7AM to 7PM: Why Shawn Johnson East Says Having 2 Kids Under 2 Is Easier Than One

Johnson-East Family

Shawn Johnson East

Parents don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—we work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from the moment our kids wake up until they go to sleep. This is an unfiltered look at a few days in the life of Shawn Johnson East, Olympic gold medalist gymnast, wife, and mom of two.

You probably know Shawn Johnson East as the pint-sized gymnast who stole our hearts in the 2008 Olympics. It was that year when she won the gold medal on the balance beam, and three additional silver medals. 

But since retiring from gymnastics in 2012, she’s focused on her personal life, putting “wife” and “mom” before “Olympian.” She married professional athlete, Andrew East, in 2016, and then they had two children.

Her daughter, Drew Hazel East, was born on October 29, 2019. She loved her new role as mom, so East and her husband jumped back into trying for a second. “We expected to try for a baby and it to take a while, not [happen on] the first try,” she says. Their son, Jett James East, was born on July 19, 2021.

Having two under two has been challenging for the couple, who shares intimate details of their lives on social media, their YouTube page, and on their "Couple Things" podcast.

“When I was pregnant with my daughter, back then, I had no idea what I was doing as a parent. I had never babysat, I had never even changed a diaper, which is crazy to think. I'm about 2,000 diapers in now,” East laughs.

After giving birth in July of 2021, East admits the second time around is a bit easier. “I feel great,” East says. “It's definitely not without its ups and downs. I cry all the time. Not in a dramatic way, but it's just what comes with being a mom.”

When I was pregnant with my daughter, back then, I had no idea what I was doing as a parent. I had never babysat, I had never even changed a diaper, which is crazy to think. I'm about 2,000 diapers in now.

East says she does feel like two is easier than one, especially since her children are close in age. “One just turns your life upside down,” East says. “With two, you've been doing it, you know how to do it, now you've just got two. Everybody put the fear of God in me having two under two. But I actually don't think it's harder.”

What also makes it easier this time is that both children are in similar phases. “I have two babies," she shares. "I'm still changing diapers, I'm still doing sleep schedules and bottles, and it's nothing foreign to us because we're still in the thick of it. I think having a second that young has been kind of fun for us.”

Shawn Johnson East

Shawn Johnson East

East has been open about her struggles with body image, postpartum hormones, and difficulties in her marriage. “People prepare you for everything baby-related but nothing personal,” she says. “Everyone tries to paint this picture that a baby is the most beautiful gift you're ever going to be given and as soon as you have your baby, you're going to be so happy.”

East says it’s not always the fairytale that some people make it out to be. “They don't tell you, ‘Oh, you should really watch out for postpartum depression,’ or your body changing. Why did nobody tell me you get bald spots on your head after having a child? I remember after my daughter, there was so much changing, and I was in this identity crisis phase of trying to learn how to be a mom and let go of what I used to be.”

Why did nobody tell me you get bald spots on your head after having a child? I remember after my daughter, there was so much changing, and I was in this identity crisis phase of trying to learn how to be a mom and let go of what I used to be.

East’s fans have celebrated her realness, and openness in talking about her struggles in a public way. “There's a lot of tension on your marriage because there's really no time for [your spouse] at the beginning,” she admits. “You're trying to figure out how to parent together and it's a lot. My husband and I struggled—not in a dramatic way, not like things were on the verge of ending way—but we struggled. We struggled to connect, we struggled to understand who each other was as a parent because it does change your identity."

She admits that with her second, she knew that she was going to feel a bit isolated from friends and family—even more so because of the pandemic—and that her social life would probably be non-existent for a while. “Going into the second, it was like, ‘Oh, I'll see my friends and a few months, I'll see my husband in a couple of months.’ You're more aware of it so it's easier to digest.”

Follow along during a few days in the life of Shawn Johnson East, as she sends her toddler to multiple activities, breastfeeds or pumps for her infant every couple of hours, and finds time to stop by the farmer’s market with her husband.

Monday

7 a.m. I’ve been awake for an hour at this point. I feel like this is a mom superpower—trying to do this calculus equation all the time, trying to figure out what the daily schedule is.

Right now, Jett sleeps until 6 a.m., which is incredible. He goes to bed at 10 p.m. and he sleeps until 6 a.m. I wake up at 6 a.m. with Jett. I'll feed him, and I put a bottle on for Drew. She still takes a morning bottle, which is hysterical because she takes almond milk or oat milk. She's very bougie. I warm her milk in our Philips Avent warmer. [Editor's note: Shawn Johnson East is a brand ambassador for Philips Avent.]

I feed Jett, and get him ready for the day. Then, I pump. I usually do one pumping session in the morning just to see if there's any extra from the night that I can store. I put that in the freezer for date nights or whatever.

By the time I'm done, my daughter is waking up at 7 a.m. I take her bottle up to her, change her, and bring her downstairs. We eat breakfast and entertain the baby. We do some wake time, and he'll go back to sleep. She gets ready for preschool.

9 a.m. Drew’s preschool starts and so does our workday. Drew is hyperactive, and she is the most social baby I've ever met in my entire life. I would keep her home all day every day if I could, but it's just not in her best interest. She needs stimulation. We [send her to] preschool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for a half-day.

I was really nervous to put my daughter into a preschool of any kind, especially with the notoriety she has. She's on social media a lot, just given what we're doing. I was very protective.

Her preschool has a curriculum—she goes to music class and she gets to work on geography. It sounds like a joke for a 1-year-old, but she loves it. She comes home and tells me all about it.

At 9 a.m., our babysitter arrives to help with Jett. I work from home from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. Within that time period I'm either pumping or nursing every two and a half hours right now, which is crazy.

12 p.m. We work from home so we're crossing paths with our babies all day. I really didn't think I was going to have massive babies. I don't know why, I thought maybe we'd meet in the middle, but nope, we got massive babies. They are half my size already!

4 p.m. We take both kids back 100% from the babysitter. We do some playtime and then we have dinner.

Johnson East Family

Shawn Johnson East

As an adult, you make reservations for dinner at like 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m., and then you have a kid and it's back to 5 p.m. dinner. We have this fantasy of wanting to sit down as a family and eat dinner, which is absolutely impossible with a toddler.

5:30 p.m. Dinner is usually 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., which is funny because as an adult, you make reservations for dinner at like 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m., and then you have a kid and it's back to 5 p.m. dinner. We have this fantasy of wanting to sit down as a family and eat dinner, which is absolutely impossible with a toddler.

6:45 p.m. Our bedtime routine starts. My daughter will get her nighttime bottle—I say bottle, but it's her sippy cup or whatever. We do a bath and a bedtime [routine], which [involves] reading books and putting her into bed.

7 p.m. Jett gets a bath, nurses at 7 p.m., and goes down to bed. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m, my husband and I will try to relax—we'll try to talk and have a conversation or play a game. We usually end up just cuddling and watching TV or something. Let’s be honest, we might go to bed at 8 p.m. We try to have some husband-and-wife time at night—really get some quality time in before we start it all over with the kiddos the next day.

Tuesday

9 a.m. After getting both kids fed and changed in the morning, Drew heads to gymnastics camp.

I swore I wouldn't put my daughter in gymnastics, but the owner of the gym is a really close friend of ours and I trust her with my life and my baby's life. And I was like, “Well, this is the safest place for me to take her." And so she does a “mom's day out” type of camp where Drew gets to go and run around the gym, jump on the trampoline, and play in the pit and play in sandboxes. It's awesome for her, and she loves it.

3 p.m. We try to do activities with our daughter. They're doing a lot of farmer's markets now and a lot of stuff outside, which we've been trying to attend. We went to an outdoor movie screening recently. We do a lot of those types of things.

7 p.m. Something that [my husband and I] have chosen to do—we did it with our daughter and we do it now with our son—instead of having a crib in our room and disrupting both of [us while we] sleep, we actually have a bed in the nursery.

We alternate nights on who gets [to sleep in] the nursery. Right now, it's almost like the nursery is the better sleep. Jett is a dream baby. He is the easiest baby so far—we just love it. I do a dream feed at 10 p.m. and then get back into bed.

Thursday

7 a.m. Drew and Jett both have had their morning bottles, and I’m pumping. On Thursdays, Drew gets to be at home all day with us.

10 a.m. Drew is into colors right now, colors of every kind. She loves playing with markers. There's actually a little art class near us in Nashville—it's a toddler art class center. We'll go to the art class sometimes, or we'll go to the science center or the zoo or the park.

I'm not going to lie, some days she just loves watching a movie. She loves Elsa and “Frozen.”

9 p.m. After the kids are in bed, I’m finishing up some little details for my daughter’s birthday party and Halloween. We tried to ask her [what she wants to be for Halloween] the other day—her two favorite characters in the world right now are Elsa and Spider-Man. And she said Spider-Man.

She’s going to have a birthday party on October 30, and it's a costume party. Her birthday is October 29th. So probably half the day she will be Spider-Man and half the day she will be Elsa.

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