What’s it really like…. being a parent to ‘two under two’?

two under two

Continuing the What’s it really like…? series on Cardiff Mummy Says, this week eight mums share their experiences of having ‘two under two’ – two children born within two years of each other. The good, the bad and everything in between.

My own experience of having 21 months between my first two children was wonderful… but chaotic too.

I loved that Little Miss E, now 7, and Little Man O, 5½ , were close in age and all kinds of cute together. I loved hanging out with the two of them, at home, on days out, at toddler groups. I loved that I soon got them into a routine where they’d both nap for two hours at lunch time, meaning that I got some downtime in my life as a stay-at-home mum. In hindsight, I loved that our days weren’t bound by pre-school or school drops offs and pick-ups, as they were when my third child, Toddler Boy I, came along when his big brother was 2½ and his sister was 4¼.

However, it wasn’t easy at times. Breastfeeding a newborn and potty training a toddler was challenging. As were the times when both were crying and I didn’t know who to help first. I also felt guilty that my second child didn’t get to the baby classes that my first did, and that neither of them got any real one-to-one time with me. But then I think of the relationship they have as siblings, and I know how lucky they are. They’re still very close, as indeed they are with Toddler, and I hope that lasts as they grow up.

Are you a parent of two under two? How do these mums’ experiences compare with yours? Do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy



Kelly Allen of Kelly Allen Writer is mum to George, 7, and Molly, 6. There’s 15 months between them. 

two under two

What was it like in the initial early days caring for a newborn and a toddler?

The early days were extremely hard work! I remember feeling tired a lot of the time. We lived in Birmingham when Molly was born, so close to my parents who would visit and help out when they could, but my Dad was terminally ill too, so it was difficult. The strange thing was they seemed to always be on their best behaviour and super calm around him, like they knew he was poorly. I remember juggling daytime naps for George with a tiny baby and George was of an age where he was constantly bumping into things and catching bugs. I think I was lucky as Molly was a good a sleeper – not through the night, but not as manic as George. George would never sleep and would cry all the time. He was very unsettled and so I think it would have been so much harder the other way around.

Any particular challenging moments?

George once locked me out of our old house, and I remember looking through the window at him and Molly and they were just sobbing. I called for help, the police told me to smash the windows (they were in front of the windows!) and in the end I ‘broke in’ through a window. I look back and laugh about it now, but it was so scary. I also remember things like having one in a carrier and one in my arms or in a pushchair, or trying to breastfeed and play, and George pulling my boob out of Molly’s mouth. I remember when she first came home with us he thought she was a doll and he kept getting infuriated that her eyes wouldn’t shut when she lay down… he tried poking them a few times! We couldn’t leave them alone in a room together for a while in the beginning, he’d rock her crib so hard it would fall over (she wasn’t in it!) so we had to be very careful. I think it was quite hard on him in the beginning, he was used to it just being him.

What are the best bits?

The majority of the time they are best friends. They play together, discuss things, make things, laugh big belly laughs together, and even when they fight they make up and it’s really beautiful. Molly is a huge cuddle-bum, always looking for hugs and George often resists (he’s not a big hugger) but as he’s getting older he is resisting her less. I love it when one of them will fetch the other one’s favourite teddy if they’re hurt or sad. They have a lot of fun together – it’s beautiful to see.

two under two

Any advice for other parents?

Be kind to yourself and to them. They’re going to fight, they’re going to have wonderful times, but they’ll always have each other, a bit like having a best friend. Don’t expect miracles and just enjoy being together. It will be worth the exhaustion in the long run!


Deb from My Boys Club is mum to Ollie, 9,and Ben, 7. There’s 23½ months between them.

two under two

What was it like in the initial early days caring for a newborn and a toddler?

There are two years between me and my sister so I always thought of two years as a perfect age gap. It wasn’t until we announced our second pregnancy when people commented ‘oh, such a small gap’ that I even questioned it. My boys are now aged 9 (Ollie) and 7 (Ben). There is an age gap of 23 and a half months, but as the youngest is very tall for his age, many people think they are twins. They are definitely not.

I sometimes shudder at how ‘old’ I expected the eldest to be when he was not even 2. Bless him, he learnt to go to the toilet by himself, walk with me, as opposed to being in the single pushchair we had, eat without being spoon-fed, but it’s helped him become a very independent young boy who also cares a lot about his brother. I did always wonder though how people coped with three young ones, with two I had a hand for each when crossing roads etc.

What are the best bits?

The best part about a close age gap is that they can be best friends – and still are. Even though they are now 9 and 7 they still share a bedroom and haven’t asked for it to be any other way. They share toys, clothes friends and out of school activities – making our life so much easier too.

Any challenging parts?

Apart from being tired, and that’s probably no different no matter what the gap is, I don’t really have any negatives. The gap is the only one I know and it made it a lot easier for family days out once they were both past the nappy stage etc. The fact that they are both boys with the same interests, like watching the same TV show and read the same books may also assist us, but maybe it’s that way because they are so close.

Many of my friends also have children with the same age gap, many with children the same age so I think nothing of having two under two years of age.


Donna of What The Redhead Said is mum to Athena, 5, and Troy, 3, who were born 20 months apart

Two under two

I have two children – Athena and Troy – who are 20 months apart. We aimed to have them two years apart but it happened a little quicker than we expected – with me returning from maternity leave already pregnant again!

When Troy first came along I found life pretty exhausting and relentless. Athena was still in nappies and she’d only just learnt to walk a couple of weeks before. It felt like I was constantly feeding, changing nappies and trying to put one of them down for a nap. The first six months were definitely the hardest and I remember them as purely a blur of survival.

But, by the time Troy was a year old, Athena was potty trained and starting nursery, I felt like we had the balance back and we were enjoying our family more. Now, with the children being five and three life is great. The children adore each other, are so close and the age gap is hardly noticeable. If you’re thinking about having a small age gap I would say to go for it – it is undoubtedly hard but it is so, so worth it – and the sooner you can get the older one potty trained the better!


Becky of Spirited Puddle Jumper is mum to Freddie (6) and daughter Sasha (5 in May), and there is a 15 month gap between them

Two under two

What was it like in the initial early days caring for a newborn and a toddler?

I actually found initial early days with a newborn and just-walking baby/toddler okay – Sasha was a chilled out baby and a good sleeper, so I found it relatively easy. It definitely got harder when she turned one and started walking. Trips to the park could be hard work, having to chase after two toddlers going in different directions!

What were/are the best bits?

You’re still doing ‘baby bits’ so are in the baby zone – you are already used to two lots of nappy changes, nap times (coordinating these was a godsend!), possibly lack of sleep and early starts. Having another newborn over a year later wasn’t a big shock. They still like doing lots of the same things and are at similar stages – holidays/trips out are easy to plan as a result. They share lots of toys and are instant playmates (although this does bring fighting and bickering too!). They are only one school year apart and I think this has really benefited Sasha, as when Freddie was in reception she wanted to learn to read and write too, so already had a head start when she joined in September as she knew a lot already. I lost baby weight quickly second time around as I was so busy running after the two of them!

Any particular challenging moments?

The most challenging moments involved the double buggy and public transport in London, where I live. I refused to stay in so went out and about all the time, so had to really plan logistics of days out and find where lifts were, large toilets with changing facilities as both would need changing. Quite hard work looking back but I liked to be kept busy and do lots with them. Organisation was key!

Also, feeling exhausted from running around after both of them, possibly not hugely enjoying the baby stage second time around as didn’t get time to and novelty had worn off- I feel I missed out a lot on Sasha being a baby without realising it. Lots of bickering now- definitely a ‘can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other’ scenario! Expense of having two in nappies at the same time.


Mum of four Hannah of The Simple Things has been a mum to two under/just over two three times!

There are 16 months between James and Lilly, 26 months between Lily and Amy and 25 months between Amy and Ava.

Two Under Two

What was it like in the early days caring for a newborn and a toddler?

In the very early days with James and new-born Lily we coped better than I imagined we would. James still napped during the day so when Lily arrived I still had a little bit of ‘me’ time when they both napped at the same time which was so important. It was exhausting, (and still is at points!) but we adapted so quickly. They are really close now, and we went on to have two more children, with a slightly bigger gap!

When Amy and Ava arrived (in 2013 and 2015) we already had a routine although some days felt like organised chaos. In some ways it was easier than having one child as we had a good routine and they always had something to watch or listen to.

Any particularly challenging moments?

One day I will never forget is the one day I decided to go to soft play on my own with an 8 week old baby and 18 month old toddler. James wanted to play in the area for older children instead of the toddler area (like toddlers do!), and tiny baby Lily desperately wanted a bottle. I remember trying to hold Lily with one arm and pin the bottle under my chin, while trying to rescue and console a crying toddler (a few times) from the middle of soft play. I think that moment scarred me as I didn’t go back for months!

What are the best bits?

I think the best parts of having two children close in age is their friendships & similar interests, it’s easy to find activities that can be done together. The younger ones learn so much though play with their old siblings, and the older ones are still happy to pretend play and encourage the littlest to join in.

I think from a parent’s prospective, it’s nice to have the baby years all together. We have had a baby (or expected a baby) for the last seven years and we never really got out of the nappies/noisy toys/messy mealtimes/sleepless nights. We are just getting past that stage now, and if we had passed that stage before having more children, I’m not sure I could have gone back!

What advice would you give to other parents?

Choose your battles. Toddlers can really be demanding and when you have a newborn to care for too, life is chaotic. If they want to wear their wellies and winter hat in the glorious sunshine, let them. If they want to carry their backpack on their front and their coat as a cape, it won’t hurt – except maybe your ears if you don’t let them!

The other thing I would advise anyone to try babywearing. Having two free hands for a toddler is amazing and new-borns love being close so they are usually happier and more settled too, win-win. There are so many of different baby carriers out there and it’s worth doing some research to find something comfortable for you and baby. I used a stretchy baby wrap & a woven wrap when they were tiny babies and I still carry my toddler in a Tula now.


Debbie of An Organised Mess had three under two! There’s 22 months between Seren, now 8, and twins Tom and Seb, 6

two under two

What were the early days like, as parents to a toddler and newborn twins?

It took us so long to conceive, that when deciding to have another child I may have ignored the midwife’s advice and anticipated conception taking a while. Once again I found out why midwives are experts in their field. We conceived quickly and realised that we’d have children with a close age gap. What we didn’t anticipate was being pregnant with twins and, as is commonly the case, our twins arrived at 36 weeks due to complications.

Our daughter, Seren, was 22 months old when Tom and Seb arrived. And so began a journey that saw us move over 200 miles to find our balance. Now, six years later, our lives are predominately joyful. Having three children close in age has made the tightest of bonds. Any concerns I might have considered that my daughter would be left out due a twin bond are so far from the truth. The boys are tight, but Seren is always one of two in any alliance.

Recognising achievements was important. I was more confident second time around, so I tried to find all the places to go to get out of the house. Whether this was play sessions at our community centre or to the park, or just a supermarket shop and a bonus cup of coffee. Some days we wouldn’t make it out of the house, and Seren would do laps of the garden to burn some energy, but they’d still be achievements – fed, bathed, happy.

Any particularly challenging moments?

When the boys were 10 weeks I went to hospital with Tom for an ultrasound and we were immediately admitted. The following day we were transferred to a hospital 70 miles away for a week whilst Tom had surgery. Every favour had to be called in as my husband (who is a stay at home dad) was working to cover my maternity leave, with Seb and Seren at home.

My confidence was completely knocked, and we realised the lack of a local support network was going to be a challenge.

I learned over the weeks and months that followed to just say ‘yes’ to offers of support. And this was the toughest lesson to learn yet the easiest one to benefit from. It’s more common not to have a support network around you, but everyone who offered to hold a baby, watch a toddler whilst I was feeding was welcomed and we found our happy again. It was never easy trying to figure out how to change a nappy or carry a coffee with three little ones, but somehow good people just appeared.

Finding a playschool which would take Seren when she was 2.5 for a couple of afternoons was a blessing, especially in overcoming any mummy guilt that she wasn’t socialising with children her own age (the joy of mummy guilt!).

I will say it’s difficult. Others will seem to be breezing it, and that’s fine. I’m me, and I struggled at times.

The children starting school was our turning point. Until then you seem to live your life around the seasons, and curse every rainy day for creating new bouts of cabin fever.

What are the best bits?

The challenges are completely outweighed with every smile, every milestone, every cuddle. As they grow, and they become aware of each other, and the bonds grow, I love having children so close in age. I love that Seren is firmly the boss of the boys, and so cleverly that they don’t even know what she’s up to. The transition to school, to swimming classes, to Beavers is so easy when there’s an older sibling to hand. To create the envy of the place where it’s at. And I love that they’ve never known any different, there was definitely no adjustment needed. Seren really can’t remember life without two brothers.

We are fortunate, but like most things in life, you have to be tested along the way to really appreciate it.


Amy of Everything Mummy is mum to Maisy, 6, Bella, 5 and Lottie, 3. There’s 13 months between the eldest two and 26 months between the youngest

two under two

The initial days are a bit of a sleep deprived blur. It was a very busy time for us and although sleep wasn’t regular I didn’t find it that stressful; I quite enjoyed it.

Now with another child added in and my two eldest at school I would say I find this stage harder, with constant school runs, groups, play dates while trying to juggle home and work life finding the balance can be tough.

The best part is watching them all growing so close as they get older. They’re like a group of best friends (when they want to be).

My advice for other parents is be prepared, have things ready to hand i.e wipes, nappies, fresh clothes – you’ll get through them in abundance. Also try and establish a routine. Syncing naps will keep you sane.


Suzanne of Inside, Outside And Beyond had two daughters 18 months part. They’re now 15 and 16. She also has a son, 12.

Two Under Two

My first baby was a surprise, my second one was an even bigger surprise! I’m not quite sure where we were during the sex education classes at secondary school but let’s just say I was very fertile and we clearly weren’t paying much attention! I’ll be honest here – when I discovered that I was pregnant for a second time, I was fairly devastated. That might sound awful but I just didn’t feel ready to have another baby – I already had one!

I will never forget the advice that my mum gave me, as I cried on her shoulder at the thought of depriving my firstborn of babyhood, “Your eldest will have had 18 months of undivided attention from her parents, your subsequent children will never get that – she’s actually very fortunate!” This really helped me get things into perspective, as well as remembering that an 18 month old toddler is very different to a 9 month old baby.

So yes, I had two children just under 18 months old when my second baby arrived 1 week early. I’m not going to deny that it was tricky at times and being two girls, they were often in competition with one another. One minute they would be best of friends and the next minute, fighting over the very toy that had kept them both amused for hours just the day before.

One of the benefits of having children close together is that keeping them amused was relatively easy – they enjoyed the same TV programmes, pastimes, toys and friendships. The sleepless nights were confined to the first five years of parenthood (I had a third baby 2 years 9 months later!) and clothes were still in fashion when handed down. Now that my girls are teenagers of 15 and 16, there remain pros and cons but I wouldn’t change our family in any way. They still share (and fight) over the same things but now it’s make-up, friends and clothes! One thing that hasn’t changed over the years: hearing them giggling over the same joke and sharing secrets together, makes my mummy heart soar.

Are you a parent of two under two? How do these mums’ experiences compare with yours? Do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy

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