Multiples Arithmetic

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Categories humor, Infertility2 Comments

This is how I entertain myself.

I had an ob/gyn appt today and here’s how the conversation went with the nurse who was gathering my information:

Her: How many pregnancies have you had?
Me: 5.
Her: Any pregnancy losses?
Me: 3.
Her: How many live births?
Me: 4.
Her: Okay… wait, 5 pregnancies total and 3 losses?
Me: Yes.
Her: And how many live births?
Me: 4.
Her: Did any of those children pass away after birth?
Me: Nope.
Her: Something’s not adding up. How did you have 2 pregnancies that resulted in 4 live births?
Me: Two sets of twins.
Her: You could’ve just said that in the first place.
Me: I could have but where would the fun have been in that?

Something's not adding up. How did you have 2 pregnancies that resulted in 4 live births? #twinparenting Click To Tweet

I haven’t been blogging lately, but you can get another laugh by checking out “What good is being married to a computer geek if i can’t take advantage of him?” or cry with me at “The desperation of infertility“.

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Respecting Boundaries

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Categories Independence, Individuality, Mommy Issues, Older Children, Parenting, PerspectiveLeave a comment

Last night, I scrubbed the girls’ bathroom from top to bottom after tucking the children into bed. I then took a little break on the couch, eating a piece of chocolate while watching part of an episode of Turn on Netflix. Next to me lay my daughter’s sketchbook, closed. She had once again failed to put it away.

I was tempted to peek.

My daughter turns 10 in a few days and her artistic abilities are impressive. Her classmates commission drawings from her. She entertained a 4-year-old a waiting room for an hour the other day, drawing what the littler girl demanded: a ballerina performing on a stage in front of an audience. The perspective was spot on, the stage curtains elegant and heavy-looking, the dancer light on her feet. Some of the seats in the front row were empty, the audience members a mix of children and adults. The kid can draw, not professionally by any means, but well.

I am tempted to share her drawings with you.

I didn’t peek. I don’t share her drawings with you until I get her consent.

image

My daughters have boundaries and I choose to respect them. My little girl will let me leaf through her sketchbook when she is ready. She has shared some drawings with me but says I need to wait to see others.

I am allowed to hug her, but the bedtime kisses on the nose have been banned for a few months now. She was feeling poorly earlier this week and wanted snuggles. I forgot myself and kissed her on the top of her head, then apologized. “It’s okay,” she told me. “Feeling better kisses are okay.”

She shares with me her thoughts on school, life, family, and friendship. I feel like I know what’s going on with her.

She knows that I will respect her boundaries, despite temptation. This is how I keep boundaries from coming between us.

 

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Twins and another, and another

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Categories Fear, Pregnancy, Singletons, Twinfant Tuesday1 Comment

I realize a post about adding to your family when you already have multiples is probably better suited for the toddler section, and not ‘Twinfant Tuesday.’ I happen to agree that, if you’re smarter than I, you would probably not even dream of adding another baby to the mix anytime after surviving the first year with twin babies. Enough’s enough, amIright?

Ah, but what good comes with predictability? As twin moms, we all learned at one point or another to just give in, surrender, let the chips fall where they may and just try our best. So, when I stood in my bathroom looking at a positive pregnancy test over lunchtime, having left my husband downstairs feeding our twin 7-month-old identical girls and older 3-year-old, I was somewhat…gobsmacked. I felt a little like an irresponsible teenager: how did this HAPPEN? I was still pumping breastmilk five, six times a day! For two babies! Who just started sleeping through the night?

The numbers continued to perplex me: Three under three, four carseats, four little bodies growing and eating from my body at once (two nurselings, a fetus and my own). I was 26 years old, scared, overwhelmed and experiencing a new level of humble pie, faced with the prospect of another baby already.

That baby is two and a half now, and from the other side of that craziness (it was, no doubt about it, a chaotic time), I have some thoughts for moms of twins who are expecting another or thinking about it.

  1. Savour it. Chances are, your twin pregnancy was coloured in themes of panic, concern, fear, amazement and a sooner-than-expected delivery. This time, if it’s just one bean in there, slow down and take it all in.
  2. The guilt is real. Twins require so much of us from the very beginning. More than we felt they ever got, and not nearly as much as they deserve. Bringing another baby into the picture can spur guilt from the onset (it did for me!). Que cera cera. Your babies will know love from you, whether there are two of them, six of them, spaced apart or all born close together.
  3. You have veteran status. You have successfully brought two babies from birth to wherever they are now, and that was no easy feat. This is just one! You can do this! What’s one baby waking up hungry? Pssht, child’s play.

I promise, you’ve got this, mama. Now, if you’re the planner type, my advice is: Don’t rush to have a baby 16 months after twins! I mean, it’s doable, but oh, I still feel that time period aged me five years.woods2

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Travelling With Multiples

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Categories Ask the Readers, Preschoolers, School-Age, Toddlers, Travel3 Comments

Who else has Spring Fever??? So many people have been slammed with snow, us included, that I’m getting slightly tired of it…and it’s only February! Colorado had a rare 70 degree day yesterday and it got me thinking about our travel plans this Spring.

My family lives here in Colorado close to us. Special K’s family lives in Kansas. Google Maps says it takes 5.5 hours door to door.

We have four kids…we know this isn’t true…for us.

All in all, it takes us under 7 hours to get from our house to my in laws in the van. And we’re actually pretty good at handling it…both the kids and the grown ups. Here are some of my road trip survival tips with multiples (or with multiple children):

  1. Start them early.We began doing this trip when each child was about a month old. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it because now they are used to being in the car for long periods of time. You may be thinking, “thanks jerk, my kid is four, this tip is worthless.” Sorry! Read on, I have more up my sleeve. :)
  2. Plan ahead. Before we go on any trip that is longer than an hour, we plan for potty breaks and possible leg stretching breaks. We will alter our route to ensure that there are ample opportunities to walk and pee if necessary. If no one needs the break, we just cruise on by. We also pack snacks, diapers and extra clothes. These may seem like “duh” moments, but a few weeks ago we had a trip to the aquarium, which is just over an hour from our home. I packed snacks just in case, thinking we wouldn’t need them…but there was a HUGE car accident that left us sitting on the highway for about 45 minutes. If I hadn’t packed those snacks, there would have been an uprising! 3 of my kids are in diapers, so this seems like a silly thing to add to the list, but again, I always plan for more than I could possibly need, because I am terrified of running out. If it’s a day trip, I still bring at least one change of clothes because spills happen and diaper leaks happen and no one wants to sit in wet clothes!
  3. Leave right before nap time or bed.The bedtime one might be hard on the grownups if you’re cool like me and go to bed by 10, but it is soooo nice to have a quiet trip the whole way! Typically, we leave right before or right after lunch…that way, there is some activity in the car as a distraction (food), and then the littles have their nap afterwards. This can buy us anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours of silence.
  4. Pack comfort items.This is critical, especially on our long road trips to Gramma and Papas house. H still uses a binky, but we are strict that she only gets it for nap and bed time. The one exception to this rule is long road trips. It’s her way of soothing herself and if it keeps her happy, then we all are happy! M likes her monkey and her blanky…she gets those too. Whatever it is, even if you don’t pull it out unless you are desperate, bring it. It is way better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it (I’m talking one item per kid…don’t use this logic for the whole toy box!).
  5. Pack activities.My oldest is seven, so she can have things like a book or coloring pages. Sweet Pea also enjoys a folder of coloring pages. For this I simply print up free coloring pages that I find online, hole punch them and put them in a 3-ring binder. Each child also gets their own pencil box with crayons/washable markers. I get some of the free coloring pages from PBS Kids and others from my favorite mom bloggers. Do a little looking on Google and you can find a whole lot of free goodies! As for the Twinkies, I simply pack some toys that they haven’t seen or played with in a while.
  6. Electronics. I know, I know…they are young and electronics are so pervasive, but seriously, it is a seven. hour. car. ride. We have a Kindle Fire, kids version, that has an account for M&M and Sweet Pea, as well as a dual monitor DVD player that the Twinkies use to watch shows and movies. The kids only get such electronics in the car for our long haul trips, which keeps them special…and highly effective.

Now for the fun part. We just booked a trip to visit my Grammy in Florida this May. YAY! Here’s the kicker…we’re flying. The Twinkies are 2, so they need their own tickets now. Okay okay, even if they weren’t two, I would buy them their own seats because who wants to have a wiggly kid on their lap for 6 hours? Not me! Only M&M has been on a plane…my three littles are total newbies.

So what did I do? I read about 3715 blog posts on how to travel with toddlers on airplanes, but none of them really addressed the issue of multiples. Three of my children are under the age of four, and all of them are in diapers. I know that this will be challenging. Thankfully, some of my above tips can be modified for the airplane, but I’m still wondering how to manage this?

Here’s our current plan:

We have two flights with a nearly 2 hour layover in between (the gates are really close together and they are with the same airline, so we didn’t feel the need to factor in more time there).

We are bringing the car seats with us so no need to worry about renting them in Florida.

We will be bringing above mentioned coloring kits, Kindle Fires (we have two) and our laptops. That brings us to one coloring kit and electronic device per child.

I am planning on packing lots of little snacks that they will have to spend time opening (like presents!), and am considering giving them things like mini M&M’s that they don’t normally get.

We are also seriously considering purchasing a Trunki for each child.

10835410-1375201107-272949Have you ever seen such a thing? Have you ever heard of these? There are loads of rave reviews on them, and according to the website, they can handle all four of my children. Well, not at once. But one at a time! The kids can sit on them while we wait in various lines at the airport, and there is a “leash” attachment where we could drag them behind us…or they could drag each other.

If you’ve used these, could you please let me know what you think? We might buy just one and see what we think, before committing to three more.

Okay dear readers:

What have I missed? 

What tips do you have for travelling with multiples? With toddlers? 

Do you have any advice specific to airplane travel?

Happy travelling!

 

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How Did I Do It?

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Categories Parenting, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

My 2 sets of twins are pretty high maintenance right now. Between school, sports, hw, chores, potty training, work and family, I am stress paralyzed most of the time.
In the meantime, our office manager just had a baby. She brings him to my house everyday to work. He is a happy 3 month old that eats, sleeps and plays on a blanket on the floor. I hold and rock him while he is fussy to help out. While I was rocking him the other day I remember thinking, “how did I do this with 2?!” It seems impossibly hard. Every time this new mom asks me a question about milestones, or a sleep schedule or what formula to use, I just shrug and answer, “It doesn’t matter. Just keep him breathing and he’ll be just fine. I had twins remember–the only goal was to make it to the end of the day.” I find myself being so jealous of this mom who gets to cuddle and rock her baby all day. I actually long for the days of sitting on the couch covered in spit up. At least then nobody can spill the crayons, or poop in their underwear.
But then this sweet baby did something that made it all okay. He started cooing. Babbling just a little bit. And I remembered. My twinfant days were more than just bottles and routines. When my girls were fussy I would put them close face to face and say, “Talk to your baby!” . They would gurgle and coo and smile at each other. It was the first indication of a lifelong bond. I would smile and tell them: “you’re lucky-not everyone comes with their own baby.”

Having twins may look different than the rest of the infant world, but as Daniel Tiger sings, “In some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same.” and so I say to you who are strapped to the couch with infants: it might seem impossible and unfair some of the time. But you are just the same as any other new parent; you just have a bonus baby or two 😉

SAMSUNG

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Never Will I Ever: Toddler Thursday Edition

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Do you remember the drinking party game Never Have I Ever? I was part of a group of friends in college who loved to waste away long winter nights playing this game. It was a fun way to get to know someone you had a crush on or just learn new and interesting things about friends.  If you’ve never played let me quickly catch you up: You all sit in a circle.  The first person makes a statement beginning with “Never have I ever…” If you’ve done it you take a drink you’re out. The object isn’t necessarily to be last person standing, but rather to be the person to create the most awkward social situations.

Before I had the twins I had several very basic parenting standards.  When it was just the three bigs (that’s what I call my older three sons) it was so easy to adhere to them that I really didn’t even know I had them.  They were almost “parenting givens”.  Then Laurel and Rhodes turned two.  Now I have no standards.  Seriously.  They have won every round of “Never Will I Ever…” we have engaged in. They are masters at creating awkward social situations.  Let me show you:

Never Will I Ever buy a toddler something just to stop a tantrum.”  In December my two oldest sons needed new shoes. I hauled everyone into the shoe store and set up camp in the aisle with the “almost man” sizes.  Laurel and Rhodes were playing happily in the same aisle so I was lulled into thinking it was ok for me to look away.  Rookie mistake.  I looked up and Laurel was gone.  We split up to find her perusing the clearance racks having chosen a new pair of very sparkly, very pink, 1 size too big, hello kitty, slip on shoes for herself.  When we found her she was clutching them to her chest and had her eyes closed in reverence.  She was in love.  I admired the shoes and calmly told her that it wasn’t her turn for new shoes and we needed to put them back.  She opened one eye and stated “IS my turn. MY shoes. YOU go.” and turned her back to me.  The three bigs were standing behind me and I could hear them start backing away and begin silently putting away the shoe boxes we were done with. Rhodes summed it up with an “Uh Oh”. They knew what was brewing.  I got down on my knees and softly asked her to put the pretty shoes back.  She started shaking her head as tears were rolling down her cheeks. I asked her one more time.  After she still didn’t move to put the shoes back I reached for them.  Before I could touch them she began shrieking. It was a sound straight from Hell. It was loud, high, and unending. The screaming was so disorienting I almost couldn’t figure out what had happened.  Laurel was backing into a storage room (still clutching her precious shoes and still shrieking) and looking at me as if I was coming to eat her. I grabbed her, grabbed my purse, and called to the bigs to get their shoes and meet me at the cashier.  Sweet little Rhodes had found a display of koosh balls and was quietly rummaging through the bin (we won’t discuss why a shoe store had these for sale). As I called for him to come with us to the register he began whimpering and whining for a ball.  At this point sweat was dripping down my back and Laurel was still shrieking while I held her horizontally across both my arms.  “OK, Rhodes.  Bring a ball.  Let’s just GO!” When I finally make it to the register the cashier asks if I would like her to put the Hello Kitty shoes away.  “No, No, I wouldn’t.”     Twins: 1    Mom: 0

“Never Will I Ever have a car so dirty it’s embarrassing… or a health hazard”.   In January I decided to get a car wash.  Before pulling in I made sure to stop at a gas station and do a quick clean up so I wouldn’t be too embarrassed when dropping it off.  After choosing a wash and paying I made my way to the waiting area which happened to be right next to the vacuums. I glanced over and saw that the man who had been vacuuming my car had stopped and was now pulling on gloves. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and assumed he must have been cold.  Then I paused and looked again… he hadn’t put on leather or wool gloves.  He’d put on LATEX gloves.  That’s right.  The carwash man had been so disgusted by the state of my captain’s chairs he’d felt the need to protect himself from communicable diseases. Guess who sits in that part of my suburban? My precious goldfish crunching, apple juice swilling, milkshake spilling, tissue needing toddlers.      Twins: 2  Mom: 0

  • “Never Will I Ever feel the need to host every playdate at my house for the rest of my children’s lives.”  When the twins were infants I usually invited friends to our house for playdates because it was more convenient.  I didn’t have to haul my giant twin nursing pillow to someone’s house.  When the babies were sleepy I could put them down in their own beds.  I didn’t have to worry about putting on real clothes.  Now I usually invite friends to our house for playdates because I have more control over the environment thus reducing the potential for humiliation. After finding myself in the following scenarios I’ve learned my lesson:
  • Twin locks themselves in bathroom
  • Twin found in teen’s bedroom trying on their new lip gloss
  • Twin rummages through refrigerator and helps themselves to pre-prepared lunch
  •  Twin found in bathroom brushing teeth with husband’s toothbrush
  • Twin grabs host’s coffee and pours onto pristine white carpet

Thank goodness my friends were gracious and able to see the humor in these situations.           Twins: 376  Mom: 0

Never Did I Ever think having two toddlers would be this hard… or this funny! I am so fascinated by these two little people.  While learning how to navigate this big world they are having two totally different reactions to the very same situations.  That is bound to leave this mama in some seriously crazy circumstances!

Tell me about a situation you never thought you’d find yourself in.  Ready to play Never Will I Ever?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising Readers

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Categories Development, Developmental Geekery, Language, Toddlers2 Comments

Spending time reading to children isn’t a matter of convincing parents whether or not to raise literate children. That’s a no-brainer in North America; either be literate or be left behind in this big, fast-moving world. Fostering a love of reading, and setting the foundation for kids to easily learn to read, that‘s what’s on the table.

Love of #reading. Setting a foundation for kids to easily learn. That's what's on the table. Click To Tweet

I get it: It’s the end of the day, you’ve wrestled your multiples (and maybe their siblings) into the bath, into their jammies, teeth brushed and into their bed. Why, oh why, throw a book into the mix? Why not call it a night, tuck them in and head downstairs for some much-needed adult time?

Whether you choose to incorporate reading into bedtime routine (which is common and easy to stick to) or throughout the day, reading daily to children as early as possible has substantial benefits. Anecdotally, I have seen kids learn sight words from repetitive rhyming books (like Dr Seuss). Academically, study after study supports early reading as a pathway to early reading and writing, language development, ability to focus and self-regulation. Many hospitals send new parents home with a book for baby, pushing home the point that reading is just as important as basic necessities like diaper changes and bathing. It is!

With my twin girls, their interests differ, but they have learned to wait their turns to sit in my lap, having me read (and re-read) their favourite books. I’ve noticed they frequently choose the same five or six titles for months at a time, so while I may be mind-numbingly under-stimulated, their little brains are firing away, developing at a rapid pace with each reading.

As twins, their language development has been slow, (which is common for multiples). Daily reading, asking them open-ended questions about the story and encouraging them to finish sentences they’ve memorized has helped tremendously. It’s a calm situation, they know the story, and are eager to please me by contributing their own thoughts and words, few as they may be. As they prepare to start kindergarten later this year, I am less nervous they will be behind in their slower-paced verbal development, because I see the spark of early, voracious readers.

It’s so easy: five, 10 minutes tops. Everyone has access to books, in any social situation (go to the library, borrow books, start your own collection). There are a great many books about twins geared towards all ages, and my girls love identifying themselves in the pages of twin stories. (for a list of twin books, see a past HDYDI post here). Find books that pique their interest, make it a habit, and watch your little readers soar.

 

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Personalized Christmas Ornaments for Twins and More

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Categories Holidays, ProductsTags , , , 4 Comments

Disclosure: I received a $35 credit plus free shipping from Personalized Ornaments for You in exchange for an honest review. Images are shared with permission.

We absolutely love decorating our Christmas tree. Since my twins are responsible enough to handle breakable ornaments, I trotted out all the special ornaments this winter. These are the one-off ornaments that hold special meaning to us, whether they were a gift from my daughters’ great-grandmother to commemorate their first Christmas or handmade by my daughters the year they learned to write.

Popsicle sticks, paper plates, glue, and paint make for an easy Christmas ornament for little artists.

I’m a sucker for little things with big meaning. Family themed Christmas ornaments? Sign me up.

This ornament commemorates baby's (or in the twins' case, babies'!) first Christmas.

While the Hallmark First Christmas kitten in a stroller is adorable, its true meaning comes from it being a gift from Grandma Great. Let’s be honest, if it weren’t for that, it would be a little generic. Grandma Great was thoughtful enough to buy two of them so that each twin will have one to grace her own Christmas tree when she is grown.

wpid-Photo-20151231121925419.jpg

My girls have recently come to realize how very special their twin bond is. They spend a lot of time with their best friend, who was an only child for nearly 9 years. This friendship has inspired them to express more and more how special it is to have an identical twin sister.

2015 was the perfect time to find gifts for my daughters that would acknowledge their unique connection, and I found them in the form of Christmas ornaments.

This ornament from #POFY was an instant hit with twin sisters. Of course, mommy had to get two of them!

How utterly adorable is that mantle with matching stockings with each girl’s name (which I’ve edited out for their privacy)? The stock text for the ornament was “TWINS’ 2ND CHRISTMAS!”, but I was able to supply my own text for no extra cost. Of course, I also specified my daughters’ names. Adorable personalized ornament! #POFY #twins

The order form is wonderfully easy to use.

 

Ordering affordable personalized ornaments could not be easier! #POFY has a huge variety of family themed christmas ornaments as well as others.

I ordered two of the ornaments. Because, twins. They’re excellent quality and honestly far nicer than I expected them to be, given the prices and rapid delivery. I can’t come up with a criticism, and I’ve tried. They’re nice heavy ceramic with a beautiful sheen and the pride put into the handwritten lettering is clear.

When Personalized Ornaments for You first reached out to us for a review post, I was ready to say, “Thanks but no thanks,” as I do to most companies, since most companies have nothing specific to offer our multiple birth families. Generic family themed Christmas ornaments weren’t going to cut it.

#POFY was completely different. Not only did they offer options for twins, there were so many to choose from that I had to make a shortlist of favourites, step away from the computer, and then decide. In fact, although I went to their site fully intending to order a single ornament, I ended up ordering three, supplementing the company’s generous credit with a bit of my own money. I’ll get to keep my own single mommy of twinfants ornament when my grown daughters abscond with theirs!

An ornament for a single mother of twins? Oh, sure, Personalized Ornaments for You has even this mom covered!(My daughter has been exceptionally camera-shy of late, but she loved these ornaments so much that she even offered to model them for the blog!)

#POFY doesn’t just have stuff for twins, either! Triplets and quadruplets are set, as are larger families with singletons in the mix.

#POFY even has ornaments for triplet families!

How perfect would an ornament like this be to announce a multiple pregnancy? Instead of names, you could go with “Baby A, Baby B, Baby C, Baby D”?

A perfect ornament for the family of quadruplets that has everything. #POFY

Or you could sneak a due date in place of a name and watch realization dawn on Grandma’s face!

A great keepsake for a BIG family! #POFY has great family themed christmas ornaments.

I was going to distribute our ornaments around our tree, but one of my daughters stopped me. “Put them together, Mommy,” she requested, “because it’s our family, and we belong together.”

How cute are these ornaments for a single mom family with twins? #POFY has great family themed christmas ornaments for families of all sorts.

So, have I talked you into wanting your own little tear jerker moment, inspired by a personalized ornament? I’m happy to tell you that Personalized Ornaments for You is hosting their close out sale starting today, through the end of the month. If you’re in the US or Canada, hurry over to grab some gifts for loved ones or treats for yourself to squirrel away until next December.

Of course, I’ve focused on the multiple family-themed ornaments, but you’ll find something for everyone and every occasion on the #POFY website. Happy browsing!

Personalized Ornaments for You offers just that - the perfect personalized ornament to say, "You are special."

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Twinfant Tuesday: Distinguishing Night from Day

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This week’s return to school from winter break got me thinking about sleep patterns. Even though I worked through December, with two days off (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), my daughters were out of school for the second half of the month. For the first time, instead of sending them to daycare or a winter break camp, I worked from home and let the twins stay home with me. Although I stayed on my regular work routine, I let my daughters stay up later than usual and sleep in. They loved having a full day for games of pretend, fort building, board games, and reading. And yes, I allowed them 2 hours of screen time per day, a quantity usually limited to weekends.

I knew that transitioning from an 8 am wake up time to a 6 am wasn’t going to be fun for anyone, so I did some reading on circadian rhythms and body clocks. Most of what I read, I already knew and had begun to put in place. One thing surprised me: the impact of exposure to electronic screens. More on that later.

Parents fixate on sleep. We worry about whether our children are getting enough sleep, whether the sleep is happening at the right time, and whether our children will ever again let us sleep enough to feel rested.

Parents fixate on #sleep: our kids and our own. #Babies learn to distinguish night from day. Click To Tweet

Whether or not we’re consciously aware, every parent has at least one sleep goal for their newborn: distinguishing night from day. As they grow, we want our children to develop sleep patterns that involve increasingly long stretches of sleep at night and increasing short stretches of sleep during the day.

We’re built for such sleep patterns. Our bodies produce a chemical called melatonin, and how much we produce is tied to the time of day. Melatonin levels, in turn, tell our bodies whether it is sleep time or wake time. The way that our bodies determine how much melatonin to create is strongly influenced by light exposure. It’s very logical. In the thousands of the years humans were around before the invention of the light bulb, we could rely on the timing of sunlight to regulate our sleep-wake cycles.

Consider gradually dimming lights around your little one as part of sleep training.

My daughters have a good friend who is blind. While I now allow some flexibility in my 9-year-old girls’ sleep time, their blind friend gets no such luxury. Without light input to help regulate to her body clock, she is wholly reliant on routine to keep her on the same sleep-wake schedule as her peers. Sleeping in on weekends or staying up late as a treat isn’t worth the disruption that it would cause her.

Electric lights may do something to mess with our body clocks, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start dimming lights as bedtime approaches. I babysit my friends’ 8-month-old with some regularity, and he goes down for the night easiest when I don’t turn on lights in the house as the sky darkens. He’s an active, curious little boy who tends to fight sleep, but the changes in light quality after sunset have an unmistakable effect on him.

The thing that hadn’t occurred to me until I started to research it more is that electronic screens, even those used for reading, can trick our bodies into thinking it’s still daytime as we’re trying to wind down for the night. After I read that little fact, I adjusted our “Kindle time doesn’t count as screen time” rule to “Kindle time doesn’t count as screen time, but any reading within an hour of bedtime must be on paper.” And of course, no other types of screen time, whether a game or a show, is allowed within that same pre-bed wind-down hour. Ideally, that wind-down hour would be two hours, but a full-time job and commute makes that impossible. When the girls are on the computer until close to bedtime because of homework, I can dim the screen as much as possible.

If rejiggering your family’s light exposure doesn’t work or isn’t an option as your kids are returning to their school schedule, you can actually buy melatonin in pill form. Please, before acting on this option, speak to your child’s pediatrician and go with the lowest available dose, 0.5 mg or less. It seems that the best time to take a dose is around 6:00 pm, which sets your school-aged child up to be sleepy right around bedtime. Unless your child has a confirmed sleep disorder, there should be no need to use melatonin over the long-term. It’s especially helpful when switching sleep patterns, for example after a trip to counter jetlag, or if you work a night shift.

Do you take light exposure into account when you consider your family’s schedule?

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New Year’s Resolution: Return to Balance

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Categories Balance, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Lifestyle, Time ManagementTags , 3 Comments

Happy New Year to everyone in the HDYDI community! Have you made New Year resolutions?

(Please forgive this post being one day late for the new year. I was making lunch for my girls on New Year’s Eve while working from home. The knife slipped and I ended up needed some minor sutures. The Urgent Care doc banned me from manual tasks, including typing, for a couple of days. I’m glad to report that I’m altogether free of pain now, except for the pain of embarrassment.)

I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions. My commitment to a two-week balance of my priorities has generally kept me in a place where I’m deeply joyful with the state of my life. I haven’t had a need to make a major life shift at my entry into the new year. Instead, I adjust as I go, regardless of the date on the calendar.

However, I started a new job in August, just as my daughters were starting fourth grade. My dear friend Jen offered to watch my girls after school. I took on the leadership of our Girl Scout troop and joined the leadership of our school district’s parent council for Gifted and Talented services. In the midst of all this change, I didn’t take the time to realign my priorities.

I finally get the point of New Year’s Resolutions. January 1 serves as a reminder to rethink the balance.

So now, here’s my newly ordered priority list. Each item on the list will need some time and focus, if not daily, at least every 2 weeks.

  1. The kids’ immediate well-being.
    • Safety.
    • Nutrition.
    • Intellectual stimulation.
    • Social stimulation.
    • Rest.
    • Play.
  2. The kids’ long-term well-being. Are they on a path to being healthy, happy, wholesome, productive adults?
    • Routine.
    • School performance and enjoyment.
    • Spiritual nourishment and church.
    • Maintaining positive relationships.
    • Socially appropriate interactions.
  3. Friends
  4. My job and my immediate co-workers and customers
  5. My mental and physical health (including getting sleep)
  6. Housekeeping and home maintenance
  7. Community leadership
    1. Girl Scouts
    2. How Do You Do It?
    3. Multiples of America
    4. Gifted and Talented council
  8. Community participation
    1. How Do You Do It?
    2. School
    3. Church
    4. Work
    5. Blogosphere
    6. Volunteering

I know this system works for me. Starting at the inception of 2016, I resolve to get back to it, with my priorities where they need to be at this moment in our family’s development. I’m going to return to balance.

What are you doing this year to reprioritize?

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