Do These Five Things for Yourself to Be a Better Mom

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Categories Making Time for Me, Mental Health, Mommy Issues, Perspective1 Comment

On any given day, between the hours of 7:30 am and 7:30 pm, my home is a lively place. It buzzes and hums with the mischief of three busy two-year-olds discovering their world.

I rush about the house, vainly attempting to keep up with them. I toss in a load of laundry here, break up a squabble over there, and generally try to keep my children happy and alive, and my house clean habitable.

At the end of the day, I sit down to dinner with my husband and reconnect. The time between bedtime for the kids and bedtime for the grown-ups is ours.

While I love time spent with my family, it is not always easy for me to find time for myself. I’ve learned that if I want to cultivate my own happiness, I have to carve that time out of a day that seems to already be whittled down to nothing.

Over the past two years of raising triplets, I have struggled to create space for my own needs. During the first year of the their lives, I almost lost myself entirely. As time passed, I slowly began to realize that the more I focus on myself, the more I am able to be a better wife to my husband and a better mother to my children.

While I’m nowhere near perfect, I have found a balance that works for me right now. I hope that these five ideas can help you to do the same.

Be a better mom by taking time for yourself.

Define self-care for yourself. Self-care means different things to different people. If you can’t identify what it is that fills your emotional bucket, it won’t matter how much time you set aside for yourself. You will never be satisfied. For me, self-care means finding silence to read or write. Seems simple enough, but finding peace in a home with three toddlers is not always easy. I have to work for it.

For you, self-care may mean spending time with friends, exercising, or cooking. It may be an annual beach vacation or volunteering at an animal shelter. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it suits you and that you are a happier person because of it.

Identify your best time of day. In Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before” she talks about the concept of larks and owls. People that prefer to wake early and those who would rather stay up late. It’s more of a continuum than a black or white concept.

I happen to be a lark, so getting up very early, while not always easy, is refreshing to me. In the evenings, I struggle to even make a coherent sentence after about 9:00. In the morning, I can get the same amount done about half the time. Also, I love drinking a cup of coffee that is piping hot to the last sip without having to toss it in the microwave.

Waking early isn’t for everyone. I am married to an owl, and he is sluggish and foggy in the mornings no matter how much sleep he gets. Everyone is different; it is just a matter of finding the time when you are your best and capitalizing on it.

Don’t waste your time on things you think you should be doing. This one was critical for me. The first year, I had a long list of things I thought I should be doing. I loved the thought of scrapbooking my children’s lives and pureeing their baby food. But, I constantly felt guilty about the untouched scrapbooking supplies sitting in my office. And, because I get no joy from cooking, I felt like making my own baby food was sucking all of my free time away.

Trying to fit these things into my already overcrowded schedule was making me unhappy. When I decided to focus on the essentials, the things that made me truly happy, managing my time became much easier and I felt more fulfilled.

Protect your time. Once you find the activity and time that work for you, protect it. When others ask you favors, or ask you to skip your obligation to yourself to help them out, find the strength to say no. It is so easy to treat this time as a luxury rather than a necessity. Remember how important you are and how important it is to your family that you are your best self.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Occasionally, a couple of days will slip by when I will hit the snooze alarm in favor of allowing myself a little more rest. That’s ok. Remember, this time is for you and you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, I don’t think there is such a thing. The best you can do is good enough.

 


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Evolution of Me Time

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When I had newborn twins, I considered snatching a few minutes of sleep or brushing my teeth to be enormous luxuries of “me time”.

Once I returned to work, the 11 hours of the day I spent at work or commuting was my “me time”.

When my daughters started sleeping through the night at 14 months old, the luxury of loading the dishwasher in one go was “me time” to me.

When my children grew responsible enough to be left unattended when I went to the bathroom, an interrupted potty break was “me time”… although it was rare, since the girls usually had something most urgent to discuss under the door.

When my daughters started sleeping for 10-hour stretches, reading for a few minutes before falling asleep was my “me time”.

When my marriage started to fail, a warm shower was my “me time”.

During my divorce, a stop at Sonic for chili-cheese fries before I picked the children up from school was my “me time”.

When I first became a single mother, my “me time” was while the children were in ballet class. This was my chance to chat with other parents, and sometimes to read. The children were afraid to go to sleep alone, so everything I did at home, I did with them. Even when I was at work, I was worried for them.

Now that my children are older, confident, and independent, I don’t need devoted “me time”. The kids help me with chores, or play together while I do things around the house. When we spend time with our friends, the children naturally wander into one room while the adults end up in another. The age groups intermingle and separate organically, and we all get our social fill. I consider my visits to the gym “me time”, but my kids enjoy that time as much as I do.

In a few short years, I am sure that I will consider any time that my girls can spare to spend with me my “me time”. This evolution of “me time” has reflected the evolution of my daughters. It’s bittersweet.


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

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Children Matter, But Not Above All Else

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Categories Making Time for Me, Marriage, Parenting, Perspective, Time Management53 Comments

My children are not the most important thing in my life. GASP! Okay. Deep breath. Let’s try this one again.

I have four incredible, messy, beautiful, frustrating, funny and crazy children. And they are not the most important thing in my life. There… I said it.

I realize that such a statement is not a popular one, so let’s go back to the title that children matter. My children matter so much to myself and my husband. They are the reason we wake up early (too early) every morning. They are the reason that my husband works hard at his wonderful job. They are the reason I chose to leave my job and stay home after the Twinkies (#3 and 4) were born.

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These four beauties hold my heart. So why aren’t they the most important things in my life? Three big reasons: doing so makes them the center of my world, my marriage, and taking care of their mama (me) matters a whole lot.

#1 – Making my children the most important thing makes them the center of my world.

The idea of making my world revolve around my children is a problematic one for me. Making them my sole focus puts unrealistic expectations on them and gives them the job of making me happy. They are children, they are innocent, and their only job is to be a kid, not to make their mama happy. Additionally, making them the center of my world takes energies away from my marriage and self-care.

#2 – Nurturing my marriage benefits my entire family.

Special K (my hubby) and I have built a strong foundation for our marriage, but that doesn’t mean that we can forget about it and count on it to be just as strong later on. We must put time and energy into our marriage. Whether they know it or not, our children need us to nurture our marriage so that they can grow up in a happy, healthy, two parent home.

In no way am I putting down single parents or divorced parents. As a child of divorce, I know what it feels like and I nurture my marriage in the hopes of protecting my children from such feelings.

If you’re a parent, you know that your child(ren) watch everything you do… everything. This includes how I speak to my husband, how he greets me when he returns from work, how we fight and how we make up. We know that our children watch our examples, and in putting my marriage first, I am (hopefully) teaching them how to model their relationships after ours.

Okay so how do we do that?

I’m going to delve deeper into this on a future post this week, but for a few quick ideas:

  • Date night in after the kids are in bed. Easy and free!
  • Utilize offers from family and friends of help, whether that’s bringing a meal, watching kids, or something else. If people in your life offer to help, let them!
  • Get creative! We are a single income family supporting 6, but we still make time (which sometimes costs money) for our marriage. Our last date was a trip alone to the grocery store! Sexy? No. Fun and loaded with non-kid conversation? Yes! There is no limit to how creative you can get. You just have to be willing to look at things differently and be committed to taking time to take care of your relationship.

We had children early into our marriage, but we were married first. This relationship is primary for us. Someday, if we do this whole parenting thing right, our children will leave our home as independent individuals and we will be left with just each other. After our children grow up, I want my marriage to continue and I want to know and love the man that I’m sharing an empty nest with. In order to do that, I have to put him and our relationship before our children… FOR our children.

#3 – Taking care of mama so that I can, in turn, take care of the children.

Oftentimes, I find that I take care of my family before I take care of me. I’m sure that I am not alone in this. For the last year, I’ve been dealing with a major health issue that has hopefully been resolved with recent brain surgery. I had to leave my children for three very long weeks while I left the state to receive my surgery and post-operative care. Since being home, I’ve had to let others take the lead while I ensure that I don’t overdo it. Obviously, this is extreme, but the point is still valid. If I didn’t take care of myself, I would have died. Then who would be their mother?

Okay, how about a more relatable tale? With my last (twin) pregnancy, I gained about 55 pounds. I nursed both twins so the weight came off quickly, but I knew that I needed to take care of myself to keep the weight off after weaning the girls. I found a gym with daycare options and pinched and tweaked our budget for a few months while we worked the membership into it. As soon as I got the membership, I went at least every other day. I found that when I was done at the gym, I felt stronger, healthier, and more emotionally available to my children.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that I am a better mother when I am healthy, well rested, etc. Perhaps you need 10 minutes to yourself to sneak in a walk after dinner when your spouse or friend can watch the children? Perhaps you need to skip a latte or two so you can get your hair done? Perhaps you need to go to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight so that you are better rested for your day tomorrow? Whatever it is, if you take care of their mother first, your child(ren) will have a healthier, more secure, happier life.

What things do you do to take care of your marriage/your relationship/yourself?

How do you encourage or remind yourself to take time for you?


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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Make Time for Mom: A Theme Week Kickoff

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Welcome to Making Time for Me Theme Week 2015!

This week of posts has been a long time coming. The HDYDI MoMs have been talking about getting it underway for over a year. Other priorities were more pressing and I couldn’t quite find the time to pull the pieces together.

That’s exactly what this week is about. As mothers, everyone and everything else comes first: our children, our spouses, our careers, our communities. Many of us remember to nurture everyone but ourselves. We all know that balance and mental health require us to include ourselves on the list, but it’s easy to let ourselves—our non-mommy selves—fall to the wayside.

This week, the exceptional How Do You Do It? writers are going to share our thoughts on the time we devote to being something other than mom. We’re going to talk about what we do during those fleeting moments. We’ll discuss the sacrifices we make to find time for ourselves and the sacrifices we make when don’t. You’re going to read a variety of perspectives because we’re all different and me time means something utterly different to each of us.

How Do You Do It? is, above all, a community, and we welcome your voice too. Share your thoughts with us here in the blog comments, or on our social media in response to our posts. If you’re inspired to write about your own thoughts and experiences making time for yourself, or have an older post that fits the discussion, please link it to our theme week linkup. Tell your friends!


Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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The Child is the Mother of the Mother

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My extraordinarily wise daughter M once said to me, “Your mommy’s mistakes make you a better mommy.”

She’s so right. My parenting approach is certainly informed by research I’ve read and discussions with other parents, but when I choose what to try, I am looking through the lens of my own childhood. Ultimately, of course, it’s the evidence I see of success with my own daughters that determines whether a particular parenting technique works for us. My daughters’ needs are where my parenting decisions end. My own needs as a child, though, are why my parenting decisions start.

This morning, I saw the wonderful Glennon, of Momastery fame, tweet this gem.

Be who you needed when you were younger. Let this be the point on which you balance your parenting choices.

My childhood affects my parenting at every level. I have the opportunity to avoid my own parents’ mistakes with my children. I hope that I have adopted the things that they did right. The way I parent my daughters, I try to be for them who I needed in a mother. Then I tweak the details to be what they need.

Education

My parents were fantastic at communicating to me the value of academic success and helping me develop tools to do well in school. I think that I have been successful in doing the same for my daughters. They love school, love to learn, love to teach, are unafraid to question and dig deeper, and read to a fault.

Balance

My parents valued formal academic education to the exclusion of all else. My mother was deeply angered by my pursuit of extracurricular activities, such as choir and yearbook, although she encouraged me to take Indian (Bengali) music lessons. I have chosen, instead, to encourage my daughters to pursue various interests. If their pleasures outside school impinged on their academic performance, I might make different choices, but for now I love their love for their friends, dance, sport, music, Girl Scouts, and play.

Consistency

The biggest fault I see in my own rearing was a lack of consistency. I was always afraid. I was an adult before I realized that my mother’s explosions of temper weren’t my fault. My father was sometimes there, but mostly travelling for work, and the only thing I could be sure of was that if he said he’d do something, he wouldn’t.

Long-term thinking

I always got the impression that my parents wanted to have a baby and forgot that the baby would grow. My mother did a great job of explaining menstruation and sex to me, but that was the only topic relevant to adulthood I remember discussing with either parent. My parents didn’t address matters of morality, religion, financial responsibility, career planning, marital success, avoiding peer pressure, or staying healthy. I have chosen to take a very active approach to preparing my children for independent adulthood. We discuss all these topics and I give M and J increasing degrees of freedom in each of these areas over time, allowing them to practice making increasingly adult decisions while I’m still around to catch them and help them work through mistakes.

Judicious sharing

I knew far more than I ever wanted to about my parents’ extramarital activities. My mother had no filter at all when it came to spewing poison about my father and the details of every other aspect of her life. I am honest with my children, but I protect them as best I can, sometimes by withholding my opinions where they wouldn’t be helpful. They are my daughters, not my friends, and I don’t seek comfort or validation from them. I protect their relationships with their father, stepmothers, and their families, regardless of what has become of my relationships with that part of the family or my opinions about their choices.

Acceptance

I never felt like I turned out to be who my parents wanted their daughter to be. I wasn’t Bengali enough, British enough, family-focused enough, demure enough, angry enough, and definitely not pretty or thin enough. I went to the wrong college in my parents’ eyes because it wasn’t Harvard or Yale. Forbes’ recent identification of my alma mater, Pomona College, as the top US college, felt truly wonderful because it validates my belief that I got the best possible education there, even if my parents were ashamed of my choice. I accept my daughters for who they are, and believe that my job is to help each of them develop the tools she needs to be the most successful M and most successful J she can be. It is not my job to mold them into a preconceived vision of success. Perhaps if my daughters were less naturally successful, this would be a greater challenge, but my kids are incredible. They’re smart, loving, loyal, strong, opinionated, curious, and beautiful. And so, so, funny. Our house is filled with laughter. I don’t remember ever hearing my mother laugh.

Positive external relationships

My mother grew up in an extended family setting and had trouble embracing the Western model of non-familial relationships for my childhood. She actively resisted my efforts to pursue friendships and mentoring outside the nuclear family. As a single mother, I know how important it is for my daughters to have a community of friends and mentors to draw from, as well as positive male role models in their lives. I encourage and enable their development of strong relationships with classmates, neighbours, teachers, their peers’ parents, and my friends. We have many family-to-family relationships, where all the adults and all the children love and respect one another. When J and M naturally pull away from me to develop their adolescent identities, I want my daughters to have positive, stable role models to turn to.

Traditions

My mother prides herself on being an iconoclast, a trait I certainly share with her. I’m not one to do things just because everyone else is doing it. However, I am able to see value in what everyone else is doing. We had hardly any family traditions, and I feel like I missed out. I have been thoughtful in creating traditions for and with my daughters, from our Christmas tree and Jesus’ birthday cake on December 25, to our nightly Q&A.

I have tried to be to my daughters the mother I wish I had. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it.

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Dimensions of Intelligence

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Categories Education, Parenting, Perspective, School-Age, Talking to Kids, Unique needsTags , 3 Comments

My children are smarter than me.

Allow me to define “smart” for my purposes. I am certainly more knowledgeable and experienced than my 9-year-olds. I am better read than they are and more able to find practical solutions to problems, whether academic or everyday. I am far better at explaining complex concepts to people than Misses Giggles and Distractable. My ability to critically examine an argument is currently, at age 36, quite a bit better than J and M’s at age 9.

M and J, however, have always been better at absorbing new concepts than I was at the same age. Their minds work faster and burrow deeper. They see connections and parallels that would have never occurred to me. I have no reason to believe that this general trend won’t continue. As far as I can predict, when they are 36 years old, their brains will process ideas more effectively and deeply than mine does today.

The only milestone I beat them to was reading. According to my mother, I read at age 2. J and M were 3 before they were reading independently.

The fact that my daughters are smarter than me makes me proud. Perhaps if I had fewer academic successes under my belt, I would feel diminished by being outshone by my children. Perhaps if I were less egotistical, I wouldn’t be confident that I am just as smart as I need to be. I’m not in competition with my children. My task is give them the tools, skills, and support to be the best M and the best J they can be. I certainly aim to be the best Sadia I can be.

I am not a trained teacher, but I’m a proud nerd and I love getting others excited about knowledge. When my daughters learn a new concept at school, I often expand on it with them at home. It was while doing this that I confessed to them, for the first time, that they’re both smarter than me.

The children were studying 3D shapes in their regular 3rd grade math class. They told me all they knew about rectangular prisms, pyramids and cylinders. I asked if they knew why they were called 3D shapes.

They didn’t.

A mom explains the third and fourth dimensions to her kids, and is at peace knowing that they learn more easily than she did at their age.

The “D”, I told them, stood for “dimensional”. They could think of a dimension as a direction that exists in a shape.

  • A dot has no dimensions because you can’t move around inside it.
  • A line has one dimension because there’s no room to turn around.
  • A plane, I told them using a piece of paper to illustrate, has two dimensions. You can go back and forward or side to side. By combining those two motions, you can get anywhere on the sheet of paper.
  • If you jump off the sheet of paper, you’re in three dimensions. That’s the world we inhabit. Back and forward. Side to side. Up and down. Ocean creatures experience the three dimensions more fully than we do, being able to move vertically with ease.
  • The fourth dimension, I told my girls, was time. That took a little more convincing.

I still had the 2D piece of paper in hand, so I rolled it up to illustrate.

Sadia uses a rolled up sheet of paper to explain to her daughters why time is the fourth dimension.

Imagine, I told them, that there was an ant walking around on my sheet of paper. His world is two-dimensional. He’s not aware of what’s off the paper. Whether the sheet is flat or curved until opposite edges touch, he’s moving around in two dimensions. Even if I wave the paper through the air, the ant probably doesn’t know that it’s being moved. His entire universe is that 2D sheet of paper.

We are similarly unaware of moving through time. Right now, we’re in the dining room, playing with paper. Count to three, and we’re in the same place in the three dimensions we can navigate, but in a new second in the fourth dimension of time.

How to visualize time as the fourth dimension.

J and M said that made sense. “I’m in a new time now!” exclaimed M. “And now… and now. And I hardly wiggled!”

J took the next logical step. “Is there a fifth dimension, mommy?”

“Yes,” I told her. “I’ve read about theories of physics that argue that there must be a fifth dimension.”

“Show me, mommy!” J demanded. “Explain me the fifth dimension.”

“Little J, I recognize the concept, but I can’t see it in my mind. Without a picture, I have to use words. My best explanation is to say it’s the next logical step in the ant analogy.”

“So the fifth dimension is of the parallel universes, mom!” J realized. “Why didn’t you just say that?”

“I didn’t say it because I didn’t understand it. I can’t see it clearly the way you can right now. I’ll do my best to create a metaphor and picture in my mind, but it’s going to take me some time.”

“Mom! It’s obvious,” J told me, more than slightly irritated.

“Sweetheart, you’re going to run into a lot of people who have a harder time understanding ideas than you. Please be patient.”

“But mom,” J pointed out, “you’re mom.”

“I know sweet girl, but as you get older, you’re going to know and understand more and more things that you’ll have to explain to me instead of the other way around. There’s a lot I don’t know, and a lot it’ll take hard work for me to understand. Some of those things will come really easily to you, and that makes me happy.”

I hope that this confession, made with confidence and without apology, showed J and M that it’s okay to be smart without being smartEST. That was a lesson that I struggled with. It was quite the blow to my ego to realize that I wasn’t the top undergrad at my college. I was “only” in the top 10% based on the very narrow measure of GPA. I’ve since learned that being seen as the smartest person in the room is no measure of success.

Doing my best — that’s how I now measure success, even if that fifth dimension escapes me. And for the moment, I’m doing my best to raise two little girls who are officially smarter than me.

The Dad Network
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Don’t Suffer in Silence. Ask for Help.

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I vividly remember attending a birthday party with my toddlers and leaving angry.

It was once of those first birthday parties that was very adult-focused. It was a celebration of having survived that first difficult year, rather than a multi-kid playdate. That makes a lot of sense. A 12-month-old likes routine. Having a bunch of people all over his house and yard is not his idea of fun at all.

While I spent the entire time chasing my twin daughters, swinging them on my hips, soothing owies, and serving them food, the hosts smoothly worked the crowd. The father, mother, and grandmother took turns tending to the birthday baby.

At the end of two hours, I was exhausted and I knew my daughters would fall asleep on the drive home. The only thing I’d eaten was a slobbery carrot shoved into my mouth by sticky little hands.

Chasing twin toddlers is not for the faint of heart!

My friend hugged me goodbye, saying, “I hardly got to talk to you!”

My eyes smarted with tears. How dare she? How dare she complain about my lack of good guest graces, not having lifted a finger to help me corral my two children? My husband was deployed. Other family was thousands of miles away. I’d shown up with a ratio of 1 adult to 2 kids. Hers was 3 adults to 1 kid.

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Perhaps if she’d held a child for two minutes, I could have used my newly available hand to shove hors d’œuvres in my mouth. Perhaps if she’d carried her baby over to where my little ones were exploring leaf piles, we could have had a conversation.

Now, with the clarity of retrospection, I realize that the failure was mine. I failed to ask for help. I’m sure my friend was intimidated by the competence with which I wrangled my rowdy pair. I’m sure that if I had just asked her to hold one of my girls so I could eat, she would have done so in a heartbeat.

Don’t suffer in silence. It’s not that people don’t understand. We just don’t know how to offer help.

Ask for help when you need it.

Your friends will appreciate the opportunity to help you out. I know this now from the other side. Nothing makes me happier than being able to help out a friend with young kids. My girls are now big kids, leaving me with two free hands. They love to help too. We bring 6 extra hands to the party.

Do you find it easy to ask for help?

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Toddler Thursday: Crazy Little Thing Called Sleep

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You know that boozy college friend(s) that everyone has? The one that always starts their story with “We were so drunk…”?

I am that friend. But, since I’m a mom, my stories start like, “I was so tired…” and, since I’m a mom of twins, my stories actually go more like, “I hadn’t slept in thirteen days…”

It sounds like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it’s not. Exactly. I can joke about it, but I truly realized how much of my motherhood has been colored by sleep deprivation when my brother-in-law, who is expecting his first child, came to visit. Always the baby-crazy one, I was happy to share whatever memories he was interested in hearing, and I noticed that I prefaced each story with a disclaimer: “at that point, I was so sleep deprived…”

To give you some context: my twins did not sleep through the night until they were just over two years old. They are now two and a half, and I can hardly believe the sleep trials we went through. I first realized how bad it was when I read an article about REM sleep, and how you normally don’t start dreaming until you’ve been asleep for about 70-90 minutes. I’d had the most intense dreams during my naps of 20-30 minutes, because my body would just crash. (For more on the interesting link between sleep-deprivation and vivid dreams, read this article).

For those of you who are still fighting the good fight, know that you are not alone! (But don’t expect me to go back there just to keep you company, because that’s just not gonna happen.) I remember hearing people casually mention that their precious angels slept through the night at six weeks AS IF THAT WAS PERFECTLY NORMAL, and I remember feeling very strongly that we could not be friends.

I refused to believe that such a thing as “STTN” actually existed. I grew resentful because I felt like I had paid my dues–I breastfed on demand, I tried to honor each twin’s individual timing, and I didn’t have unreasonable expectations for sleep (as did the moms of obviously fictitious sleep-through-the-nighters).

But two years?!?

Finally, it happened. It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but a slow process–for the twins, it was sleeping, but for me, it was actually about awakening.

Now that I can reliably get 6 or more hours of sleep each night, I feel like I am actually living again. I feel like life now should have the hashtag #nofilter, as opposed to all those #nosleep memories during infancy. The best thing, for me, about toddlerhood is–unequivocally and necessarily–sleep.

Once I read another twin mom describe the first couple of years as being ‘underwater’ and I do like that metaphor. Not that having your head above water is easy! With two and a half year olds, it now feels like I am treading water. All day long. And I don’t know about you, but treading water makes me tired–very tired!

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Twinfant Tuesday: Getting to Know Your Children

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Categories Individuality, Parenting Twins, Perspective, Twinfant Tuesday23 Comments

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Teddy Roosevelt warned us.

What you have is what YOU have.  Comparison to others can make you feel down,

There’s definitely some truth to that. If you measure your quality of life by comparing it to the lifestyle you perceive others to live, you’re going to be miserable. But how much more joy can be gained from realizing how good we have it?

Parents compare their kids. We compare them to ourselves. We compare them to their siblings. We compare them to their peers. We certainly compare them to statistical averages. “Oh no,” we say, “an average girl can say 50 words at 16 months and mine only says 40!” Or, “my boy already says 50 words at 16 months and the average boy only says 30. He’s a genius!” We forget that the child is a unique person, never intended to be the average of all children in her country.

Parents of multiples can’t help but compare our same-age children to each other. There’s a silver lining to this, though. The comparison highlights each child’s unique personality and quirks. You might not notice how athletic one twin is except in contrast to his more verbally precocious brother.

It's only when we compare ourselves to others that we see what is special about us.

I used to ask new parents what their baby was like. 99% of the time, they’d give me an odd look and shrug. “I dunno,” they’d say, “Eats, poops, sleeps. Acts like a baby.”

It was years before I realized that the contrast between twins had granted me the luxury of identifying their unique personalities well before they were talking. I knew who my twinfants were, in a way that many of my singleton parents did not know their children.

J and M at 12 months old were already demonstrating the personality quirks they have at age 9.

Shortly after J and M’s first birthday, I had this to say about them:

First of all, both M and J are very easy-going, cheerful, low-maintenance babies. They’re both extremely opinionated, love to play together, but can entertain themselves too. They’re affectionate, active and very very very very verbal. They know the rules, but they both enjoy pushing their boundaries. They both love to eat and are growing rapidly. They’re still very small for their birth age, but very advanced in their physical, linguistic and social skills.

8 years later, so much of this is true. My girls are cheerful and relatively low-maintenance. They’re opinionated and capable of playing together and apart. Their verbal abilities are off the charts. They still love to eat what they love to eat, although M’s repertoire is pretty limited. They’re still tiny, but are proven athletes, scholars, and great friends.

M is a people-pleaser. Around new people, or folks they don’t see too often, she definitely comes across as the dominant personality. She smiles and chatters and shows off. Even when she’s doing her own thing, you can catch her checking that the new person is watching her. She loves to explore new spaces, but she checks in with Mommy often for a snuggle.

This is all accurate. M puts herself at ease in new situations by showing off her strengths, usually in mathematics. She’s very aware of her audience when we’re out and about, which is why she’s so easily embarrassed by me.

She’s a pickier eater than J and some days will eat only bananas. She’s getting to be an expert at the sippy cup, so we’re hoping to stop bottles altogether soon.

She was already a picky eater. Well, that hasn’t changed. It’s just magnified.

[M is] quite careful when encountering new objects or acquiring new skills. She tends to figure out how to do things before she tries, and gets frustrated quickly if her attempts fail. For instance, if a toy she wants gets stuck behind something, she starts fussing immediately. Because she does learn how to do things before trying them out, though, she catches up to J very quickly on physical skills, and often surpasses her. For instance, she crawls much much faster than J ever did.

M continues to be a perfectionist, so much so that J skipped a grade while M stayed behind to work on her time management. The girls have an optional after-school cultural performance this week. J can’t wait to get on stage. M is declining to participate because she doesn’t think the class had enough practice to perform to her exacting standards. As far as surpassing J, that still happens. J is still sore that M skipped several swimming levels ahead of her when they took swimming lessons at age 4.

J is defined by the word “determined.” She picks a goal and works and works and works on it. She may fail any number of times, but she keeps trying. This means that she learns physical skills sooner than M, but she falls far more often and has to try the same thing over and over. She’s already running, and has so much to accomplish that she’s been skipping naps recently and falling asleep in her high chair during meals.

J is incredibly determined still. It permeates every aspect of her life.

J likes to push the rules, although if she knows she’s about to break one, she shakes her head at herself and looks around to see if anyone’s going to stop her. She stops immediately on being told “No,” unlike M, who needs to be told “No” multiple times before reacting. She can often stop herself from breaking a rule: there’s some vigourous head-shaking, and then she turns around and runs towards me with a huge smile on her face.

J has excellent self-control. She hardly every makes the same mistake twice. M’s reactions, on the other hand, tend to run away with her, although she always apologizes after she’s calmed down. As she explained to me yesterday, “I feel my feelings and then I don’t say anything about them until they explode like a volcano.” Impulse control is a challenge she’s working to overcome.

J has an extremely good sense of balance, and can navigate her way into very tight spaces. She’s constantly moving around, usually walking, but every now and then, she’ll decide to lie on the floor on her back, very quietly, for a couple of minutes, before resuming her rambles. She likes to carry things around, even things that are too heavy for her. She likes to push toys along the floor while yelling “Eeeeeeeee” at the top of her lungs.

J’s constant motion is the reason I Santa bought a trampoline. She is also the daughter who will come up to and ask if we can read and snuggle. “Hugs make everything better,” is her signature phrase. Now, instead of yelling “Eeeeee”, she makes up silly songs to belt out while bouncing off the furniture.

Twins just bursting with personality! The contrast between these identical has highlighted their unique personalities thruoghout their lives.

J is the least picky eater I have ever met. She’ll eat anything I give her, and is very decisive about being done when she’s full. She simply turns her head away, and refuses to open her mouth.

J is still an adventurous eater. She recently ordered sliders topped with raw onions and chili. When the waitress checked to make sure she’d understood correctly, I confirmed that J loves raw onions.

There are, of course, ways in which M and J have changed as they’ve grown. J’s compassion for others and desire to right the wrongs of the world is astounding. Yesterday, she reported to me that her class has finally reintegrated the genders at their lunch table after having established a “girl side” and “boy side”.

M’s creativity is unbounded. This shows through in her story-telling, inventions, artwork, and, most recently, her CS First programming.

Getting to know your children may just be the greatest gift that comes with twins in that exhausting, overwhelming first year.

Those of you who have twinfants, what parts of their personality can you see already?

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4 Essential Values Kids Learn from Being a Twin

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Categories Parenting Twins, Perspective34 Comments

Today’s guest, Nina, is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Visit her at www.sleepingshouldbeeasy.com.


When I found out I was expecting twins, I worried about the challenges of raising them. How was I going to afford two babies? What madness would my body go through carrying twins? How will my then three-year-old react to welcoming two new siblings? And how in the world am I going to survive the newborn stage—times two? With all these worries, I had a difficult time convincing myself of anything positive about twins.

Fast forward two years later, and those challenges were well worth it. However difficult caring for twins may be, I love being a twin mom and the benefits of raising them.

But then I realized that not only was I benefiting from having twins, but so were they.

In many ways, my twins are learning important values because they’re twins. Sure, singleton kids can learn these as well, but twins face and own these values much sooner.

Life as a twin teaches children important values that will serve them throughout life. Guest post at hdydi.com from Nina of Sleeping Should Be Easy

Here are four essential values my kids are learning because of being a twin:

#1: Patience

From birth, each of my twins didn’t get the same amount of attention we showered our eldest with when he was our one and only. Not only did they have to share attention with our eldest, they also had to share it even as newborn babies with each other. Few newborn babies ever have to deal with that.

All through infancy and into toddlerhood and beyond, twins learn the value of patience. There’s just no way they can get everything they want right this second. Maybe one wants to read a book but mama is changing the other’s diaper. Strapping one child into a car seat means the other has to wait for his turn. For every task done to one twin, the other must wait.

#2: Compromise

I had a proud mama moment the other day. Both boys were in their room and I assumed they were fighting over a favorite stuffed animal. Instead, I see them walking out, each with his hand holding onto the stuffed animal. And in unison, they announce, “Sharing!”

My boys squabble every day. But with every fight, they understand more about the art of compromise. They learn the concept of turn-taking from the get go. Sharing becomes a part of our family dialogue, as it must be if you have a twin. And they know that if you want something the other has, a great way to get it is to give him something else just as desirable in exchange.

Having a same-aged child next to you every day is bound to test and improve your level of compromise.

#3: Teamwork

Growing up with a twin means having an instant partner in crime. You’re in this together, going through the same challenges.

While being part of a twosome can be a test in self-identity, being twins means having a lifelong sidekick. You also have someone you need to watch out for, and a comrade to face the same challenges right along with you.

#4: Being a good friend

Perhaps most importantly, twins learn the value of being a good friend from the get go. They’re thrust in social situations with another child the same age. They learn social cues such as when to back off, when they’re wanted and how to make others feel better.

They empathize and put themselves in another person’s shoes effectively. They realize that they are, in fact, not the center of the universe and instead must consider those around them.

And they’re compassionate. A twin is likely to offer a crying brother a beloved stuffed animal in an attempt to make him feel better. He’ll call, “Come!” to his twin, excited to show him something cool. And they’ll have each other to laugh with over things only they can understand, every single day. Can’t beat that.


Raising twins is hard for parents, and being twins can be just as challenging for kids. But it’s not without its benefits, some of which they learn early on.

They learn patience and compromise from having another person to consider. They understand the value of teamwork and being in this together. And they know how to be a good friend, both to one another and to those around them.

Having twins has been a blessing to me as their mom. But being a twin has also taught my kids valuable lessons they learned from having one another.

What benefits have your kids learned from being a twin? Let us know in the comments!

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