How To Survive Having a Newborn and a Toddler

Several people have messaged me and asked if I have any tips on how to adjust to life with a newborn and a toddler. Disclaimer: I’m only six weeks in to this chaos, so I have loads to learn. (Don’t worry, I will keep you posted.) Disclaimer 2: this is just my experience.

For now, let’s chat about life so far. My new normal is anything but organized. In fact, it usually just feels like a total disaster. 24 hours a day since July 17th, I’m juggling several humans both literally and figuratively. I’ve been vocal about the type of kid Charlie is. She’s loud, active, hypersensitive, and high maintenance. To put it bluntly, she totally exhausts every emotion I have. She just turned two, and she is in full toddler mode. (The toddler mode that melts down because she can’t fit two pacifiers in one pocket.) So, in addition to having the personality that she has, she is also a typical toddler: irrational and unstable. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was already fearing the worst. Well, ladies and gentlemen: here we are. At the worst.

I’m told that the first few months with a newborn and toddler are the hardest and my gosh I hope that’s true. Not only do I have a newborn that wakes up every couple hours to eat at night, but I also have a two year old who is waking up in the middle of the night…every night… again. Then comes the morning. (What is morning even- because I have been up for like two months…?) In the morning, I am changing two diapers, throwing apple sauce pouches at people, nursing Lincoln, getting G ready for school, and then trying to get everyone in the stroller or car. Then, I’m home with the two littles all day by myself. More toddler meltdowns. More messes. More time I don’t know how to adequately divide between the two needy ones.

All day I feel like I’m agonizing over a house I can’t keep tidy (much less CLEAN), keeping Lincoln where Charlie can’t hit him with a wooden spoon or feed him a raisin (both were actual events), feeling guilty that I don’t have the undivided attention to stimulate Charlie, and daydreaming about having good hygiene, more sleep, and time to work on my blog. By the time we load everyone back up to go get Grayson from school and get back home, it’s nearly witching hour, which is typically when I mentally plan a Gone Girl-esque escape. Then, Tyler gets home. We try to get everyone fed and (sometimes) bathed by a decent time. We look around at the house that’s still a disaster. I realize my hair STILL isn’t washed and, oh yeah, my work for this week is STILL piling up. But, hey- I’m exhausted and I just want to go to sleep. Choosing to go to sleep isn’t even gratifying because I know I will be up most of the night feeding a newborn and listening to the maddening whining from a toddler. I want to be the wine mom, but I honestly can’t afford to be any more sleepy than I already am, so that’s even out.

I won’t mince words, this is the most difficult season of my life so far. I have no patience left. I have no energy left. I have very little motivation. This gig is not for the weak in spirit. I desperately think Charlie needs the structure and stimulation of part time pre-school, but I can’t afford it. I often wonder if I’m the only one who is having such a hard time. Why am I not Mary Poppins Mother Nature like some of the other moms I see around social media?

So, how do I survive having a newborn and a toddler? Here’s the long awaited answer.

I barely am. I don’t know exactly how I am. I just am.

I’m getting up every day with zero expectations. I’m drinking copious amounts of coffee. I’m napping anytime both babies are actually asleep at the same time. I’m surrendering to the fact that life is extremely hard right now and there isn’t much I can do about it. I’m trying to remember that I am only one person and I can’t possibly do it all. I’m trying to enjoy the memories while also wishing time would pass faster. If you’ve never been a mom in the trenches, you will never understand that feeling, but it’s not a good one. My days are riddled with frustration and guilt. I can’t tell you that (for me) this time is easy, because (for me) it isn’t.

I want to keep the conversation open and talk more about this in the days and weeks to come, so I hope you will follow along.

One thing that is saving some of my sanity is my Uppa Baby Vista Stroller (gifted to me by the brand). I started walking Grayson to school every morning with the babies in the stroller instead of fighting to get everyone in the car without tears or someone running into traffic. It’s been helpful to have that time in the morning to get outside in the sun and cool air, get some endorphins flowing, and have the little ones restrained in one place. (Ha!) I love the bassinet attachment for Lincoln. It’s so easy to keep him swaddled and lay him down in it. Charlie loves her seat and can’t wait for her morning ride every day. If you are in the market for the best of the best in strollers, you won’t regret going with Uppa Baby. When Linc gets a little older, we will switch out his bassinet for the rumble seat. This stroller has a ton of room in the bottom basket (so important), is super easy to steer, and honestly is a luxury to use. I highly recommend it and I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to try it out.

If you’re ahead of me in the mom game- how are you doing it? Do you have a close age difference in your children? I will take ALL the advice. If you are like me and don’t know what you are doing at all… solidarity, sister.

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  • Reply
    Meghan Culpepper
    August 31, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    I am right there with you mama! I have a 2 year old and 2 week old, and I keep saying I am just in survival mode right now. Definitely the hardest season of my life so far. Exhausted is an understatement, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve heard it gets easier when the youngest is around 3-4 months. Here’s to hoping that’s true!! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Kate…you just brought back such vivid raw memories back to me. I know I’m not in the thick of it anymore, but your honesty and simply sharing your voice is truly comforting to so many. Wish I had you years ago. Hang in there mama you’re doing beautifully just the way you are, but you’re right it’s truly mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting ❤️

    • Reply
      Angela Snidow
      July 7, 2020 at 10:54 pm

      Mine will be 22 months apart. I’m 21 weeks along with our second and my “taby” is 17 months. She’s more of a toddler but still has baby moments of needing to be held but is a spit-fire, fully independent, and is ball of energy! I, like others, googled how to live with a newborn and toddler. I’m seeing that getting my toddler to sleep on her own is a must! We have bed shared since she was 3 months. (I nursed and dream feeding was her thing.) I think that the first few months I will invest in a housekeeper to help keep life tidy and use my local Y for a break or two. Hoping I don’t fall apart but looking forward to those sweet moments they’ll have.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I feel you, mama! My kiddos are 22 months apart. Now they are 4(girl) and 2(boy). So so many of the things have gotten easier. Really once my youngest was mobile (thank heavens he walked at 10 months!) things were so so much easier!!! There are still more messes than I can clean. There are still days when I have to give one kid more of me than the other- usually sick days. Then there are the days when they play and imagine and create and hug and love and put on little shows for me that they have created together. I don’t know if this is an option where you are, but we joined our local YMCA. They have wonderful childcare! I can go and walk or take a class or take a shower for that matter for two hours WITHOUT my kids!!!! My branch also has an option to drop and go and it’s way cheaper than a sitter!!! Maybe something for you to look into? It has seriously been a lifesaver for me! I think this motherhood gig is hard forever, but I think it does change and get easier.


  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Mine are 24 months and almost 5 months. It got easier at about 4 months and it seems like everyday is easier now. I also rely on zero expectations daily and the more relaxed I am, I feel like they are easier to deal with. Much love and just know you’re not alone!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    My kids are 21 months apart in age and are right now 3 and 16 months old. It is ROUGH (still)! Thankfully, we finally got our toddler sleep issues figured out so our three year old is sleeping through the night and going to bed early (which was a battle for MONTHS AND MONTHS) but our youngest isn’t sleeping through the night yet. It’s all brutal! I’m sure it’s gotten easier but for me, it’s still really, really hard dealing with two kids so close in age. They both need so much from me at all times! They have started playing together really recently, though, so that’s given me a few minutes ‘break’ and has also provided some cute moments! Hang in there, I’m told it gets easier!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    I hear you, been there and now have a 5 year old and two year old and it’s much much easier 😉 we’ve contemplated a third but don’t think I’m cut for it! Well done mama! My saving grace has always been to baby wear in those early month. It really does help with so much. And let go of the house, even though I struggle with messes and a untidy home, it really doesn’t need to be perfect.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    I have a 3 week old and a 17 month old, so I feel your pain! Because of the craziness I decided not to breastfeed, and for me that has made all the difference because my husband can take a feeding at night. Maybe you could pump so your husband can take one night feeding as well? Anything to catch a little more sleep, because being sleep deprived makes everything harder. Sorry it’s so hard, but also glad to know I’m not alone!!

  • Reply
    Meg O.
    September 1, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    You are a rockstar, girlfriend. I know it’s soooo tough with a newborn and a toddler. Those days were so rough on me, particularly because I was working full-time out of the house on top of that. It’s completely exhausting. Add another kid on there, and I know your head is spinning. Love you and just know you are rocking this 3 kid thing!!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Just found your post while googling “how to survive a newborn and toddler” and it was truly a comfort! I’m 5 weeks into the chaos and trying very hard to expect nothing of myself until the baby sleeps through the night. It sounds like I don’t have it near as hard as you did because at least my toddler is sleeping through the night and the baby gets a good 5-6 hour stretch most nights. But it is still so difficult. I thrive on productivity and I’ve been stripped of that til further notice!

    Thanks for an honest post!

  • Reply
    Lauren Juchems
    March 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Newborn and 20 month old here! I too googled, “how to survive newborn with toddler” because I feel like I’m drowning! The house is a disaster and it feels like constant chaos. Reading your post and the comments really helped bring me to reality though and have helped to lower my expectations and to try and enjoy this season!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I have a 2 1/2 year old, 1 year old twins and a 13 year old. It’s rough. Juggling 13 year old activities and 3 littles. Wow! It’s gotten some easier…but not alot. I am constantly feeding littles, and changing diapers. Shower o ly time that happens is when they are all in bed at night. During the day isn’t gonna happen. I hope when twins are walking it gets easier. 2 year old melt-downs and not given enough attention to 2 year old…makes me feel guilty. I totally understand.

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