Coming to Term(s)

In honor of birth story week, I sat down to write up my experience. I’ve been reading the stories posted here with such voracity, identifying in some way with each one. I love reading them! Then I turned back to my own story. Hmmm…

Well, the funny thing about my birth story is that now that nearly five years have past, the details are getting hazy. At the time, I could recite every cm dilated I was as each day passed – but now, I only remember the big pieces. And I think that’s okay. I have written the details down in the boys’ baby books, and now I’m happy just to enjoy the days that we have together as they come.

So maybe my story is going to be a little less detailed than the ones we’ve seen so far this week, but maybe that’s okay.

I don’t think there’s anything unique about my birth story compared to other moms of multiples that I know. And while it’s fun to scare the heck out of the singleton mommies, I try to spare them most of my story, as it’s not quite fair to make those comparisons.

My initial pregnancy was pretty normal, up to week 19. And by normal I mean that I thought I was having ONE BABY. At my first ultrasound at 19 weeks, the sonographer started the show and asked, “So you already know you’re having two babies, right?” Our reaction was stunned silence. And then crazy joy. Two babies would be wonderful and perfect.

At 31 weeks, I was HUGE. I had gained nearly 50 pounds. I was extremely swollen. My legs and feet were completely inflated and hard – if you poked me, it stayed indented. Yuck.

At 32 weeks, I was told that my blood pressure was climbing. My body was reaching the end point. They hospitalized me and started me on magnesium, which turned into the worst 24 hours of my life. I was so worried about my babies, knowing that it was too early for them to come out, and yet, the torture of the magnesium was almost unbearable. Magnesium is given intravenously to stave off early labor. It makes you feel as if you are burning up from the inside out. You aren’t allowed to drink water either – they only give you a few CCs of ice chips each hour. I wanted what was best for the babies but felt that I wasn’t doing such a great job.

After two days, my doctor decided I wasn’t getting much better and labor was imminent. The hospital we were at was not equipped to handle my babies should they arrive so soon, so she transferred me a local hospital with a Level II NICU. An ambulance ride later (my very first), I was at home in a new room in a new hospital where they were much more used to delivering multiple babies. They immediately took me off the magnesium and everything else. It was an entirely different attitude. I felt so much better and was more confident that everything would be okay.

The next few days I spent on my left side with continual baby monitors strapped to my belly. I would have given anything to lay flat on my back or at least to have flipped to my right side. Anything except that I knew it was best for my blood pressure, and hence, the babies

At 33 weeks, my water broke at 4am and I was taken in for an emergency C-section by 8am. By 8:21am, our two baby boys were out of me and into the NICU.

It really happened so fast that I can hardly remember the details. I know I was an enormous cry-baby about the contractions. Once my water broke, the pain of those contractions was CRAZY. I still cannot imagine how anyone goes through natural labor and I have the HIGHEST respect for anyone going that route. Once the spinal took effect, it was smooth sailing for me. I was in no pain and felt only a lot of being moved around behind the curtain. My husband watched the whole thing and was pretty amazed to be talking to me like normal on one side of the curtain and see the whole other side where the babies were coming out.

Our boys were born seven weeks early and weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces and 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Big boys really, comparatively. Once I realized that I had nearly nine pounds of children inside me, I decided it was kind of understandable that my body was done. I had had seven weeks to go. Who knows how big they would have been by then?

They stayed in the NICU for four weeks. That was interesting in many ways – lots of days where they would get better and stronger and healthier and then lots of days where they would fall behind again. The biggest benefit that I see now from our stay there, aside from the phenomenal care we received, is that my boys were on a feeding and sleeping schedule from day one. That helped tremendously when we got home. We had a routine and we knew what to do with our babies. I am grateful for that.

Once we got home, we had a rotation of family members come to stay with us for about four weeks. One of those weeks, my husband stayed home with us too. Our families all live out of town, which never mattered before the babies arrived. Once we got home from the hospital, I saw that this was going to be a challenge. It’s still our biggest challenge as parents – we don’t have family around to help us get a break.

I went back to work full-time after 12 weeks of maternity leave. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It took a long time to adjust. I learned that the only way I made it work for my sanity was that when I got home, I only focused on my babies. I didn’t balance the checkbook. I didn’t cook anything. I didn’t do laundry or clean. I just played and cuddled and snuggled and played some more with my two baby boys.

Okay, at some point, we did need to eat. LOL. But we did all those things after the babies were down “for the night” (which is a relative term depending on the night). After they were in bed, we did all those things we needed to do to take care of the house and get ready for the next day. Even now, I make it my priority to truly BE with my kiddos when I’m with them and save all the other stuff for when I’m not having kiddo time.

The moral of the story? My husband and I learned early on that we had to very self-sufficient, we had to give each other lots of breaks, we had to keep our connection to each other going and we had to let a lot of things go. A LOT of things. Like cleaning. Eating hot meals. Socializing. Those things just fall by the wayside because they have to. The most important thing is to keep ourselves sane and healthy and to focus on our family. That’s what works for us.

And my biggest piece of advice from the whole birth/coming home experience: hire a cleaning lady. You will never regret it.

Ringing the Dinner Bell

So at our house, as I think I’ve only mentioned about a million times, dinner is a bit of a struggle. As the mom, I feel the pressure to provide a “meal plan” each week that covers everyone’s nutritional needs while providing fast prep and maximizing our grocery dollars. Add to that active children with evening activities, hubby and I both working full-time and each of us having other activities as well, and the task of making a family dinner seems nearly impossible.

I have developed some shortcuts. One night a week, we generally have frozen pizza or take-and-bake pizza from Costco or Papa Murphy’s. I try to cook a “real” meal on Sunday when I tend to have some time. But it’s the consistency that I find challenging. I feel like each week is so very different in the activities our family is doing that any plan I develop goes out the window by next week.

I’m hoping that I’m not alone in this struggle. So I’m asking for your help and advice – what do you eat for dinner? How do you handle planning meals over the course of a month? Let’s all share ideas here, whether it’s utilizing your slow cooker, planning for full-blown-sit-down meals, or foraging in the cupboards for whatever you can find on hand. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Mommy Guilt

One of the things I wasn’t prepared for when the boys arrived was Mommy Guilt. Captial M. Capital G.

Before becoming pregnant, I pretty much only had to worry about myself. Oh sure, I worried about my husband to some extent as well, but I learned pretty quickly that he was much happier when I left him to his own devices.

Then pregnancy. It wasn’t until about five months in when the reality hit that there were two human beings living inside my body. And those two human beings would very soon be outside and in the world and would need my care and attention.

Still, until they arrived, I had no idea of the true magnitude of care and attention they would require. Those people who try to give you well-meaning advice while you’re pregnant usually like to say something like, “Enjoy your time now! Your life will never be the same!” Yeah, yeah, yeah – I remember thinking. I’m ready. Bring it on.

Then our boys arrived and true reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved every moment of it, don’t get me wrong – but there is no break.

A good friend of mine, watching our boys crawl over, under, around and through a Mexican restaurant booth where we four adults were trying to enjoy a meal remarked, “This doesn’t look so hard.” I smiled and said, “It’s not hard – it’s just constant.”

And that’s where the Mommy Guilt comes in. I love my boys dearly. I love being with them. I would do ANYTHING for them. But Mommy has got to have a break. So I take breaks. I have my own interests. I work a full-time corporate job and have my own business on the side. I have my craft projects. And my favorite time of day is after boys and husband are asleep and I have a quiet house all to myself. I know that these alone times are the keys to my sanity.

So why do I feel Guilty? Guilty that I need this time away? I guess I feel like I shouldn’t NEED time away. I should want to spend every waking moment with them. And yet, I don’t.

In talking with my other mommy friends, it’s a common theme. We all have seen the stereotype of “mother” played out again and again as we were growing up. And as children, whether our moms stayed at home or worked, the result was the same – children see their mothers as just that, a mom only. It’s only later, when you become a mom, that you see that your own mother was probably driven nuts by you and needed alone time as well. Maybe she got it or maybe she didn’t, but odds are, as a child, you didn’t notice.

The lesson in all of this, for me, is that I don’t need to have Mommy Guilt about needing time away from my kids. It makes me a better mom, more appreciative of the time we do have together. And that’s the best thing I can give to my boys – attention and love, full-focused on them when we are together. (Although if you ask my boys – the best thing I can give them is fruit snacks.)

Staving Off Boredom

Dawn asked “I am curious if any of you have come across some good books with information about how to educationally entertain your toddler twins during the day. My guys are 16 months and I would like to find ways to add education into the fun mix. I realize they are always learning with everything we do but honestly I think the three of us are bored. I’m looking for inspiration!”

I hear you, Dawn. I know we’re supposed to be our kids’ best teachers, but sometimes it’s hard to be a one-woman show!

I have found a few fun items along the way that have helped pass the hours, helping me to feel that I was contributing to their budding curiosity and ongoing education. At our house, it’s projects and music. When I was feeling energized and ambitious, we tried out new activities. When I was feeling like I needed energy, we would put on the music.

All of the recommendations here come straight from our own home: tried, tested and twin-approved.

You should be able to find these materials at your local library, which I learned to utilize to a whole new level once the kiddos arrived. Our library system offers online access with a hold system so that you can reserve books from across the network and have them delivered to your local branch. Extremely handy.

We’ll start with books. These are broad-theme books with a range of art and play activities. There are so many idea books out there that are wonderful; these are just a few that I personally found, used and loved.

Toddler Theme Calendar by Totline – 2001
This one is AWESOME. It’s a perpetual calendar with activities for every day of every month of the entire year. I loved that this was already organized for me. I didn’t even have to open a book to find my own ideas – they were laid out already. They have one for preschoolers as well.

Baby Play by Wendy Masi – 2001
We are big fans of Gymboree Play & Music. We started taking our boys when they were 18 months old and only just stopped going after they turned four and started preschool. I love Gymboree! This books lets you bring some Gymboree home. They also have a Toddler Play version as well as new versions published in the last year that I’m sure are wonderful.

Science is Simple by Peggy Ashbrook – 2003
This is a great resource for toddlers and preschoolers. I know it’s got “preschoolers” in its title, but I have always believed in being a little advanced with my guys. The activities in this book are laid out for preschool teachers, so that you can make a whole day’s activity out of making homemade slime. Fun! We’ve tried a few of the activities out of this book with rousing success.

The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner – 2001
A great book! This one is packed full of ideas, games, and activities, from simple to more-effort-needed. Again, there are other versions available for other ages.

The other essential in our house to stave off boredom is music. I cannot stress enough that you do not have to suffer through saccharine children’s music just because you have children. They like what you like, generally. (My boys love to jump around to The White Stripes just as much as they do to anything I have listed out here.) Cheryl had a great review last week of the TwinSpin-Tunes for Twins CD (which I’ve added to my wishlist!). Here are a few others that never fail to get us up and DANCE.

The Backyardigans: Born to Play – 2008
I confess: I LOVE The Backyardigans. When my boys were Tyrone and Pablo last year for Halloween, I made myself a Uniqua costume. (Only one little girl knew who I was – everyone else thought I was Piglet.) I even decorated our mini-van as a backyard for trunk-o-treat, complete with a walk-through interior and a slide out the back. We have nearly all the DVDs and have so far had to live with just two CDs of music from the TV show. Not so any longer. Born to Play is a great CD, full of the wide range of musical styles The Backyardigans is known for. It’s impossible not to dance when you listen. Even if your kids don’t watch the show, you can’t help but enjoy the music.

Ralph’s World: Happy Lemons – 2007
Ralph’s World music is just wonderful. He explores a broad range of musical styles (blues, reggae, swing and zillions more) all within songs that are fun and whimsical. Our favorite is Happy Lemons but there are many more to choose from – they’re all fantastic!

They Might Be Giants: No – 2002
Yes, this is the same They Might Be Giants of “now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople” fame. They have produced some incredible children’s music, have been featured on the Disney channel and much more. This is one of our favorite CDs of all time. The music is quirky and weird with lots of funny stuff that keep my boys laughing. You know it’s good when you end up singing along to it in the car on the way to work. And you’re all the way there before you realize you don’t have any kids with you.

Now that I’ve shared some of my family’s favorites, I would love to hear more about yours! I’m always on the lookout for new books and CDs to share with my boys.

Classroom Thoughts

The end of the school year is approaching and naturally my thoughts turn to – school options for next year. (I’m nothing if not a planner.) Right now, the boys are in the same classroom for pre-school and will be again next year. Their birthday falls right at the end of July (the 25th) and I’ve decided to keep them out of kindergarten this year, even though they’ll be five this year. They weren’t supposed to be born until September, which means they would not have been old enough to go this year – so it seems only fair to let them hang on for another year.

Still, it gets me thinking about the same classroom thing. As I said, right now they’re in the same class and seem to do great. Their pre-school teacher has told me that they really do not interact much during class at all, and she usually keeps them in separate groups when she can, which doesn’t bother them at all.

But I’ve seen the flip-side of this where my boys don’t do well when separated. They continually want to know where the other guy is and what he’s doing and if he’s okay. It’s been easier to keep them together because it seems to give them peace of mind. Once they know the other guy is okay, they each go on their merry way.

I know there’s quite a bit of research available on whether multiples should be kept together or separated, and it seems to boil down to this: it depends on the multiples. Some are more dependent on each other. Some are more like siblings and others are more connected.

The challenge comes when you get to school and the principal has opinions on the matter. Several states, including Minnesota, Texas, Georgia and New Hampshire, have laws in place allowing parents to make the decision about whether to keep their multiples together or not. Other states have bills pending or awaiting sponsorship (check out TwinsLaw.com for more information).

I like that decision should be something my husband and I have input on. (This article on About.com has great guidelines for getting started.) I know it will be a challenge, to feel like I made the right decision, but I’ve found that to be the challenge for most everything since our boys came along.

Until kindergarten, they’ll be in the same classroom – and we’ll see how that goes.

Foodies

Being a mother of multiples (or a MOM), has taught me one thing above all else – GET ORGANIZED OR DIE. It’s one of the reasons those of us with multiples say that there’s a reason God gave us twins (or more). It’s because we can handle it, even if we don’t think we can.

Organization in the kitchen became an immediate need when the boys came home from hospital. We went to bottles within the first couple of days with me pumping, so there was the nightly dance of cleaning bottles/prepping for the next day/washing the pumping equipment/storing the milk. Sigh. I’ve almost forgotten those days in a haze of sleep-deprivation.

Now that my guys are older (4 1/2), we’ve gotten to the point where our grocery needs are pretty consistent each week. I’ve made a little printable list that I just check off when it’s grocery day (Sunday for us) and then add to it with anything the hubby and I might need. I know you can find pre-printed lists out there but I found it was most helpful to make my own as I felt like I was always crossing more off than I kept. So feel free to download mine and make it your own. Just don’t judge me, please. (And by the way, “hexagon crackers” are oyster crackers – that’s what my guys call them because they are, I’m convinced, geniuses.) The grocery list has two complete lists on a single page, so you can print it out and cut it apart. Are you picking up that I like to make the most of my resources?

CraftyLissaGroceryList

A few other lessons learned in the food department:

1. Juice – of course, we all know you’re not supposed to let your kids drink too much juice. I’ve never taken the time to find out how much juice is too much juice, because I’m lazy. So we just don’t have juice in our house. Except ORANGE JUICE. My boys are obsessed with orange juice and have been from a very young age. Their orange juice habit is about 2 cans per week right now. The big cans. Seriously. So here’s my trick – I water it WAY down. It’s probably got double the amount of water necessary to mix it up. My boys have always had it that way and have never noticed the difference in taste of the full-strength versions at MickyD’s (on those rare eating out occasions). Try it with your juice – it might just work! The only drawback, hubby and I don’t drink it anymore. Wait, maybe that’s a good thing…

2. Cereal – not sure if you’ve noticed this yet, but no one told me that cereal is so expensive! Geesh. $4 for a small box? I know, I know, it’s a whole meal in there, but I’m cheap. So I get the store brands whenever I can. I can’t tell any difference. This is probably a DUH for most everyone but me, but I’d never had generic cereal prior to having kids. Maybe if you have older picky kids, you could fake ‘em out even more by putting the generic cereal IN the brand-name box? It’s worth a try…

3. Applesauce – have you ever tried applesauce as an adult? Check the ingredients. Can you believe they put SUGAR in there? It’s already sweet enough to make my cheeks hurt! We stick with the unsweetened kind. It’s the same as the baby food version, taste-wise. And we save some more money by getting the store brand of this as well. Generic, unsweetened applesauce – yes, that’s the very definition of a frugal mom.

Now if we could just figure out what to feed ourselves, the adults…

Pumping For Advice

Pumping while working full-time is not for the faint at heart. It’s not even something I ever really thought I would do – but then so much of what happened when the boys came early at 33 weeks wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. Our guys never really learned to latch on well enough for me to breastfeed them easily. I tried to get the hang of it while they were in the NICU for four weeks but didn’t have much success. And I was just so tired.

I got the pumping thing down while they were still in the hospital, so when we got home, I went to pumping exclusively and just fed them with bottles. We were all a lot happier. I tried to find some guidance from my baby books on how to do this whole pumping thing but resources were scarce. No one in the breastfeeding support from our hospital really shared this option with me, as I think it’s their goal to get you successfully breastfeeding. I think that is a wonderful goal, but with two babies, it was more than I could handle.

I ended up pumping for a total of 11 months. The boys were three months before I had to supplement with formula, which I ended up mixing half and half with the breast milk. The part that killed me the most was on that day when I made my first half and half bottles, my heart was so sad that I couldn’t provide all the food my guys needed – but they could have cared less! They scarfed down the formula/breastmilk bottles just like everything else. Humph. Oh well.

I went back to work when they were three months old. By then I had a solid schedule. I pumped when we woke up in the morning for 20 minutes, while they had their first bottle. Then I pump in 4-5 hour increments until bedtime. While I pumped, I gave the boys their bottles so that I could make good use of our time (God gave me twins for a reason – I love to multi-task). I know, I know, you’re not supposed to “prop” up a bottle. But I believe that guidance was written by someone who never had multiples – and I was always right there with them. We used bottle pillows and it worked wonderfully for us.

I was nervous about the whole pumping-at-work thing – what would people think? Then I remembered I worked practically with all men and, really, what were they going to say? Nothing! I looked at it as my little break from the cube. In fact (don’t tell anyone!), after I stopped pumping, I still brought my pump with me to work for two months and kept the same schedule to take naps instead of pumping.

My office has great facilities for nursing moms. They offer lactation rooms with a recliner, sink, fridge, table and plug-ins, and you just reserve the room for a private meeting on your schedule. If your workplace doesn’t have quite such a set-up, there are resources online you can tap into to help make a case for setting up something like it. I’ve heard stories about moms who pump in the restroom or spare meeting rooms or even in their cars. You can make it work but it’s a little easier when your employer is supportive.

Some essential items for pumping while working:

1. A good, heavy-duty breast pump. Don’t mess around here. I used the Medela Pump-in-Style, and it was my best friend and constant companion. It had all the compartments you need to store your equipment, plus a cooler and ice-freezey-thing. I can’t remember if it came with an AC adapter or not, but that is essential. A battery pack is a nice back up as well – the power does go out here in the middle of Missouri during bad weather. And I won’t go into details on the few times I tried pumping in the car while driving home from work (yes, I did try it – I don’t recommend it).

 2. A hands-free pumping/nursing bra thing. I’m not sure how I would have lived without this. With one of these, pumping at work becomes kind of little vacation away from your annoying co-workers. You can just relax while your pump does all the work. Of course, you do feel a lot like a cow, but reading a book can take your mind off of that.

3. A timer. A standard kitchen timer is fine. You just need to be sure you’re being consistent about the time you’re putting in. That’s the key to maximizing your milk production. (Feeling like a cow yet?)

4. Storage containers. I used hard plastic storage bottles to collect and transport my milk, then transfered it to freezer bags when I got home. Eventually my supply was low enough and they were eating enough table food (around 6 months) that I just used the hard plastic storage bottles to keep the milk in the fridge, as we would use it all up by the next day.

Keep the same pumping schedule at work that you established at home. Mine was 7am, 11am, 3pm and 8pm. No, I never really got up to pump at night after I came home hospital – but man, that first pump in the morning was rough because of it. On the other hand, it felt like I had produced a lot!

Patience is essential. I stuck with it for so long because I felt like it was the one thing I could really do to help my guys. I had the usual mommy guilt piling up – my babies were born early, my body failed them, I can’t even nurse them, I’m a horrible mother. So seeing those frozen bags of milk lined up were like my little accomplishments. I was proud. My pumping schedule eventually weaned off until I was down to pumping just once a day. Then I just stopped. It was the end of an era.

No matter how long you end up pumping, you should be proud. Pumping is hard, dammit. It feels and looks really weird, but oh well. Now you know how all those cows feel.

Rock-a-Bye

Sleep has been on my mind lately, namely because I haven’t been getting any. I used to think that when my twin boys reached a certain age, sleep would again return to the blissful stage it was when I was child-free. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be case. Our challenge right now is that the boys start out in their own beds but find their way to our bed. But that’s whole ‘nother story, which I blogged about over here.

The baby sleep stage with two babies (or more) is a challenge, to put it mildly. I found it best to work out a tag-team system with my husband, just as CarrieinAK said in her post earlier this week. My favorite part about this stage is all the inane questions from people without multiples like: Do they wake each other up? (Goodness no! That piercing wail that wakes me from a dead sleep? The other baby sleeps right through it!)

So at risk of stating the obvious, even though that’s sometimes exactly what we all need to restore the sanity, here’s some advice for getting some shut-eye:

1. Baths help. They calm kids down. They signal that the end of the day is near. As exhausted as you are after a full day, and maybe you have already given those kids several baths already depending on how many explosive diaper moments you have had, try doing a bath.

2. Play some music. We have a CD player in our boys’ bedroom that has played the SAME CD for the last four and a half years. God forbid that thing ever gets broken. The music is part of the signal to our guys that it’s time to relax and go to sleep. This is in contrast to whenever we are out of town, where I find the only thing that knocks them out for sleep is to wear them out physically.

3. Establish a routine. For older kids (2 and up), it helps to establish a routine. We do a bath, medicine, teeth, books, then lights out. My guys know what’s next, so it helps to keep us going. It doesn’t mean it cuts down on the whining, but at least they know what’s next.

4. Limit the drinks within an hour of bedtime. This is for the older kids again and especially important when you’re working on potty-training. Less liquid in their little bodies means they won’t be up and down quite as much.

5. Don’t listen to anyone. Not even me. Don’t let ANYONE make you feel guilty for doing what works when it comes to getting some sleep. Some families like to sleep in one big bed. Some families have strict lines that cannot be crossed about who sleeps where. You have to do what works for you, your marriage and your kids (and probably in that order).

My husband and I agreed when the boys came home from the NICU to do what works until it stopped working – and then we would try something else. They slept with us for a few months, then they slept in a single crib, then they slept in separate cribs, then they slept in separate rooms, then back to the same room. There were sleepless nights and nights we all slept like logs. And everything in between.

One last piece of advice: don’t ever think, “Okay, we’ve got this thing down. No sweat.” That’s the exact moment when everything will change. Trust me.

One if by Land, Two if by…Mini Van?

Traveling with small children is always an adventure. Traveling with multiples – well, that’s really more of a quest. Whether you have twins in diapers or triplets in big kid underwear, bathrooms (and where to find them) are always a main concern.

I’m past the baby stage of traveling, so I’m blessed with a much-less-stuffed-full “diaper” bag. (I need a new name for our diaper bag, as it no longer holds diapers.) My twin boys are four years old. Both are long since potty-trained and yet, the attention to potties has not yet ended.

Car travel is one of the (few) times when it may be to an advantage to be a boy. I have traveled with the boys several times by myself through the middle of nowhere Missouri when one of the boys shouts out the dreaded “MOMMYIHAVETOGOPOTTYNOW!!” Never mind that we just stopped at McD’s three exits ago – he didn’t have to go then, of course. So I have been forced to pull over to the side of the road and let him go. (Luckily that usually prompts the other guy to go too.) As a woman, I’m slightly jealous at the ease at which they are able to just go, anywhere, anytime. Then again, I don’t have to worry about getting pee on my shoes.

During long road trips, my husband and I are divided on the best strategy. My advice is to put them in pull-ups to avoid accidents. He disagrees, believing that they should be able to tell us when they need to go potty. I rebut, saying that a sleeping boy doesn’t have much ability to speak, except to awaken screaming that his clothes are all wet, his car seat is all wet, and we are to blame. At that point, my husband doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, as he’s remembering all the times when I’ve been right (at least, that’s what I tell myself).

Once your kids are potty-trained, it really comes down to this: can they hold it while they are sleeping? If they are napping or sleeping at night in big kid underwear without accidents, you are probably safe to leave them in underwear while traveling. If not, then save yourself the stress and just put them in a pull-up.

Other crucial items for car travel from a potty-perspective are extra pull-ups and/or underwear, extra clothing (all the way down to the socks, please trust me on this one), wet wipes, a plastic bag for holding wet clothes, two or more bath towels (to dry off with and to place on the wet car seat), and possibly some candy as a bribe to get them to calm down. Or is that just me?

This past weekend, we had a four-hour road trip with our boys, and it was the first time we have made it that far without: a) an accident; b) stopping by the side of the road (it was about 18 degrees that day); or c) going potty in a water bottle in a moving vehicle (by the boys, not myself or my husband). The water bottle trick is an interesting one taught to me by my husband. Apparently men do this all the time (at least that’s what he told me). I was outraged and appalled. Then it came down to the emergency potty-situation (too cold to stop and no restroom in sight), and I was forced to give it a try. As strange as the experience is while it’s happening, it’s even worse to try to figure out what to do with the water bottle after the incident.

My advice is to make Dad figure that one out.