Toddler Thursday: When Your Toddlers Aren’t Toddling Together

We’ve all heard the common question, “How do you do it?” That is how we got our name. Another common phrase I have heard over the years, as many parents of prematurely born twins do is, “They’ll catch up on their own time.” I hate to say it, but sometimes this phrase is like a Band-Aid trying to cover up a bigger “owie” than it can. Sometimes it’s the only thing people can think to say to try to make the mother feel better, when she is wondering if there is a bigger problem to be addressed.

Take my little guys, for example. Growing and progressing a little more slowly than the average baby, but also born much earlier than the average baby. We always take their early arrivals into account. We don’t want to overshoot and stress them out during their development, yet, as a mother I don’t want to undershoot their capabilities by overprotecting or making excuses for them. I believe mothers of premature children may be a little more likely to overprotect their children at times, and that’s okay. Everyone has been through a lot! I also believe there is a balance and it can take a bit of time and self-reflection to understand your parenting style.

My twins are about to turn 4 and when I think back to two years ago, I remember twin b was not yet toddling. Meanwhile his twin had started motoring around on his own. Twin b was able to walk everywhere on his knees, but not his feet. Alarm bells were going off in my head, but I tried to ignore them and give my son more time to figure it out. We shouldn’t compare our twins, as they are individuals and they often do learn things at different times. I kept watching him closely and mentioned it to a few people now and then. I often heard, “he’ll figure it out on his own time.” Hmmm…Are we sure about that?

After lots of watching him in silence, assessing and reassessing; working with him one-to-one to try to get him to walk, I finally trusted my instinct. Something was NOT right. As he approached 24 months corrected/27 months actual we looked at his feet closely. I knew he was able to walk if he had the right support for his feet. I had inspected his feet closely, compared them to his brothers (sometimes comparing twins IS helpful,) watched what he was doing when he tried to toddle and cruise along the couch. I put 2 and 2 together when I realized he could cruise without a worry, but as soon as he tried to stand in the middle of the floor or walk, he’d collapse. His teeny tiny feet just couldn’t keep him standing upright because his feet were very flat and one was practically turning over. We weren’t seeing it because we were trying to promote his walking by keeping him in supportive shoes most of the day, which was supported by his physiotherapist. Once I realized his feet were likely the problem, I contacted our PT and she said my instincts could be correct and he was seen later that week. She yanked off his little shoes, assessed his feet and confirmed that his feet would benefit from the use of orthotics. He was fitted with a custom pair of ankle-foot orthotics (AFOs).

The day we picked up his custom AFOs, the physiotherapist helped him put them on as the orthotist watched. First we had to dig through a box of extra shoes at the centre to fit the larger sized AFOs. Once the AFOs and shoes were on, twin b was set in the middle of the floor…and…HE STOOD…and then…HE WALKED! ALONE. It was amazing to see unfold. One moment he’s a non-walker, the next he’s toddling around the assessment room on his own! I could not hold back my happy tears! They were also likely tears of relief, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

The moral of this story? Trust your instincts and if you feel something isn’t making sense or you’ve said and heard, “he’ll catch up on his own time,” maybe a few too many times, it’s okay to put your foot down (pardon the pun) and ask LOTS of questions to get the answers you need.

Letting Toddlers Dress Themselves

It’s amazing to think that children as young as two years old can develop their own sense of fashion and clothing preferences.

When Mister and Missy were between two and two and a half, they started dressing themselves (“I do it myself!”). Proudly putting on their own pants, socks and even trying to remove/put on their diapers! (that’s when we knew they were ready for potty training) At first we thought it was limited to dress-up time.

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Twins dressing up and getting dressed


Then at some point, they started paying attention to the clothes I would set out for them the night before. Then things got interesting and their personal clothing preferences came out. We quickly discovered that Missy is all about pink, purple, dresses and generally complicated outfits. She would be the one trying to zip up her jacket and fiddling with buttons.

In contrast, we noticed that Mister started resisting wearing anything with collars, buttons or zippers. That meant no more jeans or cute hoodies over the winter. It also meant no traditional Pakistani outfits comprised of a tailored collar tunic and baggy trousers. When my cousin got married a few months before their third birthday, it was nearly impossible to get him into the cute traditional “kurta pajama” for the wedding festivities. It took 3 people to coax and wrestle this screaming toddler into the clothes. If this wasn’t a family wedding where Mister and Missy were part of the procession, we would’ve compromised.

To this day, Mister prefers to wear his Elmo jogging pants or any track pants with a stripe down the side. His favourite and only tops to wear are slip-on shirts, preferably with a favourite character on the front. To make weekday mornings easier, I would take out at least 3 outfits each and hang them up in both their rooms. It definitely helps to plan out kids outfits beforehand so we are not searching their closet in the early morning darkness. Once they turned three, our twins started to pick out their own clothes.

A few weeks ago we were going to a community luncheon where Missy wore a traditional outfit (purple) and I wore a red one. Although Mister refused to wear the outfit I picked out (shirt with a collar, buttons and dress pants), he chose another outfit to match what I was wearing. He came over, showing the red long sleeved shirt he picked out with black fleece pants. My first reaction was to tell him to put back the fleece pants. Then I noticed the excitement on his face and sensed he was seeking my approval. The look of pride on his face when I said: “Good choice! It match!” was enough to make my heart melt.

Missy likes to be cozy and will layer her clothes. One day this past winter, she wore 6 layers: undershirt, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, dress, hoodie, and coat. And on her head were 2 headbands, 1 hair clip, and her usual requested hair style featuring three (yes, 3) ponytails… a la Punky Brewster.

There have been some (many) mornings when one or both would fight with us on their clothes choices, and even want to wear pajamas to daycare. The daycare educators suggested we offer up two choices for tops so they feel like they have some control. And let them wear pajamas if there is great resistance. That appeared to help a bit but we still had our morning challenges.

Amazingly, in the last 2 months or so and as Mister and Missy are nearly 3 ½, they have taken full control over their clothing choices. They even learned how to take their clothes off hangers and how to put them back on (their closets are child-sized).

Here is a description of recent favourite outfits:

Mister: Spider-Man underwear, blue top, blue Elmo jogging pants with white stripes, Elmo socks

Missy: Pink underwear, pink pants, pink long sleeve top, fairy dress, white & red Canada hoodie, pink socks

What’s the fashion in your house these days?

2Cute is a Canadian mom to 3 year old Boy/Girl twins who will be starting Junior Kindergarten this coming September. Their new school has a dress code (navy blue and white), which is going to cramp her twins’ sense of style.

Toddler Thursday: The Games We Play

One of the best things about parenting toddler twins is watching them play games together. Even though it was TOUGH parenting twin toddlers (ohhh, the double melt downs on the sidewalks were brutal!!), I always tried to find the virtues  they brought to each others lives.  I loved to just sit back and watch their creativity and playfulness develop with each other.   They are now 7, and I still see the virtue of their “twin-ness” help them to develop these creative outlets, through play. 

Here are some examples of games they played when my Deuce were almost 2 years old:

Spot Throwing: They each stood on a small round rug (ikea, $3) and they’d throw the ball back and forth to each other. If they got off the circle, they must get back on before throwing again. *This was a game they made up themselves!

Tickle-fest: They chased each other with a high pitch scream and tickling fingers. This often lead to tears however, because they were not quite sure how to tickle appropriately. For instance, eye sockets are not very ticklish.

1,2,3 Splash: I posted this video on our blog. It never gets old.

Whhheerrrre’s…(insert child’s name)? : This game is kind of like pee-ka-boo and hide and seek game put together. It involves a big loud celebration when the person is found.

Flashlight hide and seek: This game was so much fun to join in on! Turn off all the lights in the basement and run around like a mad man.

Party in the Wardrobe: I had emptied out an old wardrobe that we are planning on getting rid of. The kids came up with a game where they both go inside, shut the door, and scream and laugh as loud as they can. Then they step out quietly, look at each other, laugh, and go back in again for more. It never got old.

Dance Party: We’ve always had dance parties with the boys, but they decided to step up the party with removing the huge rug (by themselves!), insisting all their clothes come off, and spinning and jumping around like little crazy monkeys.

Cooking: They liked to pretend to cook while I’m cooking. They’d pull mixing bowls out, fill them with a few golf balls and stir them around, adding salt (pretend salt) every now and then.

Stump jumping: When they got tired of ‘cooking’ they would turn the bowls and pans over and arrange them so that they can jump from ‘stump’ to ‘stump’ with out touching the ground. It was pretty impressive to watch.

Butt scoot/ knee walk/ gallop: Basically they seemed to encourage each other to come up with different ways of getting from point “A” to point “B”. The butt scoot was hilarious to watch… it looked kind of like the crab walk, but with their butt dragging on the ground and they used their legs to pull them. The knee walk was cute, but got old when they were both doing it when you’re trying to walk across a busy parking lot. Not fun.

Bu-bye: They were really exploring their independence by saying “bu-bye” to us and then walking out of the room. They would come back and yell “hi!” and then seconds later they are saying “bu-bye” with a wave over their shoulders. They also often held each other hands as they waved “bu-bye” to us… like they were going off together to cause nothing but trouble.

Oh, don’t I know it :)

What games have your twin toddlers come up with to play together?

Toddler twins play the best games! Are your kids' favorites in the mix?

 

Toddler Thursday: Dealing with a Toddler and Bed Rest

One year ago today I got hospitalized for one week because I went into pre-term labor with my twin boys. Things worked out really well and I was fortunate enough to go home for the remainder of my pregnancy, but on strict bed rest.

One of my biggest worries with the sudden change of events was my toddler, who was just a few months shy of 2 at the time. Most of my stress was put at ease by my amazing mother-in-law who was able to put her life on hold for a month so that she could come stay with us and help out, but I still felt badly that I couldn’t take care of my own son.

I felt like I couldn’t do some of the things that I had hoped to do with Cameron before the babies came. I really wanted to make him feel special, because I knew having two new babies in the house would be a radical change for him and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t have that bonding time with him.

Thankfully I was able to move past that idea and I realized there was still a lot that I could do from where I was sitting. I was still able to have that special time with him and you can too if this is something that you’re dealing with in some form or another. Injury, morning sickness, fatigue, or just a down right bad head cold.

Some great ideas for spending time with your toddler while you're on bed rest

Here are just a few suggestions of things you can do with your toddler(s) with very minimal physical effort:

  • Read books. Kind of no-brainer, right? My son loves books. You can make them more interactive by pointing out colors, animals, emotions, etc. Ask them to find things, ask them what sounds the animals in the illustrations make, ask them to imitate scenes, help them fall in love with a series. Books can go a long way.
  • Coloring. Markers, colored pencils, crayons, Do-A-Dot, dry erase markers on white boards or pictures in page protectors, Color Wonder markers if you’re nervous about them getting marker on the couch/bed.
  • Camp out by the bath tub and let them have at it with shaving cream or water colors all over the tub and tile.
  • Cameron loved stickers, so letting him go through his sticker book and putting stickers all over papers was a hit.
  • Let them play trains or cars gently on your tummy. You could put tape on your belly to create lanes.
  • See if they’re interested in interacting with the baby/babies in mom’s tummy. Can they feel them move? Can they hear them? What would they like to say to them?
  • Let them snuggle up to you and watch a movie or video clips on YouTube. I pulled out a lap top and watched some of my sons favorite animal clips all the time.
  • Have your child put on a show for you. They can put on some dress up outfits and you can turn on some music from your phone for them to dance around to.
  • Pretend that your child is a doctor and you are their patient. They can check your vitals while you lay down.
  • They can “write” a letter to Grandma/Grandpa. Have them write alphabet letters on a piece of paper as if their writing words. If they aren’t old enough to actually write alphabet letters, maybe have them type on a lap top or computer keyboard. You can make the font really big so they can see it better and they can just type away.

Life throws us lots of curve balls, so save this list for a rainy day. No need to feel guilty about not being able to invest your normal amount of effort each day when you are under the weather. Your children can still feel your love for them and appreciate spending time with you all the same.

Rest on, Mom.

Learning to walk

I’m supposed to post about toddlers today, but that seems like such a long time ago. My girls are now thinking about kindergarten. My toddler experiences are distant memories now, but I’m reminded of them as I watch our babysitter’s son go through the same phases again.

Our girls didn’t start to “toddle” until they were 19 months old. They learned to stand and walk cautiously, but once they took those first steps, they didn’t want to stand still.  Within a month they went from just starting to stand independently to walking. The result was lots of bumps and bruises. About a month after learning to walk, our MoM’s group visited the zoo.  The paths at the zoo sloped up and down as they curved around the animal enclosures. As a result, our girls – who insisted on walking by themselves – spend lots of time face down on the ground. By the end of the day, we joked that we could tell them apart by the bruises on their foreheads. Fortunately, they had lots of time to practice walking in the warm summer weather, and their balance improved.

Last fall the girls start jiu jitsu, where they once again seemed awkward and unsure of their movements. Compared to the more experienced students in the class, they seemed like toddlers again. Though the context is different, it reminds me of those early days of walking, experimenting with new movement. It is interesting to see how the same patterns reappear at different points in our children’s development.

The Time I Had to Clean the Poop Off the Wall

When twin 2-year-olds start changing each other's diapers during nap time, it doesn't make for a pretty picture.Once, when J and M went down for their nap at age 2, I decided to take a nice long shower. I’d been having a hard time sleeping, so I thought a shower might help me take my own nap. As it turns out, I should have done more to confirm that M and J were asleep.

When I came out of the shower, I heard voices in the girls’ room, so I went to investigate.

M: Mama, I can’t clean the poop on the wall.
Me: The what on the what?
M: The poop on the wall.
Me: How did poop get on the wall?
M: I put it there.

This face delivered the news of poop on the wall. Because twins will try to change one another's diapers if they can.

This face delivered the news of poop on the wall.

M had gone number two in her diaper. She had then used half a package of wipes to clean herself, and in the process smeared the wall above her bed with fæces. Can I get an “Eeeeeewwwww” from the peanut gallery?

I never got a clear answer from J on her level of participation.

Just to be safe, both young ladies were bathed, and all the bedding and soft toys in the room and clothes on the girls made their way through the washing machine with copious quantities of bleach. I was glad I had an economy-size container of disinfectant wipes because the walls, as well as the dresser where the used diaper wipes were piled, needed it. For the record, satin sheen Behr paint cleans wonderfully!

At some point, J’s (clean and dry) diaper was changed. J reported that M changed it for her, and I must admit that she did a great job. One tab was attached a little crookedly, but I wouldn’t have known that I hadn’t put the diaper on J except that she’d been in a different brand when she went down for her nap.

This was one of the grossest experiences of my life.

I started out angry and grossed out. Once the wall and children were clean, though, I was able to get a little perspective. M was genuinely trying to clean up after herself. She was embarrassed by the mess she made. J tried to communicate to me what happened, although I struggled to understand the sequence of events.

Our babies grow up. They won’t learn without falling down a few times and making a few messes.

What’s been your grossest parenting moment?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Toddler Thursday: 10 Reasons My Toddlers Drive Me to Eat Cupcakes

Some moms drink wine. Some exercise. Me? I eat cupcakes.

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I blame it (mostly) on my toddlers, although, I’ve been a stress-eater for most of my life. It just sounds better to explain it away as the stress of raising preemies/multiples/NICU babies/surviving triplets/high ongoing need babies…

Than to admit I have a problem.

So, let’s just go with it, okay?

Here are 10 Reasons My Toddlers Drive Me to Eat Cupcakesand why you’re probably doing something similar to cope. Cause we all know this ain’t easy.

  1. It’s hard. Yes, you’ve heard it too. The lie of ‘the first year is the hardest’. WRONG. The first year is a breeze; partly because you’re half-asleep through it all and partly because at least they’re semi-containable and they sleep a lot.
  2. They move. Fast. In opposite directions. Even with only one that walks (the other is almost there, but still crawling), they still get away from me.

    Look mom, I snuck out the doggie door when you weren't looking!

    Look mom, I snuck out the doggie door when you weren’t looking!

  3. They can reach all the things they aren’t supposed to have. No matter how many times or where you move it. They will find it.
  4. They know how to give you the evil-eye. My son is particularly good at this. It’s his favorite way to disagree with me.

    I told you I don't want chicken Mommy!

    I told you I don’t want chicken Mommy!

  5. They think making you mad is funny. And they do that exact button-pushing thing over and over again just to get a rise out of you. (I eat an extra cupcake every time I realize this isn’t going to get any better…).
  6. They’ve developed stalling tactics. Just when you’ve gotten a good sleeping routine going, they have now figured out how to stall. Or get your attention by crying loudly every time you start walking them to their room. If you’ve got an easy-thrower-upper, this is not cute at all. (Wait, it’s never cute, never mind.)

    But, I don't want to go to bed!

    But, I don’t want to go to bed!

  7. They have learned their opposites. They may not know many words, or many colors, or animal sounds, but they sure know what opposites are. It’s the thing they do every time you want them to do something else.
  8. They’ve begun to lose their hearing. This goes hand in hand with pretty much all the above reasons. They’ll look right through you like you weren’t even speaking or completely ignore you like you’re yesterday’s news.

    Yep, I'm just pretending to listen. Mmmhmmm. Okay, mom, whatever you say.

    Yep, I’m just pretending to listen. Mmmhmmm. Okay, mom, whatever you say.

  9. Their little sun-shiny personalities are in full-force. Most of the time, they really are sun-shiny, but when they aren’t, they really aren’t. And they know how to throw a mean tantrum. (And this just makes me waste cupcake, because it causes me to spit some out from laughing so hard at their little show…).
  10. They are independent, except when you actually want them to be. Oh, they’ll help you with things and be all nice and stuff, until you actually need their cooperation, and then it’s like a war zone.

What about you? How do YOU do it – handle the toddler years? Share with us below some of your tips and tricks (even if one of them is that you secretly eat cupcakes in the pantry when no one is looking, just to stay sane).

Toddler Thursday: Mispronunciations

What could be cuter than the mispronunciations of toddlers?

My firstborn has always been a very verbal child. I’d consider her speech now at almost 4 to be distinct and clear, but it was so even when she first began to talk. Rarely did we not understand what she was saying, but that doesn’t mean some of her pronunciation wasn’t adorably incorrect.

Some of her first mispronunciations were not so much mispronunciations but made up words. She consistently used her own word for the purple yams my mom would bake for her that she loved so much. I don’t remember the word anymore, but it was a completely non-sensical word that sounded nothing like “yams” in Mandarin. I think she did the same for the word “hair.”

Another one of her first words was “budget.” No, not the one involving money, but this is what she called her beloved blanket for the longest time. She actually hung on to this pronunciation way after she knew how to correctly say it, I think probably because she sensed we enjoyed it so much! To this day, we still bring it up and laugh about it.

Many of these mispronunciations were so short-lived, though, that by the time I wanted to write them down, she was already pronouncing them correctly. I wish I had been able to get all of them, but we only have a few of the most memorable ones in English: some-ting (something), lolly-pot (lollipop), poof-rints (footprints), hostiple (hospital), weally/wite (really/right), lub (love), fay-bwet (favorite), sawsee (sorry), pick-mick (picnic), catta-pitta (caterpillar), gir-lull (girl), squir-lull nuts (acorns).

And her numbers were particularly charming, especially when they were out of order: “One, two, dwee, five, se-ben.” I fondly remember her favorite game at age 2: hide-and-seek with Daddy. She would count to 10 in her out-of-order way, then say, “Ready not, here come!” (And she would promptly forget whether she was the hider or seeker, so they would often both be running around looking for the other, or both be quietly hiding. Hilarious!)

To all you new parents out there, record record record! Get as much video of your cute kiddos jabbering on, because there will come a day (when your preschooler is arguing with you in fully formed sentences) you will look back on them as your most treasured memories.

lunchldyd is mom to 3 3/4 yo daughter and 15 mo b/g twins. As a busy high school teacher and mom of 3, she is constantly reminding herself to take her own advice.

Toddler Thursday: Bored Is Good

3 is such a fun age! Since my twins turned 3, their understanding of the world they live in has grown in leaps and bounds. They now understand choices and consequences. They’ve also learnt to ask to be entertained; usually by me or the TV. I used to give in until one day I was too tired to oblige them. And that’s when I learnt parenting lesson #2-something:

Bored is good.

I find that when the girls ask to be entertained and I acknowledge their request but do nothing, a series of events occur:

Stage 1: Squabbles and arguments that I’m called upon to mediate. It’s hard but I maintain my non-interference (Stay Out of It like Rebecca wrote) as long as things don’t get physical. This is the stage where the twins are competing for my attention and trying to get me into entertainer-in-chief mood. I resist and this stage usually goes away after five minutes. If this stage goes on for too long, I make them stay on opposite sides of the room. The boredom soon takes them to stage 3.

Stage 2: Shocked silence and confusion (this rarely lasts more than a minute or two)

Stage 3: Co-operative, imaginative play starts. The girls start playing with each other and because they don’t want to lose their only playmate, they are nicer to each other. They take turns. They have conversations – one of my twins is visibly behind her sister in language development but when they are playing together, I see improvements in her language skills because she’s having to add to the story line and communicate with her sister. They let their imagination run wild – the play kitchen becomes a fort for a lost puppy to be rescued using a pair of binoculars as a lasso. Suddenly, we have puppies, dinosaur eggs, dragons and unicorns in the house.

Coop_Play

And that’s why bored 3 year old twins can be a good thing waiting to happen. What starts out as moments of boredom ends up building imagination, language, social skills and creativity. That’s something worth turning off the TV for.

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice. She blogs about the twinmom hustle at mytwintopia 

Messy Fun!

We’ve been getting in somewhat of a play rut around here, and it was making the days really long. I had been feeling some mommy guilt thinking about the activities I had done with our older daughter, and I was determined to do something. So, I searched Pinterest for some different ideas, and sadly most were not multiple friendly.

Such as this idea:

I thought hey, how easy is that. I tried it. Between my four 16 month olds, in less then 5 minutes they had the pom poms strewn around the room, the rolls ripped off the wall and shredded, and 3 of the 4 were happily munching on a pom pom snack.

Then I found this idea:

My husband thought I was crazy. My nanny thought I was nuts. But I was determined to do something different.

Here is what happened!

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While it was a ridiculous amount of mess to clean up, everyone had fun! And the morning flew by!

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The best part is, we have nice new bright art work for our play room!