Toddler Thursday: Weaning Myself from the Stroller

Posted on
Categories Going out, Independence, Parenting, Shopping, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers6 Comments

Once our twin girls were a few months old and the pediatrician released us from house arrest, I quickly learned to get out and about with them in tow. The first few trips were a bit nerve-wracking, but once I got the swing of things, I would go anywhere and everywhere with my babies safely tucked inside our double stroller.

My trusty double stroller was like my best friend, always by my side. It allowed me the freedom to be out and about, mostly hands-free. I could run virtually any errand, and my girls loved seeing the sights all around town.

At some point after the girls turned one, though, I started to think about Life After Stroller. I would see other mamas with one toddler, ambling adorably along beside them. Were my girls missing out, constrained by their five-point harnesses?

It took a lot of courage, but – when the girls were 18 months old – I finally worked myself up to try a [very limited] outing with them…sans my BFF the stroller.

I wanted to buy a loaf of bread at the local bakery. I planned our trip when it wouldn’t be crowded, and when the girls were in an amicable mood. I can still remember the drum of my blood pressure as we made our way across the parking lot, hand in hand. I had prepared ahead, bringing a reusable shopping bag to put the bread in, knowing I wouldn’t have a spare hand to carry it. I had only my credit card in my back pocket. I just had to turn one of the girls’ hands loose long enough to hand over my credit card and stick the bread in the bag. It wasn’t our usual relaxing trip to the bakery…but we did it!

Over the course of the next year, I gradually worked up to the retirement of our double stroller. It was a bittersweet farewell to my former BFF, but being able to walk hand-in-hand with my girlies was a great reward. Here’s what worked for us…

1) Practice. Hubby helped me practice being out and about with the girls. We would go to the mall or to the park and walk, hand in hand. At first I wasn’t up to a larger trip by myself without the stroller, but I think that practice helped the girls learn to walk in public. After a while, the girls and I would practice walking, just the three of us, usually in our neighborhood.

Picture1
Practicing with Daddy…coffee shop, here we come!

2) Have an exit strategy. The girls knew that walking “like big girls” was a privilege. They also knew that if they didn’t respect that privilege, Mommy kept the stroller in the car. It only had to happen once that we left our shopping cart at the customer service desk and returned to the car to get the stroller.

3) Enlist their help. Eventually I could offer the girls a little more freedom. Having them “help” me in the store was always a huge motivator. Sometimes they would carry a hand basket to hold small items. Other times they would help me push the cart. Or I would give each of them a particular item to be “responsible” for…Baby A would be fixated on holding the tea bags, and Baby B had a death grip on the bag of salad. It makes the errand a learning experience, too, and can be a lot of fun for everyone.

4) Employ the “one finger” rule. Kids like to look with their hands, and I don’t find it realistic to expect them to keep their hands to themselves at all times. If they absolutely must touch something, my girls are allowed to use “one finger”. There’s limited damage they can do [in most circumstances] with “one finger”, and it satiates their need to reach. Too, the times when they must keep their hands to themselves – like in an area with breakable items – I am able to limit my “HANDS OFF” mandate to when it really matters.

5) Have a few tricks up your sleeve. For downtime – waiting in the check-out line, for example – I used a couple of techniques to keep the girls engaged. Our girls loved shirts and pants with pockets. While I unloaded the grocery cart, I might tell them, “Put your hands in your pockets,” and they would focus on that long enough for me to complete my task. In other situations – like in public restrooms – I would ask the girls to find their very favorite square (tile) and stand on it…or challenge them to see how many squares their feet could occupy at one time. (At age five, they still love that game.) And if we have to wait in line at the bank, even today I quiz them on baby sign language. They get focused on the task at hand, and they forget they’re being good!

My girls are now five. Things don’t always go perfectly when we’re out and about…they still try to push buttons now and again…but they are largely very well-behaved. To those of you in the midst of toddlerdom, hang in there! This is one area that I can confidently say does get easier with age.

For those of you with older children, what are your tips and tricks to maintaining your sanity with multiple littles in tow?

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

The Problem with Great Readers Is that We Run Out of Books

Posted on
Categories Books, Education, School-Age, ShoppingTags , 5 Comments

“Mom!” said my 7-year-old, M, when I arrived from work to pick up my kids from daycare, “I checked out three chapter books from the library three hours ago and now I’ve read them all. I have nothing to read!

I checked her backpack to see whether she’d picked out particularly short or easy books, but she had a 90-odd page Bailey School Kids book, a decent length presidential biography and a Katie Kazoo book in there. I asked her to tell me about the books and she regaled me at length with not-quite-summaries of what she’d consumed.

I know. This is a pretty great problem to have. My kids love to read. They’re fast. The challenge it poses, though, is a very real one.

Given a choice, this is the problem to have. Still, finding enough reading material to satiate voracious readers is a real challenge.
This is J. She was the one who happened to have a book in her hands when it occurred to me to take a photo for this post. M was brushing her teeth.

I do what I can to keep my kids supplied with reading materials.

  1. We take regular trips to the public library. Each child is allowed to pick out 7 books. Any more than that, and they lose track of where they are. I reserve a cube of the Ikea Expedit shelves in our living room for library books to keep them in one place.
  2. I haunt bookstores. We visit Half Price Books frequently and keep an eye on their clearance racks both for our home library and their classroom book collection. I invest in books that my girls will want to read again and again.
  3. Their school library is relatively well-stocked, although my daughter J took advantage of a persuasive letter writing assignment at school to ask her principal to invest in harder books.
  4. I donate outgrown books to the girls’ classroom teacher, in part so that she can also snap up more advanced books for her collection when she’s adding to it.
  5. I do a lot of book shopping online. Ebay sometimes pops up pretty fantastic lots of books. I can always donate any duplicates that we have. My girls have tablets, but they just prefer the feel of paper books to reading ebooks on their devices. I limit my Amazon.com shopping to books on specific subjects that I want but can’t find at the library, like foster care or divorce.
  6. Our loved ones know what readers J and M are. They are wonderful about giving them gifts of books.
  7. Paperbackswap.com is a great place to trade in old books for new for just the cost of media mail.

Anyone else have this problem? Any solutions I’ve missed?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Parenting Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children – A Book Review

Posted on
Categories Book Review Theme Week, Parenting, Shopping, Theme Week5 Comments

A week of parenting book reviews and giveaways at hdydi.com Feb 10-14 2014

It’s snowing outside and my husband and our twin boys are playing in the front yard, while I sit inside our warm, small house and drink tea. We’ve owned this home for 7 years. When we bought it, before we had children, we heard from our family, friends and strangers that it was a great starter home, but we were definitely going to have to move to a bigger house when we had kids. But that was never our plan. We wanted to live in this house with our children and make it work. This is a small house, yes, but it is beautiful, charming, renovated by our own hands, affordable and in a great location for our lifestyle.

When our boys were infants, though, if felt extremely small, as did our bank account. We had two babies and all the stuff & expense that comes along with them. We didn’t want to move; we didn’t want to go into debt; we didn’t want to keep accumulating more stuff and spending so much money, but that seemed to be the only way to raise twin babies. I am so grateful that I found the book, Parenting, Inc., by Pamela Paul, at our library. I wouldn’t normally read a nonfiction, journalistic, expose’ type book, but I had extra time to read during the hours I spent tandem feeding and I grabbed this book along with my usual chick lit out of curiosity (and it has an adorable cover). It turned out to be well-written, interesting and most important – it confirmed my suspicion that spending more money on our children is not the way to raise happy, healthy kids. It also made me see more clearly the (disgusting, dishonest, unethical) marketing behind the billion dollar baby/child industry. According to the New York Times Book Review, “An entire industry preys on parental anxiety . . . Paul tries to lead us out of the catastrophization of childhood.”
Parenting Inc Book Cover

This is not a parenting book, per se, and I wasn’t even sure it fit with the Book Review Week. But it occurred to me that this book is one of the most influential books in regards to our parenting philosophy (less is more; children need adventure, fun, books and love – not more stuff, high priced lessons and expensive preschool), so I’m including it here this week. I think all new parents should read it. Actually, I think all parents should read it, even if your babies are already in elementary school. This book will open your eyes and help you make smarter decisions about your family and your money.

Janna lives in a small house in Portland, Oregon with her husband, identical twin boys and the world’s laziest border collie.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Parenting Petite Kids: A Followup

Posted on
Categories School-Age, Shopping6 Comments

My daughters will be 8 in May. (EIGHT! Weren’t they born last Wednesday?!) J just went through a serious growth spurt and her 5T pants are suddenly visibly short on her.

Take a moment to absorb that, please. She is, at age (nearly) 8, outgrowing toddler sizes. Her twin sister, M, still fits comfortably in 5T clothes. We are, as I may have mentioned before, short. Petite. Whatever.

Short

This weekend promises to be a busy one, so I figured it would be worth my while to do a little pre-shopping research online before I outfit J with a new set of bottoms. We looked at several sites and found a decent selection of size 6 Hanes sweatpants that should carry her through until the weather warms.

She then asked if we could look around for long skirts in her size. We looked on the Children’s Place, Target, Walmart and Old Navy websites. (Hey, I’m raising two kids on one state employee income; my budget is tight.) Every skirt we found was, in her words, “babyish.” They were all short, many of them tutu-styled. Clearly, the things in J’s size are targeted at toddlers, not fashion-aware second graders.

Her disappointment was obvious on her face.

Me: Pumpkin, I think I understand how you feel. Until I got pregnant with you and Sissy, I wore a junior size large or size 13. Since those sizes are made for kids, it was really hard for me to find grownup clothes that were appropriate for work.
J: I’m so glad you understand! It’s so frustrating being the size of little kid when I’m an elementary schooler! I just want to find a skirt without cartoon characters. But everywhere I look, there’s Minnie Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Minnie Mouse!

I’m sure parents with kids on the other end of the spectrum are equally frustrated. What do you do when your little one is a size 4T but still rightly belongs in onesies? I realize that clothing companies put their money where the majority of the market is. I realize that a more skilled mother than I could do some sewing magic to make clothes work. I realize that someone with a bigger budget would have more options.

Still, it’s frustrating to watch my child be frustrated in the same way I have been ever since I started needing to find clothes in the US. I was blissfully unaware of the issue as a teen in Bangladesh, where off-the-rack clothes were still a relatively rare find and going to a tailor or making one’s own clothes was the norm.

Anyone know of affordable clothes for big kids that run really, really small?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone