challenges + victories with two

The blog has been extra quiet lately, as I've been spending so much of my time off my phone and away from my computer. One of my biggest goals for 2016 was to be fully present with my daughters anytime they're awake during the day. And it seems when they're napping, I am too. I've been squeezing in afternoon naps every chance I get. The cold winter and frequent gloomy days make for feeling sleepy 90% of the time and when the weather warms up and the days brighten in Spring, we are hoping to be out and about as much as possible. So I figure, sleep now while I can and store it up, right? If only it were that simple.

Now that Penelope is just over 4 months and I'm looking ahead to Olivia turning 3 in May, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the past few months since we welcomed our sweet Poppy and what's changed, what hasn't and our new normal as a family of 4.

In a lot of ways, having two is much easier than I expected it to be. That's not to say it's always easy, but maybe it's more that my expectations were that it would be way harder than it has been.

The transition from one to two is often talked about as being very stressful, overwhelming and one that will turn your world upside down. As a Mama of two you are now required to split your time & attention between two tiny souls whose needs differ greatly from one another. Meeting a toddler's needs and a newborn's needs require two different sets of skills in many ways, but equally a lot of the same -- selflessness, patience, love. And while I'm a firm believer that the first 6 weeks with a new baby (no matter how many you have) is always a bit of a world-turning-upside-down experience, having two isn't nearly as difficult as everyone made it out to be.

I thought it would be helpful to share a few of the challenges I face on a regular basis with two and also share some of the victories.

c h a l l e n g e s

1 / One of my biggest challenges is actually one that never crossed my mind before Penelope was born: Poppy waking Olivia up. For the first two months, we had Penelope in our bedroom, which shares a wall with Olivia's room. All of our bedrooms are in the same corner of our home, which makes it equally convenient + stressful. Of course, I was quickly able to pick P up to nurse in the middle of the night when she woke, but sometimes it took her awhile to settle and I constantly stressed out about the noise waking Olivia up. 

I shared all about our sleep training here, and touched on the fact that we did a modified cry-it-out with both girls beginning around 4-6 weeks after breastfeeding was well established. As Penelope is falling asleep (especially if she's overtired), she cries very loudly for 5-10 minutes and then is totally out. BUT those 5-10 minutes feel like an eternity when you're constantly making sure your toddler isn't woken up. 

The way we have worked to remedy this is by making sure Poppy is put down for naps and to bed before Olivia is, so by the time Olivia is ready to sleep, Penelope has settled. Disclaimer: This only works during the day if the girls' nap times are very close together, which is always my goal but not always reality (more on that in a moment...) but thankfully has been pretty consistent at bedtime since we put P down around 8/8:15pm and Olivia around 8:15/8:30pm. We have also used a bassinet that we can move around the house in different areas for nap time, so if Olivia is a solid hour into sleep and I'm just putting P down, she can sleep in our living room or basement. 

2 / The second challenge is just getting them both to nap at the same time so I can get a break. The simplest way to put it is that some days it happens, other days it just doesn't. I try to structure our days in a way to set myself up for success in this area (getting them up at the same time in the morning, spacing out Penelope's feedings to overlap with Olivia's mealtimes, etc) but some days it just ain't happening. This is an area where I try to keep my expectations low so I am pleasantly surprised when their entire 3-hour nap overlaps. Because when that happens, I feel like I won the lottery.

3 / A huge challenge I've struggled with lately is making time for myself and taking care of myself. Do you ever feel that all you do all day is take care of everyone else, and then by the end of the day when they're in bed, you're too exhausted to take care of yourself? Taking bubble baths is one of my favorite ways to unwind and relax, and for the past week at the end of the day I found myself feeling even too tired to do that. Too tired to sit in a bathtub and not move. Seriously?! Let's just blame that one again on the weather. But self-care is an area I am really striving to shift focus to this year -- I want to give myself time to do those things that rejuvenate me, relax me and reset my mind and body for another day of motherhood, whether big or small and NOT feel guilty about doing it! Reading a chapter in a book I enjoy, flipping through my favorite magazine for a few minutes in peace and quiet, taking that bubble bath, napping when they nap, etc. I think as Moms we constantly battle the need to put our children first and the need to take care of ourselves and the guilt that often comes along with that, and it's definitely a learning process.

4 / Finally, I've faced the challenge of engaging + interacting with each of them equally and purposefully during the day when they're both awake. With Penelope, it's important that I spend time holding her sitting up in my lap (head/neck strength), doing tummy time, playing with toys with her (since she's still too little to do much on her own) and of course, feeding her. With Olivia, I want to be able to actually play with her...not just take care of Penelope while she plays by herself. I want to sit in her kitchen & order food, cook alongside her and play pretend. I want to do puzzles with her, her favorite ABC flashcards and sticker books, meeting her needs for that one on one time. I know every day I won't get equal time if I break it down minute to minute, so I focus more on the quality than the quantity. When I do have an opportunity to just focus on Olivia, I make sure I am fully focused on her. Not distracted but engaged and giving her quality time. One way we've begun overcoming this challenge is by reading lots of books. Olivia loves having books read to her, and it's an activity I can have Penelope in my lap for or laying on her playmat while Olivia sits next to me and we read together. And I know that as Penelope gets a little older and can sit up/crawl/walk etc., that there will continue to be more activities all three of us can do that engage both of them.

v i c t o r i e s

1 / My biggest victory is being in a great day to day routine with the girls. Olivia operates heavily on routine, so that has been a huge key for success as we've reached a new normal over the past few months. The first 6 weeks were incredibly challenging for many reasons, but one of the biggest being that it threw us all (including Olivia) out of our routine. I've noticed the better and more consistent my routine is with them, the fewer meltdowns Olivia has. She has grown to understand the day to day activities, plans, and knows for the most part what to expect each morning when she wakes up. And I know I'm at my very best on a predictable routine as well.

2 / Another victory is getting the girls to bed at the same time each night so that Dustin and I are able to have some time together. While there is sometimes a bit of variation for nap time, we've made a very purposeful effort to get both girls down within 10-15 minutes of each other, since it's our first chance all day to be together and alone. Once Poppy started having a very consistent bedtime (around 3 months), we were able to achieve this and it made each day (and night!) much easier. All day I look forward to the time I will get uninterrupted with Dustin once the girls are asleep.

3 / Victory #3 has been staying involved in outside activities, probably more for my own sake than the girls' sake. Being a Stay at Home Mom can get really lonely (a topic I think few moms ever share about), and I noticed that if I had gone a few days without getting out of the house and in conversation, having quality time with other moms in a similar season of life, I would grow pretty sad pretty quickly. As women we are built to need each other and we crave those deep, intimate friendships in one another. Staying involved in my weekly morning bible study and MOPS group, though sometimes challenging when the weather is freezing and I'd rather sit at home in my pajamas instead of packing two girls up with coats and hats and mittens, has been a huge victory and really lifted my mood.

4 / Finally, possibly my biggest victory is watching as my relationship with Olivia has grown so much. I had her all to myself for nearly two and a half years, but then when Penelope was born, a bit of shifting took place and for the first 6 weeks, Olivia spent much more time with Dustin than with me. I remember listening to them playing or reading books before bed as I sat and nursed for what felt like hours. My heart broke a little bit that I was missing out on making those memories with her, and I wondered if our relationship would ever be what it once was. As time went on and we settled into a great routine, Poppy was able to sleep and eat on a much more consistent schedule and I was able to map out blocks of time each day where it would be just me and Olivia making memories. Our relationship now is even better than it was before Penelope was born; we have so much fun together and I feel so grateful that I'm the first person she sees every morning and the last one to tuck her in at night.


I'd love to know what challenges you faced as you transitioned from one child to two and what your biggest victories were as well! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! XO


  1. I totally agree! Shared nap times and schedules were my saving grace. My advice to other moms was always, the first six weeks are the hardest but then the fog lifts and by 8 weeks you're like, I CAN DO THIS! :) We're just at 8 weeks with baby #3 and adjusting to her arrival has been pretty easy (so far!).

  2. I can relate! It's nice to know that someone else is sharing my struggles. I have a one year old and a 3 1/2 month old preemie and it is a challenge to make it work.


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