A great friend called to tell me she is pregnant. Her first baby is five months old. The children will be exactly a year apart. This was, she tells me happily, their plan.

Baby eating messy
'Your house won't be clean. Let it go' iStock


I wanted to lie down on the floor and be sick for her. The thought of having two babies so small fills me with clenching horror.

One teeny vulnerable mite, permanently attached to you, while a hulking great one year old (by comparison) tears the joint apart and dives into the toilets.

"Wonderful! How exciting."

Well no point in dwelling on it. So instead here is my seven-point plan to surviving very small kids.

Don't hate the father. It's appealingly easy to blame him for all of it: the sleeplessness, the mess, the permanent violation of your personal space, the trashing of your house and the lack of peace to shower. But if the kids divide and rule, they win. Stay on the same side and you have a fighting chance.

Lower your standards. Your house won't be clean. You won't be clean. Your plants will die. You won't send Christmas cards. Let it go.

Get a lot of help. Anyone who knows me is laughing because I've never managed all of our kids alone for any period of time. Exactly. That's because spending all your waking hours alone in a house with small children is the highway to madness. Get a granny, get a friend, get an au pair, get whatever you need to get by.

'Choose your essential escapes and make sure you do them' iStock

Make new friends. The people you never noticed when you worked are now more important than the guy who signs off annual bonuses. The lady in the shop who gives your toddler a sweet while they are trying to break the sound barrier. The postman who is cheerful and brings you stuff you need. And, most critically, the other local mums, who you'll still be depending on in 10 years' time.

Don't make up stupid rules. A couple we know decided that their kids should not spend time with anyone who didn't love them before they started school – so they both worked part-time and never got a babysitter. The dad now lives with his assistant from work.

Choose your sanity points. Choose your essential escapes and make sure you find a way to do them: haircuts, yoga, coffee, seven martinis after bookclub.

Be grateful. Smile and say thank you when old ladies tell you to treasure every moment "because these are the best days of your life". They are reminding you that one day this will be over and all you will remember is the sight of your babies sleeping in a shaft of sunlight.