I knew it was going to be tough; it’s why I put it off for as long as I did. There are, in fact, fleeting moments when I think ‘I’ve got this’, and allow myself a metaphorical clap on the back for bossing life as a mum of two. However, the rest of the time is basically the equivalent of swimming against the tide and paddling just to stay afloat, often feeling all at sea, and occasionally plain drowning in the sheer relentlessness of life with two small – and extremely demanding – people.
However, during the past year I’ve discovered little ways to ease the load. I’m not suggesting it’s a magic panacea for every meltdown and missed nap, but they’ve helped me to keep my head above water. Here are my top tips for surviving a baby and a toddler:
A ‘Safe Space’ in Every Room
A friend made this suggestion to me, and it’s been a lifesaver. When your baby is tiny, it’s essential to have somewhere safe you can put them down in every room. There are unforeseen hazards everywhere when you have a whirlwind toddler, and sometimes both hands are required to catch them. A moses basket, changing table, bouncer, and jumperoo may seem excessive – until you need to throw baby down fast to prevent a hospital visit.
Books, Books, Books
In my experience one of the most trying times to placate my jealous toddler is while I was busy breastfeeding my newborn daughter. Having a stack of favourite stories to hand was so useful. And so wholesome. Check me out being a decent and respectable mother of two. I believe this is known as successfully adulting.
Disney, Disney, Disney
Sometimes the books fail. There’s no shame in struggling. This is the time to pull out your trump card and turn to Walt for assistance.
I don’t like crowds, I don’t like noise, and I don’t like other people’s kids. Okay, that may be a little strong, but I really can’t abide boisterous children, and there are too many of them about for my already frazzled nerves. Garden centres have become my favourite places to hang out with my girls because they’re mostly full of lovely old people. They also have coffee and cake and if we’re really lucky – perhaps even fish for the littles to feed.
For a good six months I struggled to leave the house before 10am and was still late almost without fail. But then came a morning preschool session and I knew I had to up my game. But how? I made two changes which have altered my life and mean I’m now mostly early:
- I shower in the evening so the girls aren’t at liberty to destroy the house in the five minutes I’m otherwise engaged;
- Instead of falling out of bed in a hazy stupor and straight into my dressing gown to nurse a coffee while I try to wake myself up, I get up and dressed immediately.
I swear, those two simple adjustments to our morning routine have made a world of difference.
So that’s how I manage to (barely) function as a respectable grown-up most of the time. Do you have any other tips I’ve missed?
Cynic; Jedi Master; connoisseur of cake: Kate Tunstall blogs at The Less-Refined Mind and Huffington Post and is the BritMums Current Affairs Round-up Editor. From petty peeves to politics, Kate doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is. As an inevitable role-model to her daughters, she even throws in the odd ‘inspirational’ post in an effort to quell her cynicism and promote positivity.
Kate resides in rural Essex with her champion husband and their young daughters, affectionately known as the ‘Devil Pixie’ and ‘Elfin Angel’ – only one of whom lives up to their moniker…