Toddler Reality

The other day it occurred to me that the minions are seriously misinformed about a number of realities of the world and even though we often try to correct them, they insist on their own unique versions of reality and we entertain a number of them because they are cute.  I don’t want to correct Molly when she tells me that she loves “Honeydude melon”, but I do because that’s my job.

Below are 10 tongue and cheek truth bombs that I would love to lay on my toddlers, should they ever believe me and it not completely shatter their worlds.
boydog
10 Truth Bombs I Would Love To Lay On My Toddlers
  1. Any man with grey hair over 55 is not your Papa or Grandpa.  This became particularly awkward when Jack tried to sit on a friends father’s lap because he wanted to spend time with his grandpa.
  2. Just because the guy who installs the new hot water heater is a tall Eastern Asian man who kinda of looks like a friend of ours doesn’t mean that they’re the same person.  I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t want to play with you and thinks you’re a little bit racist.
  3. Those aren’t your “Elmos” they’re your elbows.
  4. Those aren’t my “elbows” they’re my breasts.
  5. Whenever you tell me that you’re, “never going to cry again” I don’t believe you.  Also when you’re laying on the floor throwing a tantrum screaming, “I’m not a baby!” you’re kind of being a giant baby.
  6. Your stuffed Bunny isn’t really a bunny, it’s a dog.  Sorry.
  7. That picture at Nana and Grampa’s is of a Polar bear, not a dog.
  8. Your concept of ownership is ill conceived: The last time I checked that is not your car or your house, but we can share.
  9. Your assortment of candles, candle holders, wine corks and contact cases are not actually toys, they’re random objects that you’ve collected like some sort of weird hoarder.  When you ask other kids to come over and play with your “toys” they will likely be disappointed.
  10.  That old man with the big bushy white beard who wears a red t-shirt and hangs out smoking in front of the local legion/recreation club is usually drunk and definitely NOT Santa.

This post originally appeared on my blog Multiple Momstrosity but I thought I would share it as a part of HDYDI’s Toddler Thursday Series.

Bedroom Configurations

Just this past weekend we almost put in an offer on a house.

I know. Crazy since we had already decided to put that dream on hold to pursue my working part-time for this next school year, or possibly two. However, the husband had continued to look at listings online, and I’ve been open to moving to an area close to where I’ve decided to send the kids for elementary school (for its Mandarin dual immersion program).

This house is walking distance to the school, right next to a golf course. It’s just within our price range. Large lot, big square footage, a house our family of 5 could be comfortable in for several years. However… It has only 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, the same as we currently have. Though they are bigger than the ones we currently have, and there is space to add a fourth bedroom and third bathroom when someday we could afford it. However… The school district (other than this dual immersion elementary school) is not ideal, which means even though the area is desirable, the house will not appreciate as much as homes in other nearby cities. However… Though we could pay the new mortgage if we cut back on our lifestyle and watch our spending, it would be uncomfortably tight while I’m part-time, and that would be after sinking all our savings into the down payment.

For these reasons, my conservative husband and I decided the time is not right for us to move right now. We really like this house, in fact it is the only one that I have liked, and the housing market in our area is on another surge, but we’d be scrambling to sell our current house, working out all the details of our financing with our future budget, and generally putting ourselves under a great deal of stress. It is doable, but not something we feel ready to take on.

But this has gotten me thinking. If I was willing to move to a 3 bedroom house, then I guess I’m not as eager to move my twins into separate bedrooms as I thought. True, this house has bigger bedrooms and more common living space as well, but the twins would still be sharing a bedroom, or the girls would have to share. I did not think that I would be ok with that. But I guess I am, for the right house. Which means, then, that I should have no problems staying at our current house for a few more years.

So, what are your bedroom configurations, fellow MoMs? Do you have boy/girl twins sharing a bedroom? Until what age? How do you create space separation in a shared bedroom?

lunchldyd is mom to 19mo b/g twins and their 4yo sister.

Toddler Thursday: A Singleton Mom Tries to “Get” Twinniness

Consider me a convert to the twin mystique.

As a singleton myself, I’m often baffled by my twins’ relationship with each other. Honestly, I’ve wondered if being a twin is somewhat of a detriment – the sharing, the constant presence, the neighbor that calls them both by one composite name – and I’ve downplayed their twinship in order to honor them as individuals. I’ve always been wary of the super secret wonder twins bond that I’d heard so much about but hadn’t seen up close.

RebeccaD sees the twin relationship bloom between her toddlers, but can't fully understand it. She's not a twin.

As my boys grow in toddlerhood, their twinniness is coming out full force. I’m now convinced that there is something between them that makes their experience of the world very different than a singleton’s. I often have to check my own singleton perspective and accept a new way of seeing things.

I wouldn’t say that my boys have a secret language, per se. But they practice a word between themselves for a long time before I can understand what they mean. For example, about a month ago, they were saying something that sounded like “Annie.” They would trade the sound back and forth all the time. Finally, through my careful deduction and their increased skill, I realized they were saying “I need.” Currently they tell each other something that sounds like “mo-nay” (Mayonnaise? Money? Monet?) – I have no idea what that means. But I bet it will become clear pretty soon. Meanwhile, they look at me like, “Why aren’t you getting this?!”

Now that I let the boys pick out their own clothes (mostly), I’ve discovered that they prefer to match. I feel kind of embarrassed, being “that mom” with her matching twins, especially since I rarely dressed them matching as infants and they don’t look much alike. From my singleton perspective, I expect them to make choices based on individual preferences. But for my little twins, the only thing better than wearing your favorite shirt is your brother is wearing it too! One twin’s joy is incomplete without his brother’s joy.

The boys also have their own complex system of economics. M drinks so much smoothie at a sitting that I decided to get him a bigger thermos because I’m tired of constantly refilling (after he throws it across the room in frustration). Typically, R barely drinks half of his smoothie. My singleton brain thinks, ‘M needs something, I will give it to him.’ Well, it was a big flop. R instantly laid claim to the thermos, the way he does with anything new, and M acted terrified of the thing. He actually ran away when I tried to give it to him. After some deep breathing to quell my exasperation, I realized my error. I should have given it to R. He would have tried it out and realized he didn’t want it; M would have seen that R had it and therefore would have wanted it. Such a maze, but so normal to them.

My singleton brain also works against me when one of my boys is injured. Tonight, M fell off the bathroom stool and hit his head (many tears and a goose egg, but he’s fine). R was very concerned and reached out to hug and pat his brother. When M calmed down somewhat, R skipped off to another activity. But when M started crying again, R was right back at my side, trying to take M’s blanket, begging me to hold him. Again, I was so frustrated. I just wanted to cuddle and comfort my hurt little boy. But that was thinking like a singleton. I finally realized I had two hurt boys. Where there is shared pain, there must be shared comfort.

I try hard to treat my twins as individuals – we do one-on-one time occasionally, they often choose to play separately, and they are both hitting social milestones in their own ways. But truly, their dynamic is a entity unto itself. The way we treat one twin is always affected by his brother. I’m starting to appreciate that individuality and twinship are not diametrically opposed. My boys’ powerful connection to each other is one of the most important things in their life and that’s really beautiful – something MORE than singleton, not less. I’m a lucky mom to be able to witness and support the unique way my twins love each other.

Is anyone else late to appreciate the twin connection? Are your toddlers surprising you as they choose to be more “twinny?” Twins with twin children, is it easier for you to understand your kids’ bond?

Mommy Brain

It’s a real thing, you guys. Mommy Brain. A disease whose onset begins during pregnancy for some, sets in after the birth of a child for others, but definitely progresses with every additional child, and is most acute during those children’s toddler years. If you have multiples, your form of this disease is most likely incurable.

I’ve always considered myself a very organized, in control kind of person. All through high school and college, I’ve always had my schoolwork together: a straight-A, AP class person others would admire. After starting work, things loosened up a bit, but the house would still be clean and picked up, the bills in order and paid.

However, Mommy Brain hit when the kids came. Having the first was not so bad. I remember several times losing my phone or leaving my wallet places when distracted by having to take care of someone other than myself (I always got them back). And a couple of times of driving all the way to Costco and realizing I didn’t have my wallet with me. Things like that.

But since the twins have been born, these incidences have begun to cost me money. The most serious example: I forgot to pay our December property tax after the twins were born in late November. I remembered the day after it was due, but it was too late. The penalty was something like $350. In retrospect I should have called and pleaded “Mommy Brain.” Probably wouldn’t have worked, but it would have been worth a shot. I could have gotten a woman at the other end who had experienced this disease as well.

I also lose everything these days. I had a bunch of Thank You cards printed for Big Sis’s birthday gifts, very cute ones that had her picture on it. They were in a Costco photo envelope along with some pictures of her and her siblings from the party. I had sent most of the Thank You cards, and brought the envelope to school with the intention of giving the photos to coworkers. Just as I was getting ready to hand out these photos, the envelope was nowhere to be found. Then when a couple of late birthday gifts came, and I had to reprint new Thank You cards. Eventually I found them in a bag with other stuff I packed when cleaning out my desk at school, but too late to give out the photos, and no need for the Thank You cards now. It would have almost been better not to have found them.

I lost a $25 Target gift card too. I’d been telling myself it’s not lost, and had even been looking for it a little bit every once in a while, but by now I’ve just got to accept that it’s gone. Somewhere between my car and the Target checkout line, it disappeared. Let’s not even mention all the receipts that have vanished into thin air. Luckily, most places can now look up purchases by running the credit card I used… if I could remember which one, or whether my husband was the one who paid. Hah!

I walk into rooms without remembering why I went into them. Then I spend a minute or two wandering the house, trying to remember, before something, or more likely somekid distracts me again. The house is a mess, stacks of papers everywhere, and even with all this summer vacation time at home, there hasn’t been much I could do about it.

Most recently I forgot to pay my car registration. It was due in April, but since they send that renewal 3 months in advance, I squirreled it away somewhere and totally forgot about it until I got the delinquent bill at the end of May. By then the penalty was $174. To add insult to injury, just a couple days before my new tags arrived in the mail, I got a parking ticket for expired tags. $55.

It’s a good thing most of our bills are on autopay. I really can’t afford to have Mommy Brain anymore!

lunchldyd is a soon-to-be part time high school teacher and mother to 18mo b/g twins and their 4yo sister. She is working on putting her organizational skills to use so she could avoid more financial repercussions. Perhaps a board of some sort…

Two Naps to One

A week and a half of summer break under my belt, and I’m ready for a vacation from my vacation.

I’ve known for a while that the twins’ naps weren’t working, but I hoped that I had more time to enjoy the status quo before upending it all for the dreaded transition. However, it became glaringly obvious that they were NOT going to take their 9am naps anymore, no matter how hard I tried to tire them out. Thing is, I’ve been looking forward to taking them to the Mommy-n-Me class that Big Sis and I attended almost two years ago, which is at 11am. But with my teaching schedule getting out the door by 6:45am, all the kids are used to waking up super early. That means, if they take no morning nap, they will almost definitely be sleeping through that class.

I can’t remember when Big Sis transitioned to one nap, but I am the one who did it, because my mom tells me that after some sort of break from school (winter/spring/summer), I brought her back already switched over to her new nap schedule. I do not remember it because it must have been a pretty natural and easy process. We settled on 11am-1pm for over a year. It wasn’t until her siblings landed on a 12:30-2:30 afternoon nap that I changed her nap to synchronize with theirs. But that wasn’t traumatic either, because she was ready to be awake longer in the mornings and have a later bedtime. There were a couple days of brief crankiness around her prior naptime, but I distracted her with something and she transitioned just fine.

No such luck with these two. There’s been lots of whining and general crankiness, even some food throwing and all-out meltdowns. Part of the difficulty has to result from the fact that there are two of them whose sleep/wake times need to be synchronized, but I think it’s mostly because they’re just not as agreeable as their sister. They’re much more active, and will fight to stay awake. Plus, as they share a bedroom and have their cribs next to each other, they will sometimes keep each other awake or wake each other up.

I’ve been writing down their naptimes for this last 1.5 weeks, and it looks like we’re starting to stabilize. And I’ve kept them more or less on the same schedule:

M 12:30-2 (garbage truck woke them)

Tu 12:45-2:45 (woke naturally)

W 11:30-1 (Big Sis woke them)

Th  9:30-9:45 (in car); 1-3:30 (woke naturally)

F  9:45-10:05 (in car); 1:30-4 (I woke them)

What I’ve learned this past week is that they haven’t been getting enough sleep. They’ve been fussy and unhappy, particularly in the late mornings.  Their nighttime sleep hasn’t been impacted too much by all of this (thank goodness!), other than falling asleep slightly earlier on the one-nap days. On Friday it felt like they were trying to catch up on sleep after being deprived for almost a week. Also the little catnaps in the car indicate they are indeed really tired.

I’ve been trying to force them to nap after lunch (more convenient time for me), but 6am to noon is proving to be too long a span for wakefulness, and too abrupt a change to make. They still need about 2-3 hours of naps during the day, but spaced right in between when they wake and their bedtime, so probably 10:30-1:30, keeping a wake time of 6am and bedtime of 6pm, which is what I hoped for on Saturday. Their actual naptime turned out to be 10:30-12:45. Close enough.

They woke up earlier the last couple of days though. We’re not even getting a full two hours in that nap anymore. And bedtime crept up to 6ish. Not the ideal I had in mind, but there’s also been less crying and screaming, so I guess we are making progress?

Sadly, I had to sacrifice Big Sis’s nap in this transition too. She was sleeping 1-2:30, but with her siblings unable to make it to nap at that time with her, I decided it was time for her to drop her nap entirely and move back her bedtime by 1.5 hrs. Other than her taking little catnaps in the car if I happen to drive over 15 mins in the afternoons, she’s taken to this just fine. And it’s kind of nice they’re all going down earlier for the night.

lunchldyd‘s b/g twins are 18mo, and their big sis just turned 4yo. She is welcoming any good suggestions for making this transition easier.

Toddler Thursday: Weaning Myself from the Stroller

Once our twin girls were a few months old and the pediatrician released us from house arrest, I quickly learned to get out and about with them in tow. The first few trips were a bit nerve-wracking, but once I got the swing of things, I would go anywhere and everywhere with my babies safely tucked inside our double stroller.

My trusty double stroller was like my best friend, always by my side. It allowed me the freedom to be out and about, mostly hands-free. I could run virtually any errand, and my girls loved seeing the sights all around town.

At some point after the girls turned one, though, I started to think about Life After Stroller. I would see other mamas with one toddler, ambling adorably along beside them. Were my girls missing out, constrained by their five-point harnesses?

It took a lot of courage, but – when the girls were 18 months old – I finally worked myself up to try a [very limited] outing with them…sans my BFF the stroller.

I wanted to buy a loaf of bread at the local bakery. I planned our trip when it wouldn’t be crowded, and when the girls were in an amicable mood. I can still remember the drum of my blood pressure as we made our way across the parking lot, hand in hand. I had prepared ahead, bringing a reusable shopping bag to put the bread in, knowing I wouldn’t have a spare hand to carry it. I had only my credit card in my back pocket. I just had to turn one of the girls’ hands loose long enough to hand over my credit card and stick the bread in the bag. It wasn’t our usual relaxing trip to the bakery…but we did it!

Over the course of the next year, I gradually worked up to the retirement of our double stroller. It was a bittersweet farewell to my former BFF, but being able to walk hand-in-hand with my girlies was a great reward. Here’s what worked for us…

1) Practice. Hubby helped me practice being out and about with the girls. We would go to the mall or to the park and walk, hand in hand. At first I wasn’t up to a larger trip by myself without the stroller, but I think that practice helped the girls learn to walk in public. After a while, the girls and I would practice walking, just the three of us, usually in our neighborhood.

Picture1

Practicing with Daddy…coffee shop, here we come!

2) Have an exit strategy. The girls knew that walking “like big girls” was a privilege. They also knew that if they didn’t respect that privilege, Mommy kept the stroller in the car. It only had to happen once that we left our shopping cart at the customer service desk and returned to the car to get the stroller.

3) Enlist their help. Eventually I could offer the girls a little more freedom. Having them “help” me in the store was always a huge motivator. Sometimes they would carry a hand basket to hold small items. Other times they would help me push the cart. Or I would give each of them a particular item to be “responsible” for…Baby A would be fixated on holding the tea bags, and Baby B had a death grip on the bag of salad. It makes the errand a learning experience, too, and can be a lot of fun for everyone.

4) Employ the “one finger” rule. Kids like to look with their hands, and I don’t find it realistic to expect them to keep their hands to themselves at all times. If they absolutely must touch something, my girls are allowed to use “one finger”. There’s limited damage they can do [in most circumstances] with “one finger”, and it satiates their need to reach. Too, the times when they must keep their hands to themselves – like in an area with breakable items – I am able to limit my “HANDS OFF” mandate to when it really matters.

5) Have a few tricks up your sleeve. For downtime – waiting in the check-out line, for example – I used a couple of techniques to keep the girls engaged. Our girls loved shirts and pants with pockets. While I unloaded the grocery cart, I might tell them, “Put your hands in your pockets,” and they would focus on that long enough for me to complete my task. In other situations – like in public restrooms – I would ask the girls to find their very favorite square (tile) and stand on it…or challenge them to see how many squares their feet could occupy at one time. (At age five, they still love that game.) And if we have to wait in line at the bank, even today I quiz them on baby sign language. They get focused on the task at hand, and they forget they’re being good!

My girls are now five. Things don’t always go perfectly when we’re out and about…they still try to push buttons now and again…but they are largely very well-behaved. To those of you in the midst of toddlerdom, hang in there! This is one area that I can confidently say does get easier with age.

For those of you with older children, what are your tips and tricks to maintaining your sanity with multiple littles in tow?

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

Toddler Thursday: Division of Labor

I love life with my 20-month-old twin boys, but man, they are a lot of work. There’s the cooking, feeding, cleaning cycle that never ends, as well as the getting dressed, packing up, going out cycle that only leads into the coming in, who-knows-what-happens-after-that cycle, and that’s about eight hours of your day. Not to mention all the ways curious little hands undo things you have just done and find ways to totally reconfigure an area of the house from functional to…let’s call it “experimental.” In contrast to twinfancy, when Mom the Boob was on call 24/7, toddler years are a perfect time to set up a more balanced work load between parents. My husband, a full-time teacher, and I, a SAHM (going back to teaching part time in August), are enjoying (mostly!) this special time with our young children through a healthy division of labor.

tumblr_n5u9a2IUaY1snhui7o5_500

I started making a list of my tasks and my husband’s tasks, but the totally un-even-looking columns stopped me in my tracks. I realized that the number of items isn’t as important as how much work you feel like you’re doing. A good division of labor means that both parents are happy with the arrangement.

Some Tips to Maintain a Healthy Division of Labor

  1. Let go of some control. If you want everything done YOUR way, then you have to do everything, and that’s no fun. Accept that an alternative approach is fine.
  2. Play to your strengths. Discuss the tasks that you prefer and listen to your spouse’s preferences too. It is actually more stressful for me to let go of certain tasks, like making breakfast, than it is to do them. Doing the dishes may feel like 90% effort for you, but it’s only 30% effort for your partner. A certain time of day may be a low point for you, but your spouse needs a break at another time. Feelings may change, so keep talking about what tasks take less effort for you and even which tasks you might enjoy.
  3. Be transparent in your process. Did you already pack the diaper bag? Let everyone know. Plow through the constant interruptions from the children and keep talking to each other instead of making assumptions. We’ve started saying to the boys, “Mommy and Daddy are going to talk to each other about our outing now.” Then we focus fully on our conversation for 3.5 seconds (bliss!).
  4. Recognize, state, and honor your own needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, someone else will have to, and that places a burden on your family. It’s better to say, “I need a 10 minute break,” than it is to become a weepy, angry, chaotic mess (I know from experience!). What kind of model do you want for your children – a martyr or a healthy person capable of self-care?
  5. Remember that your partner is working hard too, and therefore should get some credit for all that they do. It’s easy to see all that you are personally doing to keep the family ship afloat (and I bet it’s a lot). Some of your spouse’s daily acts may go unnoticed. Make it a point to thank each other, compliment each other, and generally acknowledge the many positive actions that are going on amongst the two of you. One word, smile, or hug goes a long way.
  6. Even if the labor is divided, it’s still a lot. There are times, especially during transitions and illness, that you and your partner will both be working to capacity. I sometimes get frustrated with my husband when I feel like I never. get. a. break. Then I pause the pity party and notice that we’re both overwhelmed (see #5.)
  7. Cut yourselves some slack. Guess what happens if the dishes don’t get done? The kids don’t eat a meal prepared from scratch? The toys don’t get picked up? Actually, nothing. Let it all slip once in a while, even if just to remember what’s really important – the people in the family. The infrastructure is just there to support them.

What does the division of labor look like in your household? How do you keep both parents from taking on too little or too much?

Toddler Thursday: It Gets Easier

Moms and Dads of toddlers… It gets easier. I promise. It really does.

It wasn’t long ago that my boys were extremely busy toddlers. I’m actually surprised we made it out of that stage without any broken bones or stitches. To say my Wesley and Andrew were active and fearless is an understatement.

I remember running into another mother of multiples at our grocery store’s “play center” about a year and a half ago.  Her b/g twins were about 6 years old, and mine had just turned 3.  We didn’t chat, really, but after we both acknowledged being part of the ‘secret mom of multiples society’, she left me with a simple statement that has stayed with me.  Before now, it was something I held on to with hope, and now I still hang onto it because it was the truth.  She was so right.  So right, that I am sharing it with you now.

Here is what she said to me:

“It gets easier. Just wait until they are four. It gets so much easier.”

Now I completely realize that not all children follow the same developmental timeline, and what a blessing it is to have two children the same age to witness those differences in development, firsthand.  That being said, her “4 year” mark was right on target for both of my boys.  So right on, that when they were 3  years and 363 days old, I was still in the “hope” phase of her statement. Shortly after they turned four, I repeated her words to myself, and slowly began to notice the changes happening right before my eyes.  Amazing.

The toddler years pass, and then it really does get easier. Doesn't always feel like it will, but it does.Toddlers come with their challenges.  Everytime we’d be frustrated or overwhelmed with one thing, it would soon pass and we’d be on to a new one.  They climbed on EVERYTHING (but mostly on things dangerously high).  They were curious of the contents of every single drawer and cupboard.  I remember spontaneous back arches and flips making diaper changes difficult and messy.  Then it seemed like we had to wrestle our boys into their pajamas on some nights. When we started with ‘timeouts’, our main goal became trying to sit the kids in the designated ‘timeout’ zone for more than ten seconds as opposed to the actual discipline aspect of it all.  My boys are really good kids, but at times, it felt like we were losing a battle against a small team of toddlers.

…and then four came.

…and guess what?

IT. GOT. EASIER.

Don’t get me wrong, we still face our fair share of difficulties.  Restaurant manners one time. Restaurant rebels the next. Testing limits. Talking back.  BUT, there are so many things that have gotten easier in the past 6 months.

The boys dress themselves.  This saves us so much time, and allows us to give a direction, secretly knowing the boys will succeed.  We are proud and they are proud.

The boys stay near us.  For the longest time, I would not enter a store if I was unable to confine the boys to a shopping cart (have you seen those tiny carts at the chain drug stores?). Four year olds still have curiosity, but they are better able to follow simple rules and we are able to shop with the boys trailing right behind us or next to our cart.

They totally get consequences.  Last night, Andrew cried over his lost possibility of having a popsicle treat, but I can be sure he knew exactly which of his actions led to his freezie-pop downfall.

Hang in there.  The twin toddler phase seemed more difficult to me than the twinfant stage.  The term “terrible twos (and threes)” didn’t just invent itself.  Hang in there, laugh, lean on friends for support, and enjoy the bright spots amongst the chaos knowing it will all be ok.

Toddler Thursday: Potty Training at Different Paces

It’s been 8 months since we dipped our big toe into the waters of potty training, and we now have one child who is completely day time potty trained  and the other who is not.  Basically daycare started the training in September when they moved from the junior to senior toddler room and for nearly two months now Molly has been in big girl underwear with minimal accidents (maybe one a week).  Jack however continues to use the toilet two to three times a day and is content to tell you when he’s just gone so you can change it immediately, he’s make strives towards training, but he just isn’t there yet, so we’re encouraging him slowly.

538px-Toilet_with_flush_water_tankImage courtesy of wikipedia

When we first started Potty Training I came up with a list of things that we didn’t know but should have probably guessed about the early stages of potty training, below is the revised version to reflect things I didn’t know about Potty Training toddler that I do now, 8 months later.
1. The potty is a “cool” hang out spot when a toddler is bored, plus it also is a great excuse to delay bed time and insist on stories at nauseum.

2. The first significant leap was when the toddlers told us when it was time to change their diapers, not that they actually have to go, next comes the two minute warning, and eventually the five minute warning (most of the time).

3. Toddlers don’t realize the odious nature of fecal matter, they think it’s an extension of their body and don’t understand why you don’t want them to touch it.

4. The girl thinks that any sound or function that comes out of her body is “poop” and recently, on taco night, after Daddy passed gas she proclaimed, “PooPoo Daddy! Tell Mommy!”

5. The cup in the potty can also double as a hat and will, more than you can imagine.

6. Reading stories about potty training on the toilet is an effective way to “inspire” your toddlers. (I recommend My Big Girl/Boy Potty by Joanna Cole).

7. Be prepared for accidents, especially when you take the training wheels off.  Keep a spare set of clothing (including socks) with you at all times.

8. The training toddler will generally be more upset than you are about the fact that they peed their pants in the produce section of the grocery store, but only a little bit.  Remind them that everyone has accidents.

9. Never underestimate the motivational power of “big kid” underwear to a toddler, especially when it has Smurfs or Disney characters on it.

10. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

11. Be patient, they’ll get there at their own pace, not yours.

SaraBeth is a Toronto, Canada based writer and working mom of girl-boy twins. Her blog, Multiple Momstrosity earned fourth place in voiceBoks’ Hilariously Funny Parent 2014 competition and was named one of Toronto Mom Now’s 2012 Top 30 Mom Blogs.

Traveling with Toddlers and a Preschooler

Having twin babies was overwhelming, having twin toddlers is exhausting, and having a preschooler and full time job on top of that is mentally draining. This is on a daily basis, in a confined predictable environment. So when Hubby suggested a trip away during my spring break last week, I was trepidatious, to say the least.

TravellingOur twins have never taken a trip of over a few hours at a time, we’ve never been out on vacation together as a family, and our preschooler hasn’t spent a night away since she was with Grandma when her siblings were first born almost 1.5 years ago. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time. I also really wanted to go.

So, fully willing to accept getting no sleep, dealing with cranky children, and having no fun at all, we went… And it was GREAT! Completely exceeded all my expectations. For those contemplating travel with young multiples, it is possible. Here is what we did that I believe, contributed to a wonderful mini-vacation for us:

Location, Location, Location

We decided not to go too far, but far enough to stay overnight. Hubby’s suggestion of Legoland was perfect! Less than 2 hours away, nice hotel on site. We figured we’d give ourselves time to really explore, and we’d probably want to be taking it easy with so many young children, so I booked a two-night stay, and bought us 2-day hopper tickets.  We planned all our driving to coincide with the kids’ naps so that we’d have a nice quiet ride both ways.

Don’t Stress

Being very Type A, I knew beforehand I had to let go of some control. I had to force myself to relax my Nazi sleep schedule for the trip. I made a decision to prioritize nighttime sleep for the entire family and allow naps to be skipped/shortened for a couple of days. This was not easy for me, as I believe sleep is the foundation of everything for young children, but it was a necessity to balance the needs of everyone the trip. Obviously we knew what times the kids would all be sleepy, and sort of worked around those times (allowing twins to lay down in their stroller, taking it easy after lunch and returning to the hotel for a siesta), but for the most part I just loosely let naps be how they would.

Similarly, I only roughly planned the activities on this trip: What times we’d be driving, check-in/out times, the buffet hours, hotel entertainment events. I didn’t even know the layout of the park until we got there and explored it together. Besides a little mixup with our luggage being delivered to our room the first night (which of course was out of my control anyway), everything worked out great with my unplanned planning.

Eat at Buffets 

Our hotel stay included a breakfast buffet, and our kids ate free during the dinner buffet. Though we could have gotten dinner probably for less in the park or elsewhere, the convenience of food being an elevator ride away from our room, and the abundance of highchairs and kid food available at a place catering to children (an entire buffet section was at kid height) can’t be beat. We ate there for dinner both nights. Since breakfast was included for everyone staying at the hotel, it got to be very busy around 8:30am every morning. Not a problem for us: our kids are up and hungry by 6:30am. We ate breakfast there both mornings too.

Lunches we had in the park. As with all amusement park food, it was expensive and not the greatest. Factor in waiting for the food while your children are hungry, and you’d come to the decision to eat at a buffet whenever possible too.

Sleeping Arrangements 

When booking our reservation, I asked for a room on the top floor, away from the elevators. I knew that with so many kids staying in the hotel it would be loud, so I wanted to eliminate the noise as much as I could. I also brought a loud fan from home to use as a cover for any small noises we would make moving around the room. Again, this hotel is pretty spectacular that all their rooms are like mini-suites with a section for children that includes a bunk bed. My preschooler has never slept in a bunk before, so it was very exciting for her to look forward to being up high.

The hotel offered pack-n-plays, so I requested two of them. I was a little worried that there would be no space for them both, but going without them was not an option so we just had to wait and see. Thankfully, both cribs fit with plenty of space. We kept them at the foot of the adult bed. Knowing from traveling with their big sis at a younger age that being in an unfamiliar place might mean they would have trouble sleeping, I made sure to pack the bedding that they’re used to from home. The sheets and blankets took up almost half of the larger luggage we brought (the kids’), but it was worth it. They made not one peep either night. The fact that we all got a full night’s sleep really was the best part of this trip.

Ultimately, as with most things, I was much more worried about doing this than I should have been. I think now that I have 3 children instead of just one, I am learning to go more with the flow. Though damn expensive, this trip has taught me that some planning and the right attitude go a long way. I can’t wait for our next family vacation!

(As an aside, Legoland is such a wonderful place for young children. I would say it is perfect for kids aged 4 to 10. It is much smaller than Disneyland, easily walkable for young children without getting too tired. It was also less crowded, and if you don’t go during peak times there are no lines. Going almost anywhere with a double stroller often means a lot of maneuvering and blocking traffic, but Legoland was full of doubles, and we never had a problem getting around. Even “stroller parking” seemed plentiful. The Legoland hotel was the highlight of this trip though. Catered specifically to this age group, it had so many conveniences and amenities that made the trip super easy for us. Highly recommended.)

lunchldyd is mom to an almost-4yo and her 17mo b/g twin siblings. She is a high school teacher in a suburb of Los Angeles.