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Ask Motherly: I’m about to have two kids under 2, during a pandemic—how do I do this?

Motherly's co-founders offer game-changing, life-changing advice for moms of two under 2 (because mama, we've been there).

two kids under two during pandemic
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Editor's note: Sometimes you just need input from an experienced mama who *gets* it. Ask Motherly is a new advice column by Motherly's co-founders, Liz Tenety and Jill Koziol. Have a question for Liz and Jill? Email it to us at askmotherly@mother.ly.

Do you have any tips for a smooth transition with a toddler and a baby during this pandemic?

Ah, two under 2. One of the most amazing, most exhausting seasons of life we're both ever experienced.

And you, my dear, are going to do it during a pandemic.

Have we told you lately you're our hero?

I (Liz) have four kids now, but adjusting to the demands of two under 2 was the hardest phase of parenting for me. At the stage you're in, your kids really do need so much attention, and 24/7 care. It's exhausting, but it's also beautiful and meaningful. Watching your oldest become a big sibling is absolutely incredible and there's really nothing better than all those little snuggles, kisses and cuddles that come along when they're really little.

But there are some habits that make the transition to two under 2 smoother.

Have a feeding game plan

Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, make sure you have some activities lined up for your toddler while you're feeding the baby. An activity center, a music set, even a set of blocks is enough to absorb your toddler's attention for 20 minutes while you sneak in your next feed. (And a little screen time can help if you need to distract your kiddo for a bit.) You'll want to make sure you have activity stations and diaper changing stations on every level of your home, if possible. Thinking ahead a bit before you begin a feed can go a long way to make the whole session less stressful.

Have a safe place to put the baby

You'll inevitably need to put your baby down to care for yourself or your toddler. Giving your kids time alone to entertain themselves might be novel for some mamas, but it's nothing to feel guilty about. We're obsessed with the BabyBjorn Bouncer Bliss as a safe, comforting spot to put the baby. (Read our full review here, and don't forget the toy bar!)

Babywearing is also a total game-changer when you have more than one kid. Motherly mamas are in love with the BabyTula Explore Carrier for good reason—you only need one, super-adjustable carrier from ages 0 to 3, and you can breastfeed, walk and snuggle baby (and more) while also keeping hands free for other activities.


Essential gear for the two under 2 phase

Baby Bjorn

Bliss Bouncer

$250

Tula

Explore Carrier

$179

Prioritize you

New motherhood is a grind. New motherhood with two under 2 is even grindy-er. Nothing feels better than getting an hour of quiet time, bath time or walk-around-the block time completely to yourself. Whether it's a luxurious hour to yourself watching Married At First Sight (guilty as charged!) or just a few minutes to call a friend and talk to a real live adult (who's not your partner), advocating for time to yourself is more important than ever. Meditation has been a lifesaver for me (try the Mindful Mamas app if you're looking for a mother-centered meditation approach).

Find a way to get help—whether virtually, co-quarantining or live-in care

We don't do a good job in caring for new mothers in ordinary times. So it's doubly important for you to find ways to advocate for yourself in this new pandemic parenthood. Having some form of help (virtual or real-life) lined up can be a lifesaver. From virtual lactation consultants, to asking your mother-in-law to quarantine and take a Covid test before meeting her new grandbaby, to finding a trusted family in your neighborhood to form a pod—in these strange times it's time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. You deserve the support of a full village, even now. Especially now.

Remember that good enough is good enough

Nothing will go exactly according to plan, especially during a pandemic. Celebrate your little victories along the way, because in the end, they're not little at all. They're the little moments that make big lifelong motherhood memories.

And give yourself a giant hug and pat on the back for rocking this wild season of life.

You've got this.

Jill + Liz

In This Article

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week? All things maternity fashion, mama.

Stowaway Collection Maternity: Modern maternity wear that shows off your bump.

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? Everything from the mama/daughter duo owned brand is sewn in Long Island City, NY and they source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

Superkin: High tech, low maintenance clothing designed for mamas.

Superkin's line of focused essentials (launched by two retail execs, Miriam Williams and Tara Henning, who worked for world-class brands like Louis Vuitton, Walmart, J.Crew and Narvar) are meticulously designed with the needs of mamas in mind. Made from luxurious, wear tested fabrics and featuring thoughtful design details, they've created a line of clothing women actually want to wear. Each piece is a welcome addition to a solid maternity capsule wardrobe, making them a worthy investment from the first trimester.

Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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