7 Things I’ve Learned about Parenting with Two under Two

Back in the days pre-Magdalena, I was full of trepidation at the thought of two babies, twiblings, two under 16 months, etc., etc. Lucy had been a very tough baby and demanding toddler (that part hasn’t changed much), so I guess I can see why I was somewhat worried. But like most things I undertake, I am far more anxious before the thing happens, and usually it’s far less overwhelming/daunting/whatever-I-thought in reality.

Having these two girls is no exception. It is tough, at certain times (meal times and pre/post naptime, I’m looking at you!!), and yes, I do long for an extra appendage sometimes. But it’s in no way impossible, and we actually manage to have lots of fun most days, especially on the days when I give up on any agenda or to do list!

And naturally, they’ve been teaching me quite a bit, school of hard knocks style. Let’s go over the wisdom, shall we?

1. Showering is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the daily shower as much as every other spoiled and squeaky clean American. But when nap times have been abandoned with relish and my iPad is in imminent danger of destruction-by-toddler, every-other-day showering must and will suffice. It’s better for the hair, anyway, right…?

2. Just get out of the house.

This one was hard at first, and still is sometimes, if more so mentally than physically. I laugh at myself a little because when Magdalena was first born, I was terrified of being left alone in the house with both her and Lucy both awake. Then, a few weeks later I was ok with a couple hours with them alone, and a few weeks after that, I forayed into the public scene with both of them, alone. It was pretty much a 15 minute grocery trip but the maiden voyage was probably the toughest to mentally prepare for. All those sure and certain disasters that would most likely happen! The gymnastic feats of wrangling the two of them in and out of cars/carts/baby carriers!

It ends up being not so bad. You get used to it, and you get a system for who needs to be buckled in first (the toddler, lest she run into the street/parking lot. Yes, she tries.), and what items/persons to carry out of the car to the house first (the screaming baby). And so forth. But basically, if I’m not willing to go through the 15-60 minutes of preparing to leave house and get in the car, we’ll be stuck here forever, and no one is cool with that. Lucy enjoys getting out, as do I, and Magdalena deals with it, usually pretty well. Oh, and we all enjoy the hundreds of “You have your hands full!”s and stares, right?! Wink.

3. Do what you can, when you can.

This is arguably the hardest thing I’ve had to learn with two kids. Most of the time, I have very, very short windows of time with two hands free in which I can do all the things. I’ve had to make peace, and re-make it daily, with just doing a tiny bit of my to-do list at a time. There are glorious moments when both girls take 1.5-2 hour naps simultaneously, and then I rejoice and do all the housework ever (and never get distracted by the Internets! No, never!). But most of the time, one or the other is needing me, so I just have to wash two dishes, or fold five shirts, or whatever, before my name is called. Our house is sometimes a mess a bit disheveled as a result, but we just have to do what we can. I repeat this mantra daily.

4. Let the toddler entertain herself.

I used to think you had to play with kids every blessed moment they were awake. I quickly learned while nannying that not only did they not always need that, but they didn’t always want it either. Lucy took awhile to get to the stage where she was reliably entertaining herself, but she’s quite good at it now. I try not to interrupt her when she’s working on something, unless it’s positively destructive to her well-being or my sanity. I also have to balance this with being attentive to her cues for my attention, otherwise she becomes bored and whiny. She needs a bit of Mom-time still, but she’s getting much more comfortable just finding her own thing to do and doing it contentedly for awhile.

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Exhibit A: “Setting” her table and hoarding small objects in her plastic cups

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Exhibit B: Putting on shoes over and over…

Exhibit C: Who even knows?

5. Nap when you can, consume caffeine when you can’t.

Magdalena sleeps with us and still wakes up about 3-4 times per night, so I’m a bit s-l-o-w in the mornings. I also need a pick-me-up by mid-afternoon. The Keurig is a dear friend. However, I try not to be an idiot and listen to my body and nap with the baby when I can. It doesn’t happen very often, but it feels amazing when it does, even if it means I got even less done around the house.

6. Both children crying: it will happen!

As a classic first-time parent, I rushed in at every squeak Lucy emitted, and fretted like crazy if I couldn’t console her. With two babies, I’ve had to just accept that at any point in the day either both children may be crying simultaneously (again, meal/tired time culprits!) or one will be crying while I’m attending to a pressing need of the other. Sometimes, I have to prioritize. When Lucy falls off something or otherwise damages her slightly clumsy self, I have to put down the currently nursing baby (much to her delight) and rush to the wounded warrior. Or if I’m feeding Lucy lunch and Magdalena wakes up in a bad mood, Lucy lumps it and feeds herself (which, actually, is to her delight, no sarcasm at all). Either way, crying does not equal bad mom, I’ve come to find out. I can’t meet everyone’s needs at every moment, and you know what? Sometimes I have to go to the bathroom, or drink a sip of water, and so they cry. Just for a little. But it’s ok, and we all get over it.

7. Revel in the budding relationship of your twiblings.

Magdalena became acutely aware of Lucy’s existence about a month ago (was it all that hitting and clawing? Perhaps). Now, every time Lucy’s face passes by hers, she lights up with a huge smile and lots of coos. She adores Lucy and watches her every move with great interest. Lucy has also greatly decreased her abusive sibling behavior, and rarely hits/scratches her anymore. She loves talking to her, and mimics our “baby talking” voices, which is pretty adorable. Her (one-sided) conversations with Magdalena consist mostly of:

“HIIII, Lena!”

“Little babyyyy…” (while stroking her head)

“Bib her kiss! Bib her hug!”

“Lena hungy.  Drink a milk.”

Or when she’s peeved at Lena’s gluttunous ways: “NO MILK!!”

I can only imagine all the mischief these two will be getting into at this time next year!

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And there you have it. Linking up with Seven Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

A Walk in the Park

Life with two under two is often chaotic. We find ourselves at the end of the day, bone-weary and ready to pass out. Most of our weekends these days are filled with the new responsibilities of owning and upkeep of the house. Suffice it to say, we haven’t had many opportunities to do relaxing things together as a family. Sometimes, though, that’s exactly what we need, and if we schedule it in and plan it out a little in advance, it might actually happen! So we did that last weekend, in our desire not to miss out on the beauty of the outdoors in fall.

We drove to Great Falls National Park on Sunday afternoon, after naps were over, and with a few precious hours of daylight left. Apparently, lots of other people had the same idea as we did, and we spent almost 15 minutes in a line of cars to get into the park. But it was worth it! We let Lucy walk, since we chose a gentle trail. She loved it! There were dogs galore and little gravel pebbles on the trail to capture her attention/make us stop every .5 seconds. Everyone passing us (since everyone had to pass us to go at a normal pace) smiled at the little red-headed pixie who was happily bounding down the trail.

The weather was crisp, just as it should be at autumn’s zenith around here. Lucy got to see her first waterfall and play peek-a-boo with a pair of baby squirrels. It was what I think Sundays were made for– time together that isn’t harried or task-focused; a time to stop and notice the glories of our world and enjoy each other, gifts that we are in each other’s lives. No, life’s not always a walk in the park right now, but on Sundays like this, it can be.

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First and Second Halloween!

We’re late to the Halloween photo posting game. Just keeping up with our usual standards here!

This was Lucy’s second Halloween, but really her first “real” one, wherein we took her out to trick-or-treat. We live in a real neighborhood now, so it made sense. And of course, it was Magdalena’s first, and she had no choice but to come along for the ride.

Lucy actually wore a little Scottish Lass costume that I wore circa 1990. I’ll need to dig up some pictures of myself wearing it, but here’s Luce, ready to go:

The bonniest wee lass in all the (Scot)Land

The bonniest wee lass in all the (Scot)Land

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Magdalena was a ladybug, which Lucy was last year when she was 6.5 months (Lena is quite large, we know).

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“What is this Halloween you speak of?”

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Cheesin’ big, and ready to go

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So confused.

Lucy going to the houses for candy (all 6 of them) was hysterical. She, obviously, had no idea what was going on. We would walk her up to the front doors, and instruct her to say “Trick or Treat!” and “Happy Halloween!”. She would stare blankly at the people giving out candy, and stand perfectly still while they proffered their big bowl of sweets. We had to put all her candy in her bag for her, and she didn’t say “Happy -Een!” until House 4.

After we got home, she was most excited to see her little purse with a few pieces of candy in it. Mind you, she has no earthly idea that said candy is edible. She thinks they’re little toys, which she shakes (M&Ms and Skittles) or squeezes (chocolate bars). She greatly enjoys carrying the purse around the house, taking candy in and out, and continues on in her blessed ignorance.

Happy Halloween!