How To Keep Two Babies Alive When You’re The Only Parent Home: A Step-By-Step Guide
If you have two (or more) children under the age of two, evening rituals can be a circus even if you have two parents at home. When you’re the only one around (especially if you are a member of the species of superhero known as ‘single parents’) things can go off the rails faster than you can say ‘PLEASE STOP EATING YOUR BROTHER’S FACE’. Here’s how to keep things on track when you’re trying to keep two kids alive, fed, clean, and rested while you’re on your own.
Step 1: Lower Your Expectations
You’re used to cooking your kids a homemade meal every night that includes a protein source, two vegetables (one starchy, one not), and a fruit. Normally, the kids are in bed with visions of organic sugarplums dancing in their heads by 7:30 sharp. That can all still happen even when you’re flying solo, right? Ha. Hahaha! Haha. Your innocence is heartwarming.
Technically anything is possible, but let’s be realistic. Small children can sense weakness, which is how they always manage to poop right when the doorbell rings or when the dog has just vomited breakfast on the floor. They know that you’re outnumbered, and they will do their best to destroy you (or at least, your household, your possessions, and your sanity).
It’s okay. You don’t have to meet the FDA’s recommended daily value of Vitamin A, you just have to get food into your kids. You don’t have to have a bubble bath singalong, you just need to make sure that today’s breakfast isn’t still crusted behind their ears before they go to preschool tomorrow morning. Aim low, my friends, aim low.
Step 2: Feeding
If your kids are eating table food, this isn’t so bad: throw enough food in front of each of them to keep them occupied long enough for you to scarf your own meal. When I say ‘enough’, I don’t mean ‘a properly sized portion for a child of this age’. I mean ‘a properly sized portion plus enough for him to throw on the ground to watch the dog eat, plus some more to smear in his hair and ears, plus a little leftover for fingerpainting on the high chair tray’. This should give you just about enough time to eat, especially if you’re good at swallowing meatballs without chewing them, like a snake.
If your kids are still bottle-fed, 1.) I’m sorry, and 2.) good luck. You have a few options here:
- Do a lot of weightlifting ahead of time to make sure your arms are strong enough to hold a bottle in two kids’ faces at the same time.
- Feed one kid at a time, while apologizing profusely to the furious baby who can see her sibling getting a bottle.
- Tie a bottle to the dog’s collar and hope for the best.
Step 3: Bath
Here your options open up a bit. You can try putting both kids in the bath at the same time, if trying to drown each other isn’t yet one of their hobbies; you can invest in some miniature life-jackets; or you can lie to your partner when they finally get home and say that yes, you gave the kids a bath every night, and no, you don’t know why they smell like a hot dog that’s been left in the sun for a fortnight.
It’s not physically possible to dry two small children off at the same time and get them both into diapers and pajamas, so enjoy having a gleeful, tiny, naked person hitting you with a damp towel while you tend to his sibling.
Step 4: Bedtime
If you have un-wiggly kids, you may be able to cram them both on your lap long enough to read a bedtime story. Otherwise, I suggest continuing the ‘let Kid #2 wreak havoc on the room until you finish with Kid #1’ technique. Caution: this may lead to bedtime stories like the following:
Once upon a time HONEY PUT THAT DOWN there was a princess who NO NO NO lived in a faraway WHAT DID I JUST SAY land with her favorite DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE.
For some reason, bedtime stories may not work as well to make the children drowsy when read this way.
Step 5: The Last Resort
Look, two or more kids basically means you have a spare. Pick your favorite kid, or flip a coin, and spend what’s left of your failing energy to keep that one alive. Your spouse will understand, especially if they’ve ever been the one left alone overnight with the kids.