Meet a How Do You Do It? author

dorydoyle

Dory is a teacher-turned-SAHM to her fraternal twins Audrey and David. She also writes for her blog Doyle Dispatch, is an editor with The Wise Baby, and is a Young Living Essential Oil distributor and educator with her Healthier Oil the Thyme team.

Twinfant Tuesday: Gender Differences in Infancy

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Categories Different Gender, Parenting, Parenting TwinsTags , 3 Comments

I am so thrilled to be a twin mom, especially one of boy/girl twins. Long before I was pregnant, I thought I would have a house full of boys, so the fact that I have my little girl is such a thrill (even more so because she is an absolute mini me).

From a human development standpoint, I get a giddy excitement (it’s the total nerd in me) in comparing Audrey and David and how their gender identities play such a huge part in their personalities. I mean, let’s face it: moms of boy/girl twins have a constant psychology experiment in their house.

I know that we are in the 21st century and breaking down barriers of traditional gender roles, but to be honest, they still exist. I want to be very clear that these are not my personal belief (or experience), but they are some of the stereotypical ideas.

Boys are traditionally be thought of as:

  • active
  • rough
  • hit
  • bounce
  • dirty
  • tough
  • destructive
  • having behavior issues
  • fight for 3 minutes and then go back to being best friends
  • mischievous
  • get into everything
  • like trucks, blocks, building, tearing down
  • hit milestones later than girls
  • better at math and science
  • don’t express emotions
  • if take charge: “leader”

Girls are traditionally thought of as:

  • sweet
  • imaginative
  • kind
  • look out for others
  • fight with words, not actions
  • hold a grudge
  • like to be helpers
  • like dolls, dress-up
  • hit milestones earlier than boys
  • better verbal skills
  • express emotions
  • if take charge: “bossy”

So let’s look at my experience with my boy/girl twins. Here’s some background: My twins were born at 36 weeks 5 days. They didn’t have any NICU time. Audrey (Baby A) was 6 lb 3 oz when she was born and David (Baby B) was 5 lb 1 oz. While they were small on the growth chart, we all went home together after a 3-day hospital stay. They were breastfed exclusively from birth until about 4-5 months, and then we did a formula bottle only every few days, eventually doing formula once a day at about 7 months. They were breastfed until the day they turned 15 months. Why did I feel like I needed to go into that? I wanted to show that these are rather healthy babies (despite their small size on the growth chart), so that doesn’t play a part in this comparison.

Gender Differences in Infancy and Beyond

Now, from their first day in the hospital, we immediately noticed character differences in Audrey and David. Audrey was observant: looking around, taking it all in, trying to figure this thing out. David was the one who cuddled up to us, wanting to be held and comforted and loved on. Audrey’s cry was more of a whimper (hoping to get attention at some point, but not demanding it), whereas David’s was a high-pitched, blood-curdling “I-need-you-right-now!” scream that made his whole body shake. Yet, both could be comforted almost immediately with being held or food.

As we got home and started breaking free from the haze of new parenthood (which is especially demanding with multiples), the characteristics from the hospital became even more apparent. Audrey (older by 8 minutes) would comfort David if she could. David would gladly nuzzle up to her if Mommy or Daddy was unavailable. Audrey would look around calmly to take in her mobile, the music, or whoever was new in the room. David, on the other hand, would move, “squiggle,” dance, and shake when he was exposed to new stimuli. Audrey’s laugh changed often to mimic our laughs (as if finding which one would be the best Audrey laugh to please those around her), and David’s laugh was a huge belly laugh that literally took over his whole body (I’ve never heard such a loud laugh from a little body). In fact, David’s laugh from infancy is still the same as now that he is a toddler.

Once we started doing more activities with them, these gender differences came out even more: David liked reading books (with us and by himself), looking at things that moved, and trying to dance. Audrey was happiest when she was with someone else. If David didn’t want to sit back-to-back with her, she would want to be with me (or another adult that she knew)- in our laps, being held, interacting in some way. Audrey was wary of new faces, but David never met a stranger. Both would become horribly jealous when the other got attention. Audrey’s fits would be a mock-cry and maybe dance in place to show her upset, and she would quickly get over it. David, on the other hand, would collapse on the floor, flinging his head and body around.

Now that they are toddlers, we see these stereotypical gender roles come out even more. It’s fascinating! We have the same toys available to both, the same books, the same activities. But Audrey wants the dolls, dress up, blocks, and puppets, while David wants the cars, trucks, and blocks. That’s not to say that they don’t both play with the other toys, but they gravitate to the toys that fit those gender roles. And this is without ANY prompting from us. The only thing we have done differently with them is dress Audrey in pink and David in blue (to diminish people asking about their genders).

It’s truly incredible to look at these two and see their differences. Are they just character differences or are they gender differences?

What experiences do you have with your children and meeting/breaking stereotypical gender roles?

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Toddler Thursday: Parenting After Teaching

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Categories Parenting, Toddlers3 Comments

PARENTING AFTER TEACHING

I think I’ve come to the realization that parenting really isn’t easy. But really, what role is? In my life, I’ve been a mom, a wife, an actress, a 4th grade teacher, a kindergarten teacher, a 2nd grade teacher, a preschool camp counselor, an essential oil educator, a blogger, a lamp shade salesperson, a purse distributor, a camera store and film developer, a paralegal assistant, a daughter/sister/cousin/niece/granddaughter, and countless other “roles.” So I think I can honestly say that all of them have their shares of ups and downs. Yet, I find that I constantly can pull from one to help the next role in my life. So while it seems like I have done vastly different things in my life, I find that the skill and experiences all help each other.

Take teaching and parenting: both involve working with children and educating them. Teaching is supposed to focus on teaching knowledge while parenting is teaching skills and behavior. Yet anyone who knows a teacher, has been a teacher, or has seen a teacher in action knows that there are far more life lessons in a classroom (especially an elementary school classroom) than book knowledge.

Classrooms are filled with with why and how. They have investigations and real-world experience. They allow questions and behavior- and life-lessons in dealing with our best of friends and our worst of enemies. And teachers (at least good ones) help facilitate the child in these experiences.

Parenting, likewise, is also filled with why and how. There are explorations about the world around you (both near and far) and field trips (even if it’s just to the local grocery store). They allow questions and behavior- and life-lessons in dealing with our best of friend and our worst of enemy (sometimes Mom, sometimes Dad, sometimes Sister/Brother, and sometimes even the dog). And parents help facilitate the child in these experiences.

In my classroom, I loved my students. We laughed and cried and celebrated milestones together. They were my children. I had high expectation of them, and because of the love and respect and community that we built in between those 4 walls, they rose to meet them. I’m not saying it was perfect, but I helped my children accomplish great things.

Teaching has certainly been a great precursor to parenting. But I was never prepared for how unconditionally I could love my own little humans so much. How my stern (sometimes called “strict”) teaching/parenting style would go out the window the moment they looked up at me or called me “mama.” How I want to protect them over all other things.

But through teaching, I also have seen many different parenting styles and the way that parenting styles influences children and how they act and learn. I know that I am ok being stern, but loving. Informative, but kind. Allow independence, but supportive. It’s a balancing act, but by parenting in this way, I feel like I can bring out the best in my children.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Developmental Differences

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Categories Parenting, Perspective, Twinfant Tuesday3 Comments

As a new mom, I heard so much about getting together with other moms for “play groups” and comparing the developmental stages of our same-age children. Suzy’s son may be working on sitting up while Sally’s daughter has just rolled over. Although the moms may be showing support on the outside, they are secretly judging equally their children and the others, noting which child is ahead and which is lagging behind.

As a MOM, I don’t have to go to a play group to compare children. I do it every day. Typically, Audrey (Baby A) is the first to do most developmental tasks: roll over, sit up unassisted, cut a tooth… but there are things that David (Baby B) can do that Audrey can’t. He was the first to start babbling and tell us long stories. He actually started the teething process first, although he was still working on his first tooth when Audrey’s popped up. I can even compare their height, weight, and head size! Whereas Audrey used to be the bigger baby, David passed her on head size and height around the 7 month mark. As of their first birthday check-in, they were the exact same weight.

If anything, having twins has helped me to realize that babies really do develop in different areas at different rates. Both babies are totally healthy, and when they hit developmental milestones, we celebrate! They just do them at different times.

I went to my first baby class at Romp n’ Roll (a kid gym with baby, toddler, and child classes and open play time) halfway through our first year. Besides my two 6-month-olds, there was a 7-month-old and an 11-month-old. I could have sat there and compared our babies, wondering if my babies were behind because the 7mo was sitting up totally fine, smiling, happy, engaged and while Audrey was close to this, David was fussy, clingy, irritable, and not sitting up. I think, though, because I have two babies, I do enough comparing at home. I don’t have to prove myself or my babies to any other moms. I already get the Look of Awe when they find out that I have twins. So what if I have babies that may be a little fussy? Who cares if my babies are developing differently?

Maybe I can feel this relaxed because I get assurances from our pediatrician that everything is ok. Maybe it is because I have relied heavily on The Wonder Weeks app to gauge the appropriate milestones, and they stress about the different skills developing at different times for different personalities. Maybe it is because I simply don’t have time or energy to stress over it.

I have twins. In the world of comparisons, I think I win (she says with a wink)!

 

Dory is a mom of 1-year old twins Audrey and David. She lives with her husband, twins, and their dog and cat in Virginia. She also writes on her personal blog Doyle Dispatch and as the twin mom editor on The Wise Baby.

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National Reading Day: Books About Twins

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Categories Book Reviews, Books, Parenting Twins4 Comments

Books About Twins As a past elementary school teacher (having taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th), it’s no surprise that I love books. I prided myself on having one of the largest (and most organized) classroom libraries in our school. When I left teaching to be a mom to Audrey and David, I brought all of those books home with me! One thing that was missing, however, was books about twins! In the past year, I’ve been on the hunt for books about multiples for our children. As a way to celebrate National Reading Day today, here is what I found:

In my searching, I also found some books for adults:

Do you have any favorite twin books? Share with us in the comments!

My Random Musings
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Twinfant Tuesday: Being a Twin Ambassador

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Categories Parenting, Twinfant Tuesday1 Comment

Let’s face it: we mothers of multiples are celebrities. We get bombarded just about every place we go with stares, questions, comments, and picture-taking. We weren’t asking for this stardom, but we got it, just by being the SuperMOMs that we are!

Some days, I just stay in my house, not wanting to deal with the outside world. We may go on a walk around our neighborhood, where thankfully everyone knows us and we have stopped getting… well… stopped every few steps. I may even run out while my husband or one of the grandmothers watches the babies. I can freely run about like I did pre-pregnancy: dashing into stores, parking in the skinny parking spots (no need to worry about squeezing the car seats out), and having some moments of freedom. Of course, those are the times that I miss my twin mom badge of honor. I’m a hypocrite. I know.

A thoughtful way of looking at the positive (and negative!) side of people's fascination with twins.

Other days, we venture into the world. We get the stares, questions, comments, and (yes) picture-taking. I have to hear the same phrases over and over (“Woah, twins!” “Are they twins?” “Look at that stroller!”). If I’m in a good mood and the babies are in a good mood, I will be a good Twin Ambassador, answering questions, talking about their sleep schedules, eating schedules, and personalities. I try to be helpful and informative, kind and patient. I try to be a teacher: guiding these strangers gently into understanding the world of multiples (and even nicely correcting them when they make a rude comment: “No, my hands aren’t full. My heart is full! I am so lucky.”)

Being a celebrity isn’t always wonderful, though. Sometimes I truly hate being a Twin Ambassador (yes, even though “hate” is a strong word). I long for the tiny strollers for singletons that easily fit through the doors. I wish that we wouldn’t get stared at or approached at every stop. I just wish that people wouldn’t be so forward with their stares and questions and comments. I just get tired of it. During those cases, I just quickly change the subject or leave the situation, usually without my smile that is typically shining on my face when I talk about my babies.

I crave normalcy.

We know that multiples are on the rise. So why are people constantly shocked to see them? Why do they think that they can ask “Are they natural?” or “Can I take a picture?” or even “Are they twins?”

In the 5 years I taught, I had at least one twin in my class each year. Twins are the new normal, people!

Yet we still put on our Twin Ambassador emblem with pride. We love our babies more than we ever thought possible. We are just given more of an opportunity to talk about them than if we had just one baby at a time. I guess that is a singleton mother’s dream, right?

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Twinfant Tuesday: Ever-Changing Schedules (Birth-4 Months)

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Categories Household and Family Management, Infants, Lists, Napping, Organization, Overnight, Routines, Sleep, Twinfant TuesdayTags , , , 3 Comments

Ever-Changing Schedules (1)

Schedules. Some moms love it. Some moms hate it. Some grandmothers think that their daughters/daughters-in-law are sickos for thinking about putting their sweet grandchildren on a dreaded schedule.

If you were a student in my classroom or one of my students’ parents, you will know that I love schedules and routines. By reading some of my extensive lists on my blog Doyle Dispatch, you could probably also tell that I like to know what to expect.

Let’s face it, though. Babies like routines also.

Think about it. They spent 9 months in this cozy, safe environment before getting expelled into this crazy, loud, unexpected world. What in the world is going on? As soon as they get comfortable with the way things work, they go through a developmental change and then POOF they have to re-figure out the world again. Scary! That’s why we swaddle our babies. That’s why we live with white-noise machines constantly humming all night long. That’s why we do schedules and routines. We do whatever we can to help guide our babies through the craziness of life, especially during their infancy.

Routines start simply: The Feeding Routine

  • unswaddle
  • change diaper
  • allow to nurse for about 10-20 minutes
  • supplement with milk that was pre-pumped
  • re-dress
  • swaddle
  • sleep
  • repeat

We do that every 2-3 hours. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. It’s exhausting, but we can make it work.

Then a growth spurt happens, and we think we are losing our minds.

My breasts hurt. My nipples are falling off. My back is killing me. I’m deliriously tired. Can’t we put them back in?

Around 6 weeks, we re-evaluate and realize that, after this growth spurt is over, our perfect little schedule isn’t good anymore. Our babies aren’t sleeping every other minute of every day. They are getting overstimulated when they are held by us, their grandparents, their aunts, uncles, and visiting friends.

Twin Schedules

We come up with a new schedule: The Ideal Feeding Schedule

  • 11 PM
  • 3 AM
  • 7 AM
  • 10 AM
  • 12:30 PM
  • 3 PM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 8 PM

Ha. Like you have enough brain power to stick to that schedule! Think again, Batman!

Playtime within Schedules

You re-evaluate after a week and come up with the Get-Daddy-Back-to-Work Schedule

  • 8 AM: First Feeding
  • In-between: Daddy to work, Mommy and babies 1-1 cuddle or activity
  • 11 AM: Feeding
  • In-between: Babies nap
  • 2 PM: Feeding
  • In-between: Mommy 1-1 cuddle time or activity
  • 5 PM: Feeding
  • In between: Cuddle time
  • 8 PM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep (expect fussiness)
  • 11 PM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep
  • 2 AM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep
  • 5 AM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep

You discover that this one really doesn’t work either. Maybe it’s the fact that your babies are constantly going through a growth spurt or sleep regression. When one stops, the other starts. You give up. You just forget the advice from The Sleep Book (insert whichever theory you are going with now). You give in. You go with the flow. You feed ever hour if you need to. You feel like you aren’t producing enough milk. You are worried that you are starving your babies, but you plug along.

Twin Schedules

Suddenly, you realize that you can predict the type of mood that your baby is in at about 2.5 months. They still hate this thing called “napping,” but you just need a few minutes during the day for your shower/coffee/to clean the spit-up off your 3rd shirt of the day. A natural schedule takes place. It’s marvelous!

The Natural Schedule (Times are adjustable)

  • 6:00 AM Babies wake up and Daddy soothes them/turns on their mobiles
  • 7:00 AM Babies are too hungry and it’s time to eat (Mommy begrudgingly gets out of bed)
  • During the feeding, Daddy gets coffee for himself, tea and breakfast for Mommy, and showers
  • 7:30 AM Daddy takes both babies, changes diapers and enjoys Happy Morning Time
  • 8:15 AM Babies get tired and cranky. Time for naps!
  • 9:15 AM Babies are awake (although this can happen much earlier). Time for play gym, tummy time, singing, stories, talking, and other play activities.
  • 10:30 AM Mid-morning feeding
  • 11:00 AM Happy mid-morning time with activities
  • 11:45 AM 2nd nap
  • When wake-up: Playroom activity time
  • 2:00 PM Afternoon feeding
  • 2:30 PM Happy afternoon time with activities
  • 2:50 PM Nap
  • 4:30 PM Wake-up and playtime
  • 5:00 PM Feeding
  • 5:30 PM Cuddling with Daddy and Mommy after work (“Couch Cuddle Time”)
  • 7:15 PM Baths and Bedtime routines
  • 7:45 PM Final Feeding and Goodnights
  • Possible feedings around 12:30 AM and 3:30 AM (and sometimes at 5:30 as well)

Now, I’m not saying that this is perfect or that this is the schedule that we always stick to, but overall it does what we want it to do MOST of the time. Feed-play-sleep-play is really  a workable routine. There’s a reason that so many moms swear by it.

One other thing that has helped us is this: Whenever David or Audrey shows signs of being tired, we put them down for a nap or let them sleep where they are. If it is in the evening, we will let them fall asleep for a short time wherever they are (in our arms or in their bouncers if it is dinnertime). At this age, we figure that if they sleep, it’s because they need to sleep. Their nighttime sleeping is all over the place anyway, that we just go with it. Napping so close to bedtime hasn’t shown that we’ve had a negative impact on their overnight sleeping. I know that this goes against what the sleep-training advice tells us to do, but it has worked for us, so we stick with it.

Twin Schedules

Lately, I’ve been having some more appointments, whether is it physical therapy for my shoulder (totally different story… you try having shoulder blade issues when you have two babies that want to be held all the time), a class at the gym (free childcare and a hot shower afterwards!), or just sanity visits from other adults. We have tried one more schedule, based off of The Natural Schedule. We don’t have to stick to it everyday, but it does seem to work:

The 4-Month-Old Schedule

  • 7 AM Feeding, Diapers, Play
  • 8 AM Nap
  • 9:15 AM Feeding, Diapers
  • 10 AM Leave for Gym
  • 10:30 AM Class at Gym
  • 11:30 AM Shower and Locker Room Time
  • 12:15 PM Pick Up Babies from Nursery and Go Home
  • 12:30 PM Feeding, Diapers, Play
  • 1:45 PM Nap
  • 3 PM Feeding, Diapers
  • 3:30 PM Out and About (or Home) Activities
  • 5:30 PM Feeding
  • Evening Activities (Walk or Errands)
  • 8 PM Baths, Diapers, PJs
  • 8:30 PM Final Feeding
  • 9 PM Lights Out
  • + 1 or 2 feedings during the night

So, mommies and daddies, do you have a schedule that works? I’d love to hear it! How do you make it work with two babies? Do you hold your breath during “nap time” as well, knowing that one of them will wake up any minute?

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Ask the Moms: How to Tandem Nurse

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Categories Ask the Moms, Breastfeeding, InfantsTags 1 Comment

 has written about how to successfully tandem nurse before, but it’s been a few years. In this post, we share the current HDYDI Moms’ experience with tandem breastfeeding. We hope that this can give you some ideas and insight if you are embarking on the adventure of breastfeeding twins!

Skip to: Tandem Nursing Experiences | Pumping and Nursing Experiences | What Helped | What Hindered | Equipment | Support Personnel | Positions | Tandem Nursing in Public | Prematurity | Twin Nursing Ebook

nurseCanva

What is your experience with tandem nursing? How long did you nurse, and why did you stop?

Janna: I successfully tandem nursed my twin boys starting at 3 weeks old. The lactation consultant told me that we were not ready for tandem nursing. Lucky for us, my mom was at the appointment with me and she thought the advice was crazy. My help was going home when the babies were four weeks old, so she defied the woman’s authority and suggested we just try tandem nursing as soon as I got home from that appointment. It was completely successful and with our set up, actually easier than nursing one at a time. From that point on, I nursed the boys at the same time every time.

RebeccaD: I tandem nursed in the hospital (healthy 38 weekers) but hit a glitch when I was re-hospitalized later in the week with a uterine lining infection. One baby stopped latching altogether. I spent a day in bed with him re-learning how to breastfeed. We were back to tandem feeding by about 10 days old. No lactation consultant was as valuable as my mom and mother-in-law constantly cheering me on, telling me I could do it, and supporting me as I figured out how. Their faith in me helped me trust my own instincts. I tandem-fed for most feedings until the boys were 9 months old; by then they were so efficient and so big and wiggly that back-to-back feedings were easier.

Mercedes: As a pregnant twin-mama-to-be, I envisioned myself breastfeeding with the support of a styrofoam-filled “Breast Friend” as I cradled the heads of my peaceful babes while they suckled and intermittently sought out each others hands. It didn’t work out that way. Uncomfortable and pretty much hating life, I soon decided that individually nursing my twins was much more reasonable, although it did take up all of my time. It was my number one (and two) priority, so I made it work. As the twins got older, tandem feeds actually became easier since they required less effort and orchestration on my part. Now that my nurslings are 15 months, it’s pretty much the only way we do it (unless it’s a nighttime feed), because the nursing jealousy is pretty rampant.

Sadia: I tried for 5 months, but was never able to use tandem feeding as my primary mode of breastfeeding. I really wanted to make it work, because I found myself breastfeeding 12+ hours a day while on maternity leave. I needed another adult (my husband) present to hold the first baby while I latched the second on and held her. With both my babies coming home at under 5 lbs and a month before their due date, they didn’t have the neck control to nurse without one adult hand supporting their body and another their head. No number of pillows seemed to raise them up high enough to not need manual support from a parent. When my husband deployed to Iraq, the babies were 5 months kid and there went my extra hands. Also, J went on nursing strike shortly after Daddy deployed, so I had to switch her to expressed breast milk (EBM) from a bottle. I didn’t even try tandem nursing for nighttime feeds; I didn’t trust myself not to doze off, especially since I was working full-time.

Dory: Whenever I have a second set of adult hands (my husband, my mom, or my mother-in-law), I like to tandem nurse. It is so much easier to get them both done at once (no leaking of the other breast or a crying, hungry, waiting baby) and faster (sometimes as quick as 30 minutes, as opposed to at least 1 hour if one-on-one feeding). Because my babies are 2 months old, I can’t speak to stopping tandem nursing, but I imagine that once they get really wiggly (and big), I won’t be able to keep it up anymore.

RachelG: I tandem-nursed until around 8 or 9 months, when my supply wasn’t really enough to satisfy either twin for long. I dealt with supply issues from the very beginning, despite help from lactation consultants, so we tandem-nursed, then supplemented with bottles of formula.

ldskatelyn: I tried tandem nursing in the beginning. I found it was a great thing to do during those nighttime feedings so that I could get back to sleep sooner (aka, get sleep), but I always needed help getting them set up to nurse, which meant waking up my husband. After realizing that my husband was a blessedly sound sleeper and didn’t handle lack of sleep as gracefully as I did (and who also had to work a full time job), I decided I would stick with feeding them one at a time so that I could do let at least one of us get sleep. I also came to love that one-on-one time with each of my girls, where I could just focus on one of them, even if it meant listening to the other cry for 10 minutes.

Tandem nursing dog pile.
Tandem nursing dog pile, featuring Mercedes and her duo.

What were your experiences with pumping and nursing?

Sadia: I tandem nursed one baby on one breast while pumping on the other pretty consistently. This worked great for me because tucking the flange into my bra left me two hands for the nursing baby and pumping gave me EBM for daycare feelings. I returned to work when the babies were 11 weeks old (4 weeks adjusted) and my output fell precipitously. Once J went on nursing strike, “tandem” nursing with the pump and M was my primary means of getting J her breast milk. I could pump so much more with a baby plus the pump than with the pump alone. I tried many, many pumps, and the Medela Pump-in-Style (with extra-wide flanges) was the best fit for me, but babies just fit me better.

Janna: After our morning tandem feed, I would put the boys in bouncy chairs and tell them stories while I used the double breast pump for about ten minutes. I occasionally pumped again after another feeding session if the boys were otherwise occupied and we knew we needed milk for an outing coming up, but mostly I just fed them at the same time in the brown recliner chair every two hours when they were hungry.

RebeccaD: I pumped when I was in the hospital without my boys (when they were 5-8 days old), and when I felt overly full for about the first month. I demand-fed, so there was no predictable schedule, which made direct breastfeeding much easier. What if I had just pumped and then they wanted to eat? It made more sense for me to cut out the middle man. I worried constantly about not having a big freezer stash, and having to be the one to do every single feeding was very taxing. But ultimately, direct feeding worked best for me and my little ones.

Mercedes: I used the pump only very occasionally in the first several months. Sometimes what I would do is start with the pump on both breasts and then get the babies latched on.

Dory: When I was in the hospital with Audrey and David, I needed to get my milk flowing, so I would pump for 5 minutes before nursing. I would then nurse them until they were finished. Then I would try to pump some more and give it to them in a syringe. Once we got home (4 days old), I would continue this pattern, but I wouldn’t let them nurse any longer than 20 minutes. If they nursed any longer, they would use more energy than they would get in calories. I would then supplement afterwards with whatever I had pumped beforehand. Once they passed their birth weight (after their 2 week checkup), I stopped pumping and supplementing. Now, I simply pump whenever I feel like they haven’t emptied me out completely. I have to say that, at 2 months old, they do a pretty good job, and we have our nursing sessions down to 10 minutes latched on! I really only pump every other day in order to build up a supply for when I go away during feedings.

RachelG: I never pumped while nursing. Both babies always ate at the same time, and for much of my nursing life, my pump was set up in a different room from the one I usually nursed in.

ldskatelyn: I never even thought about pumping on one breast while nursing on the other, mostly because my children were always fed back to back. I usually only pumped at night, right before I went to bed, since they were sleeping through the night (12 hours) and I would be engorged and sore by the morning if I didn’t. It also gave me breast milk to supplement their feedings with if they needed it, or to mix with their baby cereal.

What helped the most with tandem success?

Sadia: My husband’s support was key. Knowing that other MoMs, including a triplet mom in the family and a twin mom from my MoM club had done it before me was very inspiring. My husband had observed his triplet cousins breastfeeding when he was a pre-teen and had a surprising amount of breastfeeding experience to offer. I’m so glad that I researched a ton about breastfeeding multiples before giving birth. I was shocked to discover how many people around me just assumed that it couldn’t be done, particularly since I had a career outside the home. Fortunately, my boss was also a breastfeeding mother; her support made it easy to adjust my work environment to allow for pumping time and space.

twnnurs4Janna: My recliner/boppy set up next to an end table made nursing both boys at the same time so easy. I would sit down in the recliner and position the boppy around my stomach with the ends of the boppy situated up on the recliner arms. Then I would lean down and pick up the babies off the floor and put them in the “football hold” laying on the boppy pillow. Once I got them latched, I was hands free and could pick up the food, water, book, remote control, etc… on the end table next to me. I also had my laptop set up on the other side of me, so I could read blogs and email while nursing. My boys ate every two hours for at least thirty minutes, so being hands free and having other things to do really made it easier for me.

RebeccaD: The biggest factors in my success was the support of experienced nursing women in my life — other MoMs, my mother, and mother-in-law — and my husband. The women helped me to develop my nursing relationship with each of my boys, as well as persevere in tandem feeding. My mom stayed with us for 2 weeks after the boys were born, and my mother-in-law for 5 weeks. They would get up at night to help me get everyone in place for feedings. Then they would tell me stories about nursing their babies. It was so lovely. I felt like I was being admitted into a special, ancient circle of wisdom. My MoMs group had several nursing women, and we shared many emails in the wee hours! My husband showed his support by making nursing a priority, by bringing me food and water, and by showing me so much love as I figured it all out.

Mercedes: Time and confidence. Tandem feeds were not for us in the beginning. Over time they just started happening naturally.

Tandem nursing older twins
Tandem nursing older twins.

Dory: For me, I couldn’t have done it without my husband, mom, and mother-in-law. They are my biggest supporters and helpers during nursing. While I get into position in my chair with my pillows and burp cloths, they get the babies ready (taking off sleep sacks or waking them up enough to latch on). Then, while one baby is finishing up, they take the first-to-finish baby off of me to change and re-dress him/her. In addition, I had a very emotional time during the first few weeks in regards to nursing. I wanted to give up every single time I sat in that chair, but they were my cheerleaders (my husband especially), encouraging me to work through it. I’m so glad I did, too! Now, I love my nursing time!

RachelG: I had a fantastic postpartum nurse in the hospital who helped me figure out how to tandem nurse. She showed me how to position the babies on pillows, support their heads properly, and help them relatch when they took a break. I don’t think I could have figured out how to do it on my own without her help early on.

What were the biggest obstacles to tandem nursing?

Sadia: We faced a lot of challenges. For starters, my 33-week preemies spent 16 and 21 days in the NICU. I wasn’t allowed to try to breastfeed J even once the whole time my girls were hospitalized, so I had no opportunity to try it out until after J was home. I had a full time job to which I returned at 11 weeks postpartum, so I couldn’t breastfeed during the day on weekdays. The exhaustion of single parenting twins with a full-time job took its toll on my supply too. I had a very poor supply with the pump, despite taking fenugreek, pumping on a schedule, and having been able to produce enough milk for exclusive breastfeeding during maternity leave. Add to that my husband’s deployment to Iraq and J’s nursing strike, tandem nursing just wasn’t in the cards for us. My huge nipples didn’t help at all. I used standard size pump flanges the first few weeks, and they ripped my breasts to shreds.

Janna: If I hadn’t tandem nursed, I wouldn’t have been able to continue nursing my boys after my help left at four weeks. The nurses and lactation consultant in the hospital and a different lactation consultant we saw at an appointment at three weeks old ALL told us that I couldn’t even attempt tandem nursing until the boys were older, had an expert latch and I was an expert at single nursing. I am so grateful that I didn’t listen to this advice. Everyone should try tandem nursing whenever they want. If it doesn’t work, fine, then go back to single nursing, but if it does work (like it did for me) you can start tandem nursing right away and not have to figure out what to do with that second baby while you’re nursing the first!

RebeccaD: My own physical health was a big obstacle to tandem nursing. The stress of a long (38 week) twin pregnancy, followed by an emergency c-section, subsequent uterine lining infection, and abscess on my tailbone, made it difficult for me to sit up, let alone try to support tiny heads, etc. I did nurse individually side-lying for a while, but I wasn’t able to sleep that way. Tandem nursing turned out to be the best way for me to get rest and feel connected to my babies. Another obstacle was nursing agitation – an intensely uncomfortable feeling that can happen during tandem nursing. I got through it, mainly by distracting myself, and it greatly diminished over time.

Carolyn: I did tandem for a little while once we were home from the NICU. It never felt comfortable, no matter how I set myself up. It was a “me thing” and not an issue with either baby, my nursing pillows, or where I did it. It just wasn’t for me. I had a very easy time nursing, which is maybe why I chose to breastfeed my boys individually, to get it done as fast as possible and move on to the next thing or get back to sleep. (We were feeding every three hours in the early days). I did sacrifice more sleep than I would have liked to, but I got the job done and nursed for about 9ish months. We had EPM bottled, supplemented with higher calorie formula and nursed for the first several weeks in NICU until the babies were stabilized. Tandem feeding was not a negative experience for me, just not my preference.

recliningMercedes: Setting up my “station” and getting into position on my own, at the beginning was very challenging. The only position I found comfortable was a sort of double cradle while reclining position, and this was not sustainable for very long since my hands were not free to do anything else (like scratch a nose, answer the phone, etc.) Now the challenge is that they are so big they can physically overwhelm me at times! The easiest thing to do is just to lie down and let them have at it.

Dory: Early on in nursing (Weeks 1-4 or 5) I really hated feeling “stuck” in that chair. Once I got in, I couldn’t get up without someone getting the babies off of me (especially when I was recovering from giving birth). I wanted to give up every single time I had to sit down to nurse. I didn’t like being a prisoner of the chair and pumping. I felt like I just wasn’t making enough milk (even though in reality I was making more than enough). I felt like I couldn’t do it (emotionally or physically). I was just in a funk. Then, magically around 6 weeks, when my babies were at their fussiest, it was like a light turned on. I was what they wanted and how they stopped crying. Me! Yes, I was feeding much more often than my normal because of their neediness, but I could soothe my babies, and I loved that feeling. No one else could help them like I could. Everyone else could change diapers, hold, and cuddle, but only I could feed them with the nourishment they needed. It took them being at their fussiest for me to love tandem feeding! Now that they are starting to eat fewer times a day, I really truly enjoy our nursing sessions.

RachelG: I found it hard to figure out how to get both babies onto and off of my lap without help. Once I sat down in my chair and got everyone positioned there, we were stuck for hours until I found a way to dis-entangle the babies and get up again.

What equipment was helpful?

Sadia: My breast pump was my saving grace, an alternative to tandem nursing that kept me from going completely insane. I loved my chair with arms. Since my babies were so tiny, a narrow chair actually worked very well for us. Pillows helped relieve the fatigue on my arms, breastfeeding each baby, as I did, for 45 minutes each every 3 hours. I loved my magazine subscriptions. I read those issues of Time, Newsweek and National Geographic from cover to cover.

Janna: A chair with arms and a boppy pillow to support the boys was absolutely helpful. I needed something to do while nursing, so I didn’t go crazy with boredom. A towel tacked over the high window in the living room to cover it so that the workmen fixing the wall outside couldn’t see me nursing.

RebeccaD: The nursing pillow. The Twin Brestfriend wasn’t perfect, but I couldn’t have tandem nursed without it. If I had it to do over again, I would invest in a big recliner to nest in with the nursing pillow. As it was, I had a pretty good set up – armchair, then loveseat, and finally floor. The armchair + nursing pillow held the boys up high when they were really little. I had to have someone hand them to me once I got settled in. When I moved to the loveseat, I could place one baby in the Boppy, put the pillow on over my head, pick up one baby, sit down, then pick up the other baby and latch both on. Once they could crawl, I sat cross-legged on the floor with the nursing pillow, pulled them both on, and when they were done, they just rolled off and crawled away! I would have gone INSANE without distractions – books, iPad, phone. And I always had a little table with water and snacks nearby.

RachelG: I have a big armchair in my living room that I called, “The Chair of Doom,” while I was in the thick of nursing infants. I rarely left it. It was big enough and had enough support that I could juggle everything I needed to there. I had lots of pillows that I used  behind my back, under my nursing pillow, on the sides, etc., just to make everything the right height. I had a small tray table next to me with a bottle of water, remote controls, snacks, etc. Once I was home alone with my kids, I set up a changing table on one side. My changing table came from Ikea, and my mom cut the legs down a little so it was the same height as my chair. I could use it as a staging area for getting kids put onto or taken off of my lap for nursing.

Dory: There are a few pieces of equipment that I couldn’t live without. First, when I am on the couch, in bed, or in a low-armed chair, I have to use my Twin Z nursing pillow. I discussed it during my pregnancy, and it is just as wonderful as I expected. If you have a higher-armed chair, however, it may not work out well. For our armchair in the  nursery (which has very high arms), I use a My Brest Friend (for singletons- the twin version is too large for this chair) with a Boppy Cuddle pillow on top of it. I then place two burp cloths under the babies’ heads, and they latch on using the football hold.

What role did lactation consultants play? Your spouse? Other MoMs? Friends? Family?

Sadia: The NICU nurses were extremely supportive of my pumping and providing expressed milk to the babies, but were strongly against my trying to latch the babies on because of their prematurity. Lactation consultants were useless. Their attitude of amazement that I was even trying made me feel that they’d already decided that I was destined to fail (at breastfeeding, period, forget tandem nursing). The one exception was a consultant at a local breastfeeding supplies store who suggested a nipple shield to counter J’s strike. It didn’t help, but at least she tried to provide advice instead of telling me to give up. Other MoMs and my husband were far more helpful, although their support was more emotional than informational since their experience was with full-term babies. The only preemie mom I knew never had her milk come in, so I was alone in the preemie nursing boat.

Janna: I concur. Lactation consultants were useless. The ones I had just didn’t have any experience with moms successfully nursing twins. Instead it was my mother, mother-in-law and husband who were incredibly supportive, helpful and encouraging. Also, I had two close friends who were currently successfully nursing their singletons. While their advice and support weren’t necessarily specific to twins, they were invaluable with basic nursing questions. For example, NO ONE (not the pediatrician, lactation consultant, no one) had told me about growth spurts so I was almost ready to give up when my boys started crying and acting starving and demanding to eat extra at 6 weeks old. I assumed I wasn’t making enough milk. My friends emailed me back right away and told me it was the (normal, common) 6 week growth spurt and to just keep nursing them all the time & expect to be exhausted, sore and frustrated for a few days and it would all go back to normal… and it did.

RebeccaD: What I needed: confidence, reassurance that I had the basics, and a twin-specific logistical strategy. What I got: two different programs for each baby. Being a twin mom is all about creating a bridge between your babies’ individual needs and your ability, as one person, to meet those needs. Breastfeeding was a serious crash course in this for me. So, my first lactation consultant was basically awful because she treated my babies like two singletons and made me feel horrible for being unable to be two mothers. Luckily I had other support and figured it out. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding later, I started having supply problems, and a different lactation consultant was a wonderful help. I credit her with my ability to continue nursing to 13 months for one and 15 months (and counting!) for the other. But I came into that consultation with a lot more knowledge and confidence. I could tell her, “That won’t work with twins, what else ya got?”

Dory: Our first pre-baby class was a breastfeeding class for couples. It was amazing! I thought it would be silly to take such a class, as I figured I would get all I could at the hospital. I was wrong! There is so much to learn and think about, and it was helpful to have that base understanding. After giving birth, I can’t stress how important it is to talk to the lactation consultants at the hospital, before you come home. We made sure that we got extra time with them to make sure we were getting all of the hints we could. I asked questions over and over, and they were more than happy to help us. They were so sweet and treated us like superstars (get used to it when you are parents of twins!). The were incredible! We also were able to follow up in our pediatrician’s office during the 1 and 2 week appointments. The woman we saw was a lactation specialist. Score for the nursing moms! She was the one that told us not to let them nurse any longer than 20 minutes early on (any longer and they would burn too many calories).

RachelG: As I mentioned earlier, I had a fantastic postpartum nurse who helped me figure out latch, positions, etc. I worked with lactation consultants, but they focused mostly on helping me increase my supply and improving my son’s latch. They weren’t hugely helpful, in that my supply never increased substantially and my son figured out the latch thing on his own eventually, but at least I had the peace of mind that I had tried everything.

ldskatelyn: The hospital lactation specialist was very good about encouraging me to try tandem feedings, and taught me the different positions. My husband and mother-in-law (who was a nurse) were helpful once we got home.

What positions worked or didn’t work for your family?

Tandem nursing positionsSadia: The football hold worked best. My girls hated to be crossed and I felt like I could support them better football style. Our typical setup was as follows:

  1. My husband sat in the chair.
  2. I picked up both babies, one in each arm, cradle hold.
  3. I sat in my husband’s lap.
  4. He held one baby, cradle style across my lap, while I latched on the other in a football hold.
  5. He held the nursing baby while I latched on the second.

Janna:  I had to use a boppy, in a recliner with arms. I put the boppy around me, with the ends of it rested up on the recliner arms. Then I lay the boys down on the boppy in the “football hold” and both my boys were up at the right level, leaving my hands free (for eating, reading books, emailing, etc…). It was ideal at home. I never did try any other position because this one worked so well for us.

bftwins4Rachel: We used the football hold pretty exclusively while tandem nursing.

RebeccaD: Football all the way. They hated crossing, and would kick each other. When they got older, I sometimes pinned their arms under mine or separated their heads with a rolled up blanket so they wouldn’t bother each other.

Dana: I remember getting extremely creative with the positions of the babies in order to tandem nurse. It was something I was actually quite proud of. I didn’t use the boppy too often, but rather lots and lots of pillows.  I encourage any new mom of twins to get real comfortable with having tons of pillows stashed conveniently around the house. (And don’t forget lots of burp cloths stashed in the couch cushions!) Also, don’t be afraid to stack those kids on top of each other! Here is one position I used often:

468051998_e29e4bb03bJenW: I sat in the middle of the couch with the eZ-2-nurse twin pillow, after starting with a boppy but finding it wasn’t enough. I put a baby on each side of me in a boppy so they wouldn’t roll. I maneuvered them both to the pillow first then got them to latch. By about 6 months they were more efficient so it was faster to do one then the other occasionally. Plus, by then they weren’t as interested in staying on the pillow.

ldskatelyn: When I was seriously, regularly, doing tandem feedings, I generally did two football holds, as it gave me the most control over their bodies, keeping them from rolling, allowing me to position their heads correctly. However, kind of just for fun, when I was no longer tandem feeding, but because they were both starving, my husband and I would put our twins into all sorts of different, not-found-in-books, positions. One these was me lying on my side, and feeding them one on top of the other! Another was me lying on my back, and letting them both suckle against gravity.

Dory: When tandem feeding, I only use the football hold. At the hospital, we tried layering them during one feeding, and I was uncomfortable, they looked uncomfortable, and I was on edge the whole time. Once I switched back to the football hold, I felt like I was able to breathe again. One night I was really sick and couldn’t get out of bed. My husband brought me the babies one at a time and I had them against my body and nursing them while we were both on the bed. I haven’t tried that with two babies though.

Did you tandem nurse in public? How?

RebeccaD: Unfortunately… yes. In order of embarrassment: DayOne, a breast-feeding friendly store where my MoMs group had meetings, in the car (with my pillow), on a public park bench (supported by diaper bags and covered by a blanket), on the lawn of a museum with my top almost totally off (they were starving, I was alone, it was a bad day). I usually nursed one right after the other when we were out.

ldskatelyn: I remember feeding both of them at the same time once while staying at my brother’s house. They were both super hungry, so I put my cover on, and fed them that way. It was not the most comfortable (I don’t think I had my Boppy pillow with me) as I was sure I was going to flash his children. Although, it was super funny when one of my nephews commented that his mom only feeds one baby from both sides.

Sadia: Nope. I never figured it out. I easily nursed one — I loved empire opening nursing tops for cradle hold breastfeeding — while bottle feeding the other by about 2 months. If I was walking with our stroller, I’d just push it with my hip while cradling a baby in one arm and holding a bottle for the other baby with the other hand.

Janna: No. When we went out the boppy didn’t really work without my recliner. It wasn’t high up enough, unless I could find a recliner chair with the right size arms. I never did find a convenient way to tandem nurse outside of my home, so I would either stay close to home and only do short outings, or if we had to be out during a feeding, take bottles with expressed breast milk and feed the boys bottles (usually my husband or another family member or friend would help with the feeding) and then I would pump with a homemade, extra large hooter hider giving me privacy.

Mercedes: Nah. I am all for breastfeeding in public and have done it everywhere from cafes to castles to the stands of a Formula 1 race. But it’s always been one baby at a time. Just easier and less conspicuous that way.

Dory: I don’t tandem in public because I don’t have big enough pillows with us. It is easier to feed one at a time and just hold them or prop my arm on a chair. I don’t have the “mom arms” yet to hold both at once and nurse for an extended period of time.

RachelG: No – I really needed my full setup to be able to tandem nurse successfully. In public, I’d either nurse one at a time or feed them a bottle.

Did prematurity play a role in your attempts to tandem feed?

Sadia: Yes, yes, yes. First, there was the matter of the NICU. My babies were tubefed for their first days, so the pump and I got good and intimate. I was only allowed to try breastfeeding once (M only) during my daughters’ hospital stay, so I couldn’t even try tandem nursing until the babes were 3 weeks old. Their sucks were so weak and their muscles so underdeveloped, each nursling needed my full attention during our nursing sessions. Their tiny stomachs and weak sucks meant that they were each at the breast for 45 minutes at a time. I didn’t exactly have a whole lot of wiggle room to try out new positions because I was terrified that they’d drop back below 4 lbs in weight and have to be rehospitalized. Even during maternity leave, our pediatrician had me keep two meals of high-calorie formula enriched with Poly-Vi-Sol in our routine per day just because they had so much weight to gain. J was 3 lbs 6 oz at birth, M 3 lbs 9 oz. Neither baby had achieved 5 lbs when they were released from the NICU. I’d pump during their formula meals.

Janna: No, my boys were born full term, both weighing over 7 pounds. I do think that this is certainly one reason why nursing came so easy for the three of us.

RebeccaD: My boys were also full-term (5 lbs, 15 oz and 6 lbs, 5 oz), which really helped. Baby A was a champion nurser right from the jump. Baby B had a weak latch that never totally resolved, but my let-down was sensitive enough to make it work. I felt terrible when he had to start formula supplements at 6 months, but the lactation consultant pointed out that tandem nursing helped let-down so much that if he wasn’t a twin, he may not have breastfed as successfully as he did, or for as long. That is a tandem nursing success story!

Mercedes: No. My twins were early term, born at 37 weeks and 1 day, although they were small. My daughter, the bigger of the two, was actually the one with more latching difficulty, and the lactation consultant urged me to be patient as the baby learned. She said that 37 weeks is still early and some babies just need more time.

Dory: We were so fortunate that our twins were 36+5 with no NICU time, so we could nurse right away.

RachelG: Not really. My twins were early term (37 weeks), and while my son did struggle a bit with his latch, we never had serious problems nursing as a result of their delivery date.

ldskatelyn: No. My twins were born a day shy of 38 weeks. They weren’t premature. One of my daughters did need help opening up her mouth big enough, but with help of a lactation specialist at WIC, we were able to figure it out, and I was able to stop hurting.

Twin Breastfeeding Ebook

Manibreasto-Cover-3d-WebWould you like more inspiration, support and tools to make breastfeeding twins work? How Do You Do It? author Mercedes has written an ebook on the subject, Twin Manibreasto. She has a special offer for HDYDI readers! Use the code TWIN5 at checkout to pick up your own copy for $5 (code expires Feb. 10).

We hope that this has helped you get some perspectives on tandem breastfeeding. In addition, you can read about how Dory, who is currently breastfeeding, tandem feeds on her blog, Doyle Dispatch.  If you have any follow-up questions or stories of your own, we would love for you to share them in the comments!

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MiM: Kid-Friendly Work Stations

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Being an elementary-school teacher, I have been fortunate to teach many different aged children (kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th grades). Each age presents their own joys and challenges, but my favorite part of the year was always setting up the classroom. I LOVED getting into my classroom to set up and get organized every August. Including my student-teaching placement, I was in 5 rooms in 5 years, so I have had lots of different chances to change around my classrooms. If you are curious, you can see my last 4th grade classroom on my personal blog.

Kid-Friendly Work Stations from hdydi.comNow that I am no longer teaching in a school, I get to take that organization and those ideas to our house… for better or worse. Yes, we have lots of labels and bins everywhere. You can take the teacher out of a classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of a teacher.

Although our babies are too young to have a need for a work station, you can bet that I’ve already started thinking about how I would want to organize it. I learned that it is really easy for students of all ages to get their work areas messy, if you allow that option. However, I then discovered that if you can organize vertically instead of horizontally, that messiness is a lot easier to combat.

I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas into this post.

This is perhaps my favorite work station that I have seen. I love how totally DIY this entire area is, and how it really doesn’t take up much room. This is an older side table, painted in your favorite color with a chalkboard-painted top. I love the use of pegboard and the complementary-color of the clipboards. Plus, isn’t that a perfect way to show off your child’s art or A+ papers?

Here is a closeup of the peg board, with the diagram of what is included. For an art station, it really has everything that your child will need. I would go one step further, however, and label what goes where. I love a good label, especially for the child that is learning their letters and how to read. Any type of labeling you can do in your house helps build their phonemic awareness. Pair those words with pictures (photographs are the best) and it is even better for their early reading skills!

If you only have a small corner, this is a good overall household organization. I particularly like the use of the Thirty-One Keep-It Caddy for library books to return.

Ah, nothing makes me happier than a good list. This one is no different. Of course, your children need to be able to read in order to make this work (you could use pictures for younger children), but it is a good everyday check-in for their responsibilities.

This isn’t a very expensive overall look for pegboard organization, and it covers so much! You have the cups that are labeled, a place for scissors and stickers (in the baggies), some baskets for jars and glue sticks, and the paper organizer.

This is a nice colorful space, although I think it’s more decorative than totally functional. Still, I like the use of a magnetic board above the desk.

Now, this is cool! Use some new shutters for organizing papers and cards.

If you only are focusing on an art station, this is a very doable and simple solution. A small table with a curtain rod above it. Hang some cups off of it with your crayons, markers, and pencils. Above it, you can have an art display on string. This would work very well for younger children, before they start at school.

Here is another idea, focusing on an art station. This seems more appropriate for an older child, especially if you have a bit more room to work with. As a teacher, I love the paper organization to the right, but it doesn’t quite solve the limited-space problem, or my goal of organizing vertically.

Here are some other basket ideas for a pegboard. Can you tell I love pegboard ideas?

If you are in a pinch, this would work, but I promise you that this would make a small area very crowded quickly, because you will be organizing horizontally (using the desk instead of the wall).

If you have a bit of a budget to invest, you could get this unit, which allows you to move the different types of storage around. This is very pretty, but I don’t think it is as versatile or useful as the pegboard.

I love this creative solution! This is a drying rack for clothes, that has been mounted onto the wall. Hang your mini baskets and cups, and you are set!

Like some other pictures, this is great for an art station, but not as practical if you want it for homework as well.

This one is called the Urbio Magnetic Modular System, and it has lots of different options. This is a system that can grow with you and your children. It’s from the Container Store, so it won’t be cheap, but it is very versatile. Plus, with that white, clean look, it would be very easy to label!

I like the addition of the calendar to this one.

How fun is this work station for the little boys in your life? This would be very easy to replicate, as you can easily (and cheaply) get metal sheets at your local hardware store. You would then just need to invest in magnetic containers to attach onto it.

Ah, the past kindergarten teacher in me LOVES this one. It is Calendar Time… just in your home! This would be great for the summers or for your preschool child, to get them ready for what is to come once they enter kg.

Ah, the joy of wire baskets! They are inexpensive and can easily match each other. They are sturdy and can hold so much! For holding papers against the wall, I don’t know if you can beat them.

If you have a whole wall to devote to your work stations, then go for this! You probably don’t have that much room, but I do like the use of the chalkboard wall behind the desk and the set spot for each child.

True, this isn’t an actual work station with a desk, but it is what I would call “Command Central.” A whiteboard for each family member and pockets for papers or things they need to remember. For the larger family, this would be key!

This is another version of the “Command Central” for a smaller family (or for just the kids). A place for everything, and everything in its place!

Never underestimate the importance of structure and routine when it comes to your child’s homework. Whenever I had a parent that asked me about helping their child to do all that they had to get done, I always started by finding out about their after-school routine. Most of the time, if they were struggling with turning in assignments or “not liking school,” it was because they didn’t have a set routine once they got home. If you don’t have a lot of space for the work stations seen above, this is the perfect solution! It is a tri-fold board (you can even cut them in half for multiple kids), with some of the organizational items that your child needs for homework time. It also doubles as a privacy station, in case your child gets distracted easily. When your child is done working, it can be folded up and put away.

You can check out my Pinterest board “Kids: Work Stations” to see more ideas.

You can also look at HDYDI.com’s Pinterest board “Organizing the Home with Multiple Kids” for even more ideas.


Dory is the mother of “twinfants” Audrey and David. You can see her posts on her twin pregnancy, DIYing, raising twins, and documenting her life at her blog, Doyle Dispatch.

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Make-It Mondays: Dresser/Changer Redo

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When we started planning the nursery, we knew that we needed a few key pieces of furniture. Unfortunately, the big ticket items typically come with a big price tag. Still, we did our research and put realistic budgets for those items: cribs, changing table, and rocker/glider. This is the story of our dresser.

Dresser Redo - Doyle Dispatch

We gave ourselves a budget of $700 for the dresser, and I immediately started looking. I wanted to see what was out there before we bought something. I loved the idea of getting a dresser in a second-hand store and redoing it, but I was unsure if I would be happy with a used pieces of furniture for this piece. It had to be not only good-looking, but functional as well.

For about a week, I was thinking of taking a trip up to Ikea, where they have some moderately-priced dressers that I could easily use for  a changing table (about $300-400). This would still get me under-budget, even if I wanted to replace the handles with a more nautical-themed pull (which I did).

Then, one Friday morning as I lay in bed looking at the Facebook page of my favorite second-hand store Class and Trash, this popped up on my phone:

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

WHA???!!!! First of all, look at that dresser! 10 drawers: 4 of them are small and 6 large ones. It has a bit of style to it, perfect for a beachy decor. Then, look at the price. $100!!!????!!!!???? How can that be? There MUST be something wrong with it. Wait, there is: a missing pull. I didn’t care, because I was going to replace them anyway.

Well, the way that Class and Trash works is that you can comment on the picture to tell everyone else in a nice way to back off, because this is yours. The shop doesn’t consider it to be yours unless you call them (which I did at 7:10 AM, even though they didn’t open until 10) and pay for it. So, I made sure to get ready and be there when they opened at 10. I made a b line for the dresser, which seemed to have golden rays streaming out from it.

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

 

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

 

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

I opened all of the drawers, and I found that they all worked perfectly. So easy! It felt like it was brand new! So then I quickly walked (waddled?) over to the front counter to claim the dresser as mine. I didn’t want anyone else getting my gem. I told them my name, and they said, “Didn’t you just call about that dresser? Great! I won’t have to call you back.” Yes, I was a liiiiiittle anxious for my dream dresser.

In order to save $50 on delivery, Tim came with me the next day to pick it up in his car. It fit perfectly.

Next: shopping for drawer pulls.Remember that I had a $700 budget for the dresser, so I didn’t have to go cheap for the pulls. I had been looking online to see what I liked, and I realized that Anthropologie has some amazing pulls in their stores. They are a little expensive, but I still had $600 in the budget.

We then pulled out (pun intended) one of each of the pulls that we liked and looked at them together. These are only some of them:

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

 

We then pulled out our favorites:

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

We had a hard time deciding, but we ended up liking two styles. So, we bought 10 of each of them, figuring that we would try out one of each style, and return the 10 “rejects.” Now, why not just buy one of each? Well, we didn’t want to pick out the one we liked, only to come back and find out we couldn’t get 10 of them. It was easier just to spend the money up front and then return them in a day or two.

So, once we got home, we got a drawer out and tried to two favorites:

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

We decided that, although we were in love with the old-looking style of the mother-of-pearl/bronze, there was something so whimsical about the bubble glass. So, bubble glass it was:

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

After that, the only thing left was to get painting supplies for the dresser. I knew that I wanted to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, because I just had fallen in love with her line.

I was unsure of which color I needed, because I wanted it to match perfectly with the cribs we had ordered from Pottery Barn. Luckily, PB Kids (and I’m sure PB does this too) will sell you a wood sample of their colors, so you can match it to other furniture items. The saleslady explained that you can have it for 30 days and then return it for a full refund. Perfect!

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

So, with my wooden sample in our crib color in hand, I took a trip up to Thrill of the Hunt in Ashland to get my paint. The salesman was very helpful, and he got me hooked up with something to clean and prep the dresser for painting, the paint, and the clear wax coating.

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

Now, all we had to do was find a free weekend to paint. Easier said than done.

Fast forward about 3 weeks, and we finally had a weekend where we weren’t traveling to be with family or planning/throwing a bridal shower.

Tim, being the amazingly protective daddy-to-be, didn’t want me to use the furniture prep, so he rubbed that whole dresser down, including all 10 of the drawers. Then after a short drying time, it was ready to paint!

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

 

The pictures above make the dresser look like it was already a great shade of white, and if we weren’t oh-so-picky, it would have been fine. It did, however, have a distressed and slightly dirty look to it, and I knew that some white paint would clean that baby right up.

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

 

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

Because Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is low VOC, it is safe for preggos to paint using it. Woohoo! I really didn’t want to just stand back and let Tim have all the fun, so I’m glad I got to get my hands dirty too. Literally. My hands did get dirty. I’m not the cleanest of painters, but I do have fun!

Dresser Redo - The Doyle Dispatch

 

I was amazed at the difference in colors after just one swipe with the brush.

Well, two coats of paint later, and a bit of wax to make it un-chalky and more of a shiny, glossy finish, and our dresser was completed!

Then, duh, duh, DUUUUUUUUH… we go to attach the pulls and discover that the 10 that we originally bought weren’t enough. Yes, we have 10 drawers. The four top drawers just need one pull. The bottom 6, however, need 2 pulls. So, we actually need 16 pulls total. Oh no!

So, off we go to Anthropologie to get our extra pulls. They didn’t have any in the store, so we went ahead and ordered them. We got 10 more (although we only needed 6), just in case some broke or we wanted a different look, since they are all unique.

Here the run-down on the final cost:

Dresser: $105.94
Pulls: $84.24
Pulls (2nd Round): $84.20
(I don’t know why it cost less to get the 2nd group of 10)
Pottery Barn Paint Chip: $21.06 (returnable)
Chalk Paint: $71.88

Total: $346.26 ($367.32 with paint chip)

Not too bad, considering the fact that we were $353.74 UNDER budget!

Dresser Redo (Final) - DoyleDispatch.com

*Part of this post originally appeared on Dory’s blog “Doyle Dispatch.” To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

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MiM: Bath Time Towel Apron

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Categories DIY, Make-It MondaysTags , , , 1 Comment

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron by DoyleDispatch.comOk, so you’ve seen these on Pinterest: the towels that look like aprons that you can use for bath time. So cute!

And if you have heard stories about my Papa Alan, you probably also know that we have the largest collection of hotel towels in the world (because he always brought us these towels as a sign that he was leaving town).

So, what do you do with these extra towels? Make a bath time towel apron for Baby Boy and Baby Girl!

Steps:

1. Lay out your towel as flat as possible.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

2. Lay out an apron that you like on top of it. I used one of my Thirty-One aprons (don’t the patterns just make you so happy?)

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

3. Fold over both the towel and apron in half. This will help you so that you only have to cut once, and it will stay symmetrical.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

4. Cut out the top portion like so.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

5. I found that I needed the top to angle in a little bit more, so I did a bit more trimming.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

6. Cut out a length of fabric (the width is your choice) to fit on the top of the apron. This is just for decoration. The wider section will be sewed onto the front, and the thinner section is sewed onto the back.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

 

Fold over the sides onto the back.

 

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

 

The back will look like this when it is pinned:

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

 

The front looks like this when pinned:

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

7. Cut out two long strips of colorful fabric. Make them as long as you can. You will want them to be about 3 inches wide.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

7. Fold the edges over and iron to form creases.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

8. Fold both sections over and sew onto your towel apron. This will be the underarms and the ties.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

9. Sew on some ribbon (or rickrack) to tie it around your neck.

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

10. Enjoy your towel apron! If you have girl/boy twins like me, you will want to make a second one (not pictured) so that the second bather won’t be stuck with a wet towel. You can call me a thoughtful mom!

DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com
DIY Bath Time Towel Apron (Tutorial) - DoyleDispatch.com

 

Feeling ambitious? You can also add some pockets at the bottom to hold some bathing goodies.

*Part of this post originally appeared on Dory’s blog “Doyle Dispatch.” To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

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