We’re one month in, and when people ask me “How are you doing?” my response depends on the day, and sometimes even the hour. One moment I will think, I’ve got this. The next, I will feel on the verge of a breakdown, bogged down by exhaustion, about to drown in the sea of this responsibility. The one thing that keeps bringing me back up is the relentless faith that this rollercoaster is all normal. Even if it isn’t, I am telling myself that it is, and my mom tells me it is, and Kevin’s mom too. That this is all part of the experience. That being said, I have learned a few things about being a new mom to two babies under two years old. I figured I would share them here for any woman that finds herself in my shoes. And for myself should I forget my own advice.
1. Never pass up the opportunity for a nap. EVER. Five minutes for me now can be as refreshing as 5 hours was in my college years. If at any point during the day both babies are asleep, I am too. Any time I’ve opted to get something done, I’ve regretted it later. Making Applesauce and Cinnamon ornaments when you could be sleeping isn’t heroic. It’s stupid. Just buy yourself a scented candle and get your butt in bed.
2. Never pass up an opportunity to shower unless it conflicts with your opportunity for a nap. Which it probably does. So stock up on dry shampoo and educate yourself on how to use baby wipes for a runner’s shower.
3. Simplify, simplify, simplify. This can mean anything from doing your grocery shopping online to buying yourself some paper plates and bowls. I especially like the concept of freezer meals. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this one feat of my nesting. We have since used up our reserves, but I’ve started to restock them by doubling up a meal a week and throwing one of the pair in the freezer.
Anything you can do to make managing a household a little easier, do it.
4. If you can’t find the milk, check on top of the fridge. I thought pregnancy brain was bad until I got my new-mommy-of-two-under-two brain. To accommodate for a new degree of mindlessness, I strongly recommend having a designated place for your keys. A very specific place like “in a bowl on the counter five inches to the left of the toaster”. If you don’t get in the habit of ALWAYS putting them in the same place, you run the risk of 1. Forgetting where you put them or 2. Letting them fall into the hands of your toddler. I don’t know which is a worse scenario, but certainly neither one is ideal.
5. Ask for help. I’m working on this one. The fact that you have no time for anything except changing diapers, feeding babies, and getting acquainted with the new little person in your house works to your advantage here. Anyone in your company will gladly watch your little monsters for you because your taking a shower is doing EVERYONE a favor.
6. Quit being so hard on yourself. Another toughie for me. Apparently, you are delusional if you think you can do it all. And delusional doesn’t mix well with hormonal. So, especially that first month, cut yourself some slack. It’s not the end of the world if the floor doesn’t get mopped this week.
7. Prioritize. Picture this: You’re dealing with a pooptastrophe. Little baby just defied the laws of physics and pooped sideways, out his diaper and onto your arm. You didn’t notice so now it’s on your hand. Meanwhile, big brother has dropped the Parmesan cheese onto the floor (which is dirty because you’ve quit being so hard on yourself) and he’s now scooping it up with a spoon and eating it. Sure eating spoonfuls of Parmesan cheese off of a dirty floor is gross. But a poop-covered hand is grosser, and so that becomes the priority. Besides, it’s the first time all day you’ve seen your toddler so quiet, so engaged. Who would’ve known spilt Parmesan was so entertaining?
8. Take a step back from the chaos and laugh. Preferably out loud. There’s probably some aspect of humor to the situation if it involves two tiny humans. Like the fact that Brayden always eats with his hands when he’s sitting at the table, but uses a spoon perfectly well to eat grated Parmesan off the floor. See. That’s funny.
9. Take a deep breath. Finish up that laugh will an inhale….. and an exhale…. Ahhh…. Feel better already, don’t you? Forget about Lamaze breathing for labor. Parenting classes should teach you about this breath. The one you take when you feel like you’re in the midst of chaos. When you’re nursing baby 2 and baby 1 pees on the kitchen floor. Or when baby 2 finally settles in for bed and you’re ready to do the same, but then baby 1 wakes up. This breath saves your sanity. The simple rush of oxygenation reminds you that you’ll survive this, and one day, probably even look back on it fondly. You’ll wish to trade a good night’s sleep for a chance to cuddle the newborn version of your grown son. Or a clean kitchen for a chance to play with his toddler-self.
10. So follows my final note: At the end of your seemingly crazy day, when both babies are sleeping peacefully (at least for the next few minutes), and you’re ready to collapse into bed , be sure to tell your other half you love him. Because you do. Even though it may not feel like it at times, you love him for getting you into this mess in the first place. Somewhere in the densely settled fog of exhaustion, far less tangible than the sticky film on your un-mopped kitchen floor is your baby’s first smile and your toddler’s first unprompted “I love you” as you’re settling him into bed. As it turns out, this “mess” carries with it a whole bunch of wonderful.