My solstice children turn 4.5 years and 2 years old this week, and I don’t know whether to sob and bury my head into a tub of mini flapjacks, or a milk and soya free Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake…? I actually can’t quite believe I’ve survived. It’s been an interesting couple of years: tough, exhausting, but also really rather awesome.
When we decided to have a second baby, and consequently fell pregnant, I had an idealistic view of how life would be. I’d sit on the sofa, blissfully breastfeeding the baby whilst Busby snuggled up next to me with a stack of educational books and healthy snacks.
A Mothering Goddess, if you will…?
The reality was really quite different – with far too much screaming and crying from all three of us. Way too many tandem poo situations. And a reliance on CBeebies which, when combined with chronic sleep deprivation, made me enter some sort of twilight zone where coffee sang to me, Cookie Monster was my bestie, and where I found myself quite fancying Katy from I can cook…
Helpful strangers used to pass me in the M&S foyer (the only place Busby would ever have a tantrum. She’s always loved a willing, interactive audience) and heckle my bump with “Ooh, just you wait until that one arrives!” or “You think one is a handful now?! You’ll have lots on your plate then!” or just a plain old British “tut”. But no one ever sat me down and said “Look Hannah, this is how it’s going to be – it will be bloody hard, but that won’t last forever. Oh, and soon enough you’ll be wanting another one.”
So, I guess this is what this post is… from me to you: Seven things nobody tells you about having two children.
1. It’s really really really hard. For at least the first 18 months. The Mum Guilt is insane. Your eldest is used to having ALL of the attention, but suddenly there’s another person, and that new person monopolises your attention because they’re a baby and they can’t do anything for themselves… But then there’s your eldest, who needs more than just endless hours of CBeebies and packets of raisins… but HOOOOOW?! And on so little sleep?! And then the little person starts to move – which means you never, ever, ever get to relax because you’re constantly fearful of EVERYTHING, and your eldest is giving the baby tiny toys which it could choke on…
2. But then the youngest grows and they start to play together. And although there are fights over toys. Fights over who pushed who. Not to mention the endless bickering. They will play together. And suddenly it all gets easier. You find yourself actually enjoying a hot cup of tea without scalding your oesophagus. You can get some life admin done without a baby on your knee. You can have friends over for play dates and actually make adult conversation.
3. There is nothing better than watching your children make each other laugh. I promise you. It’s like someone coming along and giving your heart, body and ovaries a gigantic cuddle, followed by the largest guilt-free hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. It’s awesome. And every single time it happens I think “let’s add another child into the mix” (and my head screams “whhhhhhhhhy?!”)
4. You can twin their clothes. I mean, I know it’s not the most intellectual or emotive point on this list, but you can do it (until they’re old enough to dictate their wardrobe). It’s brilliant fun and is rather adorable.
5. Double the amount of cuddles. Yaaaaaaas! I love a cuddle, and there’s nothing quite like sitting in bed with a child nestled into each side, reading a story. I’m fairly certain it’s endorphin releasing.
6. You appreciate time to yourself even more. But on the flip side, the house is far too quiet when they’re not in it. I’ve always loved to have solo time to myself – I tend to get a bit peopled-out. But strangely I hate it when the kids aren’t in the house now as it’s far too quiet. I love having them around as it’s always so busy and chaotic that I don’t have time to think (which I find is great for my anxiety!).
7. You will find your groove. I promise. It may take weeks, months, or years, but you will find your family balance again. I’m not saying it won’t get tilted every so often (school holidays and sickness always do this for us), but it does get easier and at some point you will sit there, surrounded by your gang, smile and think “I’ve totally got this”. At which point one of them will projectile vomit over you, or break an arm, and you’ll be thrown back into the chaos once more.