Toddler Thursday: Great iPad Apps for Toddlers

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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

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Potty Training 101 – According to a Toddler

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Categories Parenting, Potty Training, Toddler Thursday4 Comments

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…

    IMG_2194

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

    right next to my little potty, like this…

    IMG_2195

    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.

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Toddler Thursday: Rewards & Sharing

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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.

teambaby

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)

 

 

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Toddler Thursday: Preparing at home for the NICU stay

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Categories Childcare, Family, Household and Family Management, NICU, Organization, Singletons, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers1 Comment

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.

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Toddler Thursday: A Snapshot of Life with Twin Toddlers

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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.

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Toddler Thursday: Toddler Proof

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As a new parent, you constantly hear about baby-proofing. But I honestly think it’s a poorly named idea. Babies aren’t the problem. Toddlers are. Toddlers are the ones who get into everything, climb, run, jump, and have no problem checking out everything. I have never really needed to baby proof, but I certainly needed to toddler proof my home shortly after my twins started walking.

Toddler Thursdays: Toddler Proof your home! hdydi.comThe need to toddler proof

At first it is as simple as keeping bathroom doors shut and cabinets installed with locks. But, then things started to get hairy when I realized that safety isn’t the only concern, home preservation is also very important.

Kids destroy things. They rip, tear, drool, claw, chew, bite, bump, pull, tug, and ruin all sorts of home items. Kids are not gentle. Toddlers don’t know how much you spent on an item or how much time you spent making it. They only know that they want to touch it. It is with this in mind that my husband and I did some basic “toddler proofing.”

Removing distractions

The main thing we decided to do was just to remove everything that we didn’t want destroyed. We moved it to high places, packed it up, or just generally put it out of their reach.  We rearranged our apartment and furniture in order to do this. While you might think it’s extreme to rearrange your home because of two toddlers, I think it’s not healthy to yell or tell my child “no” every 15 minutes. For my sanity, and their emotional well-being, we found it easier just to remove the distractions all together.

This meant we moved bookcases into our bedroom. We got rid of our DVD tower and opted to put all the DVDs into a big binder, which was then locked in our entertainment center, a piece of furniture we selected for its two large front cabinet doors that could easily be secured with a child’s lock. We also removed things from all drawers they could open (like in our tables and computer desks).

Eventually, we put hook and eyes at the very top of our master bedroom door, and the door to our third bedroom.  We tried door knob covers, but we didn’t have the budget for super high quality ones, so they were frequently broken off. We tried duct-taping them closed, but soon that didn’t work either (but we did find another use for duct tape with my twins). The hook and eyes have worked awesome (were super cheap!) as long as we remembered to latch them after we left those rooms. We can now safely store items out of their reach in these rooms without fear!

For a long time our daughters also liked to play in their dresser, pulling out all of their neatly folded clothes. Again, I didn’t feel like yelling at my girls all day long, so we decided to put a hook and eye/baby lock on their closet doors as well. After they switched to toddler beds, we also removed everything from their room, and then realized we overlooked something – the vent. We had to screw down the vent cover, otherwise socks and panties ended up in the vents!

Other things we did was try to make sure we pushed everything back as far as we could on tables and especially counter tops. For a long time, we just gated off the kitchen so we wouldn’t have to worry about our children getting into anything dangerous or making a mess.

For Christmas one year, we decorated the tree, and no more than 15 minutes had passed before it was knocked over and some of the ornaments, including one of my husband’s baby ornaments, broke. We decided to remove ALL of the ornaments on our tree that year, being left only with lights and tinsel.

I am so relieved that my twins have left the toddler years and are into the preschool years. I can trust them more (though not completely) to listen to house rules, and not to not destroy everything. We still take some of these toddler proof to heart though. Unfortunately, we’ll have to start all over again as our 9 month old is crawling, standing, and climbing already.

How did you handle toddler proofing your home against your twins or higher multiples?

ldskatelyn is a mother of 3.5 year old fraternal twin girls and a 9 month old baby. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and children and blogs about their adventures (and more!) at What’s up Fagans.

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Toddler Thursday: Hard-Wired for Grace

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Categories Attitude, Parenting, Toddler Thursday2 Comments

So many of the lovely MoM’s here will write from a place further down the road when covering Toddler Thursdays! This has been a rough few weeks, adjusting to Zoe hitting TWO (yes, that loudly)! And somehow, because we adopted from foster care, it’s like I think I must get it perfect for them. Not sure what that is, but I look forward to reading those posts written from down the road a ways.

Because, from where I stand, this is all I’ve got! Bottom line? Grace.

Kids are hardwired with grace in their hearts and it is a good thing. Because I have yet to listen to a single mama out there who did not lose their cool at some point with their toddler. Make it TWO toddlers, both two years old and well… it’s a done deal! We’ve all had those moments. My greatest comfort is in knowing that my children and I will wake up tomorrow to a new day. We all get another chance at this.

This last week I saw a video posted on Facebook. It started with a bunch of moms talking about how they feel about themselves as a parent. Then they came back to watch videos of their kids saying what they think about them when asked to describe mom. Aw, heck. I’ll just show it to ya…

So, now that we are all crying (again), here is what I have to offer you: It’s ok.

If you mess up, just get up. The very fact that you worry so much about whether you have enough patience with them, or whether you can do this at all is because you love them, desperately! That is worth holding close to your heart.

Try to breathe in the NOW. Be. here. now. Don’t get stuck in regret over yesterday (or ten minutes ago). If you need to apologize, do so. But, then move on.

If you need to work on a particular area of self-care, or self-discipline, do so. For example, I take making sure that I get quiet time each day before getting my little ones up very seriously. I owe it to them and to myself to make sure that I prepare for our day!

Accept the grace they offer to you. Offer the same to them. Pour that grace into the moments you have left for today. As they say, time is our currency. The thing is, as moms, we are spending our time and theirs. Let’s not blow it all on regret. If we do, we miss out on truly *seeing* the moments like this one:

Early Winter 2012-3354-2

Our kids are hardwired with grace in their hearts for us. That grace means you can start over tomorrow.

It’s ok.

Where have you seen grace slip in? What do you do to take care of yourself so you can take better care of your family?

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Toddler Thursday: Indoor Activities For Young Toddlers

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Year Two. So far it’s been absolutely wonderful, watching these two little tiny babies turn into these two tiny little people with personalities. And it really does keep getting better and better. Each month brings new progress in their cognitive capabilities – which means new opportunities for learning and activities.

As a stay at home mom, I’ve filled my days with outings and visits and play dates and trips to Target, the park, the mall, baby gyms, music classes …  everything. Everywhere. But as the weather grows colder, I’ve found myself sticking closer and closer to home. Which means coming up with some fun and easy activities for us to do inside.

It’s both overwhelming and exciting to dive into the world of toddler activities …the internet is full of imaginative ideas, from Pinterest to personal blogs to preschool lesson plans. And as very young toddlers – 14 months old – my kids are still waaaaaay too young for a lot of the more advanced activities. (Those super adorable hand print turkeys? I cant wait to do them next year!) I admit, I’ve dipped into the toddler activity world, trying lots of new things out. Yes, sometimes the ideas are a flop. But sometimes they are awesome.

Here are some of the fun – and easy – things we have done indoors this fall.

Indoor Activities for Young Toddlers from hdydi.com
Photo Credit: Veganbaking.net and torbakhopper cc

Visit the Dollar Store

This was a brilliant suggestion from my very creative mother (with a graduate degree in early childhood education!) The dollar store is incredible for toddler toys and activities, art supplies and crafting ideas. Last month I made each child their own sensory/discovery basket with all kinds of random goodies: pipe cleaners, little bells, yarn, toy animals, colorful squares of paper, feathers, etc. I also came up with a fun game with muffin tins. I purchased a bunch of fun little balls  – pom poms, ping-pong balls, dried beans – and put them in the tins. The kids loved touching and exploring everything in the tins.

The dollar store also has great art supplies for dirt cheap – which is especially good at this age when you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on crayons and paper, and since your dear son still wants to eat them at times.

Pretend Play

My parents moved last year, and gifted my husband and I with this kind of wacky three-foot tall antique wooden cheetah that used to be in their family room. We placed it in the living room, and soon the kids were coming over to examine it. I decided to make a game out of it. He was the “kitty cat” and he lived in the living room. Each day, I ask the twins where the kitty cat is, and we go over to visit him. Sometimes we bring him another animal or puppet to visit with; sometimes we put him by the window, look outside and talk about what we see; sometimes we find he is going “night night” and we need to be quiet; sometimes we give him hugs and kisses.

Another activity along these lines is going on little exploratory walks around the house. We take a stuffed animal, doll or puppet in a little doll stroller, navigate around the house, and point out different objects. For example, the kids will take their little duck puppet to smell the flowers, look at the dining room chandelier, and wave to the dog in the yard across the street.

Mini Magnet Boards

I came across this easy idea on a toddler activity blog: instead of putting magnets on your refrigerator, use little cookie sheets. It’s a creative way for toddlers to sit and play with the magnets instead of standing up in the kitchen. The kids love taking them off and moving them around on the cookie sheets.

Surprise Boxes

Since I have a legitimate addition to Amazon, I get a ton of boxes. Before we recycle them, I use them for play. I place different little objects in each box, stack them into each other, and let the kids explore. They delight in finding little treasures and pulling apart the stacks.

In general, boxes are an awesome toy in itself. Jack and Mara love to sit in them, get pulled around the house in them, and hide in them.

Trying on Hats

I think I started to do this to try and make hat wearing a “fun” thing since Jack and Mara absolutely refuse to wear a hat unless it’s tied on! We gather up hats around the house – baseball hats, an old Halloween costume wig, knit hats, ski hats, and try them on in front of the mirror. Yes, sometimes fighting will erupt when one wants the others hat, but it’s still a great little game.

Putting Objects In and Out of Baskets

I recently realized Jack and Mara liked putting the blocks back into the bag as much as they actually liked playing with the blocks themselves. So I’ve elaborated on this a bit in a bunch of different ways. We also put their stuffed animals in and out of a large storage bin, put laundry in a basket, Tupperware in and out of a drawer, bath items in and out of a basket.

Designated Book Time

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this, even though it’s not a novel idea. Several times a day I make time for reading. I grab a stack of books, plop the twins down, and read. As my fellow twin mothers know, having two toddlers sit and listen to an entire book at the same time – every time – is impossible. So, this is what I do. I sit there and read. And I keep reading. Maybe Mara will sit for the first book, then move away for the second, and come back for the third – or Jack will sit for the second but not the first, and play with some trucks for the third. It doesn’t matter if its perfect. Each day they are paying attention longer and longer, and even if they are not sitting on my lap, they are still hearing the words.

Dancing

This is such a simple activity … but so much fun. My mother in law bought Jack and Mara a Beatles for Babies cd for their first birthday, and we have played it every day ever since. The kids love to listen to music,shake and sway a bit, bend their knees, and clap in appreciation when the song is over. They also love for me to dance holding one of them – or, often times, both!

Going Up and Down Stairs

After they turned a year old, Jack and Mara started going up and down the stairs by themselves (with me watching them). Since then, its become a little game for them. I let them (always close by!) climb up and down the staircase. Sometimes they like to bring a toy with them, then take it down, or linger a bit on the landing. Its helping them master this skill and giving them a little physical exercise at the same time.

Edible Finger Paint

Ideas for do-it-yourself finger paint is all over the blogosphere. I was incredibly intrigued and decided to make my own simple concoction using vanilla pudding and food coloring. In order to contain the mess as well as I could, I put the twins in their high chairs and let them go to town. Needless to say, they absolutely loved rubbing the pudding all around the trays. I think Jack may have eaten about a pound of it, but oh well. It was a success!

Which leads into the next activity, which absolutely has to go hand-in-hand with the finger paint …

Making Bath Time an Activity

My children absolutely love bath time – so I often bring them in the tub during the day with new toys and balls. Splashing around is also a great way for them to get some physical activity, too.

What are some of your favoritevindoor activities for your toddler?

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Toddler Thursday: Anatomy of a Tantrum

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When my twin daughters were 3, I tried to capture in words the horror and glory of toddler tantrums at our house. I’ve reworked that post for How Do You Do It? for this week’s Toddler Thursday.

Anatomy of a Tantrum: What a tantrum really looks like and how to handle it

Full-Body Tantrum (J)

J’s tantrums started when she lost her temper, felt frustrated, or felt that she had been treated unjustly. They could happen anywhere: at home, in the car, at daycare, at the grocery store, at the theatre.

She usually started by sitting hard on the floor or lying on the floor. Early on, she’d throw herself backwards, but learned the hard way that our tile was too hard for that. She refused to get up or move. Her response to my physical attempts to set her upright was to arch her back and twist away.

Next, she started to whine, louder and louder, repeating whatever her complaint was. For a few months, she started prefaced all this by growling. She’d swat with her hand at whatever she could reach: me, the floor, the wall, her sister, her teacher. If she happened to have something in her hand, she’d throw it.

If I hadn’t talked her down by the time we’d reached the swatting stage, J would start to scream. The child was loud. Very, very loud. Finally, tears would pour down her face, she’d accept a hug, and beg for her blankie. She’d sniffle into her blankie and ultimately apologize.

Verbal Tantrum (M)

M’s tantrums usually stemmed from feeling misunderstood. Often, if I said no, she thought it was because I didn’t understand what she was asking for, and then things got ugly. I found it effective to avoid tantrums with M by stating my negative responses like so: “I understand that you want [some completely ridiculous thing] and I am telling you no.”

M tended to start crying first, then escalated to screaming if I couldn’t understand what she was saying through her tears, or thought I couldn’t. She stomped her foot on the ground. She wasn’t as likely to lie (collapse) on the floor as her sister, but she did resort to name-calling, “Mommyhead” being a favourite. She didn’t hit, but she did push at me if I tried to hug her. If I caught it early, distracting her with a snuggle and book worked well. After the snuggle we could discuss her unacceptable behaviour and its source.

M was much less likely to stay in time out during a tantrum than her sister, and it took her much longer (think hours rather than minutes) to calm down once she was fully engaged.

Terrible Twos or Terrible Threes?

Age two wasn’t so bad with my daughters. The threes, on the other hand, were quite horrific at times, although the rewards have been as great. As I’ve mentioned before, age three was, hands down, my least favourite age. My friend April has a theory about why the “terrible” stage increasingly waits until age three. It comes down to parenting styles. Her explanation is that our parents’ generation was less permissive to us at an early age, and less tuned into kids’ pre- and non-verbal communication. By age two, we were ready to explode because we felt misunderstood. Our generation of parents’ responsiveness to infants and toddlers causes our kids to put off acting out until later, when they really begin to realize how powerless they are.

Parental Survival

How did I handle these tantrums without another parent present to back me up, my now ex-husband so often deployed overseas? Obviously, I often didn’t.

I tried to use the same techniques I’ve taught the kids. I did (and do) a lot of deep breathing. I sometimes removed myself from the situation after I’d made sure the culprit is in a safe place. Sometimes, a glass of water and small piece of chocolate helped. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I sat in my room for 2-3 minutes until I felt ready to tackle it again.

My daughters and I often talk about the need to take a break when we start to feel overwhelmed, in order to avoid a tantrum, and all three of us practice this. M reads a book or draws, often putting completely hilarious signs on her door announcing her need for privacy. Jessica snuggles her blankie, and I lie down quietly on my bed, wash dishes or fold laundry, or take a shower.

M and J’s preschool teacher used similar techniques in the classroom. When a child started to “throw a fit”, they were removed from the situation and asked to sit away from the group until they had calmed down. Once they were calm, the teacher discussed whatever the conflict was with them, and made sure that the child understands why their behaviour was unacceptable.

In truly horrendous cases, the director or assistant director would be called in to remove the child from the classroom and had a serious discussion with them. Most tantrums were not reported to the parents, but a pattern of an unusual number of tantrums from any one child resulted in an informal conversation with the parent or a note home if the parents’ schedule and the teacher’s don’t coincide.

What do tantrums look like at your house? How do you handle them? How do you avoid them?

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.

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Toddler Thursday: Welcome to Year Two with Twins!

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The toddler years are an intense time for all involved. Our kids are suddenly in everything, aware of everything, questioning everything. Our multiples have figured out that there is power in numbers and can cause all sorts of mischief even while wowing us with their insights.

Several of the HDYDI Moms’ multiples are on the brink of toddlerhood. It was time, we decided, to introduce Toddler Thursdays, a weekly series on the joy and challenges of the toddler years, multiplied by multiples.


What's harder and easier with toddlers compared to infants. from hdydi.comYear two – with two! I am not exactly sure how I envisioned the second year. If I am being completely honest, I think it was difficult to think beyond the first year. Not to pat myself on the back, but making it to one year was an incredible feat in itself.

Now that Jack and Mara are 14 months old, I’m learning more and more about this new and exciting period in their lives. While some things have gotten much easier, we are also dealing with brand new challenges. Here are some lessons I am slowly learning as we embark on this journey.

What has gotten easier …

Walking is a game changer

I may be in the minority on this one, but things have gotten so much better since the twins started walking (Jack at 10.5 months, Mara at 11.5). We are able to do new things like go to the park, which has been absolutely wonderful. Logistically, it has also helped a lot. For example, they don’t each need to be held consistently in the doctor’s office; they can walk around the room. It has also been easier for play dates and going to other people’s homes, as they are not crawling around on the floor. The obvious flip side is that mobility means more independence for them … which means they have a greater ability to get into things. But honestly, I don’t mind. It’s completely worth it.

They are learning to play independently … and with each other

Jack and Mara love to chase each other around, explore the house, and play “hide and seek”. While there have been bursts of this in the earlier months, it seems to happen more and more each day. Plus, they are able to play by themselves more  – even if it is just 20 minutes while I cook dinner.

And, there is nothing that warms my heart more than hearing them squeal in delight  … even if it means they are squealing in delight as they splash in the toilet together.

Watching them talk and learn new words is incredible

Their vocabulary is growing by the day.  There is nothing more exciting or thrilling than hearing your toddler learn something new. Some of Jack and Mara’s recent words and phrases include “people”, “good girl”, and “the end” (when we finish a book.)

Bye Bye, Bottles!

For those of us who used bottles, this is especially liberating. There is nothing more gratifying than putting all of those bottles away for good (for me, it was the Dr. Browns bottles … note to self: maybe all of those parts weren’t such a good idea when you are dealing with two babies?!)

And don’t get me started on the joy of stopping formula. Woo hoo!

If you look back a year ago, its hard to believe you have gotten where you are now

During a particularly fussy day with the kids last weekend, my husband asked me to think back to where we were a year ago. Oh yes, that’s right … a year ago Jack and Mara were still teeny tiny newborns eating every two hours. I was hooked up to that darn pumping machine all day. My husband would joke that when it got dark out, his heart would race because he was so terrified of what that night would be like. I slept on an air mattress in Jack’s nursery. Our big outings were trips around the neighborhood in the double snap and go.

We were in pure survival mode, living in a fog.

After you have survived newborn twins, not even the worst day with two toddlers will ever feel that bad.

And harder …

Nap transitions with twins

I could write volumes about this topic. For the first year, I prided myself on my excellent little sleepers who kept to a very strict sleep and nap schedule. But when they turned one, Jack went rogue. He refused to take naps. I tried everything – going from two to one, waking him up before his sister, keeping them up later … but he didn’t want to nap. Poor Mara … I made her go along with whatever I was trying with Jack. (Thank goodness she is a great and adaptable sleeper!) But trying to figure out a new schedule all over again with two kids is hard.  Really, really hard.

The fighting. The biting. The screaming.

This has been a real source of anxiety for me. Last week, we invited two other toddlers over for a play date (non-twins). The two other toddlers were very sweet and well-behaved. But unfortunately for me, Jack and Mara decided to act like terrors – biting, fighting over toys, screaming at each other. It was awful. The other two toddlers seemed to be a little bit afraid of them.

Is it because there are two of them, that they fight more? I have thought about this a lot lately. Are singletons better behaved sometimes because they don’t have a built-in playmate (or rival!) to scuffle with, day in and day out? Anyway, the fighting has been a real challenge for us.

Attachment … times two

For the past two months, Mara has been attached at my hip. While I secretly revel in the attention and devotion, it has also been very difficult. Tending to a second child while she is clinging to me is incredibly hard. She also does not want to share me with her brother. If I am reading to Mara, with her sitting on my lap, and Jack comes over to sit with me too, she will push him away.

They aren’t loving being confined in the stroller

I remember taking the twins to Lord and Taylor last spring and bringing them in the dressing room while I tried on bathing suits. Ha! This would unlikely never happen at this moment. Their stroller threshold seems to be at an all time low. They need motion, motion, motion or else they scream to get out. I’ve limited the activities we do in the stroller for now.

What has toddlerhood been like for you? What has gotten easier, and what are you struggling with?
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