For most of our relationship, my husband and I planned on having three kids. It seemed like the perfect number. But then we had one and started to reconsider. Once we had two it became clear that we were all set. Not only were two kids just the right fit for me and my family, but kids are hard. Having one is hard, let alone more than one. I asked some seasoned moms how to support a mom with two kids, because we can use all the help we can get.
I've heard it said that going from zero to one child is a life-changer, but going from one to two kids is a game-changer. This seriously resonates with me, because OMG yes. The tag-team strategy is really pretty impossible, because your attention is divided. You're not outnumbered, but you're evenly matched and, often, the kids will have the advantage because they DGAF about being polite or not screaming at the top of their lungs in a Target because you won't buy them bunny slippers.
Yeah. That happened this weekend.
And in the old days, when it was me and my husband versus our son, we could manage that problem more easily together. But now one of us has to handle one child while the second person handles the other plus whatever task we're there to accomplish in the first place. It's not insurmountable, but it's a lot.
So with all that in mind, here are some of the ways you can help us moms with two kids:
"I’m only 11 months in, but so far the best thing someone has done for me is to watch the baby so my school-aged child and I can have one-on-one time. It’s so important now because she often feels left out, or unimportant."
"So, my girls are 3 and a half and 7. What I'd ask is if you want to do something with the big girl, see if you can include the little one too. It's heartbreaking when she's left out of activities because she's too little. Or at least be sensitive to her feelings. She just wants to be a part of it all!"
"I’ve had two from the beginning (twins) and the things I appreciate the most is when people take them away from me. There is serious truth in the saying 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' because you can’t miss them if they are never gone. And being alone with my husband is so necessary for our marriage."
"For someone to take them both and watch them both so my husband and I can get a break before we strangle each other. Someone taking one is great, but it’s not a break. Just once in a while, with no passive aggressive comments or guilt trips."
"Remembering they both exist... gifts for both even if small. If it's my oldest's birthday and someone gives my little guy a coloring book I'm thrilled! Also please stop telling me the differences and which one is your favorite! Please? Ugh."
"Stop saying, 'Oh you have your hands full.' No sh*t. They are 23 months apart. Also stop asking me if we’re going to have a third. That would mean I would have to have sex... and I have two kids... so...
Best way to help me: watch them both so I can go grocery shopping alone; offer to do some laundry or play with them long enough for me to do laundry; remind me about self-care and doing something for myself, and then offer to watch them so I can get a mani pedi."
"Understand that saying yes to having two means it's harder to say yes to everything else. No, I can't volunteer for the PTA brunch. No, I can't go out this Tuesday for a mom's night out. No, I can't join book club — I can barely get the dishwasher unloaded every day, I do not have the time or energy to read a book every month, especially if there's a good chance I won't like the book. Fortunately I feel like most people in my life have either been there themselves or get it, but sometimes I know I get eye rolls and scoffs from people who either don't have the experience of having two or conveniently forget what it's like."
"When I first had my youngest, my mother-in-law stayed with us for a month. While I know that's not feasible for everyone it was a huge help! She was in charge of my oldest's schedule. Any school, dance, playground, etc. fell on her and it gave my daughter the one-on-one time she was craving. Of course she also watched the baby so I could do the same for my oldest some times. Was a huge help and each kid got some extra loving."
"Remember it's not a contest, especially when one child has developmental delays. Yes, I know my daughter was walking and hitting her milestones way earlier than my son. That's what the [occupational therapy] is for. We're working on it. He'll do it all in his own time. Pointing it out isn't helping him and it's certainly not helping me."
"Ask about me sometimes! That sounds so bratty, but when you're a mom people sometimes forget you exist and only ever want to ask about your kids. I'm still a person! I have things I want to talk about that aren't kid related!"
"I just became a mom of two. My children are seven years apart, so it has been very difficult adjusting. One thing that has been happening is my older daughter feels like she’s not loved anymore because we have to focus so much on the baby. It would be so helpful if people around us could help turn some focus on my oldest sometimes. Yes the new baby is exciting but my oldest is just as awesome and deserves some attention too! Please stop making so much attention toward the baby if you aren’t going to give my oldest some love too! Also something that I find helps a lot is when people offer to keep the baby for any length of time so we can go do things with the oldest like take her to lunch or to a movie something focusing just on her!"
"[When you're a twin mom] I think having your friends and family put you in contact with other twin mamas that is a huge support too. Through another twin mama I found my local chapter of Mothers of Multiplies. It’s nice to have other mothers of multiples to give you advice since it’s such a different experience. They offer knowledge and ideas your Singleton mamas don’t know about (twin equipment like table for two or twin z pillow) and just advice on how to handle two babies during the night, or help later like advice on potty training two."
"Please don't treat them differently based on their gender. Don't assume my daughter isn't interested in trucks and my son isn't interested in dolls. You can have the same kinds of conversations and experiences with both of them — they don't have to be tailored around their gender."
"Please be open to hanging out with kids present. We will see more of each other if you're OK coming over my kid-infested house or if I can come to yours and I can plop them in front of Netflix while we have a coffee or a beer. I know it's not as fun as going out, but a babysitter adds $50-$100 to anything else I do on an evening I hire one. I can do that sometimes but not all the time."
"If I complain about some aspect of motherhood, please don't use that as an opportunity to talk about how glad you are that you didn't have kids or a second kid. It's rude and not helpful and focusing the conversation on you and your feelings when I could probably use a comforting pat on the shoulder."
"I was going to answer this but then I remembered I have three now. There is no help for me."