Toddler Thursday: Are Twins Easier?

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I wrote this post when my twin daughters, J and M, were 19 months old.

In some ways, having twins is easier than raising an only child.

  • When one twin develops an obsession with an article of clothing, they can easily wear it every day, since you already have two from all their matchy-matchy baby gifts.
  • When you say “naptime”, they hear “time to play with Sissy without Mama around to bother us” and run to the nursery.
  • You realize that most of the cool new things they’re learning are not a typical phase in child development at all, but an embodiment of their individuality. You don’t worry about averages or typical ages to reach developmental milestones, because kids are just all different. Even identical twins. Or perhaps their being monozygotic makes the differences that much more noticeable.
  • You can say, “Sissy picked up the toys she was playing with, so clearly you’re old enough to put yours away.” This does not in fact cause them to pick up their toys, but you feel no guilt in being thoroughly disgruntled.
  • Strangers’ constant comments about how precious they are almost inspire them to keep bows in their hair. Almost.
  • They understand firsthand that being kicked hurts. However, they continue to kick things… and people.
  • They know how silly they look when they throw tantrums. They throw ’em anyway.
  • It’s easier to cook for three than for two. Most dishes I cook with a pound of meat and a couple of vegetables get consumed before they go bad.
  • You essentially do the same amount of work (one bath, one bedtime story, one set of meals) for twice the kisses and hugs.
  • They understand, and live by, the meaning of “Share”.
  • Some amount of competition is good for them. “She’s walking? Maybe I should try it.” “She said ‘please’. That worked pretty well. I think I’ll give it a shot.”

In what ways are twins easier than singletons in your family?

Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Common Sense Media

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We’ve come a long way from my early concerns about young children and screen time. My initial knee-jerk attitude that TV is evil has matured into a more nuanced one.

There’s no reason for children under 2 to watch television. In my opinion, some touch screen apps may be appropriate for toddlers, in a very limited way, since they are interactive and respond to the child’s actions. Older children can consume film and TV shows within reason, but I strongly encourage parents to watch with them to make for a shared and interactive experience. I also think that it’s important that parents preview the media that their children will consume to make sure that it’s appropriate and that any lessons not in keeping with family values are discussed. Advertisements should be limited and any that are shown should be explained as an attempt to sell and not a reflection of truth.

My children are 9 years old. They are allowed 2 hours of screen time on each weekend day. On rare occasions, if they’re done with homework and we have some time before bedtime, we’ll watch a movie together on weekday evenings. They are also allowed unlimited screen time to research and write their independent study projects, which are usually worked on in Google Docs.

There are occasions on which M and J want to watch a show or movie on Netflix that I haven’t yet seen. Very rarely, we go to the movies to watch a new release. My kids will learn about a new kids’ website at school and ask if they can visit it. In these cases, I turn to Common Sense Media. This website and its associated app are a goldmine of practical information for parents.

When you search for a book, show, game, or movie, the resulting list includes an age appropriateness rating for each result. This rating isn’t the one given by the movie/game studio or publisher, but is based on developmental criteria and the specifics of the content of the media.

Common Sense Media gives clear age ratings for books, games, and movies.

More detail is available for each item, including commentary about themes that might be worth discussing with your child. You can also read reviews and comments from both parents and children.

Common Sense Media provides helps parents decide whether a show, game, or book is appropriate for a child.

I recently turned to Common Sense Media when it occurred to me that my children might be old enough for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I hadn’t seen the movie in 18 years and couldn’t remember how overt its sexual content was. The review’s first sentence answered my question: “Parents need to know that some of the nuances of the storyline and much of the film’s innuendo-laden humor will go right over children’s heads.” Although the site recommended the movie for children 10 and up, I felt confident that my daughters could handle it. And they did. They loved it. They caught onto some of the darkness in the storyline, but completed missed the innuendo in the midst of all the slapstick. There was a teeny bit of language I could have done without, but the Common Sense Media review ratings had warned me of that.

If you haven’t visited the site before, I strongly recommend a visit to Common Sense Media at commonsensemedia.org. I wouldn’t do without it.

Twinfant Tuesday: “Mothering” on Mother’s Day

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I remember my first Mother’s Day.  My girls were right at four months old.  I was incredibly grateful to have joined the ranks of motherhood, but I was tired…so very, very tired.  How wonderful it would have been to have a break.

But I didn’t get a break that year.  I changed just as many diapers, washed just as many bottles, dealt with just as much laundry as I had the many days before.

While I have yet to enjoy the elusive “day off”, my subsequent Mother’s Days haven’t been quite so grueling.  Certainly at six years old, my girls are largely self-sufficient.  They’re bundles of energy, but they’re so much fun.

I wanted to spend the day with my girls on Sunday.  I’m working full-time these days, and they are in kindergarten, so our downtime is a tiny fraction of what it used to be.  I cherish being with them on the weekends, and I wanted nothing more than to hang out with them and enjoy the spoils of being a mommy.

What I didn’t see as part of my Mother’s Day “bliss”, though, was disciplining my children for talking back to me, or for saying an inappropriate word.  I counted three time-outs between the two girls.  At age six, that’s a bit unusual (fortunately), but it had to be done.

And I certainly didn’t plan to get a “throw-up call” from Baby B a couple of hours after bedtime.  She somehow didn’t get any on her bed, but it was all over her…prompting a full shower and then drying her hair, and then doing a big load of laundry.

During these not-so-blissful times, there was a part of me that wanted to say, “Seriously???  On Mother’s Day??!!!  The last thing I want is to put you in time out!

But I stopped myself.

We may take a break from time to time (a well-deserved break, no doubt!), but our job as mothers never stops.  It changes, and it gets easier in many ways, but this is who I am.

This line of thought helped me keep things in perspective on Sunday.  Certainly I would have enjoyed a perfectly planned day, complete with some pomp and circumstance and some quiet time…and I definitely plan to eek out a pedicure in the next couple of weeks…but in the midst of not-so-fun, I was reminded how important my job is as a mom.

If you’re in the midst of the twinfant stage, hang in there.  If your kiddos are older, but still tucker you out just as much, that’s OK.  If you took some time “off” this weekend, hope it re-energized you.

Whatever stage we’re in, may we keep perspective.  May we appreciate it for what it is.  And may we feel the importance of our roles.

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day, in whatever way you marked the day!

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

Twinkly Tuesday – May 12, 2015

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Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at How Do You Do It?, along with Lisa and Caro of Mummascribbles and The Twinkle Diaries. We’ve got a fresh chance for you to meet new people, share your posts, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere.

Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post, no easy task with the richness of content being linked.

My Tuesday Twinkler for the week is from one of HDYDI‘s authors. Yetunde-Olusola wrote about “The 30 Year Parenting Plan” on her blog, MyTwintopia. She reminds us to think beyond the 20 years or so that our children will be living in our homes and encourages us to care for ourselves, physically, emotionally, and financially.

Take care of yourself now so you can be there for your family later.

Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is from Mumbling Mel. She shares her story of the unthinkable tragedy of surviving a miscarriage. Not only did she have to undergo a D&C after learning that her baby had stopped growing at 9½ weeks, Mel and her husband had to explain to their 3-year-old what had happened. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard this must have been; just supporting my daughters as they grieve the loss of their stepmother’s pregnancy has been heart-wrenching.

Surviving a miscarriage, from Mumbling Mel

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from Carry on Katy. Katy wrote about how her amazing son Stan defies labels, despite everyone’s efforts to label him. She tells us why we shouldn’t always read the label, at least when it comes to people.

People don't need labels. Let's just look at them as people, shall we?

Take a moment to read them. You won’t regret it! We would, of course, love a visit to the host links too, and any others that strike your fancy.

On with this week’s link-up!

Link two posts, old or new, that you think deserve more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi, Caro — @twinklediaries or Lisa — @mummascribbles, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest: Lisa and I pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and the top pins are repinned on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet her your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We do remove offenders if reminders go unheeded.

  • Link up to two posts per week — old or new.
  • Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s. (Scroll down for the code.)
  • Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
  • Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
  • The linky will close at 23.55 GMT on Friday.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

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PSA for Pregnant MoMs: Listen to Your Body

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Colleen C shares her triplet birth story with the How Do You Do It? community. She’d like to remind expectant mothers of multiples to listen to their bodies.

I was scheduled for a C-section at 38 weeks, but only made it to 34 weeks with my triplets. Here’s the thing. I was so used to feeling huge and uncomfortable that I completely missed all the signs of labor for hours!

I’d spent the day, as usual, running around after my 8 year-old daughter. I’d gone to a PTA meeting, done the grocery shopping, and taken care of all the business that comes with having a school-age child. I dismissed the growing aches I felt as a sign that I was just overdoing it a bit.

At dinner time, my (then) husband looked at me and said, “Um… you don’t look so good. Maybe we should call the doctor?”.

I waved him off and said that I was fine, but he said, “No, you really don’t look good!”. He insisted on calling the doctor. I told him to ask if it was OK for me to take a Tylenol.

As he described my symptoms over the phone, my doctor said, “She’s in labor. Get her to the hospital!” I took the phone and said, “I can’t be in labor . . . I’m having a scheduled C-section!”, to which the doctor replied, “Change in plan! Stop being stubborn and go to the hospital!”

We got someone to watch our daughter, grabbed a suitcase and headed out from our Jersey suburb to our hospital in NYC, promptly getting stuck in a huge traffic jam. By this time, the labor pains had started ramping up, and we were starting to panic that the babies were going to come in the middle of the New Jersey Turnpike.

We eventually made it through, and when we arrived at the hospital, my doctor was already there—delivering another set of triplets! They prepped me to go as soon as the first mother was finished. It all turned out well, and the two of us new moms were next to each other in the recovery room, chatting away while they attended to all of our new babies.

The lesson: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! The best-laid plans of doctors and modern medicine often change because Mother Nature has her own schedule. Don’t run around trying to be Wonder Woman, taking care of everyone else. Take care of yourself and your babies first. I wish that I’d paid closer attention. I would have gotten myself to the hospital hours sooner, instead of endangering myself and my babies.

I would have been a lot less stressed if I’d taken the time to hear what my body was telling me. Good luck to you, and God bless!

A Mother’s Heart

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Yesterday, a package arrived in the mail for my daughters from their father. It contained, among other things, the stuffed toys M had left at Daddy’s house. She had been waiting for their arrival since January, so you can imagine how excited she was.

She introduced her North Carolinian “children” to their Texan siblings.

“I’m so glad you’re all together, just in time for Mothers’ Day, which is also my birthday!”

In my 9-year-old’s mind, today as Mothers’ Day was as great a celebration of her as it is as her birthday. She has a mother’s heart.

Celebrate everyone who loves with a mother's heart this Mothers' Day. From http://hdydi.com

Happy Mothers’ Day to everyone who loves with a mother’s heart.

… to you who ever carried a child in your womb.

… to stepmothers, grandmothers, and aunts.

… to you who welcomed a child into your family through adoption.

… to you who opened your home to foster a child.

… to you who took a moment to show someone that they mattered.

… to you who have dreamed of a child who will some day be yours.

… to you whose child has left us too soon.

… to teachers who have touched the lives of students.

… to nurses who have been there in those most frightening of hours and celebrated every victory.

… to mentors who have nurtured the spirit, intellect, and hopes of a new generation.

… to therapists who have seen each child’s potential.

… to you who have crossed paths with a child and hoped you made a difference.

Happy Mothers’ Day to each of you.

 

 

Multiples in the Womb – National Geographic documentary

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As if we needed any proof that our multiples are miracles, National Geographic has a wonderful documentary about the life of multiples in utero. See 4D ultrasound of siblings interacting before they’re even born.

The In the Womb series also includes a video entirely about identical twins in the womb, which we just loved. Do be aware that there’s a scene in both films with a silhouette of the act of conception that you may want to skip through if you haven’t had The Talk yet. There are also diagrams of male and female anatomy. You may want to watch it all the way through without kids at least once.

Toddler Thursday: Relating to Other Siblings

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I dreamed of my three girls playing together as I incubated my twins, conjuring images of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. They would join their big sister and embark on a lifetime of adventures in adorable rompers. I took notice of sisters at the park, studying their bonds and dreaming of how close-knit my girls would be. Shortly after the twins were born, I found myself pregnant again, and gave birth to another girl. A houseful of ladies. Feelings. Hormones. Hairbrushes.

Though we have four children, we have no middle child, and that has made a big difference in how they relate to one another. Hailey and Robin, our identical twin girls, have such a unique, close relationship with each other that they don’t fit the typical description of a neglected middle child. There isn’t (yet) much competition between the girls, and so their accomplishments are celebrated by their siblings as though they are all teammates. They also coalesce in relative harmony by fulfilling roles that have developed organically.

mamaread1

I could tell in the months after the twins were born that my oldest desperately needed a role, a more solid identity. Her family became a five-some and the twin babies were a novelty to every guest who visited. She quickly became the leader. As the twins grew, began talking and moving, big sister was there to guide the play, teach them new tricks and show them boundaries. She may have delighted in kicking them out of her bedroom a little too fervently, but she found her stride as the leader.

When the youngest girl was born, Hailey and Robin were still too young to grasp the concept, but our oldest found a comrade in arms. Her role as leader and the baby’s role as the ‘other singleton’ fused a bond that rivals the twins. Big sister and littlest sister have become two peas in a pod, leaving Hailey and Robin to happily continue forging their special twin connection.

mamaswim1

Our twin girls share a closeness far deeper than a sister connection. I’m sure as the girls grow, the singletons will experience feeling left out of that special closeness. Like every tribulation in parenting, we’ll tackle that when it arises using empathy and respect. Most of the time, our daily (mis)adventures are a scene of four girls, not divided into teams, but united as a foursome.

We have tried to let the oldest be the leader, because the younger ones delight in idolizing her, and falling into line under her command. We might let the baby get away with more (we’re exhausted after just going through it all with twins, for goodness’ sakes!), but her big sisters seem to enjoy doting on her as well. The twins continue to attract attention wherever we go, and their sisters are there to put them on display and chat to interested observers.

I’m not sure to what I should credit the closeness between these four girls, but I suppose that is part of the magic to sibling relationships, isn’t it?

SarahNSarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

Sleep Challenges, Big Kid Edition

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When I went to check on my daughters last night before I went to sleep, I found J’s Kindle lying on top of the covers. It should have been under her pillow. I sought out her 8-year-old twin M’s bedtime reading and found her book under the pillow, but on the opposite side from where I’d seen her put it at lights out.

When it was time to get up for school, J was the first to wake.

Me: J, have you guys been reading after I turn the lights out?

There was a long, pregnant pause. J sighed.

J: Yes. Yes, we have.
Me: By flashlight?
J: How did you know?

I had to laugh, loudly enough to wake M.

Me: Because I used to do the same thing. Thanks for being honest with me. I know you were tempted not to.
J: You did it too?
Me: I did.
J: What did your mommy say?
Me: She never caught me, but my Nanu (maternal grandmother) did.
J: What’d she say?
Me: That she used to do it too, but by candlelight or moonlight. And that sleep is important.

We shared a laugh. This time, M wanted to know what we were laughing about.

Me: M, I know about your reading by flashlight.
M: Am I in trouble?
Me: Do I look mad?

She studied me.

M: No, I don’t think so. Why not?
J: Because she did it too!
M: You DID?
Me: I did.
M: Mom!
Me: I know. But here’s the thing. Sleep is important. Sleep is when you form your memories and…
J: What memories?
Me: All your memories you’ll keep forever. Everything you’ve learned and everything you’ve seen and your friends and silly things M says. Your brain needs time to rest and recuperate, and so does your body. A lot of the chemical in your body that tells you to grow is made while you sleep.
M: Did you have to stop?
Me: Well, my Nanu didn’t tell, but she made sure that I got more sleep, because I was tired.
M: Do we have to stop?
Me: Yes.
J: (disappointed) Okay.
Me: You have plenty of reading time. We can try to adjust things to give you more reading time. But you need all the sleep time too.

M handed me the flashlight she’d just dug out from under her pillow.

I’m not sure I handled this the right way. Perhaps I should have been harder on the children for actively misleading me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have confessed my own childhood disobedience. Maybe the consequence of not respecting bedtime should have been the loss of reading privileges.

I really didn’t want to punish the children for loving literature. I didn’t want to make them afraid to admit their mistakes to me. I didn’t want them to feel that it was safer to build lies upon lies instead of coming clean.

Our bedtime check-in seems to indicate that I made the right choice. When I asked J what she’d learned today, she answered, “I learned that I can’t get anything past my Mommy. I have lots of examples! Like reading… and wearing perfume… and brushing my teeth.”

What would you do if you discovered your kids reading after bedtime?