Essential Baby Gear for Two Under Two

We just hit the 12-month mark with two babies under the age of two. Beyond the obvious two cribs and two car seats, below is a list of the baby gear that helped us thrive survive this first year.

 A Double Stroller.  If I could only recommend one thing, this would be it. A double stroller has been the key to my success over the past 12 months. Seriously, having a double stroller is what has kept me (and the babies) sane—it’s the only way we can get out of the house.  We were given the Joovy Scooter x2 at my son’s birth, and more recently got the Maclaren Twin Triumph. Both have been fine and both have their good qualities, but honestly I don’t love either of them. If I could do it all over again, I would have gotten the Britax B-Agile Double stroller (or some sort of travel system double stroller…I lust after the City Select Double Stroller & if we have another baby we’ll likely get this stroller with the glider board). It would have been SO nice to have had a travel system and simply been able to strap DS into his car seat while we were still in the house and then to have headed out from there. Especially if your oldest is not yet walking when baby number two arrives, as was the case for us, I strongly encourage you to find a travel system double stroller.

A good baby swing. It’s sooooo important to have a safe, comfortable place to put your younger baby down when you’re at home. You need a break sometimes—or you need two hands to prepare meals and/or put your oldest down for a nap, etc.—so the swing, complete with soothing, entertaining music and mobile, allows your littlest to enjoy some quiet play time while you do your thing.  We used this swing and loved it.

A playard (safe play space for baby) – Toddlers don’t know their own strength sometimes, especially when they’re under the age of two and still a baby themselves. Since the time when DS grew out of his swing (or it might have been since the time DD started trying to “play” with DS while he was in his swing) I have kept a pack-n-play equipped with toys in our living room. I put DS in there when I need to get stuff done around the house and might be momentarily distracted. It’s a great safe place for your littlest to play because your older child can’t reach them easily, and they also can’t get into trouble.

A baby carrier. Helpful at all hours of the day, from the house to the grocery store. Most helpful for when you go to the park and you need to chase after your oldest while wanting to keep your youngest close. A baby carrier is useful anytime you need two hands (or wish you had more than two hands), or anytime you need to direct all your attention to your oldest while still wanting/needing to hold your youngest. We had the Moby Wrap when DS was a newborn and the Ergo 360 for both DD and DS (side note: We still use the Ergo 360 for BOTH kiddos).

A good nursing cover (if you’re nursing) – I have nursed in a variety of public places since DS was born. It has been a very different, much more challenging experience than it was with DD. With DD I was always able to retreat to the car or be in a private place to nurse when I wanted, but with DS I have nursed everywhere from the library, to the park, to farms and malls and public transportation. When you have a toddler who wants needs to get out of the house and explore the world (a.k.a. burn off energy), you need to be able to nurse wherever and whenever. Sometimes this means you are nursing while chasing after said toddler. If you’re okay pulling out your boob wherever and don’t care if people see you, you go for it Mama (I tended towards this attitude around month 10 of nursing my second). But if you’re not comfortable baring it all for the world to see, than finding a cover-up is essential. I liked my Covered Goods nursing cover for my second because it wrapped all the way around and provided excellent coverage from every angle, while still being lightweight. Once it was on and situated, I didn’t have to mess with it too much.

A backpack diaper bag & a purse with a wearable strap – As a mom of two under two, I often wish I had about 10 more arms. But since I don’t, I’m always looking for ways to maximize the two that I do have. One way to do this while I’m out and about is to have a backpack diaper bag. Just throw all your essentials in there, put it on your back and forget about it (until you need it). You can easily wear your baby in a carrier on your front and have your diaper backpack on your back. We’ve used the Skip Hop Forma Pack and Go Diaper Backpack, and it has worked great for us.  That said, sometimes you don’t want to haul the whole heavy diaper bag into Safeway to pick up milk (two babies is enough of a load for you to carry). In those cases, I’ve found that a wallet with a purse string attached is super helpful: take it out of the diaper bag, sling it across your body, and once again you have both arms free for schlepping babies around. I have the Vera Bradley Women’s All in One Crossbody, which is so awesome it even holds my phone.

Side note: As a mom of two under two you are perpetually tired. Therefore, if your wallet is not on a string/attached to your body, you will likely lose it or leave it behind at a store. THIS HAPPENED TO ME. That night I went in search of a wearable wallet.

For those of you with two under two, do you have anything to add to this list? 

How to find your Mommy Tribe

finding-your-mommy-tribeI strongly encourage any mama with two under two (any mama, really—both SAH and working) to find a mommy group. It makes a world of difference to have a network of other mamas who are going through similar things, and from whom you can draw strength and support to overcome your own struggles (and share your joys!). Particularly as someone suffering with PPD, I have found mama friends to be vital. They get you out of the house, and it’s so nice to have social interaction with someone your own age! I had a great group of mommy friends before we moved cross-country this past summer, and I have been working hard to find my new mommy tribe in our new home. Here are some tips for finding your mommy tribe:

Check your local hospital. This is where I met my first mommy group, after DD was born. The hospital sponsored a ‘Mommy & Me’ postpartum group for new mothers, and after we had all been going for a while we started getting together outside the formal group. This is the best option for first time mamas with infants. This is where I found one of my new mommy groups (after we moved cross-country). Just search for mommy and me groups in your area.

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  There are groups everywhere! The trouble I’ve found with MOPS is that the groups are often full and so you get put on a waitlist until spots open up. I have yet to be able to go to a meeting, but I look forward to the day when I do!

Check out your church or place of worship. The cathedral in the city where we used to live had a mommy group, as did many of the smaller neighboring churches. The church we’re planning to attend next year (when we move BACK across the country) also has a mommy group.

Library story times & the park. If you go during the week, there are often many SAHMs to meet!  Be brave and strike up a conversation.  Talk about your kids; there’s an endless amount of conversations to be had!

Google. I literally Googled “Mommy Groups in [insert your city or town]”, and this is how I found the other group I am a current member of. You can also use Google to find mommy and me classes in your area (music classes, swimming lessons, etc.).

Sometimes (if you’re an introvert like me) joining new groups–often ones that are already well established–can be daunting. I always feel super awkward the first few times I go (heck, it’s the end of November and I STILL feel awkward going to the mommy groups I’ve joined in our new town). But when you keep showing up and making small talk, over time IT DOES GET BETTER. Even though I feel awkward when I arrive, I always leave happy with at least one fun conversation I had with another mom. You will slowly find your place in the group and start to feel like one of them. Just be friendly, smile and ask the veteran group members questions (this takes the heat off you!).

Did I miss anything? Let me know where you found your mommy tribe!peace-be-with-youlove

A Daily Schedule for the SAHM with 2 Under 2

sahm2u2My babies are 10.5 months apart. I’ll be honest: for the first several months, we had no regular routine. It was all about survival and making sure everyone had slept, was fed and had clean clothes & diapers. I did try to get us out for a walk every day, so I guess you could say that was somewhat routine.

Fast-forward 8 months: we now thrive on schedules in this house (see my morning and evening routines here). My kiddos love knowing what to expect (and so do I), and regular meal and nap times help keep baby batteries charged. Here’s what a typical day in our life looks like:

5a-7:30a: Wake up and prepare for the day. (You can read about my morning routine here.)

7:30a/8am: DS wakes up and nurses. He is easily distracted when feeding, so I always try to get a good nursing session in before DD wakes up.

8a/8:30am: DD wakes up. Put on music (yey for the Toddler Dance station on Pandora) & have kiddos play independently while I make breakfast for DD. DD and I sit together at the table while she eats breakfast, and then it’s time for more independent play.

8:45a: Empty the dishwasher and put laundry on to wash. Pick up the house and do some light cleaning, such as vacuuming (Note: heavy cleaning, i.e. the bathrooms, has to wait until there is someone else around to monitor the kids).

9:30: Feed DS and put him down for a short morning nap.

10a/10:30a: In home educational activity for DD, and then once DS wakes up we head out to story time or go to a mommy & me play group. I’ll also use this time to go grocery shopping or run other errands on occasion (today we got our flu shots, yuck!).

12:00p: Lunch for DD & DS; DS nurses.

12:30p: DD & DS down for afternoon nap.

2:30p: DS & DD wake up from nap. We play for a bit and then I feed DS while DD gets 30 minutes of screen time (We stick to PBS shows right now—Daniel Tiger & Thomas and Friends are the current favs).

3:30p: Walk, park &/or errands.

5p: DD & DS eat dinner.

5:30p: Baths for both kids.

6p: Clean up toys and read together.

6:30p: Bedtime.

6:30-8:15p: See my evening routine here.

8:15p: Dream feed DS.

8:30p: Bedtime for me!

I also do dinner prep throughout the day. I use the crock pot a lot, try to have enough for leftovers, and make a fair number of simple meals (i.e. spaghetti). I love cooking, but this is sadly not the season for many exciting meals.