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Categories Infants, Routines, Sleep5 Comments

Eat. Activity. Sleep. You.

In case you haven’t heard or read about this, it’s a program/schedule for babies, named and explained by Tracy Hogg in her book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Basically, it outlines a 3-hr-ish routine of feeding, some sort of activity (bathing, changing, playing, tummy time, etc), and then sleeping… which is when you are supposed to have time for yourself. Easy, supposedly.

I do remember it being pretty easy with Toddler. Our firstborn had always been an easy baby. She ate and slept, at predictable intervals, in predictable amounts. She started taking naps in her own room before 3 months, and was in her own crib through the night by 3.5 months. Life was an adjustment with a baby whereas there never was anyone else to care for but ourselves, but in retrospect there was quite a lot of time for all the things an adult might want to do, like watch TV, eat, pick up the house, interact with the spouse…

Now, enter newborn twins. I knew it would be bad in the first few weeks. And it was. It took both of us, nonstop, day and night. We split up the babies and each took charge of one, which worked out great at night because their feedings were unpredictable and staggered. All of us being in the same room just meant no one got any sleep. The babies were manageable that way, each waking just once in the middle of the night, albeit not at the same time. But the Hubs couldn’t do that forever, so I braved it and kept both with me in a cosleeper right around two months. The first couple nights of that was a nightmare, but it’s been pretty smooth sailing ever since. Somehow, the twins just know that it’s time to sleep, and they’ll hunker down for a good 6 hours starting around 10pm. So I’m usually up for 45 mins. around 4am, after which they’ll sleep again till 8ish.

Now they are 3 months old, and I’m expecting the daytime feeding/sleeping to be predictable as well. This, however, hasn’t been the case. I’ve been trying to let them fall into their own schedule, actually preferring that they’re staggered so that I don’t get bombarded with cries at the same time, but now I’m ready for some of that “Y”ou time. Thing is, they don’t sleep and wake up to eat. Sometimes they sleep and wake up to play. Sometimes they sleep and wake up crying just to go back to sleep. Sometimes it’s 2 hours, sometimes it’s 45 minutes. And NOT together. I suppose I could just force one to eat when the other one does, but the times I’ve tried that, the baby won’t eat. And I am very opposed to waking a baby from sleep, for almost any reason.

So there we have it. Our E.A.S.Y routine that looks more like a E.S.A.E.A.S. routine, without ever the Y part! Any tips on how I get them to do an E.A.S.Y. together?

lunchldyd is mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter whose schedule is set in stone and her 3 month old twin brother and sister who still need some training.

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The Rotten Ringworm Runaround

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Infants, Perspective, Pets, Routines, School-AgeTags , , , , 4 Comments

M snuggling her new kitten.We adopted this sweet little boy into our family in November. We also unwittingly adopted the ringworm he brought with him from the animal shelter. While our new kitten, Scout, has brought us much joy and laughter, his ringworm has brought with it a reign of tears and terror.

I’ve learned several things about ringworm:

  • Ringworm isn’t a worm. It’s a fungus. Either way, it’s nasty and gross and, like lice, something that can’t be completely avoided just by keeping a clean home and maintaining good hand-washing habits. If your child interacts with others, she runs the risk of bringing home lice; if your pet has ever been outdoors, he runs the risk of ringworm.
  • Some strains of ringworm defy all attempts at identification. Our little boy’s failed to glow under UV light and didn’t initially make his fur fall out, so the vet misinterpreted the lesion I pointed out at our first visit as a bite from another kitten at the shelter and gave the all-clear for him to interact with my kids. I should trust my gut.
  • This stuff is contagious. All three of the humans in our house had a red itchy patch or two within 3 days of the new kitten’s cuddles.
  • Washing bedsheets every night, plus vacuuming and disinfecting even a single room every day is overwhelming and all-consuming.
  • A ringworm infection to the scalp can’t be treated with topical ointments alone. My poor little J had a bald spot on her head, which I’m thankful can be hidden inside pigtails as it grows out. Our pediatrician referred us to a dermatologist, and J now has a nightly bowl of ice cream to mask the taste of the pulverized pill (griseofulvin) she has to take every day for a month.

We’ve literally been fighting this thing since November. The kitten received weekly lyme sulfur dips as well as a liquid suspension of the same meds J is now on. He’s currently completely free of ringworm, but has to stay in isolation in my bathroom. He was clear in January, too, but I made the mistake of letting him interact with the girls, and he contracted a fresh round of ringworm from them. Thankfully, our adult cats have thus far made it without become hosts for this nasty parasite.

M has developed eczema on the spots where ringworm used to reside, and J is beginning to do so too. We’re all using antifungal shampoo, just in case. I’m exhausted, and I hardly have the energy to give the kitten the attention he needs once my human children are in bed.

A pharmacy worth of medications is accompanied by a typed schedule with a column for each of 6 people and cats.I’ve trotted out a technique I used with newborn infants. I’ve written up our medication schedule and posted it by the meds.

I keep reminding myself that all this is nothing compared to what we went through after bringing our 33-week preemies home 6 years ago. The need to keep on top of a schedule and maintain a sanitary environment was much more critical then. I was getting way less sleep. I had far less experience. This ringworm stuff is child’s play in comparison.

When the girls were babies, I had a notebook in which I wrote down every diaper change and every feeding, since in my sleep-deprived state, I feared double feeding one baby and forgetting to feed the other. It also helped coordinate things between me and my husband. I’d take my notebook with me to visits with the pediatrician.

This ringworm thing? I don’t need a notebook to keep track.

This, too, shall pass.

What techniques have you developed to manage parenting multiples? How do they translate to the rest of your life?

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Awaken Imagination

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Categories Routines, School-Age, SleepTags , , , , , , , , , 5 Comments

It’s still dark when I step into my daughters’ room. I find myself tiptoeing, even though I’m there to wake them for the day and noise is my friend. Much as I need to wake the kids, I dread the tears that will accompany their rise.

Everyone in our family has to wake up painfully early for work and school. We’re up at 5:30 Mountain Time in El Paso, allowing me to start telecommuting to my job at 8:00 Central Time. (I get easily confused about what time it is.) M has been struggling particularly hard this week. Her environmental allergies have left her completely exhausted, poor thing.

I’ve used all the tried and true techniques to get her to wake up happy. I’ve climbed under the covers with her and wiggled her toes. I’ve played her favourite music at her bedside. I’ve put her socks on her while she sleeps to grant her a few extra moments of sleep. I’ve asked her about her dreams. None of this have kept her from tired, self-pitying tears and anger at having to go through the morning routine.

Mommy's helper in waking the kids with a smile on their faces!

This morning, something finally worked. I asked M to tell me not about her own dreams, but about her stuffed toy du jour’s. She has a Care Bear, the music one (Heartsong), that she has named Fuey. (The naming of toys is a discussion for another day.) She was instantly awake.

“Fuey had a dream about going to my school, which is my work. She is going to my work to participate in my choir club. She’s going to be the audience. She dreamed of wearing her Easter dress and sitting with Caitlin who is her favourite my friend because Caitlin loves her. Mommy, I’m awake! I’m ready for the big light! I need to brush Fuey’s teeth. I will squeeze the toothpaste just to let air out which is imaginary toothpaste and brush her teeth!”

That’s the little chatterbox I had been hoping to see! She finished breakfast on time, managed to navigate a disagreement over shoes without tears, and got on the bus cheerful and ready for her Friday. I’m just hoping she’ll remember to turn her homework in.

What helps you get your kids out of bed in the morning or, for those you with early birds, keeps them in?

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Governed by Clocks

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Categories Routines, WorkingTags , , , , , 4 Comments

Robin Williams is credited with saying, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'” Last weekend’s “spring forward” time change here in the US was a major party pooper. We groaned at the prospect of a 23-hour day as we dutifully turned all our clocks forward an hour.

We’re a routine-bound household. Between my 40-hour work week, my husband’s much longer and less predictable hours — nights without a text or two from work between midnight and 5:00 am are a rarity — and our daughters’ school schedule, there’s not much wiggle room. We expect J and M to be under their covers at 8:00 pm precisely; “Eight zero zero” was the first time they learned to read on a digital clock. We don’t vary bedtime on weekends, staying up past 8:00 only for very special occasions, like the first night that the grandparents arrive for a visit.

The hour time change pushes the girls’ wakeup time from the horrendous 5:45 am to what our bodies tell us is the even uglier time of 4:45. On Friday and Saturday, we shifted lights out to 7:30 pm to prepare for the switch, but wakeup time on Monday morning was brutal. Poor M reported that there was “something wrong with [her] eyes,” as she struggled to start her day. J just wrapped her blankie around herself and stared at the floor as she waited for her brain to switch on.

Things weren’t much better for the girlies the rest of the week, and waking up wasn’t any easier for me. I may have hit the snooze button a time or 5 this morning.

The logic behind Daylight Saving makes some sense: get an extra hour of evening sunshine. The problem at our house, though, is that the morning is what sets the mood for the day. If we start our day grumpy, tired, and out of sorts, we’re not too likely to think much of the afternoon sun. In addition, we live in Texas, where summers get very hot, so Daylight Saving actually means less outdoor time at the end of the day.

When J and M were younger, I had an elaborate plan to adjust their bodies’ clocks, 15 minutes per day over 4 days. This year, we threw them in the deep end, and we’re all paying for it.

Good night. My clock says it’s bedtime even though my body doesn’t.

What are your feelings on Daylight Saving? Do you have any techniques for making the switch easier on your kids? Do they even notice?

Sadia, her husband and their 5-year-old twin girls live in El Paso, TX. He is a soldier, she a software geek, and they first graders.

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Introducing Your Twins

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Categories Family, RoutinesTags 8 Comments

I’m always puzzled as to how to introduce my twins. I already consciously say “These are my twins…” because I try to head off that ever annoying question “are they twins?” but I’m always torn with which order to introduce them. Growing up my parents always introduced us in age order, oldest to youngest, and that made sense to me. Yes, I know one of my children was technically born first but only by a minute. Should that minute make such a difference? Then we could get into the gender issue but I’m not sure I’m clear on that. Should it be ladies first or like when you meet a couple it is usually the guy first?

Most of the time I end up saying “David and Elizabeth” because I like the way it flows better. Just when I think I’m comfortable with that order, then I have to sign a greeting card and I run into the same issue. I try to be random in the order I list them hoping that it works out to half the time naming Elizabeth first and the other half naming David first. I’m not sure I have even come close to making it 50/50.

Which order do you introduce your twins or sign their names on greeting cards? How did you decide that was going to be the order?

Meredith is a mother of b/g twins, age 17 months old.

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Who's In Charge Here?

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Categories Behavior, Overnight, Parenting Twins, Routines, Sleep6 Comments

The other night, during one of our now typical epic bedtime failures, I started laughing so hard at the scene in front of me, thinking about Super Nanny – I think, at least, it’s her that says this — looking at me and my husband and asking with great disdain, “Who’s in charge here?” The girls were running wild, jumping on their floor beds, throwing themselves against the wall, tossing their Mr. Potato Head parts down the stairs, strangling each other and frantically rocking the large rocking chair while yelling, “Rock! Rock! Rock!!!” It was 9pm and nobody was going to sleep any time soon.

You see, I am a little overwhelmed. Lots of traveling + moving into a new house + a new clingy phase = absolute mayhem around here most days and nights. My girls refuse to sit in their new high chairs or sit down in the bath. They demand me and my lap constantly. They have suddenly begun waking every four hours screaming for bottles that just a month ago were almost completely eliminated from our routine. And as of two weeks ago, the only way I can get them to go sleep is to lie down with one on either side of me and let them flop around for an hour while they slowly settle themselves. I won’t even discuss naps, which occur only while wasting endless gallons of gas in the car.

How did I get here?

After losing a key piece of one crib during our recent move, I took it as a sign (brilliant!) and made a rash decision to abandon the cribs entirely (my girls are 19 months old) and transition to floor beds. Yes, yes, I know: all the HDYDI ladies have strongly recommended against beginning this transition too early. But I liked the Montessori-inspired floor bed idea, and I figured that having the beds to play on during the day would be a treat.

I also figured that giving them a bottle of milk at 6am when they woke would yield two additional hours of sleep for them and me in the morning. Though it worked for two days, my excellent idea has since backfired royally, with the 6am bottle slowly creeping back toward 2am, and a new round of screams/demands for “Babas” occurring at 6:30am. Of course, full wakefulness follows, and I’m now getting far less sleep than I got five months ago. As for their complete refusal to sit in the bath or high chairs and their propensity to hurt/attempt to murder each other every 15 minutes, I am blaming my 18-months-is-the-new-terrible-twos theory.

I know we need to institute some order and calm in our family. I know because I have cried three nights in a row and have poured myself increasingly larger glasses of wine each night after their long protracted bedtime. I know because my husband and I are sniping at each other like we did in those first sleep-deprived weeks/months of their infancy.

I know I need to wean them from their bottles and get them to stop demanding milk meals during the night. I know I need to re-Ferberize them (we did it with great success at 14 months). I know I need to figure out what in the hell I’m doing about their sleeping situation, and commit to these floor beds or find/buy the missing crib part and revert back to cribs.

I pride myself on being a laid-back mom, but somehow in the last few months my relaxed attitude has not served me well. I need to pick my battles and fix something, because many things in this situation are broken.

I think I’m going to start by working on reducing the amount of milk they drink during the night. Baby steps! And I’ll continue to enjoy liberal pours of red wine in the evening and that really great chocolate and tell myself that this, too shall pass. One day I’ll be in charge again!

So how do you all right the ship when it’s gone off course? How do you control the chaos and prevent it from controlling you?

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A Mother's Belief

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Categories Family, Mommy Issues, Routines4 Comments

A Mother’s Belief

Hi! I’m a wife to a talented carpenter, I work part-time as an RN, I’m a mother of three and am originally from Finland. I’ve been in the US since 2000 (at age 8 I informed my parents that when I grow up I’d move to America and marry a black man). Well, my husband is not black but he tans pretty well!  We’ve made our home in the outskirts of Boston and are enjoying the adventures that come with 3 little ones.

I always knew that I would be a mother. It took me longer than I had planned or dreamed of. I thought I’d be married by 21, have kids by 25 and then raise them up when I still had lots of energy. Life doesn’t always go as I plan. I was 30 when I got married, 31 when our first child was born and 32 when the twins came. Talk about not having ‘lots of energy’.

Being a mom came very naturally to me (after all I had planned my whole childhood that when I grow up I’m going have 100 children!). Of course there was physical tiredness but that was expected. I didn’t go out much with three little ones but again that was expected. I didn’t sleep many hours in the first year but it didn’t bother me too much. We still had lots of sex and I still cooked good dinners so my husband was happy. Our lives formed to be very family-oriented and we liked it.

Nathan is now 4, Joshua & Beth just turned 3 yesterday. They are full of energy, from before the sun rises until when we tell them it’s time to go to bed and that reminder is most often greeted with piercing cries of ‘one more game! One more story! One more show!’ It seems that the calmness of the ‘baby time’ has disappeared (you know, how they’d stay where you set them down, how they didn’t protest when you dressed them up, or didn’t throw a fit when the meal was, once again, breast milk or how they didn’t talk back to you and question your every decision). I suspect that they have meetings in the middle of the night on how to outrun us. They seem to take turns in finding ways to get in trouble and test our unconditional love for them (like that time when they made ‘art’ to their playroom walls or the time they cooked dinner in a play kitchen with water from the toilet and flooded the entire basement in the process, twice!). They’re cute and they’re adorable but keeping up with them is so utterly exhausting, in so many levels. I don’t mind the physical tiredness that much but I would give a lot not to have to do (or say) same things over and over again throughout the week (who am I kidding, I repeat myself several times a day!). There’s the regular and mundane stuff that happens at every house; the kitchen with its many visits during the day. The dining room floor is clean only couple hours or so between meals and snacks and tea parties and picnics. There are the strong verbal protests against or lobbying for what we’re eating or not eating (and yes, they all like different things. I pat myself on the back almost daily for deciding to deal with dinnertime protests with simple ‘Sweetie, remember how you don’t always need to like the food we eat? Maybe tomorrow is your turn to like the food. Now go on and finish your plate’). The toys are scattered everywhere despite of my pre-baby plans to keep them in the basement, organized just like they are pictured in the Pottery Barn catalogues (yeah I know, was I naïve or what?). There is setting up for crafts and cleaning up after crafts, there’s bundling up to go outside and coming back in and did I mention the ‘I do it myself’s’? ‘No sweetie, you’re not old enough to slice your own bread quite yet’, ‘wahaaaaaaaaaa wahaaaa’. You’d think she lost a leg or something.

They’re bundles of joy and terror, bound together in such a way that it’s impossible to separate one attribute without getting little of the other in it. We love them, we’re so grateful for the opportunity to parent them but sometimes I wish we could package them up for a day and put them in storage. When I close my eyes I can see the pre-baby neatness of the house, the food that was always warm when we sat down to eat it, the bed that felt oh-so-good to sleep in on weekends, the spontaneous walks we took without having to spend half an hour getting everyone ready … but I don’t hear the little giggles of our daughter as she goes around playing ‘cute princess’, nor do I hear her twin brother reading books in Spanish (how DOES he do it? What happened to Finnish that I speak??) and I don’t hear our oldest ‘fixing’ my beautiful wood furniture and pretending to be ‘just like Daddy’. So I open my eyes and see the destruction and chaos and constant ‘noise’ that is now ever present in our home. Never mind how I sometimes wish it away, it is a sign of LIFE; that I have chosen to believe.

So dear HDYDI readers, what are your coping mechanisms and delusional thinking patterns that help you get through your days?


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Lazy Mama Preschool Tips

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Categories Parenting, Preschoolers, Routines, Theme Week, ToddlersTags 12 Comments

One year ago today I was in my kitchen doing dishes when I got a phone call I had been waiting weeks for.  My two year old son was on a waiting list to get into a Mom’s Day Out program, a list I put him on the day I found out we were having twins.  His sisters were 3 months old, and trying to care for infant twins while feeding the brain of a brilliant, curious two year old was proving to be a bigger challenge then I thought it would be.

The call came, but it wasn’t good news.  He didn’t make it off the waiting list.  I bawled.  I was counting on this 2 day program to fill my sons social and educational needs, while giving me a change to spend 10 hours a week caring for 2 children instead of three.  I lost it, and cried for the better part of the day.  But after I was done throwing my fit, I gathered myself and came up with a new plan to teach my son at home.  These are what I call my “Lazy Mama” tips for homeschooling a preschooler, because they require minimum effort and get maximum results.  And when you have 2 screaming babies, sometimes minimum effort is all there is!

1.  Put it on the Wall.  This is my best tip for getting your child to learn anything, simply put it on a poster on the wall.  I firmly believe that hanging the alphabet on the walls of your home will significantly improve your child’s knowledge of letters.  School supply stores have hundreds of learning posters to choose from, or you can make your own.  We hang up a few focus point posters in the dining room, and they become part of every conversation simply by being there.  My son knows all the basic geometric shapes, numbers 1-20, all the letters and every sound they make.  Why?  Because he spent a year staring at them on the wall.  Try it, this really works.

2.  Make it part of the routine.  In those early days I would spend the morning nap time with my son “doing school”.  He knew that as soon as the babies went to sleep, it was his time.  Sometimes it would be a structured activity, sometimes we would sit at the table playing with play dough.  Sometimes we would be in kitchen making cookies or in the living room playing blocks.  It was all learning, it was all one on one.  Because we were dependent on my daughters taking a good nap, the amount of time varied from 20 minutes to an hour or more.  That was ok, because we still did some sort of learning activity every day.

3.  Be flexible and creative.  Use whatever you have around to to teach your children something.  Are you driving in the car?  Play a shape game and ask your children to find shapes in the objects around you.  Are you at the grocery store?  Play find the letters and have your child identify the first letter of each item you toss in the cart.  Help them practice their basic preschool skills wherever you are, whatever you are doing. 

While having a set preschool program, at home or away from home, is awesome, don’t let the lack of one stop your child from learning this year.  There are so many opportunities to teach your kid in everyday life. 

In January I finally got the call I was waiting for, and my son started Mom’s Day Out.  While I love that program and believe that it has been great for him to be in a structured learning environment, I think those first 6 months at home were good for us.  We learned how to be a family without the help of anything or anyone else.  And he learned so much at home, we was a little ahead of some of the kids in his class!  I would count that as a win for this Lazy Mama!


Dollimama is the mother of three, a three year old son and one year old twin daughters.  She spends her days chasing children and doing laundry.  She writes about the chaos of her Life Not Finished whenever she gets the chance.

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Weaning… at 27 months

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Categories Development, Parenting Twins, Routines, Sleep5 Comments

Spending the Easter long weekend helping my mom move meant that I missed my usual Friday posting, but it in the end it also provided the topic for this delayed posting.

In another example of parenting by accident, I forgot to bring the girls’ soothers with us to mom’s house. I realized this just as we arrived.  I briefly considered going out and buying some new ones, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to wean them from their soothers.  Being in a different context and being exhausted from playing outside with their cousins might be the perfect time to take on the soother challenge.

This was a completely new challenge for us.  Big Brother had used a soother, but when his teeth came in around six months, he stopped using it. We didn’t have to do anything to limit or terminate his soother use.  It wasn’t until I was shopping for soothers for the girls that I discovered that soothers come in different sizes.  They actually come in lots of sizes for mouths much bigger than newborn size.

So far, our approach to the soother situation had been to limit soothers to in bed and in the car where they would hopefully sleep.  A couple of months ago, I brought the soothers from the car inside to clean, and they didn’t get taken out again.  So, once again the parenting by accident approach, produced results. I’d been thinking about weaning at naptime as a next step, but with a new babysitter and naps getting less frequent I hadn’t made any definite plans.

I’m sure you’re anxious to hear how this project turned out.  Friday at naptime we explained that Nana didn’t have any soothers at her house.  There was some fussing and crying but they both eventually settled for a short nap.  By bedtime Friday, they were tired out from playing outside.  They took quite a while to settle to sleep.  We had to give another round of cuddles before they would settle to sleep.  Saturday they napped at their other grandparents.  Saturday night, there was a short discussion about soothers before bed but they went to sleep quickly.  Last night we repeated the same story about no soothers at Nana’s.  The test, of course, will be today when we are back at home. I’ll have to sneak in and remove all the soothers before the girls get inside and find them.  Hopefully, the long weekend of packing boxes will be worth it, and we’ll be soother free.  And as you can see, they don’t seem to traumatized by the experience.

Two soother-free little girls
Two soother-free little girls

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The 4:30 a.m. Rule

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Categories Mommy Issues, Overnight, Routines, Sleep3 Comments

On a recent post, Kristen asked about sleep training and multiples. We used, and are continuing to use, sleep training with our 4 year old singleton son and our 2 year old twins. I read Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child before our son was born and it has been our reference book ever since. When our twins were 6 months old, Dr. Weissbluth published a book on sleep and multiples, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins. (I was disappointed with his book on multiples because it didn’t provide as much practical advice as I had hoped. I think the original book has more information on sleep at different ages and on addressing specific problems, so I’d recommend starting with it.)

I can’t specifically remember what was going on at 9 months, but I know we established a sleep routine when the girls were about 6 months old and much earlier with our son. After dinner there would be baths some nights, then pyjamas, breastfeeding, sleep sacks and bed. The girls were used to this routine and settled quickly. They would usually both wake up to feed again before I went to bed. Then they would sleep for a longer stretch, sometimes until morning.

My husband is a night owl, and he would often bring the girls for another feeding before he went to bed. Timing these late night/very early morning feedings was important. If I was awake to feed them after 4:30 a.m. there was no point trying to go back to sleep. I would have slept long enough my body felt rested. I would be hungry enough I couldn’t put off going downstairs for a snack. By the time I was back in bed, I would be too awake to settle to sleep. My mind would start mulling over things, making plans for the day and composing email. I was better off getting up and doing something productive for a few hours before everyone else woke up. Usually I could make up for it with an afternoon nap with the kids.

Unfortunately, on the rare nights when the kids are awake in the night, the 4:30 a.m. rule still applies. If I’m awake, I might as well just get up. In fact that’s why I was up at 5:30 yesterday morning.

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