Back when Little Man was a year old I wrote about how hard it had been having two children so close together. I wrote about how exhausting it was, how relentless it was and how all encompassing it was. There were just twenty months between LP and Little Man. There were two lots of nappies to change, two lots of routines – with milk feeds as well as dinner, bath and bed.
LP had only just learnt to walk when her brother was born – due to breaking her leg at 15 months. She was still pretty much a baby herself and even now I can’t clearly remember Little Man’s first few months – there are photos of him and I, I know those months happened but they were a blur of tiredness and constant parenting. There was no down time, no time of just existing, it was hard work and those first months were just so hard.
But, Little Man has just turned four and his big sister is six in the summer so I thought it was time to write an update, I thought it was time to say, actually, having two children really isn’t hard any more.
We had LP and Little Man close together in the hope that they would be close as they grew up. We also had them close together to try and get out of the baby stage as quickly as possible – rather than having one potty trained and learning independence and then going straight back to nappies and night feeds. When Little Man was born I wondered if we’d done the right thing, I wondered whether they were too close in age and whether it would always be so tough.
But, now, I realise that it isn’t tough at all. Life now is as easy as it has ever been and it has made me realise that we have reached that light at the end of the tunnel and, actually, we have been here for a while – and it feels good.
As soon as LP potty trained life got a bit easier. Then, when LP started nursery and I had a chunk of time with just Little Man, time to relax a little, clean the house and prepare dinner, life got a little bit easier again. Then, Little Man potty trained and suddenly nappies were out of the equation, saving us money and time. More recently, Little Man started nursery and I had time to myself for the first time since becoming a parent – more time to clean, cook, go to the gym and work. It felt like we finally had a balance.
But, life being easier now isn’t just about me and the big changes over the last few years – it’s also about LP and Little Man. He has learnt so much from his sister. He wanted to use the toilet and not wear nappies because that is what his sister did. He learnt so much of his vocabulary from her and I’m sure part of the reason he eats so well is through learning from her – seeing her healthy appetite and just wanting to try the same things.
But, more than that LP has been a constant source of entertainment for her little brother – and he for her. They amuse each other, give each other someone to play with – a ready made playmate. They play games together, watch TV together and share the same likes and loves. Having them both so close together means that they are pretty much on the same page and that makes it so much easier for me.
It’s got to the point now where LP and Little Man do homework at the same time, LP will do her reading homework and Little Man will listen intently to the story. Little Man will have to think of things that are a certain shape or a certain colour and LP will give him clues, helping him to find the answers for himself rather than telling him the answers and he loves how it seems like a game for both of them.
LP and Little Man are two peas in a pod, they compliment each other perfectly and they are like two halves of the same whole. We haven’t had another baby partly because it was so hard when Little Man was little but also because we didn’t want to change their dynamic – they worked so perfectly together that we couldn’t imagine another child in the mix.
But, four years on from having two under two and life is pretty amazing. Yes, four years ago life was hard. So hard. I cried often, Dave and I argued and I had the shortest temper I have ever had. The TV was childcare and I pretty much lived in my pyjamas for days at a time. We just did whatever we had to do to get through and hoped, really hoped, that things would get easier.
So, now, I guess I’m writing this to tell anyone else that is in that stage, hoping for it to get easier, hoping for their baby to sleep, for their toddler to potty train and willing away those early days – it really does get easier. It isn’t instant and the days do merge together, each one rolling into the next until you don’t know what day of the week it is and can’t remember whether you brushed your teeth that morning – or whether it was yesterday you’re thinking of.
But, at some point, life gets easier. The nappy changes get further apart, the feeds get further apart, meal times get less messy and you somehow manage to leave the house with your hair brushed and clothes on that don’t have smears of something all over them.
You wake up one day and you realise that those hard days are now in the past, you won’t have to go through them again and life really is easier. But you’ll also realise, with one of those lightbulb moments, that even the hardest and darkest of those days was worth it to get to this point. Even on those nights where you got no sleep, paced the room constantly with a baby crying on your shoulder, with you crying in silent frustration, when you had no-one to pass the baby to and when the toddler woke up with teething pain or a lost teddy – even of those horrendous endless nights that seemed to last forever, it was worth it to get to where you are now, seeing those two children so close and the best of friends.
Yes, having two under two was hard. So hard. But, it was a phase we had to get through in order to reach this point and now I look back at those first months, I look at the photos and I see the patches of light shining through the clouds – LP and Little Man’s relationship starting to blossom, those 6am wake ups when Little Man and I would sit downstairs, him feeding and me enjoying the silence of the house, that time of just him and I. I remember those first trips out with him in his baby carrier, snug against my chest. LP would skip along holding her Daddy’s hand and we would be so tired, so exhausted, but just oh so happy.
I remember the old people that would stop us in the supermarket to look at the baby, saying what gorgeous hair LP had and observing that I had my hands full. I remember the days when we would go to soft play and just sit in a ball pool or when we would go to a friend’s house where we would just sit and be whilst Little Man lay on the floor and the toddlers pulled every toy from the toy box.
I remember those early days and I smile. They were so hard but they were perfect too. We had no school runs, we had nowhere to be and it really was just the children and I against the world – and Dave too when he was at home. We were fighting our own battle and we survived – and look what we have to show for it.
Two under two was hard work but it was pretty perfect too.