Last week, a dear friend and her 9 month old little girl came to visit us. They stayed for five days and it was so good to spend time with them! It's always nice when you get to hang out with your "BC" friends (before children). They get you and know the real you - before you smelled like spit-up and used to shower and stuff.
While she was here we talked about raising our children and how life has changed for us since becoming parents. She told me she was going to be observing how I handled two under two. As soon as she said that, I freaked out a little bit in my mind and then warned her that I wasn't sure I was the best example.
I mean, my kids cry. A lot. The oldest probably watches too much TV. I sometimes forget to feed my five month old (ok, I only forgot once... but STILL). And I give my toddler gummy bears, popcorn and sometimes (gasp!) chocolate if it means he'll sit still for five minutes.
Yes, I bribe. Judge me.
I am definitely not the poster-parent that has it all together. So now that I've shared just a few reasons why I feel unqualified to write this post, let me tell you just why I decided to write this post.
Because if you are a parent, whether to 1, 2... or 10, I have a feeling you feel unqualified too.
And sometimes you just want to know that you are not alone, that you're doing okay and that it will get better. And so here I am to tell you, not only what you want to hear, but, my best advice on raising two children under two.
1) You are not alone.
Remember this, everyday. It will help you get up in the morning. You have people all around the world who are doing this same parenting thing. In fact, people have been doing it for decades and centuries! That's how you are alive today. Also, remember that you are not alone in your role as a parent. There are people all around you who want to help - whether friends, neighbors, or family (if you're blessed to live near them). If someone offers to come over and help you, please do not turn them down. You will need the help. We all need help every now and then. But especially when you have two under two. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have someone to just play with my toddler so I can do the dishes. Or even better, do the dishes so I can play with my toddler! (I seriously have friends who do this. And they are heaven-sent, I tell you). Don't try to be too good or above asking for help. Pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18).
2. You're doing okay.
Do your kids eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Are they wearing clothes when you go out in public? Do they take a bath at night? If you answered yes to (at least) one of the above, then you're doing okay. In fact, you are doing better than many parents across the world. Your children are blessed. And whether you feel like it or not, your little ones are growing up like princes and princesses compared to the majority of children. Which makes you the king or queen! Wear that crown proudly. Now that I've given you a little reality check, I want you to forget everything I just said and remember this one thing - DO NOT COMPARE. The minute you start comparing what your child is doing compared to your friend's child who is a month younger and already doing/eating/saying... blah blah blah. That's when you're not doing okay. That's when you are not doing tummy-time enough or teaching them enough or reading to them enough. I can tell you from personal experience, when my toddler out of the blue counted to ten (and I had only been counting to three with him up until that point), that they are learning faster than what we can teach them. So take the pressure off of yourself. It's not a race. And even if it was, I think I'd want my children to lose the "who-can-grow-up-the-fastest-and-not-need-me-and-move-out-of-the-house-and-get-a-job" race anyway.
3. It will get better.
There are seasons for everything. There will be hard times. It will get better. It will get worse. And then it will get better again. Try to remember that when your child is going through a growth spurt, teething, tantrums, potty training, illness, rebellion, and every single horrendous thing under the sun. It looks bad, because it is bad, and sometimes horrible, even, but it will get better. And they will make you smile again. Sometimes, just seconds after the said-horrible thing happened and sometimes it takes a little longer. But if you can remember that the sun will shine again (and they will nap again) then you can make it through whatever it is you are having to deal with right now. And sometimes you can even laugh through it. I like laughing through it, personally.
Next week, my oldest turns two. I know I am a young parent. I haven't been doing this very long, my resume in parenting is short and I am fairly inexperienced. But having two children so quickly has kept me on my toes. I have to be aware and my mom-radar is on from sun-up to sun-down and many nights in-between.
This may seem like unpractical advice. Like, gee thanks, but where is the step-by-step manual on how to handle two under two (or three under three or so on and so on). Well, I never got a manual and I have managed to survive. There is wisdom in reading books and learning from other parents about how to raise your children. But at the end of the day, when everything fails and nothing is going right, the most practical advice I've needed in those moments - is that I'm not alone, I'm doing okay and it will get better.
Parent on, my friend. We're all in this together.