Honest opinion? It’s insane. Pure insanity. But it’s also the most fun I’ve ever had and the most grateful I’ve ever been. Having two children in two years is easily the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, physically, emotionally, and mentally. But with all the stress comes double the smiles, double the laughs, and double the love from your little ones. To survive and, yes, maybe even thrive, with having two children under two, the first order of business is to get comfortable with the discomfort. Embrace the chaos, laugh through the tears of frustration, and get used to having a mess somewhere at all times, whether it be your children or your house (often both). We can have it all, just not all at once, am I right?
I recognize this all sounds great, and it truly is easier said than done. I know this from experience and from life with my own baby boys, who just turned one and two years old. Let’s take a deep dive into the wild abyss that is having two under two.
Wait . . . again?
Learning the news that you are expecting again while you are already tending to the needs of your infant can be incredibly overwhelming. Planned or unplanned, a pregnancy revelation evokes every emotion in the book. Those feelings are compounded when you experience that deja vu feeling of “didn’t we just do this?” because, oh wait, you did! I remember feeling excitement, terror, and on some level, embarrassment because I felt like I was going to get a lot of unsolicited remarks from the peanut gallery. Our second son was very much wanted and wished for, and hearing from others after they found out we were pregnant again insinuating that it was “an accident” really bothered me.
On some level, I found true enjoyment in seeing the reactions from others when I told them we were expecting again as I held my little baby in my arms. I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they silently computed what the age gap would be and how this could possibly have happened. Remember that the opinions of others are just that. What truly matters is your and your family’s mental and physical health.
Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail
The logistical considerations of having two babies under two years of age are huge. Before I found out I was pregnant with baby number two, I remember thinking how difficult it was to leave the house and prepare to have everything the baby could possibly need with me. Once my second son arrived, the stress of packing everything increased exponentially. I’ve gotten it down to a science now, but in those early days, it just triggered my anxiety and made organizing and planning everything a nightmare. I found that preparing as much as I could the night before was key. I also tried to remind myself that even if I forgot something, both myself and the babies would still be okay.
Two by Two
The coordination of two similar — yet, at times, very different schedules — was challenging to navigate as well. In the early days of having a newborn and a 12-month-old, we were in true survival mode and just trying to make it through each day. Slowly but surely, we morphed into a loose schedule that made our lives easier. We weren’t obsessively beholden to the schedule. However, generally knowing what we were aiming for at each point in the day was helpful. Our boys also share a bedroom with both of their cribs in it, so that was another added layer. Naps were dicey, but we made it work with the help of a great sound machine and a lot of prayers.
The laundry quickly piled up more than ever. Those early newborn days of spitting up, diaper blowouts and outfit change after outfit change just added to the crazy. We kept up with it as best we could and tried to laugh through the stress. Sometimes that is all you can do!
Feeding both babies was a special type of crazy, especially since I was exclusively breastfeeding my second son. My husband usually fed our older son, and I took the reins in handling feeds for our younger son. The divide and conquer approach to feeding both babies was a game changer and the only way we survived.
As our newborn grew and was able to sit up on his own and experiment with solids, that became much easier. Putting both babies in their high chairs and serving them both the same meals was much better for the sanity of everyone in the household.
Double the Blessing, Double the Stressing
The exhaustion of orchestrating the day-to-day with two babies under two years of age is a massive undertaking. The mental toll that it all takes, as well as the physical exertion, is incomprehensible. It truly is a spectrum of emotions from the second you wake up until the second your head hits the pillow at night. I remember the intense feelings of being overwhelmed as my due date with my second child neared. I felt guilty that my first baby didn’t get his “only child moment” for too long. As soon as my Theodore entered the world, that fear dissipated. But, it’s still hard not to grapple with the feelings of guilt over each and every choice. I am so thankful they will grow up so close in age and have each other throughout this life. As parents, though, there is no end to the non-stop stressing and second-guessing.
Tips and Tricks of the Two-Under-Two Trade
Buy double of everything.
This is a lifesaver for me, and I buy two of everything from beach towels to binkies. I happen to have two boys. So, clothes are even easier as I just grab the correct sizes from the rack and call it a day. Subscribe and save on things like diapers and wipes so that you don’t have to panic about running low on anything. Utilizing all that apps like Instacart and Shipt can offer and save yourself the headache. Work smarter, not harder!
Get on a schedule that works for you.
I am still working on this one. My two-year-old takes a nap in the middle of the day. My one-year-old still takes a morning and an afternoon nap. As a result, my household has someone napping from 9 am until 4 pm each day (unfortunately, that someone is not usually mom or dad). We try not to let that deter us from doing fun things throughout the day and have gotten good at having the boys nap in the car or on the go in the double stroller. Still, it can be frustrating not to have them nap at the same time. I have sometimes tried to hold out my younger son to nap with his brother a little later in the day. Having them nap together is what we call the unicorn moment in our house — a true gift!
Invest in a double stroller.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Having a double stroller has saved us literally every single day since having two babies under two. We have taken ours on a cross-country trip to California, and our trusty side-by-side double stroller is our favorite and most effective baby item.
Double Final Thoughts
In many ways, having two babies under two years old is like having twins (or what I imagine having twins would be like). We change one baby. Then, we change a second. We combine bath times and wash one baby, then wash the second. I’ll wipe down one high chair, then I’ll wipe down the second. We go to the pediatrician for one ear infection, then call the next day for the second. And every day, we snuggle two babies and feel doubly lucky to call them ours.
Keep up with both baby books, and laugh with your partner when your kids are conspiring to lose their minds simultaneously on the plane (did they plan this!?). Pack way more snacks than you think they could ever eat (it still won’t be enough). And take all the pictures and videos. We are eternally grateful every day for two babies that keep us on the brink of a meltdown at times during the day. Then, as soon as we put them down for bed together (that was a milestone moment itself), we grab our phones, look at videos and pictures of them, and smile at how much we miss them. Buckle up that double stroller for the wild ride. It’s a good one.