Toddler Thursday: We Are So 2

On June 18, my twins turned 2.

So they have been 2 for a few weeks now. Let me just assure you, in case you were at all worried, they are VERY good at being 2. Sidney is contemplating becoming 2 professionally, but Spencer has decided to maintain his amateur status, so he can be 2 in the Olympics.

We Are So 2

With my older daughter (now 5), 2 was SO MUCH FUN.  18 months was a bit hard, but looking back it was more like a few hard days. Overall, 2 was fun. I have my doubts that I will look back on the twins’ “reign of 2″ and say the same thing. Instead I am fairly sure I will win (or at least earn) an award at the end of 2. And yay (read that yay very sarcastically please), three is next. Three, when they get stubborn and opinionated.

So maybe my twins are not 2. Maybe they are very advanced (in addition to being the cutest and smartest babies of all time, naturally). Maybe they are somehow already 3.

Let me share with you some of the things that the now 2 year old twins excel at.

Let’s talk food. Breakfast generally consists of 2 -3 waffles, 2 hard boiled eggs, and a smoothie full of fruit, veggies and flax seed, for protein. So needless to say, they eat a HUGE breakfast.  And generally barely any lunch at school. But that is ok, food is a whole day experience, right?

But lately, dinner is a challenge. I put down 3 plates of food, and at least one twin, often both, pushes the plate away crying. Or hands it to me and says “all done”. Dinner used to consist of a variety of foods – they LOVED salmon. Now, it’s generally crock pot chicken and pasta. Their favorite. Occasionally. Because they might love something one day and hate it 3 days later.

My kids now hate mac and cheese. What kid hates mac and cheese? I have tried the box stuff, organic stuff, homemade. Nope. They have even refused pasta with butter. If I allowed it, they would live off hard boiled eggs (without the yolk), yogurt and fruit.

Meal time is frustrating lately.  And I wish I was writing this to offer all the other moms out there some genius tips. I do have one tip though.  I make up a 4th plate of food.  (my husband gets home around the kids bedtime, so he and I eat after the kids go to bed). And this 4th plate of food is “mine”. You all know what I mean.  The second you put food on the table and claim it as yours, the kids flock to it.

This morning I made the most incredible smoothie for me, and got one drink of it. So they eat off my plate. And it generally works. Tonight Sidney sat on my lap and inhaled my chicken (crock pot with barbeque sauce and some red wine vinegar). She would not touch the roasted potatoes, but OMG that was fine with me. I roasted a combo of sweet potato and red potato with steak seasoning and a dash of cinnamon and they were SO good!  She ate a ton of chicken, and once he saw her eating, Spencer dug in. And we all enjoyed a fabulous dinner.

It was a great success. Actually every meal today was a great success. But what about tomorrow? Tomorrow I wanted to make salmon. My favorite is teriyaki salmon with fresh orange juice. The kids used to inhale it. Now I am not so sure, it is hit or miss. Meal time is much more stressful for me.

What used to be called the “terrible twos” is now the “trying threes”. For my oldest, 3 was the age of resistance. Of defiance. Of having opinions and acting on them.  So why are the twins acting so 3 now? Has 2 become the new 3?  And if not, how will I handle 3?

But then again, maybe 2 is good for the economy.  At least the wine industry….

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 4 year old and boy-girl 17 month old twins.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

 

Twins vs Singletons

Having a set of b/g twins 2.5 years after their sister puts me in a position to be able to compare and contrast the experiences of having twins and having a singleton– really having twins vs having two singletons. Now that the twins are 19 months old and Big Sis is 4, I feel I’ve gotten enough under my belt to do a little analysis. (Of course, everyone’s situation will vary, and all experiences depend highly on the temperament of each child as well as the character of each household, but I do find that there are some definite differences).

The GOOD…

Developmentally, I’ve got two kids doing the same thing. They generally play the same way, eat the same things, like the same places. They are in the same age group in any classes for which I’d sign them up, and very soon they would be able to play with each other. It’s one drop off and one pick up for both kids to grandma’s, and to preschool/school later on. At least until they’re old enough to pick their own separate activities, they’d be doing most things together. Big Sis will always be 2.5 years older, which means they would rarely be doing or liking the same things.

Two kids at the same age also means they’re more or less on the same schedule. There may be days when their naps are off, or even weeks during transitions when one does something that the other doesn’t yet. But even accounting for those differences, I consider them a unit for eating and sleeping. Big Sis has a different naptime and bedtime from her siblings; and actually she doesn’t even get to nap anymore because of the scheduling difficulties, even though she really could.

It’s a given that children cost a lot, but I think twins come with some economies of scale (assuming the comparison is between twins and two singletons). I get to buy many things in bulk, and sometimes I can even get a twin discount on stuff. But having twins over singletons is more of a time saver than anything else. Making two bottles at once only takes slightly more time than making one bottle, when I change one child I usually just change the other– almost everything we do takes less time than doing them with two children of different ages.

They have each other. They get to grow up together, learn together, support each other, and never be lacking a sidekick because their twin will always be there. Older/younger siblings do a lot of things together too, but it’s just not the same, at least not until they’re adults.

And the BAD…

Double Trouble” is true! It was actually easier when they were infants, when as long as I figured out how to feed them simultaneously, they were happy. There was a rough patch getting them on the same sleep schedule, but after that it was pretty good going until they became toddlers. Now, sometimes there are just not enough hands (or eyes). Example: toddlers on the move in the park. One was making a beeline for some stairs, while the other was attempting to topple a large trash can. Big Sis required minimal supervision, as she had found some little friends to play with.

The twins are also much more aggressive than their sister ever was. They are much more vocal in what they want, and will fight, even bite each other! They egg each other on when they’re misbehaving. “Group mentality” perhaps. One climbs on top of the play kitchen, and the other will climb it too. One screams and throws food, other other ups that by tossing a sippy cup too. Alone, perhaps they would not dare. Singletons just don’t get away with as much.

Activities for twins are difficult when there is only one adult. At least at my twins’ age, everything is much easier when the ratio is 1:1, or even 2:3 when including Big Sis. One adult to a set of twin toddlers is sometimes impossible (as in the case of Parent and Me swim class), but even when possible, it can get very stressful and overwhelming (Mommy and Me classes). Even if different-aged children are in an activity together, they would not need the same kind of attention at exactly the same time.

lunchldyd is a high school teacher on summer break in the Los Angeles area. She wonders how this comparison will change as her kids get older.

Toddler Thursday: Diapers Are Easier – A Confession

I see parents of toddlers grow misty-eyed, imagining the day that they’ll be done with diapers. They don’t look forward to potty training, of course, but they look forward to having children who are potty trained.

I have a confession to make.

Having my toddlers in diapers was far easier than having potty-goers.

This mom found diapers much easier to deal with than potty-trained toddlers. How about you?

Now my children are 8 years old and fully capable of going to the bathroom alone and cleaning up after themselves. I love their independence in this department. I know that going through potty-training (a story for another day) and toddler bathroom visits was necessary to get here.

We used disposable diapers exclusively, mostly because I went back to work when my daughters, J and M, were 11 weeks old and their daycare centre wasn’t about to deal with cloth diapers. We were able to increase our retirement contributions once we stopped having to budget for diapers. I liked not having to pay for them.

I just really disliked having bathroom-going toddlers. Diaper-related peace of mind was worth the money.

Picture this.

In the Days of Diapers, my daughters would wiggle into my lap, one on each knee. I’d hold a book in front of them while they took turns pointing out animals or colours or shapes. Every now and again, I’d feel a great warmth on my knee and know that someone was going to need a diaper change. M might even tell me what was up. “My go pee-pee!” I would let her know that I was aware of her situation. We’d finish the book, I’d reach to the nearest diaper station, place a blanket on the floor, wipe and change, head to the trash and wash my hands.

Then the potty switch happened. M and J would sit in my lap. We’d start looking at a book, when suddenly, “My go potty!” So we’d push the book aside and rush to the bathroom. I’d installed a toilet seat with a child insert, so we didn’t need to mess with the seat too much. J would pee, I would wipe, M would whine. I’d flush, and M would cry because it was loud. We’d all wash our hands because M had probably touched something she shouldn’t have while I focused on J. I’d pull J’s panties and pants back up and ask M if she needed to go potty. She would decline, so we’d head back to our book, at which time, the girls would bicker over whose turn it was. We’d have just settled back down when it started again. “My go potty,” M would tell me.

Rinse and repeat.

In the Days of Diapers, we could get through the grocery store in about 45 minutes to one hour, even with strangers stopping us to ask about The Great Mystery of Twins. I’d seat M and J side by side in the child area of the cart, confer with my list, and play a game of “Find the Shape” or “Where’s that Letter” as I worked my way through the aisles. If the girls were wet, they were wet. I could change them at home or, in a pinch, on the passenger seat of the car.

Once we were in the Period of Potty Trained, grocery store visits doubled in length. We’d always need to stop at least twice, abandoning our cart to visit the bathroom, sometimes exiting to discover that a hardworking store worker had put all our supplies back on the shelves. My daughters being so tiny, there was a very real chance of them falling into the store toilets, so each little girl would wrap her little arms around my neck to hold herself up while she emptied her bladder or bowel under my nose. More often than not, they had to go at the same time and it was The End of the World. When you’re 3, everything is The End of the World.

Then there was the time that J threw herself on a bowling alley bathroom floor in a fit of rage. I really missed diapers then.

Every drive, no matter how short, now took 30 minutes longer than it used to. I took to storing a spare potty, plastic bags, and a towel for privacy in the trunk. I still needed the diaper bag for the extra clothes needed for bathroom accidents. Yes, I needed clothes for me too. There’s nothing like showing up to work smelling like pee.

I got to know the variety of public bathrooms that exist in the USA. Porta Potties win the prize for least maneuverable with twins. M was convinced that she would fall in and drown, so add to the stench and small space a screaming 3-year-old trying to decide if she was more concerned about her own impending death or her sister’s.

In the Days of Diapers, I’d been the mother who showed up to everything with her kids, always prepared and always ready to participate in whatever was going on around town. With newly potty-trained J and M, our social sphere narrowed, every outing being planned around the least gross available bathrooms.

Like every other painful part of parenting, it was just a phase. One day, out for dinner, J waved me off when I rose to go with her to the restaurant bathroom. She knew where it was and what to do. She was far too old to need parental supervision to go to the bathroom.

I stopped missing diapers… and realized I missed having toddlers.

How do you feel about diapering?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-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, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Allow Myself to Introduce … Myself

Like many of you, I have developed an arsenal of responses to, “wow, you have your hands full!” and “do twins run in your family?”. I, too, was once guilty of saying such things, in my life pre-twins, (which seems so long ago). Now, I am guilty of noticing a twin mom across the supermarket, the parking lot or the playground and excitedly making my way over to her (as naturally as possible) and striking up a conversation. There’s a really special camaraderie amongst twin moms, isn’t there? We’ve been in trenches other mamas just don’t understand. (No, not even if your kids are 13 months apart and “pretty much twins.”)

So when I discovered this resource through another blogger twin mama friend (Hi Sarabeth!), I excitedly steeped a cup of tea, put the girls down for their nap, and settled in to sip chai and pour through these archives. I laughed, I nodded my head in agreement, and found some shared experiences summarized eloquently in words I hand’t thought to use myself.

A friend of mine from journalism school recently delivered twins, and we’ve been messaging back and forth. She said something that struck me: twin moms are really special people, a class unto our own. We are helpful, nurturing, laid-back, and understanding of exactly what to say or what gesture to offer another twin mom in a moment of need. We know. We get it.

In that spirit of celebration and of admiring what exactly sets us apart from other people’s parenting experiences, I was happy to join in the conversation. So, hi! I’m Sarah!

xmas2I have four young girls, two of whom are identical twins. They were born after some infertility and loss heartbreak, so they are know as our miracle babies. They were born early, but since our hospital didn’t have a NICU, we helped keep them warm, fed and happy as best we could, since they weren’t born with any difficulties other than being teensy (3 lb 12 oz and 4 lb 4 oz!). That’s pretty much what we’ve tried to keep up with: keeping them warm, fed and happy! Anything else is just icing on the cake, and way above my aspiration level, most days.

rain1We are currently working on toilet training, going to sleep at a reasonable hour in their shared bedroom, and staying at the side of the road when we go for walks in our neighbourhood. Baby steps!

 

Sarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

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.

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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.