Outnumbered

Do you ever feel like your children are ganging up on you? Conspiring against you to send you into some sort of mental breakdown, while they no doubt point and laugh uproariously? I certainly do πŸ™ˆ
I find that the twiglets behave completely differently depending on whether they’re together or separate. Separately they can actually be quite sweet, well-behaved children who you could almost imagine being integrated nicely into society… Together, they are the devil in-f**king-carnate. I don’t know if it’s a twin thing, or just a general sibling thing, but I definitely think the closeness in age has a big part to play.
A little example… In the mornings, I will often put one twin in their bedroom with some books, toys etc (with the safety gate on the door shut) and the other downstairs in the living room (also with the gate shut). That way, I know they’re safely contained and there’s not a huge amount of mischief they can get up to (ha f**king ha). Sometimes, however, I take leave of my senses. This morning, I allowed them to make their own way downstairs together after I’d dressed them, trusting that they would just go and watch CBeebies in the living room (clue: NEVER trust an almost-3-year-old, and definitely not two of them!) When I came down after five or so minutes, they were sat on the coffee table, with open bottles of undiluted squash which they had managed to swipe from the locked kitchen cupboard, and were merrily swigging from and shaking around everywhere, while singing and laughing. Their clothes, which had been on clean just minutes before, were drenched in orange and purple liquid, as was the table and the floor. We needed to leave for nursery basically right then. Needless to say, I lost my sh*t somewhat. The twiglets didn’t care of course – if anything my fury just added to their amusement. I swear I’m raising a pair of psychopaths 😭 Anyway, after stripping them and telling them they would never be allowed any squash (or treats or chocolate or lollies etc etc) again EVER, I went to get more clothes, slipped on a puddle of f’ing squash on the floor, and stacked it hard, banging my knee. I lay there face down for a minute and cried – partly because it wasn’t even 9am and I’d had enough, and partly because, despite pushing two babies out of my vag in very quick succession (one with a head the size of China) I have the pain threshold of an infant flea. The psychopaths did then ask what was wrong and if I was ok, but very insincerely – I think they were probably just worried about who they would terrorise now if they’d actually killed me off. Anyway I eventually pulled myself together and got them ready (again). I’ve no idea how much neat squash they actually drank (C gleefully informed me it was β€˜lots and lots’ 😬) but they certainly seemed pretty off their tits by the time I dropped them off at nursery. And just to add to the crap mothering this morning, I didn’t even brush their teeth after as I forgot/was too busy trying to get Out. The. Bloody. Door.
So that was just a little insight into the sheer ridiculousness of my life πŸ˜‚ I’m very used to being outnumbered by my children. I’ve never known any different and learnt to adapt very quickly when they were born – from rocking one baby in a bouncer with my foot while winding the other on my lap, to changing a nappy one-handed while feeding the other a bottle of milk with my chin so I could take a sip of lukewarm coffee. All multiple mums will relate to those kinds of scenarios πŸ˜‚ Being outnumbered by babies is HARD. Especially when they both need your attention and are screaming and you can’t physically split yourself in two. I remember when I used to desperately ask twin mums with older kids if it got easier, and they’d say β€˜not really, the challenges are just different.’ I see what they mean now. Being outnumbered by toddlers is also hard, but in very different ways. And actually, for me personally, nothing will be quite as hard or as overwhelming as those sleepless newborn days with two tiny babies who I couldn’t feed the way I wanted, who I had no idea what I was doing with and who spent a large proportion of their time crying and I had to try and guess why. I have to remind myself of that when the twigs are driving me up the wall now. Also, I’m sure in a few years, which will no doubt fly by (😭), I will look back on all these toddler dramas and find them pretty bloody funny πŸ˜‚ Anyone else relate to feeling outnumbered by their kids? 😊

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Breakthrough or Fluke?

I could actually cry.
Yesterday we had a little breakthrough with Henry. To anyone else, this probably will not seem like a big deal in the slightest. But for us it was kinda huge. I managed to do a short walk (literally two minutes) from the car to a local softplay, and back again after, with no buggy AND NO REINS. And no twins – ha just kidding. To most other parents, even those with twins of a similar age, this is probably just normal. But for us, it definitely isn’t.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll no doubt have read/heard me banging on about the fact that Henry is a runner. I don’t just mean he runs fast (which he does – it’s frickin ridiculous, he’s like a chubby lil cheetah) but more that he runs away. And doesn’t stop. Usually, no amount of calling after him will deter him from his mission to get the f**k away as fast as he possibly can. Occasionally, pretending to turn around and walk in the other direction, ie pretending to leave him behind, works and he will run back, but I doubt whether it is the best parenting strategy to be using. Anyway, more often than not, he laughs his head off, waves and runs even faster. At this point I invariably begin to panic as he gets further away. If I only had him to chase after and keep track of, it might be manageable. It would probably still be a bit stressful but at least I could maybe cope without a buggy and would just be able to focus on keeping up with him. However, with another child and a buggy (which, ironically, is mainly only needed so that I have the option to strap him down and contain him if he’s being too crazy) it becomes a whole other level of anxiety. It gets to a point where H will be getting too far away for comfort and showing no signs of stopping, not responding to me shouting after him etc, and I’m then forced to suddenly abandon the buggy and Cora in order to put on a sprint so that I can catch up with him and bring him back. What worries me the most, along with having to leave Cora behind for a minute, is that Henry seems to have no real concept of danger – he would blindly run full-pelt towards a road given half a chance, isn’t bothered if he runs out of sight of me etc. It’s only happened on a couple of occasions that he’s actually gone out of my sight and that feeling of bubbling panic rising up inside me so I feel almost sick, is just the absolute worst. I’m so utterly paranoid now about it that I find things like going to softplays a source of huge anxiety. I can only cope if it’s basically one room, completely enclosed, and I know exactly where the exits are and know for sure that he can’t escape. Because if there is any way to escape, Henry Houdini will bloody well find it.
Anyway, the upshot is that Henry spends probably 90% of his time either in the buggy or on reins, especially when I’m on my own with them. We have our Adventure Belt which is fab because he’s attached to me but a bit more independent and I have my hands free, and also some Little Life backpack reins, which are useful if I’m letting him on and off them as I can quickly and easily tuck the β€˜lead’ into the backpack. He’s generally pretty good with reins these days as he’s so used to them and understands that the alternative is that he has to stay in the buggy; however, there are times when he gets really frustrated and will lash out/lie on the floor etc – basically go nowhere fast πŸ™ˆ So that’s fun… πŸ€” It makes me sad to have him on reins all the time as I would much prefer to be able to give him a bit more freedom when we’re out walking in a park or something for example (obviously not anywhere too busy or crowded like a shopping centre) because I love letting the twiglets explore nature and discover things and just wander. But most times I try to let him off them, he just legs it and gets put straight back on. I find it so frustrating and always feel guilty about it. When I do let him off, I’m paranoid about him not going more than a metre or two away from me because I know that if he’s much further than that, and makes a break for it, I’ll have to ditch everything and run to catch him. I’m sure it must seem to other people like I’m super uptight and/or overly cautious, but I think if you have children who can wander off a certain distance but you can trust that they will come back when you call them, if you haven’t felt that abject panic of seeing your child running off and knowing they’re just not going to stop, it’s probably quite hard to understand. I’ve never met a child of his age who has such an apparent lack of awareness about danger as he does, or the willingness to run so far from his parents. It just seems like most kids by the age of almost three, are generally pretty sensible and can be trusted a bit more – like Cora, to be fair. I feel so much more relaxed letting her out of the buggy as I just know that the vast majority of the time, she will listen and be careful. Similarly, in cafes or restaurants, I will happily let her sit on a β€˜big seat’ or even get down and walk around a little, but I always strap H into a highchair and wouldn’t dream of letting him get down because I know he’ll just be gone. I feel bad for treating them so differently, but if it’s a question of safety there’s just no other way. I know they’re two individual children so sometimes it is appropriate to treat them differently anyway but I just hate having to baby him so much more and not give him as much independence. But I guess until he’s ready for it, there’s not much else I can do.
So, that is why a simple two-minute, buggyless, reinless walk yesterday felt like a monumental breakthrough. H walked sensibly, he didn’t go too far ahead, he came back when I called him and when we were near the carpark, he waited and held my hand until we got back to the car. It was like being with a different child and made me realise how much easier and less stressful trips out would be if he was always like that. And to add to my joy, we had the loveliest afternoon today with friends at a local National Trust place, and again, Henry mostly listened, didn’t go off too far and actually played with the other children instead of just constantly running off. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be able to let him explore with no reins on yet also to feel relaxed about doing so. We all know toddlers are the most random, unpredictable creatures ever so I’m not allowing myself to think that maybe, just maybe, we’ve turned a corner but oh my goodness, it would be incredible if we had. It would certainly save me a lot of heart attacks! Anyway I’ll keep you posted… πŸ™ŠπŸ™Š

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Discipline – WTAF?

Firstly, I’m not even sure whether I like the word β€˜discipline’ really- it just sounds a bit… harsh somehow? Maybe that’s where we’re going wrong πŸ™ˆπŸ€£ But I’m not too sure what else to call it… β€˜trying to teach them not to behave like feral, out-of-control little brats?’ πŸ™ˆ Because to be quite honest, this is what the twiglets behave like a large amount of the time, especially when we’re at home.
Bedtime is a particular favourite. I wrote a post before about the joys of bedtime, but just to recap, we follow a calm, soothing routine every night then as soon as we leave the room, the twigs jump out of bed and start creating merry hell. Preferred merry-hell-creating activities include jumping on their beds and shouting, emptying their toys all over the floor or over the safety gate into the hall, pulling books off the shelves, and a new one last night – pulling the stuffing out of the cushions in the corner so they are no longer usable 😬😩 If we stay in the room, it makes them worse πŸ™ˆ I read a post on a Facebook forum recently (those lovely, non-judgemental platforms of joy! πŸ™„) by a mum whose twins demonstrated quite similar behaviour to the twiglets at bedtime and a lot of the comments from other mums said things like β€˜show them who’s boss’, β€˜we don’t take any crap from ours’ and β€˜ours aren’t allowed out of bed’ etc. I was reading them thinking β€˜that’s great but hoooow do you enforce this?!’ Because now we come to the crux of it… The twiglets just don’t listen to us 😭
See, while the behaviour can be crap, it’s more the lack of listening which worries me. They seem to have absolutely no regard whatsoever for authority – they show no respect towards us as being in charge. It sounds ridiculous talking about two-year-olds having respect as I’m sure they’re probably too young to really learn that yet, but all the children I know seem to listen to their parents, maybe not all the time but at least some of it. Some kids even get upset at being told off as they know they’ve done something wrong or upset their parent or whatever – the twiglets roar with laughter in our faces if we tell them off. I don’t really believe in shouting at them as I don’t think it sets a good example; it’s not really modelling the behaviour you want them to show and I would never want them to actually be scared of us as such. Obviously I fail miserably and end up screaming like a fricking banshee multiple times a day when they drive me up the wall πŸ™ˆ but in theory, we try not to shout 🀣 But you know when they’ve done something really bad and you do raise your voice on those occasions to let them know you really mean business and they’ve been super naughty? And most kids would think β€˜ah crap, we’ve done it now’ and be at least a little bit contrite and sorry? Yeah the twiglets still don’t give a flying f**k – in fact if anything it’s just all the more amusing for them 😭
I do think the twin element has a part to play in the twigs’ behaviour. They certainly egg each other on and encourage each other by laughing hysterically and getting very over-excited together if one is doing something naughty. And on the occasions when we have split them and spent some 1:1 time with each, their behaviour has been drastically different – both much calmer and easier to deal with. However, I can’t blame that entirely because all the other twins I know behave wayyy better than H and C and do actually listen to their parents. When we went round to a friend’s house for a twinnie playdate one time, I noticed the mum didn’t let her twins climb up and stand on the sofa (and definitely not hurl themselves off it like my two do at home πŸ™ˆ) But they absolutely listened to and followed her instructions – I was in awe 😭 H and C just seem completely batsh*t crazy compared to other children – so much more hyperactive and naughty.
I just don’t know where we’ve gone wrong, or if we even have? Maybe they will just grow out of it all and go on to be model citizens and pillars of society (rather than the juvenile delinquents I keep envisaging 😭) We can but hope. But I just can’t help worrying that we’re just not doing the whole β€˜discipline’ thing right πŸ€” I know people would say there’s no right or wrong and what works for one family won’t work for others – similarly, children are all individuals so different things will work. But what if we are just being too soft with them and letting them get away with too much? Maybe we always have and that’s why they don’t listen to us? Maybe they have too much screen time and that’s why they’re little turdmonkeys? Maybe I’m being my usual overthinking self and should just chill the f out and not worry about it (well I’m sure that part is probably true anyway πŸ™ˆπŸ€£) We tried using β€˜time out’ a while ago but it didn’t seem effective at all for us. If one of them is really angry and lashing out, I will give them a sort of time out in their room, but it is more just so they can calm down safely without hurting the other one – it’s not a punishment as such. The only thing which sometimes works is if I can think of an immediate consequence for their behaviour. Sometimes it’s easy to think of one – take away the toy they’re messing about with etc, but depending on the behaviour, it’s sometimes really hard to think of something that’s relevant and will actually bother them enough to stop the naughtiness. They don’t seem to respond very well yet to a consequence that’s in the future – β€˜Santa/the Easter bunny won’t come,’ β€˜you won’t be able to do this/see X’ etc. I try to just distract them sometimes but that can also be difficult when you’re outnumbered and they’re basically ganging up on you πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ
Anyway, I’m completely rambling, but if anyone else has children who don’t/didn’t listen to you, do send any advice my way or let me know what worked for you or whether it just got easier as they got older. For now, I’m just clinging for dear life to the fact that the twigs behave like angels at preschool and actually seem to do what they’re told when it’s not us telling them. At least I know they do have it in them to behave like nice human beings – if that changes, then we really are f**ked πŸ™ˆ

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