Meet a How Do You Do It? author

Beth

Beth was happily raising her now 4 year old daughter and planning for one more, when the doctor said that he saw 2 good sacs. Her boy girl twins we born at 35 weeks - he naturally, easily, after 4 pushes. His drama queen sister turned transverse and then her placenta separated, leading to her delivery by c-section (with Beth under general anesthesia). Thanks to post delivery eclampsia, Beth met her twins when they were 26 hours old. Now those days are just a memory and the twins are crazy and funny. Crawling all over the house chasing big sister, reading books, knocking over towers and cuddling are favorite activities. Beth's challenge is to balance a preschooler, 1 year old twins, her DIY obsession, and a full time job as a college professor, while finding time to occasionally vacuum to feed her OCD side. Beth blogs at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

Me Time? What Me Time?

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I have this habit of ignoring emails that seem like they are going to spell trouble. You know the ones that ask for your help, time, resources… The ones that once you open will either stick in your head in that annoying way, or every reply will claim more time. How Do You Do It?‘s Sadia sent me one of those emails. I opened it. Big mistake. I have been in an emotional kind of funk ever since.

Her email was simple, innocent, kind. She just wanted to know if any moms of multiples bloggers wanted to participate in this week’s series of posts on “Me Time”. As hard as I try I cannot get that phrase “Me Time” out of my head. Because I have no idea what it is. And it caused a fairly intense panic attack.

Me Time.

It sounds like an awesome idea. It sounds like that nebulous “Spare Time” concept I have heard so much time about. Do people really have time that is “Spare”? I feel like every second of my day is scheduled, planned, allotted. But the more that phrase stuck in my head, the more I tried to analyze my time and see if I do have any “Me Time”. Does folding laundry count? I generally have company when I use the bathroom. And showering is hit and miss. There is nothing like trying to shower while 3 year old twins pull open the curtain from either side and scream to be picked up.

Meal times I sit with the kids but I often get caught up in serving, refilling water, putting dishes in the sink (is it ok to scrub just one while they eat? Maybe 2, 3, or 4?). Story time, playing outside… it is all about the kids. It is all scheduled.

And then once they are all in bed there is the battle over not wanting to go to sleep, needing a stuffed friend, wanting cuddles, Mommy can you PLEASE rock with me? And once they are asleep (for however long they are asleep – Mommy there is a giant snake in my bed!), there is the house to pick up and work to do, papers to grade, and a husband to spend a few minutes with before I get too tired to stand.

So then, what is “Me Time”? Do I not have any? Or does it not exist? Is there such a time as “Me Time” when you are a mommy? A few weeks ago my husband took the kids out to play so I could have time to myself and I spent that time cleaning, doing laundry (I swear I do enough laundry for it to be a full time job!) and cooking dinner. Is that what “Me Time” is really all about? I am up every day before 6 to shower and get ready for my day. I crash between 9 and 10. But those hours from 10pm to 6am (ish) are mine. Maybe that is my “Me Time”. I just wish I was awake for it.


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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Toddler Thursday: Getting the diagnosis…. Then (whew!) finding out it is wrong

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Categories Medical, Perspective, Special Needs, Toddler ThursdayTags , , 1 Comment

As a parent you will do anything to make sure your kids are safe and happy. With the first baby especially, you stress and worry and panic and wonder if you are ever going to do anything right. My oldest was an early talker, a very early talker and a late walker. I had always heard that you either talk or walk – that babies focused on one area of development at a time. She talked early and walked at 17 months. Perfectly reasonable and within “normal” ranges, so it is fine.

Fast forward to twins.

Again, I stressed, I worried and I wondered if I would ever get anything right. Don’t get me started on sleep. The twins are now 2 ¾ and we still have sleeping issues…. The boy girl twins, like my older daughter, were early talkers. And late walkers. Sidney walked at 17 months just like big sister. But Spencer did not. He did talk early but at 17 months was not walking. It is ok, he will get there. And at about 18 months he took 5 steps into my arms. And I cried and screamed and attacked him with kisses.

He did not walk again.

He did not even cruise.

At 19 months I emailed the pediatrician and said, “I know you are going to tell me not to worry but at 19 months Spencer is not walking yet”. Her reply was like a dart into my heart. “Maybe we need to get him evaluated.”

I called Birth-to-Three and after a scheduling nightmare I gave up and called the pediatric rehab center on my own. My mother-in-law came with me. Her job was to listen to everything I missed and hold my hand. She did great. Spencer did great. I did not. In my defense, I did not mesh well with the therapist. I am 100% positive she is very qualified and good at her job, but I constantly felt blamed. “If you don’t pick him up he will walk.” That comment had me in tears. And had Spencer in tears. I will never forget his baby arms reaching up for me and his baby screams while this (evil) woman tells me that he is not walking only because I pick him up.

The therapist would hold toys just out of his reach and try to force him to reach for them to build up him muscles. Spencer would give up and move to a different toy. And I don’t blame him. But she did recommend that he wear braces on his ankles.  So I consulted with the pediatrician before making that appointment. She laid Spencer on the exam table and moved/manipulated/rotated his legs. She called them “spaghetti legs”. She could move them in any direction. His muscle tone was low, but she did not think that was a huge cause of worry, he could build up the muscles.

But she saw something else in his legs. “Beth, I want him to see a pediatric neurologist, I think he may have Cerebral Palsy”. And that was all I heard. She did talk me down (ish). She reminded me that if he did have it, it was not the end of the world, it was not a brain tumor (ok, an extreme example but she had a point).

First step, ankle braces. So we made the appointment and Spencer was fitted with baby ankle braces. Everyone told me that these braces were a miracle and that the minute they were on, their baby walked.  Spencer did not. (In his defense they measures the braces wrong and needed to redo them so he wore the wrong ones for a week or so…) Slowly, slowly, he started taking baby steps. But he still preferred crawling or being carried.

And then, one day, with my heart in my throat, I watched my baby boy walk. Those tiny little dinosaur printed ankle braces changed our world. At 21 months, Spencer walked barefoot. He had full control, turned, pushed toys, carried toys. He was there. I tear up now remembering that day.

With my mother-in-law in tow, we took Spencer to the neurologist.

You know when you have those days where every detail sticks perfectly in your brain? That day was one of them. The neurologist pronounced my son (he actually evaluated both kids and pronounced them both) as “perfect”. He said Spencer did have low muscle tone but that he did not even need physical therapy or the braces. I kept him in the braces for a few more months anyway because I bought a new wider pair of shoes to accommodate them. When he sized up in shoes, he left the braces behind.

My gorgeous, amazing, funny, cuddly, little man is perfect. He runs (not well and not fast, but he gets places faster than walking). He might not be a soccer player or football player but that will mean less concussions, so I am good with it. And one day, while waiting for big sister’s school bus, he jumped up in the air. Both feet off the group, jumped into the air. My baby boy. I have never been so proud.

Really, when he plays with his friends you would never know what we went through in the spring of 2014. We still have some work to do though. He does not like stairs and prefers to be carried, especially when he is tired. When we hold hands on the stairs, he turns his foot inward and we want to work on that.   When he moves to preschool, he will need to be able to walk down a long staircase to the playground and that staircase does worry me. But we will take it all day by day, step by step and now jump by jump.

As a mom you would do anything for your kids, and if Spencer did have Cerebral Palsy, we would have researched and become the experts at CP. It was only a few months. And in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing. But it was also everything.

I would check on him at night and put my hand on his back and watch him breathe and stroke his cheek and wonder if he would be able to walk without braces, if his peers would be cruel, how a disability might affect him and our family. We are so blessed that we don’t have to worry about these things. But if I ever do, I know that my support system is strong and I want to publicly tell everyone how fabulous the “how do you do it” group is. Because they got me through the beginning. They were a huge help in getting me from the emotional stage to the logical, research nerd stage. You need the emotional part. You need to cry when you get news like this, but you need to hit that research stage hard as well.

Our lives are “normal” now (or as normal as life with toddler twins can be). When I take the twins down the stairs, I hold hands and lead them down one by one and that is our normal. I help Spencer turn his foot on the stairs and that is normal for us. But when he does not want to come inside, I chase after him and now that is normal too. And even while I am chasing after him, I know how blessed I am to have a baby boy who can run away from me, as long as he never ever runs into the street!

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 6 year old and boy-girl twins who are almost 3.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

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Twins and School: Together or Apart?

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Categories Classroom Placement, Parenting, School, School-Age22 Comments

It’s kindergarten registration time for many of you in the US and Canada, and parents of multiples are hit with the age-old question: Together or apart?

Check out our full list of HDYDI posts on classroom placement for multiples.

Historically, many schools have had policies insisting that multiples be placed in separate classrooms. This has been changing in recent years. Likely due to the increase of multiples in the population, there has been increasing awareness of the variation between sets of multiples . Some twins do, in fact, perform better in separate classrooms, but some do better together, as Dr. Nancy Segal points out in her guest post “Separating Twins in School“.

A guide to deciding whether your #multiples will do better together or apart in the classroom. From three moms of twins whose kids have different needs.

We owe a debt of gratitude to parents who have been advocating for each set of siblings being treated individually. A number of laws have been passed around the world putting classroom placement decisions in the hands of parents, who know their children best.

My Twins Do Equally Well Together or Apart: Sadia

I thought very hard about whether my daughters should be in the same class in elementary school. I pushed aside all generalizations about what worked “for twins in general” and looked at my daughters as individuals in a relationship. They were used to being away from home for large stretches of the day, thanks to starting daycare at 11 weeks old. They were accustomed to classroom discipline. Starting kindergarten wasn’t going to be nearly as disruptive to their lives as for children with a stay-at-home parent.

M and J loved being together, but reports from their daycare program indicated that they were as likely to select different activities to participate in and friends to play with as they were to play together. They had the same friends, but different best friends. They loved being twins, but they also loved being “just J” and “just M”. Some kids had trouble telling them apart.

Given all this information, I elected to request separate classrooms for my daughters as they started kindergarten. We were late to enroll in school, thanks to last-minute Army orders, and the school asked if they could be placed in a single classroom, where they could make room. We stood firm. We wanted our daughters in separate classrooms to minimize comparison and to put focus on the girls’ individuality over their twinship.

They did just fine apart. Later in the year, when the school moved them into the same first grade class, they did fine together. When they went to first grade for real, they performed wonderfully, both socially and academically, apart. In the two years since, when they’ve been in the same classroom by their own request, they’ve done well too.

For my girls, it’s just a matter of preference. They’re equally successful being in a classroom together or classrooms apart. They just prefer to be together.

My Twins Are Better Off Together: Janna

We are so fortunate that our school district allows parents to choose whether or not twins should be in the same classroom. We chose to place our identical twin boys in the same classroom when they started kindergarten last September.

Our reasoning: we didn’t do daycare or preschool so this was the first time they were away from me and their dad, other than the occasional day with the grandparents. We didn’t want the first time away from mom to also be their first time away from each other. When at home or at the park or library story time, they had always gotten along really well, without fighting, and we hadn’t seen any negative competitive behavior between them. When they are with other children, they play both with each other and with other kids, so we were fairly confident there wouldn’t be any negative effects with them in the same class.

Also, based on logistics, having them in the same classroom is so much easier. I only send one email with information about absences, illnesses, questions, etc. I can volunteer in just one classroom. They get invited to the same birthday parties and playdates. We don’t have to deal with jealousy because one twin’s class got extra recess that day or other such things (that are a very big deal to a five year old).

And finally, (and really what probably affected our decision the most) we have friends who are 30 year old identical twins. They both agreed that being separated in elementary school made them anxious and miserable. One twin said he specifically remembers being worried while sitting in first grade, because he couldn’t physically see his brother. Because our boys are also identical and very traditionally close, this conversation definitely impacted our decision.

The result: our boys have thrived being in the same classroom. They are both doing well academically, socially, behaviorally and physically. Their report cards look the exact same (which we’ve also noticed at home — they just learn things at the same time and have the same abilities so far). They love school and they love being in the same class. According to their teacher, there are no negative effects having our boys in the same class. They rarely choose each other for their partner and sit at different tables, but they do play together at recess, along with their other friends.  She sees them occasionally looking for their twin and then going back to work during the day. Their teacher was able to tell them apart (based on head shape and a small red mark on one twin) after one week of school. Their classmates definitely have more trouble telling them apart, but so far it hasn’t bothered my boys to casually correct their friends.

This year, based on the recommendation of their teacher, logistics and my boys’ own opinions when asked, we’ve decided to keep them in the same classroom next year for first grade. Would they be okay separated? Probably, yes. But, it’s easier for me if they’re in the same classroom; they enjoy being in the same classroom; it’s easy enough for their teacher to tell them apart; and there are just no negative side effects having these two identical twin boys in the same classroom, so until there are, we’ll continue placing them in the same classroom.

My Boy Twin Needs Togetherness. My Girl Twin Is Okay Apart: Beth

When the idea for this post started, and I decided to participate, I was on the side of twins should be together.  My boy/girl twins were 21 months old and were never apart until he got sick and had to stay home from day care one day.  By then he was fine and spent the day asking for his sister.  Now a bit of background here.  She is a firecracker.  She is independent, headstrong, stubborn, and has a stare of doom that will freak you out.  He is a cuddle bug, and has been since day one.  He is older and bigger, but she has achieved most milestones first, including walking.  Once she started walking, she became even more independent.  At 21 months he is was just starting to walk and was still very unsteady.

My twins were in the baby room at day care.  The next room up is for 2-3 year olds, but most kids move in at about 16 months. At the time of writing this post, my kids were 21 months.  And Miss Independent with the stare of doom was so ready to move up.  So we did it.

And she thrived.  Every morning in the new room was fabulous. She barely waved goodbye to me before going off to check everything out.  She was happy.  So clearly, twins should be separated.

But here is the thing.  My boy was not happy.  Every drop off at day care was a heartbreaking mess.  Whether we dropped her off first or him, he was clinging to me and sobbing for dear life.  I could hear him after I left the room.  (OK, I could hear him crying for hours, which logically is not possible, but moms have that kind of super power.)  Day care promised me that he calmed down each day and did fine, but you know when you just have a feeling….

So I started pushing them to move him up too. But he was not walking well enough for that room.  Fast forward, we came up with a plan…a brilliant plan!  Both babies get dropped off in the baby room.  She (thankfully) was fine with it.  He was fabulous with it. But it did bring up face to face with the idea of separation.

The day care kept telling me that twins need to be separated.  That he was fine, eventually.  And that may be the case.  But not yet.  At 21 months old he was going through some things and needs his sister.  At 21 months old, they were still babies and while she seems to understand and appreciate (and at times accept) logic, he wasn’t there yet.  They slept in separate cribs, sat in separate car seats, and they spend time apart 2 days a week in school (while he was transitioning).  But in school he needs his sister, and that is good enough for me. She helps him walk, she gives him more confidence, and he thrived during this transition.

My twins need to be together in school, at least for now.  Check back with me in 2 years when we need to talk about Kindergarten classes.

What are you thinking? Do you think your kids will be better off together or apart in school?

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Make-It-Monday: Taking Control of my Life

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Or rather, TRYING to take control of my life.  Our oldest daughter just started Kindergarten, the twins are 2, my husband has a 2 hour commute to his work, and when I am not staring in the role of “mom”, I have a job too.  Life was getting (getting?) out of control.  And I an a big fan of control.  Control is good.  Very good.  Oh, and to cap off the madness, we just moved.  So not only are things not quite as under control as I would like, but I can’t find anything!

The kitchen in our new house is great.  I think it is supposed to be a kitchen and family room all in one, but we use another room as a family room, so the kitchen just has a big empty space.  And with 2 year old twins, that is all I need.  The kitchen also has our kindergartener’s desk.  And since the laundry room is right off it and the stairs come into it, this room is truly the heart of the house.  So it is the perfect place for me to set up a command center.

This wall started as a hodge podge – I put up a calendar, took it down, a message board, took it down, until i finally got this.  And I love it!  It is bright and colorful and kid friendly. It has something for everyone, and it can grow up with us.

It was key to me to have something for the twins in the command center.

This is a simple frame from Michael’s Crafts with the gloss popped out. I put in a piece of sheet metal that I covered with some fun scrapbook paper. And voila! We finally have a magnetic surface in the new house! The twins spend a lot of time playing with this magnetic animal thing. When it gets boring, we will swap it out for magnetic letters or something…

I also made a “grown up” version of the same magnetic board, also with no glass, sheet metal and pretty paper. This one is higher up and perfect for notes I need to keep, like birthday party invitations, and messages from school.

Below the grown up magnetic board is a ribbon board I found at a tag sale a few years ago.

This is perfect for storing papers that the kids can have access to. The little guys like seeing their pictures in there too. And that lottery ticket is a winner! We need to turn that in, it has been there a LONG time!  Do lottery tickets expire?

I purposely hung the clock really low. Emily is working on telling time and we use that clock often (little hand on the 7, big hand on the 12, let’s get read to take the kids to day care!) And next to that is my picture frame calendar.  This is one of my favorite projects.  I made it a few years ago.  That is a simple 8 slot picture frame.  Here I left the glass in, but instead of pictures, I put in scrapbook paper with days of the week stickers.  Grass works just like a dry erase board!  So this is our weekly calendar.

And in the small space to the left of the calendar, I have my trains – Emily, Spencer and Sidney Thomas trains!

it is a great little fun happy space for us, and we love it! AND, it is keeping us (me) organized. I know what days Emily has gym (and has to wear sneakers in stead of her beloved high heels), I can keep play dates organized, and I have a place to keep those little things you need and would lose if they were anywhere else! So far, we have taken command of life!

This command center has definitely helped me get and stay more organized.  I am not sure it is makes me more organized or just gives off that illusion, but I love it, the kids love it, and we use it!

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 5 year old kindergartener and boy-girl 2 year old twins.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

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Toddler Thursday: We Are So 2

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Categories Feeding Older Children, Toddler Thursday, ToddlersLeave a comment

On June 18, my twins turned 2.

So they have been 2 for a few weeks now. Let me just assure you, in case you were at all worried, they are VERY good at being 2. Sidney is contemplating becoming 2 professionally, but Spencer has decided to maintain his amateur status, so he can be 2 in the Olympics.

We Are So 2

With my older daughter (now 5), 2 was SO MUCH FUN.  18 months was a bit hard, but looking back it was more like a few hard days. Overall, 2 was fun. I have my doubts that I will look back on the twins’ “reign of 2” and say the same thing. Instead I am fairly sure I will win (or at least earn) an award at the end of 2. And yay (read that yay very sarcastically please), three is next. Three, when they get stubborn and opinionated.

So maybe my twins are not 2. Maybe they are very advanced (in addition to being the cutest and smartest babies of all time, naturally). Maybe they are somehow already 3.

Let me share with you some of the things that the now 2 year old twins excel at.

Let’s talk food. Breakfast generally consists of 2 -3 waffles, 2 hard boiled eggs, and a smoothie full of fruit, veggies and flax seed, for protein. So needless to say, they eat a HUGE breakfast.  And generally barely any lunch at school. But that is ok, food is a whole day experience, right?

But lately, dinner is a challenge. I put down 3 plates of food, and at least one twin, often both, pushes the plate away crying. Or hands it to me and says “all done”. Dinner used to consist of a variety of foods – they LOVED salmon. Now, it’s generally crock pot chicken and pasta. Their favorite. Occasionally. Because they might love something one day and hate it 3 days later.

My kids now hate mac and cheese. What kid hates mac and cheese? I have tried the box stuff, organic stuff, homemade. Nope. They have even refused pasta with butter. If I allowed it, they would live off hard boiled eggs (without the yolk), yogurt and fruit.

Meal time is frustrating lately.  And I wish I was writing this to offer all the other moms out there some genius tips. I do have one tip though.  I make up a 4th plate of food.  (my husband gets home around the kids bedtime, so he and I eat after the kids go to bed). And this 4th plate of food is “mine”. You all know what I mean.  The second you put food on the table and claim it as yours, the kids flock to it.

This morning I made the most incredible smoothie for me, and got one drink of it. So they eat off my plate. And it generally works. Tonight Sidney sat on my lap and inhaled my chicken (crock pot with barbeque sauce and some red wine vinegar). She would not touch the roasted potatoes, but OMG that was fine with me. I roasted a combo of sweet potato and red potato with steak seasoning and a dash of cinnamon and they were SO good!  She ate a ton of chicken, and once he saw her eating, Spencer dug in. And we all enjoyed a fabulous dinner.

It was a great success. Actually every meal today was a great success. But what about tomorrow? Tomorrow I wanted to make salmon. My favorite is teriyaki salmon with fresh orange juice. The kids used to inhale it. Now I am not so sure, it is hit or miss. Meal time is much more stressful for me.

What used to be called the “terrible twos” is now the “trying threes”. For my oldest, 3 was the age of resistance. Of defiance. Of having opinions and acting on them.  So why are the twins acting so 3 now? Has 2 become the new 3?  And if not, how will I handle 3?

But then again, maybe 2 is good for the economy.  At least the wine industry….

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 4 year old and boy-girl 17 month old twins.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

 

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Make it Monday – Baby Blanket Pillow Cover

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The other day I was going through the baby blanket boxes.  Boxes.  Plural.  We have several boxes of baby blankets.  And we only really use 6 blankets total.  Each child (I have 3) has one at day care for naps.  And each has one for sleeping at home.  And that is it.  6 blankets, with 2 more boxes of blankets.  Occasionally they play with one, but really, most of these blankets are simply sitting, peacefully, in boxes.  A few of these blankets are really nice and I decided it was time to use them.

Side story.  When my husband and I got married we got a long sofa and a chair and a half for our living room.  It is still super comfy and we like the color, a brick red, but I am getting a bit tired of the color.  The pillows all match.  A brick red sofa and a brick red chair and 6 brick red throw pillows.  I am getting tired of the monotony really.

And that is where I had my Ah Ha moment!  I am tired of all the monotony and I want to do something with these baby blankets.  Blankets + Pillows = less monotony!

This is what I started with.  One brick red sofa pillow and one pretty purple striped baby blanket a former student made me when I had my first baby.  I also started with some trepidation.  This is a hand knit blanket, and there was a degree of fear in this project because I did not want to ruin it.  But I also did not want to leave this blanket in the box anymore.

So I brought the blanket up to my “sewing room”, which to the outside world is a window seat.

Test run, will this work?  Will it look ok?

So I bit the bullet and started pinning and sewing. Pinning was a nightmare. I could not keep the pins in place. And I really had to stuff this blanket under the sewing machines presser foot. but eventually I got a system that worked. I call it, quite technically, as “stuff and pull”. My student had edged the blanket with a pretty seam, so I used that as my guide. I wanted to be able to see the seam, so I sewed just inside the edging, up both sides.  I literally had to stuff it under the presser foot and pull it.  For anyone trying this at home, be careful with that presser foot, a few times it got caught on the knitting and I had to sew backwards to get it out.  But in the end it worked.

I stuffed in the previously boring brick red pillow and it came out perfectly!

The back was a bit of an issue, but I decided to sew the opening shut the same way I did the sides.

My lovely assistant/the original blanket recipient

Right now this pillow is sitting on the chair and a half in my living room.  I have a few more hand knit blankets that might also become pillow covers. But more, I have a way to showcase a really lovely baby gift.  The twins are 22 months old and into everything, so more and more, I find myself throwing away/putting away/hiding so many things.  I really like that instead of hiding this away, it is now something that we can all enjoy.

Beth is known as mommy by a 5 year old and boy-girl 22 month old twins.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Little Victories

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Categories Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infants, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Twinfant TuesdayTags , , , 1 Comment

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind with infant twins is that every victory counts, even the tiny ones.  One day, when the babies were 2 months old, Emily’s day care was closed for maintenance, or professional development, or something.  Just too months in, I had all three kids all by myself for an entire day.  Gulp.  So I thought it might be interesting to document the day.  Well, the morning.  And I wanted to share it here.

6:30 Em woke up (in our bed), checked on the babies and we played in bed for a bit.  Now let me just say that this day started off really weird since we are usually up and going before 5:30.  But still, little victories.

6:45 came down, cleaned a bit, did 2 puzzles and vacuumed the kitchen. (so far, not at all typical, why are the babies still sleeping? Did they eat at 4 or 5??)

7:00 made Emily breakfast, assembled and put away bottles (even odder that babies are sleeping, what a great morning!)

7:30 Spencer woke up and peed on the changing table, and at that minute, Em announced she had to go potty. Took Em to the bathroom, dressed Spencer, cleaned up said pee, started negotiations will Emily over today’s clothes (I am rooting for pants, she wants a dress… I will prevail, the negotiations are going my way…)

8:15 nursing Spencer, Sidney waking up upstairs (ok, need more hands now), Em eating and playing.  Chaos commencing.

8:20 Sidney crying, Spencer does not want to stop nursing.  Oh no.

8:25 Sidney changed, dressed, eating. Spencer in bouncy seat, Em hugging babies and telling them about her life as a baby

8:26 Spencer spit up, trying to reach to wipe his mouth without Sidney unlatching. unsuccessful.

8:30 with 2 crying babies, washed Em’s breakfast dishes and last nights bottles while heating up water to make bottles for babies, made 2 bottles with vitamins, ate a handful of candy corn, helped Em unlace her sewing and got set up to bottle feed both at once (I need tea!!)

8:38 I swear Sidney just said “mama”!  She is clearly a child genius, talking at 2 months (or 3 weeks old adjusted, definitely advanced)

8:41 Sidney pushed away bottle to laugh at me, Spencer eating, Sidney regretting earlier actions and frantically looking for bottle

8:45 burping both crying babies, Sid spit up on me, Em asking for help with sticker game, I seriously need tea (Spencer took maybe half an ounce, but did a full nursing, Sidney 2 oz formula, 1 oz breast milk). I have 45 mns to finish feeding babies, shower etc, dress Em, and make a picnic lunch for today’s trip to the zoo with her friend. Oh and while I fed Sidney, Spence spit up. Now feeding him while she chills

9:00 both babies fed and happy, they are in bouncy seats, Em and I race upstairs. I take world’s fastest shower (may have only washed left side of body), while Em gets dressed and reports that they are both crying. Finish shower, babies quiet (crap, did they cry it out, damn!), get dressed, both crying again.

9:20 Sidney finishing earlier bottle, Spencer chilling (I am perfecting one handed typing :) ). Em is gathering pacifiers, I still want tea, and I need to put together our picnic lunch, and the diaper bag.

9:37 picnic packed, diaper bag packed, babies ready to go, heading to the zoo to meet friends, anticipate we will be 10 minutes late…

We arrived at the zoo 20 minutes late.

All in all, a fairly routine (except for the babies late start) morning.

And I never got my tea.

Twinfant Tuesday: Little Victories from hdydi.com

The twins are now about to be 19 months old now, and Emily is almost 5.  But re-reading that account of our day I am amazed first of all that we all slept that late.  Currently, 5:30 is a huge victory. I am also impressed with myself for taking such good notes (likely one handed).  The point, I think, is that that day was a huge victory for me, because I did it.  I won’t say I did it alone because Emily was there and from day 1 she has been a huge help.  But I still claim it as a victory.  The truth is, 17 months later, every morning is a victory.  And I think that as a parent of twins, you need that.  You have the right to celebrate every tiny victory.  Oh the celebrating the day the babies held their own bottles!  Every little victory counts.  Even if that victory is simply a fabulous cup of tea.  Peach tea.

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 4 year old and boy-girl 17 month old twins. She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

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Ask the Moms: Multiples and Birthday Party Etiquette

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Categories Ask the Moms, Birthdays, Multiple SolutionsTags , , 11 Comments

For party throwers | For party goers

Mother of triplets Jenn reached out us with this question:

My triplets are turning 5 and would like to have a party inviting their classroom friends.  They are in the same class.  I cannot expect every guest to bring 3 gifts. I know you mentioned NO presents as an option but at 5 they are really looking forward to having their first birthday party with not just family but friends too and being able to open their classmates’ gifts!

I’m sure that this cannot be an uncommon problem for mothers of multiples!

Jenn, we’re so glad you asked about this. It’s not just a quandary for the parents throwing the party for multiples, but a common question for the parents of singleton guests too! There’s also the matter of attending a singleton’s party with your multiples. Are you expected to give a separate gift from each child, or is it okay to give one from the family?

When You’re Throwing a Party for Your Birthday Children

Above all, be considerate of your guests as Jenn is being. If you know that every guest you have invited has the resources to give extravagant gifts to each child and that is your community expectation, good for you. For most of us, that’s not the case.

Talk to your children ahead of time and explain to them that the real gift is their friends’ presence. They shouldn’t express disappointment at gifts, even if they feel it, and they should be certain to say “Thank you.” You may need to explain that this is one of the challenges of being a multiple. Sharing a birthday means sharing gifts. Or sharing a birthday means not sharing gifts. Set the expectation that works for your family.

Some possible variations include:

  • One gift per guest family per set of multiples.
  • One gift per guest family per birthday child.
  • One gift per guest child per set of multiples.
  • One gift per guest child per birthday child.

We generally discourage that last option. Imagine that you have triplets and you’ve invited triplets to their party. Nine gifts from one family to another is unnecessary, expensive, and will likely go under-appreciated by the overwhelmed recipient children.

Take your multiples’ relationship into account

Do your twins or triplets share all their toys? They would probably enjoy shared gifts.

Do they have a strong independent streak and enjoy keeping their possessions separate? They would appreciate less elaborate individualized gifts.

Do your multiples insist that everything always be fair and equal? It may be simplest to keep gift-giving within the family and invite guests not to bring gifts or to bring donations for the local library or food pantry instead.

Mention gifts in the invitation

This invitation demonstrates twin birthday party etiquette, with the multiples specifying that a single gift is appropriate.Eliminate discomfort on the part of your guests by specifying your gift expectations in the invitation. It can feel tacky to ask for gifts, but it’s better than leaving guests wondering if they need to bring a gift per child or not.

Consider wording your invitation with something like, “We request only your presence, but if you must bring presents, limit your family to one gift for the birthday girls to share!” You’re not asking for things, but you are setting a one-gift expectation for guest families. Then, your triplets can go round robin on opening the gifts to keep things fair!

If your kids have separate friends, perhaps because they’re in different classes, you could write something like “You are being invited to Twin A and Twin B’s party as Twin B’s honoured guest. Twin A is not expecting a gift from you!”

Creative solutions

There are several ways to provide guidance to party guests on what to give as a gift to keep things easy and equal.

Jenna did a “5 and 5 party” for her son. Each friend brought $10. $5 went to charity, specifically the local children’s hospital. He used his $5 to choose a toy and picked a new train for his train set after the party. Most kids also brought a card or picture for him.

Beth and Sadia have been to or thrown book exchange parties. Each child comes to the party with one age appropriate, gender neutral, wrapped book. The birthday girls’ parents brought a few extras, just in case someone forgot.  Everyone, including the birthday girls, leaves with one wrapped book. This approach has the perk of avoiding the need for pesky goodie bags!

Build an activity center. In your invitation, let your guests know that you’re building an art center, kitchen center, or dress up center and that you’d appreciate contributions towards it. As we suggested above, have the kids take turns opening gifts. Mom and dad can open any remainder to ensure that each kid gets to open the same number of gifts.

Dana often suggests family presents for her twins’ birthdays. These are things like be board games, a collection of books, or art supplies.

Sadia’s daughters have requested canned goods for the food pantry instead of gifts, after discovering the hard way that many people feel uncomfortable arriving at birthday parties completely empty-handed. MandyE always adds a “no gifts, please” note at the bottom of her invitations. Her daughters have gotten some really great cards over the years instead of gifts and love opening them!

When You’re Attending a Party with Your Multiples

Within the multiples community

If you’re part of a close-knit multiples community, as MandyE and Jen Wood are, you’ll probably notice that there are norms in place regarding birthday gifts from twins to twins or higher order multiples. Just ask one of the other moms.

Jen Wood is a playgroup with 7 sets of twins within a year of her kids. They’ve always brought one gift per birthday kid. They also received one gift per birthday kid from each other “set” of friends. If they didn’t share a birthday they wouldn’t be expected to share a gift.

When MandyE goes to parties for multiples, she usually has her girls make a handmade card for each kid and does a larger family gift.

Sadia’s daughters usually give a gift to each birthday multiple unless they know that the multiples in question like to share their clothes and toys. In that case, they will do a more elaborate gift to all the birthday kids. Her twins’ great aunt, who has triplets, always gets the twins coordinating but non-identical pajamas from her whole family.

Gifts for singletons

There’s no hard and fast rule here. Take the size of your family and your financial and time resources into account. This isn’t just an issue for multiples. We don’t imagine that large families should feel obligated to bring a gift from each child who attends a party when siblings are invited.

When MandyE and her daughters go to singleton parties, she lets each of her girls choose a gift. Sadia tends to bring a single gift to singleton birthday kids from the whole family.

On the one occasion that her daughters brought separate gifts, the birthday girl’s mom noticed and mentioned her surprise. In this case, Sadia’s daughters felt that they had individual relationships with the birthday girl rather than being her “twin friends.” They felt very strongly that they wanted to give gifts as individuals.

Twin birthday party etiquette

The truth is that there is no universal standard on how many gifts twins should give or receive. It falls on the multiples’ parents to set expectations for their own family and their guests. Take into consideration the relationships between the children involved, whether they function more as individuals or as a set. Remember that being there to celebrate the birthday child or children is more important than the gift you bring. It really is the thought that counts.

How do you navigate the murky waters of birthday parties with multiples?

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Ask the Moms: How to Organize Kids’ Clothes

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Categories Ask the Moms, How Do The Moms Do It, Multiple Solutions, OrganizationTags , , , 7 Comments

Reader Manojna P., currently expecting twins, asked us how we organize our kids’ clothes. Organization is key. Manojna, you’re already on the right track by asking the question!

That said, reader Michelle W., who has two sets of twins, commented, “Organise… what’s ‘organise’??” Several other readers made similar comments. There are times when you need to dress your kids right out of the clean laundry hamper and that’s okay too.organize

Modify your system as children grow

Ask any two parents how to organize kids’ clothes and you’ll get two different answers, even from parents who share a home! Different organizational systems work for different families. Different systems work for the same family at different times. Don’t be afraid to change things up if what worked a month ago isn’t cutting it any more.

Some siblings share all their clothes. Others have separate clothes from day one. There is no wrong way or right way to approach this.

Early on, RachelG dressed both her son and daughter in gender-neutral stuff, so keeping their clothes apart didn’t matter. Sadia‘s girls share clothes to this day, at age 7. Wiley‘s girls are slightly different in size, but she upgrades them both at the same time. Little Allie always looks like she’s growing into her clothes, but it’s worth it for the simplicity.

Reader Kristin G. wrote, “When my [quadruplet] daughters were first born I had everything organized in drawers labeled by the type of clothing: onesies, sleepers, socks, etc. Around preschool they started picking out their own clothes, but I realized that they were only picking from the clothes at the top of the drawers. I now hang all of their tops in a closet and, because I once worked retail and can’t fathom hanging any other way, the tops are hung by color (ROYGBIV). It makes it easier for my girls to figure out what will match with their pants and skirts. For whatever reason they have figured out which tops and dresses are “shared items” and which tops belong to a specific sister (given to them for birthdays, Christmas, etc) and so far there have been no arguments over one sister wearing another sister’s special top. This, I am certain, will change once they get closer to their teen years!”

Find an organizing principle

Photo Credit: MT_bulli
Photo Credit: MT_bulli

Keep things predictable so you don’t have to scrounge up brain power in the middle of the night when a baby needs a new outfit after a diaper blowout. Keep like with like, whatever that means to you.

For Beth, organizing is her closet hobby (ker-ching!). She reorganizes closets and drawers as often as once a month, searching for that perfect set up. She’s still searching, but the process of seeking order works for her. Check out the great closet section dividers she made.

Jen Wood has always hung all her boys’ clothes except for diapers and underwear. When they were in infant sizes, she organized clothes by size with dividers. She stores similar/coordinating outfits together.

SaraBeth has one drawer for pajamas, one for tops and one for pants. She has two separate drawers for fall/winter clothes in the next size up and spring/summer clothes.

Sadia has one small drawer of pajamas, one small drawer of socks and panties, one large drawer of tops, one large drawer of bottoms and dance clothes. Dresses, jackets and dress-up clothes are hung on a clothes rack inside the closet, since the built-in rod is too high for her daughters to reach.

RachelG doesn’t have a dresser. She confesses that she lives out of bins and baskets and is unsatisfied with the current arrangement.

A note of caution. What makes sense to you may not make sense to your spouse, other caregivers or even the (older) children themselves. Balance the effort of finding a compromise with the effort of finding the clothes you need. If you’re the primary caregiver and your spouse only needs to look for baby clothes every few days, do it your way. If you anticipate a more equitable division of duties, talk it through until you find a mutually agreeable system. If your children are old enough to be responsible for dressing themselves and/or putting their own clothes away, let them have a say in how things are organized. Sadia‘s daughters tried sorting everything by colour alone before they agreed that it wasn’t a sustainable system.

Systems by developmental stage

Infants

Infant clothes may be the easiest to sort because you don’t have little hands constantly undoing your work. They’re also the hardest because you don’t really know what to expect. Aim for convenience. If you’re going to be changing your babies’ diapers and clothes on a changing table, store clothes and diapers within reach of (or inside) the changing table. If, after the babies show up, you realize you’re more of a sit-on-the-floor changer, move the clothes around to put them within reach. Don’t forget to have a convenient laundry hamper nearby for the dirty clothes!

Make sense of a jumble of baby paraphernalia by storing like with like. Photo Credit: unfurl
Make sense of a jumble of baby paraphernalia by storing like with like. Photo Credit: unfurl

Itty bitty clothes may not be worth folding. If you’re the type of person who folds your panties, fold those preemie and newborn shirts and pants and bloomers to your heart’s content. If you think that’s ridiculous, consider storing onesies, burp clothes and cloth diapers flat (or even crumpled, if you have the room) while hanging footie pajamas and other outfits. MandyE hangs just about everything that can be hung.

We all streamline where we can. For pants and onesies that went together to make a single outfit, Sadia used to place the pants flat on the onesie, fold both in half together once, and place them in the drawer. There was no need to search for the pieces of the outfit because they were always stored together.

RebeccaD started out with the top drawer for daytime clothes, the second drawer for nighttime clothes and the third drawer for bundling layers. When her fraternal boys got to be different sizes, she switched her system. Her top drawer became for diapering stuff, medicines, and the like. The second drawer was for Baby B and the third drawer, for Baby A.

Hanging clothes can be a nice alternative to folding and stacking them. Photo Credit: katypearce
Hanging clothes can be a nice alternative to folding and stacking them.
Photo Credit: katypearce

Beth uses a closet and tall dresser for her boy/girl twins. The top drawer has 3 baskets, one each for her socks, his socks and hats, bibs, and whatever else lands in there. The next drawer down has her pants on the left and his on the right. The next drawer down is clothes they will grow into soon. Most baby clothes go in the closet, with each baby having his or her own rod. Within each section Beth groups onesies, then shirts, then overalls and dresses and, finally, pajamas.

Mytwintopia takes a minimalist approach. She limits her daughters’ wardrobe to enough everyday clothes for one week. That way she doesn’t procastinate with laundry or end up with too many clothes. She hangs almost everything, and hangs the clothes complete outfits on each hanger to avoid the struggle to match clothes in the morning. The underwear and socks go in bins or drawers in the same closet. For now, the girls do decide who owns which item without parental intervention.

Toddlers

An alternative to stacking folded clothes in drawers is to place them vertically, with the fold up. This allows you to see all your kids' clothes at once. Note that this system is frustrating for kids who put away their own clothes. They can retrieve their favourite item easily, but putting the clothes away and keeping them folded requires some mature dexterity. Photo Credit: peyri
An alternative to stacking folded clothes in drawers is to place them vertically, with the fold up. This allows you to see all your kids’ clothes at once. Note that this system is frustrating for kids who put away their own clothes. They can retrieve their favourite item easily, but putting the clothes away and keeping them folded requires some mature dexterity. Sadia uses this technique, but needs to tidy her daughters’ drawers at least once a week because items have come unfolded.
Photo Credit: peyri

Toddlers’ clothes can be tricky. You may find yourself needing to toddlerproof your clothing storage if clothes turn out to be an obsession. Sadia had to put child locks on her daughters’ dresser drawers because of midnight organizing extravaganzas on the part of her daughter M. Shoes had to go in a childproofed drawer too, after Sadia caught both girls trying on different shoes in the middle of the night.

Generally, though, infant clothing organization strategies still hold.

Your kids’ growth will probably slow and you won’t have to switch to the next size up quite as often. However, as your toddlers lose their baby pudginess and begin to run around, you may discover that you need to be pickier about finding clothes that will stay on and be comfortable. Around this age, those of us with slimmer children can find that pants and skirts with adjustable waists work best.

If your kids share clothes, there’s no need to find a system to keep them separated. Many boy/girl twins, though, will have separate clothes, especially as they get older. Also, your twins may end up being drastically different sizes such that they’re wearing different sized clothes. They may simply have different preferences, or you may choose for each twin to have individual clothes. In each of these cases, it may be simplest to organize all your multiples’ clothes similarly, for the sake of consistency, as Beth described doing above.

Preschool and school age

This is exactly what an elementary schooler's closet often looks like. Clothes are hung and shoes paired and in their place. Sports jersey are up and out of the way because it's winter. Everyday clothes are within reach of their wearer. There's overflow on the floor, which is why Mommy needs to come in an enforce cleanup every so often. Photo Credit: master phillip
This is exactly how an elementary school kid’s closet often looks. Clothes are hung and shoes paired and in their place. Sports jersey are up and out of the way because it’s winter. Everyday clothes are within reach of their wearer. There’s overflow on the floor, blissfully ignored by the kids in question, which is why Mommy needs to come in and enforce cleanup every so often.
Photo Credit: master phillip

Reader Nancy C. commented on our Facebook page, saying, “When they shared a room, each had a dresser and half the closet.  Although identical, my boys did not wear the same clothes as each other. In fact, they would adamantly protest if I had accidentally put one of their brother’s shirts in with their shirts.”

Mommy Esq. started out with her boy/girl twins splitting their closet. One had the upper half, the other the lower. Each had a drawer. As she points out, “That only works though for the ages/stages where mom dresses them. Now everything has to be at their height since they pick their own clothes.

Sadia’s daughters, at 7, are old enough to dress themselves. They share everything but panties and socks because they have different preferences for those items. All their clothes are within reach of the children. They have a clothes rack inside their closet since they can’t reach the built-in rod. They share their drawers. Their socks and panties get lumped together; they know which belong to whom.

Sadia is working toward giving her girls complete ownership of their clothes, apart from wash/dry time. She still helps them fold clothes, but putting them away is completely the children’s responsibility. If the girls complain that they can’t find room for things, she encourages them to purge items they no longer wear to make room. Sadia no longer answers the question, “Where is my [insert name of clothing item here]?” mostly by responding with, “I am out of the business of knowing where your clothes are. Your clothes, your business.” If a child wants to be sure a particular item of clothing is ready to wear on a certain day, she must give Mommy at least 24 hours notice.

Claroux also has 7-year-old girls. She writes:

They share an 8-drawer dresser. I have these nylon bins from Ikea in each drawer to separate the sizes since they wear two different sizes now. That is, the underwear drawer contains a bin for M’s panties, a bin for C’s panties and a bin for undershirts. The same is true for socks, pajamas, leggings and tights).

Everything else is hung by type (dresses, pants, skirts, tops) and then grouped by color. That makes it easier if one is looking for their ‘purple soccer shirt’. As far as ownership of each item, they just know what fits them and what doesn’t.

Teens

The oldest of our combined kids is Sundy‘s son, making her the resident expert on all things teen. In short, teenagers are old enough to take care of their own clothes. Arrangements can run the gamut from the teen being required to wash, dry, fold and store his or her own clothes to being required to honour Mom’s organization scheme. As above, you’ll make more headway partnering with your child to develop a system that’s mutually agreeable than by decreeing a system from on high.

Children of different ages

Several of us with multiples often have kids of different ages living under the same roof.

When Wiley‘s oldest son, Trajan, outgrows things, they are stored in boxes for his younger brother Chiron. Once Chiron has outgrown those clothes, with a few exceptions kept for his younger twin sisters, they are immediately evicted to find new homes with children that fit them.

For day to day storage, Elizabeth uses dressers in each room. Her two older boys share a room so their clothes are kept together. They wear the same shirt size but different pant sizes. They each know what size they need and check the tags. She puts labels on each drawer so they can put away their own clothes. Mom doesn’t care if the clothes are folded but the drawer has to be able to close. Key to making any system work is knowing which battles are worth fighting!

Elizabeth’s 2-year-old Oliver’s clothes are in a labeled dresser in his room. The boy/girl twins share a dresser. The top drawers are boy clothes and the bottom drawers are girl clothes.

All the kids’ shoes and socks are kept in baskets by the garage door. Elizabeth’s house has a mud room with a bench and shelves, so storing them there is easy. Backpacks, Elizabeth’s purse, the diaper bag, and infant carseats are also kept in the mud room. One shelf in the mud room is filled with kids toiletries (brush, hair spray, lotion, tooth paste, tooth brushes). The children use the half bath in the mud room for teeth and hair. She organized things this way so that everything the family needed to get out the door is in one contained place. She hated running all over the house for shoes and trying to keep up with who still needed to brush their teeth.

By size, season and child

jackets
Winter jackets can be very bulky to store, so consider using space saver bags from which you can suck out the air with your vacuum cleaner hose. The bags will expand some during storage, but not if they’re packed together tightly enough in some out-of-the-way corner!
Photo Credit: dharder9475

Most of us have various sizes of children’s clothes in the house, even if we have only one size and gender of children. Whether we have hand-me-downs from friends and family, clueless friends who bought clothes much too big, or we’ve shopped in advance of the next growth spurt, we likely have clothes that aren’t in circulation.

All the HDYDI moms divide kid clothes in our houses into those that currently fit, those that are too big and those that are too small. Those that don’t fit are separated out and put away. Some of us also sort things by season, putting away bulky coats in the summer and shorts and sleeveless tops in the winter. Let’s talk about how to manage the clothes that aren’t in use.

Clothes to grow into

Photo Credit: if winter ends
You could store future sized clothes with the tag on for easy identification, but it’s wise to wash new clothes before dressing a baby in them, since sizing can irritate delicate skin.Photo Credit: if winter ends

To manage clothes that don’t yet fit, SaraBeth and Sadia both use big plastic bins stored in the garage, sorted by size and clearly labeled. Victoria has a different bin for each size, which makes it very simple to grab the next size she needs. With space at a premium in ldskatelyn‘s apartment, she stores some extra clothes at her in-laws’ house.

SarahP has three drawers in her kids’ dressers that contain both the size they’re currently wearing and the next size up. The rest of the clothes are organized by age in a box in storage. She always has the next size up because she’s found that her kids grow into some items faster than others depending on the brand. Clothing labels that display the same size may be attached to drastically different sized clothing.

Jen Wood keeps the next size of clothing in her sons’ closet. She always has a bin with the next sizes, picked up at clearance or on resale, plus hand-me-downs. She goes through the bin as needed.

Wiley has plastic sweater boxes from the Container Store which are all labelled by gender, size, and type of contents. Current clothes are kept in each child’s dresser or closet. The next size up resides in its boxes in the top of the closets while other sizes are stored outside.

Outgrown

Photo Credit: raffik
Photo Credit: raffik

If you have or are planning to have more kids, it makes sense to hold onto outgrown clothes for the next child. Otherwise, purge, purge, purge!

SarahP and many of the other moms donate their clothes to friends, Goodwill, or other charities. SaraBeth divides her kids outgrown clothes by gender (boy, girl and neutral) to simplify passing them on.

When Victoria notices that items are getting too small, she puts them aside to be donated and take out the next larger size. For instance, if she’s dressing her girls and notices that the pants she tries on are too small, she puts them aside immediately and takes out a larger pair of pants. If she didn’t do it right away, it could get out of control because she’d forget.

Sadia didn’t know any other girl/girl twins in her area who were smaller than hers, so she ended up dividing up all their matching outfits from the first year (except two preemie footies and two Christmas dresses kept for sentimental reasons). She sent each of two friends across the country a huge diaper box filled with baby clothes. She now keeps a donation bin in the kitchen next to the trash and recycling to make it part of daily life to identify things ready to be rehomed.

RebeccaD goes through her kids’ drawers to move out the old and bring in the new about every 3 months. “The key,” she says, “is to get rid of stuff immediately and be realistic about how many clothes your kids really need. Mine are only in T-shirts and diapers unless we leave the house anyway.”

Elizabeth has an especially effective system for handling hand-me-downs. She and her sister-in-law have 5 boys between them, all very close in age. They share clothes. They keep them organized by size in clear plastic tubs with lids. After an item has been outgrown it gets washed and thrown back in the tub. They don’t separate by season.

Once a size has been completely outgrown by one boy, the next mom who needs the size stores the tub. The sisters-in-law use their individual judgment as to when to get rid of an item or replace it. If they have a sentimental attachment to a particular outfit, they either keep it out of the bin or mark the tag with the word “save”. As you might imagine, this has worked really well for them.

Now that the biggest boys are getting older and have an opinion as to what they want to wear, they do find themselves buying and keeping more clothes. Elizabeth still keeps them sorted by size in tubs to hand down to 2-year-old Oliver.

Photo modified from original by Micah Sittig
Photo modified from original by Micah Sittig

How to organize kids’  clothes, in summary

The short version of everything we’ve said is this:

  • Avoid clutter.
    • Sort clothes by size.
    • Keep handy only those clothes that fit.
    • Give away outgrown clothes unless they will be reused in your home.
    • Don’t keep more than you need or have space for.
  • Find a system that works for you.
    • Drawers, hangers, or some combination of those two seem the norm for current clothes.
    • For clothes that don’t fit, labeled bins work well.
    • Pick your battles.
  • Change the system when it stops working.

How do you manage your kids’ clothes?

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Make it Monday – Closet Dividers

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Categories Household and Family Management, Make-It Mondays, Organization1 Comment

Every new mom is inundated with a list of things she and her baby absolutely positively cannot live without. And similarly with a list of things that are a complete waste of money. Do not listen to any of these people!

For example, everyone told me that I will desperately need a bottle warmer and I never needed one, never got one (nor a wipes warmer). In fact, since Emily really never took a bottle, that would have been a serious waste of money! Everyone also said the changing table was a waste of money and we still (after 4 years) use it every single day. I am not a fan of changing a baby on the floor, on the bed, or any of the other places that people told me to use instead of the changing table. (we went with a tall dresser on purpose because we liked it better and it fit the room better, so a longer dresser was never an option). And I bought a changing table off Craig’s list for downstairs diaper changes. See, better for me, better for baby, better for the environment, and better for the people who no longer wanted it. Win win all the way around. Pretty good for a “useless” nursery item!

There is another item in nursery world that I would agree is useless – closet dividers. Most of Emily’s clothes were hung – all sizes. One section of her closet was current and one for the future. When we moved, every closet had California Closets (SCORE!) and that was fabulous for my OCD organizational self, and once again, Emily’s clothes were hung and organized. My way. My way that I know and no one else knows. D tries and he is great at hanging up laundry and generally gets things in or near the right sections. But my system really means that I am the best equipped to hang up her clothes. That must stop!

But her clothes are not the issue any more. The twins will be sharing a nursery and a closet (California-ized thank you sellers :) ) and while I can do his clothes on one bar and hers on another, I want thing to stay organized!! And that means organizing clothes by size in such a way that other people can put away the laundry (hint, if you come over to help with the babies, you can now put away laundry, which will be a big help :) ). But I am not about to spend money on closet dividers. And really, why would I? Instead I got creative with cereal boxes!

I present DIY closet dividers! Easy, cute, and basically FREE! You cannot do any better than that! There are a ton of tutorials on the web, so I will just give some quick hit highlights here.

First, open a cereal box and eat the cereal.

Then open the box all the way flat. I cut off each main panel to make life easier.

Here you have 2 options and I tried both, but preferred the second one. You can trace and cut out the shape and then glue on the paper. But I preferred to glue down the paper to the cereal box (spray adhesive is your friend!) on both sides, then cut out the template.

Then cut out a hole slightly larger than your closet rod. My mother in law has a handy dandy scrapbook hole cutter and I used that because when I used scissors, it was not a pretty cut. It had to be a pretty cut!

Here is what I had.

side 1 of 2 of the closet dividers
side 2 of the same dividers – one for her and one for him.

I love the way they look – the perfect clean cuts, the nice paper, I am happy! But in order for this to really work, I also wanted a way to label each one. Stickers!

Little girl’s first 3 dividers (nb=newborn).
Her dividers for bigger sizes…
Since baby boy is not going to get many hand me downs from Em, I have been hitting tag sales and clearance sales for him. Loving the $1 and $2 clearance stuff from Target! Sweet!
The section of the closet where I will keep their current clothes. Little girl’s rod looks so sad :(

LOVE LOVE LOVE these! And basically, free, which is the best part. The cereal we had anyway, this was just reusing the boxes. The scrapbook paper I had, my mother in law had and I did buy a few sheets (but at half price, $0.29 a piece), the spray adhesive I had, and the stickers I had.

So I still agree that these are completely unnecessary, but they are cute, it was a fun project and I am a sucker for anything that either organizes or creates the illusion of organization. So my official stance is that these are not necessary but there is no way they can HURT, so why not?

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