My apologies for the late posting. Our lives have been crazy over the last couple of weeks – we’ve just moved. I wrote most of this post just before we moved. I was busy with other things, so I didn’t get a chance to read everyone else posts. I see that Sarah wrote about managing sleep with newborns. Hopefully this doesn’t overlap too much.
Sleep and related topics have been on my mind quite a bit recently. We’ve just moved to a new house with more bedrooms, lots more bedrooms. Thought it wasn’t the only reason, one of our reasons for looking for a new house was to have enough room for the girls to each have their own bedrooms, at some point, if they want them, or a very large room to share. There will also be enough bedrooms for office space for Mom and Dad, and still there will be rooms to spare.
In the new house, the girls will share a bedroom. For the first time they will be in separate cribs in the same room. Now this isn’t the first time they’ll be sleeping apart, nor the first time they will be in cribs, just the first time they will be in separate cribs in the same room.
Since we brought the girls home in January, we’ve tried a wide range of sleeping arrangements.
When they first came home from the hospital…
two babies sharing cradle in our bedroom
two babies sharing bassinette in the playpen in the living room
one baby in the bassinette in the basement TV room for quick naps when we were watching TV. Usually the other baby was eating.
But they soon outgrew the bassinette, and we needed to find new solutions…
two babies sharing crib in our bedroom
two babies sharing playpen in dining room
After just a couple of days of lifting two babies in and out of the playpen, we needed a different solution…
two babies sharing crib in our bedroom
two babies sharing a new (second) crib in dining room
two babies sharing crib in my office their bedroom (or “babies’ office” as my son called it)
two babies sharing crib in the dining room
But, they didn’t always share the same sleep schedule…
one baby in the crib in their bedroom and one in the bassinette in the playpen in our room at night
two babies sharing crib in the dining room during the day
Then we decided to put our house up for sale so we had to remove the crib from the dining room and the playpen from our bedroom…
two babies sharing the crib in their bedroom
Then I took the children to stay with my mom while the house was for sale
two babies in two playpens except when they took turns sleep with me
Then we came back home…
two babies sharing the crib in their bedroom
Until the fan in our son’s room broke, and for a short time…
two babies sharing the crib in their bedroom and one toddler in the playpen in their bedroom
About in mid-October, the girls seemed to be waking up more than usual, so we decided to separate them…
one baby in the crib in their bedroom
one baby in the playpen in their bedroom
Which has meant more sleep for me since one of the girls is usually sleep through the night, and her sister is usually only up once.
Now that we are settled in our new house, the girls are sleeping in two cribs in their new bedroom. One of our girls still wakes up more than her sister, so her crib is closer to the door.
We certainly didn’t plan to try all these different sleeping arrangement, but as their needs and our needs changed, we adapted. And, I’m certain their be more arrangements to try out as they grow in our new house.
Hi there, HDYDI.com readers! Motherhood.Squared is doing a Giveaway of SHEEX bedding (for standard crib or twin mattress), a $50-$200 value. If you’d like to try your luck at winning for your once (or future!) kiddle(s), click on this link to enter! Contest runs from November 23 through November 30.
When I was pregnant with my twins, I remember thinking (okay, maybe worrying in my control freak ways) about what in the heck I’d need TWO of?? Two carseats and two cribs were a given, but 2 swings or 1 (we quickly decided 2 after they were home)? 2 pack n plays or 1? 2 bouncers or 1? 2 nursing pillows or 1? I think if I were to tell someone they need 2 of something (besides car seats and cribs!), it would have to be nursing pillows! I have used our TWO Boppy Pillows (not pushing the brand- but it was what we happened to buy!) for an entire year plus for many reasons:
Read on with me- as we walk down ‘The Many Uses of the Boppy Pillow Lane!’
*During and after the NICU stay, when I was able to attempt nursing, the boppy was my right hand man- or woman- or thing- whatever- you know what I mean!
*After realizing that nursing wasn’t going so well (that’s a whole other post), the boppy became a PERFECT incline to feed my babies their bottles.
*It soon helped me feed both girls at the same time- I came up with some GREAT set ups sometimes with one sometimes with both when they got bigger. (Survival mode at that point- right moms?)
hee hee! This makes me laugh!
*It helped prop the girls up after eating which helped with their reflux.
*When the girls were a bit bigger (they started so tiny!), it was a great help with tummy time.
*Once Reese and Riley started sitting, but were wobbly, the pillow was perfect to have behind them. It certainly broke many falls!
Whoa! Riley in mid fall
* As they learned to hold their bottles, but had difficulty keeping their balance when tilting back, the Boppy was a perfect place to lay, bottle in hand!
* Still now (Reese and Riley are 1), when my sleepy girls first wake up in the morning, they love to lie on their pillows while they drink their milk from their sippy cup or bottle.
* AND my Reesey who LOVES to roll away, crawl away, or pull away while I’m changing her diaper, has a bit of harder time getting away when I lay her on the Boppy when I change her! :)
* Oh ya! AND my little dog has assumed them as her own personal dog beds for over a year.
* Do you have any other uses I’ve forgotten?!
I LOVE these things! In my opinion, you MUST get 2 nursing pillows!
Leave a comment telling the new mamas and mamas to be:
In my opinion, you MUST get two (or three, or four… ) _____.
How many of you felt your breath catch just reading that word? Shoes are to Carrie Bradshaw what strollers are to, well, most of the people who socialize with me. It’s a short list, but we love our strollers.
When we found out I was pregnant with #4, the twins were 1.5 and A was 3. I mentally calculated my boys’ ability to walk alongside me plus my daughter’s capacity for obedience, multiplied by my anxiety level and divided by the number of hands God saw fit to give me, and found that I was lacking. I knew I could make do for a short time with the baby in a sling and the boys in the double stroller, but my aptitude for sling use drops off sharply once a baby moves out of the limp doughy phase.
I wanted a triple stroller, and scoured the resale shops for one. Instead, I stumbled upon a J Mason Quad Carriage for $100. You can bet I snapped that thing up and dragged it home. I want to make some shoes reference here, like, “…Carrie Bradshaw finding a pair of vintage blah blah somethings at a thrift store,” but I don’t know enough about high end footwear, plus I bet Carrie Bradshaw would never step foot into a thrift store.
The quad stroller – or “four stroller,” as my children call it – wasn’t perfect. But alas, what union between parent and stroller is? The quad was heavy, bulky, and a real beast to maneuver on uneven terrain. But for trips to the zoo, for example, it was a godsend. And let’s be honest: I was staying home with four kids 4 and under. I wasn’t going much of anywhere.
Three days before the twins 5th birthday, I sold the four stroller. The kids were devastated. They wept in protest as they watched me clean it up, and they begged me to keep it. We settled on one final ride.
A’s gangly legs didn’t fit in the back; she had to throw them over the lap bar in the front seat. The boys climbed into the back, I placed baby #4 into the open front seat, and we set off. As I sweated and gasped for air, I reflected on my maiden voyage with the quad stroller, three years ago. Then, too, I sweated and panted my way around the block, Braxton-Hicks contractions kicking in as I pushed my 90 lb toddler payload. This 2009 haul was more like 150 lbs, and left me grateful that I don’t have to do this anymore.
When the couple purchasing my stroller arrived, I was happy to saunter back inside and watch from the window as they wrestled that mammoth into the back of their van. Never again will I watch my husband sweat and curse quietly while struggling to fold it. Never again will my children stream out from the quad stroller’s depths like it’s a clown car. Never again will we look like a circus sideshow in public. The moment was bittersweet, until I remembered I’d just made $75, and then it was only sweet.
My twins are almost 2 1/2, and many things are easier these days. Trips out go smoothly. A Labor Day picnic was a lot of fun. Gymnastics class is enjoyed by all (and is a work-out for Mommy, but that’s another issue). One fantastic change with them maturing has been that they often sleep later in the morning. Sometimes we see 7am. Or…gasp…7:30am. It’s fantastic. They are happy, cheerful little guys are those mornings.
However…and why is it that things things always come with a “however”?….on the days when they still get up early…6:15am, 6:00am, 5:30am….they are unbearable. When they were younger they were cheerful and happy in the morning and it was only Mommy and Daddy who were grouchy. Now, they really NEED that extra sleep in the morning, but don’t seem to be able to get themselves back to sleep if they are woken up earlier in the morning (freaking cats) or happen to stir earlier. I’ve yelled. I’ve ignored. I’ve been grouchy all morning. Nothing has been effective.
So, I turned to the source of all things wonderful….my twin club. And low and behold, someone sent me to this product.
It’s this cute little nightlight that you can program to show either a sun (time to get up!) or a moon (time to sleep!). You can set it for whatever time you want—they recommend setting the sun to “rise” at their normal wake-up time at first, so they can get used to it, and then setting it later in 15 minute increments. It arrived in the mail a few days ago and the kids were intrigued. Then, when they went in at bedtime, the moon was lit up. They were enthralled. In the morning, they started yelling, “Sun! I see sun! Mommy!” when they woke up. The next morning, it took some talking about the moon, but they were able to stay in their cribs the extra 15 minutes they needed until the sun “rose”. Again, they were enthralled.
I’m not sure if it will be long term successful, but it is better than yelling. It’s cute, the kids like it and it’s a clear visual sign to them of whether it’s time to get up or not. Maybe we’ll start to see a few more of those 7am days. (And please, any of you who have kids who sleep until 8am—or later—please don’t share!!! It’s sad enough how excited I get about 7am.)
What products can the rest of you not live without?
This might be a day late and a dollar short for most of you, but I would love your help compiling advice for expectant mother’s for when they are faced with the daunting task of preparing their baby registries.
Personally, I was completely overwhelmed at the thought of buying/choosing/registering for what seemed like a huge amount of baby gear. In fact, I requested a veteran mom walk me through Babies R Us and I took notes while she pointed out the various items I may or may not need. I was so grateful for her help, because it is a huge job to research all of the items for safety ratings/effectiveness/price comparison. And since most of my friends were all having their first baby(s) at the same time, we tended to fuel each other’s drive for baby stuff…especially any item to help with breastfeeding or sleeping!
Would you please leave a comment about what worked or what you would have done differently in terms of baby gear? Thanks!
Krissy’s Registry Cheat-Sheet
* As far as car seats go: several friends of singletons have since had baby #2. Many of them had the super cute Chicco travel system (stroller and car seat). The problem is, as far as I can tell, Chicco does not make a double front-to-back stroller, and the mom’s are limited to other brands of double strollers that will accept the Chicco car seat. If you hope to have more than one child, you might want to factor this in.
* Car seat under mats are a worthy addition to your registry. When you first bring home your newborn, it is hard to envision their little feet hanging over their car seats, dripping muddy or snowy water onto your upholstery, but that time will come, likely around their first birthday.
* In my humble opinion, the one item that I would insist on buying new is the crib mattress. My son has been sleeping and jumping on his mattress for 2+ years, and it has shown considerable wear and tear. The middle is still nice and firm, but the sides have taken a real beating. There is now enough room between the crib mattress and crib slats for a newborn to get stuck. I know, because his stuffed dog (newborn sized) often ends up wedged down there.
* The big stuff: exersaucers, bouncy seats, bumbos and swings all have a VERY short life span…borrow them or buy them used if you can. The amount of space they will require in your home is enormous, and you will resent their perfectly matched presence even more if you paid full price for them!
* One of the biggest wastes of money for many moms are infant carriers. The problem is, you don’t really know what will work for you (how it feels, fits, any area’s of back pain, infant head support, etc. ) until you actually have the baby in your possession. For example, I personally hated the Moby wrap I bought during my pregnancy and never used it. The Baby Bjorn worked for my husband, but hurt my back. However, the consignment store Snugli worked wonderfully for me. Several friends have told me they regretted buying the sling/carrier, etc. that they did because it didn’t end up working for them. If you do decide to buy ahead of time-keep the tags on and save the receipt!
Jonathan in a borrowed walker.
Faith in a borrowed Exersaucer…I loved it while we needed it, and loved it even more when I returned it to the owner and it didn’t have to fit in my overflowing storage room!
Okay ladies! Help me out! And for those of you researching your baby gear options, here are a few HDYDI product reviews:
People, I am not one who likes to work out. At all. I don’t like being sweaty and out of breath. Then there’s the time issue – hello, I am working (for money) and taking care of four little kids (sadly, not for money). We can’t afford a gym membership or a quadruple jogging stroller. I’ve attempted to use the treadmill, but that goes one of two ways:
The children place small toys on the treadmill so they can watch them fly off the back. I breathlessly try to discourage this. I sound like Sasquatch or The Hulk; the children cackle and continue their shenanigans, or
I keep the children gated away from the treadmill while I use it. I run to the soundtrack of wailing, whining, crashes and crying from the next room. My workout is frequently interrupted.
I had resigned myself to buying bigger pants and some full-body shapewear when my husband brought home Wii Fit. I won’t go into its benefits. The best testimonial I can give is to say that I’ve actually done this for almost a month, and when I’ve skipped a day, I missed it and looked forward to getting back to it. If you knew me and understood the sheer enormity of my laziness, you’d understand how shocking this is.
Which brings me to my point: A Wii Fit is the best possible baby gift for an expectant mother of twins, aside from a good double stroller. The yoga and strength training exercises are short – perfect for being interrupted every few minutes by needy babies. The aerobic exercises can be done in short bursts or longer stretches, and are fun and entertaining. Plus it charts your progress, which is nice when you’re feeling discouraged over your post-twins body.
In addition, the Wii Fit trainer provides a built-in girlfriend during those lonesome postpartum months. Granted, she’s a friend who makes ridiculous suggestions like, “Use your abs to stabilize yourself,” and “Try to get a healthy amount of sleep each night,” but she doesn’t get offended when I respond with colorful language, and at this point I’ll take all the friends I can get.
Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!
Post #1: What Happens After the Stroller? by Jennifer W.
Our story begins with two Aggies meeting on E*Harmony in 2005, and getting married in February 2006. We started our family early; we had our first child in August 2006. While still getting use to our first son we were pregnant again. Thinking nothing of it I went to the doctor to find out that we were having spontaneous triplets. So I carried our triplets for 36 weeks 6 days and had the perfect pregnancy with no complication or limitations put upon me. Four months later we were pregnant again with our last child. So if you are asking yourself, “I do not think they know how that happens!” We do and we finally decided that we would have 20 children unless we had surgery to prevent that from happening. So we are a family of 7 with 5 children under the age of 3. When our children were small we called them the “zoo” because they were gated in our house. Now that they are older we call them the “safari” because they roam my house. You can find our adventures, experiences, and the confessions of a tired mother on our blog: The Wilcoxson’s.
After we found out that we were having triplets there were several things that went through our mind, one of them being that we could not logically escape being a minivan family. With that dilemma out of the way we had to find a stroller. We decided that we would get a triplet stroller and still have our single stroller as well. The nice thing about strollers is that you have some protection from the public and some warning when the grandmother or curious mother gets too close to the stroller. What happens when the stroller is no longer an option or something that your child dreads?
With our oldest almost 3 and the triplets turning 2 they are at the stage where they no longer want to be strapped into the stroller, but want some of the freedom that comes with being in a family with singletons. With that want and need for independence my husband and I had to find a way to give that desire to our children. Independence was not going to come at the cost of safety though. Holding hands was not an option because my husband and I do not have enough hands. We like to tell people that we cannot play man-on-man with our children but zone defense. So the searching began.
There was an option for leashes, but I could see that in the newspaper: “Mother of 5 decides to walk her children like a dog walker.” We did not need anymore attention than we already receive when we are in public. Then one day I was looking at educational toys on the internet and found the solution. With a little engineering and some common sense we were going to make this work for us. You see I found a toy for beading animals or cars at One Step Ahead.
We decided that a rope with 5 animals on it would do the trick. So my husband and I ordered the beads, got some nylon rope and decided that we were going to put the tractor and the barn at the end so that mommy and daddy could have a bead as well. Each child gets an animal and then there is a loop for their hand when they get older and do not want to hold onto the animal any longer.
After we put our “leash” together we had to try it out before we went into public with it. For about three weeks we walked to the mail box and around our street to get the kids use to the walking together and the distractions around them. Then we moved up to using it at church for about a month. Now my kids will not go anywhere unless they know that the animals are in the bag. I am so proud of them because they do not let the animal go unless we give them permission and they do not let other people distract them from the “mission” at hand.
I have found that as our children grow older the independence and freedom that their singleton friends have will take some strategic planning on our part to give them the same freedom or a resemblance of that freedom. No matter if we are in a stroller or walking we will always attract attention and people looking on like we are aliens from another planet because we have more than our normal quota of children in our society.
Post #2: I Have Two Turning Three, by Alix
Alix is mother to nearly-three-year-old identical twin boys, Nathan and Max. She spends her time in one of the following ways: working from home (read: balancing her lap top in one hand while reading Cool Cars for the forty-seventh time while simultaneously microwaving leftovers for dinner), staying up late (read: loading dishes and folding three hundred size-3T tee shirts), and relaxing (read: actually sitting down while the boys run circles through the house). Luxurious, it is not. But fun? Oh, yeah! Alix works part-time, mostly from home and shares child care with her husband, a university professor.
I found out I was having identical twins at 9 weeks. Just for the record, this is not a post about the always-humorous but repetitive “I fainted on the ultrasound table!” or “My husband threw up on the ultrasound tech!”. Or even, “I thought I was having a heart attack!” (O.K., I actually did briefly think I was having one, but that’s for another post). However, I will say that for the most part, the weeks following this very unexpected news are now a total blur. One of the few distinct memories I have from that period is of my mother-in-law saying to me, “I’ve gathered that parents of twins say the first three years are the hardest.” She wasn’t saying this in a patronizing way. On the contrary, I think she felt a bit of the overwhelming sense of awe and fear that I’m sure I was feeling (but can’t really remember now). THREE YEARS?? That moment I do remember. That moment is stamped so clearly in my mind I can actually remember the glare of the fluorescent kitchen light overhead as I tried to absorb this concept (and, of course, failed). Who can absorb three years??
Fast-forward to May 2009. My identical twin boys, Max and Nathan, will be turning three in one month. This is definitely not a post about how everything has suddenly become efficient, peaceful and orderly in our home, nor is it a post about how I pine for those oh-so-difficult-yet-magical early days with two babies (really, I don’t, but again, that is for another post). Rather, this is a post about the evolution of our family, and the ever-changing challenges of raising two boys born on the same day.
My husband and I spent the first year or so reminding each other that the boys would eventually sleep through the night (they did), they would actually use the bathroom and thus eliminate the need for refrigerator-sized boxes of Costco diapers (again, they did) and would become more independent (still waiting on that but optimistic). And at every point, we were surprised that the things we waited so eagerly for happened so quickly that we only remembered how eagerly we awaited their arrival after the fact. I have no idea if this is the same for parents of singletons, but certainly we were so busy and exhausted that all sorts of things in our household were only noticed after the fact (lack of clean laundry, groceries, gasoline in the car, etc.).
The second year of the boys’ lives, the death grip of exhaustion lessened. I was still nursing, but only in the mornings and before bed, which felt incredibly liberating compared to the hours I’d spent nursing every day during the first year. The boys were now sleeping, eating regular food, and walking. Somehow, though, people seemed to think that life must have gotten a lot easier for me than it really had. People would stop me and say, “Wow, that first year with two must really have been rough, eh?”. Or, “I bet you feel lucky to have survived that first year!”. And as I madly chased after two toddling boys incessantly moving from one source of danger to another (and often in opposite directions), I thought to myself, “What the hell?? I’m still just surviving here, people! Isn’t that obvious?!” And my mother-in-law’s words came back to haunt me.
And I knew then, I just had to make it to three.
And here we are.
I decided to host a birthday gathering for the boys, their first big celebration of this sort. They are really excited to have a party, and I realize that I am, too. I feel as though this celebration is for all of us. We have made it this far. We got to three. We got to three!!
The boys’ third year will, I know, bring its own round of challenges. The boys will start preschool in the fall and my husband and I are finding it hard to imagine not having them running through the house trailing laughter and chaos all day long. This will be a big transition for all of us, one of many. I remember a parent of twins saying to me, “The days pass so slowly, the months and years, so quickly.” So true.
Three, here we come. I think we’re ready.
Post #3, By Sarah
My name is Sarah and I’m a mid-thirties mother of four. After a seemingly normal full-term pregnancy, my first baby, Abigail, was born sleeping in June 2006. In an odd twist of fate, I became pregnant with spontaneous identical triplets a few months after Abigail’s death. Against the odds, the girls were delivered at 35 weeks, 6 days gestation. I work full time in the wonderful world of tax and enjoy photography, writing and running in my very limited free time. I currently blog about our daily craziness at http://thegreatumbrellaheist.blogspot.com/
Today, as I pushed over sixty pounds of toddler in our triple jogging stroller, I thought of that common question asked of parents of multiples everywhere. When does it get easier? If you peruse any message board for caregivers of twins, triplets and more, you will see that question asked over and over and the response is usually the same. It doesn’t get easier. It just gets different. So now, as I listen to my three toddlers scream in their cribs because going to bed is such torture, I really do wonder when it will get easier. My husband, Rich, and I have told ourselves that the magic age will be five. It seems better than choosing three or four and then being disappointed and I don’t think I can make it to seven or eight.
We moved into our current home approximately 18 months ago. The girls, who were 6 months old at the time, began to share a bedroom. It was a new experience for all of us. My husband and I debate the room sharing situation on what feels like a daily basis. We can discuss and theorize all we want – the hard truth is that our standard builder’s special only has 3.5 bedrooms. The .5 room is an office and seeing as Grammy, my mom, sleeps over quite a bit, we only thought it appropriate to give her a bedroom. That leaves us with three girls in one room.
I have good friends who are twins and they shared a bedroom until their early 20’s. I remember being slightly jealous of their camaraderie because I was not lucky enough to have a sister. I have convinced myself, through a sleep deprived thought process, that once the girls are older, they will enjoy sharing a room. I expect there to be a lot of comforting going on. You know what I mean. One of them wakes up afraid of the dark and her sister will tell her that it’s okay. Okay, maybe if I believe hard enough, it will happen.
When the girls were about 18 months old, we pushed their three cribs together to form a big square in the middle of the room. We thought it would be fun for them to share books and dollies during that wind down period prior to falling asleep. For the most part, this crib configuration worked out. We experienced a few incidents of book stealing and book tossing. And by book tossing, I’m referring to a book landing on someone (possibly on the head) while she is sleeping. It’s not very pleasant – I can assure you. But then there was the night that I crept into their room to check on them and found Emily and Allie holding hands through the crib slats, asleep. My heart just about burst open.
We, unfortunately, separated their cribs last month after I caught Allie pulling Anna’s hair. The girls didn’t complain too much about the new set-up – not that they really could, anyway. We were hoping that having some space between them would lessen the number of times that they awaken each other. It hasn’t.
Of course, having the girls share a room means that there is a constant source of entertainment for us when listening in on their conversations. The latest phase is Allie, the oldest of the three by 30 seconds, telling her sisters to go to sleep. That’s exactly how she says it. “Emmy, go to sleep.” You see, although my girls are genetically identical, their sleep habits are not. Allie seems to require and/or want more sleep than Emily. Anna, the middle child, varies. Allie has decided that the other two should conform to her sleep schedule.
So back to when does it get easier. At six o’clock Sunday morning, an alarm went off in the girls’ room. We keep a sound machine and a Bose CD player in there and apparently, one of the girls accidentally set the alarm while they were “exploring” their room before either nap or bed. And by alarm, I mean the annoying beeping kind. Rich ran in there to turn it off and optimistically thought he could sneak out unnoticed. I listened to events unfold over the monitor from the warmth and comfort of my bed. Rich picked up Emily, who was the first to spot him, hoping to prevent her from awakening the other two. Anna started in on one of her uncontrollable crying jags while Allie yelled, “Anna, go to sleep.”
In some sense, life is easier, although different, now. It is far easier for one adult to care for three toddlers versus three infants. When mornings such as these occur, my husband and I take turns napping. I can nap at any point during the day so I always offer Rich the first adult nap slot and I take the next one.
And yes, at almost 26 months old, my girls still sleep in their cribs without crib tents. I am blissfully unaware of any attempts of crib escape. Believe me, they will be sleeping in those cribs for as long as possible.
Do your multiples share a room? If they do share a room and you had the resources, would you separate them?
Post #4: Best-Laid Plans, by Jen from Diagnosis: Urine
I’m a freelance writer, and mom to a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twin boys, and a 2-year-old. I worked full-time until February 2007, and since then we’ve relocated for a job, lost that job, experienced unemployment, and have lived to tell about it. My blog, diagnosisurine.blogspot.com, is an attempt at entertaining people with my angst over transitioning from breadwinner and go-getter to stay-at-home mom to a tiny quartet of destruction.
Like many others before me, I was at my most knowledgeable during my first pregnancy. I had researched it all. I had a birth plan, an infancy plan, and a toddlerhood plan.
But, alas, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…” You can guess how long my plans lasted.
Having twins two years later was like my first go-‘round all over again. I relearned everything, from the mechanics of breastfeeding to the mechanics of folding the double stroller. I did it while working full-time, mostly from home, while caring for a 2-year-old as well.
A baby’s cuteness blinds people to the reality of caring for a newborn. “Enjoy every minute of it!” kindly grandmothers admonish in the grocery store, and you smile and nod but fight back tears thinking of how very tired you are, and how the baby only sleeps when you’re out of the house, and how the longest stretch of sleep you’ve had in a week, is 30 minutes.
The baby-blindness goes double for twins. I remember getting a lot of, “Oh! You’re so blessed!” But I didn’t feel especially blessed. My boys were healthy and for that I was grateful, but in all honesty we’d tried for one baby, and we couldn’t afford two. I spent the twins’ first year steeped in guilt for all the times they cried and I could only comfort one of them, for the times I snapped at my daughter, for the way my marriage and the housework were neglected, and for the concessions my employer and coworkers had made for me.
When people saw me out with three kids under three and said, with a chuckle, “It only gets worse!” I wanted to cry or smack them, depending on the day.
I’m here to tell you the truth: It does get better.
My twin boys are four now. My oldest daughter is six, and we even added a fourth – our youngest daughter is two. I work for myself now, so I get to stay home and figure out my own hours. It is worlds easier than our lives were four, three, or two years ago.
Now, because I’m here to tell you the truth, I’ll also admit that it still sucks sometimes. There are speech delays, potty training crises, typical childhood phobias and obsessions that are only magnified by the presence of four children experiencing them simultaneously under one roof. Yes, there are days I hate this.
Today, for example, wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I’m three hours past the deadline for submitting this post. There were fevers and diarrhea and encounters with neighborhood dogs and trampolines, and minor squabbles and tricycle jousting, and that was in the course of about an hour. I do the best I can. Most of us do. Sometimes my best involves a “teachable moment” and a cute blog post with pictures, and other days it turns into me growling at the kids, each word punctuated with brief, terse silence; followed by a blog post lamenting my numerous failures.
So, in case this is the only post of mine you ever read – especially since I am late and will be lucky to be included at all – please know that it does get better. I promise you, what you go through during the newborn and toddler years with your twins is exhausting and punishing and of course it’s worth it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not 18 years away.
And I’m not even talking about work here. No, it’s about the stuff in our home leading to The Incredibly Shrinking House. I accept responsibility for my overpurchases, previously justified by some “need” for the kids. My latest purchase? A custom cut-mirror (think Montessori) for the playroom. And another child-size chair for learning how to eat at their child-size table.
I ascribe to many of the basic tenants of Montessori – simple, non-brightly colored, non-battery operated toys that allow a child to explore and discover without a button or sound that prescribes exactly what should happen with said object as the child passively observes. This is not to say that we don’t have brightly colored, battery operated toys, because holy crap do we! I think it’s more of wanting to have a more simple, Montessor-like environment because it looks cleaner and provides suitable justification for purging the house of plastic objects, and promotes independence.
A keeper toy: wooden push-cart. well, and we’ll keep the kids, too.
But no matter my intentions, the more commercially available objects still find their way into our home. And if I’m guilty by reason of insanity for acquiring those objects, then friends and family are complicit. They are the reason we now have four walker/ride-on toys, three sit and spin four-legged creatures, five different sets of Little People things, and a fleet of flexible cars, trucks, and trains.
All I’m trying to get to here is that one day, we wake up, and we’re humming the tunes to any number of toys and there’s no more storage space for “rotating” them in and out, and the two moms are having a little tiff over all the shit everywhere even though technically, it’s all put away in it’s proper place.
Prior to their first birthday, when we got to this brink, I’d simply put the objects, the objects purchased from Craigslist or our mother’s of multiples group, back up for sale on Craigslist or through my mother’s of multiples group. That was easy, because more often than not, we had actually made the purchase. Dust to dust and all that. Turns out, by the time I resell a toy and net the initial purchase cost from the sale cost, , I’ve essentially “rented” it for a period of time, only expending about 0%-10% of its retail price. Wicked.
Post first-birthday, however, I’m not sure what to do with a lot of the stuff, but all I know is that we can’t keep it all either because we won’t use it, it’s a multiple, or because we simply don’t have the storage space.
I could sell it (my preference – need diapers), but do I need to tell the gifter that? And if I don’t, but they come around asking “does Mateo like the SMART bounce and spin pony, the one that interacts WIRELESSLY with the television?”, (I am not even kidding.) THEN what? Or I could donate it, donate it with some batteries to an organization that will ultimately hand it out to someone in need who may or may not have additional batteries and may or may not have a wireless router. Or I could hang onto it like the Bibles received as gifts over the years (I was a Young Life’r and I went to Baylor University for undergrad so HELLO? BIBLES.) Because I mean seriously, how do you throw away a Bible? But I digress.
And when you conclude that yes, you’ll keep one, maybe even two battery-operated walker/push-toy car-ish thingies, what is the criteria for deciding which one(s) will face the firing squad? Is it how little (or how much) sound it makes? Color neutrality (we have boy/girl twins)? Toughness of the plastic? Fewest Batteries? The taller ones so they can grow into?
How do YOU go about addressing the multiple-objects-of-the-same-basic-thing, provided you do NOT have space to store and rotate out fourteen sets of nesting boxes? And what, if anything, do you tell the gifter?
This weekend marked my MOT club’s semi-annual tag sale, and it was a doozy. The tag sale (consignment sale, yard sale, flea market, whatever your region calls it) is yet another reason to join your local MOT club, if you haven’t already. Most clubs I know of have sales twice a year, and they’re awesome both for selling and for shopping.
It was my second time selling, and for those who have never participated in such an event, I thought I’d tell you all about ours. First of all, you obviously have to plan ahead and get all of your items ready for sale. Sort out the clothes by gender, size, and season. Toss the ones with stains or missing snaps. Purge the toy room, get the high chairs out of the garage. Write out a price tag for each and every piece. My club puts everyone’s items together (i.e. one large area for clothing, one area for toys, etc.), so your tags also need your name written clearly so you can get financial credit for the sale.
The sale takes place on a Saturday morning, so setup begins Friday night at a nearby high school cafeteria. Racks are assembled for hanging items, tables are arranged everywhere, clotheslines are hung. When the space is set up, you can start hauling in your items from your car (the parking lot is a sea of minivans). And at the end of the evening, sellers get a chance to do a little early-bird shopping. People nearly trampled each other getting to the Kettler tricycles. I decided I had to have my friend’s Maclaren stroller. So 15 minutes before seller shopping began, I grabbed my Peg Perego out of the back of my van, cleaned it off, and slapped a price tag on it (the same price for which I was going to buy my friend’s). It’s easy to get caught up in the madness. And that’s just Friday night. Don’t stay too late, chit-chatting with your friends and perusing the stacks of clothing. The fun starts again at 6AM on Saturday.
Saturday morning arrived. Barely slept at all. Still dark when we arrived at the high school. Sellers who couldn’t come the night before arrived with even more stuff to distribute. The mountain of clothing, especially the 0-12 month stuff, threatened to topple and we grabbed extra tables to further sub-divide the sizes. The bookshelves collapsed overnight, so we had to reassemble and rearrange all of the books and videos. Tables full of toys needed to be better categorized, the piles of board games and puzzles needed major straightening.
Sellers got another shot at early shopping once everything was set up and ready. I was at the front of the line this time, and tried to pretend I had a shred of dignity remaining as I all but ran back to the large equipment area to snag a Radio Flyer double wagon. Haha, victory is mine!
But we had to get our purchases quickly back to our cars. All sellers are also working the sale, and people have been assigned to different areas. Clothing, books, toys, cashier, accounting, large equipment. This was my second time back in large equipment, which is a section with it’s own procedures, rules, and even storage so you can keep shopping without dragging around your new double stroller or swing. Before the doors opened, it was packed to the gills with strollers, carseats, swings, high chairs, outdoor toys, and the like.
Finally, at 9:30, doors open to fellow twin club members, who get a half-hour jump start on the general public. The line at 9:29 was well out the door.
Shopping is barely-controlled chaos. No lie, nearly seven hundred people came. Unreal. The large equipment area was a madhouse. There were four cashiers just in our part of the sale, probably another six or eight at the main exit. The whole thing was mobbed, from toddler clothing all the way back to bouncy seats. It was hot, it was loud, it was crowded. I won’t lie, every time I saw someone buying something of mine, I heard a little “cha-ching!” in my head. But I tried not to do too obvious of a happy dance.
It was a particularly busy and successful sale, maybe because it was a nice day out, maybe because of the crappy economy. But there was still a line to get in at 10:30, and there was still a line to pay at noon. It was non-stop. It’s fun, but completely exhausting, to work the sale. By the time it ends at 1PM, you’ve worked a fairly grueling 7-hour shift. But hey, you get to hang out with your MOT friends, get rid of all of your stuff, and make a little cash in the meantime.
And yes, that last picture is what the large equipment area looks like at 12:15. If you want a stroller or a cozy coupe, you’d better get your ass there bright and early.
As a shopper, there are bargains that can’t be beat. Strollers for less than half their retail price. Nearly-new high chairs for $30. Books for 50 cents, toddler jeans for three bucks. You can probably score a whole season’s worth of clothing for under $40. As a seller, you not only get to unload a truckload of gear and old clothing, but even after the 10% of proceeds that go to the club, you can make a nice bit of money.
When the doors closed at 1PM, I scoured the remnants of the tables for anything of mine that didn’t sell. All I could find was one toy and a couple of assorted items of clothing (maybe 10 shirts out of the huge tub I had brought in). I took one cute outfit of Rebecca’s home, and put the rest in the big bags to be donated. Because I had worked Friday setup, I thankfully didn’t have to stay for the entirety of cleanup. I got home, took some ibuprofen, and all but collapsed into bed.