But somehow we found time and energy to do the no pants dance and create Bessie, and finding ourselves with two so close in age was the best and hardest thing we’ve ever done.
Recently I met my friend’s eight-week-old beautiful baby. She is a little squishy bundle of gorgeousness, and with a gap of a mere 16 months between the little beaut and her big brother, my bud has joined the prestigious ranks of ‘batsh*t parent (BP).’ Otherwise known as ‘those who have two under two.’
My fellow BP was keen to pick my brains and see how you survive having two so close with any shreds of sanity intact. However, as we were surrounded by children at our meet up, we inevitably didn’t get to discuss everything she wanted to.
So this is my survival guide – for my friend and anyone else embarking on this terrifying and wonderful journey.
- Distraction – become a master at the art of distraction. Think Derren Brown but less terrifying (he’s an actual wizard). Should both children clamber for attention, pop one on your boob whilst showing the other something shiny. Make sure you get them the right way round though, especially if the older one has teeth and hasn’t breastfed for 12 months. Ouch.
- Food and drink – as tempting as it might be to survive on chocolate and coffee, remember to sip on a glass of water and eat something with some nutrients every once in a while. You can’t pour from an empty cup, just like you can’t parent when sh*tfaced on coffee and riding a constant sugar high. Oh, who am I kidding, of course you can, just keep on the high because the crash is monumentally terrible.
- TV – as much as it pains me to say it, TV has often been my biggest saviour. We avoided it for the first year and a bit of Sonny’s life but gradually as Bessie demanded more of my attention, it was the only way to get him to sit bloody still. Plus, CBeebies is educational and TV gives you something to bitch to other parents about at soft play. Tips – everyone thinks Peppa is an idiot. They are right.
- Wet wipes – you know those films where the apocalypse is nigh and people bulk buy dried goods for their nuclear shelter? That’s how many wet wipes you’re going to need from now until forever. The worst part? You’ll never be able to find a pack in panic situations, despite keeping them in every conceivable and available place in your house. Also, should you need one quickly in a code brown situation, you can guarantee either a solo broken one or 20 clumped together will be all you can drag from the pack. It’s feast or famine with those beggers.
- Multitask – until I had two small children I didn’t recognise my full potential as a multitasker. It’s definitely boosted my confidence as once you’ve changed a nappy whilst breastfeeding the other one in a sling, with your mother in law hovering over you reciting Daily Mail tripe WITHOUT losing it… you can pretty much do anything. I have also made a chilli whilst one slept on me and the other created a Crystal Maze ‘cookware zone’ in the kitchen using every pot and pan that ever existed.
- Buy two of everything – eventually, siblings realise that the only thing they want to play with is the toy their brother/ sister is playing with. Nothing else will do. Warning – sometimes doubling up isn’t possible, like on Christmas and birthdays. In those situations try to encourage sharing, and if that doesn’t work see point 1.
- Don’t let them see the kids’ magazines section in the newsagent/ garage. Those feckers are £3.99 at best and because of point 6, that’s nearly a tenner for plastic tat they will immediately break or lose. The biggest stinger, however, is when a well-meaning grandparent buys them different ones. Then leaves you with the fallout. You might find yourself holding peace talks over a tiny Paw Patrol ‘walkie talkie.’ It will be a low point in your life.
- Keep a sieve in the bathroom. Nothing strikes fear into you like hearing one child mutter ‘Look, Mummy, somethings floating’ during bathtime. Baulk. You can’t leave the room (as much as you might want to) and so be prepared.
- Give your Mum guilt the ‘V’s’. Guilt will be a constant companion from now until forever. All Mums have it, and when you have two so close you will constantly worry that one feels like they get less love. You worry that the older one isn’t getting the same opportunities as others his/ her age and the younger one is made to grow up too quickly. It’s all a load of crap. Your heart doesn’t divide, it grows twofold and neither wants for attention or love. Plus, just being around each other on the daily is a huge advantage, they have a permanent playmate, ally and peer. They are each other’s biggest present. Always remember that.
- Enjoy it. It seems like a second ago I had two crawlers/ cruisers/ toddlers/ preschoolers. Now one is in reception and the other in preschool. They miss spending time with each other. They still fight over plastic tat and who gets to sit in the favourite car seat, but their love for each other is real and huge. It’s pretty special. So in summary, all you really need to survive is them. Everything else will fall into place.