Dear Soon-To-Be Mom of 2 under 3,

January 9th 2017 | Cassie Gudek

Atta girl! You took the plunge. Again. And whether being pregnant is your favorite season, or you experience all 100 pregnancy symptoms with neither grace nor humor, I know you’re thinking about what life will be like post due-date. Don’t worry; it’s also completely normal to forget you’re even pregnant one moment to the next.

I couldn’t forget because for the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy I had a comically large beach ball under my tank top.

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Did you think I was joking? BEACH BALL.

When we got pregnant [quickly] with our second, I certainly found myself feeling a mixed bag of emotions: excitement, anxiety, sadness (that my only wouldn’t be my only anymore), and amused (when did I become such an adult?). Sifting through these feelings, I found that my anxieties about transitioning from one to two were truly a wasted emotion.

Here’s what I will tell my myself 2 and a half years ago when I get my time machine up and running…

1. It really is possible to feed a newborn and supervise a curious toddler simultaneously:

One of my anxieties was rooted in the entire nursing experience. It felt all-consuming to me with my first, especially with our difficult beginning (more on this later). I found myself worrying, what if my toddler starts a play school kitchen fire while I’m nursing the fresh one? Or runs into a wall? Or finds magic markers and makes glorious body/floor/wall art?

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Me doing some awesome multi-tasking in the early days

A friend once gave me what felt like a harsh and unhelpful answer, but in reality makes total sense. When I asked her about managing her toddler and newborn at the same time she said “The truth is, you just figure it out.” See? Incredibly unhelpful.

The sentiment is true though. You simply adjust to the new normal. You find you are much more capable and efficient when you’re forced into it.

As for some practical tips, I gave my toddler, Olivia, a box of special toys (Hint: regular toys, in a special box.) (Hint: regular box, just call it ‘special’) that she could only play with while I was nursing. This kept her occupied in the early days. Then later, I got to be a pro (as you will too) by reading a book, or playing a game, while also feeding baby (boob or bottle), and doing a pretty bang up job at both.

If I can guarantee any resume enhancements due your way, it will be finely tuned multi-tasking skills.

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slightly better multi-tasking

I also enjoyed feeding on the go, its good to get you and your baby used to this. I wish we did it more often, honestly. Being out of the house is a sensorial delight for your kids; sunshine, trees, animals, people; noises, sights and smells…to go somewhere new is basically magic to a toddler.

Parks, stores, walks around the neighborhood, visiting friends, do it all, and feed wherever you are. Not only will your toddler be happily preoccupied, but your newborn will get comfortable eating in a variety of settings, which can only benefit you in the long run.

2. Get out early and often

Another hang up I had was the ANXIETY over how to handle two in public. Some common fears about being in public with two were: Handling a poonami in an awkward setting (so, anywhere).

[Poonami: A baby poop so explosive it destroys both the diaper and the outfit, with many innocent bystanders affected: like, my shirtsleeve, the car seat, and everyone’s nose. And eyes. Because ick. ]

Other fears: toddler tantrum, spit ups and nipple leaks, a suddenly and unexpectedly hungry baby, stuck in line with cranky kids, and any combination of any of these very annoying and highly likely incidents.

I’ll just say it, the grocery store: I feared the grocery store.

It didn’t help that a friend one baby ahead of me said she delayed her first trip (with two) for weeks over these same fears.

Believe it or not, it’s completely doable. Like, 100% manageable. And when it’s not, you will live to tell the tale. And telling a horribly traumatic grocery store experiences to your mommy friends will totally make their day.

Here’s how we handle it: we eat the whole store. Raisins, yogurt pouches, (we bring our own water, because that’s just fiscally responsible), but essentially the big one indulges in snacking and is an absolute delight.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this line of thinking, but generally speaking, if it works,  and is a habit you don’t mind starting, just do it. Some other (more appropriate) tips:

  • Use a baby carrier for the newborn while doing everything else exactly the same
  • Feed just prior to going. Duh.
  • When your 2nd is old enough for the front of the cart “promote” your eldest to the big part. I promise he/she will be psyched.
  • Know and avoid the busy times at your local stores & try to be consistent with the time of day you go; we always did Wednesday mornings right after eating and way before nap time, for obvious reasons
  • Get those crazy carts with benches and steering wheels and actual bells and whistles. #YOLO
  • Bags can be hung right on the outside of the cart, right under your kid’s dangling legs, totes saving on precious cart space.
  • Know what you’re getting – seriously, be an adult and make a list

3. My math was wrong; there is most definitely more time in the day

My other mom-friends of two and I giggle at our naïve former selves, reliving our so-called ‘busy and harried lives’ as a mom of one.

I remember having deep nonverbal conversations with my 3 month old, also watching her sleep, and of course the endless staring. Not the ‘is she breathing?’ ‘Is that a rash?’ staring. I mean the totally indulgent, ‘she is so ridiculously cute, I can’t believe I made her, and I most definitely cannot do the laundry right now’ staring.

Okay, let me break it down for you, you can do SO much in one day, and not feel stressed and rushed.

Know your limits but stretch them:

  • Utilize nap times effectively – figure out what can be done fairly easily while they are both awake, and save only the most difficult or impossible tasks [to do with one hand] for nap time
  • Remember that EVERYTHING entertains a newborn; put that baby in a carrier or a swing, and let her watch you cook, clean, feed the big one, and see you in all your domestic glory
  • Friends are your friend: Make one. Enjoy short play dates. Or long ones. Invite them to YOU. And boldly ask them to watch the littles while you switch the laundry. Seriously. We all do it. (note: switch the laundry also means make lunch, change into something more stretchy, or a luxurious pee break, your call)

The bottom line, you adjust to the new normal in your own beautiful way. Find the short cuts that don’t short change your values or priorities. Know what you want to give on and what is nonnegotiable. And goodness, be nice to yourself. Those kiddos are lucky to have you.

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