Sleep: Definitely not for the ‘WithKid’ ;)

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Sleep. When you have a new baby, it’s one of the questions everyone asks you – ‘How are they sleeping?’ You almost get sick of talking about it, especially when you have not one but two rubbish sleepers. At least when they’re babies though, you feel like you’re in good company – all the mums you meet are moaning about lack of sleep and surviving on coffee. You feel like you’re all in it together, helping each other through. What I’ve found is that it’s a much lonelier place when your children are 3 and a half and *still* not sleeping.

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A Little Back-to-Work Rambly Update

Hello! So, as expected, I haven’t blogged since I’ve gone back into teaching. At all. Life has been super busy and it’s been a big adjustment for us all – I’m not quite sure even after half a term that we’re actually fully used to it yet. So I just thought I’d write a little about it and how we’ve been getting on πŸ™‚
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A Bit of a Natter – Back to Work, Instagram and a Crapload of Emotions

I feel like there’s a lot of stuff swirling around in my head at the moment and I’m in the mood for writing some of it down… So here we are πŸ˜‚

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Twiglet Top Tips – Rachel Thornhill Photography

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A few weeks ago, we spent a fabulous morning at Mayfield Lavender with the very lovely Rachel Thornhill. I’ve known Rachel for a few years as she used to teach the twiglets Gymboree before she embarked on her career as a photographer. Her work is amazing so when she offered to take some photos of them I almost bit her arm off πŸ˜‚ We met at Mayfield Lavender Nursery, the β€˜secret’ lavender fieldΒ πŸ™ŠπŸ˜Š It’s a bit more wild and natural than the main field further up the road but, unlike that one, is not open to the public. It is available for private hire though 😊

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Has It Finally Got Easier?

Back when the twiglets were babies, whenever I met a mum with older twins, one of the main questions I’d end up asking was β€˜when will it get easier?’ Always spoken with a slight undertone of crazed desperation, meaning β€˜please tell me it gets f**king easier, please, PLEASE!” 🀣 The other day, as I got the twiglets out of the car and they walked, both sensibly holding my hands, into their playgroup, it suddenly struck me that maybe we were actually there – has it finally got easier?!
Now don’t get me wrong – it’s not easy, not by any means. We have plenty of sh*t days. H still has the most monumentally epic meltdowns, usually over very little, and has been super emotional recently. C is an absolute diva – knows what she wants, is extremely impatient to get it, will trample on anyone in her way (sometimes literally) and god help us all if she doesn’t get what she wants (which she frequently doesn’t because I’m a mean, horrible mummy 🀣) Strong-willed to the extreme. Both can be soooooo naughty – H in a bit of a silly-hyperactive-annoying-little-puppy kind of way, C often in a more calculating push-all-mummys-buttons-until-she-completely-loses-her-sh*t kind of way πŸ˜– And the times when both are at their naughtiest together… well let’s just say you’ll find me mainlining wine of an evening (erm, that’ll be every evening then πŸ™ˆπŸ€ͺ🀣) Since they turned three a couple of weeks ago, C has taken on her threenager role willingly, and seems to have a newly acquired attitude problem. She’s started answering back, defiantly refusing to do what she’s asked, telling me to go away etc. So that’s all thoroughly joyous. And don’t even get me started on potty-training H πŸ™ˆ
And yet… When I think back, to the hazy fog of the newborn days – the tears (them and me), the rollercoaster of emotions, the struggle to breastfeed and then to pump, the guilt, the endless pooey nappies, the extreme sleep deprivation, the crying, just the sheer overwhelmingness (?πŸ€”) of it all… And then a few weeks and months in – the reflux, the wind, the screaming when feeding, still the endless nappies – the relentless conveyor belt of feeding, burping, changing, rocking to sleep, sterilising bottles, washing clothes – over and over. As they got older, the challenges changed. Suddenly they were on the move so I needed eyes in the back of my head 🀣 I’ve said this before but for me, nothing was quite as tough as the newborn period, yet still I’ve always found parenting twins hard. That’s probably an obvious thing to say, and I’m also aware I’m probably sounding very negative here, and I don’t mean to – I love being a mum, even more so being a twin mum and I wouldn’t change a thing (although children who sleep might have been nice 😁) But it’s ok to admit it’s bloody hard, right? Even a few months ago, every outing was so stressful and anxiety-ridden because of H having no sense of danger and just wanting to bolt at every opportunity.
So being able to walk calmly across that car park holding the twiglets’ hands and chatting to them, without stressing, really did make me stop and think. No more lugging two heavy car seats at once, or wearing one baby in a carrier and carrying the other on my hip, or having to get the tank (aka buggy) out just for a 30-second walk from the car as it was the only way to do it safely, or trying to walk them both and instantly regretting it as they tried to do a runner in separate directions in a busy car park… In a way I miss all those times as it signifies how much they’ve now grown up and matured, but I can’t help but appreciate the ease of things like a simple car transfer now.
So yes I still have sh*t days where I feel lonely and down and like I can’t cope, yes I still need to have a rant sometimes when they’ve driven me to the edge, yes the tantrums are something else and the challenges have just changed as they’ve got older… But even still, I think I can finally say that overall, parenting twins has got that little bit easier at age 3 😊
(*Disclaimer: I reserve the right to fully revoke all of this if they’re being absolute turdmonkeys tomorrow πŸ˜‰)

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When You Can’t Protect Your Children From Other Influences

I remember vividly the first time the twiglets came home from nursery and started singing a song that I didn’t know. They were about 19/20 months and hadn’t been going there long – their speech was nothing like it is now, but they were clearly attempting to sing a song and I had no idea what it was. It was such a weird feeling hearing words come from their mouths that I knew for a fact had not been learned from us. That was the moment I realised that it was no longer just me and twin.papa.po (and our close family) who were responsible for shaping their little minds. Up to then, pretty much everything they’d experienced in their lives had been with one or both of us. We were trying to teach them right from wrong, trying to explain things in a way they could make sense of, trying to encourage them to be kind and caring towards others, above all trying to ensure they were happy. All obviously guided by our own views, opinions and experiences and how we wanted to parent our children. So that singing moment felt significant to me because it was when I had the realisation that other people, with different views, opinions and experiences to ours, were now really starting to influence our twiglets.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I actually think it’s good for children to have lots of different influences in their lives as it will hopefully help them to grow into well-rounded and tolerant individuals, understanding that everyone’s equal yet unique etc. The problem is, some of those influences are inevitably not going to be positive or desirable ones, and as much as we want to protect our kids from them, they need to experience these too. One example of a less than positive influence was something that happened when we were on holiday.
We were in a restaurant waiting for dinner and the twiglets were happily jumping on the bouncy castle there. We were sat very close by. A girl of about 4/5 and her older brother joined them and at first it looked very sweet – C and the girl seemed to be making friends and playing together. We soon realised however, that the girl was starting to be pretty bossy. We then heard her saying β€˜I’m prettier than you’ to C 😱 Luckily C couldn’t have given a flying f**k but it made me so sad that she even experienced someone saying that to her – what a horrid thing to randomly say to another child! I did not want her internalising that and starting to believe it or even thinking it was ok and saying it to another child herself. We weren’t sure of the best thing to do – the girl was being a bit rough too, considering C was much smaller than her, although she is quite tough so wasn’t remotely bothered by that either 🀣 The brother did actually pick the girl up on her behaviour at one point and told her she was being too mean. The parents were on the next table and didn’t say anything – maybe they didn’t hear, maybe they didn’t care – I don’t know. Anyway the girl then ordered her brother and C to stand still by the edge while she β€˜performed’ (H had come off for some juice because juice is life in his world πŸ˜‚) C obliged and waited patiently but then when it was her β€˜turn’ the girl gave her about 2 seconds to jump then told her to stop again. We were a bit p*ssed off by now so I was secretly quite proud of C, at two years old, for standing her ground against this much bigger girl and saying β€˜no it’s my turn now, you need to stand there,’ pointing at the side πŸ™ˆπŸ€£ The girl was not happy at being challenged 🀣 We stepped in at that point and told C it was time to come off for some juice and that her dinner would be ready soon. Being the non-confrontational buggers that we are, we didn’t say anything to the girl or her family, but we did explain quietly to C that the girl hadn’t been behaving very nicely or being very kind. And I guess that is what we as parents and carers can do. We may not be able to protect our kiddies from negative influences but what we can do is use those influences – to teach right and wrong and to reinforce our expectations of our children, in effect to show them what not to do I guess. (Back to the little holiday girl quickly… Interestingly, the next child to go on the bouncy castle was a bigger girl and the three of them were bouncing around quite boisterously together. Then the mum of the littler girl suddenly went storming up and shouted at the bigger girl for being too rough with her daughter! Twin.papa.po and I were looking incredulously at each other wanting to scream β€˜POT, KETTLE!!’ The poor girl was basically hounded off and ran back over to her family in tears! In a way I wish I’d had the guts to say something but I know there would have been absolutely no point – the woman clearly would not have heard a word against her daughter and would probably have caused a huge scene πŸ™ˆ (Just a note here that although I’m being a bit flippant, I do try very hard not to ever judge others’ parenting as I know how damaging, unhelpful and often misguided that can be – in this instance it was hard not to but I’m mindful that I don’t know that family’s story – maybe there were reasons behind it, who knows ✌ )
Anyway that incident made me feel some trepidation at the thought of the twigs going to school next year and the fact that we won’t always be around to protect them from things like other kids being mean or even learning of things going on in the news when they get to that level of understanding. How on earth do you explain to young children some of the things happening in the world? I have no answers for that; I guess as with everything, we’ll wing it when the time comes. It’s just a bit sad that it’s already the end of that time in their early lives where we can keep them almost completely safe and protected in our own little family bubble, and maintain that lovely pure innocence they have. I suppose we just have to hope we can instil enough of a strong moral compass in them that they have the confidence to ignore negative influences and take their own path. And hopefully, we’ll get it kind of half right and that’s what they’ll do 😊

Twiglet Top Tips – Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Park

Last week, we had a fab little break away at Drayton Manor Park. It was about a 2 Β½ hour journey for us from Surrey so we stayed over for a night in the hotel – we definitely wouldn’t have attempted there and back in one day. Anyway the journey went surprisingly smoothly. We haven’t bought the twiglets i-pads or anything yet (basically trying to put that one off as long as possible πŸ˜‚) but we managed to keep them entertained singing along to their favourite songs (pretty much the Trolls soundtrack on repeat with the odd Mr Tumble nursery rhyme thrown in πŸ”«πŸ€£) When we arrived we headed over to the hotel to drop luggage etc and collect our theme park tickets then entered the park. We quickly grabbed some lunch at one of the cafes; food was as you would expect at a theme park really – ok but nothing to write home about (or in a blog post πŸ˜‰) Then we headed for Thomas Land. When we first went in, I thought it didn’t really seem that big but actually it was quite deceptive and there were a lot more rides than I first thought. One big positive was that the twiglets could go on practically every ride – I think there were maybe two which they were too short for. Most required 1:1 adult supervision – totally understandable but a bit of a bugger for me as it meant I had to go on all the rides too (I am a massive, massive wimp – I hate heights, moving fast and get dizzy from just spinning round once – actually pathetic πŸ˜‚) It was busier than I expected given that it was term time and mid-week, but not too busy either. There was quite a nice bustling atmosphere which I think I preferred to it being completely dead. There was never much of a wait for any of the rides – we either got on straight away or had to wait one go – always a good thing as queues are no toddler’s friend πŸ™ˆ

We went on quite a few of the rides that afternoon. H loved them all – I think the rides were quite adventurous given that toddlers could go on them. I expected them to be really tame but they were quite exciting (maybe that’s my wimpiness talking though 🀣) C was a bit more cautious and did freak out a little on a few – it didn’t make much sense though as some of the fastest, highest ones she was absolutely fine with πŸ˜‚ Good old toddler logic I guess! 😊

Later we took the little train over to the zoo – C and H LOVED this. Watching the front carriage detach, turn around on the turntable then attach to the other end was a real highlight for them. The signs clearly say to take all pushchairs, belongings etc with you – we nearly left the buggy to the side as we had done on all the other rides but ran back for it last minute. We were glad we did as the train does take you a little way away – into the zoo area (not that it would have been a huge deal to walk back and get it but still 😊)

We quickly looked at a few animals – flamingoes (C’s fave), ostriches etc then headed to the outdoor play area (well, more accurately, we were walking past and the twiglets ran straight in paying us no attention as we have zero control over our children, so we acted like we’d meant to go in there πŸ™ˆπŸ€£) Anyway, there were lots of decently-sized train-themed climbing frames with slides etc for them to play on, so we spent a while there – until the park closed in fact and a member of staff came round ushering everyone out 😊

We then headed to the hotel, which was just a short walk across the car park, and checked in to our room. We had one of the Thomas-themed rooms and it was really very cool, with a Thomas bunk bed and blankets, murals on the walls and carpeted train tracks on the floor.

The twiglets also got a little goody bag each – I’m not sure if every child staying in the hotel gets one or maybe just if you’re in one of those particular rooms. Anyway it had a colouring book, a toothbrush (useful as we realised we’d actually forgotten to pack the twigs’ ones anyway πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚), a cuddly lion (the Drayton Manor mascot I think) and some other bits and bobs 😊 It was super handy for keeping the twiglets entertained while we had dinner over at the Grill Inn – again, food was good but nothing hugely memorable πŸ™ŠπŸ˜Š Sleep was a bit of a nightmare that night πŸ™ˆ If you follow me on Instagram (@twin.mama.mo) you’ll have read/heard me ranting on about how awful the twiglets are at bedtime – it’s a bit of an ongoing theme. Anyway they didn’t disappoint that night and were messing around for hours – even harder when you’re stuck in the same room as them. Sleeping arrangements were interesting – the twigs are at an in-between kind of phase where they’re in toddler beds with bed guards. They’re too big for cots and wouldn’t tolerate them anyway but not quite ready for full-size single beds, let alone bunk beds πŸ™ˆ We couldn’t get the top mattress down to put it on the floor and even the bottom bunk was still fairly high and had no side. We put some rolled up-blankets/towels along the edge and had H in there and C on the floor on a load of pillows πŸ™Š When they finally fell asleep, H fell out of bed on top of C so we ended up with him in our bed. I spent part of the night on the bottom bunk with C but she kicked the absolute crap out of me so I moved back. Suffice to say, we were all pretty jaded in the morning after all the nighttime antics πŸ˜‚ It was fine though – good bit of character-building 🀣 They sleep pretty shockingly at home anyway so it wasn’t too different πŸ˜‚

Breakfast in the hotel was good – think it might have been the twiglets’ first ever cooked breakfast πŸ€” They were very excited to have sausages, beans etc first thing anyway 🀣 We then packed up all our stuff, dropped off luggage in the car then headed back over to the park, which opened at 10, with the rides starting at 10.30. We went on a few, however H was not in the best of moods, probably due to tiredness. He was getting increasingly grumpy and difficult as the morning went on.
As H seemed to be on a one-way ticket to Meltdown Central, we opted for a change of scene and took them into the dreaded softplay πŸ™ˆ I have to say, it’s an amaaazing softplay – absolutely massive. Much bigger than anything the twigs have ever been on. Anyway they merrily ran straight in and started climbing. I noticed signs saying children could play for 15 minutes – there didn’t seem to be anyone enforcing this particularly, but I imagine at busier times (school hols etc) they probably would be. Despite her tough, strong-willed character, C can actually be a bit of a wuss at times and she freaked out mid-climb, halfway up the giant structure and started shouting for us to rescue her. Twin.papa.po obliged, removed his shoes and jumped in. After a little while, after he’d been attempting to reason with the most stubborn creature in all the land, a member of staff called up to him that adults aren’t allowed on the play frame so could he please come down πŸ™ˆ So just be warned, if you have smaller kiddos or kids who are liable to get nervous etc, it’s not the type of softplay where you can go round with them (I think if your child needed particular assistance for any reason and you explained this to them, you probably could though). There was a much smaller area for littler ones so we tried to encourage the twigs to stay in there after, with limited success 🀣
After that, H’s mood had thankfully improved a lot and we spent until about 3pm going on the rest of the Thomas rides, looking around the zoo and the Dino Trail, took the little train again and had lunch and ice-cream. By that time, the twiglets were absolutely shattered and passed out in the buggy before we even made it to the car – always a sign of a fun-packed day. We transferred them to the car and began our journey home 😁 We had a great time at Thomas Land; the twiglets have been talking about it constantly since and we would definitely highly recommend a visit 😁