Make it Monday – A Birthday Tribute to Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday Dr Seuss Make-it-Monday hdydi.com

Did you know that March 2 is the Birthday of Dr. Seuss? Marking what would have been his 110th birthday, today schools, libraries and other organizations participate in Read Across America, an initiative to get more kids reading and to honor Dr. Seuss. His books were my favorites when I was a kid, and we have a large selection of them in regular rotation here. Plus, any parent of twins has to have an appreciation for Thing 1 and Thing 2, which I firmly believe had to be modeled on twin toddlers!

Happy Read Across America Day in honor of Dr Seuss! #neareads #sewingforboys #drseuss

Today I am happy to share a little project I did for my kids which is a great tribute to the beloved Dr. Seuss for his birthday today. To be completely honest, when I started the project it was not timed in conjunction with the Dr. Seuss celebration or the Read Across America initiative at all. I made them because these are favorite books of my kids, and when I found this fabric I knew I wanted to do something fun for them. See, in addition to being a stay at home mom to my 4-year-old twin boys, I also have a small business making custom kids clothing. My kids see tons of cute shirts and outfits on my sewing table and most often it is not for them. So when they saw this fabric, they were elated! My son Justin chose The Lorax, which has been a favorite book and movie for years and Joshua picked Green Eggs and Ham which has become a recent favorite bedtime story.

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(Kindly disregard the chaos of my sewing room and look at that smile when he saw his fabric!)

My boys love their new shirts, and I love seeing their love of books.

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So now, the nitty gritty of the shirts. They are made from The Scientific Seamstress Bowling Shirt, which is a PDF pattern you can purchase from Etsy and a few other places. This was one of my first patterns when I started making kids clothing, and I have made these bowling shirts in a few dozen versions. It’s so fun and versatile. Plus, the Scientific Seamstress patterns are like a mini sewing lesson and a pattern in one. I hadn’t sewn a garment since the 7th grade HomeEc class when I made my first set of Bowling shirts for my duo, and they turned out great! There aren’t a lot of great patterns for boys, this is my main go-to pattern for boys. It has so many options for stripes and piecing, and you can be as creative as you want with fabrics. For these I decided to vary the standard piecing options (which are normally vertical or horizontal stripes) and just did the top horizontal stripe to make more of a yoke. (Which of course I cracked myself up making a yoke on a shirt with eggs. Get it? Yoke/Yolk? Cracked myself up! hahaha! Anyway…)

The shirt is lined, and therefore doesn’t have a lot of hemming or zigzagging and doesn’t require a serger to finish seams, but still has a nice, finished look. And since this is a Moms of Multiples blog, I will add that I almost always make two (or more) at a time. I made my boys several for our Disney trips, and have made a few as gifts and, like these, with no occasion at all.

I find it easiest to do all of one step on both shirts before moving to the next step. Cut out all the pieces first, then assemble. I keep the pieces of each separated in ziploc bags. Each shirt takes about 1 yard of fabric in the 3/4 or 5/6 size, depending on how you cut and whether the fabric is directional. If you intend to use directional fabric and vertical stripes, I would suggest a yard and a quarter. I have generally bought 1-1.25 yards of each of two fabrics and made two shirts from it.

I have made it with and without stripes, all one fabric and several, plus added appliqués and without. These I did add appliqués, and yes I have a fancy embroidery machine. But the Green Eggs and Ham one was not done with the embroidery machine, I did it the old-fashioned way, cutting out four eggs from scrap fabric, ironing on Heat-n-bond and tight zigzagging around it. Well, maybe not that old-fashioned, I guess.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Scientific Seamstress patterns for beginners or seasoned sewists. I have most of her patterns, and each one is easy to follow and has tons of options to customize size and style to your liking. If you’re new to sewing or just want to get something cute made for your own kiddos, you can’t go wrong with any of these patterns.

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In the Spirit of Full Disclosure, the Links to the Books on Amazon are Affiliate Links. If you click and chose to add these titles to your own personal library I will get a few cents. (Thanks!) I did not receive any compensation for the review of the pattern from the Scientific Seamstress. I bought and love the pattern. I do also sell handmade items on Etsy and through my own Facebook page and take custom orders, though this was not intended to be a shill for that business.

Jen is the stay-at-home mom of newly minted 4 year old boys who all survived the terrible threes. They live in the arctic wasteland formerly known as Chicagoland, where they have been cooped up inside for the worst winter in half a century, left with plenty of time to reflect and reminisce. Her family blog Go Team Wood is oft-neglected and now functions mostly as a repository for Instagram pics and occasional updates that are far and few between. You can find out more about her handmade kids clothes biz at Just-Joshin.com

Toddler Thursday: Three is the New Terrible Two

Three is the new Terrible Two - HDYDI.com

My twin boys turned 4 in November and while I am not in any hurry for them to grow up, I won’t lie, I was counting down the days until age three hit the road. Age 3 was brutal. It was long. It was way worse than age 2, truly. Heck, give me two newborns again any day!

As a small sample of age 3 in our house, here is a copy-and-paste comment I left when another twin mom asked about transitioning her twins to toddler beds from their cribs. Comments before mine were along the lines of “it wasn’t as big of deal as I thought” or “my kids never realized the could get out of their beds.” I offered up my very honest experience.

Wow. Our transition was nothing at all like that. My kids destroyed everything in their room, we had to lock the dresser in the closet because they were stuffing clothes down the heater duct, then replace the duct cover with a metal one that is screwed into the floorboards because they were hitting each other with it. We turned the door knob around so it locks from the outside because they got out one morning at 5 am and flooded the bathroom. We have had to replace the blackout shade and the closet door because they broke them. We had to take their beds away for a month and they slept on a mattress on the floor because they were lifting up the mattress and climbing under and the other was jumping on top. We had to remove all the decorations because they took them off the walls and either ruined them or hit each other with them. They propped the mattresses up against the wall, climbed on them and jumped off which resulted in an ER visit because one kid knocked himself out cold.

Let’s see what did I forget. Oh yeah they’ve also peed in the vent, flung poop at the walls, broke the lock on the closet, dumped every stitch of clothing into a pile and peed on the pile, and one bludgeoned the other with a nightlight which bled like crazy and their room looked like a scene from Dexter. (and another ER visit)

It’s now 2 years later and only within the last 6 months have they actually gone to bed reasonably and without the destruction, but at least twice a week we end up having to lock the door to keep them in because they won’t stay in bed.

However, the first 6 months they were on beds when they’d finally fall asleep 90 percent of the time they were together in the same bed which was outrageously cute and sweet.
Asleep like the grandparents in Willy Wonka. Also in bed: teapot, turtle, pirate sword.

So during my tenure as a mom to age 3 twins, there was a whole lot more of that flavor of crazy. There were many trips to the doctor and the ER (because of course these incidents almost always occurred at nights and weekends, naturally.) There was so much frustration, so much yelling, so many time outs and leaving places and skipping activities all together. People never said, “I always wanted twins!” to us anymore when we were out. The time-out chair was at maximum capacity pretty often.
No vacancy in the time-out chair tonight. :(

Everything was hard. Everything. Running errands, meal times, bed time (Oh, bedtime, simultaneously my most longed-for and most reviled.) Every day I would wake up optimistic and by the time the kids were in bed I was exhausted and defeated. I would sit on the floor next to my sleeping children and cry because it was just SO HARD. I was sure I was the worst Mom ever and that I was raising sociopaths. I loved my children so much it hurt, but there were definitely days I didn’t like them a whole lot.

For some reason people don't say, "I've always wanted twins!" to us too often anymore. #groceryshoppingwithtwins

But now they are four. And so far, four is better. I feel like we have turned a corner. They gave up napping so they are plenty tired most nights when they finally stop bouncing around the room. Getting ready for bed is still a three-ring circus, but I will take my victories where I can get them. Both boys started preschool this fall. The extra structure and routine has helped tremendously. Errands with both are still hard, my kids feed off each other so when it starts to go south it goes in a hurry, but we have had successful outings more often. We also use a lot of rewards for good behavior when running errands, and they buy into the bribery rewards. They play together and cooperate and help each other out. They have genuine concern for one another and work as a team, more often for good than for evil.
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So from the ashes of age 3 have emerged two sweet, smart not-so-sociopathic 4 year olds. And man are they the best.

Jen is the stay-at-home mom of newly minted 4 year old boys who all survived the terrible threes. They live in the arctic wasteland of Chiberia, formerly known as Chicagoland, where they have been cooped up inside for the worst winter in half a century, left with plenty of time to reflect and reminisce. Her family blog Go Team Wood is oft-neglected and now functions mostly as a repository for Instagram pics and occasional updates that are far and few between.

Ask the Moms: Multiples and Birthday Party Etiquette

For party throwers | For party goers

Mother of triplets Jenn reached out us with this question:

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

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

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

When You’re Throwing a Party for Your Birthday Children

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

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

Some possible variations include:

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

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

Take your multiples’ relationship into account

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

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

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

Mention gifts in the invitation

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

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

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

Creative solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

When You’re Attending a Party with Your Multiples

Within the multiples community

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

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

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

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

Gifts for singletons

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

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

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

Twin birthday party etiquette

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

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

Ask the Moms: How to Organize Kids’ Clothes

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

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

Modify your system as children grow

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

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

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

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

Find an organizing principle

Photo Credit: MT_bulli

Photo Credit: MT_bulli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Systems by developmental stage

Infants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toddlers

An alternative to stacking folded clothes in drawers is to place them vertically, with the fold up. This allows you to see all your kids' clothes at once. Note that this system is frustrating for kids who put away their own clothes. They can retrieve their favourite item easily, but putting the clothes away and keeping them folded requires some mature dexterity. Photo Credit: peyri

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

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

Generally, though, infant clothing organization strategies still hold.

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

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

Preschool and school age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teens

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

Children of different ages

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

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

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

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

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

By size, season and child

jackets

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

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

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

Clothes to grow into

Photo Credit: if winter ends

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

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

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

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

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

Outgrown

Photo Credit: raffik

Photo Credit: raffik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo modified from original by Micah Sittig

Photo modified from original by Micah Sittig

How to organize kids’  clothes, in summary

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

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

How do you manage your kids’ clothes?

Things Kids Say: Thanksgiving Edition

Our kids came up with some quotable quotes this Thanksgiving.

  • MandyE‘s daughter, 4-year-old Baby A, told Mommy that she was still hungry after a huge lunch and two desserts. How? “My tummy digested it really quickly. It’s already in my intestines, Mommy! I need more pecan pie!”
  • When MandyE’s daughter said, “Mommy, last year I think you gave us gifts on Thanksgiving, didn’t you?” it took her a while to realize they were thinking about the small goodies they got on Valentine’s Day. Since then, both girls have been repeating, “Thanksgiving isn’t about gifts; it’s about family,” over and over… as if to temper their expectations.
  • One of Helene‘s younger twins, Garrett, aged 6, told her, “Mommy, I’m so thankful for you that in another year or two, as soon as I can wipe my own butt, I’ll wipe Landon’s butt too so you don’t have to do it anymore.”
  • His twin brother, Landon, had his own gem: “I’m thankful that Mommy makes me try new foods because now I like turkey legs. I’ve expanded my horizons.”
  • Sadia‘s 7-year-old daughter J, sampled her apple pie only after Mommy spelled out the ingredients for her. “This is so good! The ingredients say it should taste like apple and sugar, but it tastes like love.”
  • One of Jen Wood‘s 4-year-olds says he’s thankful for Ironman. The other replied to her, “I love you,” with, “I love Batman.” It appears to be a superhero kind of year.
  • Dana‘s 7-year-old boys came up with this impromptu ode to turkeys:

What have your children said to you that will stay in your memory forever?

Grocery Shopping with Twins and More

 

You Can Do This!

Twins in a shopping cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com

Yetunde‘s pair are ready to roll!

You can run errands with twins or more, including multiple infants or toddlers. You can do this. Yes, alone. If you must do so alone, or just want to, you should give it a try. We’re going to tell you how The Moms go grocery shopping with kids in tow, from twins to quadruplets, with some singletons thrown in for good measure.

This post assumes that you have access to a car, are walking, or are riding a bike. Taking public transportation with multiples is a topic for another day.

Leaving the House

Plan and Pack

As with most things related to caring for babies, grocery shopping with twins or more starts with good planning. Pick a time that works for you and your kids. Do your babies fall asleep in the car and nap well out and about? Consider going shopping during nap time so that they can sleep through the whole thing. Are they happy and social in the morning? Go shopping then. Make a complete shopping list so that you can minimize followup trips required to pick up things that you forgot during your main shopping haul.

diaper bag and contents from hdydi.com

Photo Credit: dhgatsby

Pack your diaper bag with the things you’ll need. The basics usually include things for diaper changes, something to wipe up spills and messes, changes of clothes in case of mess, something for the babies to eat, and something for them to play with. You’ll also need to have a transportation solution at the ready, whether it’s a stroller-carseat system, baby wrap, wagon, or all of the above.

Twinfant Tuesdays: Errands with Lots of Little Ones from hdydi.com

If your child is old enough to sit in a cart but not big enough to stay propped up, a rolled up blanket can help, as demonstrated by Sadia‘s daughter J at Ikea. M is wearing, or rather worn in, an Evenflo Snuggli. Please see our baby carrier post for our thoughts on wearing twins.

Older kids don’t need all the diaper paraphernalia, but they might need something to keep their hands and minds occupied, like books or toys. A small container of fruit or cereal is a good thing to have on hand for when blood sugar dips and tempers rise. Depending on the ages of your children, you may have traded in your diaper wipes for antibacterial hand gel… although you may find yourself wishing you had wipes, even with school-age kids!

Before you head out the door, make sure that your kids are clean and fed. If they’re just fussy, and you have a constitution that allows you to drive with a fussy child in the car, just move on to loading up. Sometimes you’ll need to drive through the crying to get to your goal.

Don’t forget your shopping bags, cooler or insulated bag, and transportation solution.

If you do make a habit of shopping with your multiples, you’ll need to be prepared to be a minor celebrity. Especially during the first couple of years, when it is obvious that your children are the same age, people will want to stop and talk to you about multiples. Budget extra time for discussion with curious strangers. Arm yourself with standard answers for common questions.

Load Up

3 infants buckled up at home: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com

3 infants in a car: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com Sadia’s daughters and a friend’s son went shopping together regularly. M wasn’t too happy about it.

Put your kids in the car last. That way you’re not distracted by their demands while you pack up. Make sure that they’re somewhere safe, like a crib, swing or playpen, while you pack your car with your stroller (or wagon or baby wraps) and diaper bag and other equipment. Janna kept bouncy chairs in the front room and strapped her boys in on the way in and out of the house.

If you’re using bucket-style infant car seats, it may be easiest to load and strap your babies in in the comfort of your home, then install the seats in your car, complete with babies.

If you’re walking or bicycling, the same general approach holds true. Load the kids last.

Out and About

You’ve loaded up and arrived at your grocery shopping destination with your twins. Now what?

Parking

If you’ve driven to the store, check to see whether they have designated Customer with Child parking spots. If you can score one, it will likely be near the cart return closest to the main entrance to the store. You can maximize your chances of reasonable parking by shopping at off-peak hours such as weekday mornings, but this isn’t feasible for everyone.

Walking and Biking

Janna and RebeccaD walk almost everywhere. RebeccaD purchases only what she can fit in the undercarriage of the stroller. She hits the store with her boys every couple of days. She uses her double stroller for most errands. Janna walks to the pharmacy, grocery store, post office, thrift store. The workout is a bonus!

Once her boys turned a year old, Janna switched to a trailer behind her bike. This isn’t always possible, of course, if your errand is too far away or the weather is too hot or cold, but it works great for her family most of the time.

Implement Your In-Store Strategy

The Moms have a plethora of ideas for containing and transporting kids at the grocery store. Yetunde has actually written about this in the past on her personal blog. If you’re planning to use a store cart, parking near the cart return can make it easier to snap up a cart without having to stray far from your car.

  • A common solution for infants is a double car seat/stroller system, such as the Double Snap-N-Go or Graco DuoGlider. MandyE was once able to run three quick errands within an hour thanks to the ease of baby transfer! Where do the groceries go, we hear you clamor. One option is to use the basket under your stroller as your cart. This severely limits how much you can purchase at a time. Another option is to push your stroller with one hand while pulling a store cart behind you with the other. It looks a little crazy, but it works well.
  • 3-seater cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com

    Target has carts that seat 3 kids with ease, demoed here by MandyE’s precious duo.

    More and more stores are offering shopping carts that seat two or more children. In our experience, such stores include Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and many branches of the Texas grocery store HEB. Sadia found it to be worth driving a few extra miles to go to a store that had two-seater carts standard.

    Twin boys crying in a two-seater shopping cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.blog

    Jen Wood‘s boys don’t seem to appreciate two-seater shopping carts as much as The Moms do.

    Don’t have any stores nearby with carts that accommodate two seated kids? Let your store manager know; the company may simply be unaware of the demand.

    This brings us to another point: “Shop” around and choose stores that work for you. Find places where you can maximize your effort and where you can shop effectively. One-stop shopping is your friend. SarahP typically goes to Costco first, then to Walmart because she can price match there and get all the other odds and ends. Use the grocery store pharmacy. Look for wide aisles. You may find it worthwhile to invest in a cover to keep little fingers off germy cart parts and/or disinfecting wipes to wipe down the cart before transferring your kids.

  • MandyE (in the photo) and Sadia both used the wear one/drive one approach to shopping with twins.

    MandyE used the wear one/drive one approach to shopping with twins. Note that most car seat manufacturers recommend placing car seats inside the car rather than in the seat area. Check your manual!

    You can wear one baby and put the other(s) in the shopping cart. Wiley typically wore her twinfant girls, had her toddler son seated in the cart, and had her school-age son walk. The trick to reaching things on low shelves without spilling a baby is to squat. You’ll have thighs of steel, so that’s a benefit of this approach. Note that many car seat manufacturers advise against placing car seats in cart seats the way MandyE demonstrates and many of The Moms do regularly. Try using the cart strap to secure the seat the way you would with the seatbelt in your car.

  • Twins hiding in the paper towels: Grocery Shopping with Multiples: hdydi.com

    Jen Wood’s guys remind us that our kids are also pretty creative, so be careful when letting them walk in the store.

    Get creative. SaraBeth has seen parents bungee two carts together. Sadia has shopped with her kids in a Radioflyer wagon. SarahP keeps one baby in the car seat in the main area of the cart, puts her 2-year-old in the sitting area of the cart and straps the other baby to herself in a Baby Bjorn. The groceries go under the cart and around the seat. It may look like a circus, but it works! Carolyn – Twintrospectives used her stroller as her cart. When she had too much bagged stuff after paying to fit elegantly back under the stroller, she used a couple of mommy hooks to hang bags off other parts of the stroller. Janna used to hang reusable grocery bags from the double stroller handles.

  • 7-year-olds helping mom push a shopping cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com

    Sadia’s daughters can help her steer the cart, although they’re just at the height where they can’t see where they’re going. They now prefer to walk alongside the cart and help calculate the best values and keep mommy within budget.

    Kids don’t have to be contained. If your kids are old enough to walk and trustworthy enough to be free, invite them to help you push the cart or give them carts of their own. Sadia’s kids still, at age 7, walk between her and the shopping cart, embraced within her arms and “helping” her push. If they wish to walk alongside the cart, they are each assigned a spot on the side of the cart to keep a hand on. They are not permitted to let go without explicit permission. SaraBeth determines which twin goes “free range” based on who has been better at listening that day.

  • Twin boys push miniature shopping carts in the store: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com

    Jen Wood’s sons are on a mission. Having his own cart keeps each boy close to mom and focused on shopping.

    Avoid the store altogether. Shop online. Subscribe to a CSA that delivers to your home. Use a drive-through.

There will be days when your kids will be in rare form, screaming bloody murder, and you’ll wonder how essential food really is. We’ve been there. On balance, though, shopping is doable, often even fun. If you treat it like a fun outing, your kids will have fun too. MandyE and Sadia will talk about making grocery shopping fun and educational in a later post.

Ask for and Accept Help

Twins in a double shopping cart seat: Grocery Shopping with Twins from hdydi.com

The Moms love these double seat shopping carts, modeled here by Carolyn – Twintrospectives’ boys. If your store doesn’t have them, see if a manager can order a few. Once they see how popular they are, they’ll get the message!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Janna often asked strangers to hold doors for her. Sadia asks store staff to help her lift things down from tall shelves. Carryout services offered by some grocery stores is golden. If you let the staff member load groceries into your car, it frees you up to load up your kids.

Unique Circumstances

Special Needs Children

Marissa‘s son A was very sick as a newborn and was essentially quarantined until he was 6 months old, by order of his doctor. This meant keeping D in too until he had his 3rd DTaP. Marissa’s husband, mother, and grandmother ran almost all of the errands, since A required extensive care when not hospitalized. We know, we said you could do it, but sometimes it’s best that you don’t run errands with your kids, for their sakes.

Grocery cart with infant seat attached: Grocery Shopping with Twins from hdydi.com

Some grocery stores provide shopping carts with infant seat already (and securely!) installed. If you wear one baby, these are great for parents of twins.

Now A is doing much better, but he couldn’t sit in a shopping cart until he was about 14 months old. Marissa wore him most of the time and had D sit in the cart. In addition, A is tube-fed and she does not let that stop them from participating in any activity, even though people are far more likely to stare than when witnessing public breastfeeding. One of Wiley’s daughters needs to drink thickened liquids to prevent aspiration, so they keep individual servings of thickener in their diaper bags now. Due to the aspiration issue, she had to drink pumped milk, so Wiley and her family had to travel with a cooler even though her twin sister could just breastfeed on demand.

Sadia’s daughter’s frontonasal dysplasia does sometimes force her family to contend with awkward comments and questions, but she has a stockpile of canned responses at the ready. She also talked to both her daughters about others’ perceptions and comments, since keeping them out of earshot is not a realistic option.

Higher Order Multiples

Mrslubby‘s husband loves to take her quadruplets and their 4-year-old big sister shopping, if nothing else to prove he can! He loads up two babies in one cart and two babies in another. With their older singleton standing on the end of a cart, he pushes one cart and pulls the other. While Mrslubby cringes at all the looks she gets from strangers with her brood, her husband basks in the acknowledgment of his juggling skills.

Pregnant MoMs

At the moment, Marissa is too pregnant with her third baby to wear her son A facing out in a front-carry. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like back-carry much, so she usually only take one kiddo on errands. Once again, her husband does most of the errands, because that’s what works for her family. As we said earlier, asking for help is an important MoM skill, as is accepting help when it’s offered.

Single (or Functionally Single) Parents

Janna and Sadia were both functionally single parents when their twins were very young, thanks to Janna’s husband’s extended work hours and Sadia’s (now ex-)husband’s repeated deployments. They had no alternative but to run errands with their kids, so it never occurred to them that it should be difficult. On the other hand, RachelG and her husband share equally in family tasks such as grocery shopping, so there is no need for either of them to master solo groceries. Do what works for your family’s needs.

If you’re a working single mother like Sadia, chances are that you have very little flexibility in your schedule and no one to watch your kids without prior planning. Work a weekly shopping trip into your routine so that your little ones know to expect it. Consider having a backup supply of canned and frozen goods to carry you through if you hit a week during which you just can’t make it to the store. Moms do occasionally get sick. Cars break down. Roads flood. Don’t be caught without food and toilet paper.

Unloading at Home

Unloading your groceries with young kids around can also take some planning. Your multiples and other kids may be especially demanding on returning to the safe environment of home. As on the way out of the door, make sure that you have a safe place to keep them while you bring your shopping inside.

Grocery Shopping with Twins and More from hdydi.com

Photo Credit: malloreigh

Consider using a cooler or insulated grocery bag for frozen or refrigerated items. This allows you a bigger window to tend to your kids before you return your attention to the groceries waiting to be put away. If your store has an especially competent bagger, do what you can to get in their checkout line and avoid careless baggers. Alternately, you can oversee the bagging yourself or simply communicate to the checkout staff that you need your things bagged in a particular order. It helps them out if you load groceries in logical groupings while you’re checking out.

Sadia keeps a tote in the trunk of her car to help keep things sorted. Refrigerator items go in the tote, everything else straight into the trunk. When she gets home, she can pick up everything that needs to be put away quickly at once. The rest can wait.

Not Just for Moms

The post has been written about moms going shopping with kids because we’re moms who go shopping with kids. This advice is for everyone else too, though: for the DoMs who do just as much in the way of home and family maintenance as MoMs, for nannies and au pairs who are out and about with the kids, for grandmas and grandpas, whether the grandkids are visiting or are in your permanent care.

Katelyn‘s husband carries one kid on his shoulders. Marissa’s husband wears a Moby like nobody’s business. Just yesterday, Sadia had a lovely conversation with a dad of 9-month-old twins while he wore one baby and had the other lying in the built-in infant seat in the store cart. When she got fussy, dad just scooped her onto his hip. He still had a free hand for the cart. Wiley’s nanny tends to wear one girl, put one in the cart seat, and put her middle boy in the body of the cart while the oldest is at school.

We all find ways to get things done, even if it takes some creativity.

Do you have specific types of errands, family situations, or location-related limitations on which you’d like The Moms’ advice? What grocery store trip tips did we miss?

Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Carriers for Twins

Reader Kimberly S. asked our advice on purchasing a twin carrier. The Moms put our heads together and came up with some pointers. We’re a mix of proud baby-wearers, occasional carrier-users, and arms-only mamas.

Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Carriers for Twins from hdydi.comSadiawithBabes

Wiley is our resident expert. She regularly wears her 1-year-old twin girls and their 2-year-old brother. Her babywearing even made the paper!

Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Carriers for Twins from hdydi.com

She recommends wearing your bigger child on your back. When her twins were tiny, Wiley started wearing them both in front in a Moby. She then moved to one in a pocket sling in front and one in a Beco on her back. As the girls got bigger, she alternated between Becos front and back or ring slings right and left.

Early on, when she wore her youngest trio–she also has a school-aged son–she put her twinfants in front in a Moby and her son on her back in an Ergo. Next, the two girls were switched to hip carries in ring slings and their brother, 18 months their senior, on Wiley’s back in an Ergo or Beco. These days, she tends to wear her girls front and back in Becos and her older toddler in a ring sling hip carry on top. The benefit of his being on top is that he can get up and down repeatedly with ease.

Wiley’s currently experimenting with the Tula. Perhaps we can convince her to come back and let us know how she likes it!

 has used the Moby, the Björn and the Boba . She still wears her 21-month-olds, who weigh 32 and 27 lb each, although she no longer wears them at the same time, for hikes and city adventures. Her preference is the Boba for its versatility and continues to be her go-to carrier. She notes that the Boba doesn’t require an infant insert to carry small babies, as some other carriers do.

 has used 2 Ergos , both front/back and side/side, but doesn’t do so often. She prefers to wear one child and carry the other. These kids get heavy! She really likes the Kelty backpacks for hiking and long walks. Several of the moms elected to wear one baby in a carrier and carry the other in her arms.  usually uses her Ergo or Björn for one child and carries the other in her arms.

MandyE (in the photo) and Sadia both used the wear one/drive one approach to shopping with twins.

MandyE (in the photo) and Sadia both used the wear one/drive one approach to shopping with twins.

 used to use her Evenflo Snugli for one girl and carry the other in her arms or in a carseat for errands like grocery shopping.

Sadia received a hands free car seat strap from a friend that was just perfect for stroller-free trips to the grocery store. She’d wear one baby in a carrier in front and the other in her carseat across her hips. This left her hands free to load groceries and open doors.

 still, on occasion, carries one almost-4-year-old in the Ergo on her back and the other in her arms. Her adorable boys weigh 30 and 40 lbs.

wpid-Photo-Oct-1-2013-814-AM.jpgKatelyn never wore her twins. They were her first children. She liked having dad hold one, or she’d just carry both, one in each arm. Now that she has a third child, she does wear him.

One of the things we all agreed needs to be considered is the size of your children. If they’re very small, like Sadia’s (1st percentile), you might be able to wear your babies comfortably into the preschool years. If, like RachelG’s twins, yours are 95th percentile, take her advice and encourage walking as soon as they’re ready.

If you’re up for informative laugh, check out DoM Brian Rosenworcel demonstrating (or rather figuring out) how to wear his newborn twins using a Moby wrap.

Please also check out triplet mom ‘ review from 2008. She discusses 3 slings: the HotslingPeanut Shell and an Infantino Sling. She loved her Moby Wrap. She preferred the Beco Butterfly to the Baby Bjorn, but her husband liked the latter. She also discusses the mei tais Baby Hawk and EllaRoo, and notes a couple of places you can find baby carriers.

Did you wear your babies? What worked for you?

How to Afford Twins: Multiples Consignment Sales

While having more than one baby at a time doesn’t necessarily mean you need two of everything, there are things you will need double or triple. You can stretch your dollars buying used. When I was pregnant I found my local Mothers of Multiples consignment sales to be invaluable. Families who have a bunch of kids at once tend to have a bunch of baby stuff, and some of it is only used a very short time.

IMG 7314

I live in the suburbs of Chicago and there are several nearby MoMs clubs who hold twice-yearly sales of gently used baby and kids stuff. These sales are generally held in a park district gym or a church basement. I was able to shop at 3-4 different club sales during my pregnancy and my boys’ infancy and get a ton of essentials and clothing for a fraction of their retail cost. And because I was also a member of a club, I was able to sell my stuff as my boys outgrew it and recoup a lot of what I paid. For some things like exersaucers and baby gates, it was almost like renting them. I paid $20 for an exersaucer (and let’s be honest, those things will last forever and have a short, but in our case priceless, lifespan.) and sold it back 6 months later for $20. I have since seen very familiar exersaucers show back up at the sale time and again. I would love to know how many families have gotten use from one exersaucer!

multiples consignment sales

By shopping several resale events I was able to curate an adorable, inexpensive and corresponding wardrobe for my twin boys. Often there would be two outfits that matched or were similar, sold by other families with twin boys. I was able to find a family with boys a couple years older and have bought most of their outgrown clothing for the past couple years. In cases where I only found one item I liked at a sale, like an adorable argyle sweater for Christmas pictures, I was often able find a similar one at another sale.

As my boys have grown, I have been able to sell off most of their baby stuff, and unload tons of clothing, and pick up the next sizes from the proceeds.  Now that my babies aren’t babies, it is harder to find clothing since a lot of clothing for this age group (boys especially) is worn out or ruined and doesn’t make it to the resale. Our need for lots of gear is gone. I do still find toys for a bargain, puzzle and games, and swimwear, coats, snow pants and boots. I think my best resale shopping is behind me, but I do no hesitate to recommend resale shopping to expectant families, whether pregnant with multiples or not. 

5 Tips for Multiples Consignment Sales

  1. Join the club. Members of our local MoMs clubs are able to sell their items and shop before the sale opens to the public. Local clubs in our area even have reciprocal early shopping for neighboring club members. I have been able to shop the night before, early bird an hour before the doors open to the public and even had guest passes to offer a friend for my own club’s pre-sale shopping.
  2. Get there early If you’re not able to get in to pre-shop, get there early. If the doors open at 8 am, expect people to start lining up by 6:30 or earlier. For my club the same woman is always first in line, usually in line by 6 before any club members are even on site to get set up for the day. As a volunteer I have heard several people complain about the clothing selection when they show up an hour before the sale ends. While some sales have a half-off or fill-a-bag option at the end of the sale, if there’s something you know you want, get there early. Bring a laundry basket to carry your items. Most sales I have attended do not allow strollers or wagons on the sales floor, so be prepared to carry your kids or leave them at home with someone.
  3. Prioritize your shopping list Know what you’re looking for and head straight there when the doors open. Be flexible and realistic. If you’re hunting for a double stroller, there’s may only be a few options, so go there first. Don’t assume you will be able to get the exact brand or pattern for gear, or even matching items or outfits.  I generally made a list of things I wanted to find, listed by priority. If you really need winter coats, don’t lose valuable time at the toys tables. The inventory of these sales can vary widely and you may not get everything on your list.
  4. Bring your best stuff and price it right If you’re selling your stuff, bring your best. If you’re missing parts or something doesn’t work, it shouldn’t be sold. Check for recalls to ensure the things you are selling are safe, and if your clothing is stained, ripped, or from 1982, it shouldn’t be in your resale inventory. If your goal is to make the absolute most money for your items, consider selling them individually on eBay or though local classified or garage sale groups online. When most of the clothing is $1-3 per piece, your $8 used pajamas probably aren’t going to sell.
  5. Remember, it’s just stuff It is great to get a bargain, and everyone wants to save money, but it’s just stuff. Have clear expectations of what you can get. Sure you may find things new with tags, or a real steal on a bouncy seat, or the perfect double stroller you’ve been dying for, but it’s also clothing your kids are going to spill on, spit up on or rip the knees out of, it’s a piece of equipment that your baby will use for a few months. I’ve seen people grab all the clothing for a particular size and then go through it later, grab things and “hide” them in other areas so they can stake their claim, and get upset with the volunteers who are working because they can’t find suitable matching outfits, don’t like the selection of used toys or wanted a single not a double stroller. It’s just stuff. The workers are all volunteers, other Moms of Multiples, helping their club and clearing out their own closets. Be nice.

Jen is a stay-at-home Mom of twin boys who will turn 4 in November who has been bargain shopping and dressing them in second-hand clothing since birth. 

Twinfant Tuesday: We Cloth Diapered our Twins and it Wasn’t Crazy

I have a close friend who is expecting her first baby (just one!) in January so she has been picking my brain about what cloth diapers to get, what to register for and how it all works.  We cloth diapered our boys starting at about 3 weeks old until they were potty trained around age 2. We did use disposables a few times when traveling, but we estimate we bought fewer than 10 packages of disposable diapers, for twins, for 2 years. (which we almost always bought on sale with coupons or from Amazon Mom Subscribe and save.)

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Whenever we would mention we intended to use cloth diapers, everyone thought we were nuts. Some flat out said it, others scoffed and suggested we  would soon see the error of our ways. We registered for 40 modern cloth diapers (the one-size, adjustable, velcro kind), hoping friends and family would help chip in for our cloth diapers the way so many shower-planning-strategy sites suggested people would shower you with disposables. Not one single person bought us one single diaper. No problem, we were committed to it, so we bought them ourselves.

Looking back on the infant phase, of all the baby stuff we received as gifts, (including hand-me-downs and purchases) our cloth diapers proved to be the most-used, most-appreciated, absolutely the most bang-for-the-buck baby item. I have written lots on the subject of cloth diapers. But with diapers in a distant rear view mirror I can say that I am absolutely glad we used cloth and would not hesitate to do it again. Sure we did more laundry, but in the scheme of how much laundry two babies generate, it was barely noticeable. It was part of our routine from the start since everything about being parents was new, so too was diaper laundry. We have had so much “essential” baby stuff that we were told we could not, should not live without, that we hardly used. We have cycled through countless thousands of toys, dozens of baby contraptions, endless feeding, bathing, maintaining supplies, but the one thing we absolutely used day in and day out was our cloth diapers. (Plus they are stink in’ adorable. I mean LOOKIT HOW CUTE!)

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I won’t lie, I was a little sad when we stopped diapering and attempted to housebreak our children (which may sound barbaric, but so was potty training twin boys!) it meant my babies were no longer babies, and that constant was gone from our lives. We survived ages 0-2 with about 40 diapers, and now they have gone to another family with twin boys who are giving them a second life.

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So if you are expecting, or have twin infants, consider cloth. It’s cheaper, (more cost upfront but saves a bundle long term) and you’re not throwing money into the garbage. So if you want to use cloth diapers and your family and friends think you’re insane, know that you’re not alone, but it’s not crazy at all.

Separate Schools, Two Weeks In

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Two weeks ago I posted about separating my twin boys for preschool, into two different schools. We are in the second week and still adjusting, but here’s a little update on how its going so far.

Both boys started on the same day, even though their schedules overlap only one day a week. We moved around my husband’s work schedule so that day he goes in much later than he used to, since we effectively have to be in two places at once. We stood on the porch and did first day of school photos, obligatory backpack shots, and lots of hugs. Even though only one kid got on the bus, the whole family waited outside for the bus, and his brother insisted on wearing his backpack too. Our little guy got on the bus that first day without a tear. Mommy, however, was not as tough. Yup, I cried. Not as much as I expected, and not as much as I had been in the months before this big day.

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Other kid’s private preschool has a very, very gradual, drawn out intro to preschool, in stark contrast to the school district’s put-them-on-a-bus-and-see-them-later approach. They have a two week orientation period which I suppose some kids probably benefit from, but our kid is ready to get going already. They only go for 1 hour, and instead of drop off, the first day was with the parent the whole time, the subsequent days the parents drop off in the room and get them into their routine before leaving. This Mommy is ready to just drop the kid at the curb, kisses and hugs and on your way, kiddo. The kid wants to know when they get to play at the playground (since they are only there one hour there’s no playground time.) Looking forward to starting for real next week. (and yes, I am one of those rip-the-bandaid off fast people.)

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Here’s a brief rundown of things the past two weeks.

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Kid 1:

  • Got kid onto bus, less than 1 hour later the bus company called (Mommy panic!) but only to tell me to expect him home a full 30 minutes before the original time they told me. Good thing we changed around Daddy’s work schedule.
  • Got a call from the social worker at the school even before he was home the first day telling me that “He was a little sad” when they put him on the bus, which I think is social worker speak for “Flipped his $#&!” when it was time to leave school. Which I guess is good he was having fun.
  • He had an ID tag on his backpack for the bus driver with contact info, but both our home address and phone number wrong. He got home safely anyway. If you ask where he lives he will tell you, “At our house!”
  • Day 2 on the bus and school day was without incident from the kid, but waving at the bus with the other kid, a nosy neighbor walked by adding, “But aren’t they twins? That one must have something wrong with him if he’s taking that bus to school.” IN FRONT OF THE OTHER KID. Gee, thanks.
  • Monday morning the bus driver was 20 minutes late, stopped way past the house, nearly to the neighbors yard and upset the poor kid so much thinking he was forgotten he cried getting on the bus and could be heard screaming as they drove away.
  • By Thursday the second week the novelty has worn off and he no longer has any interest in going to school or riding the bus. It was a major issue getting him to put on clothing and get outside for the bus. Thankful he gets Fridays off so we can not have that discussion for a few more days.

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Kid 2:

  • Went to the first day of school and had a total meltdown when the teacher told him the playtime was done and it was time to read a book. This was the first of many over-sensitive, emotional, sobbing outbursts we’ve seen since the first day of school from the typically laid-back, easy going kid.
  • Teachers told us he’s holding his own but it is obvious he misses his brother quite a lot, he talks about him constantly
  • He runs up to the bus when it arrives back home and has even run up the steps to hug his brother. It’s incredibly sweet.
  • By the 3rd day his brother was at school, he was so volatile and sensitive that I asked him to clean up his Potato Head toys and he sobbed, “But I didn’t get to give brother a hug AND a kiss before he left!”
  • He started a weekly story time session at the library, an extra activity he gets to do alone, since he doesn’t have school as often as his brother. The teacher said he did great and was one of the top participants in the activities and a great listener.
  • He told us he did not want to go to school this week because he wanted to be home for when brother’s bus came back.
  • After the bus nearly missed the house, he put on a Batman outfit because he thought meeting his brother in a Batman suit would cheer him up. (It did.)
  • His teacher at school said he was playing well with the other kids and was much happier than the previous day.

All in all, it hasn’t been bad, but it’s definitely been a transition. We have upped the frequency of random and seemingly senseless meltdowns. It’s heartbreaking to see how sad they are apart, even though they seem to both be enjoying school. They don’t yet “get’ the days of the week so it is confusing them who has school which day, and their behavior definitely shows they are hurting. With time we will all adjust to the new normal, but these first few weeks are pretty emotional.