Having two under two can feel like a combat zone. Snot rockets, blow outs and head-to-toe camo. Whether its mud or poop, one never really knows when boys are involved. Just like a war zone, not one single sound is peaceful. Silence warns of plotting or problems in a crib and noise is the alarm of the toy bin being dumped just after clean up or crying at 2am.
I may have technically only had two under two for a short time but it still felt like a year of active duty. I have to say, I’m glad I spent my pregnancy mapping out my trenches so that it wasn’t a surprise when I was buried. Having already had a child, I knew it would be hard but I also knew it would be filled with some of the sweetest moments of my life. Fortunately, I also had a very fresh reminder of how fast it goes and how quickly the physical pain and parenting insecurity fades.
The main thing I had to envision over and over, with the hopes of avoiding utter failure, was getting out of the house with two under two. In January, prior to a March delivery, I adopted the word ‘conquer’ for the year. I spent those first months facing challenging moments with ‘I can do this. I am a strong woman. I have done harder things. Let’s conquer today. I must conquer this moment.’ I can’t even tell you the mental shift that occurred once doing that.
I do want to caveat that so many variables can play into what is realistic and even worth trying to conquer. Has your body healed? Is it scorching hot? Icy cold? Is it flu season? Hunkering down and staying home may very well be what is best for you on a particular day but on the days that you are up for an outing, I have some nuggets to share.
Tips for getting out of the house with two under two:
- Have someone with you the first few times as you develop confidence to do it on your own.
- Listen to your body- if you get ready and decide you overdid it just prepping, don’t get out and pat yourself on the back for accomplishing step one! It’s tiring and you did a great job.
- Once out, don’t feel pressure from others to keep up; go at your own pace. Tell others when you need them to lift things or take the baby. You look normal and they may forget that you are still healing.
- If possible, start the car before loading to control heat and air.
- Utilize drive-thrus those first few times. Getting out and going in are two very different things. Baby steps are good!
- Get to know your local Chick-fil-a Mom Valet. Did you know that you can order in the drive-thru and then they will set up a table for you with your food and high chair?
- Don’t forget about pharmacies! Not all, but some will provide over-the-counter items like infant Tylenol and even go as far as grabbing milk or other essentials.
- Plan ahead, know that a blow out or a tantrum may occur at any moment. Allow for extra time and bring extra clothes and diapers.
- Don’t worry if you forget something. Another mom will be glad to share, even a stranger will offload her wipes to help a fellow mom.
- Apart from the diaper bag, keep a handy diaper changing station in the car to have in a pinch.
- Make it something exciting. Maybe you’ve got your eyes on some new shoes. Or maybe the challenge in getting out is your homebody of a child that needs enticement with a favored playground.
- Snacks, always have snacks… and a toy! I personally like anything that takes them a really long time to eat, with little mess. So Cheerios that I can hand them one at a time. They always buy me moments of conversing with adults. That is, if I’ve chosen a toy that doesn’t make noise.
- Mentally visualize and claim your success. If you can see it ahead of time, you’re more likely to achieve it.
- Baby wear to be hands free.
- Ask for help. It blows my mind when people stand and watch moms struggling to open a door with a stroller. I suggest being nicer about it than I typically am, but don’t let them get away with it.
- Give the toddler a vested interest in the success. Puff their chest over praises for being the helpful big sister or brother. Grab a “big brother t-shirt” and that can be their “outing” hero cape.
- And of course, I’m all for picking battles and landing on a bribe from time to time.
I also encourage utilizing services that give you a break. With a little rejuvenation, getting out with two under two is far more realistic.
My personal favorite outsourcing options are:
- grocery delivery like Instacart
- HEB or Wal-Mart curbside pick-up
- house cleaner
- blow dry bar
- hire a sitter
And no, these things aren’t always easy on our budget either but especially when one has a newborn, you are not out and about spending money as usual. Hopefully, people are graciously bringing you dinner as well so don’t let money be an excuse to give yourself a break. Even just one little splurge can be life giving, filling you to the brim with energy and confidence.
The service I most recommend is that of your husband. I had to learn to use my voice and tell my husband when I needed him to take over so I could rest. Don’t be afraid to give him the opportunity to learn how to care for your weeblets. He will never succeed if you do it all. And you will never thrive if you do it all. You are in this together with your husband. Your husband is not ‘babysitting,’ he is parenting with you and as a team, you can enjoy dinner together at a restaurant while your sleeping angel rests in the carrier. As for the toddler, well, good luck with that. Sorry momma!