I often get asked about how “difficult” it is having two small children, how I cope and what advice I’d give someone in a similar situation or someone thinking about having another baby. The truth is no two situations or children are the same. There are so many variables: how involved your partner is, what’s your support network like, your style of parenting even how your labour went will play into how you manage with two small children. Having thought about it, below I’ve outlined a typical day and night for me, with Aasiya who’s 20 months and Idris who is 3 months today.
Idris is usually the first to wake up, between 8am and 8.30am. If Aasiya is still in a deep sleep we play for a bit or I feed him depending on how he wakes up (crying = boob!). Aasiya usually wakes up about 9am and then I change both their nappies. On super productive days I’ve been known to change them out of their pyjamas too, but usually this happens after breakfast or at the next nappy change. I can’t take them both downstairs together so I usually take Idris first and leave him safely in his bouncer. Thankfully at this point in the morning he is happy to play alone for a bit. I then bring Aasiya down and take her to the kitchen with me to prepare breakfast, which is either egg and toast or a bowl of weetabix. We bring our food into the living room so I can bounce Idris while we eat. After breakfast we take our plates in and leave them to be put into the dishwasher later. By now Idris usually wants a feed so I take him and feed him. Aasiya likes to have a little play with her lego or do some art. One of them will inevitably have a dirty nappy by now, and it’s usually Idris. As his poop is still liquid it often goes up his back and I have to take him to the bathroom and give him a wash. I take this opportunity to change them both, clothes and nappies.
Around 11am Aasiya likes to have a snack and Idris has a little sleep. After her snack we go and brush our teeth and if Idris is still sleeping, I’ll take her upstairs and get ready myself. If he isn’t, we might still go upstairs, Aasiya can climb herself and I carry Idris. I try not to spend too much time upstairs as Aasiya runs arounds and I’m worried about her and the stairs. Also she plays with things and it’s hard to concentrate on her, Idris and get ready at the same time. Thankfully Idris isn’t moving yet so I can just leave him on the bed.
Just after 12 we start to prepare lunch. I take Idris in the kitchen in the bouncer and let Aasiya run around. Lunch can be sandwiches, something in the oven or leftovers. It usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes and then the same amount of time to eat. Lunch is followed by reading time and just like in the mornings I’m either feeding Idris or bouncing him in the bouncer. There’s usually a nappy change around now as well, Idris will have done a poop! The rest of the afternoon is playtime until 4pm when they both go in for a long nap, which can last up to 2 hours. Aasiya is usually knackered about now so carrying her and rocking her for 10 minutes sends her into a lovely long sleep! Idris is a bit more temperamental. Sometimes he sleeps easily, at other times it can take up to an hour to get him down and he’ll wake up in half an hour later! It’s usually around this time, between 4pm and 6pm I can get any housework done.
My husband will get home around 6ish and as soon as he does I pass over the children! He’ll do a nappy change and then play with them while I make dinner. Aasiya is old enough to run around between rooms so she often joins me in the kitchen until she gets bored and then heads back to her dad. When Jay cooks I have the babies, but as I’ve spent the whole day with them, I tend to cook except on the weekends. We’ll sit and eat in the dining room, all of us together with Idris in his bouncer or on his babymoov. As he’s getting older he can be settled for longer periods without too much fussing or crying. Every 3 or 4 days we give them a bath, one after the other and Jay usually leads on this as I still have back pain from pregnancy/labour.
We usually take them up around 8pm, change their nappies and clothes and get them settled into bed. Idris needs a night time feed, which can sometimes be an hour long but usually he settles quite well afterwards.
The night time
So, I’ll be honest for the first 10 or so weeks I dreaded night times. I barely slept and Idris was so ad hoc in his sleeping pattern it was a total mess. Thankfully now he has a pattern but unfortunately it’s not great.
After his nighttime feed, which usually ends just after 9pm I lay Idris down and he sleeps for about 3 hours. He then wakes up and has another short feed, usually under 10 minutes and then goes back to sleep. After this he wakes up almost every hour or two for a short feed until about 6am! Sometimes he just wakes up and doesn’t want a feed just needs a good winding. Then from 6am to 8am he sleeps again. Some nights are really tough as Aasiya wakes up too and she takes a really long time to go back to sleep, although these are rare, they kill me! The only real sleep I get is in the beginning of the night and because I’m so used to him waking up after 3 hours I always wake up, sometimes even before he does! The rest of the night is just waiting for him to wake and sleep and praying that we don’t disturb Aasiya!
So that’s an average (good) day. Obviously everyday is a little different and sometimes everything just goes wrong, so I don’t do anything, have a pyjama day and order food in. In all honesty those days are getting fewer and fewer, we seem to have found our rhyme but anything can shake that, like sickness, vaccination or even a particularly active day. The truth is you just have to wing it most of the time. My advice to anyone with 2 or more small children is to take care of yourself first and foremost. Figure out what your comfortable with, do whatever makes your life easy and don’t compare yourself to anyone else, like I said to start with, everyone’s situation is different.