Raising a toddler can often be a wild ride but raising two at the same time? It’s double the love but also often double the chaos. I’m super open about the fact that we really didn’t plan on having another child after Ezra; we tried so hard and for so long to get him that it seemed inconceivable to go through all of that for another child. To our surprise, I got pregnant with who would end up being Micah Jude when Ezra was only six months old! We were pretty shocked and scared at first but we decided we were up for the ride. Now we can’t imagine MJP not a part of our little family, but that doesn’t mean sometimes managing a super spirited 2 1/2 year old and a more mellow but still hype 16 month old isn’t challenging at times. Here are just a few things that we do personally to help us get in the game.
Lead by example
We don’t really love saying that we parent with a certain ‘style’ but ours is closest to gentle or attachment parenting. In different ways both Sean and I grew up in homes where we witnessed physical violence, which also included physical punishment. We both thankfully were and are firmly on the same page about not spanking our kids. Why? To be honest it just doesn’t make sense to us that hitting someone for any reason if they act out of turn is going to teach our kids right from wrong. I know when I was younger I didn’t understand why it would be okay for an adult to hit me if I made a mistake, yet it wouldn’t be okay for me to do the same. Sean has expressed it honestly made him feel distrustful and fearful. Those just aren’t things we want our children to feel. We also choose do our absolute best to not yell at our kids. Are we not perfect and sometimes we raise our voices? Absolutely. When that does happen, though, we make a point to talk to our kids about it and why yelling isn’t a good idea. We are the adults so it is up to us to keep our cool as best we possibly can and show them that we are imperfect people but we can learn and grow.
We feel a huge responsibility about raising three boys and what kind of energy we want them to put into the world when they are adults. With toxic masculinity and misogyny being such an issue, we want to show our boys that we can talk things out, that respect and doing the right thing can be learned without pain or yelling or aggression.
Understand that they are still learning how to be people
I cannot stress this enough; as hard as it is to remember sometimes, small children do not spring from the womb knowing exactly what to do, how to act right, and having perfect impulse control. I am almost 40 and I don’t get that stuff right sometimes! Toddlers really have so much going on in their brains developmentally. It is a constant whirlwind of sensory explosions. They are learning autonomy, learning what it is like to try to do things themselves, to test limits and boundaries. And y’all, it can be frustrating. So unbelievably frustrating. There will be times when I tell Ezra the exact same thing over and over again and he just keeps doing it because he is 2 1/2 and he’s trying to test the waters. That doesn’t mean you have to let them just do whatever they want, but it also means we have to have patience with them with the learning. Even if it means repeating the same thing over and over again, so much that you hear it in your sleep. And I am speaking from experience on that one.
Remember to give yourselves breaks
I am really looking at my maternal caregivers when I say this because we are the worst about this. Do not feel guilty about needing a break, beloved. That doesn’t make you a bad parent. That doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. It doesn’t mean that you are incapable of handling things. It means that you are gloriously human and everyone needs a moment to breathe. Sometimes it isn’t possible to actually get out of the house or just stop what you’re doing and get away. I completely understand that; honestly a lot of the time my ‘breaks’ look like Sean taking the littles upstairs for an hour or two of play time in the evenings when he comes home so I can chill. I know that I need to carve out some time to not be touched, to not be needed, to just be with my own thoughts and have my body to myself. Allowing myself that time with no shame or guilt honestly makes me personally the best mother I can be to my children. It serves no one to keep going and going and going until you break down. Your kids need a parent who is feeling whole, not one who is a martyr.
Don’t forget to enjoy the good moments
I won’t even lie; sometimes when I am having a difficult day with the littles, I’ll totally get really down and forget that for every hard moment we have so many that are just SO GOOD. Like in the mornings when they smile at me like they are thrilled to see me. When I watch them really play together. When I watch them give each other hugs and kisses. When we go out and run errands and they are both cheerful and in great moods. When the bleak stuff happens and the days are messy, I do my best to also remember that they truly will pass and that we will have some of those beautiful moments as well. Sometimes the days work out that both of them will be crying over some sort of affront I can’t figure out because their communication can be spotty at times, but then five minutes later they are climbing in my lap and giving me kisses, all smiles. Toddlers simply aren’t rational people, y’all, but see number two.
There is so much more I could say, but I feel like those are the main points. When it boils down to it, the days are often long and hard but have such joy to them as well. I truly feel as though the hard and the joy almost have to run tandem together. That’s how everything in life is; messy and beautiful all at the same time, so of course raising babies close in age is going to be like that. Watching them become tiny best friends and learn how to be people together is such a magical experience that I am so grateful for, but it’s okay for me (and you too!) to admit that there is havoc among the loveliness. It all comes back to having grace; with them and with ourselves.