How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #41

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Parenting Link Up Party

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party. This is your opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples, that is twins, triplets and higher order wombmates. We believe in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in lasting friendships, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all our readers, whether or not you have multiples or are officially a parent. Here, we invite you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, and your insights with our online community here at HDYDI.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: How do you handle conception, pregnancy, preterm birth, birth in general, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


December’s featured posts:

Thanks to all who linked up, especially given the long breaks between the last few linkups.

The last link-up’s most clicked post was from Emmy at Parenting: Uncensored. She shared her advice for surviving – and truly enjoying – Disney World with small children. Her boys were both under 6 during their visit, and they had the time of their lives. She covers everything, from making the decision to go, to how to juggle the kids when one is too young for a ride, to dealing with post-vacation withdrawal.

Surviving Disney World with Small Children from Parenting: Uncensored

The post I found myself going back to repeatedly was Katy’s one on self care for working moms, on her blog Chaos and Kiddos. As she puts it, “Focused mainly on carrying my family through the days, I forget that taking the time to focus on myself every once in awhile ultimately makes me a better parent.” Check out the rest of her post.

Katy boudoir pic

Amber, one of the four fantastic Lou Lou Girls, wrote a quick and easy guide to putting together busy bags to occupy your little ones. Busy bags are prepped collections of new-to-kiddo toys that can help you achieve relative quiet in a hurry. I highly recommend that you give this post a peek.

Busy bags are the secret to keeping your kids quiet for a while. From Lou Lou Girls.

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and display it proudly on your blog!

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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
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  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.
  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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Make-It Monday: Valentine’s Countdown Treasure Box

(Yes, today is Sunday, not Monday.  Sorry to give any sleep-deprived mamas out there another reason to doubt their sanity.  [Been there!]  I would like to say that I was *ahead* of the game…but that’s just not the case.  I wish I’d done my crafting a week ago…but I didn’t.  So I’m posting this hot off the press…on Sunday, not Monday.)

For the last several years, my girlies have had SO much fun with their Advent calendars, counting down to Christmas.  I had visions of doing something fun for Valentine’s Day…but with my girls’ birthday immediately following Christmas (the first week of January), I just didn’t have it in me for another big project.

Vday1I happened upon some Pinterest inspiration, and I decided I was up for a week of counting down.  And I can’t wait to see my girls’ faces when they see this little surprise!

I bought a $1 pill box for each of them (check the dollar store or Walmart).  I am glad I found an extra-large one…it will be easier to fit tiny treasures.

I cut paper to cover each of the days, stamped out a little message, and Viola! this Valentine’s Day countdown was born.

I put in a Hershey’s Kiss for today.

Vday2

The balance of the week I plan to fill with some tiny treats (conversation hearts, M&Ms).  I also plan to put in a couple of activities…I’ll write something like “Make Valentine’s Chex Mix“…to mix things up a bit.

I love sharing holidays with my girlies!  What fun things do you have planned this week?  We’d love to see your ideas!

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.

Working Mom, or rather, When “Working” Meets “Mom”

Here’s my perspective on being a single mother with a career I love: My time with my daughters is a vacation from work. My time at work is a vacation from my kids. I’m perpetually on vacation. Yes, I’m frequently tired and the need to constantly prioritize means that many lower priorities don’t make the cut.

Overall, though, I love being a working mom. It’s just how I’m built.

For the most part, I try to keep mommy-Sadia and professional-Sadia separate. In fact, when pondering my career trajectory, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to go down the managerial track precisely because “boss” is such a parental role. I spend my time at home laying out behavioural expectations, following up on progress, and enforcing peace. I don’t need to be doing that at work too.

That said, my work environment is extremely family-friendly. Actually, it’s just all around friendly. My coworkers and I hang out outside work. We exchange parenting tips. We know each other’s kids and pets and in-laws. My daughters, J and M, think of many of my coworkers as family.

It still surprises me, though, when I notice aspects of my job entering my parenting. The other day, I was trying to help M and J make peace after a misunderstanding. J had stomped off to the shower, understandably upset, in my opinion. I sat down with M to get her side of the story.

M: Am I in trouble?
Mommy: No, of course n… Actually, what do you mean by “in trouble”?
M: It means I hurt somebody’s feelings.
Mommy: In that case, yes. You hurt J’s feelings. I mean something different when I say, “in trouble.” To me, it means that someone’s about to get a punishment,
M: (starting to cry) I’m going to get a punishment?
Mommy: No, not at all. I just thought you were asking if you were getting a punishment, and that’s why I said no.

Then it struck me. I’m a business analyst. Much of what I do all day is get people to shared understanding, often by investigating assumptions and clarifying terms. Despite my own assumption that mommy-Sadia and professional-Sadia were distinct, I use my professional skills in my parenting.

How does your career or education impact your parenting?

National Reading Day: Books About Twins

Books About Twins As a past elementary school teacher (having taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th), it’s no surprise that I love books. I prided myself on having one of the largest (and most organized) classroom libraries in our school. When I left teaching to be a mom to Audrey and David, I brought all of those books home with me! One thing that was missing, however, was books about twins! In the past year, I’ve been on the hunt for books about multiples for our children. As a way to celebrate National Reading Day today, here is what I found:

In my searching, I also found some books for adults:

Do you have any favorite twin books? Share with us in the comments!

Maintaining the Silliness Quota

Today, my daughter M and I went to her very own doctor, the one she doesn’t share with her sister. M’s twin sister, J, did not join us, instead staying at school with their 3rd grade class. This is quite the rare occurrence, since I usually try to schedule appointments outside school hours and therefore have both girls with me.

M was very silly at the appointment, needing more reminders than usual to focus on the doctors’ questions. I wondered what was going on, only to discover this was yet another sister thing.

M: I was super extra goofy for you at the doctor.
J: What?
M: You weren’t there, so I did your sillies for you.
J: WHAT!?
M: You weren’t there, so I had my own sillies and then I was extra silly to make up for you.
J: Yeah, I got that, and I repeat: “WHAT!?” That makes no sense.

At least she agrees with me.

M missed her sister. The appointment ran late enough that M risked missing lunch at school, so I took her to a restaurant for a meal. When I asked for a table for two, M let me know that it sounded wrong. She went through every combination of meal partners she could think of, pointing out that we always needed at least 3 seats.

By the time we were done eating, though, she was enjoying herself.

“I like this quality time with you, Mommy,” she confessed, “just the two of us.”

Now I need to find some Mommy-and-me outing time for J. She would be okay with M going on a playdate without her to make it work, “as long as it’s not with [one of their 3 best friends] S. We’re a trio.”

The One-Year Myth

New parents of twins are assured that it gets easier after the first year. Katie finds that it stays hard, just differently.

When you’re pregnant with twins, everyone tells you how hard the first year is. When your twins turn one, everyone congratulates you on surviving the first year. My twins will be 18-months old soon and I’m still waiting for it to get easier. Sure, some things are a little easier. They (usually) sleep through the night. They’re starting to use a few words to communicate their needs. They occasionally will entertain each other for a minute or two. But, by the way people talked up this first year milestone, I guess I expected the skies to part a little more than they have! And what little break in the clouds there was, was filled with climbing dining room chairs to stand on tables, power struggles over getting into the high chair, stranger danger so intense that no one can babysit other than grandma and grandpa, consistent 5am wake ups, and my personal favorite: mastering the babyproofing in the kitchen (mental image of my son pulling out the large stockpot and pushing it through our kitchen and living room day in and day out). Last week, a mom of three-year-old twins confessed, after watching our chaos, “Oh, I HATED 18-months.” I wanted to shout, “What?!? You people promised it’d be easier by now! I’ve been duped!”

One particular aspect of mothering twins that has continued to surprise me is how daunting it is to take them anywhere on my own. Again, I was hopeful this would get a little bit easier once they could walk; being able to hold hands to walk to the car as opposed to carrying two infant carseats, etc. However, it still feels nearly impossible to go anywhere with the two little monkeys where there isn’t a person on the other end willing to help me. This seems to be one of the biggest areas in which I feel so different, I imagine so much more isolated, than a mom of singletons. The jealousy I felt more often when my babies were little creeps in a little bit when I’m sweaty and frustrated trying to wrangle my two at a play group, and a mom of one child of the same age as mine sips her coffee and makes a new friend.

Several months ago I wrote a post on here about deciding whether to have another baby after twins. That was eight months ago. If you’d asked me then if I thought I’d be closer to a decision by now, I would have said, definitely, still believing in the myth of the one-year epiphany. But I’m starting to wonder if it EVER feels any easier and if I will even have the energy for my two that I DO have. (The optimist in my feels the need to balance all this out with stories of them starting to give each other hugs, belly laughs playing together in the bathtub and snuggles on the couch. There IS that balance, of course. If there wasn’t, the question of one more wouldn’t be. I guess I just expected the scales to tip a little further in favor of the lovelier moments. Do they ever??)

One thing within my control that I am doing to survive toddlerhood with twins is scaling back my expectations.  My New Years resolution is: “Simplify.”  This fall was the busiest I’ve ever been in all parts of my life, and I realize this contributes to my frustration.  Ultimately, my kids are number one.  While there is a touch of disappointment that I cannot make a social get together, or take on one more thing at work, if saying no to these things gives me the patience to see the amusing side of the mischievousness in our house, I’ll take the disappointment with a smile.

How did you survive toddlerhood with twins?

The Jelly Bean Revolution

This post has nothing to do with my daughters being twins, but I do hope it marks the beginning of the end of my months-long neglect of How Do You Do It?

In an attempt to reduce the pain that my expectations of decreased screen time has on my 8-year-olds, we’ve been watching movies on Netflix together and then researching or discussing related topics. For instance, we watched the wonderful animated musical about Moses, The Prince of Egypt. Then we read Exodus, the second chapter of the Old Testament, and discussed the accuracy of the film portrayal of the story and why the filmmakers chose to insert the storyline about the childhood relationship between Moses and Ramses.

We also watched Anastasia and then researched the real Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna’s life story. That discussion, which touched on the Bolshevik Revolution, led to this gem of an exchange:

M: What’s a revolution?
Sadia: It’s when a group of people come together to make a really huge change.
J: I thought it was when you changed yourself.
Sadia: Oh?
J: Like ‘no more jelly beans’.
Sadia: That’s a resolution. Zzzzzz not vvvvvvv.

Now, of course, I have visions of the Jelly Bean Revolution.

Revolution

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs where Sadia 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.

Guest Post and Book Giveaway: Elise Bruderly

Today, we have a special treat for you: a guest post and book giveaway from twin mom and author Elise Bruderly. If you’d like to win a copy of her book, be sure to enter the giveaway below! Now, hear her story in her own words. – Sadia

Win a copy of Elise Bruderly's book Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year

 

In May of 2005, I found out I was expecting twins.

As I “recovered” from the shock of this news, I said, “Someday I’m going to write a book about this!” And that day has come. Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is the handbook I wish I had, to guide me through the ups and downs and twists and turns of that first year as a parent of twins. The book weaves together actual stories and journal entries from that first year, with practical parenting advice and ideas, as well as a focus on the emotional journey, and growth, required. I hope that this book serves as both an inspiration and a source of reassurance for expectant parents and parents in the midst of that first year.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the book.

from Chapter 6: How Parenting Twins is Different

How to be a Parent of Twins

When you think about how to parent twins and how to be a parent of twins you really must consider two areas of growth.  First is the actual, physical “doing” of life.  These are the “how to clone yourself” questions, like, how to get two babies a bath when you are home alone, how to pick up two crying babies, what to do when the phone rings and your arms are full.  You can learn how to do all of these things- either with advice from other parents of multiples, from books, or by trial and error.  Never be afraid to try a new idea, and never stop trying new ideas.  As your babies grow and develop things will change, sometimes by the hour.  What did not work yesterday might work today and what you wish would work today might very well work in a few days if you stick with it.  Becoming capable with the tasks of parenting twins is both liberating and confidence-building, two essential traits for your continued journey as a parent.  The sooner you make peace with yourself- giving yourself permission to try something new, and not feeling silly if the whole idea fails- the easier you will find the ongoing tasks of parenting twins.

The being a parent of twins is much harder to learn and much more abstract to describe.  I have often felt “out of step” with friends and others raising singleton children the same age as my babies.  Nothing ever felt quite the same to me as it appeared to be for my friends- the lack of sleep, the ability (or not) to get out of the house.  When a parent is already struggling to adapt to their new role, feeling alone in that role can be even more demoralizing.  I will never forget the first time I felt this difference square in the face.

My babies were born in the late summer and came home in the early fall.  It was a long, cold winter where we did not get out very much.  By the time they were around seven months old I was feeling more capable and a more pressing desire to “be normal.”  I started taking them to a baby playgroup that was held at the library.  There was fifteen minutes of songs and stories and then forty five minutes for the babies and parents to interact with toys and each other.  I saw, quite quickly, what two babies meant for me.  While others picked up their child and moved around the floor, checking out different toys and talking to others while swinging their baby in their arms, I sat on the floor with my babies- in one spot while reaching out to grab a toy here or there that made its way over to our area.  I was not mobile in the least, and, as such, I was not social.  It’s not that others were mean to me, it’s just that they were doing what they could do and did not realize my limitations.

We continued attending the playgroup, and talked to those who might be around us.  I watched others make coffee dates for afterwards and thought to myself that I wasn’t sure my “lunar lander” could even maneuver into or around the coffee shop.  I thought that perhaps I was too much work to be friends with, I couldn’t zip around with a little stroller, or walk around with one arm full of baby and the other with my hot drink.  I wished very much to feel less isolated and wondered if I was having fun.

How did I learn to be a parent of twins?  How did I learn to embrace the challenges and enjoy the moments?  It was a journey, to be sure.  It required building confidence in my parenting decisions both big and small.  It required perseverance- attending those playgroups where I felt alone, getting through failed trips to the store, talking myself through the hard days of nursing through growth spurts, and functioning on a severe lack of sleep.  It required reaching-out, feeling awkward and uncomfortable at times, and making new friends who were parents of twins.  It required an ability to laugh at myself, knowing that there is just nothing that can be done when babies decide to explode through their diapers and spit-up all over at the same time.  It requires “digging deep” to find that better self that is there inside of you and accessible only when you want it and need it so badly.  I’ve often heard that things are given only to those who can handle them.  Personally, I believe that handling the challenges makes us that person.

When you are expecting twins, or are learning to be the parent of twins, what you must know and remember is this:  The road will never be quite as smooth as you might wish and you might never master juggling.  But if you remember to love your children and remember that you are doing the very best you can, you will find the energy and strength to get through the day.  Each day is the beginning of a new adventure and each adventure will provide a smile once you learn to recognize the moments.

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Elise Bruderly, MSW, LMSW, lives with her husband and boy/girl twins in Dexter, Michigan where she enjoys the ongoing adventure of parenting twins.  Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

A Little Bittersweet

My twins turned two years old two weeks ago. With the hustle and bustle of Halloween then Thanksgiving, I hadn’t realized until the other day when I turned their carseats to forward-facing that my babies are really growing up.

Years ago, right before Big Sis turned one, my husband came home one day to find me looking through her photographs and bawling. I couldn’t believe my baby was becoming a toddler. But now my days are so consumed with the constant exhaustion of 3 kids that I rarely have time to reminisce. And if I do get the chance to think about anything, it’s how nice it would be when they’re all older and we wouldn’t have to deal with tantrums or nap schedules anymore. How great would it be to have a family vacation somewhere far-ish?

But once in a while, like when the twins’ rear-facing carseats flanking Big Sis’s center forward-facing seat became just like hers, it dawns on me that we’ve passed yet another stage of their babyhood. Never again will I see those little faces looking at me through the mirrors hanging from the headrests. Never again will my babies happily throw their chubby little feet towards their sister to be tickled. Thinking about that is kind of worth bawling over.

That’s not to say, however, that forward-facing seats are bad. There is more space between the front seats and second row for the also-growing-bigger Big Sis to get to her seat without having to crouch and squeeze. There are fewer crevices in which crumbs and other nasty stuff can get trapped between the carseats and the car. I actually have access to the front seatback pockets without obstruction. The twins can (and sometimes do) climb into their seats by themselves. And they are really enjoying their increased visibility (how exciting it’s been to drive after dark and hear all 3 of them marvel at the Christmas lights passing by)! I’m glad we’ve graduated to forward-facing seats.

And yet… it’s bittersweet. Every milestone is a triumph tinged with sadness.