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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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 😊

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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Can Being Twins Ever Hold Your Twins Back?

Yesterday I had a parents’ evening-type meeting thingy (there’s probably a better term for it than that 🀣) with Cora’s keyworker at preschool (Henry’s is in a few days time). The only question I really had for her was about how C is getting on socially. I know her speech, understanding and physical development are really good for her age (which they confirmed) but I have been wondering how she is with other children. She’s a very chatty and sociable little girl, and when we go on playdates, she interacts and plays with other kids really nicely. But I just had a feeling that this may not quite be the case at preschool. Every time I collect the twiglets, I ask them who they’ve seen or played with today and they only ever say each other, the other two sets of twins (who we know outside of nursery too) or the grown-ups. They rarely ever mention any other children and a couple of times when I’ve been early to get them, it’s looked as though they were both just playing on their own. I realise this probably isn’t the case all the time and was just a quick snapshot, but just knowing that C can be a bit strong-willed (let’s be honest – a bossy little madam πŸ™ˆ) made me wonder. Looking at all her nursery sheets and forms, with all the bits and bobs highlighted (wow I am using such technical vocab today – you wouldn’t think I’m a bloody teacher πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ˜­), it was clear to see that she is advanced in all areas except for her social and emotional development, which was at the level she should be at for her age, so not a big issue or anything. The keyworker told me that C will happily interact with other children if they’re doing an activity which she wants to do at that particular moment, but her focus is more on what she’s doing – she wouldn’t seek out another child just to play with them, regardless of what they were doing, for example. It’s clear she doesn’t yet have any particular friends as such and one of her next steps/targets is to work on exactly that – making a special friend. Now I don’t really know if this is just a developmental thing and is all very normal for her age? Maybe in a few months or a year or so, she will have matured more and become a little less egocentric (learned that in Psychology innit – knew that degree would come in useful one day 🀣) Then maybe she will have more interest in and form closer attachments with other children. Who knows?
But the other thing the keyworker mentioned is that H and C spend the majority of their time together while they’re at preschool. This is an interesting development because they used to always go their separate ways and have barely anything to do with each other while they were there, or at any playgroup we went to for that matter. I’ve been really celebrating the fact that their relationship seems to have strengthened so much lately – they still beat the crap out of each other at times but they will also sit and play together so nicely and seem to have so much more interest in what the other is up to. It’s so amazing and lovely to see the bond they have with each other, and really sweet if this also continues when they’re at preschool. However, I wouldn’t want this to be at the detriment of them making other friends. It would appear that they are just sticking with the familiarity of each other, rather than making the effort with other children. This may well be a common occurrence for twins – I’m not sure. It makes complete sense to me. Also, the keyworker briefly said about H being quite quiet and C often bossing him about and answering questions on his behalf. These are things which happen at home too and we pull her up on it and get her to wait and let H answer for himself, but she is naturally the more dominant character really, plus H does learn a lot from her in terms of speech etc, so it’s difficult to find a balance.
It’s the first time it’s ever crossed my mind that being twins could possibly be holding my twins back, if that makes sense. That notion makes me really sad as I’ve always just thought that them being twins is the most amazing, special thing so it’s weird to think of it being a negative in any way.
Any other twin mamas ever experienced this? I’m just hopeful that it’s yet another phase. The keyworker said they’re giving the twigs opportunities to be separate at preschool and actively encouraging them to play with other children as well as each other. I’m confident that once they go to school, there will be plenty of opportunities, even if they were to be in the same class – which is unlikely anyway, to make friends and mix with lots of children. And as I said, hopefully as they continue to grow, they will just naturally become more interested in forming relationships with other children. I still want to celebrate the bond they have as it really is such a special thing – they are so lucky to have a readymade friend for life in each other.

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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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