Joining the two under two club is a strange honour in the parenting world.
You don’t get any prize, goodie bag or recognition. But you do get to share that knowing look, that grim nod, with fellow mums in the same boat. It’s a look that says: “ F**k this is hard work. I thought one baby was bad enough, but it turns out I had no idea!”
Here are the 10 things that only parents of two under two know:
1. The bottom of your favourite mug is a rare sight
You might catch a glimpse of it when you’re hurriedly emptying the dishwasher first thing in the morning through bleary eyes and a haystack of hair. However once you’ve poured your first mug of tea, don’t expect to get anywhere near the bottom of that drink until you tip the stone cold liquid out at the end of the day.
2. Clothes are not simply clean or dirty
There are many levels of clean between freshly washed clothes and clothes that are ready to sprout legs and walk away.
Clothes with food and milk stains are acceptable where the stains are small and hardly noticeable. Even larger stains are not a deal breaker, if they can be hidden strategically with a scarf or cardigan.
Poop on clothes is of course rewarded with a fast-track to the washing machine every time. Wee is a matter of personal choice.
Vomit is fine for another day. If you can’t handle a bit of milky spit-up on your top, are you even a parent?
3. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is not an option
Even if you do manage by some miracle to align your toddler and your baby’s nap schedules, your toddler will choose to ditch their post-lunch nap within weeks of this happening.
Your chances of a daytime nap are less than zero.
4. You are constantly torn between two separate crises
Your toddler has managed to get herself trapped behind the sofa. Your baby is screaming to be fed, and has produced an up the back poo for good measure.
You can guarantee once one set of issues has been dealt with, another will crop up.
5. You’re on your own
With your first baby everyone was all “oohs” and “aahs” and “let me know if I can help”. Now you’ve had another one in less than two years, babies are old news and it’s assumed you’re a total expert.
Even the NHS wants you out of the hospital within a few hours, you’ve done this giving birth thing before after all. You should be running a marathon by the end of the week.
6. Routines are bulls**t
Trying to get a newborn baby and a toddler into a routine that works for you is like trying to convince a dolphin to try living on dry land. They don’t want to do it, and it’s physically impossible.
Basically it’s just a matter of surviving one hour to the next.
7. You constantly feel like you’ve been mauled by a litter of enthusiastic puppies
Between the baby wanting to breastfeed constantly and be rocked to sleep while squirming like a flapping fish on dry land, and the toddler who uses you as a climbing frame, it feels like being constantly, gently, beaten up.
They can’t hurt you. But their squirming, wriggling, grabbing, pulling, climbing little bodies are enough to leave you totally drained. Plus you will shoot your other half a death glare if he so much as thinks about grabbing your hand. No more touching today please, I need my personal space back!
8. Food that can be eaten with your hands is life
Forget spaghetti and anything else that requires any coordination, thought and focus solely on the matter of eating.
All meals will be conducted with at least one small person sitting on part of you, suckling on part of you or being desperately rocked by you.
Sandwiches, chunks of cheese, crisps, chocolate, pizza. These are what it’s all about.
9. You’re less like a mum and more like a referee
Sibling jealously begins as soon as the novelty of having a brother or sister wears off. This generally takes about an hour.
After this there’s no sympathy from your toddler regarding how rushed off of your feet you are. They need all of your attention and when the baby steals it, they will throw something at them, hit and scream louder.
Once the baby is on the move and snatching stuff out of your toddler’s hand, the rivalry steps up a gear. Hair-pulling, wrestling and pushing are all common manoeuvres. You will be stepping in to pull them apart constantly, only for them to immediately make a beeline for each other once again.
10. Bedtime is a traumatic event
The entire process is conducted to the soundtrack of two different cries battling it out for attention.
When you attempt to bathe them both together to save time, one of them will kick or splash the other resulting in angry tears and more splashing.
Getting them dressed in their pyjamas means you are constantly switching from chasing your naked toddler down the hallway and hastily wrestling your wailing, overtired baby into a clean nappy.
Story time was an easy affair with one. With two involved you can guarantee one of them will cry through the story, so much so you can hear yourself think let alone read the words. This is where the art of chap-turning – to skip pages and entire sections of books – comes in handy.
When it comes to putting them down to sleep you wish you could split yourself in half so you can comfort them at the same time. When one cries, it stops the other from nodding off, and vice versa.
Unfortunately you’re just going to be going in and out of each of their rooms to comfort them until they exhaust themselves to sleep.
The trauma leaves you needing a stiff drink and an early night.
Are any of these familiar? How have you found having two under two? I would love to hear your funny/horrifying stories.