Meet a How Do You Do It? author

Amy Fitzgibbons

I am a SAHM of two sets of twins. My B/G twins (6) came through IVF and were born at 29 weeks. So we did the whole NICU thing. My fraternal girls (2) were a surprise and made it to 36 weeks. I'm grateful to have this community to help navigate this crazy life!

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, homework, 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 😉

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Traveling with Toddlers is Not an Oxymoron

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Categories Parenting, Toddler Thursday, Travel1 Comment

Road Trips in our family are a common occurrence. Our kids have been on road trips more often than they have been to the movies or to the grocery store it seems like. We have traveled the 5 hours to Disneyland to and from in 1 day or 1 weekend several times, and similar distances to visit family in Ut, AZ and Ca. But most notably we took my first set of twins when they were just barely 2 across the country. We drove 30 hours straight in the car and we only stopped at gas stations along the way. Oh yeah, and Mt. Rushmore was a pit stop for about 2 hours before we kept going.

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And, just this summer our family of 6 (kids aged 7 and 2.5) traveled across the country for 23 days and hit 23 states and nearly 7,000 miles.

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People think we are crazy. I think we are crazy. But, it was the most fun trip and best bonding time our family has ever had. It is doable. Don’t let a road trip with babies or toddlers frighten you! Frankly, I think it would be worse with teenagers :)

So here is my ultimate road trip guide:

TO DO:

  • Plan for 1 day at a time. What do your kids need for one day? That’s what you put in your diaper bag/front seat.  Food and drinks first, then diapers and wipes, then toys. You can always refill that bag later. I usually pack all my extra diapers, food, formula, etc. in a box or laundry basket.
  • LESS IS MORE! Your toddlers/kids really don’t need extra activities in the car just because they’ll be spending more hours there. Most things end up on the floor in 2 seconds flat! Then you have a tantrum because they dropped it!  Don’t give them anything until you really need to. (I’ll make a list of our road trip toys at the end).
  • Sing, talk and play! Make up games. None of that requires equipment.
  • Gas stops are toddler breaks. We always have 1 adult pump the gas and buy the food, and the other takes all kids to the bathroom and changes diapers, etc. We let them walk and run outside as much as they can. A few minutes is all they need. For a short day drive we stop once or twice at the most. Have a scout go in first to see if there is a diaper changing station in the restrooms! If not–stay at the car to change diapers. Front seats are trickier, but they do work especially if your toddlers are old enough to stand up. Use diaper cream as a barrier helps their little bums not hurt as much for long hours of sitting.
  • Prepare for emergencies.  We have been stuck  on the freeway stopped for hours, and had to change hotels at the last minute because of spiders and had kids projectile vomiting. It’s okay. It really is. What do you need for emergencies?
    • Triple AAA
    • Extra water and formula to make it if needed
    • Plastic bags to put soiled wipes/clothes
    • paper towels
    • disinfectant wipes
    • hand sanitizer
    • extra clothes in a tote bag
    • good phones and chargers
    • fill up with gas often
    • ziplock bags
    • tylenol, benadryl, etc (I just keep a first aid kit in my console always with band aids, neosporin, etc.)
    • You can never have too many wipes!! (for our 23 day trip, I brought 5 packages-1 in the car at all times, 1 in the backpack at all times, 1 in the clothes suitcase, and 2 in the laundry basket).
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  • Prepare your kids: Even young toddlers can understand what a road trip is sort of. We told ours we were going on a long trip and that they had to 1. get in their buckles and 2. sit nicely without screaming. If they did, they would get prizes. :)

DON’T:

  • Overpack-you can buy stuff at Walmart and gas stations. Do you have enough to feed your children for a few hours in case you get stuck somewhere? then you have all you need.
  • Plan too many stops. We plan for our stops to take about an hour. 1 stop for every 3 hours of driving
  • Never stop if someone is sleeping! Don’t even slow down… Trust me, you’ll regret it :)

FOOD:

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  • We let our kids eat in our car as long as it’s not something completely messy, but most of the time we stop and eat on trips. We find that it’s worth buying the fast food especially when we can split meals between our kids. Or we find restaurants where kids eat free. Finding a play place is a bonus. They can get their energy out while we eat and rest. :)  Usually my toddlers share one meal just fine. Sharing in the car is tricky, so I bought little trays from the dollar section at Target. I can divide up the food and they love eating out of the containers. I just would wipe them out with a disinfectant wipe and a little water afterwards :)
  • If we are staying in a hotel, we try to find ones with free breakfast included. 1 less meal to worry about. And if they load up on breakfast, their snack whining goes way down. 20150805_093637
  • I don’t give them many snacks in the car so they are hungry for meals.
  • Everyone has their own water bottle and we bring lots of water with us for refills. We refill at gas stations as much as possible.
  • You have to have some fun: Our go to family road trip snack is gummy worms. Trolli brand only :) If someone is cranky, we might just say, “you need a worm”
  • You don’t always have to eat poorly. We stopped at a gas station and my kids chose to have: a pretzel, cheese, veggie, fruit and yogurt meal. They turned down soda and juice most of the time. Whatever they eat at home they can eat on the road–it is doable.

SLEEPING: We have slept in hotels, friends’ couches, and grandparents’ houses which of course are the best

  • I’ve always used and brought 2 pack n plays with us. I know hotels tend to have cribs available, but a lot of the time they cost a fee, or are not really available.  I have a crib sheet and blankets already rolled up inside the pack n plays plus any stuffed animal so it is all ready to go. (It does all fit in there).
  • For hotels, we send one adult in to check in and bring out a cart. The other one unloads the car. We load it all onto the cart, have our kids hang on and off we go.20150402_182624
  • I pack all of our stuff into one bag. (just enough for 1 night).
  • Big kids are in charge of their own blankets and comfort sleeping items. We get a room with 2 queens. The big kids either share a queen or an adult each sleeps with one of the big kids to split them up if they’re too wild to sleep.20150403_084009 (This was just for fun. Toddlers sleep in pack n plays).
  • Every single hotel room we’ve found has room for 2 pack n plays
  • If we are at a friend’s house then our big kids each have a sleeping bag with a blanket and pillow wrapped up inside. They are in charge of it.
  • We also try to get hotels with an indoor pool or hot tub. I will stay and unpack/organize the hotel while my husband takes the kids swimming. Then everyone can bathe really quickly and get into fresh clothes before bed. Gets them away from jumping on the beds and making our neighbors mad :)

DRIVING:

  • We have always divided our duties up into driving or navigating. If you happen to have extra drivers, the other adult is the sleeper!  The driver drives. That’s it. No other duty. The navigator is in charge of GPS, taking care of the driver, temperature, music, and kid control. If everyone and everything is under control, they become a sleeper :)
  • We have found for days trips that you don’t need to worry about who drives when. Just decide whoever wants to. But for our longer trips we always switch at the 2 hour mark. It doesn’t matter if the driver wants to keep going, we switch. Our motto is: “No hero shifts.”

ACTIVITIES:

  • Yes, we use technology. Our SUV does not have a built in DVD player, but we invested in a portable one with 2 screens. For drives that are 6 hours or less, we just let them watch movies the whole time. They barely watch any tv during the week, so it doesn’t bother me to have them binge watch the whole time. The toddlers don’t have access to a screen though so they just get their normal stuff. (books, coloring, music, etc.)
  • For longer drives, they have to “earn” their movie time by reading, writing, or playing first before they can ask for screen time.
  • We started a point system which worked really well. I had a chart in a plastic sleeve protector taped to the dash that worked as a dry erase board. Every day I wrote the date and where we were going. (For a 23 day trip, it helped to keep everything straight!). Then they were able to earn points for activities such as: getting in their car seat buckles quickly, not whining, sleeping, throwing their trash away, etc.) Then they got to turn in their points for prizes (stickers, soda, gas station toys, etc). My 2 year olds loved this and every time they got in their carseats they would say, “I get a point!”
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  • For a short trip, I give each kid a bag with their stuff for the day. When it’s on the floor or used up, it’s gone. “Sorry.” I do ziplock bags with crayons and pencils. Glue stick and scissors for the older kids. I have a clipboard for each kid with plain paper and coloring sheets. Everyone gets a few books and one toy that is fun. That really is all they need.
  • For our long trip, I had 1 bucket in front with one day’s worth of activities and 1 bucket in back to refill the day bucket. That way they didn’t get board too easily. The best thing I did was get activities that could be thrown away! That way when they fell between the cracks or onto the floor-we just scooped them up at the gas stations and said goodbye.
  1. bubble wrap sheets if you can stand the popping :)
  2. aluminum foil sheets-kid(s are really creative. Ours had a snowball “fight”
  3. clothes pins and pipe cleaners (make butterflies, etc)
  4. window stickers
  5. paper for airplanes and creations
  6. glow sticks were great for night driving (flashlights too if they don’t distract the driver)
  7. balloons
  8. magnets

I hate dry erase boards! They are a nice thought, but the markers are permanent and even the washable ones are hard to get out!  Instead, magna doodles are the way to go. And it’s fun to use real magnets to trace on them too.  Remember, less is more!

MISC:

  • I would get a babysitter for 2 days before you go anywhere. These are the most stressful days-1 day for laundry, the 2nd day for packing. Get a friend who doesn’t mind taking toddlers for the day. That way you don’t have to use too much tv right before you have kids sitting in the car all day.
  • You don’t have to have another driver…I have done a few day drives by myself with all 4 kids! Yes, it is tough to drag two infant seats into a public restroom with 2 four year olds grabbing onto your back pockets, but I did it! I just had to make sure everyone had everything they needed before I started driving. If it fell, or was lost- too bad. Again, same rules as driving around town.
  • If you have young potty training, or fresh potty trained toddlers-never fear! You can still drive to Gma’s for Thanksgiving. Just throw in a toddler potty into the car. If there is a potty emergency, stop and have them squat on the road–I know, toddlers are stubborn and I’m dreaming right? the back of the car works, Pull Ups are great, or if there are accidents–that’s what the plastic bags are for. Just line the carseat before they get in and bring lots of changes of clothes :)
  • Naptimes get all messed up. I do different things depending on the situation. Most of the time I let them have their sleeping blankets/binkis if applicable in the car the whole time. No use putting up a fight. But, sometimes I’ve often saved them in the front and given it to them right at naptime. Even if they don’t sleep in the car, it still signals them for sleep and they can have a “rest”.  Same with bedtime. As soon as it gets dark, we start signaling them for bed. Get them in pjs at a rest stop (maybe), turn on lullaby music, give them blankets, etc.

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    SAMSUNG
  • Earplugs are great
  • Redbox is great…you can rent a movie at a gas station and return it in the next city
  • We drive the same route up to family a lot, so we know where there is a cheap pizza place we like. We call about 20 minutes before we get there, and lunch is served.
  • Backpacks-instead of my regular diaper bag, I put everything we need  the day in a good backpack–that way it can go from car to stroller to walking around Manhattan without having to juggle anything.
  • PJs–just make sure your kids are in comfy, weather appropriate clothes. If they fall asleep right before you get to a hotel-it should be no big deal to just put them straight to bed.
  • You do not have to play the Alphabet Game. It’s overrated. :)

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    SAMSUNG

PACKING: On any given trip, I will have:

  • a Backpack for a diaper bag
  • my personal tote for purse, books, tablet, phone chargers, etc
  • briefcase (my husband works on the road)
  • a tote with the day’s car activities in it
  • a basket with extra diapers, wipes, formula, toys, etc.
  • a suitcase that is packed for everybody (or 2 small ones). These stay in the car.
  • a duffle bag with our clothes and cosmetics for just that night to bring to the hotel (and a trash bag for laundry)
  • a mesh bag with our swimming stuff if applicable
  • a small cooler with water bottles and a few healthy snacks (we bring this to the hotel every night to put in the fridge).
  • an emergency car kit that always stays in there20150815_204018

Stashed in the console or under seats I have:

  • 1st aid kit
  • paper towels
  • batteries
  • chargers
  • pens/paper
  • gum/mints
  • stickers (I control those so it doesn’t get out of control)
  • everyone has a small travel pillow that is kept under the seats
  • I have stick on window shades, but if it’s really sunny, I keep extra baby blankets to hang from the windows
  • bungee chords always come in handy

 

Okay, that is a lot of information. Mainly if you are having a great time with your family-that is the most important!

I’ll never forget one of my favorite road trip moments:

I was pregnant and by myself with my almost 4 year olds. They had closed the freeway and I was almost out of gas. Needless to say, I was very anxious. But I was able to pull off to one of the only gas stations and fill up. Then I called my husband and he talked me through to an alternate route. So getting home took twice as long on a one way highway through the mountains, but we got home!

At one point, I had to pass a truck and it made me nervous since there was almost no shoulder, etc. I told my kids that they had to be totally quiet since Mommy was doing something “very important.” I whizzed past the truck and then it was smooth sailing after that. The kids were even especially quiet. Only about 30 minutes later, I heard a tiny voice from the back asking, “Mommy, are you still doing something important?”  I knew right then, like I’ve known all along, that I have good kids.

 

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Mommy Judgment and Me Time

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Categories Diversity, Guilt, Mommy Issues, Multiple Solutions, Other people, PerspectiveLeave a comment

Generally speaking, parents are supportive of one another. We share parenting tips, recommend kid-friendly restaurants, and set up playdates. However, we can also be brutally judgmental of each other.

“Me time” is an area where otherwise accepting and supportive people dive headfirst into the mommy wars.

Just the other day, Sadia found herself nodding along in disbelieving and disapproving agreement when a summer camp counselor mentioned that another parent had arrived half an hour late to pick up her child because she’d fallen asleep. “How dare she,” Sadia thought, “make use of summer camp time to take a nap!” The fact is, we don’t know this other mother’s circumstances. Perhaps she works nights. Perhaps she’s unwell. Perhaps she fell asleep at work at her desk. Perhaps she has a newborn. Perhaps she fell asleep at her desk while suffering from mastitis.

SaraBeth receives a lot of “it must be nice” comments on getting a sitter and doing so regularly. It used to annoy her, but that time together as a couple is more important to her than big vacations or fancy name brand clothes. It’s her choice, and her husband’s, to make that time a priority.

Elizabeth, a single mom, is frequently told that she shouldn’t be running errands when her girls are with their dad. Instead, she is told  she should be doing more stuff for herself, such as getting coffee with friends or setting a massage/hair/nails appointment. She has her “me time” set up just how she likes it, and it isn’t when the girls are with their dad. She stays as busy as possible during that time running errands and getting things done that are harder to do with 2 preschoolers in tow.

Sadia is also a single mom. Lots of people (most recently her dentist) tell her that she should be grateful to have several weeks child-free during the summer when her ex-husband exercises his visitation rights. She doesn’t see it that way. She only has 9 years left before her twins leave home to build their adult lives. She wants to make the most of their time together while they still enjoy her company. The teen years and parental rejection that will come with that aren’t far off. Call her boring, but she doesn’t spend her nights drinking and clubbing when the girls are away. Instead, she ends up spending more hours at work and the gym. She’d much rather be adventuring with her daughters.

As a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), SaraC finds a lot of people asking her, “What do you do with all that time?”. Three of her 4 children are still in diapers, so we MoMs know exactly what she’s doing: primarily feeding and cleaning four people, keeping them safe, and letting them know that they are loved.

MandyE received negative feedback for a blog post she wrote one time about “me time”.  The commenter challenged her that “’me time’ begets ‘me time’” and if she continued to “indulge”, she would grow to resent her children.  She admits the harsh words threw her for a loop and caused her to question herself.

Amy is her own worst critic. She criticizes herself for having help with childcare and housekeeping even though she’s a stay at home mom of four (two sets of twins). If she didn’t have help, she would never get “me time”. She deserves to go to the store by herself too!

Jen Wood gets judged for not taking “me time” at all. During the time she was a SAHM, she couldn’t justify paying someone to watch her kids unless she was making money to offset it. She had a high school girl, an assistant at the boys’ preschool, watch the boys ONCE. After paying her $30 for 2.5 hours out, Jen just could not do it again. It felt far too indulgent for a mother making zero dollars an hour. She doesn’t have family nearby, so free care is off the table. Most of Jen’s “me” time is at home with the kids, doing something in another room while they destroy the one they are in.

People ask SaraC, when she’ll go back to work, judging her for being a SAHM. Her answer is that she’ll return when it’s right for her family. She also meets working moms who feel they need to explain themselves to her! SaraC responds by letting these moms know that she worked when she just only 2 kids, so she completely understands the working mom’s lifestyle. She also fully recognizes that each family is different. She has no time or desire to judge a working mom and would appreciate them withholding judgment too!

During Sadia’s early Army wife days, she was informed by other military spouses that she was an abhorrent mother for working outside the home. She was told that a good mother would stay home with her babies. Her response then was that she was a better mother when she didn’t look to her children to fulfill her intellectually and socially. The outlet of work allowed Sadia to focus on being for the babies what they needed. Her response now is that her job provided stability, both financial and psychological. Her divorce three years ago would have been much more traumatic to the children if they weren’t already accustomed to Sadia working full time. If she didn’t have an established career to fall back on, with a salary to match, they would have noticed a rapid decline in their quality of life, one from which Sadia was able to shield them. 

Michelle finds other mothers expecting her to have far more free time now that her children are older. There is a hope (maybe a fallacy) that “me time” increases with our children’s age. That hasn’t been true at all for Michelle. The children don’t nap and they stay up later. Their demands are just as insistent. There’s as much, if not more, to stay on top of. Michelle’s husband has asked her to consider quitting her job, but with the cost of extracurricular activities, the family relies on her paycheck to help defray the cost of five kids in five different activities.

We’ve all been judged for how we spend our time. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve probably judged other mothers. We hope that our perspectives have shown how different “me time” can be and there is no single approach that works for every family.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Remembering to Remember

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Categories Parenting, Twinfant Tuesday2 Comments

I am really sentimental. I have all my yearbooks saved K-12. I remember my 3rd grade crush’s birthday. And I wrote in a journal every night all the way through high school and college.

Enter Twins. And suddenly keeping track of milestones for 2 babies in the middle of sleep deprived pumping, feeding, rocking and surviving did not seem possible or practical. But I knew that just because these kids came 2 at once and were a little bit more high maintenance, they still deserved to know when they sat up and what their first words were.

So, how do I record these memories despite the lack of brain cells and time? Cute, Pinterest worthy baby pics and professional photo shoots are not my thing.

Here are a few ideas for what has worked for me:

Calendars:

Calendars make for a convenient way to track milestones.

I kept one of this calendars in a drawer with a pen right next to my rocker. As soon as something “calendar worthy” happened, I would get it out and jot it down. I knew I could always go back and add details later. I just knew I needed to get it down. The beauty to this is that the date and age is automatic. So for example, after the doctor’s office I would run home and jot down their height and weight on that day. It didn’t have to be a typical milestone either. If they had a favorite book, I would jot that down at the end of the month, “read Mr. Brown can Moo over and over.” Throw a picture on at the end of the month and you’re done!

Journals:

Got lots of kids? Keep a journal.

We have a journal for each kid and we write in it for significant days: birthdays, mother’s day, 1st day of school, Christmas, when they need an uplift, etc. I record my thoughts and feelings, anything that captures their personality at the time, and my advice to them. The plan is for them to each take it with them on their 18th birthday. I think it’s important for them to have a record of my handwriting and a way to gain confidence if they are going through a hard time.

Handprints:

Handprints make for great keepsakes

This was a lot of work, but I thought it was really important. You can’t remember much about those early days, but at least now I have something tangible that shows how small my kids were. From months 0-12 we ink their hand and footprints onto cardstock. (see Calendar picture). Then we do it at 18 months and 2. From 2 on we only do handprints once a year onto the wall or growth chart. It is one of their most favorite things to look forward to.

Chatbooks:

Chatbooks allows you to create a printed book from your Instagram images.

This is my new favorite thing. If you use Instagram, you can subscribe to the chatbooks app and they will automatically mail you a photobook for only $6 a piece. It is automatic and you can design your own. So you could make one with just pics of your kids first year, etc.

Digital Picture Frame:

A digital frame keeps all those great photos front and center, not hidden on a hard drive somewhere.

We were tired of taking thousands of cute digital photos that never surfaced again. So we invested in a large digital photo frame for our family room. We load it every January with the best pictures from the previous year. It’s really fun to watch and tell stories with the kids, “Remember when…”

Private Blog:

This is pretty self explanatory. But there are certain things that you just need to keep in your own mother heart. I have a private blog for this reason. I almost never use it, but if there’s something that happens that I need to record, but don’t want my kids or society to know about yet, that’s where I put it. Differences between kids fit in this category!

Memory Boxes:

Keep a memory box for tangible items of sentimental value.

Birthday cards, School Papers, Hospital bracelets, Art projects, etc. etc. that pass the trash can test all get stuffed in a bin. We have 1 for each set of twins, and 1 for my husband and I. When they are full they go to the attic and we get a new one. We try to be picky and so far they have only filled up once in 7 years. School papers are collected in a cardboard box all year and then I sort through them in June and select only the elite to save in the “box”.

Interview Videos:

Interview your littles on video!

One of my favorite things for twins is giving them a Special Day that is just for them. It is close to their birthday but not shared with their twin. Sometimes we do a big activity, but most of the time it’s just a quiet day with one on one time. We do 2 things for sure though: Video tape an interview with the special kid and measure their height for the growth chart. This is also when we do their yearly handprint. I really think they look forward to these things more than their birthday! Also, about quarterly throughout the year, my husband will “interview” each child individually about how they are doing in life. Since they are still young enough, he will video these as well for our family records. When they are older and need their privacy the interviews will only be on tape with permission.

Family Photos:

Family photos are worth the investment!

We also try to take a “professional” family photo to frame on the wall once a year. This does not have to be expensive or fancy. This one was done by a friend at the last minute. I picked out our outfits that morning. Our favorite ones were from WalMart. Also, please take pictures of your kids with YOU in them. You feel gross and unshowered and pudgy, but they will just want to see what their mom looked like when she was taking care of them.

Okay, so when you look at this all at once it can seem pretty overwhelming especially for you new twin parents! But, I promise it has all been doable and done in little chunks. The handprints have been done while screaming and ended up with smudges. The calendars have big gaps in them.  I still don’t know what my daughter’s first word was. But the main reason I do this is to remind myself that someday I really will be out of survival mode and my kids will be grown humans who might want to remember how they started out :)

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Everything I Need to Know About Toddlers I Learned From Story Time

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Categories Activities, Parenting, Toddler Thursday4 Comments

I first went to story time at the library when my oldest were almost 2. I thought it would be a one time activity, but Ms Jen was so compelling we ended up there every week. That was 5 years ago. My little girls are 2.5 and although other activities tend to get in the way, we still make it a priority to go see Ms Jen on Thursdays at 10:30. They always start the half hour session with “Bubblegum” and end it with “Alligator”.  The favorite activity was always petting the stuffed alligator puppet. I ended up buying the song and searching the internet for 2 stuffed alligators just like it. Recently my kids wanted to give away those beloved puppets but I wouldn’t let them.

Ms Jen always started her story times with some guidelines that I found were pretty helpful for the rest of the toddler day too.  I’m going to share them with you, but you might want to sit on a rug with alphabet letters on it to fully absorb this information!

PARTICIPATE

I don’t mean the toddlers. We all know they participate plenty. We all know our kids grow up too quickly. They don’t need to be reminded.

Maybe need to be more connected. When your little one puts on a funny hat and says, “Look at me!”, don’t just look. Put one on too! It takes 2 seconds and you’ve managed to catch their eyes light up just a little bit more.

Now, I understand that you can’t participate in everything everytime. Even the toddlers sit and watch sometimes. But make sure your sit and watch time is active too. I remember waking up for 3am feedings and timing it so I could watch a 45 minute Ellen episode. It was just enough time for me to feed, change, and swaddle 2 babies back to sleep. They got what they needed and so did I. That feeding was for me. The rest of them were saved for the babies.

MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS

This is a tough one cause I know we’re all on our phones a lot. Multi tasking always!

Wouldn’t it help us get through a tantrum if we also didn’t have to get the cookies out of the oven. I know, we don’t have time to make cookies. I mean make a doctor’s appointment.

When you’re on “mother time,” be on mother time. Save the phone call for when you’ve locked yourself in the bathroom. I like what one mom said to me. She mentioned that she doesn’t ask her toddlers to do something until she is physically able to help them. If you say, “Go get your shoes,” don’t be surprised if they need help. Be ready yourself so you can provide that help. Tantrum avoided!

If we were texting during a job interview I doubt we would get that job. Let’s give our children the same respect.

BE PREPARED FOR BAD DAYS

And we all have them.  We have bad minutes and hours too. Guess what? It’s okay!

If you’re prepared, then not much can faze you. If you know your toddlers hate to get in their carseats, just know you’re going to have to add 45 minutes to your errand. Get a cooler for your car so your milk doesn’t spoil while you pry them in.

If you know they are going to climb out of cribs every bedtime, grab yourself a snack, pull up a rug with your device of choice and get caught up on Netflix. You can’t be prepared for every situation, but you can be prepared for enough of them to avoid problems.

Today I brought 3 towels to the pool instead of 4. I now know that was the biggest mistake ever and I will never do that again.

RELAX

You don’t have to take yoga in order to relax. (It helps, though.) It’s true that kids follow your mood and your flow. So if you’re relaxed, they will be too.

I could tell my toddler was about to get frustrated, so I got there first and stamped my foot and screamed, “I can’t do it!” She was so surprised I knew what she was going to do that we had a big giggle fest instead and the moment was diffused.

Ihave hardly had to yell lately because of this principle. I just calmly give them choices that they can live with. “We are going to change your diaper. Do you want to do it the sad way or the happy way?” This principle doesn’t mean you have to be floating on a cloud all of the time. It just means that the cliche is true: “This too shall pass.”

ASK FOR HELP

Yes! All the time, for anything.

It doesn’t always mean we will get the help we need, but if we don’t ask, we don’t get. It seems natural to ask for help when we have newborns, but they don’t go away once they start sleeping through the night. They become toddlers and then teenagers!

  • Get help from the internet: Your hubby needs razors? Amazon Prime.
  • Get help from neighbors: Have a sleeping baby and need to do a school pickup? Bring the baby monitor next door.
  • Get help from friends: Have a lunch date at a playplace. You get adult conversation and kids burn energy.
  • Get help from family. Yes, we may have in-law problems, but if they do your dishes while you nap then you don’t have to talk to them.
  • Get help from your spouse: Let them load the dishwasher their own way; I promise it’s ok.
  • Get help from anyone: Hire a cleaning service!!
  • Most importantly, get help from God/church. True story: I prayed for 10 more minutes of sleep and sure enough my babies went back to sleep and then on the dot of 10 minutes started fussing. Didn’t need an alarm clock that day!

How will you implement your own “Story Time Rules” in order to deal with your sweet* toddlers!

 

*I highly recommend a book called Toddlers are A**holes! It helps with the relaxing part!

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To Breastfeed or Bottle Feed? That is the Question…

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Categories Parenting, Twinfant Tuesday29 Comments

I always thought I would breastfeed my children. When I got pregnant with twins, I hesitated a little bit, but not much. I knew about the football hold, and I knew it could be done.

Then my little bits were born at 29 weeks. And all of a sudden the NICU was raising them and not me. Feeding wasn’t even an option, forget about breastfeeding. But I still had my plan. I started pumping milk every 3 hours one day post C-section. And I didn’t stop until after they were home 3 months later. I was encouraged by the nurses: “Oh yes, we will let you start breastfeeding as soon as they’re strong enough.” I was encouraged by my mom: “It’s so good for them, keep going!”

And then, when they came home it was obvious. They are NOT going to breastfeed. They are hooked on a bottle. Can I fight through it? Yes. Could I retrain them? Yes. Did I want to? No.

I was TIRED! And done letting others dictate how I was going to raise my children.

So I gave up trying to breastfeed. And I kept pumping milk. Sometimes every 3 hours, sometimes every 4 or 5. I was proud of the overflowing freezer filled with liquid gold. And then, one day in the middle of taking-care-of-newborn fatigue, my milk supply started drying up. And I started having some pain. And I knew that I had filled up my last bottle of milk.

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SAMSUNG

It was totally okay, I thought. Someday I will have one baby and I will cuddle and breastfeed that one all day long.

But fast forward four years and I found myself pregnant again. Only not with one snuggly baby. Two again.

I admit that I mourned a little for what I knew was coming. “This time I’m prepared,” I thought. “I know what’s coming. I’ll be more proactive about breastfeeding in the NICU. I won’t let them get too attached to bottles. But maybe I’ll do some bottle feeding cause I know I’ll need a break.”

I was grateful the second time to make it to 36 weeks. But I still had a painful C-section, and my girls still spent 2 weeks in the NICU.

It was a much better experience. I did breastfeed some and Baby B seemed to like it. Then we came home and even though I had help from grandparents my schedule looked like this: breastfeed some, bottle feed the rest, pump some.

Every 3 hours.

That meant I had less than an hour to eat, spend time with my other children, and sleep. The sleep ended up getting pushed back more and more and the girls were feeding less and less.

This time I wanted more control. My decision was made by simple math. I made a pro/con list of how to feed the babies. The pro list for breastfeeding had only 1 item on it: Breastmilk is the best food for babies. That was it. The cons list went on and on. Bottle feeding had tons of pros and just a few cons. So there I had it. I pumped my last bottle of my own milk, and went looking for formula coupons.

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Afterward I had a friend lecture me about not breastfeeding, and then at the end she said, “But they’ll be okay.”.

And I smiled. Because I knew she didn’t mean any offense. And I knew she was right. They WILL be okay. They ARE okay. Because no matter what our mother heart tells us about feeding our little ones–they somehow or other get fed. And instead of fridges filled with bottles and breast milk and formula, all of a sudden it is filled with whole milk and yogurt and Mickey Mouse shaped chicken nuggets.

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SAMSUNG

I didn’t want to waste the time I had with them being little stressing over milk. And that was OK.

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SAMSUNG
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1, 2, Buckle my Car Seats for Me Please!

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Categories Behavior, Infertility, Parenting2 Comments

Hello to the HDYDI community! I’m Amy, and I am happy to be here as a new author/contributor. I have been managing my two sets of multiples for almost 7 years now, but I admit that being in the mix with all of you is so intimidating! Thanks for all of this great support!

Ryan and I have been married for almost 12 years, and it took almost 6 of those years to get our kiddos here. We did 3 rounds of IVF before we got our first set. After 3 years, we made the (mostly financial) decision to try Clomid for one more. I was in complete denial that I was pregnant because I just couldn’t believe that would ever work for us. Then when I saw the ultrasound and saw those 2 sacs again… well you can imagine my total shock!

Amy, Ryan and their TWO sets of twins.

My oldest b/g twins are 6 and in first grade. Compared to my now 2-year-old girls, they were a breeze!

I wrangled each of the girls into their carseat buckles this morning. It took two laps around the car, an elbow to each gut and lots of tears and screaming. No amount of “Now where do we sit when we get in the car?” and “No, that’s your sister’s seat” accomplished anything. They usually make a beeline to the back and drain the car battery by flipping on all the lights. Sigh. I left for the gym, late, defeated and feeling like I should know how to discipline them better! After all, I’ve already done this!

An hour and some endorphins later, I walked them out to the car and felt confident. I’ve got this. They are holding my hand. I have my keys on my trusty bracelet chain which is my biggest lifesaver! And I can be patient. Lo and behold, I got one to climb up and in with no problems! Small miracle, but I’ll take it. How do I do it? By knowing that I can!

I’m excited to share more multiples adventures with you. And believe me, if I can do it, then so can you!

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