How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up #50

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rulesParenting Link Up Party


Last week’s featured posts:

Thanks to all who linked up. We’re looking forward to new posts from all of you this week and welcoming new linkers!

Last week‘s most clicked post was from Paris at My Big Fat Happy Life. She wrote about how kids learn through travel. This is especially timely as some of you are about to embark on Spring Break trips or are already planning for summer. (How did that happen!?) As someone who had lived on 3 continents by the time I was 18, I can’t agree vehemently enough with Paris on this.

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Jenessa’s post on Mothering in Real Life had me in tears. She wrote on the 5th anniversary of the due date of her baby, a baby she lost to miscarriage in September 2009. Whether you’re a loss parent or not, this post will speak to you. Let’s not forget all the parents in our lives who walk around every day with a massive hole in their hearts.

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Poor Herchel‘s son had to contend with a 5-day stomach bug. She put together a list of 7 shortcuts that make that horrible experience a little more manageable. It sounds like her hacks worked, since no one else caught the illness! Head over to Gym. Craft. Laundry. to learn more.

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The Importance of Messing Up: Grit

My little girls messed up big time this week. I happen to think that this was a good thing. It gave both of them a chance to come up with their own solutions to the problem, a skill far more valuable in life than doing things right the first time. Oh, how the Type A in me has been tamed by motherhood!

As I understand it, the psychological term for the characteristic I value is grit. I want my children to have tenacity in the face of adversity. I want them to be able to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try a different way. I do wish there was a way for them to develop that without ever getting hurt, but I know that life doesn’t work that way.

Our kids need to be allowed to make mistakes. It's the only way they'll learn how to deal with them.

School Teaches More Than Academics

I don’t worry too much about whether my daughters, now in 3rd grade, are learning what they should, academically speaking, at school. I know that they are.

M, J and I have a wonderful ongoing dialogue about what they learn. We find ways to explore concepts that they’ve found particularly interesting or that need a bit more oomph to be an intellectual challenge. Both girls love to talk about math and what they’ve been reading. Social studies is deeply interesting to J, although M needs a little more encouragement to discuss what she’s learned. Science takes more effort, mostly because they’re learning it in Spanish and don’t always have the English vocabulary to discuss the details.

What we spend most of our time discussing about school, though, has little to do with my daughters’ classes and assignments. Instead, far more of our effort goes into dealing with the social, problem-solving, and administrative aspects of school.

We talk a lot about relationships. We’ve discussed how to balance friendships. We’ve defined where the boundaries are when it comes to being the peacemaker between classmates who aren’t getting along. We often talk about when to try to work out conflicts without adult intervention and when to seek help. Recently. J observed that the boys and girls in her class sit at opposite ends of the lunch table and she has taken on a mission to reintegrate the genders.

Both M and J are phenomenal problem solvers. M is a strong manager of relationships and J is extraordinary. They’re both absolutely terrible at staying organized.

These kids would forget to take their heads to school if they weren’t attached. I’m pretty certain that there’s a daily stream of fallen paper marking the way from their classroom to our front door. Permission slips, homework, pencils, party invitations. You name it, J and M are experts at losing it.

Can you guess how many jackets my twins lost between them the winter before last? Seven. How do you lose that many jackets when there’s a Lost and Found that we check weekly?! How did I ever allow myself to buy them that many jackets?

Organization is what we work on at home. Organization is what they work on in class. Their second grade homeroom teacher once described my girls as typical absent-minded professors. She nailed it. Thank goodness the teachers at their school put the effort into helping M and J, instead of letting them slide because of their academic talents.

What Happened This Week: Problem 1

One of the programs that my daughters’ school offers to challenge and engage high performers is the Independent Study Project. They do 2-3 of these each year. All of the students in the Talented and Gifted program participate, but so do other standouts who might not qualify for TAG but still need an extra something. Some projects need to relate to a theme, but at least one is a Passion Project on a topic of the child’s choosing.

The Independent Study project was due today. The third graders have had intermediate deadlines, needing to turn in, in order:

  1. A brainstormed list of possible topics.
  2. A selected topic.
  3. A mind-map of ideas and research findings.
  4. An outline for the paper.
  5. A five-paragraph essay.

The teacher emailed all these deadlines to the parents and has made sure that the students are aware of them. I made sure that my daughters knew that they, and they alone, were responsible for meeting the deadlines. I would help if help were requested, but managing the project was up to each of them.

At 8:12 last night, after a good hour of conversation and reading to each other, J’s face fell.

J: My ISP is due tomorrow.
Sadia: Oh? Didn’t I ask you if you had finished your homework as soon as you got home?
J: I forgotted.
M: I forgot too. Oh no! I’m going to get an F. I’m going to get an F!
Sadia: Can you finish getting ready for bed and finish your project in 18 minutes.
J: No! I can’t do it!
M: I’m going to fail!
Sadia: Here’s the deal. Bedtime is 8:30. Period. You can tell Mrs. O that you forgot. Alternately, you can find a creative solution. Staying up late is out of the question.

Much to my surprise, M, usually the higher strung of my daughters, took a deep breath.

M: I’m going to set an alarm for 4:00 am.
J: Wake me too.

I let M set an alarm on my iPad and put it under her pillow.

What Happened This Week: Problem 2

We went to bed on schedule, but J woke me around 1:00 am. She was wide awake and thinking about her project, so I gave her permission to work on it, with the understanding that she would go back to sleep when she was done. I gave her my iPad to use to log into her school-provided Google Drive account to retrieve her outline.

At 6:00 am, I woke to my backup alarm ringing on my phone. I woke M, who began to get ready for her day, berating herself for having slept through the 4:00 am alarm.

While M was brushing her teeth, I heard an alarm go off on my iPad in the living room. J had forgotten to return it to M’s pillow, thus preventing her sister from waking early to finish her assignment. As soon as I pointed out what happened, J felt awful. She knew that she both owed her sister an enormous apology and needed to explain what had happened to their teacher.

Once again, M surprised me. She had no anger at all, instead comforting her sister. She got ready for school in record time and by 6:10 was at her desk, writing. By 6:45, she had finished her essay and handed it to me to review. I found a missing period, and that was that.

My 8-year-old had faced the consequences of her own forgetfulness and her sister’s, forgiven, problem-solved and met her goal. I would have preferred better scheduling in the first place to avoid all the high stress and procrastination, but I was pretty proud of my gritty girls nonetheless.

How do you encourage grit in your children?

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The Twinkle Diaries

Bedtime Routines

I’ve been on Spring Break this week, but my husband is swamped at work and couldn’t take time off to be with us. Last year for Spring Break, we took a family vacation to Legoland and LOVED it, so I hoped to be able to do something as exciting with them by myself just around town this year.

We went to the zoo, the park, ballet class, indoor playgrounds, and some museums. Even though most of these places are a short driving distance away, and we could easily stick to our schedule, there was one place about an hour away. It’s called Pretend City, and I’ve only been there once, back when Big Sis was really too young to enjoy it much. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since, but the logistics with napping babies just wasn’t working out. Until this week. I decided we would just have to take a shortened nap in the car on the way there, and get a catnap driving back. It actually worked out perfectly.

A predictable sleep routine is a great anchor on the rare occasion when you diverge from it!  Great thoughts from a mom of twin babies and a preschooler.

As any parent of multiples knows, a tightly run ship is necessary for the successful functioning of a household with many kids. And as I prioritize sleep for my kids above all else, our bedtime routines have always been pretty rigid. Except for very special days such as those once or twice a year on vacation, our schedule rarely shifts beyond a half hour.

What I realized this week, though, is that once a routine is set, it is something that my kids will stick to even if we take it off course. Let me start by describing what our normal bedtime routine looks like:

It actually starts with dinner. Dinnertime at our house is 5:30pm. Every Sunday we eat at 5 because we’re with the grandparents (because we need to account for the time to drive home), and on ballet class days we eat about 15 mins later, but usually we eat at 5:30. At 6 or so, kids are done and baths begin. Twins get their baths first while Big Sis plays by herself or does something on her iPad, but I do baths pretty quickly so she will often stay in the bathroom to talk with us. After the little ones get lotioned, teeth brushed, and diapered/dressed, they go off to their room for stories with Mama while Big Sis soaps herself up. I sit with the twins to read one or two books (sometimes of my choosing, sometimes at their request) before putting them in their cribs and turning on their humidifier and night light. Then they get a last sip of water, tucked in, and lights off around 6:45. Big Sis gets help washing her hair, and she is out of the bathroom lotioned, teeth brushed, and hair dried by around 7. She puts on pajamas and joins me in the living room for stories or some other quiet activity (like Legos or puzzles or paper folding) with Mama. Her bedtime is usually 8pm, unless I know she’s had no nap or an especially long nap that day, then I will adjust it by a half hour either way. She doesn’t require tucking in anymore, so when time’s up she just grabs her blanket and goes to bed on her own.

I have to say that this structure pays off. From the time they were babies, my kids knew that bath time comes after dinner, and bedtime comes after bath time. It doesn’t matter that on weekends Daddy does some of the routine, because they’re always done the same way, in the same order. They know exactly what to expect, and will often ask for the next step in the routine at the end of the previous one. For example, when Baby Boy is finished eating, he will ask to get his bath. And after they get dressed, Baby Girl will run to choose a book for reading. They don’t always like going to bed, but they know when it’s coming, and lights-out means lie down.

Smooth as bedtime usually is, this doesn’t give us much leeway for any evening activities. Rarely do we commit to events that take place after 5pm. Every so often Big Sis gets to stay out later because her bedtime is later and her schedule less rigid now, but the vast majority of our evenings are spent with our comfortable routine.

This is why, when I decided to take the kids to Pretend City this week, I sort of had to force myself to accept any crazy meltdowns that may occur. Factoring the traffic coming home, I debated whether to leave at 3pm and be home for dinner, or have dinner there and stay later. Since we didn’t arrive until noon, I decided to stay late and have dinner with my brother who lives in the area before driving home. We stuck to the kids’ dinnertime and ate at 5:30pm. But it was 6:30 before we got on the road, and 7:30 before we got home, well past their usual bath time. However, I knew that with the half-nap they got on the car ride there, they would sleep some more on the way home (my kids all love to sleep in the car).

Which they did. When we got home, I immediately started the baths and gave them all back-to-back-to-back. Each kid sat in the bathroom half dressed while waiting for the others. I even read Goodnight Moon (nice and short!) with all 3 together. There were no meltdowns, and everyone promptly fell asleep when they got in bed at 8:10pm.

I don’t plan to do this often, but it’s nice to know that I could if required for something special. And it’s all thanks to such a well-defined bedtime routine.

lunchldyd is mom to 2.5yo b/g twins and their almost-5yo sister. She is also a part-time teacher.

 

Toddler Thursday: Breastfeeding with Teeth

When I set out with the intention of breastfeeding my twins, I didn’t take their teeth into account. It didn’t even cross my mind, really, even though I knew that my own mother had given up breastfeeding my younger sister after several months of teething and biting.

I’d read Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the Sling, in which she describes exclusively breastfeeding her sons—as in, nothing but breastmilk for one year—and they’d already sprouted several teeth by the time they had their first ‘real food,’ bypassing purées entirely. And as a fledgling attachment parent, I learned that nursing itself was the panacea for any sort of discomfort, physical or otherwise.

What this didn’t address, however, was discomfort for the mother, specifically biting issues.

A friend of mine with a baby similar in age began to have biting issues related to teething when her daughter was only a few months old. She went ‘septic’ and was put on antibiotics. Scary, but amazingly, she went on to breastfeed for over a year.

I had my own share of breastfeeding difficulties, and in the early days, I used a nipple shield to alleviate some of the pain from constant nursing. But thankfully, teething itself was not really a problem for us. My twins didn’t get their first teeth until they were about a year old.

But after their first birthday, we experienced several other challenges. First, I got mastitis. Then, we went on a short vacation and I got food poisoning–not pleasant to be in a tiny hotel room with three other people, two of whom are literally wanting to suck the waning life force out of you. Lastly, my daughter did start biting me.

Mercedes, who successfully breastfed her twins to age 2, talks about how she addressed biting after her babies developed their teeth. Breastfeeding with teeth can work!

The good part about nursing toddlers with teeth who bite you is that I believe it is easier to remedy than just teething pain. There is usually an underlying reason for the bites. I had to cut nursing sessions shorter, and by this time I also reduced the number of feeds a day, which helped with biting out of boredom. Up to that point, I had used breastfeeding as the cure-all I’d come to know—now we were following more of a mother-led schedule. I also had to focus my attention more on my nursling to anticipate the bites.

I breastfed my twins until they were just over two years old, with plenty of teeth between them. I know everyone’s journey will be different but I’m glad ours turned out the way it did.

Toddler Thursday: Two vs. One

Don’t hate me, but I love toddlers.  Yes, there are tantrums and days full of “I do it!”, but there are also hugs around your knees and the adorable language I call “toddlereese”. I was an early childhood education major in college and spent many years teaching young children before I became a mom.  These experiences helped me immensely when my other three children were toddlers, so much so, that this stage has always been my favorite. Then I had twins.  They are 19 months old and I am tired. Just for fun I used my Iphone to record our morning.  I won’t bore you with the video or the entire morning, but here’s a transcription of part of it:

It’s 8:00 and Oliver, my 4 year old, is due at school at 9:30. I still have to get myself, Oliver, and my 19 month old twins dressed.  I’m already feeling frazzled and I’ve only been awake 30 minutes. So far I’ve fed all five kids and have kissed my older two boys goodbye as they left for school with their dad. I meant to wake up earlier so I could get myself ready in peace, but Rhodes slept with us last night and kicked and squirmed so much I didn’t sleep well. When my alarm went off I opted for 30 more minutes of sleep.

8:05 I’m standing at my sink brushing my teeth while Oliver is taking a shower. Laurel has toddled into the bedroom and is rummaging through my night stand. Rhodes is standing at my feet whining to be picked up.

8:07 Oliver has gotten soap in this eyes and is screaming. Rhodes is still whining and Laurel comes back from the bedroom covered in cuticle oil.

8:08 I grab Laurel and put her into the shower with Oliver. I’m rinsing Oliver’s face and hair when Rhodes’ whining escalates into crying. I glance at him to find he’s hit himself in the mouth with my hairbrush and has a bloody lip.

8:09 After a quick cuddle I put Rhodes in the shower too and cross my fingers that it will clean off the blood and keep him entertained long enough that I can get dressed. It’s at this point I’ve realized the extra 30 minutes of sleep weren’t worth it.

8:10 I’m in my closet trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans that I swear fit last week (Darn Easter candy). I make them work and throw on a blousy shirt in hopes of hiding the muffin top my now too tight jeans have caused. I do some lunges on my way out of the closet. Yay! Multitasking! I’m exercising and stretching my jeans!

8:11 All three kids are playing so I take the opportunity to throw on my makeup. I realize that Rhodes has chewed on all my makeup brushes and they are wet and gross. I use my fingers to apply eye makeup and blush.

8:13 My hair is too dirty to pull back but there is no time to wash it. I briefly toy with the idea of using one of Laurel’s head bands to hide my roots and greasy part. I decide I’m too old for that and use a bobby pin to pull just my bangs back.

8:14 The water has gotten cold so all three kids are fussing to get out.

8:15 While I’m getting Laurel out and dried off Oliver escapes and runs thru the house soaking wet.

8:17 Both twins are dry and as I’m walking them to their room to get them dressed I slip in a puddle of water. My bottom hurts and the twins are crying because I yelped when I fell.

8:18 We make it to the twins room and Oliver joins us. He’s still naked and is fussing because he wants to play on his older brother’s Itouch. I try to ignore him while I’m picking out clothes.

8:20 Rhodes and Oliver are now dressed but Laurel is nowhere to be found.

8:21 I find Laurel in the utility room eating dog food.

8:22 Laurel is throwing a fit because I’ve disturbed her second breakfast and Oliver is still whining. Rhodes is pushing cars around the playroom.

8:24 I’ve given in to Oliver and allowed him to play with the iPod Touch. Laurel is dressed but now Rhodes is crying about another bloody lip. He was crawling too fast, fell on his face, and bumped his lip on the car he was pushing.

8:26 Rhodes is calm. Oliver is calm. Laurel has once again disappeared.

8:27 I find Laurel in the bathroom where she is happily shredding toilet paper. I decide the mess is worth the peace and go looking for our shoes.

8:30 Victory! Everyone but Oliver has on shoes. He is pouting because I can’t find his Buzz Light Year socks.

8:33 Negotiations are complete. I’ve convinced Oliver to wear plain socks in exchange for allowing him to play with the Itouch in the car on the way to school.

8:34 The twins are gone. The house is quiet. This. Is. Bad.

8:35 I find them both outside. They have crawled through the pet door and are splashing in the bird bath.

8:40 I have wrestled the twins into new clothes. I’m sweating and grouchy. If I hurry I can make a cup of coffee to take with me.

8:42 I put all three kids in front of Curious George and head to the pantry.

8:43 Oliver is screaming because the Itouch’s battery is dead. Rhodes is screaming because Oliver is screaming. Laurel is in the pantry looking for cookies.

8:44 I’m charging the Itouch and holding Rhodes. Laurel has decided a cereal bar will work since we have no cookies. She has squished it while bringing it to me so when I open the package the bar crumbles to the floor.

8:45 Laurel is on the floor rolling around in cereal bar crumbs crying for cookies. I decide to not change her out of the sticky, crumb covered clothes.

8:47 I’m now holding Laurel and Rhodes and trying to put a coffee pod into my Kureig using my teeth. The twins explode into giggles.

8:50 Coffee’s made and we are on the way to the car. Everyone is happy!

8:51 I drop my bag and as I bend over to get it I spill coffee all over my shirt. I briefly contemplate sucking it out of the fabric.

8:53 Oliver is buckled into his seat. The twins have decided it’s time to ride bikes and are fighting over a ride on toy. Rhodes pushes Laurel and she is MAD. I scoop her up just as she’s lunging to bite him.

8:56 The twins are buckled into their seats but are not happy about it. Laurel is screaming for cookies and Rhodes is screaming because he can.

8:58 Silence. Everyone is watching the video and we are finally on our way.

I’m sure many of you a shaking your heads and smiling because you have been there. You know how it feels to run from one problem to the next all while trying to keep the day moving and actually be productive.

This post is so funny and painfully true. One morning with toddlers is a messy sticky comedy of errors!

There are several universal truths to parenting toddlers. These apply whether you have one or five. All parents of children this age can relate to these things:

There is a constant battle between independence and needing/wanting to be cared for.  It’s hard for them to decide what stance they want to take in any given situation and it’s even harder for parents to read what their child wants.  What’s ok one day just might not be the next

You will witness wonderful creativity. I’m always amazed how toddlers can turn anything into a toy or game.  I watched Rhodes play this afternoon with a cup, bowl of water, and a rock for over 30 minutes. Never underestimate their ability to entertain themselves without toys or technology.

Toddlers crave and respond to routine. The need for a schedule doesn’t stop at the end of infancy. Knowing what to expect and what’s coming next is reassuring to children of this age.  I find when I stick to our routine that tantrums are greatly diminished.

Parenting toddler multiples is very different.  I was naïve and really celebrated when my twins turned one.  I remember telling a friend “They are sleeping through the night, nursing is done, and they are learning to walk and talk. Things are bound to get easier now.” So far that hasn’t happened.

Parenting twin and singleton toddlers  are distinct experiences.

Here are the ways I find parenting toddler multiples different than singletons: Whether you admit it or not you are always comparing them. When I was parenting my singleton toddlers comparisons usually happened at playgroups or in online forums.  The anxiety of “Why aren’t they____?” was usually confined to that situation or to the few moments I’d spend replaying my day.  Now I find myself not only constantly comparing them, but also trying to compensate for imaginary weaknesses.  For example Laurel’s language is very advanced.  Her adjusted age is only 17 months and she’s already stringing together words to make sentences. Rhodes isn’t doing this.  He knows several words, but isn’t close to speaking in sentences. His speech is exactly where it should be for his adjusted age, but I find myself grabbing a book and pulling him into my lap more often than I do Laurel.  I’m constantly repeating his gibberish back to him correctly and engaging him in songs. None of this is done intentionally and I know I’m intuitively trying to encourage his language development because his sister’s is so advanced. If he was a singleton the poor kid wouldn’t be subjected to my constant singing and chattering.

Everything is more.  The noise, the mess, the laundry, the…   you get the point.  Laurel is a screecher and Rhodes is a yeller. Happy, sad, mad, all require screeching and yelling.  My house regularly sounds like a pet store.  Double the toddlers means the playroom regularly looks like tornado hit it. Unfortunately both twins are “dumpers”. They love nothing more than to walk up to a basket of toys and dump it out.  They don’t do this to look for a specific item.  They just enjoy pouring all the toys. When you have one child that screeches or pours toys it’s annoying.  When you have two a bad day can bring you to your knees.

Outings require pickiness.  I have a friend whom I love dearly but I will not bring the twins to her house.  She has an elderly grouchy dog, a very tall slide, and a sunken living room.  With one toddler I could manage all these variables by keeping the child in my line of sight.  With two toddlers who are inevitably drawn to different areas I just can’t do it.  I’ve also run into this when choosing parks and restaurants with out door seating (is it fenced?).  Any place I’m going to have to follow them around in order for them to be safe is out.

Confinement is necessary. My morning adventures would have been much easier if I could have gotten us ready to go out from our playroom.  We have put a lot of time and effort into making it a room that is comfortable for adults as well as fun and safe for the twins. There is really nothing they can do to hurt themselves while playing in it. The furniture is bolted to the walls, all outlets are covered, the floor is soft, and most importantly they can’t go in separate directions.  It’s so nice to have a place where we can spend time and the twins will be safe without me needing to be in two places at once.

You can’t mess with naps. When my singletons were toddlers there were times when I’d force them to make do with a nap in the car or go without one altogether.  I’d pack lots of snacks and expect to have to keep them really busy. Most of the time this would work and we’d get to enjoy whatever event was happening during their nap time.  Unless it’s a once in a lifetime event or an emergency I won’t do this with the twins.  Not much is worth the risk of potentially having two tantruming toddlers.

Toddler relationships  Children of this age generally don’t play together.  They usually engage in parallel play (side by side) or spectator play (observing and mimicking).  Very rarely will two toddlers actually interact during the same activity.  Laurel and Rhodes play together.  They will roll balls or cars together or look at the same book and chatter to one another about it.  It’s amazing and adorable. I have to say that this is my favorite part of this stage.  I love watching them interact.

This season of my life is challenging to say the least.  It’s full of rushing, managing, planning, and adjusting. Despite these difficulties I can’t remember a time I’ve been happier.  Rhodes and Laurel are amazing and I’m so blessed to call them mine.

What differences have you seen raising singleton toddlers vs. multiple toddlers? 

Linked at

The Twinkle Diaries

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Baby Bjorn Bibs

No parent enjoys the mess that is mealtime with young children.

Luckily, I found something to help us with that problem. As babies, all my kids wore cloth bibs during their waking hours, especially during teething, to catch all the drool and milk. We had several dozen cheap thin ones, lined with plastic on the back so they didn’t soak through. We changed these frequently as they got wet/soiled, and tossed them in with the wash. They worked wonderfully well.

However, as they began their rice cereal and then graduated to other messy colorful purees, the thin cloth bibs didn’t cut it anymore. Soft foods usually just slide right down a flat bib, and there is no mechanism on them for catching any solid foods (or food your child decides to spit out).

That’s when I discovered a new kind of bib: ones with a pocket! There are actually many brands out there, but the style is basically the same. It’s a molded plastic bib that catches food in its pocket. There are some made of just a thin piece of plastic with a flat pocket, which doesn’t seem very effective in catching any food at all. And there are some softer varieties that bend and move around with your child, which means the spilled food probably doesn’t stay put.

My favorite is the Baby Bjorn Bib. These are a little bit more rigid than the others, thicker, and sturdier. They attach around the neck via a sort of corded band across the top that you just press into the fastener at the other side, completely adjustable as your child grows or how close you want it to the neck, and much more secure than velcro. They come in all different colors, including gender neutral ones. But they are also somewhat pricey: Amazon currently lists these for about $15 a two-pack, which is a great deal because they sell for about $10 singly. th These best thing about them is not just that they are good at catching food, but they are incredibly easy to clean as well. After each meal we just rinse them off and they’re dry for the next meal. If we’re out, I just run around them with a wipey and go. And they are dishwasher safe! When I start a load of dishes, I just toss them in on top of the sippy cups and they get sanitized too.

Big Sis has for the most part grown out of using bibs. She is almost 5 after all. But sometimes at home when she knows she’s eating something messy, she will put her bib on to keep her clothes clean. But the twins have these bibs everywhere and use them at every meal. Over the years I have accumulated 9 of them: 3 for use at home, 2 at Grandma’s, 2 at in-laws, and 2 clipped to our diaper bag in the car. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get years more use out of these bibs yet!

lunchldyd is mom to 2.5yo b/g twins and their almost-5yo sister. She is also a part-time teacher.

Full-Term Envy Finally Ending

Being a Mother of Premature Infants

I’m a preemie mom. I have healthy, happy, smart, opinionated, confident, amazing 8-year-old daughters. They’ve overcome any challenges thrown their way because of their premature birth. They were incredibly healthy for their gestational age, and they were far from micro-preemies, being born at 33 weeks. And yet, I am and always will be a preemie mom.

Preemies shortly after birth compared to age 7 from hdydi.com

I have this enormous guilt at not having carried my daughters longer in my womb. I can’t help wondering if I could have given them just a few more days if I were taller or had gained more weight. Perhaps I could have gone on leave from work earlier and rested to prolong the pregnancy. My one job was give them a safe place to grow for 38-42 weeks, and I failed.

It’s not rational. I know that my daughters are above average in pretty much every area other than height. I know that 50% of twins are born prematurely, and I certainly wouldn’t give up having the both of them! More time in the womb might not have changed a thing. As my very wise 8-year-old M told me last week, “I am who I am because of everything in my life, including how I was born.” And I admit, I really like who she is.

Still, I suffer from what I call full-term envy.

Full-Term Envy

Every time I hear a pregnant woman wishing that the baby would come already because she’s uncomfortable, I want to tell her, “Do you know what I would have given to be that uncomfortable, just to give my babies a better start in life? Do you know how badly my neighbour, the micro-preemie mom, could have used 16 more weeks?” When I hear about the C-section scheduled around business priorities, I want to ask, “What if Baby just wants a little more time snuggled in there? What’s the rush?”

There’s a little stab in my chest when I hear about women reaching 34, 35, 36 weeks and farther in their pregnancies. I used to occasionally cry on hearing birth weights in the 6, 7 and 8 lb range. My daughters were only 3 lb 6 oz and 3 lb 9 oz at birth. And yet they’re here and healthy, and I know how fortunate I am.

Whole-Hearted Joy

Last week, something extraordinary happened. A dear friend asked me if I had any ideas on how to convince her son to make his way into the world… and full-term envy didn’t raise its ugly head. I felt compassion for her discomfort and shared her readiness to meet her son. I didn’t resent her full-term pregnancy. When I heard his 8 lb 1 oz birth weight a few days ago, I felt nothing but joy and a hunger to meet him and snuggle him and congratulate my friends.

I’m not sure why this baby is different. Perhaps it’s because I felt the loss of the miscarriage that came before him. Perhaps it’s because I found out that he would be joining us minutes after his mom learned that she was pregnant. Perhaps it’s because he feels like a brother to my daughters, who already love him as their own. Perhaps it’s because I was there every step of the way, seeing all the ways in which he took over Mommy’s body as he grew. Perhaps it was just knowing that his mom and her husband see my daughters as part of their family. They know M & J’s story, know the odds that they’ve beaten. My friend also knows the micro-preemie down the street, too, the 10-year-old bolt of energy who was born at 24 weeks and whose only long-term impact was on her eyesight.

I suspect that in experiencing the full breadth of my friend’s pregnancy as a witness, I healed the wounds from my own pregnancy being cut short. Maybe this little baby has vanquished my full-term envy.

What aspect of parenting to you feel envy about?

Labour Bag Essentials – For Twins

I originally posted this on my own blog after finally finding all my lists and lists of baby notes I made when I was pregnant. I decided to document this list in the hopes that it might be useful to other mommies out there. 

With twins, your chances of going into premature labour rises considerably. So once you reach the seven-month milestone, it might be a good idea to pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice. Here’s a list of the items you will need before, during and after delivery for both you and your newborn babies.

Paperwork

Get a file together with written dividers, giving you quick access to the exact paperwork you need This will not only make it fast and easy for you, but also for your partner while you have your hands full with the babies. Paperwork could include any or all of the following;

files

  • Your Id book
  • Hospital Registration Forms
  • Medical Aid card
  • Medical Aid Pre-authorization papers
  • Medical Aid Beneficiary addition papers for both babies
  • Multiple copies of your birthing plan
  • A page with your baby’s names and correct spelling
  • List of people to call

Also leave space for any paperwork you receive from the doctors, hospital, specialists, etc. This could include bills, prescriptions, birth certificates, etc.

Entertainment

This is not only for the hours you will spend in-between feedings and not being able to sleep but also for your partner’s sanity while you rest or feed your little ones. Remember to include chargers for all electronic devices even if they claim to last for days.

entertainment

  • Phone
  • Camera
  • IPad / E-Reader
  • Magazines
  • Novels
  • Baby/Parenting Books

Soothing Items

We all have those specific items that no matter what’s going on, will just take us to our happy place. Take things that will sooth you in the event of both a natural and a C-section birth.

soothing

  • Music
  • Your Favourite Snacks and Drinks
  • A picture of your kids at home (if applicable)
  • Lip Balm
  • Your favourite scented lotion
  • A soft pillow from home

Mommy’s Toiletries

With all the changes in your life, the best thing to do is to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible. Pack mini-versions of all your toiletries to save space, as you will only need a couple of days’ worth. Think of all the toiletries you use on a daily basis.

mommy toiletries

  • Facecloth
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shower Gel and Soap
  • Hairbrush, Hair Elastics and Clips
  • Lotion, Face cream, Hand cream
  • Deodorant and Underarm
  • Contact Lenses, Spectacles and Contact solution
  • Sanitary Pads for after the delivery
  • Nipple Cream and Disposable Breast Pads
  • Nail file
  • Hair dryer
  • An extra towel
  • A clock/watch to time contractions (and later for timing breastfeeding sessions)
  • Important medication, especially if you have a serious condition (make sure you inform/alert your doctor and the hospital staff)

Mommy’s Hospital clothes

The maternity ward is definitely not a fashion show, so this is the one time where you can put comfort first. Your body will be sore from both natural birth or C-section birth and the looser and lighter the clothing, the better.

HA0478 - Journey Planning. Lifestyle Images Portraying The Three Main Elements Of A Journey: Planning The Route, Travelling And Reaching Destination.

  • T-Shirts
  • Stretch Pants
  • Socks
  • Slippers
  • Flip-Flops for the shower
  • A Robe
  • Open-front pajamas for breastfeeding
  • Nursing Bra’s
  • Comfortable Underwear (High-waisted underwear in case of C-Section births)
  • Going home outfit
    • Keep it comfortable and pack a jacket and tekkies for incase.
    • You will still have a belly (it unfortunately doesn’t disappear overnight), so stick to your maternity wear.

Baby’s Toiletries

Most baby toiletries also come in convenient mini versions, so even though you might have an entire cupboard with huge 1litre bottles of baby shampoo at home, opt for the smaller versions in hospital to save space and make the trip to the nursery easier.

With twins, it’s only really the diapers, wipes and cotton balls that need to be doubled.

baby toiletries

  • +- 40 Diapers / per baby (2 large newborn packs)
    • With twins it’s important to pack both premature and newborn nappies due to the risk of premature labour.
  • 2 x Baby wipes (for sensitive skin)
  • Baby Bum Cream
  • 1 large pack Cotton Balls
  • Nail Clippers and/or Emery Board
  • Surgical Spirits (for navel care)
  • Mild Baby Soap
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Baby Powder
  • Baby Oil
  • Baby Lotion (preferably aqueous cream, fragrance free)
  • 4 or 5 baby towels (a hooded towel works best)
  • Petroleum jelly (to help remove meconium from baby’s bum)
  • 4 or more burp cloths
  • Infant colic drops
  • Infant saline nose drops

Baby’s Hospital Clothes and Gear

This is where packing for twins becomes a little different than packing for one baby.

So for those having only one baby, just halve what’s in this list.

baby clothing

  • 8 long-sleeved baby grows
  • 8 body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 8 pairs of baby socks (even in summer)
  • 2 beanies or warm baby hats (a baby can lose a lot of heat through his/her head)
  • 2 warm baby jackets or jerseys
  • 4 pre-mature long-sleeved baby grows
  • 4 pre-mature body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 6 receiving blankets
  • 2 warm baby blankets
  • 2 pacificiers/dummies (optional)
  • 2 newborn bottles + small tin of formula (even if you don’t plan to bottle feed, keep something ready as a backup)
  • Breast Pump and Accessories (if applicable)
  • Nursing Pillow
  • In case of planned bottle feeding
    • 4 or more bottles
    • 2 tins Formula
    • Bottle brush and detergent
    • Sterilizing equipment
    • Formula powder holder
    • Bibs
  • 2 Car Seats
    • Install the car seats before-hand, ensuring you know how to use them before placing baby in the seat.

Packing for your Partner

With all the hours of waiting and worrying about you and your newborn babies, it might be a nice touch to pack some essentials for your partner.

  • Toothbrush
  • Slippers
  • Extra Clothing (incase the babies mess on him)
  • Jacket
  • Snacks and Drinks
  • Money for the vending machine
  • Magazines
  • etc.

Nice to Have’s

These are certainly no necessary but might come in handy.

  • Spare cash and Change for vending machines, gift-store runs, etc.
  • Extra Bag for all those hospital goodies and gifts from family and friends
  • Journal and pen to jot down notes and questions for the doctors or to record feeding times and other details of your babies.

These items will help to make your hospital stay as comfortable as possible. Packing all the above items will also have you fully equipped for the first few days with your newborn babies. Some of these items could also be obtained from your hospital pharmacy, but do keep in mind that they run office hours before relying on that fact.

Each maternity ward have their own preferred list of necessities for you and your baby, so be sure to check with them before finalising your packing.

Christine is a first time mommy to two beautiful 17 month old twin boys that have recently started walking and are now running in all directions. She’s wife to her high-school sweetheart – the man of her dreams and also a full-time software/web developer in the financial industry.
She mostly blogs about their experiences with the twins in their daily lives adding some tips and tricks they learnt along the way.

Blogs by Parents Expecting Twins or More

Our blogroll is a great place to find mommy and daddy bloggers writing about life with multiples. Those in the most need of finding their corner of the blogosphere? Those who’ve just learned that they’re expecting twins, triplets, or higher order multiples.

The Expecting Multiples category is, for obvious reasons, constantly in flux. To make things easier for the expectant bloggers in our ranks as they approach their impending due dates, we’ve created a list where you can find others having multiples right around the same time as you.

Add your blog below, if it’s not already there, and visit the others. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be making some lifelong friends. Don’t belong on the list any longer? Just let us know in the comments.

Mommy and Daddy Blogs by Expectant Parents of Multiples
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How Do You Do It?

Mommy and Daddy Blogs by Expectant Parents of Multiples

Currently expecting twins, triplets, or higher order multiples? Find your tribe! From the moment you discover you're growing more than one baby through your birth story, add your blog here and find others going through the same thing! Uneventful pregnancies to TTTS: it's all here.

This list is curated by the MoMs of How Do You Do It?, the blog where mothers of multiples tell it like it is. (For general MoM blogs see HDYDI's Blogroll.) Links will be removed from this list and added to the blogroll as you have your babies - healthy and, we hope, full-term!

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  1. moe talks a lot

    This bathroom is on our ground floor, right off the entry. I really like having a bathroom on the first floor for guests. And for us. There are no before pictures, because we haven't changed anything. Other than adding in our stuff. This is the floral picture that I rambled about in the post about the guest room.

  2. Leela Fish - Life and Ventures of the Babe and the Borders

    I recently sat down with my almost 4-year-old to get her take on the impending arrival of her twin siblings. She says all kinds of crazy things to me on any given day, as most all almost-four-year-olds do, so I couldn't wait to pick her brain.

  3. trish tells it like it is

    Babies: Babies are supposedly the size of bananas this week. And since they were supposed to be the size of small cantaloupes last week, I'm guessing the banana size is in reference to their length. I'm more a fan of this baby size chart anyway but it doesn't have a 21 week estimate.

  4. Letters from Lexie

    I hope I can be half as good of a mom to my babies as my mom is to me! She is such a good example of what a good mother should be, and I look up to her so much. It was really hard to say goodbye yesterday, I didn't want the weekend to end!

  5. It Takes a Village - A Baby Quest

    Well, ladies and germs, the time has finally come. I've gone from drinking for one to eating for three. I would rather take a nap than belly up to a bar for an icy cold beer and a shot of fireball. My have times changed.

  6. Chats Over Cheerios

    Pregnancy has a way of turning you into a bipolar lunatic. There's no rhyme or reason to when it will hit you and you will absolutely lose it. So far this pregnancy, I don't think I've had one break-down-and-cry moment. I think that's pretty incredible. But the way my hormones come out is probably worse.

  7. Life, Love and Living with Boys

    This post was written a few weeks ago before we were ready to share our pregnancy*** With both my previous pregnancies, I've not really thought too much about the 12 week dating scan. Of course there's that moment when you're sat, belly out, covered in jelly and the sonographer places the transducer (yes I Googled it) on your bump.

  8. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Parenthood

    We had a second baby shower from my good good friends at work! It took a lot of coordinating due to everyone's schedules: spring break, Scott's sporadic work schedule, Easter, vacations, days off, etc. You name it, it happened in the span of the month or so we were trying to figure out when to have it.

How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Party #49

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rulesParenting Link Up Party


Last week’s featured posts:

Thanks to all who linked up. We’re looking forward to new posts from all of you this week and welcoming new linkers!

Last week‘s most clicked post was from this very blog. People loved Mike’s first post. He talked about the everyday realities of life as a working father. He’s balancing the kids’ sports, schoolwork, and community with a job and marriage, while also working with his wife Donna on building House Monkey, an online tool to help busy families like theirs manage the household.

Learn how Mike, a dad of four, is working with his wife to turn an idea into a business.

Have you ever read Extreme Parenting? This is truly an extraordinary family. They’ve adopted 13 children, most with special needs, bringing their family to 20! They’ve been hit by a new blow. Granddaughter Naomi needs a liver transplant because she is suffering from biliary atresia. Find out what all that goes into the process. Did you know that, “Ideally parents aren’t desired donors as they are so concerned about their child that they don’t make very good patients and look after their own recovery”?

Extreme Parenting: Naomi is need of a liver transplant for biliary atresia.If your kids are in sports or will be starting soon, check out Wondermom Wannabe‘s sports mom bag of essentials. There’s also a giveaway in the post, ending today. Yes, there’s stuff in the bag for the kids, but don’t go forgetting about mom. Those bleachers can get uncomfortable!

Sports mom essentials from Wondermom Wannabe.
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Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
  2. Follow the How do you do it? Parenting Link Up Board on Pinterest where we pin every link shared!
  3. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts. Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post, since that’s what will show up in the link up.
  4. Check out at least 3 other links! This is a party, so mingle!
  5. Leave an awesome comment for those you visit and tell them you found them at the HDYDI link party! And pin them/share the posts that you really like.
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