- Organise, organise, organise: I wasn’t born organised. When asked to tidy my room as a child, I would to push all the stuff clogging my bedroom to one corner and cover it with a pretty scarf. But it’s a skill I’ve had to hone over the past year specifically. Being organised will save your sanity a trillion times over. So keep the nappy bag stocked, plan your meals, make lists and think outings through carefully. Even if it doesn’t currently come naturally, it soon will!
- Ask for help: More specifically, accept help. When babies come into the world, all the lovely people around you do tend to clamour to see if they can help in any way. They want to be part of the wonderful journey and this is their way of getting in on the action. But as parents, we tend to casually wave the offers away in order to give the impression we really can handle it all. Even if it’s just someone offering to drop a casserole, or a family member offering to take your toddler to the park for a couple of hours, take it! Most wouldn’t offer if they didn’t mean it. And if they didn’t mean it, well that’ll teach them.
- Shop online: Realised you’ve run out of clothes pegs? Hit Amazon. Got a birthday party and nothing to wear? Ebay. Weekly shop? You get the gist. There really isn’t much that can’t be ordered online and for the cost of postage, it’s well worth it (though try searching for free delivery options – surprisingly common). Life is too short for hauling two screeching children around to shop on a busy Saturday morning. Save the shopping trips for any “You Time” you happen across.
- Use your partner: Though I realise you may not have this help at your disposal, if you do have a partner, use them as much as you can. Whether it’s for taking the children off your hands for a little while, listening to you rant after a trying day or just giving your tired feet a rub, a little help from your love can really keep you buoyant. They may well be at work all day but home isn’t an extension of work. It’s life, and they should want to get just as stuck in as you do.
- Get out! Though trips out might (and probably should) be off the cards until you’ve found your feet with the new baby, getting out as soon as you can will really help to lift your spirits. But make it easy on yourself: feed your newborn just before you leave, fill up your toddler with a hearty lunch and arm them with a toy and some juice. Load them both into the double buggy and head to the prettiest place at your disposal. A bit of fresh air and some exercise might seem like the last thing you can be bothered with but it’ll keep your spirits up. Cabin fever in mothers and toddlers is a potentially explosive situation, so stave it off at all costs.
- Believe in yourself: This is perhaps my most important tip. I spent most of my second pregnancy convincing myself that I wouldn’t cope, mostly because people love to scare you about such things. So please don’t panic in advance and certainly don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with the juggle every now and again. Now more than ever is the time to be extra kind to yourself. So try to remember that you’re only human, you only have one pair of hands and you are probably doing a most exceptional job of parenting these two little people without even trying.
Celia Anderson has two children, 20 months apart. She blogs at www.2under2.co.uk about coping with a newborn and a toddler and also runs a copywriting business.