I had my oldest Isabella in August 2015 and then we welcomed Elysia in November 2017. I had 27 months with just one little one and life was a little easier. I of course wouldn't change the fact that I had a second baby because our hearts and home are full of so much extra love and joy. There are some things I have learned though since becoming a mom of two.
1 Grocery Pick-Up is the best thing!
Seriously if you haven't tried it, just do it! I use Walmart because that is the best option for our location and budget but there are many stores that offer it. When going to the store the amount of time it takes to get the kids out of the house and in/out of the store is more than the shopping trip itself sometimes. Now I can conveniently pick them up on a day I'm already out of the house. It also helps with budgeting and menu planning. Plus you avoid the inevitable public toddler tantrum.
2 Routines help make things run smoothly.
We started a bedtime routine from the time we brought Isabella home from the hospital. This routine hasn’t really changed since bringing home Elysia. We start with dinner then have some playtime, baths, pajamas, books, & prayers. Keeping this routine has helped Isabella know what is expected of her at night and when the baby's routine wasn’t very predictable, Isabella could easily follow hers.
Our routine helps the girls get used to going out to things, like Stroller Strides. They get accustomed to leaving the house early and quickly, and then sitting in a stroller while Mommy either instructs or participates in the workout. Isabella loves seeing her friends at class and looks forward to our class days.
Scheduling specific grocery pick up days, cleaning days, or activity days could be helpful as well. They say kids thrive with a schedule so incorporating a routine was important to me and I think has helped when adding another child.
3 More kids means more stuff.
Depending on the age gap you may need another car seat, high chair, or crib. For us we moved Isabella out of the high chair and crib before Elysia arrived. Having another girl minimized the need for all new clothing, but we did need some weather specific items. We needed a double stroller and a few other essentials we didn’t need the first time.
I did find that with my first I learned what baby items are really necessary, like swaddles and a sound machine. I also found out that things like swings and bouncers are good for some babies, but not all. Isabella hated the swing so we got rid of it, and when Elysia came we needed something else she could rest in while I tried to get things done or was with Isabella.. It also helps to have the second baby in something so they are safe from the other child, especially a silly and energetic toddler lol. The amount of toys has doubled but I would say the grandparents have loved helping with that. Occasional toy clean outs are helpful to minimize the amount that needs to get cleaned up each day.
Traveling with two is a whole other adventure where you have to pack twice as many clothes and diapers. If you need the stroller it probably will take up over half your trunk space if traveling by car. I traveled by plane once with both of my kids and I took our stroller. I chose to use it all the way to the gate, which I would recommend so it doesn’t get damaged and you can easily get through the airport.
4 Schedule mommy time.
This one is important Mamas. In order to care for your children and give them 100%, you need to make sure you aren’t depleting yourself. Especially when you add a second child your time alone is rare. I have found I need to schedule a “rest” day where no matter what I get to relax during nap time (when I get both kids down at the same time that is).
Cleaning is also helpful to schedule so that it gets done and doesn’t seem overwhelming. So for instance I will choose one day to do the bathrooms, another day for the kitchen, another day or two for laundry etc. This helps me know what is expected each day and is usually doable even when both kids are giving me a run for my money. I will say laundry is the hardest to stay on top of, especially with added baby laundry, but I have asked my husband to help fold our laundry which helps me out big time.
You need to find something that is important to you and helps you re-energize. For me it is working out. I have made it a priority to start each day either with a 30 minute workout at home, a run outside, or attending Stroller Strides/Stroller Barre. Joining the Village of Fit4Mom Charleston has given me an outlet for stress and a community I cherish.
Don't forget about your significant other! When you add a child it's a lot harder to find time to be together. Our favorites are at home dates watching a movie with some popcorn and treats. Take advantage of the little moments you get together and if possible schedule those date nights. Investing in your relationship will help your mood and shows your children the value of a marriage.
For me it is important to make time for my Faith too. I need Jesus as a mother, therefore I need to be spending time in prayer and getting to know my Savior more. There is a peace I get when I lift my girls up to Him and know they are in God's hands and loved by Him more than they ever could be here on Earth.
5 The days are long but the years are short.
This saying may sound cliche but when Elysia was born it seemed that Isabella grew up instantly into a big girl. As many of you know the first year of a babies life goes pretty fast and they are constantly changing. As I sit here and watch my toddler and baby start to play together, I can’t help but wish I could freeze time. Elysia will be walking soon and Isabella is getting ready to learn her letters and numbers. Children are so precious and have an endless amount of love to offer. I am so blessed to be a mother of two and I want to enjoy each day with them, yes even the hard days.
Fit4Mom Charleston instructor, Rachel Pratt, is mama to two beautiful daughters, Isabella and Elysia. You can follow her journey with two babes here:
Fitness Instagram: @fitmomrach