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.

Toddler Thursday: Songwriters

My daughters came into their own as songwriters when they were toddlers. Perhaps it’s my fault. I’ve always been a musical theatre geek. I’ve also been known to break out in song just to make the day brighter.

Toddlers love to write songs. What kind of stuff does your child come up with?M went through a phase during which every song ends “All day long.” Every single song ended like “The Wheels on the Bus.” Well, that’s the way I grew up singing that song. M and J learned the “all through the town” version. Where “all day long” came from, I’m not sure, but it was M’s songwriter signature.

Some examples of such songs were:

After I’ve shampooed her hair:
I using sanipoo,
I using a sanipoo,
Jessie using a sanipoo too.
My hair clean
And Sissy hair clean.
ALL DAY LONG.

While in time out:
I go in time out.
I go in time out.
Not okay pushing Jessica.
ALL DAY LONG.

On being offered a grape by her sister:
I don’t like grape.
No, I don’t want a grapes.
ALL DAY LONG.

Because I have them, here are a couple of videos to illustrate a later artistic phase and her sister’s compositional prowess.

M’s Song

Transcription

M: (introductory remarks) It’s about a blue Jasmine.
Me: A what?
M: Jasmine, a princess.
Me: Okay. Let’s hear it.
M: ♪ Jasmine a princess wanted a baby. She asked her mama. “Not today.” ♪ She bows.
Me: Beautiful! I love it. Thank you, M.
M: It’s a little song.

J’s Song

And now for J’s lengthier piece.

J: ♪ When I want my favourite toy, like a Cinderella princess, I ask my Mom with my words. When I want them, I got to ask to my Mom, “I want my princesses”. ♪

I think a bunch of this was filler. I certainly didn’t understand what she was singing.

Jessica: ♪ When I want a my pretty sun. When I want my Mommy to come back, I ask my Grandma or Daddy or Grandpa. This is a way to talk. My day. When I jump on my big jumping, I roll over to turn into a princess. When I turn over, I turn to a Jasmine. When I turn over, I turn to a Cinderella, a princess. When I turn to my side, my Sleeping Beauty for, my Sleeping is for, my Sleeping Beauty is for yoooooou. When I jump, I take my Sleeping Beauty away from you, put it on my bed. Ohhh. My … ♪

and so on, about Penelope, lava, Melody, her bathroom, and other silliness.

Yes, I asked her to wrap it up, because it was after bedtime. As J says, she sang too much and got tired, just like Ms Anna (from The King and I).

Note: If you’re seeing this is a reader, you may need to click over the blog to see the video clips. I’ll transfer these videos to Youtube when I have a moment.

Do you have toddler songwriters? What sort of stuff do they sing about?

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, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Toddler Thursday: Great iPad Apps for Toddlers

For my birthday, about 7 months ago, I received a wonderful gift… an iPad. I’ve always wanted one, but I knew if I got one, it wouldn’t be myself using it, but rather my kids. And it’s not that I have a problem sharing it with them since we have enough computers here to go around anyway. It’s more the fact that my kids happen to be twin toddlers, which means they both don’t yet understand the meaning of the word ‘share’. ‘Share’ to a toddler means ‘I get to take it from you when I feel like it’. And I have 2 of these toddlers so…you get the idea. I deal with enough fighting between the two of them on an hourly basis, so the last thing I need is a ‘toy’ like the iPad for them to fight over.

So I never purchased one, but since it was given to me, I right away started searching for and downloading apps for them (before even using it myself first, I might add). And while they did fight over it at first, they share it very nicely now (or at least as nicely as you would expect twin toddlers to share an iPad). I definitely believe it actually teaches them to share, as well as taking turns, because if they don’t, they know I’ll take it away, which to them would apparently be much worse than sharing.  It’s also taught them to share their toys as well (I’ve never bought 2 of anything).  They know if they don’t share nicely during the day, they won’t get their 30 minutes of iPad use at quiet time before bed.

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Since receiving this iPad I’ve downloaded tons of toddler apps and both myself and my kids have tried them each a number of times. Many were erased right away and for some it took a bit longer for my children to become bored with them. But here are the apps (in no particular order) which are played on a daily basis and thus, have made the short list:

1. Elmo Loves ABC’s
Price: $4.99 (you can download the lite version for free but you only get letters A, B and C)

  • Learn letter recognition through sight, sound and tracing of both upper and lower case letters.
  • Four different versions of the alphabet song with videos.
  • Coloring pages.
  • Includes games and videos for each letter of the alphabet.

2. The Wiggles Alphabet Adventure
Price: $2.99

  • Hands-on interaction for each letter of the alphabet. For example, for the letter ‘V’, the child gets to actually play a violin, for letter ‘A’, they get to eat an apple, for letter ‘C’ they get to cook up a stir-fry.
  • Very colorful with great animation.
  • If your child is a Wiggles fan, this will be there favorite app.

3. Preschool EduRoom
Price: $1.99

  • 16 different games that focus on matching, memory, colors, numbers, sorting, telling time and shapes (ie: matching shoes, matching shirts to the same color hanger, matching numbers on a clock, putting dirty clothes into the hamper).
  • Bright colors.
  • Cheers when your child gets something right.

4. Preschool EduKitchen
Price: $2.99

  • 5 games that focus on sorting/organizing, counting, memory and making healthy eating choices (ie: placing items with recycling sign into recycling box, adding only sliced oranges to a fruit pop, placing only the dirty dishes in the dish washer, setting the table).
  • Bright colors.
  • Cheers when your child gets something right.

5. Candy Count
Price: Free

  • Great for leaning colors and numbers through sorting and counting colored candies.

6. Preschool Memory Match and Learn
Price: Free (you can upgrade to more options for $1.99)

  • 7 categories including colors, shapes, numbers, fruits, vegetables, nature and ABC’s.
  • Many different settings and options.
  • As your child does better, it will get more difficult so they will continuously be challenged.

7. Abby Monkey Basic Skills Preschool
Price: $1.99

  • 14 activities which help children to learn patterns, numbers, letters, counting, sizes, colors, shapes and matching.
  • Prizes encourage children.
  • Children love the monkey that guides them through the games.
  • Easy to navigate.
  • Lots of variety.

8. I Spy With Lola
Price: Free (you can upgrade to more options for $1.99)

  • Travel to different locals around the world and search for hidden objects (similar to I spy).
  • Helps children learn object identification and word association (a picture of the object is shown and the narrator says what the object is as well).

9. Duck Duck Moose Musical Me
Price: $2.99

  • Copy patterns, recognize rhythm and pitch and play different instruments.
  • My kids love to sing along to the songs in this app.

10. Gingerbread Crazy Chef
Price: Free (you can upgrade for a fee to get more options)

  • This is a just-for-fun game.
  • Bake a gingerbread cookie from scratch and then decorate it.
  • Choose from 20 different cookie types, 6 backgrounds, 30 accessories, 30 candy decorations, 30 eyes, nose and mouth options and lots of different costume options.

11. Pizza Maker Crazy Chef
Price: Free

  • This is a just-for-fun app.
  • Make a pizza from scratch by adding the ingredients and mixing it in a bowl. Then stretch it out with a rolling pin. Mix up some sauce and spread on pizza. Choose from over 100 toppings and place in brick oven to bake. Then decorate your pizza and either eat it, slice it up and serve it or deliver it.
  • If your child likes this game, there is a similar one called Cupcake Chef which is just as great.

12. Toca Boca Birthday Party
Price: $2.99

  • This is just a fun app.
  • Choose birthday party theme, choose dishes and cake that match the theme and set the table. Serve the cake, pour juice, blow out the candles and open a present. Eat the cake and move all the dishes into the dishwater when finished.

13. Ice Pops Maker Salon
Price: Free (you can upgrade to more options but it’s not necessary)

  • This is a just-for-fun app.
  • Children can make their own ice pops by choosing from a variety of different molds, flavors/colors, fruit additions, ice pop sticks. Then they drag their ice pop into the freezer and wait until it’s frozen. Take it out of the freezer and add other decorations such as sprinkles, candy and frosting. Then eat it.

14. PBS Play and Learn
Price: Free

  • Your child can choose from games themed from familiar locations such as the grocery store, home, playground, bathroom and the kitchen.
  • 13 games and 52 hands-on activities, all very educational.
  • Each game has a note for parents that discusses the math and/or literacy skills involved in the game.
  • Includes an open-ended sticker game.
  • Additional creative ideas for parents to do with their children.
  • There are no pop-up adds that you would normally find with free apps.

15. Duck Duck Moose Draw and Tell
Price: $2.99

  • Encourages open-ended play, creativity and imagination.
  • Children can draw, color, use stickers, create animations and record songs and stories.
  • Children can choose from 27 colored crayons, paints and colored pencils as well as rainbow and glow-in-the-dark crayons, more than 150 stickers, 32 backgrounds for pictures and more than 60 stencils.
  • All drawings and recordings can be saved.

Note: For the apps that are free with an option to upgrade for a small charge, it may be worth it if your child is too young to know how to navigate past the advertising pop-ups that come along with free apps (excluding the PBS app).

If you do intend to place your iPad into the hands of your toddlers twins, I highly recommend purchasing the Speck Products iPad 2 iGuy.  If we didn’t have this, our iPad would have been in a zillion pieces the day we decided to share it with them.  At first they won’t understand they have to share it with their twin, which will result in the continuous throwing of the iPad across the room.  Just a heads up!

A list of great iPad apps for toddlers from hdydi.com

What I Learned from Parenting My First Child

Having already parented one child 2.5 years older than my b/g 13.5mo twins, I feel I’m at an advantage knowing somewhat about what to expect with the twins. I’m sure I have much more to learn on this parenting journey, but here are some lessons I’ve learned so far:

During Times of Sickness

Parenting 1st child(1)Never over-coddle a child when he is sick. Even the youngest of children have absurdly brilliant minds and will expect the same exact treatment permanently after recovery. So resist the urge to feel sorry for your poor sniffly baby and snuggle with her in a rocking chair all night because she’s congested… unless doing the exact same thing every night forever sounds good to you. I’ve spent too many nights “re-training” my firstborn to sleep to ever want to experience that again. Now, I give just the right amount of cuddles during daytime only, and consider minor stuffy noses something babies need to learn to deal with on their own.

At Bathtime

Be liberal about pouring water over babies in the bath. Even deliberately splash a little into their eyes. At such a young age, babies have absolutely no fear of the water. In fact, my twins LOVE getting their baths. The water in their faces does not faze them one bit. They kick and splash it into their own faces, while cackling and having a great time. But never, NEVER, allow babies to come into contact with adult soap/shampoo. We had traumatizing moment while traveling in Asia without a baby tub when my eldest had just turned two. In the shower with me, she got a hold of a bar of soap, and before I could get her to wash it off her hands, she wiped her eyes. If you don’t want future swim lessons to break down into hysterical tears, constant requests of face wiping during bathtimes, intense fear of the showerhead spray, beware of over protecting babies’ faces from water in the tub and be extra careful about using only tearless soap/shampoo.

Reading to Kids

Works! Firstborn was a calm baby, so reading a cloth book as part of her bedtime routine started very early on. She’s always loved stories with Mommy, and I believe this is the reason she is such a verbal kid, excels in school, and learned to recognize all her letters and write her name before most other kids. She is also fully bilingual, can seamlessly transition between English and Mandarin, and even translates for those in the family who are monolingual. Her love of stories has also improved her focus, attention span, and ability to analogize. The twins have not yet given up their chewing on whatever they get their hands on, and the two of them makes it logistically difficult to read to both at once, but just as soon as they’re ready, we will be reading together too. These days, a trip to the library occurs regularly, and I hope that the twins will be a part of this routine soon as well. (Just as soon as they stop eating their books.)

On Having Toys

Having the first child it was easy to always put her first and think of her every waking moment. Having two more puts things more into perspective. I used to pick up a little something for her everywhere I went. Grocery shopping? Oh, here’s a little treat for her too. At the dollar store? Buy her a little toy. Little by little added up to quite a lot, and we accumulated an entire playroomful of this and that. We honestly have so many that the kids are not even playing with them. Too many. We now do not buy any toys. Since the twins were born, the only toys they have gotten have not been from me. Actually, on birthdays and Christmas, I try to steer family and friends away from a massive number of toys. We have plenty of toys from our first child to last through our other two children, and then some.

Fostering Independence

This is a parenting philosophy I’ve always embraced because it worked so well when my mom used it to raise me and my brother. And it’s paid off with my firstborn too. At 3.5 now, she openly starts conversations with random strangers, needs no supervision when using the bathroom/washing hands, can dress and undress herself as well as put on/take off shoes. I believe myself to have a controlling personality, so sometimes letting her figure things out on her own takes some willpower. But I do also believe that it’s ok for kids to fall, get dirty, get frustrated, and work out how to share on their own. With twins, they are not only learning from every decision I make with them, but I see them also watching and studying my interactions with the other twin. I think they will learn to rely on themselves even faster than my first, just based on the nature of the fact that Mommy cannot be in two places at once. I’ve already started to notice that they help themselves more to the things that they want: taking from each other, grabbing assertively for food, etc.

Can’t wait to see how my own parenting will evolve as these kids grow older. It’s been a real blast this last year to experience the differences and similarities between all three children.

Potty Training 101 – According to a Toddler

I was one of those parents who feared that her children would go off to college in diapers. No, seriously, I was. Because that’s my kind of luck.

So imagine my surprise when Garrett, one of my twins, at the age of 2 1/2 (31 months, if you want to be exact) suddenly announced, “My diaper is yucky” and tore it off faster than my husband tears out of here for work every morning at 8:07 am on the dot.

I replied, “Well, if your diaper is yucky and you don’t want to wear it anymore, you’ll need to use the potty”. My jaw hit the floor when he said, “Okay” and walked into the bathroom, sat down on the little potty seat and peed!

It was THAT simple, my friends.  And I didn’t even have to pull my hair out or scream obscenities into a pillow.

As parents, we bang our heads against the wall, frustrated with our children over such milestones as potty training. It’s definitely not for the weak at heart. When it comes to potty training, there’s a lot to be said about waiting until your CHILD is ready… not when YOU’RE ready. 

If Garrett could give some pointers, I would imagine there would be some important things he’d want all us frustrated, exhausted parents to know.

Potty Training 101 - According to a Toddler from hdydi.com

Potty Training 101 - According to a Toddler

That’s me on the right. Just ignore my twin brother who’s pouting because he’s NOT potty trained yet.

  1. This is the most important rule. I’m just gonna come right out and lay it on the line. I am in control here. Not you. Not Daddy. Not the moon and stars in the sky. MEI am in control. I will use the potty when I am good and ready… and not a minute before that. Yeah, yeah. I know you gave me life and all. Save your breath because I really don’t care.
  2. Let’s go over the rewards system. If I’m gonna be honest here (which you know is RARE for me) the one reward that means the most to me is just seeing you incredibly happy. I mean, if seeing a little bit of pee in the potty from little, old me makes you beam with pride, I’m all for it.With that said, if you INSIST on giving rewards, here’s a list I put together which might be helpful:
    • candy (preferably, lollipops… lots and lots of lollipops)
    • stickers (of all my favorite tv/movie characters, definitely not Big Bird… he kinda sucks)
    • temporary tattoos (the ones with skulls, not the ones that say “My mom rocks”)
    • time-out for all my siblings (hey, it’s MY reward… don’t ask any questions)
    • toys (let’s be clear… good things do not come in small packages! The bigger the better, just sayin’)

     

  3. Pull-ups vs diapers. Honestly, there’s no difference. Pull-ups are really just glorified diapers. And they’re more expensive. Save your money and just get me a big screen TV for my room.
  4. Underwear – okay, here’s the deal. It is of the utmost importance that you let me go to the store with you and choose whatever underwear I want to get. Running into the house all excited with a bag full of new underwear that YOU chose from Target isn’t gonna go over well with me. Just so you know.Remember, the control issue? It all goes back to that. If you come home from the store waving a package of new underwear in my face that I did NOT pick out myself, then you should fully expect a huge setback, more than likely, in the form of a big steaming pile of poop on your white bedroom carpet. Yep, that’s how I roll. With your kind of luck, you actually won’t discover it until you step in it.
  5. Please, please, please try to make this whole potty training thing entertaining for me. Here’s what’s UNacceptable:
    • You sitting on a stepstool in front of me, staring me down as if your brain can telepathically send a message to my bladder and my colon, urging them both to take quick action so you can go update your Facebook page, bragging about how awesome you are at potty training your child (as if…)
    • Calling the entire family into the bathroom to watch me perform. I know it’s hard to resist because I’m just so darn cute sitting on the pot. I mean, I’d want to stare at me too. But now that I’ve agreed to give up diapers, I have the right to privacy in the bathroom. I’ve earned it. Oh, and before you even think it… YOU, however, do not have any right to privacy… like, ever.
    • NO taking pictures of my poop and e-mailing them to Daddy at work with the subject line reading, “You HAVE to see this”. My poop can only truly be appreciated in person.  If he’s lucky and I’m in a good mood, I may just produce another whopper on the weekend for him to experience with his own eyes.
    • NO saying, “How can such a little body make such a big poop?” Let me just remind you that YOU do the cooking around here. I can’t help that my body considers most of the food you make garbage.
    • Singing silly, stupid songs (say this 10 times fast successfully and maybe I’ll consider holding my bladder for an entire night so you can get 8 consecutive hours of sleep – but, then again, don’t hold your breath).

    Here’s what I think is super fun… see, I’m a huge Disney freak. So my mom let me pick out my own underwear at the store and of course I picked all Disney characters because I’m cool like that.

    This is a picture of me, proudly holding all my underwear…

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    I know… so cute, right? Anyway, she tacks them to the wall in the bathroom

    right next to my little potty, like this…

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    While I’m doing my business, I stare at them and imagine Dori saying, “Just keep peeing, just keep peeing” and Buzz Lightyear saying, “To infinity and beyond…” when I flush the potty.

    It’s FUN. I totally dig this.

  6. There WILL be regression… when you least expect it, of course. Like, say, when we’re at a playdate at someone else’s house. Or when you finally decide to be brave enough to take the entire family out for dinner.It’s not that I’ve forgotten how to use the potty… it’s more that, for some reason, you got in your head that YOU are in control. This is simply not the case.

    am in control and this is how I put you back in your place (must we review #1 again?). You’ll look disappointed and say, “Now, why did you do that? You know how to poop in the potty!”

    Yeah, see, that isn’t the point… of course I do. It’s YOU who has forgotten how we play the game. And sometimes you just have to reminded of who the REAL boss is.

  7. Lastly, don’t be in such a hurry to rush me through the potty training process. Remember, I’m only this young for a little while. Cherish these times and appreciate them.Trust me, you’ll think potty training was a breeze compared to the hell I’ll put you through when I’m a teenager.

So there you have it… potty training 101, in a nutshell, courtesy of yours truly…

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Helene is a 40-something, married, stay-at-home mother to two sets of twins.  With only 2 years between both sets, she maintains that having a wicked sense of humor is key in raising multiple multiples.  

To follow along on Helene’s real-life, tell-all adventures of parenting twins x 2, please visit her blog at I’m Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor.

Toddler Thursday: Rewards & Sharing

My twins have shared nearly everything from the moment they were born: from sleepers to soothers to favourite toys. It’s only been recently, now that they are toddlers, that they have started to accumulate individual belongings.

There are fights over toys and sometimes playtime degenerates into  a game of hot potato where one child demands the other “share” as they pass the coveted object back and forth every two seconds until a fight erupts and the offending toy (peach bunny) ends up confiscated by my husband or I.

That aside, Molly and Jack have always been a part of team TWIN. When Molly asks for a cup of water, she demands a cup for both her and her brother.  If Molly is trying on boots, so is Jack.  If Jack is wearing a hat, he asks for one for his sister. If one is going to bed, then the other will follow.  They demand equality, most of the time.

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This makes the implementation of a reward system for potty training complicated.  The first time Jack went number two on the toilet we praised him endlessly for what a big boy he was.  This resulted in Molly losing her cool and throwing an epic tantrum.  We let her cry it out while we took Jack for “ice cream and unicorn rides”.   Last weekend Molly came home from a four-hour excursion with a dry diaper and then successfully used the potty.  It was a huge accomplishment, so we praised her and gave her a sticker to reward her.  She was thrilled!  She put it on her hand and marched away.  A few minutes later she came into the kitchen and asked me, “What about a sticker for Jack?” I tried to explain to her that the sticker was for her because of her using the potty and having a dry diaper.  She didn’t care, she asked again.  She refused to leave the kitchen until she had a sticker for her brother.  So I gave it to her.

My children are a team, and they are very proud of that.  When one is upset the other sibling, so long as they aren’t the one who’s inflicting the tears, comforts their twin by rubbing their back or giving them a hug or kiss.  At first I wasn’t sure how to handle this, but the more I think about it the easier the solution is.  If Molly or Jack want to celebrate their achievements by giving a sticker to their sibling so be it.  I predict a big investment on dollar store sheets of stickers as we achieve a diaper free existence.

SaraBeth’s personal blog Multiple Momstrosity,  was nominated for VoiceBoks Top 50 Hilariously Funny Parent Bloggers – If you can please take the time to vote: http://voiceboks.com/top-50-hilariously-funny-nominated-parent-bloggers-2014/- Just click and vote for (Multiple Momstrosity)

 

 

Toddler Thursday: Preparing at home for the NICU stay

prepareAfter finding out I was expecting twins my brain started spinning. How would we fit in our current car? What about bedrooms? How would my 38 year old body handle this pregnancy? After I adjusted to the idea many of my initial worries disappeared, but one didn’t. How would our barely two year old Oliver handle things if our babies had a lengthy NICU stay? I had a history of preterm labor and had had all three of my boys at around 37 weeks.  That’s not very early, but I was worried that my body would kick into labor even earlier while carrying two babies. Sure enough right around 28 weeks I started having contractions and my Dr. put me on Procardia. I quickly realized I would need to prepare Oliver for not only the babies, but also for the time that I’d inevitably end up away from him. To complicate things my mother (who is our primary source of childcare) has a chronic illness that makes it difficult to predict how much help she will be able to provide.  In the event that she became ill at the same time the babies were still in the hospital I’d need to have things ready for someone else (who may not be familiar with our routines) to step in.  Eeeeeeek! No pressure, right?

Since Oliver isn’t in school or mother’s day out he spends the majority of his time at home. I knew that I needed to focus most of my energy on creating an environment that would keep him busy and allow him to be as independent as possible. I also wanted to simplify things so that whoever was caring for the boys wouldn’t have as much to clean and keep up with. The first thing I did was purge the playroom and kids’ rooms of any toys they hadn’t played with in awhile, were broken, or sets that were incomplete. I was brutal and got rid of almost half our toys. I was surprised that the kids never mentioned things were missing. After the clean out I sorted the remaining toys and put half away in a closet so they could be switched out periodically. This served three purposes. It made it easier for the big kids to keep things put away, it kept Oliver interested in his toys, and it kept him from being overwhelmed. By limiting his choices he actually started playing with his toys instead of doing what I call the dump and run (where toddlers pour all the toys onto the floor only to walk away without playing) After our playroom was organized I started on our back yard. Once again I got rid of any toy that was broken or in bad shape. I added new sand and toys to our sand box and made sure we had plenty of bubbles and sidewalk chalk. One addition that worked surprisingly well was a plastic easel. We kept it on the patio and would put paper and paints on it as needed. Oliver enjoyed being able to paint whenever he wanted and my mom loved that clean up was so easy. My husband did a safety check and made sure our fence was secure and the play scape didn’t have any loose nails or splinters. My goal was to make our backyard another place where Oliver could play independently and be safe.

I knew having a schedule would make it easier for Oliver during our NICU stay. Thankfully we had already established a routine and flow to our day (It kept my type A personality happy). As we got closer to the babies coming I typed and printed our routine and added it to our household binder (more on the binder later). The further I got in my pregnancy the more tempting it was to let our schedule slide. I was so tired and achy that I reeeeeaaalllly wanted to throw it out and let Oliver sleep late in the mornings and fall asleep wherever he happened to collapse at night. For the most part I tried really hard to stick to our routine knowing that it would make things better for everyone later.  We started practicing what Oliver should do after we ate (put his plate and cup in the sink), where he should put his dirty clothes, where his shoes were kept (the basket by the door), and how to get to the “approved for Oliver” snacks in the pantry. While helping him learn how to be more independent certainly made things easier for whoever was caring for him I was also hoping it would increase his confidence. Going from being the baby of the family to the middle child of five kids was going to be hard. I hoped knowing what to expect and how things worked in our home would help Oliver find his new place.

Knowing I’d be hard to reach in the hospital I decided to make a reference book for our family. I was worried that there would be a question and nobody would be able to get ahold of me. After looking at several examples on pinterest I decided the household binder was the format I liked best.  Our binder is organized by the topics: schedule, food, school, miscellanious phone numbers, and in case of emergency. The schedule area holds our daily schedule and all our routines are written out. This served almost as a script for our day. For example if my dad wasn’t sure what bedtime or bath time looked like for Oliver he could read about them before hand. The food area holds ideas for breakfasts and lunches, take out numbers, and a grocery list for items we typically need every week. The school tab is full of the bigger boys’ school information (schedule, phone numbers, lunch menu, and teachers contact information). Miscellanious phone numbers included the numbers to our plumber, air conditioner repair company, our pediatrician, and various friends who know the kids and could help if needed. I really thought I was going overboard adding this tab, but it turns out my parents needed it! While the babies were in the NICU our air conditioner went out. August in Texas is brutal and thankfully my parents were able to get it fixed quickly. The emergency tab holds copies of our health insurance card and a generic letter giving my paremts permission to seek medical care for the kids. I also included directions to our pediatrician and the closest hospital. While my parents knew most of the information included in the binder I wasn’t sure who else would be caring for Oliver and the bigger boys. Now that we are home and settled the binder serves as a great resource for our baby sitter.

Rhodes and Laurel were born at 34 weeks and spent two and a half weeks in the NICU. Thankfully Oliver and the bigger boys did beautifully while we were gone. My mom did become ill in the middle of our stay but continued to help out as much as she could.

Welcome 2014

The paint is peeling, the floors are dirty, the bathroom needs cleaning in the worst way… and I am living my dreams tonight.

The steps need swept and the dishes need washed, there is laundry piled high… and I am living my dreams tonight.

Diapers need changing and noses wiped, my sweetheart leaves crumbs on the table and something smells not quite right… and I am living my dreams tonight.

New Years Eve 2013-Michelsen Home

There is a fire in the hearth and a tree lit with abandon. Dogs littering the floor, and piles of “things” that need organizing. Squealing toddlers fight over a cherished toy… and I am living my dreams tonight.

I don’t always remember, but right here in this moment, I am so aware…

I am living my dreams tonight.

Happy New Year, folks. Let’s remember that we are already blessed!

Thank-You Cards from Kids

The girls and I worked really hard making homemade holiday gifts (baked goodies, Shrinky Dinks key chains, and gift tags this year).  On the other end of the holiday, it’s important to me that I involve our girls in saying thank you to our friends and family who were so generous in giving their time and resources to us.

Since they were old enough to scribble a few streaks across a paper, I’ve worked with the girls to make thank-you cards.  Here’s an example of some cards we did when they were 2 1/2…

DSC_0468I wrote the text: “Thank you for the book about the,” and then the girls filled in the blank, so to speak.  At the time, they still weren’t drawing very recognizably, but they could choose a color for the background to the sea, and glue to it a few fish I’d cut out from construction paper.

They definitely “got” what we were doing, and why.  And I think this kind of activity helps them remember who gave them what.  They still know that Aunt Alison gave those books to them when we saw her in Alabama.

At almost-five years old, our girls can’t fully read, but they can print like no one’s business.  My plan this year is to have them write “THANK YOU” on the front of the cards, and address the inside of the card, “TO: AUNT ALISON” and sign their names.  We’ll either draw pictures, or in some cases I might take a picture of the girls wearing their new sweaters or playing with a particular toy to include in the card.

Of course the girls love to tape the envelope shut, apply the stamp, and walk the letters to the mailbox.

An art project, handwriting practice, and a sense of gratitude…it’s what’s on our agenda this post-holiday week.

How do you handle thank-yous with your kiddos?

MandyE is mom to fraternal twin girls, almost five.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Toddler Thursday: A Snapshot of Life with Twin Toddlers

I love this video. Poor though may be the quality, embarrassing though may be the condition of my house, cringe-inducing though may be my sarcasm directed over the heads of my girls, this is what life with twin toddlers (in this case 18 months) looks like.

Grownup Things

Why play with toys or your own shoes when Mommy’s are there? Toddlers are fascinated by everything their parents do. Sure, you can spend a bundle on the latest techy toys, but chances are that your kids will be happy for longer with some empty food containers or a little purse. They’re learning to be human by imitation, so it’s no surprise that they want to do exactly what they see from their parents, preferably with their parents’ things.

Opinions

Toddlers have strong opinions, about shoes and everything else too. They know where they want to be, what they want to be doing and what they want everyone else to be doing. When you have multiple toddlers with varying opinions, there is bound to be conflict. You can try to help them work it, but sometimes you just need to let the fussing be.

Communication

Kids this age often, but not always, are doing their darnedest to communicate with whatever limited tools they have at their disposal. What words they have, they will overgeneralize, like “shoe” to mean anything that is worn on the foot, including socks. They can use physical communication, like M lifting her leg and pointing to help me understand her words.

Toddlers can understand pretty much everything you say to them. They’re so used to being misunderstood, however, that they jump to the conclusion that you don’t understand them. M clearly understands it when I say, “Let’s go in the nursery.” She doesn’t understand that “Okay” implies that I’m willing to take her socks off. Just assume your kids don’t understand your assumptions, and communication will go much more smoothly. “Sit down so you can get your socks off” was clear enough. No implication-reading was needed, so the crying could come to an end.

Teaching Manners

As I said earlier, your kids want to copy everything you do. If you want them to use good manners, then use good manners with them. Say (and sign) “Please” and “Thank you” to your babies at appropriate times starting at birth, and they’ll pick it up. Reminders are helpful, of course, but they’ll never really learn how to good manners unless they see them.

Baby Sign

I know, I’ve said it before, but Baby Sign helped us so much with overcoming communication barriers! Obviously, my girlies still used it and I relied on it, well after they were capable of speech.

Crying and Tantrums

Infant tears don’t faze me. I have no trouble seeing babies’ cries as their language. Toddlers crying, however, gets under my skin. Despite their ability to understand language and their limited ability to use it, toddlers resort immediately to tears on any feeling of frustration. Worse, they quit listening once their tears have started to flow.

Then there’s the foot stomping. To me, full body involvement is where a mere crying spell moves over to the realm of a tantrum. I confess that toddler tantrums are probably the most difficult child behaviour for me to cope with. I can completely see the temptation to just give in to the child instead of fighting the battle to maintain discipline. However, I truly believe that my and the girls’ pre-school teachers’ willingness to hold our ground against tantrums contributed towards my 7-year-old’s current academic, social and psychological success.

Sharing

Toddlers are at the very beginning of understanding that they are individuals. With this sense of self comes a sense of possession. Those of us with multiples have both the challenge and opportunity to start teaching about sharing, day in and day out. Unlike singleton parents, we don’t have to wait until our child is in a social situation to teach how to share. Out toddlers’ entire lives are one big social situation!

In the video, you can see M take ownership, saying, “Mine shoe.” She’s already learned the power of redirection, trying to keep the shoe she wants by offering up an alternative to her sister.

The kids also have to share their parents’ attention. You can see me splitting my attention between my two daughters and Daddy throughout the video. This is just the reality of raising multiples.

Co-Parenting

You can see a few moments of co-parenting in the video. It’s so important to function as a team. We divide and conquer, me taking point on communication and entertainment, my now-ex being response for a dose of Tylenol for teething pain.

We talk to each other throughout. This accomplishes two things: making sure that we agree on the right approach to our kids and ensuring that we’re both informed of what’s going on. I certainly wouldn’t want one of our kids to get a dose of Tylenol without both parents being aware, because we’d run the risk of overdose.

A big challenge for me, was not immediately correcting Daddy. He asked M whether she was in pain. I know that an 18-month-old will answer in the affirmative, just for the attention it gets her. However, I didn’t question his approach in front of the kids. I went with it at the time. Once the kids were in bed, I gently suggested an alternative way to phrase the question to get a more accurate answer: “What’s making you sad?” or just handing our toddler a chew toy to see if she made a move to soothe her gums.

Choosing Battles

Toddlerhood is a little more about exploring the world and less about survival than infancy. Still, it’s still wise to choose your battles. You already know I’m a huge fan of consistency. The only way I know to be both consistent and sane is to choose where to hold your ground and where to let go.

In the video, I decide that J can have the heels. She either didn’t understand or chose to ignore my objection. M’s licking her tissue will gross me out but not kill her. No pants? Whatever. There are bigger battles to be fought.

Basic Care

Toddlers still require a great deal of basic care. Diapers are still part of the picture. I found diaper duty to be 100 times easier than potty training.

In the video, M is dealing with a (probably allergy-related) runny nose. You can see a humidifier running on the floor to help give her some relief. We used saline drops to help her blow her nose and gave her a choice between blowing her nose herself or my using a bulb syringe to suction her clear.

Teething pain can be dealt with with Tylenol, although my preference was the clean wet washcloths I stored in the fridge for chewing.

Sarcasm

Sarcasm was my own survival strategy. To each their own, right? Of all the ways I could express my frustrations with these small people, I figured sarcasm was the least damaging.

Need another twin toddler video fix? You’re welcome.

Any of this look familiar? Do you use sarcasm to survive life with twin (or more) toddlers?

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, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.