Can Chores and Work Be “Me Time”?!

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As a part-time working mom of triplet toddlers my most consistent version of “me time” typically consists of doing things I have to do anyway, but doing them by myself! I am an early intervention physical therapist and drive around quite a bit to do home visits. Some of my coworkers complain about all the drive time, but sometimes that is one of my only moments of solitude and I cherish it! Sometimes I listen to music or NPR, but most of the time I am listening to podcasts that I downloaded on my phone. It’s really kind of lovely sometimes to just drive in silence as opposed to driving while singing “ABCs” or “Happy Birthday” 500 times in a row! I think the lives of MoMs generally tend to be pretty overstimulating so embracing a bit of quiet time, wherever you can find it, can be so refreshing!

On my days home with our triplet toddlers, naptime is as close as I get to me time. The naptime “to do” list is always long and sometimes I get so caught up in the business that I forget to enjoy the solitude! I am working on this and when I am mindful of it I find that I appreciate and enjoy naptime even more. I love to cook, so I try to make that a naptime job (at least the prep work) because cooking is actually fun for me when I don’t get pulled away to referee a toddler spat every couple of minutes! Sometimes I’ll even sit down (gasp!) and watch a show on Netflix while I fold a couple loads of laundry.

Some days I remember partway through the nap that I should be appreciating this time. On those days when I’ve been in go-go-go mode I try to take 5, maybe even 10 minutes, to just sit and take a few deep breaths and do something relaxing. Sometimes that means scrolling through my Facebook feed; other times it means sitting on our deck with an iced coffee and just being. The trick I have learned is that I have to stop and do this in the middle of naptime and not be under some illusion that I can get three more things done and then sit because inevitably when I do that the moment I sit down is the moment I hear one or more toddlers waking up!

My other “go to” me time that I only manage to do a couple times a week is to get up early before the kiddos wake up. For a while one of our trio was consistently waking at 5:30 or 6 but then going back to sleep; that was a great time for me to get up and have a little time alone. But that only works for me if I actually went to bed early and got a decent night’s sleep so it definitely doesn’t happen every day. When it does, though, it is often one of my favorite times of day. I can make a pot of coffee, cook a delicious breakfast, and maybe even sit in the hammock and drink my coffee without reheating it five times! That is often my best time to write too. Sometimes I only get five minutes and then this

IMG_20150811_072229

turns into this…

IMG_20150813_195342or this…20150809_082030but, I love this time too and I know it’s going to be gone way too fast!  So I’m also going to embrace this mommy time!

 


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

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

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Toddler Thursday: Flying with Triplet Toddlers

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Our triplets aren’t yet two and they’ve been on three big trips on airplanes, twice to Hawaii and most recently to Seattle.  Each time has been a different experience because they change so much every couple of months and this most recent trip was our first with them as toddlers.  Here are some tips I pulled together after that trip that I hope will be helpful to other MoMs as they prepare to take their toddlers on an airplane!

Tip #1: Sign up for both text & email alerts regarding your flight status!!!  My email to check-in for our flight went to my gmail “priority” inbox while the email about our flight cancellation somehow went to my promotion inbox & I didn’t see it!!!  AAAAHHH! Nothing like getting three babies out of bed at 4am only to get to the airport & learn that your flight was cancelled!!!

Tip #2: Travel lightly!  Check bags, car seats, & strollers (if taking one) so you have as little stuff to manage in the airport & plane as possible because believe me, managing three toddlers is enough!  We packed one big bag for all five of us.  Knowing we could do laundry while we were in Seattle was helpful! Then we checked two car seats & carried on the third (see tip #7).  Some hard core car seat folks highly recommend gate checking car seats because of rough baggage handling, but personally I think car seats are made tough enough & we just knew that lugging three car seats through the airport would be too much.  The nice thing is that car seats & strollers get checked for free.  Our bag was just a tad overweight so we offloaded a few things into the car seat bags.  I was hiding things under the car seat fabric but have since had friends tell me that most agents don’t care if you stuff your car seat bag with other things so that is helpful.

Tip #3: Use all available airport resources to keep them entertained so you don’t have to dip into your airplane tricks!  Our tiny little airport has luggage carts out for anyone to use & this served to be a great distraction for a while! It also kept them all close & not running in all different directions.  Having a squirell-y one get off and push worked well too. We also climbed on/under/over seats and a couple of parked people movers and watched a lot of planes and trucks.

Tip #4: Do some quick internet reconn to see if there are any kid-friendly play areas to let off some steam between flights.  If you are flying through O’Hare they have a great Kids on the Fly play area that has tons of things for kids to explore.  Our original flight plan had us with a very short layover at O’Hare & would have been very tricky.  Our flights the next day had about a three hour layover and while on paper that seemed agonizingly long, thanks to the Kids on the Fly play area though, it actually worked out great.

Climbing steps into the plane was great for tiring them out!
They liked running up & down the ramps too!

Tip #5: Find alternate ways to burn energy! If there’s no play areas then you have to work a little harder but you can still get some of that toddler energy out in the terminal & keep them entertained.

DSC04812
Walking through the terminal & “helping” pull the suitcase

 

Finding a "gate free" area helps contain the roaming too.
Finding a “gate free” area helps contain the roaming too.
Getting on & off can be a little tricky with multiples, but moving walkways are a great containment strategy too. And you can burn some serious energy if you get them running backwards on it!

Tip #6: Baby carriers rock for getting through airports! Did you know that you can wear your baby (or babies as the case may be!) through security?  They just have to swab your hands to make sure you aren’t carrying a bomb in your baby. =)  They are also great for getting down those narrow plane aisles & still having hands free to pull/lug a suitcase or car seat. (See the next two tips re:car seats)!  And carriers work well for walking naps in the airport too!

We love our Twin-Go carrier!  Note the car seat as baggage holder in this pic too!
We love our Twin-Go carrier! Note the car seat as baggage holder in this pic too!

Tip #7: Always opt for an extra set of hands when possible!  So, while kids are under 2 they can be lap babies, but you can only have one lap baby per adult.  This policy is a very good policy for many reasons…one of which is that it keeps crazy spendthrift triplet moms like me from thinking “I’m sure I could manage two babies on my lap in a space the size of a shoebox for hours straight!”.  Okay, I’m really truly not that crazy, but I do like to travel, don’t have a ton of money, & do sometimes overestimate my own supermommy powers so let’s just say, I can see how it might happen. =)

Anyway, getting back to the point…this means that when you have three toddlers you need to purchase a third seat.  Your choice then is to try to rope an unsuspecting family member or friend into making the trip with you & holding the third baby or to lug a car seat along for that baby.  My first choice is almost always to go for option A because the extra set of hands makes lots of things easier including carrying/herding babies through the airport & entertaining them on the plane.  We were lucky that it did work out for us to bring a third adult for the first two big trips with the babies at 6 & 9 months old, but that isn’t always an option (though we did ask around for this trip too!)  Even better was the flight with my sister & her family, where our adult to child ratio was 5:4 & we could pass the kiddos around & go to the bathroom alone or just sit quietly for a few minutes while someone else walked the aisles!  Also important to know when you are booking travel for triplet toddlers is that you can’t all sit in the same row of 3 on one side of the plane!  The online systems will let you book the seats, but you will have to be moved because there aren’t enough oxygen masks.  Given that, I highly recommend booking seats in the same row but across the aisle or one behind the other.  If you have a third adult you can book aisle-aisle-middle or three aisles near each other but if you have to bring a car seat then you have to do an aisle & then a middle & window across the way or the row behind because you have to install the car seat at the window.

Tip #8: Plan ahead for car seat configurations:  When taking a third adult isn’t an option, then you really need to do some advanced planning and ideally practicing to make the car seat on the plane experience less hellacious.  It’s hard enough to sit in the tiny space allotted in coach nevermind get a car seat installed while you have one or more toddlers also in that space.  Before we left I checked with my sister who’d flown with car seats a number of times & got some tips & tricks from her.  We have two different car seats right now, the Combi Coccoro & the Diono Radian R100.  The advantage with the Coccoro is that it is really light & very easy to install on a plane rear facing because you have easy access to the entire beltpath & it’s pretty compact.  Both of our seats are the narrowest on the market–they have to be to fit 3 across–which helps when it comes to fitting them in a plane, but the Coccoro is also not very tall so it doesn’t impact the person sitting directly in front.  The Radian is MUCH heavier & taller, but we still ended up taking it over the Coccoro & here’s why…it was easier to get through the airport.

We bought a cheap steel framed luggage rack from Amazon to attach the car seat to so we could pull it through the airport.  I tried to get the Coccoro attached to it and no matter what I tried I couldn’t get a secure fit because of the rounded shape of the bottom & certainly not in a way that I could actually buckle a kiddo into it.  The R100, on the other hand, was a dream to attach to the luggage rack & with one extra bungee at the top I could easily strap a kiddo into it & pull them around if I wanted.  This set up worked out great for us & because the seat is so narrow we were actually able to pull it down the plane aisle right to our row.  The day before our trip I spent 15 minutes or so of nap time practicing putting the car seat on the luggage rack & then taking it off & folding up the rack so I knew I could do it quickly & with minimal effort rather than stumbling around when people are waiting to get on or off the plane.  As you can kind of see in the picture of me wearing two babies we didn’t end up pulling a kiddo in the seat at the airport, but we did stack our backpack & other carryon on the seat & pulled those. The backpack was actually heavier than the kids so that worked out well.  And the R100 has this great strap that is meant to hold the bottom seat up in a folded flat position that worked great through the top handle of the backpack to keep it secure.

We opted to install the seat forward facing on the plane to make things simpler & since we weren’t really worried about the added saftey factor of rear-facing we thought the novelty of forward facing was worth it.  And it was!  I expected the battle to be convincing someone to sit in the car seat instead of on the lap, but actually there were a few fights over who got to sit in the seat!

They had fun taking turns riding in the car seat on wheels
I ran the luggage rack bungees across the seat & through each side  of the car seat & had one loop style bungee always on the top  of the R100 using the booster belt guides & then just pulled it up over the top of the rack
I ran the luggage rack bungees across the seat & through each side of the car seat & had one loop style bungee always on the top of the R100 using the booster belt guides & then just pulled it up over the top of the rack

Tip 9: Find the balance between novelty & familiarity for in-flight entertainment!  I think this is one of the tricky things about planning your in-flight toddler entertainment.  You want to find things that are fun & exciting, but you only have so much space so you kind of want to know if it’s going to be a hit before you dedicate precious space to it.  And you know how toddlers want to read the same book ad nauseum, right?  So they dig familiar things too.  So figuring out what “old stand bys” & how many new things to bring can be tricky.  One thing that I think can help with the old standbys is to make them disappear for a week or so before the flight so it has a little more pull.  Here are some things we did:

an old iPod touch (aka "phone") that they love to play with  loaded with classical music combined with new headphones =)
an old iPod touch (aka “phone”) that they love to play with
loaded with classical music combined with new headphones

 

Small toys hidden in plastic easter eggs will occupy some time. We used a few small figurines that we know they like & also got some little party favor squishy bugs, etc from the party section or dollar store to fill the eggs with. The light up ring was a fav! Would be even better for slightly older kiddos as ours got mad when they couldn’t put them back together
safety manuals are always fun to look at, but the magazines are better because you can rip out the pages & crinkle & rip the paper =)
Playing peekaboo with friendly folks & taking selfies & looking at them is also fun
Having the extra legroom of Economy Plus is a huge plus if you can swing it or get lucky like we did and get upgraded simply because that’s what was open when they rebooked us! But really, they can stand even in the tiny bit of legroom by the car seat & changing positions helps meet their need to move without having to walk the aisles. This is especially helpful when the beverage cart is out!
Toddler friendly iPad or iPhone games will buy you at least five minutes. Some of our favorites are Peekaboo Barn & the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose
And you can always hope for a nap, but know that even if your flight is timed during nap that the chances are they’ll be wound & crazy & overtired for at least 30 minutes (or 90!) before they finally give in & take the nap they so desperately need! Trying to do some quiet activities to help them settle down for a nap can help. Make sure that if you have “loveys” that they are handy for this time!

Tip #10: Feed the Little Monsters!  Make sure you think about when you will be flying & if you need to pack “meals” or snacks will suffice.  We were flying over at least one meal time & didn’t want to have to spend money or deal with finding decent food in the airport so we packed protein filled foods.  Our little lunchbox was stuffed with hard boiled eggs, cut up avocado, string cheese, Stonyfield’s version of go-gurts, & some melon & blueberries.  We tried to plan snacks that had some staying power, we were pretty sure they would be happy to eat, & were as least messy as possible.  But really, nothing is mess free with toddlers & the go-gurts definitely needed to be “mom-controlled!”  We also tried to balance the novel & familiarity when it comes to snacks too.  We intentionally didn’t give them some of their favorite snacks for the week or so before the flight so they would be more exciting when we busted them out in the plane (TJs cinnamon apple sticks & multigrain crackers).  We also got some snacks we never get like Annie’s bunny grahams, pretzel rods & yogurt covered raisins.  We did over pack on snacks, but that meant we had some left for the ride home so that was nice.

Tip #11: Prepare to be exhausted!  Our flights went very smoothly & the kiddos were very well behaved with only a few minimal bursts of crying/whining, but let’s be clear, it is NOT just because we have “good kids.”  All our planning of activities & snacks paid off and we worked our tails off changing activities, quietly singing songs, reading books, & telling stories!  Do your very best to stay positive & keep your energy up!  That means making sure you have easy access to quick snacks for yourself too!  And if at all possible, recruit help on the other end so you can get a mini break from entertaining babies when you get to your destination!  Having help when you get there is great too because it’s tricky to manage bags, getting out to the car & getting the car seats installed in a new, unfamiliar car!

I think the take home message for traveling with triplet toddlers is to be prepared!!! The majority of this content was originally published on the Therrien Triple(t) Threat blog.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Triplet Tips & Tricks (that also apply to twins!)

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Sadia asked if I would write a Twinfant Tuesday post about tips and tricks specific to triplets and I drew a blank at first. Now that my triplets are 18 months old those infancy days seem so long ago!

I looked back on my blog and found this post on parenting tips for triplets that I wrote when the babies were about three months old. While I think all of these are still good tips, they aren’t necessarily triplet specific. As I was reading that post I thought of a few more to add to the list that are probably the same as for twins. The last couple may be especially helpful for triplets and higher order multiples.

My #1 tip for all MoMs is the classic Boy Scout motto of “always be prepared!”

A little preparation can go a long way towards making your life feel just a little more under control. When your triplets (or a singleton for that matter) are babies, the first thing everyone tells you is to sleep when they sleep. This is good advice, but sometimes it is worth sacrificing 5-15 minutes of sleep to get things ready for the next awake time!

As the babies get bigger and you start venturing out, plan outings after nap times so you have some time built in to prep for leaving the house. It is INCREDIBLY difficult to get everything ready (pack the diaper bag, have snacks & drinks ready, stroller loaded in the car, etc) with three babies awake and needing mommy. Being prepared can also include prepping bottles for the day the night before (we breastfed so thankfully that wasn’t an issue for us) and prepping nighttime snacks for yourself to get you through the middle of the night feedings! Our favorite night time snacks were energy balls and muffins, both of which you can make in a big batch that will last for days. This is also a great thing to ask others to help you with…

Which leads me to tip #2! Don’t be afraid to ask for and always accept offers of help!

Three babies is A LOT of babies! Parents of singletons are exhausted caring for one newborn and caring for multiples is at least three times harder! Every other MoM will tell you this, but if you are a lifelong overachiever like me you may not believe them and think you can do it on your own. But please, from one overachiever to another, listen to them!

If you are pregant with triplets (or twins) line your help up now! If your mom or sister or cousin or best friend is willing to move into your guestroom for the first couple of months, welcome them with open arms! We scheduled visitors back to back for the first three months and I don’t know how we would have managed without them! We had a few days here and there of it just being us and that was enough! When a coworker offers to start a meal train, say “yes please! that would be amazing!” and when your mother-in-law offers to clean your bathroom for you, get over yourself and just say yes. =)

Tip #3 is especially applicable in the first six months when sleep is hardest to come by.

(Don’t get me wrong, our kiddos were NOT the babies who hit six months and magically started sleeping through the night! Well, one did, but they are 18 months old now and two out of three are STILL terrible sleepers so we still don’t get much sleep! But after the first six months they eat less often, eat faster, and you also get quicker at diaper changes, etc. so you get a little more sleep.)

When you are sleep deprived your brain truly does not function! When our babies were newborns we were lucky to get 45 minutes of sleep after feeding, doing diapers, and pumping before they woke up ready to eat again. During these months we found it incredibly helpful to have a way to track everyone’s feedings, diapers, etc.

We tried two different apps (Total Baby & Baby Connect) and found that we liked Baby Connect the best and we liked that it synced between our phones. We used it religiously at first and then as we got into our groove we didn’t have to rely on it quite as much. But it was super helpful when we went to those first couple months of well checks (which we had to do often for weight checks since they were 6 weeks early) because the doctor would ask us questions about how much they were eating and how many wet diapers they had and we couldn’t answer those questions without pulling up that app! It doesn’t matter what system you use, but tracking the basics is key early on. I know other triplet moms have used whiteboards or even simple notebook paper to jot down feedings, diapers, baths, etc.

Tip #4: Find a baby carrier you love and get comfortable putting it on with a baby in it over and over until you can do it quickly and seamlessly without thought. When all three babies need you and you are flying solo you will be frazzled and won’t be in the right mental space to be futzing with an unfamiliar carrier!

Once your baby is around 4-6 months old have your partner or a friend help you learn to wear a baby on your back. This can be a little tricky at first and takes some getting used to but once you get it, it is a lifesaver! There are a bunch of YouTube videos out there that show you different options for getting a baby in a back carry position. I personally found that I liked one method better (carrier on in front & then spin the carrier around to your back with the baby in it) and now that they are bigger I prefer another (helicoptering them over my shoulder). When you have three babies you don’t have enough arms to carry them all from one place to another so being able to put one or more babies in a carrier makes it possible to get everyone someplace in one trip. This can be from the bedroom to the living room or from the house to the car and into a store. And if you want to have one hand free to carry something other than a baby, look into a twin carrier like the new TwinGo. We just got this carrier in December when our babies were already one, but I so wish I’d had it since they were about 4 or 5 months old! Wearing two separate carriers is bulky and not very comfortable and the TwinGo makes a front & back tandem carry simple! Stay tuned for an upcoming “Wouldn’t want to live without it Wednesday” post about this carrier!

And the last thing I just thought of, so let’s call it tip #5, is to look into getting a Foscam video camera to use as a monitor. Having a video monitor has been super helpful for us and the great thing about the Foscam is that you only have to buy one camera and then you can use an app on your phone, tablet, or computer to see the babies. It can be a little tricky to find the best mounting spot, but once you do then you can pan and zoom the camera from your phone to see all three cribs and see what each little munchkin is up to. This helped us figure out who was crying/stirring, but more importantly we could see if that squirmer/squealer was disrupting anyone else’s sleep. With the Foscam we can see if anyone else is awake before we go in to get the crier because there’s nothing worse than trying to sneak in and grab one baby then to walk in the door and have the other two who might be trying to fall back asleep see you and also start screaming! It also helps me mentally prepare for what I’ll be facing when I walk in their room! When all three are up at once, I need to take a few deep breaths and center myself before I open the door!

That is another good tip actually…when you have three babies crying and all needing mommy at the same time, just pause, take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself that this too shall pass. And before you know it your babies won’t be babies any more and you will have nearly forgotten these moments unless you took lots of pics or blogged about it!

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Foodie Friday: Oven Pancake

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Categories Parenting2 Comments
Hot out of the oven
Puffy oven pancake

This has become a staple breakfast in our house over the past month or two!  I love this recipe because it is easy to make, has a decent amount of protein, isn’t overly sweet, and is flexible in that you can use whatever fruit you have on hand. Our almost one year old triplets gobble it up every time!  We’ve made it with peaches, peaches & plums, and bananas.  Here’s the banana version I made today:

Put these ingredients in the blender & blend until smooth:

4 eggs

3/4c milk (we usually use almond)

3/4 flour (works just fine with gluten free flour mixes too!)

1tsp vanilla

dash of salt

1-2tbs of sugar (we usually use coconut sugar or maple syrup)

2tbs melted butter or oil (I typically use coconut oil)

Melt 1-2 T butter in a cast iron skillet and add 2T sugar (this carmelizes the sugar) and add a layer of thinly sliced fruit covering most of the bottom of the pan.

Pour the blender contents over the fruit and bake at 425 for 20-25 min.

I love to serve it with a big scoop of yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon.  It is also good with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

pancake with yogurt, maple syrup & cinnamon
My favorite way to eat it!
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Foodie Friday: A Healthy Alternative to Thin Mints

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Categories Breastfeeding, Feeding, Foodie FridaysTags , , 1 Comment

I’ve been rather obsessed with making different types of energy bites or energy balls lately for middle-of-the-night nursing snacks.  As much as I like them though, I will be THRILLED when we don’t need nighttime nursing snacks anymore!!! (Please tell me that some day our triplets will sleep through the night!!)  I started making these little balls of goodness a couple months ago after seeing a recipe on Pinterest but have since done a lot of experimenting with various flavor and ingredient combinations.  In general, I am a “just wing it” type of cook who likes to look at recipes for inspiration but then just throws things together.  Measuring is not really something I do, which is why baking isn’t really my strong suit.  The great thing about these little energy balls is that they are “no bake” gems that are very forgiving to imprecise measuring.  I’ve only made one “I bet this would be good in here” batch that flopped and the rest have been pretty tasty. These little energy balls are pretty quick and easy to throw together, which we MoMs know is clutch because “free time” tends to come in short bursts!  I’ve made many a batch of these wearing a baby or two.

Because you now know how much I despise measuring, I hope you will appreciate the effort it took me to actually measure and write down this recipe for you!  I would catch myself about to just toss something in and then remember that I needed to measure it so I could pull this recipe together.  But for those of you out there who are creative cooks like myself, please feel free to add “ish” after all these measurements! I’ve also added notes about substitutions that would work nicely if you don’t have these things on hand.

The raw ingredients!
The raw ingredients!

We love having these for nighttime nursing and since they’re chock full of oats I think they’re good for our milk supply.  They also have a little protein to help them stick with you.  And the best part is that they are delicious!  I’ll grab one from the fridge and it feels like sneaking a bite of cookie dough without the guilt!

The finished product!  They look a lot like meatballs, but trust me, they're delicious!
The finished product! They look a lot like meatballs, but trust me, they’re delicious!

Chocolate Peppermint Energy Balls

  • 1 cup cashew meal (I find this at Trader Joes.  Almond meal also works great)
  • 2 cups oats (I use gluten free oats from Trader Joes, but any will do)
  • 1 cup oatbran (if you don’t have this you could sub oats or more nut meal)
  • 1/2  cup cacao powder (standard cocoa powder works fine too)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced dates (not tightly packed)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (can subagave or honey)
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1/3ish cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I like to use mini chips but was out when I made this batch)

Instructions: Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Put chia seeds in a measuring cup and then add water up to about the 1/2 cup line and let rest for a few minutes.  When you come back to your chia seeds they should have absorbed the water and be pretty thick and gel-like.  Add maple syrup and peppermint extract to the chia and water mixture and stir that and the dates into the dry ingredients.  It can take a bit of work to fully distribute the dates and wet ingredients.  The “dough” will be pretty dry and crumbly looking.  Mix in chocolate chips.  This is where it gets messy.  Now grab a small handful of “dough” and smush it together.  Some recipes say to “roll” the bals, but in my experience it’s really more of a smushing than rolling to get them to stick together.  This recipe will make approximately two dozen balls about an inch in diameter.  Usually about halfway through making the balls my hands are so sticky that the balls aren’t smushing well.  So I just wash my hands and come back for another round of smushing.  For those of you with older kiddos this would be a great job for your kiddos to help with!

Other flavors I’ve made include chocolate peanut butter, almond joy, chocolate almond, and honey peanut butter banana.  I’ll try to find the time to measure out the ingredients for these recipes and post them on our blog therrientriplethreat.blogspot.com.

 

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Twinfant Tuesday: A Day in the Life with Triplets-The First Month

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Categories Higher-Order Multiples, Infants, Parenting, Routines, Twinfant Tuesday8 Comments

When people hear that we have triplets, often one of the first comments is “I don’t know how you do it!” So I wrote this post to give folks a better idea of what our typical day looked like for the first couple of months after the NICU. I figured it was fitting to share this post from our blog here on How Do You Do It blog for Twinfant Tuesday.

We read a lot of triplet blogs during the pregnancy and honestly, not very many people keep up the detailed posts after the babies are born. It is mostly just pictures, which I completely understand! (And obviously, I know that’s why most people follow our blog!). But as we prepared for our trio’s arrival, I found myself searching for the details and wanting to ask each family “No, really, how do you do it?!” So this post will give you some idea what our days were like for the first month or two. Most importantly, for any families who are expecting, or just had triplets, this post is for you!

When writing this post I had a hard time figuring out where to start “the day!” Our days didn’t exactly start at 6, 7, or 8a.m. but it seemed weird to start at midnight too! So I decided to start with a “normal person’s” morning (albeit pretty early for most normal people!) and go from there.

**side notes, so the schedule below makes sense: My wife and I both have “M” names so M&M means both of us are on duty.  Oh, and we’re both breastfeeding because I was able to induce lactation to solve the “more babies than breasts” problem!

Here was our schedule for the first couple of months that I pulled from our blog

  • 5am-Both M&M feed babies
  • 5:30-One of us feeds baby #3 while the other starts changing diapers. (If we have a helper for this one, Michelle usually sends me to bed so I get an extra bit of sleep because the late night/early mornings are the hardest times for me.)
  • 6:00-Swaddle and soothe babies and put them down to sleep
  • 6:15-M&M pump to maintain/increase milk supply and get milk for next feeding’s supplements (We had to supplement each nursing session to get enough calories in)
  • 6:30-Wash pump parts and supplement contraption, prep supplements for the next feeding, & take any extra milk to the fridge
  • 6:45/7ish-M&M eat a snack & lay back down to catch an hour or so of sleep before starting all over
  • 8ish-Babies start stirring again and we start the feed, change, swaddle, pump, clean/prep cycle all over again (We often have a helper for this cycle so it tends to go a little faster…sometimes done in an hour!)
  • 9/9:30ish-M&M eat a quick breakfast and either lay down for another snooze or take a shower or do one small productive task like put in a load of diaper laundry, tidy up the zoo of a bedroom, or do dishes.
  • 11ish-Babies start stirring and repeat. This cycle is either followed by a nap or lunch or breakfast if we prioritized sleep the previous cycle!
  • 2ish-Samesies-almost always followed by a nap-particularly for Michelle whose hardest time is the afternoon.
  • 5ish-Surprise surprise…we do it all over again! Mari might start this one solo to give Michelle an extra half hour of sleep or might do it all alone with a helper handling the diapers and prep.
  • 6:30ish-M&M eat dinner–generally something a helper prepared for us or that we heat up from the freezer. Prep night time nursing snacks and bring them to the bedroom.
  • 7ish-M&M lay down for a short snooze before the 8pm cycle. Or, if we’re not feeling sleepy we might actually hang out with each other, check in, & talk over our plans, if any, for the next day.
  • 8pm-Hungry hungry hippos are ready to eat again (did I say hippos?! I meant babies, of course!) and the feed/change/swaddle/pump/clean cycle repeats. We try to do this one quickly and with as little light as possible, trying to help them get the idea of night time = sleep time. So far it doesn’t seem to be helping and they are just as likely to be wide eyed after this feeding as any other. A helper takes baby duty during this time, soothing them if they stir, so we can both get a nice solid uninterrupted hour or two of sleep going into the night.
  • 11pm-Repeat. Same as 8pm with low light and as quickly as we can manage.
  • 2am-Here we go again…This is the hardest one for me and Michelle has had to wake me up for this feeding some nights! Half the time I feel like I’m sleep walking and struggling to stay awake while nursing. Sometimes I have to stand up and move around the room to keep myself alert and functional.

And then it’s on to the next day!  Whenever we had help, one or both of us tried to go sleep in the guest room so that we weren’t disturbed by the little stirrings/rumblings/cries of one or more babies as they cycled through lighter periods of sleep since they were sleeping in our room. The above schedule is like a rough draft. We were not hard core about the clock and the babies really led the way. Oftentimes our lovely 3 hour cycle was shortened to 2.5 hours because of hungry tummies. And occasionally, they’d stretch it to 3.5 hours! This only happened a handful of times, and of course, only once at night. It was amazing how different that extra half hour of sleep made us feel!  For triplet parents to be, our triplets are now 5 months old and I will tell you that we regularly get more than an hour of sleep at a time, but I’d be lying if I said we got enough sleep!

Our GBG triplets at 2 weeks old!
Our GBG triplets at 2 weeks old!

 

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The Preemie Primer – A Book Review

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Categories Book Review Theme Week, NICU, PrematurityLeave a comment

A triplet mother's review of The Preemie PrimerThe Preemie Primer is a great reference book for parents of multiples, especially triplets and more, who have a high likelihood of spending at least a little time in the NICU.  I read it basically cover to cover when my wife was about 22 weeks pregnant with our triplets.

I’m an information seeker so this book was just what I needed when I was feeling anxious about our little trio arriving early. This book is written by an OB who was pregnant with triplets. She delivered and lost one boy at 22.5 weeks and the other two were born at 26 weeks and had multiple complications. Throughout the book she includes personal anecdotes, which makes it easier to digest this sometimes overwhelming information. Dr. Gunter does a nice job of explaining “medical~ese” in layman terms too.

I think you need to know yourself before deciding if this book is for you. If you have a hypochondriacal streak, then you may want to wait until you know your babies are going to be preemies and then order it on Amazon and just read what is relevant in the moment. If you’re like me and “just want to know” then this is a good book to get up to speed on common preemie medical issues.

The book is organized by time frame. It starts with “The beginning” covering pregnancy and delivery. Then moves on to the bulk of the book with “Your premature baby & the hospital,” giving an in depth look at time in the NICU. This section is organized by body system (lungs, digestive system, etc) and covers normal function as well as common problems and treatments. Part three focuses on the mind-body connection, starting with the emotional roller coaster that parents experience when their babies are in the NICU and discusses some good coping strategies.  We were lucky that our triplets were only in the NICU for a week, but I can still attest to the emotional roller coaster!

There’s a section that’s all about “working the system” to help with navigating the medical, insurance, and government benefits systems and he last two sections cover topics related to issues once you get home and then a final “other things you should know” section.

Overall I found this book to be very useful in preparing for our babies’ stay on the NICU. We’re donating our copy to our NICU for other families to use!  I think it’s a great resource to help parents feel empowered to be advocates for their tiny babies!  You can find a copy on Amazon.com.

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