Raising two toddlers… my oh my! Nothing could have prepared me for our lives at the moment with two toddlers – it’s a beautiful mess! There’s 21 months between my two toddlers, James and Isabella. They are the best of friends, adorable and so lovely together, but they also wind each other up a treat and drive me insane. Ring a bell?
As we are right in the thick of raising a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, I feel like it’s the best time to talk about what to expect when raising two toddlers. When had 2 under 2, there was plenty out there on what to expect from life with a newborn and toddler; I feel like I went into it armed with information, things to try and ways to cope.
But when Isabella became a toddler and all of a sudden I had two of them, everything changed. I don’t know anyone in my close family and friendship groups that have 2 toddlers, so at times I feel a bit isolated when I’m dealing with something very specific to having 2 toddlers.
There’s no doubt that we have double the fun and they are both hilarious, so I pretty much laugh all day long with two little people. But being very honest, we also have double the tantrums, the strong-wildness and double the utter insane chaotic loud assertiveness, which let me you, is not joke for the faint hearted! So here is what to expect when raising two toddlers:
What works for one doesn’t always work for the other.
If you think you nailed something with one of your toddlers, think again. The other toddler might (very likely) react totally differently to the same techniques.
I have two very different toddlers when it comes to their temperaments and personalities; James responds really well to being comforted when he’s upset, but Isabella just wants to be left alone. The same thing happened with sleep training; James did not take at all to any form of controlled crying, so we did a very gentle no-cry sleep training approach with him, but Isabella isn’t responding to the gentle method, so we are having to completely reconsider what we believe in and what’s best for her.
Your house will be very noisy.
Realistically, I feel like I say ‘Not so loud, please’ about 300 times a day, though it feels more than 10 million! Toddlers will make sure your hear everything they have to say, as loudly as they can. A simple ‘yes’ becomes a ‘YEEEEES’; calling me to say they have finished on the toilet is now ‘MUMMYYYYYY I’VE FINISHED MY POOOOOOOOO’.
I’ll be honest, the noise is what drives me crazy, more than anything else in life with two toddlers. It just goes straight through me and I can feel myself wincing. Toddlers have so much to say about everything, and they demand your acknowledgement of their opinions, whether you agree with them or not, you must indicate that you hear them – several times.
You will get used to certain double standards.
I was that mum who said she would treat her children equally, no matter what happens. Well, that was before I had two toddlers! How could I possibly know ‘what happens’?! Sometimes you just need double standards. James can do colouring on the carpet, Isabella can’t (she can’t be trusted yet, but of course she doesn’t understand that!). Isabella can wear sunglasses for the school run (because she will scream the place down if she doesn’t), James can’t (because he’s more amenable for things like that).
Every other day I find myself in a double standards situation – it’s become normal. Although saying that, I’m never trying to treat them unequally, I’m trying to treat them fairly. If that means double standards, so be it. And now I understand what it was like to be my mum when I was questioning her why I wasn’t allowed things when my sister was. Sorry mum!
They will want the same toy at the same time, all the time.
It doesn’t matter which toy they wanted so badly before, when they see the other sibling with a toy, they want that one. It drives me nuts!
The worst part is when I’m super organised; I think ahead and make sure I’ve got it all sorted for them with each one’s favourite toys, favourite colours, favourite cups, all laid out. Then they toddle along and change their minds completely, wanting exactly what the other one has. I’m sort of learning from my mistakes on this one and now I get them two of the same thing to avoid tantrums; it works most of the times… until I realise one troll has blue hair and the other one has silver hair. Damn it!
Your heart can’t handle the cuteness when they are doing something together nicely.
Honestly, there’s nothing like it. I almost feel like crying when I sneak up on them and they are cuddled up on the sofa or holding hands. I love seeing James feed Isabella some of his own treats, just because he wants to share it with her. And watching Isabella stroke James’ back when he falls and hurts himself, saying ‘is that better now, James?’.
They have so many little moments like this every day; yeah, it can all change from ‘I love you’ to ‘leave me alone’ in a second, but those seconds are the most precious memories that I will treasure forever.
They won’t stop talking about each other when they are apart.
The moment we drop James off in nursery, Isabella asks about him and doesn’t stop until he’s back home. The same goes the other way! If Isabella is asleep, he wants to wake her to be with her. Their worlds revolve around each other and they don’t really know what to do with themselves if the other one is not around. Of course, they will be bickering half the time they are together, but they would rather be together nevertheless. It’s rather sweet!
Telling Toddler 1 off triggers Toddler 2 to do the very thing you told Toddler 1 not to do.
‘Don’t splash mummy, James’. What does Isabella do that hadn’t even crossed her mind before? She splashes mummy. Another real life example, Isabella is eating her chicken lovely and quiet, thoroughly enjoying it; James says ‘I don’t like chicken’, Isabella’s spits up all her chicken onto the floor. Sigh!
Funnily enough, they won’t influence each other to do all the nice things you tell them to do, like put their shoes on, stay seated, don’t shout… nah, that’s too boring.
You will give up on having a tidy house.
The only time my house is remotely presentable is when the kids are in bed. The rest of the day there’s just no point trying! The toys come out as fast as I put them into their toy chests. And even when they are all put away, there’s still toy buggy or a Noah’s ark that doesn’t fit anywhere and has to lurk in a corner of the living room.
Normal mess doesn’t bother me so much; it’s when all the toys get tipped out in one go and they don’t play with a single one of them. Not one. This is exactly what’s happening right now – you should see my living room floor; maybe not.
The tantrums and meltdowns are epic.
Emotions run very high in a house with toddlers and when both of them are throwing tantrums at the same time, wine o-clock can’t come soon enough. There is no amount of reasoning; honestly, it sounds like someone is getting their leg chopped off!
It’s just a constant stream of noise and tears and snot. One wants cuddles, the other wants space. Neither of them really know why they are crying… then Hey Duggee comes on the TV and all is forgotten. Thank goodness.
The bond they have is the most beautiful thing to watch.
Having two children so close in age is very challenging early on, especially in the newborn days and early toddler years. They are learning to live with each other, like each other and they can’t get away from each other.
They are also learning to love and rely on each other, and that is so beautiful to watch. They have so much in common and things that only they understand. Watching that bond get stronger as they grow together is what I dreamt off when we were planning a small age gap between our children. They won’t know life without one another, they won’t remember what it’s like to not have the other one around. That’s just so precious and it truly makes it ALL worth it.