Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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Categories Childcare, Development, Parenting Twins, Preschoolers, Theme WeekTags 9 Comments

“So are you putting your twins in different classes this year?” This is a question I am often asked (right after “are they identical,” and “do twins run in your family?”) Not only friends or other moms of multiples, but strangers on the street want to know my school plans! At birth, I could never imagine a time where I would want them apart. They were preemies, they were perfect together, they NEEDED each other in a way my singleton did not.

As toddlers, I read every article and sought out all opinions on separating twins at school. I was determined to keep them together: kindergarten is so big, the day is so long, my older daughter was slow to adapt to kindergarten, and I just thought they would benefit from each other’s support in the classroom. Fast forward four years: the boys are more different than they are alike, and while both have strong personalities, one is more outgoing and social, the other longs to be included.

This September, my boys will begin their “4s” year at a small, cooperative preschool in separate classrooms. They were together the previous two years, so this will be a new experience for all of us. However, being apart for the 2.5 hour preschool day will give them an opportunity to establish their own skills, likes and dislikes, and friendships, instead of being thought of as a unit by teachers and friends. Things have changed–as a Mom I have grown to appreciate and celebrate their individualness and want them to learn independence in preparation for elementary school. Their elementary school is big and the principal encourages separation of twins.

In the back of my head, I hold this experience as a test for myself–if this experiment truly bombs and both boys are unhappy, then I will fight tooth and nail to put them together for kindergarten. If one boy is unhappy and the other one is fine, which is one of my fears, I don’t know what I will do. Not to mention my fears for the rest of their education and beyond: what if one has a great teacher, and the other has an okay teacher, and they do not receive the same educational opportunities? Ugh.

This was not an easy change of heart, and my stomach still clinches tight when I think about it. I have come to see how my thoughts of them as “brothers who happened to come out at the same time” impacts all aspects of their lives and putting them in different 4s classes and eventually kindergarten follows this path. Is it the right choice? We will have to wait and see.

So, when are you planning to separate your multiples?

Leslie is a freelance writer and mother to an amazing 7 year old girl and two adventurous 4 year old boys who is counting the minutes until school starts.

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Daycare Passage

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Categories Childcare, Development, Relationships, Theme Week, WorkingTags 6 Comments

Our daughters were born 7 weeks early. We were somewhat prepared for that possibility. We joined a Lamaze class for couples with May 2006 duedates, even though our twins weren’t due until July. We assembled M and J’s cribs at the beginning of the third trimester. We interviewed and selected our daughters’ pediatrician well before they were due.

We had not, however, made childcare arrangements. All my research showed that we could expect our babies to be in the hospital until around their duedate, regardless of whether they were preemies or full-term. The doctors and nurses led us to believe the same in the whirlwind surrounding the arrival of our 3 lb 9 oz and 3 lb 6 oz newborns.

There was never any question about whether I would return to work after having children. I love being a mother, more than I ever imagined I could love any role, but I also love my job and my coworkers. I am built to be a better, more patient, more creative parent when I spend my weekdays interacting with adults, and my husband was born to be both a father and a soldier. I deeply admire parents who choose parenting as their primary career, in large part because I know I couldn’t hack it.

Once I had taken the requisite 2 weeks to recover from my C-section, I needed to decide what to do with the remaining 9 weeks of parental leave I had at my disposal. If I waited out the 5 weeks more we expected J and M to be in the NICU, I’d have only a month left to establish a routine, adjust to being a mom, and master breastfeeding before returning to work. Almost equally challenging, we would have to make daycare arrangements in a hurry, because we’d been anticipating that the girls would be 2 to 3 months beyond their due date before needing to start daycare.

I’d decided to go back to work while the babies were in the hospital when our lovely nurse, Michelle, stopped me. She told me quietly that our daughters were doing unusually well for preemies, and that they would likely be released long before their due date. They ended up coming home at the tender ages of 16 and 21 days.

We were going to need childcare 4 weeks after their original due date, instead of the 12 weeks we’d anticipated. All of a sudden, we were in a scramble to find the right place. We were absolutely unwilling to sacrifice quality in the interest of expedience. After all, our newborn treasures would be spending 10-11 hours a day in the care of strangers.

We wanted a formal childcare facility, rather than in-home daycare. We just couldn’t afford the possibility of a single careprovider getting ill or having some other emergency that rendered them unavailable when my husband would soon be headed to Iraq and I’d be parenting solo. I started with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ childcare search and scoured the violation reports. Only once I’d reviewed each centre’s history did I schedule visits.

We got lucky. Early on in our search we landed our home for the next 5 years. Its inspection record wasn’t spotless, but the only ding was that their infant changing table lacked a safety rail on all sides at their first inspection, a problem that was corrected within the week. The children we met at our visit were well-behaved but boisterous. There was clear affection between every teacher and every child. The facilities were clean, and our questions were answered directly. The older kids’ classrooms were organized, colourful, and proportioned for children, with posters at a child’s eye-level. The infant room contained a rocking chair for nursing mothers who wanted to breastfeed at dropoff or pickup. They would fully support my bringing expressed breastmilk and, later, homemade baby food.

It’s 5 years later, almost to the day, and today is the girls’ last day at their daycare. Their beloved teacher from the infant and toddler rooms is now the assistant director, and still finds a way to fit in a hug for each of them every day. J took her first steps within the walls of the school to which we will only return as visitors. M and J potty trained there, and learned to read. They learned about death, and grief, as well as security and love, and are now ready to move on to kindergarten.

In a lot of ways, it’s harder for me to leave this family of ours than it is for our daughters. Elementary school will be an altogether new adventure, and J and M are bringing with them all the skills and traits they developed at daycare. They’re off to a great start, and the gifts of their pre-school will be with them forever. If their elementary teachers are half as invested in our girls as their teachers have been thus far, we’re golden.

What are your childcare arrangements? What were your options, and how did you choose? What worked and didn’t work for your family? Was it different for each child? Did you experience additional challenges because of the increased uncertainty of birthdates associated with a multiple pregnancy?

If you’re currently expecting, what would you like to hear from parents who’ve been through the childcare selection process?

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Embracing the Inevitable and Unexpected Interruptions

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Categories Childcare, Mommy Issues, Parenting Twins, Working5 Comments

Recently, between working at home, volunteer work, and family responsibilities, I had one of those days with a to-do list that would take a week. I’m sure you’ve had those days too. I knew my time was precious because my husband was going to be travelling for work, my backup childcare (Nana and Auntie B) were out the country, and my other babysitting options were dealing with their own major issues. Of course, on top of that, our babysitter had a family emergency and had to be away.

I had two choices.  First, there was my usual strategy, if I couldn’t get someone else to watch the kids.  I would get them started on a craft or game that would keep them busy without much help from me. I would then try to get as much work done between interruptions.  I would hope that everyone would take a long nap, and then “let” them watch a DVD so I could get a little more work done before my husband got home. I’d pass of the kids and spend the evening hiding out in my office. By the end of the day, I’d be tired, frustrated and still have lots to do.

But, after a lot of recent exposure to self-help, inspirational talks about embracing the moment and living in the present, I decided to try a different way.  I put my laptop away, got down on the floor with the kids and spend the morning building trains and playing with babies.  I set the work aside – really, I wouldn’t get that much done anyway – and embraced the chance to spend an unexpected day with my kids. I looked at the time as an opportunity to do things I wouldn’t usually make time to do. So, we made a rice cake faces for lunch. The kids loved the fun lunches and the undivided attention from mom.  I admit I did still work frantically through naptime and in the evening, but during the day, we enjoyed our time together.

Rice cake Faces for lunch
Rice cake Faces for lunch - Yes, you can do this to. I'll post the instructions if you'd like.

I’ll admit that this approach worked well the first day of without childcare. Quite a few planned and unplanned days without childcare later, I have not really improved my ability to put my work aside and embrace the moment. In some ways, instead of getting easier with practice, it is getting more challenging as the work piles up. In other ways, I realize the work will be there when I get to it, and I’ll get more done in one hour focused on work during nap time than I will in a whole morning of trying to work between dressing baby-dolls, finding missing train pieces, and wiping noses. The most important lesson for me is that when I’m focused on one thing, I am much better at.  I feel more productive, I feel less frustrated and I enjoy it more, whether it is playing with my kids and impressing them with my artistic lunches, or working online and supporting my students in their learning.

How do you deal with the inevitable and unexpected interruptions to your plans?

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let's collaborate on a tip sheet re: why it's important that my child's teachers can recognize him

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Categories Ask the Moms, Childcare, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , 21 Comments

Thank you for all of your advice and support after my last post[-ing binge], regarding my suspicions that my boys’ kindergarten teacher has mixed them up more times than is really excusable.

After taking some time to cool down, I’ve decided:

  1. Their teacher is a good teacher. She is kind, she works really hard, and she cares about the kids.
  2. Ignorance regarding the importance of facial recognition seems to be widespread.

To turn this into a useful experience, I’ve decided to compose a letter/pamphlet/flyer/something to hand over to the principal or the local board of education, that explains why it is so important to learn to identify look-alike twins, triplets, etc. by sight.

I’d also like to touch upon some tips or information along the lines of: What do I wish my kids’ teacher/s knew going into the school year?

If any of you have experience putting your multiples in daycare, preschool, camp, elementary school, or beyond, please comment (or email, if you’re shy) with your tips and suggestions. Or share ideas based on your own experiences, if you are a twin or triplet.

My email is jen.diagnosisurine at gmail.com, but consider posting a comment because your thoughts might spark some ideas for other readers. It would be great if we could come up with a piece that we all could use as we’re putting our children in new situations.

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This is how I imagined it would be

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Categories Childcare, Mommy Issues, Parenting Twins, Potty Training, RoutinesTags 4 Comments

Earlier this week as I planned what I would write today, I frequently came back to the idea that being at home with my children was not how I had imagined it would be. I finished my time as student and our nanny’s contract ended in December, so I decided I would take some time at home with my children. I don’t know if it was the excitement of Christmas, the changes in routine of the holidays, the cold weather that kept us inside, my expectations about what I get done each day, the appointments and activities we had scheduled, the transitions into the “terrible twos” (times two!) or the physical effects of diet, sleep and exercise patterns, but things were not going as I had imagined.

But today, things seemed to get on track. My son (Big Brother or BB) got up and came down for breakfast with a smile on his face. We enjoyed our breakfast together. I cuddled my three children (and their three babies) on the couch and we read stories together. The girls (R and S)  took turns examining each other and their babies with the medical kit. BB planned a pretend birthday party for us, and he sang happy birthday to each of sisters (after asking me “what name is this baby?”). That seemed like a perfect time to have snack, so they had the homemade muffins we made yesterday sitting together in the living room.  My son vacuumed up the crumbs, while R and S took the dishes into the kitchen. Everyone helped out.

For lunch, we made cornmeal muffins with leftover chicken and vegetables. They were thrilled with muffins for a main course, even though lunch was a little later than usual. BB stayed upstairs for his required quiet time, and I got to have some time to eat my lunch by myself. R and S settled for nap, and slept over an hour.

When quiet time was over BB played independently for a while. When the girls finished their nap, they played fairly independently too. I showed BB how to play a counting game on the computer (also good practice for his fine motor skills), and I had a few minutes to sit down and look at a new cookbook I got for Christmas.  Dinner was leftover soup I made in the crockpot yesterday, so there was no panic to get food on the table for dinner.

We accomplished quite a bit during the day. I worked with R and S using the techniques from speech therapy. We worked together to label with new toy bins they got for Christmas. I’d been anxious to get this done, so it was a big relief to cross it off my to-do list. I got two loads of laundry done, which is the minimum required to keep up with recently potty-trained twins since I refuse to buy pull-ups for naps and bedtime. The kitchen was mostly clean before dinner after two loads of dishes. BB had vacuumed parts of the house, and most of the toys were put away in the toy bins.

The day wasn’t without its moments. I did have to intervene and take away a few toys.  There were a couple of accidents, and some poopy training pants. I had to threaten to put the girls in playpens before they quieted for naptime, and my son tried to disassemble the Learning Tower. There were a few flare-ups between the kids, particularly when I was on the phone.

But overall, something was different. Maybe things did go more smoothly. Maybe my expectations were more realistic. Maybe I’m getting better at integrating what the kids need with what I want to accomplish. Maybe we’re all getting in to a routine, especially when we don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. Whatever happened, today is much closer to how I imagined things would be.

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How do you do it?

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Categories Childcare, Family, Mommy Issues, Preschoolers, WorkingTags , 19 Comments

*** The photos are from a recent trip to a pumpkin patch with a our local multiples club.  As you can see, my kids aren’t at all worried about the questions that are occupying my thoughts. ***


Later this week, I’ll be finishing up my long career as a student. That means starting to look to the future and deciding what’s next. At this point, I have more questions than answers….

There are questions about staying home: Can our family manage on one income? Will I be bored if I’m just at home with the kids? Will we ever get ahead financially if I don’t work? How will we fill our days?

Enjoying the pumpkin patch
Enjoying the pumpkin patch

And questions about working: Is it worth the cost and hassle of childcare for three (22 month twins and 4 year old)? How would our children’s existing behaviour and speech problems respond to full-time childcare? How would I arrange all of our appointments (I took the children to 13 medical appointments last month!) and other commitments, and work full-time?

More fun at the pumpkin patch
More fun at the pumpkin patch

The logical solution seems to be to look for part-time work, contract work or something flexible that will accommodate my other responsibilities, namely my children. But with this option, there’s the risk that I’ll start my workday when my husband gets home. So that raises more questions: When will there be time for me? How will our relationship manage? Will I have energy left at the end of the day?

Everyone loves the pumpkin patch
Everyone loves the pumpkin patch

Another idea I’ve had is self-employment. I’ve designed some workshops for new moms, including one that deals with career options, and I’ve thought about offering them online. But, working for myself would also add stress since there would be no guarantee of income or financial security.

So, my question to you, is how do you do it? Did you/are you working? How are you balancing family and work? What suggestions do you have?

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Back 2 the Future: Baby, you’re so money.

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Categories Childcare, Feeding20 Comments

In trying to decide what to write about this week, I came across an email I’d sent my sister in May 2005, when my twins were almost 9 months old and my daughter was not quite 3. The email was 316 words of me freaking out over our family finances.

We were paying for part time child care for three kids, at the time. I’d taken a pay cut to have more flexible hours, and we’d bought a house and a minivan to accommodate our bonus baby.

Is it just me, or is money is a weird, big thing among families with multiples? Obviously the budget is tighter with each additional child, but also many multiples families are paying off fertility treatments and/or massive hospital bills from complicated pregnancies and premature deliveries. Then there is the gear – the more expensive stroller, the additional car seats, the second crib. The diapers. Oh, the diapers.

 Email excerpt:
“We are all out of money in both our accounts and we don’t get paid until Friday AND I haven’t even paid our bills yet except the direct withdrawal ones.”

Maybe (quite possibly) I am defensive. When we were on WIC (holla!) last year after my husband lost his job, I felt embarrassed cashing in three kids’ worth of food vouchers at once. Don’t breed ‘em if you can’t afford to feed ‘em, right? With each additional child I have felt an increased obligation to prove that we are financially solvent. I would like to prove it by dressing all four kids in adorable matching outfits from Gymboree, but alas, we are nowhere near that level of solvency. I’m just proud when my kids wear underpants that weren’t pre-owned.

Email excerpt:
“Where does all this money go?? I know we are spending a crapload on groceries now that the twins are eating solids and we are buying diapers for everyone… I spent nearly $300 on Saturday and I didn’t even get that much. What the hell??? How do people live? I just hope the boys start eating regular food soon, but right now if I give them anything even as big as a pea they start gagging.”

Because discussing money is uncomfortable, and because we know how lucky we are to have our babies, we gloss over the fact that we can’t pay our bills. We joke about hospital bills and the cost of daycare and diapers, but the same cuties that push the family budget into the red make it nearly impossible to answer, “Hungry and scared,” when someone asks how you’re doing. Because we’re lucky, and we know it.

Our financial situation has improved. We have one in diapers and one in pull-ups overnight, but we’re done with formula, baby food, whole milk, and sippy cups. But I wish I’d looked into assistance programs back then, when the babies were so small and expensive. I didn’t think we qualified, based on our income, but I didn’t know that childcare expenses are also figured in. Lesson: It’s worth a call to your local WIC office, if you are struggling. Also, hang in there.

 

Jen is the married work-from-home mother of 7-year-old Miss A, 5-year-old boys G and P, and 3-year-old Haney Jane. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

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Our Reality-Show Worthy Childcare Journey. So Far.

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Categories Childcare16 Comments

Rachel is the birth mom in a two-mom household with boy/girl 18 1/2 month old experts at the word “no”. You can read more about them at Motherhood.Squared
_________

I was supposed to write a post during our Childcare Week about childcare back in April, but the death of my grandfather scrapped my posting plans, and, as is the story of my post-kids life, I am just now getting around to certain things. Irreparably long-winded (you should know how much I struggle to twitter!), I’ve stream-of-consciousness written about our childcare journey, but if you are short on time, scroll to the bottom for the executive summary.

Technically, we have used childcare since the day they were born. We took advantage of sending the twins off to the nursery at night, bringing them in only for feedings. Bonding, shmonding. We’d have plenty of time for that later, said the veterans in my mother’s of multiples group.

Major high-fives to all the mom’s who did the newborn period and beyond without any help from family or hired assistance, and especially to those who did that solo while breastfeeding while also being a stay-at-home parent. I am not one of those people. BY FAR.

My mom stayed with us for nearly two weeks, and she was free. My mom, my partner, and I rotated shifts for feeding the kids round the clock while others napped. My mom was a huge support and help, but my sister and I joke that the experience aged her twenty years, and rendered her forever frightened of watching over any of her grandchildren alone. We think she’s afraid they’ll multiply.

Jennifer’s and my original intention was for me to keep the twins during the day until I went back to work (at 12 weeks), at which time they would go to group daycare. But we learned fairly quickly (around 3 weeks, I think?) that it was far too overwhelming for me (major twin reflux, wonky sleeping patterns (of course, they’re newborns!), and utter exhaustion), so we scrambled to find a part-time day nanny to help me during the transition back to full-time work. Through word of mouth, we found someone that we paid $10/hr. It was worth every penny, but not necessarily a bargain in the end.

Of course, as things go, the daycare we had planned to send them was delayed in renovations and suddenly did not have space. The daycare where we had been waitlisted a year before and finally secured two spots three months before birth, confirmed, and re-confirmed within two weeks after their birth. To this day, I still swear up and down that our “practice” day at the place, fueled with the kids’ reflux, scared the bejesus out of them and that’s why they suddenly couldn’t accommodate us. But anyway. Thankfully, the day-nanny was more than willing to work full-time. In fact, she wanted the job full-time, but we felt that for our family, group daycare was the better option. Plus, during the two months she was with us, she proved to be unreliable and I started tuning out her excuses (the bus was late, my kid had a teacher meeting, etc). The ones I couldn’t hear over the steam blowing out of my employer’s ears because of my “childcare issues”.

Scramble some more. Turns out there was a Montessori infant program at a place exactly 200 yards from my office building. Thanks to a second-sibling discount (always ask!), the cost of daycare leveled out at around $1600 per month and I dropped them off before work, and picked them up on the way home. It was perfect.

Until about a month later, when the ear infections began (five in three months for the boy, alone.) I would oftentimes stay home from work, or Jennifer would, but there were days with work that that was not an option. With no available family to help, we often had to use agency care (through an agency we were familiar with, at least that) at a cost of essentially $100-$150/day (averaging 3-4 days of illness per month between both kids), pushing our childcare bill up to an average of $2100 per month. And then add to that all the stress and anxiety of coordinating care and related arrangements. Suddenly, we just weren’t sure that group daycare was the best option. As it was, my work (mostly men who just don’t get it), was already becoming tense and layoffs had begun.

What with all the illnesses and up at nights and working full time, we found a night nanny to give us a few nights of relief the two week run of The Runs. Turns out she was looking for some day work through the holidays, and we were looking at any way to get the kids out of daycare, a stint that lasted from July 28 to Dec 5. We were glad it was a temporary assignment with her, though. As good as she was, she had kids of her own and there were school issues and illnesses for her to deal with. Oh, and that day that I had to talk to her about being on time and how she blew up at me, yelling and screaming, and then crying that she’s sorry and how her husband is traveling a lot and how she misses her kids and I missed the rest of it because my brain was writing “find. someone. else” 1,000 times on the chalkboard of my here-and-now. One thing about hiring individuals is that you have to be willing, able, and comfortable confronting issues as they arise. Having a nanny is not for the passive. Well, unless you are passive-aggressive, I suppose. Ha!

Nevertheless, during the few weeks she was with us, we were able to take our time finding someone to be a full-time nanny, specifically an agency-provided live-in. That was most definitely the least expensive option (only $400 per week). I took a vacation day to show her the ropes, and the next day Jennifer had off from work to do the same. But she was a tiny Nicaraguan who didn’t speak much English (language barrier issue for my partner), she was too short to reach over the crib, my son was almost as heavy as she was, and we have a two-story house that requires constant up-and-down. She was great with the housekeeping but lacked confidence with the caretaking and that made me nervous. I felt horrible for letting her go after only one week, safety first and all.

But what now? Well guess who called a few days into live-in nightmare: flaky unreliable nanny from the beginning. She was great with the kids, when she showed up. I was like “Ok, but this is your last chance. You HAVE to be on time because we HAVE to get to work.” WE WERE DESPERATE! So we rehired the original flake. And then after a couple weeks of stellar performance, she no-call no-shows. And proceeds to not answer her phone for several days. More last-minute agency paid childcare.

Finally, in mid-January of 2009, we were happy to find a full-time nanny, someone who was old enough to be responsible and have experience with multiple children under her belt, young enough to be able to keep up with the kids, and had no children of her own (a HUGE bonus because then there’s none of their kids’ issues to interfere with your own, ironic as that is). We knew what we were getting because for 5 months she had often babysat for us once a month on Saturday mornings so that I could run errands and cook (my partner works on Saturday’s).

Most nannies’ hourly rate for twins runs about $11-18 per hour. I work in a business-hour office, having to leave at 7a and getting home around 6p. At an hourly rate, that can get expensive. My partner is an independent contractor (a golf instructor) and has more schedule flexibility. We wanted an arrangement that would better suit our needs, and we were able to negotiate a weekly rate with our nanny for a fixed amount. Some weeks our nanny works 60 hours, but more often she works far less, but gets the benefit of a steady income stream. Which means we pay right at around what we were paying with daycare + sick day care, but without the anxiety, stress, and hassle of juggling it all. Plus, she does all the kid-related housework. The kids are happy, she sends me pictures and text messages and videos, and we all think we got a deal. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s the best arrangement we’ve had thusfar. Plus? NOTHING MORE THAN OCCASIONAL COLDS since December 2009. Knock. On. Wood.

We even get out to dinner every once in a while. Most babysitters in our area want $12-15/hr for twins. EVEN IF THEY ARE SLEEPING. So instead, we either ask our nanny to stay (we’ll buy her dinner or some other form of payment), swap with other parents in the neighborhood, or ask our neighbors if they’ll come over and watch TV (and then they borrow our SUV for moving stuff around, or I give them greens for their compost bin, or whatever we can barter).

Is this forever? No. We definitely want the kids in at least a part-time day program at some point. But first, we want to get through this winter/flu season. I still have anxiety over last fall’s experiences. So maybe closer to their second birthday. After crunching numbers a couple weeks ago, we I know that we can’t afford a full-time nanny/housekeeper AND part time programming for two children (for the purpose of expanding their days and play and experiences past our home). We’re not sure our nanny will want part-time work, though she does want to go back to school. Even so, we’re not ready for someone else to drive our kids around. We’re also contemplating a part-time program with one parent working part-time. We’ll see what the future brings.

So…Summary:

Our Family: two full-time, out-of-the-house, working parents
Kids: boy/girl twins, 18 ½ months at the time of this post
Average cost of childcare in area (Houston, Texas):
Sitters– $12-15/hr
Night nanny – $17-25/hr (the higher range tends to be through an agency)
Non-Agency Day nanny – $11-17/hr (to depend on the level of English fluency, whether or not the nanny has a vehicle, whether or not they are picking up your kids, the nanny’s experience, age of nanny, ages of children, who is paying taxes, and whether or not the nanny is also doing any combination of cooking and housework.)
Our childcare progression: nanny, daycare, ear infections and stomach viruses ensued, back to nanny in home.
Biggest pro: If they’re sick, they’re still home. Very reliable. No rushing out the door. It’s smooth. I’m not on a hit list at work anymore, at least not for childcare reasons.
Biggest con: we are paying more than we ever expected to spend on childcare, but at least it’s predictable.
Factors in our decision: remaining employed, stress, availability of a nanny the kids and we, the parents, are quite happy with overall.

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Back 2 the Future: So blessed/so depressed

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Categories Childcare, Family, Mommy Issues, Other people, WorkingTags 25 Comments

triumvirate of evil 020305
My twin pregnancy was diagnosed at our 20-week ultrasound. Our twins were healthy and the pregnancy was low-risk, as twin pregnancies go. We were flooded with congrats and well wishes from friends and family.

I spent the first week after the ultrasound in complete shock. Sometime during the second week, I calculated what our daycare expenses would be. By the end of that week, I was very, very depressed.

According to the multiples pregnancy books I read, this is normal. Knowing that only made it slightly easier to deal with. I felt so guilty for having to fight back tears when people told us how blessed we were. People told me how much they always wanted twins, and inwardly I felt that they didn’t know what they were talking about. We were going to be under tremendous financial strain, as the bonus baby necessitated a move from our apartment and an upgrade from our small cars to a minivan. Not to mention a double stroller, a second crib, second infant seat, etc.

Also, reading the statistics on multiples pregnancies is a terrifying pastime. I hesitated to think much about the babies or the future, especially in terms of happy glowing mommy moments with my healthy babies. I focused on gaining weight and getting through the day. I didn’t get excited about actually holding and meeting and having my boys, until the night before they were born.

To clarify, I don’t think I was in a clinical depression while pregnant with them, or postpartum. However, I felt very depressed and that feeling persisted for quite some time after they were born. By which I mean, there were many happy times, but there were also many, many times I cried and wondered why God had done this to us. When people told me how blessed I was, I thought about the long days listening to the babies scream while I tried to work from home. I thought about the hours upon hours my 2-year-old spent watching cartoons, and how many of her meals consisted of dry cereal or crackers. I thought about how many of my meals consisted of a handful of M&Ms or, if I had the luxury of time, a can of green beans. And I thought, if this is a blessing for me, it is a terrible punishment for my children.

Time has given me the gift of understanding of how quickly and how certainly things change. That first year after the twins were born, I lacked the perspective to understand that this was but a season, and it would change, and I would be able to enjoy my children and my family and my entire life so much more. I was focused on surviving the day-to-day, instead of enjoying the day-to-day. I’m not sure a mere change of attitude would have remedied that, given our circumstances, but it would have been easier to get through that intense first year if I could have but glimpsed the future.

Certainly, life with kids aged almost-three to seven is worlds easier than life with three under three. We still have our rough times, but they don’t compare to that first year. And now, because I have seven years of parenting under my belt watching how quickly kids flip in and out of unpleasant stages, it’s easier for me to let a few bad hours, days, or weeks roll off my back. My first round of having three kids under age three was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but soon after that it got to be a lot of fun having them so close in age. So much fun that I was thrilled to sign up for a second (much easier) round of three under three when my fourth child was born. And I was secretly a bit sad it wasn’t twins.

Jen is the married work-from-home mother of 7-year-old Miss A, 5-year-old twin boys G and P, and 2-year-old Haney Jane. She blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

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The ability to self-soothe begins to emerge around 61 months.

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Categories Activities, Behavior, Childcare, Development, Preschoolers5 Comments

At five years old, my twins may be the oldest reflected here at HDYDI. They make up for that by having the maturity and social skills of two week olds.

I’m kidding! Mostly. During their first year, they attended two home daycares until we convinced my sister-in-law to watch them. She continued until I quit my job to stay home, and since then the boys have tolerated several teenaged babysitters and one Wednesday night church program, but that is the extent of their exposure to people outside our family. Playdates have been met with violence – not against the other children, thank goodness. When confronted with *outsiders*, one of my boys hides behind me and punches me repeatedly in the posterior. This is his way of indicating, “Mother, I am anxious and would like to withdraw from the situation now, if it pleases you.” It’s a lot like baby sign language.

The boys, before they realized I don't actually attend preschool with them.
The boys, before they realized I don't actually attend preschool with them.

Anyway, the boys started preschool last Wednesday. The first day, parents were to stay and the boys were cautiously optimistic when they saw all the toys and play areas. When parents were ushered to the next room for a meeting, I hoped the toys would keep the boys comfortable. I hoped so, fervently, for the first 5 minutes of the meeting, until a teacher brought one of my red-faced, teary-eyed boys to the door and beckoned to me.

I spent the rest of the day as the only parent forced to escort her children through circle time — one boy burying his face in my neck with his legs wrapped around my waist; the other angrily punching me in the behind. I didn’t know what to do, so I just smiled extra-bright and sang, “Wheels on the Bus” and played Red Light Green Light like the boys and I were conjoined triplets.

My husband works second shift, so he handles preschool drop off. Thank God, because I don’t think I could take it. Days two and three of preschool went as you can imagine, with sobbing and screaming and clawing desperately to get back into the car. Apparently they calm down within a few minutes of Jason leaving, and they tolerate the rest of the day reasonably well.

P told me, “One time I started to cry, but I told myself, ‘I gotta pull it together!’ and then I was okay.” Now if only their mother could also master this skill, we’d be in business.

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