A Compromise

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Difference, Emotion, Fear, Feeling Overwhelmed, Finances and Saving, Guilt, Joy, Lifestyle, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, SAHM, Working15 Comments

A few days ago marked the close of another school year, the first one I taught after my twins were born. Having only worked 6 weeks the year prior before taking my maternity leave, it was a difficult adjustment. The first several weeks seemed like just an exhausted blur, and the weeks following did not get much better. The month of March (the “long March”) was the worst. I was feeling depressed, rundown, burnt out, just plain tired and uninspired.

The crawling babies began to walk, then run, then climb, and by the end of the school year their naps were hit-and-miss because they were ready to transition to only one. So I had cranky babies and a preschooler to pick up from school, then feed and bathe all three after a full day of work. And I constantly worried about my aging mom, who I counted on every single day in order for me to go to work. I started to rethink this decision made a year ago

Clearly, I knew my husband’s position. We’ve had this discussion many times before; I’ve been wanting to be a SAHM ever since our first was born. But the decision we made came mostly from his arguments, all of which are valid: We have family nearby, they’re willing to help, these are our prime working years, I should be building my career and our family’s financial wealth. But he doesn’t understand the guilt that comes from having nothing left to give to the kids crying and tugging at you for your attention at the end of each day. He doesn’t understand that I blissfully enjoyed almost an entire year at home with my firstborn (starting 10 weeks before her siblings were born so she had me completely to herself), and the sadness I feel that the twins will NEVER get to experience that, just by the fact there are two of them plus an older sister.

One morning in early May, after a night of tormented sleep, I sought out my administrators to ask if there were any options for me to relieve some of this distress. Other than resign and lose my job security and all the years of service credit I’ve built with the district, the only other option was to work part-time. I never considered this an option because… well, because it is rarely done. I’ve only known two colleagues who have ever done it, and currently there is only one other teacher working part-time in the entire district. But, surprisingly, after almost collapsing into tears while telling my principal of the difficulties of trying to be the best mom I could while also being the best teacher I could, she was completely supportive. And, it turns out, so was my assistant principal working on the master schedule (the schedule of all courses during all class periods for every teacher at the school)– he was able to give me two morning classes a day.

My husband and I then had this discussion once again, but this time I was offering an alternative. What if I could keep my job security, keep my vested years and retirement, but also spend more quality time with the kids? I had the numbers to present to him, and my mom had already signed off on the idea. We could take the financial hit temporarily; my mom would only have to watch them for less than 3 hours a day instead of 8. I could feel fulfilled, as I am keeping my career, but also not be completely worn out before I even pick up my kids. Surprising me yet again, my husband agreed.

Life changes after having kids. This is the way we’ve decided to compromise. My new contract was signed last Friday. I’m not absolutely sure yet that this is the best way to go for our family, but I am trying something that I think might work. We will see.

lunchldyd is currently on summer vacation from her job as a high school teacher. Her husband has deferred his hopes of moving into a bigger house soon because of her part-time working decision. 

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Traveling with Toddlers and a Preschooler

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Going out, Joy, Napping, Overnight, Parenting, Perspective, Preschoolers, Sleep, Toddlers, Travel1 Comment

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

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

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

Location, Location, Location

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

Don’t Stress

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

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

Eat at Buffets 

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

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

Sleeping Arrangements 

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

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

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

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

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

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Confidence and Prettiness

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Categories Attitude, From the Mouths of Multiples, SiblingsTags 3 Comments

J walked into the bathroom where I was showering. She was dressed in a striped shirt and sweatpants. I wish I could wear sweatpants to work, but we are allowed jeans and I telecommute one day a week. I shouldn’t complain.

Me: Thanks for getting dressed for school so responsibly! You look lovely.
J: Thanks! I feel pretty.
Me: I’m so glad. I think it’s far more important to feel pretty than look pretty. Of course, you look pretty too, but confidence is the biggest contributor to looking pretty.
J: Nuh-uh!
Me: Oh?
J: Love! Love is the most important! Like I love my sister.
Me: You’re right.
J: Confidence too. (Clicks her tongue.) Both. Love and confidence makes you pretty.
Me: Love you!
J: Love you.

Sadia with J and M

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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Multiple Identities

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Categories Attitude, Individuality, Infants, MoM Groups, Mommy Issues, Other people, Perspective2 Comments

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I urgently googled everything about twin pregnancies.  I started writing on this website.  I joined our local moms of multiples group.  When people told me I needed to talk to so-and-so who is a mom of twins, I took every phone number or email address.  Stories of sleepless nights were swapped over (a quick) coffee in during maternity leave with local twin mommas, and my first night “out” was to a meet n’ greet for my MoM group when my babies were 7 weeks old.  When I was stressed, I turned to this blog, other twin websites, or emailed other parents of twins. I gritted my teeth when parents of kids who are 16 months apart say it’s “just like having twins.” While nearly all of my friends are moms, I rarely reached out to them, thinking they won’t “get” it, or I wouldn’t feel the same connection as I would with someone who has lived this experience.

However, I’ve noticed recently, that I’ve not had the interest to attend the new moms’ coffees, and while I’ve reflected on dozens of different topics on which to write a blog post, they’re related less and less to a solely twin mom experience.  When did this happen?  All the sudden, it seems I see myself just as a “mom,” with the “twin” qualifier no longer being the first and foremost descriptor of my experience.   All the things that made new motherhood harder with two babies (feeding two at one time, having two babies wake up in the middle of the nights instead of one, not being able to manage getting two babies out of the house on my own) still apply.  I still felt that having two is truly the challenge of a lifetime that you can only understand if you’ve been through it.  (I also still don’t think that having two kids 16 months apart is the same thing as having twins!)  But, it seemed less important to me to try to explain it to others.  Could it be that I’m becoming more confident, knowing that I’m doing all I can and trying my hardest, regardless of how hard others think it is?  Or is it that, now that my babies are smiling, interacting with each other, communicating with us, I’m experiencing double the reward, as well?  Is it that, I’ve found my support (some mothers of multiples and some not) and that feels sufficient?  I can’t quite put my finger on it.

A similar phenomenon I’ve noticed, is that, while others used to turn to me pretty frequently with their struggles, friends of mine with young babies are not venting to me about their experience.  Rather, they’ll start to, and quickly cut themselves off saying, “I feel bad complaining to you,” or, “No matter how tired I am, I’m sure you’re more tired.”  Let’s be honest, they may be right.  But, are we not all struggling with the same thing here?  Whether we’re moms of quads or singletons, five kids or only children, aren’t we all, essentially, wanting to feel like others validate our struggles, understand what we’re going through, and celebrate the joys of parenthood along with us?

Identity is something I’ve thought much about, both in forming my own, and how I hope to help guide my kids in this process.  How important is the “multiple” part in your identity of being a mom of multiples?  Is it sometimes more predominant than the “mom” part, or is it just an adjective?

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Welcome 2014

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Categories Attitude, Household and Family Management, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Toddlers2 Comments

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

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

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

New Years Eve 2013-Michelsen Home

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

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

I am living my dreams tonight.

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

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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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Twinfant Tuesday: Double Stroller Drama

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Categories Attitude, Infants, Twinfant TuesdayTags , 3 Comments

There are a few things that still hold strong in my memory of the early days with Molly & Jack.  Two of the most frustrating were the colic (Molly) and the lack of mobility involved with managing two very tiny babies.  Molly was a colicky infant and as such we spent countless hours trying to soothe what one of our sitters coined as her “siren scream”.  We would rock her, we would walk her, we would take shifts, we would sing to her, we would wear an ipod to block out the noise, you get the idea.

There were three things that seemed to calm the savage beast (sorry Molly, you’re really quite lovely nowadays): 1) Television: specifically the static “fuzzy” channel turned on high volume or hockey. 2) The vacuum and 3) going for long, long walks.

doublestroller

 

In summer and fall it was quite easy to go for lengthy strolls around our fair city of Toronto.  Jack would usually fall asleep or blissfully look around.  As the weather turned cold we had fewer options, so we turned our routes indoors to malls, greenhouses, bookstores and other places that could house our motley crue.

The more time I spent travelling with my double stroller the more I came to realize how many businesses or public places are not well equipped for double strollers (let alone wheelchairs).  A particularly frustrating trip out was when I couldn’t fit my stroller, the store clerk and myself into the elevator of a bookstore at the same time (the infant/children section was on the second floor).  I literally had to run up the escalator so the staffer with the key to operate the elevator could meet me with my children on the second floor. I was exhausted, with limited options and absolutely livid at my situation in general and the store.  This was a place meant for children and I couldn’t access it with my stroller without compromising the care of my children (even if it was just for 30 seconds).

When I commiserated about this with a fellow MoM she told me she had templated a letter that sent out regularly to complain about stroller/wheelchair access issues at businesses that she wanted to frequent, but couldn’t because of her needs.  Because of my unique stroller needs, my eyes were opened to how little effort so many places put into accessibility.  For me the double stroller was just temporary, many other people face these roadblocks daily and for their entire lives.
Nowadays I notice when a business has ramps, automatic doors and adequate door space and I try to reward these places with my business (even now when most of the time my children are walking).  How have your experiences as parents of multiples changed your perspectives on mobility?

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Infant Paraphernalia

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Categories Attitude, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective3 Comments

My babies are about to turn one. I can’t believe it. One whole year already. In some ways it’s been such a long journey, and yet when I think back to the days when our living room couch was baby headquarters, it doesn’t seem that long ago at all.

Babies grow fast. Which means they also OUTgrow things very quickly. Our house is cluttered with so much outgrown infant “stuff” that we’re bursting at the seams. We have just as much as any family with a baby would have, except times two, and some of it is even in triplicate.

Here is just a list of some of the larger items: A bassinet in our playroom, as well as three infant carseats and five bases, a co-sleeper in our bedroom, a swing and a jumper in our living room, another swing and two boppys in the babies’ room, a bottle warmer and sterilizer in the kitchen cabinets, four single strollers and a Snap ‘n Go in the garage, three bouncy seats in the closets. Husband is so annoyed that they’re all still around.

And of course there are plenty of stuff we haven’t outgrown. I have all three kids still in highchairs (the SpaceSaver kind), there’s still a baby tub in our bathroom,  three cribs (one now a toddler bed), many stepstools, several potty chairs, a double stroller, and entire playroom full of toys (!!). In my estimation we have more than the average household, even those with three children and more, because all our kids are so close together. But mostly because…

I can’t seem to let these things go. The problem is me. Most people in this situation would probably rejoice at the prospect of getting rid of all the clutter. Me? I have not thrown or given away a single item of infant paraphernalia. Husband threatens constantly to let the garbage man have all my stuff, but the thought of that practically puts me in tears, so he hasn’t been able to do much but pile it all as much out of the way as possible.

Somehow, my brain tells me that these items represent my babies’ infanthood. To me, they aren’t an eyesore or in the way at all. They are cherished mementos of a time I will never get back.

I do have a suspicion though, that there is actually another reason. Getting rid of this stuff would mean that we are done having children. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of adding another baby to the mix now makes me dizzy, but… there is always that possibility in the future, right? Not having any more baby stuff just seems so final. Someday when these kids are grown, wouldn’t I yearn for another chubs to snuggle? Another baby with that intoxicating baby smell? Husband says Hell No.

But me? Sorry, I don’t think I’m ready to let go of all my babies’ stuff just yet.

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Dear Pediatrician

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Categories Anger, Ask the Readers, Attitude, Different Gender, Fraternal, Frustration, Infants, Medical, Mommy Issues, Parenting7 Comments

I wanted to let you know that I was very dissatisfied, and actually quite upset at one point during my recent visit to your office.

I’ve always appreciated your straight-forward no-nonsense style, but since our twins have been born, the quality of your staff is becoming unacceptable. They have been inexperienced, disorganized, and in my opinion, unqualified to work with young children.

At one of our babies’ first appointments in your office, a nurse wrote the wrong name on one of my twins’ vaccination cards and decided to shred it without my permission. I was close to tears when I found this out. It takes just a little more attention to differentiate my babies. They’re not even identical, in fact of opposite genders, but I get asked every single time which baby is which, often incorrectly.

Every visit takes longer than it should. I don’t expect having two babies’ visit to be the same duration as one child, but it should take less time than two separate appointments. Their measurements, exams, and vaccinations can all be given back-to-back. Some acknowledgement and understanding could be made by your staff for double cranky babies who are waiting up to 15 minutes between each of these steps.

During this most recent visit, your staff was unable to tell me what to do with my twins or my stroller. We were in the hallway, obstructing traffic, until I decided to take the stroller back out to the waiting room. No one offered to help with the babies, so I was taking one after the other into the exam room by myself, first for temp/weight checks, then for your physical exam. This is obviously the most inefficient way to set up a twin appointment. There was a point when I was caring for my son in the hallway that the nurse left my daughter on the scale, at counter height, alone. I wasn’t alerted of this until she cried. She could easily have fallen.

Though I like you as our doctor, I believe the lack of competent trained staff is hurting your practice. If conditions aren’t different at our next visit, I may have no choice but to consider looking for a new pediatrician.

—————————

I haven’t sent this letter yet, though I’m obviously irate, because I haven’t decided whether I should. I’m afraid conditions are the same at every pediatricians’ office, and what I know is better than what I don’t, I suppose. I’m also afraid of some sort of retribution. What do you all think? Is this experience common? Is it a twin thing?

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Taking Back Our Weekends

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Family, Organization, Parenting, Preschoolers, Routines, Time Management4 Comments

So this is what it feels like to be a full-time working mom of three. My posts have been few and far between lately… because working has been seriously kicking my ass.

With a three-year-old and two ten-month-olds, attempting to do well at another job sometimes is just. too. much. I am thoroughly exhausted most of the time, both physically and mentally. Teaching 120 high school freshmen is both mentally and emotionally demanding. I am “on” every single moment of every single class period, and I honestly think it’s just as difficult as my first job as a mommy. I am flat out drained at the end of each day. And I usually don’t get help with bath/bedtime, so there is no reprieve for me until 8pm, when all the kids are down. But by then there is no energy left for anything else either.

Which is why we’ve been using our weekends as our catch-all. Laundry gets done on weekends, mail gets read on weekends, bills get paid on weekends, grandparents get visited on weekends, grocery gets bought on weekends, chores and errands and trips to the library and keeping in touch with friends. It was getting so that our weekends were busier than our weekdays. It was getting so that any time we had for a breather we were using as down-time. Much needed time to rejuvenate, to relax, to unwind.

But I started noticing that our kids were getting left to fend for themselves. Of course they were fed and cared for, and their physical needs were met, but beyond that we just had nothing left to give. With time at such a premium, we found ourselves arguing about how it should get allotted to each grandparent, how much of our weekends we could devote to any activities, and just to complicate things even further, we still had to account for all that baby-napping we have going on. It’s just really been stressful.

One day I had an epiphany. I don’t want to live my life this way. I don’t want it to be forgotten in a whirlwind of running here and rushing there. I want to spend it together, as a family, enjoying each other’s company, making memories. My children will never be this age again. Our lives will never be here again. I want to cherish our weekends.

So I sat down with Husband and had a serious conversation about how we could rethink the use of our time. By no means are we any less busy, and our time-budget issues haven’t all been magically resolved, but our mentality has since changed. We are now committed to spending quality time together, regardless of what we’re doing. We are going to be present, in the moment, for our children and our family. We do not allow ourselves to hide in another room surfing our iPhones while our children are awake. We eat together, as a family. No electronic devices during mealtime. Whenever possible, we gate ourselves in with our kids to roll around, crawl, jump, tickle, get slobbered on, and giggle with them in the playroom.

What a wonderful way to de-stress.

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