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 ‘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 ‘performed’ (H had come off for some juice because juice is life in his world 😂) C obliged and waited patiently but then when it was her ‘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 ‘no it’s my turn now, you need to stand there,’ pointing at the side 🙈🤣 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 ‘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 🙈 (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 ½ 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 😂) 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 🔫🤣) 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 😉) 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 😂) 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 🙈

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 😂 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 🙈🤣) 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 🙈😂), 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 🙊😊 Sleep was a bit of a nightmare that night 🙈 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 🙈 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 🙊 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 😂 It was fine though – good bit of character-building 🤣 They sleep pretty shockingly at home anyway so it wasn’t too different 😂

Breakfast in the hotel was good – think it might have been the twiglets’ first ever cooked breakfast 🤔 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 🙈 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 🙈 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 😁

Twiglet Top Tips – More2Explore

So far my blog has been all about telling my parenting journey and discussing issues I’ve encountered along the way, with a few (hopefully) funny stories thrown in. I hope that it brings a smile to a few of your faces and maybe a bit of reassurance when it’s an issue you can relate to 😁 I’ve decided to introduce something new alongside my usual posts and start sharing some fabulous brands and/or products as we come across them. There are so many small businesses out there, particularly on Instagram, and it can be hard to know which ones are great, which ones are not so great or which ones you can trust. I for one, love recommendations and will often end up buying things I’ve seen people I follow wearing or using (#instagrammademedoit 🤣🤣) If you’ve followed me for a while on Insta, I hope it comes across that I’m an honest and genuine person – for example, I would always say if we were sent something for free (we are very lucky that that happens occasionally). I wouldn’t ever recommend something just because it was free but only if I genuinely loved it and thought it could either make things for others that little bit easier, or just to make you happy so they seem easier 🤣 Anyway, introductory spiel over…. Introducing my first ‘Twiglet Top Tip’ 😁😁 This week I’m featuring a lovely company based in Scotland called ‘More2Explore’ and their awesome product, the Adventure Belt.

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The Adventure Belt is basically an ingenious hands-free version of traditional reins. It comprises a pouch attached to a belt which is worn by the child and is fully adjustable around their waist. I really like the fact that the buckle is childproof; undoing it requires a button to be pushed at the same time as squeezing the sides which means the child can’t undo it themselves. The adult then wears a simple, plain belt and the adult and child belts can be attached together with an elasticated bungee strap which clips onto each one (again with a childproof buckle so the child can’t detach themselves). I love the bungee feature – it’s adjustable so you can choose how far your child can walk away from you which gives them more independence whilst still keeping them safe and close. It also avoids the ‘straining at the leash’ which we would sometimes have with our backpack reins when Henry would get particularly impatient. To attach another child, they have a belt and pouch too, and the adult simply wears a second belt.

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The main difference between the Adventure Belt and other types of reins is that it leaves your hands free which is so so useful, particularly if you have more than one child.

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Also, there is a range of fun pouch designs and colours to choose from, including camouflage and animals such as a panda and tiger. The child can store small items in the pouch which really gives them a sense of ownership. Even when they don’t need to be attached to me, the twiglets often ask to wear their panda belts and they love collecting and storing little treasures on our walks.

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I think this product is such a fantastic, innovative alternative to traditional reins, particularly for families with multiples. As we were walking around the shopping centre taking photographs, I heard a dad with twins say ‘oh wow, look at that – how amazing!’ And I genuinely think it is 😊 More2Explore have created discounted twin and triplet packs too so that you can easily purchase more than one belt. The belts are designed for 2-5 year olds but have been tested and sized for up to age 8. The Adventure Belt is perfect for use in busy, crowded situations. One of my biggest anxieties when out and about with the twiglets is the thought of losing one of them, particularly as Henry is a runner and liable to bolt at any opportunity. Having them attached to me is such a weight off my mind and makes it much easier to go out without a pushchair, especially as I have my hands free to juggle bags etc. I would definitely highly recommend it as a convenient, hands-free alternative to reins 😁

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Check out More2Explore’s website to purchase or follow them on Instagram to find out more 😊

NOTE: We were gifted this item in exchange for some photos of the product – I was under no obligation to write a review but wanted to because it’s bloody awesome 😊 All views are my own 😁

2018 – Getting some ‘me’ back

I’ve never been particularly hot on New Years Resolutions. Mainly because I find that the more set on achieving something I am, the more likely I am to rebel against myself so that I don’t achieve it – queen of self-sabotage, me 🙈 For example, I’m not the type of person who can really go ‘cold turkey ‘ with things – it just doesn’t generally work for me. So cutting things out completely will just make me really desperately want those things and I won’t be able to stick to it – it’s usually much better for me to make more gradual changes.
So I don’t really tend to make New Years Resolutions as such. Sometimes I don’t particularly do anything differently at all, sometimes I think of one or two little changes I’d like to try to make but I don’t put too much pressure on myself as I’ll be less likely to do them that way (I’m aware that doesn’t really make much sense – I think I may be a little strange). But anyway, for me, I feel that 2018 needs to be the year for me to get some more of myself back. As I haven’t yet returned to work since having the twiglets, I often feel like I’m in an extended version of the maternity leave bubble. It all feels quite temporary if that makes sense? When you’re properly on your official maternity leave, you sort of put things off a bit don’t you? Well I know I did anyway. Like housework for example – when I was in that year of ‘official’ leave, it didn’t really bother me if the house was a bit of a sh*t-tip or if I had lots of life admin-type crap that I needed to sort out… It felt like I was just in a temporary state of disorder and disorganisation and that once I regained some normality by returning to work, I would get back on top of things a bit better (whether that would actually have been the case or not who knows!) But anyway we soon realised that with double childcare to fork out for and me on a teaching salary, it wasn’t actually going to be financially viable for me to return to work for a while anyway. So we’ve basically continued on in that ‘bubble’ which almost doesn’t really feel like real life to me because I know it won’t last that much longer. That’s not meant to sound negative by the way – I have loved being at home with my twiglets (despite the amount I whinge about how bloody difficult it can be!) and am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to spend so much time with them, witness all their milestones and have lots of adventures with them.
But 2018 is going to be the year it all changes. The plan has always been for me to return to work when the twiglets turn 3 and get their funded nursery hours. That happens this September 🙊 (they turn 3 in July) The fact is, they already attend nursery two days a week anyway, but this is only possible because my mum pays for it for us. We’re really starting to feel the pinch (to say the least) of living on one salary so that’s the main reason I need to go back to work. But there are other reasons. I don’t want to be out of the teaching profession for too long. It’s been three years and already I feel so far removed from the world of education. I don’t want to make it harder for myself to get a job by leaving it too long. Also, while I’ve been a stay-at-home mummy, pretty much everything has been about the twiglets. That’s been absolutely fine so far and how I’ve wanted it to be – they’ve been my full-time job 😁 My priorities completely changed when I had them; their needs come above all else and they always will. I guess that’s how it should be. But I think at some point you have to start doing some things for yourself too. I could totally imagine myself overly worrying about the twigs and overthinking things if I had too much time on my hands. I know all mums worry like mad anyway but that’s why I think it’s good to have other things in your life to focus your attention on, not necessarily work – it could be hobbies or travelling or anything really. I want to ensure that I’m not just living for my children, but for myself as well, especially once they’re at nursery more and then school. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish? I need to feel stimulated and challenged in doing things I enjoy. For this reason, I also want to try to pick some of my hobbies back up. I belong to a local Ladies’ Choir and pre-twiglets I used to attend weekly rehearsals and take part in concerts. Since they were born, I’ve tried three times to get back into going regularly and each time managed a few weeks before life took over or I couldn’t be bothered or lost motivation. I really enjoy singing, not that I’m any good, but it makes me happy so this year I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back into it properly.
I would also like to work on my appearance a little. Again, I’m not going to be going on any crazy strict diets or exercise regimes or anything, as I absolutely wouldn’t stick to them. But, I’ve noticed that since having babies, my wardrobe has become more and more plain and dull. I loooove bright colours and bold prints and I think I’ve lost the confidence to wear them a bit so I’d really like to try to get that back. I’ve also put on a fair amount of weight since having the twiglets and I can’t really continue to use the excuse of ‘I had twins.’ For one thing, they’re 2½ now, and for another, a lot of the weight has gone on after they were born – looking back on photos, it’s clear I was much slimmer straight after having them than I am now! Extended maternity leave, prolonged sleep deprivation and copious amounts of cake are probably to blame 🙈 For the record, I don’t regret any of the cake 😂 I also don’t think I’m horrendously overweight or anything- just a bit bigger than I’m really comfortable with. The main thing really is just that I’d like to be a little healthier and look after myself better. One of my main aims is to get more organised in terms of meal planning and doing a proper weekly food shop. At the moment we sometimes do a ‘big shop’ but then end up buying bits and bobs here and there, which is uneconomical and also leads to us wasting food. I’m hoping by organising in advance what we’re going to eat for the week we can save money and also eat more healthily. In terms of the twiglets, although we do cook for them a lot and hubby in particular does at the weekends, I’ve still definitely been using microwave toddler meals like Little Dish, which are fab by the way, more than I would really like. I had always intended to cook them fresh food as much as possible, but I find it so hard to keep up with! I’m hoping with a bit of extra organisation, doing more batch cooking and using my new slow cooker, I’ll be able to ensure all of us eat more fresh home-cooked food. The last thing in terms of being a bit healthier is to cut down on alcohol. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I love a good vino 🙈 Toddlers are stressful and I find a glass or two of wine takes the edge off the a**ehole behaviour and helps me unwind in the evening. Recently however, it’s been nearly every evening and even I know that’s probably a bit too much. So we’re going to try to only drink at the weekends – again, not going to ban myself completely as I know I’ll only want it all the more 🙈
Lastly, as well as looking after myself a bit better physically, I think I also need to focus on my mental well-being more. It’s not very often that I take time for myself. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about this and I wholeheartedly agree that self-care shouldn’t just be a luxury, but a necessity. I know for me, just something as simple as having a bath or taking ten minutes to read a book and drink a hot cup of coffee, can make all the difference to my mental state. I feel like I’m on less of a short fuse and have more patience with the twiglets – basically, a better mummy to them. So I’m going to really try to go out with friends a bit more in the evenings, have more date nights with Rob and do a few more little things for myself – and the most important part, I will try my hardest not to feel guilty for it and remember that in the long run, it’s actually better for all of us 😊
So there you go, a boring post about my aims for 2018 😂 I would also like to try to blog more regularly while I can, as I think from September, if I manage to find a job, it will be even harder to fit in. Writing it all down, it sounds like a lot but hopefully it’s achievable. And if not, oh well 😁 The main thing is to be grateful for my gorgeous twiglets, my amazing husband and our friends and family 😊 What are you hoping to achieve this year?

 

My Birth Story – Part 1 – Labour

I had a traumatic birth. To many others, it probably won’t sound that bad and in truth I know it could have been a lot lot worse, but for me it was traumatic. I think afterwards, you’re so focused on the baby/babies (or in my case completely overwhelmed by them 🙈) that you just push the birth to the back of your mind and don’t really talk about it all that much. Also, when the outcome is basically amazing and you’ve been lucky enough to end up with healthy babies (especially for us, having twins who didn’t need time in the NICU or anything) you feel guilty and almost ashamed to admit just how much the birth affected you. I really do think that mine had a detrimental impact on how I bonded with the twiglets initially. I’m sharing this partly for my benefit as I want to write about it and think it will be helpful, but also to encourage anyone else to try not to feel guilty for admitting that their birth was traumatic and to also try to talk to someone properly about it if you can.
So anyway… my birth story (as much as I can remember – it’s all a bit hazy!) I was induced at 37+3 weeks pregnant. I… Was… Huge. I mean, a proper whale – could hardly move, pelvis was in agony, sharp pains down my leg from Henry resting on a nerve, feet so swollen they resembled Elephant Man – I could go on for probably a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, I loooved being pregnant (I might write a post about my pregnancy another time) but the last two weeks were pretty hellish. Twin 1 (Henry) had been engaged for a while and we were on for a natural birth as he was head down (the consultant said it didn’t matter if Twin 2 was head down as they’d ‘yank her out by a foot if need be’ 🤤)

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So I was admitted to a room on the antenatal ward on Thursday 2nd July 2015 and given a pessary to hopefully start things off. By the evening I was in early labour although I didn’t really realise it immediately- I just remember being really restless and uncomfortable and feeling the need to keep moving all the time – rocking around on a birth ball, swaying, getting onto all fours on the bed (not graceful when your bump is the size of China 😂)

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Anyway fast forward a few hours and I was in quite a bit of pain – the worst part was the pain in my lower back which was constant and didn’t subside between contractions. I was allowed to have a bath on the birthing suite which was actually magical; I can totally see why people want to have water births – the pain-relieving power of warm water is mental. Having twins I’d accepted that things like that weren’t an option for me – I hadn’t even written a birth plan as I knew the likelihood was that it would be totally out of my control. I really wanted to experience labour and hopefully a natural delivery – however I was quite prepared that it might not be possible as most twins I think are born by C-section. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this but as it’s likely to be the only time I give birth, I just wanted to experience it if possible. Anyway, I stayed in that bath until I was a wrinkled prune and as soon as I eventually got out, the pain came flooding back. The one thing I’d been adamant about on my non-existent birth plan was that I didn’t want to have pethidine. So of course, I had pethidine 😂🙈 I think the reason for not wanting it was because it can cross over to the babies? I can’t quite remember but anyway the midwives/nurses assured me it would be far enough in advance to be out of my system so I had it to enable me to get some sleep as there was no way that was happening otherwise. I remember leaving it a bit late after I’d had it to go and brush my teeth, and feeling it kick in while I was still in the bathroom down the corridor. So I then staggered back down to my room feeling super dizzy and woozy which was kind of amusing.
Anyway I had a great sleep and woke up at 4.45am pissing myself 😂 Only it went on for a bit too long and didn’t seem to be stopping… I finally realised what was actually happening and got out of bed for it to continue on the floor 🙈

To be continued… 😊

Is it bad to need a break from your children sometimes?

So the other day I was reading a post on one of those Facebook parenting forums (jeez people don’t bite their tongues on those things do they?!) This particular one was written by a nursery worker who was bemoaning those ‘awful’ mums who choose to leave their children in a hellhole of snotty toddlers (aka nursery) even if they’re not working. It described how terrible it was that these mums would drop their poor kids off screaming and crying just so they could go off to Zumba or drink coffee or do the housework. I suddenly realised that I am one of those horrendous mothers they were talking about. I send my little twiglets off to nursery for two days a week and no I’m not working, yes I do go to a Zumba class and do the housework while they’re there and yes Cora does often cry when I drop her off in the mornings 💔 There were countless comments on the post from mothers who agreed, stating how much they love their children, or how wanted and longed for they were, maybe after a difficult journey to parenthood, infertility etc – so why on earth would they choose to be apart from them if they didn’t need to be? On the face of it, this made sense and I wondered if I must indeed be an awful mother for not choosing to spend every single possible minute with my, also much loved and long-awaited, babies?
The thing is, for me, when we made the decision back in January to put the twiglets in nursery for a couple of mornings a week, it was a turning point – mainly in terms of my mental state (without wanting to sound too dramatic!) As a side note, I feel I should just point out that I realise nursery isn’t a possibility for a lot of people so we are lucky to have the option to do it – this is actually only because my mum offered to cover the cost – we couldn’t really have afforded double childcare ourselves what with only one salary coming in. Anyway I digress… So we had a few reasons for sending the twigs to nursery. We felt that it would be really good for their development in a number of ways – social, language etc. Also, at that time they were going through a phase of major separation anxiety to the point that Cora would scream until she was sick if we tried to leave her with someone else. We don’t have a huge amount of family around so we felt it would be good for the twigs to become more familiar with being left with other people. Also, I could recognise my own shortcomings in terms of doing messy play/craft activities with them – or not as the case may be 🙈 Personally, I’m not hugely artistic or practical so the idea of painting with two toddlers was a bit of a source of stress for me – especially when one has the attention span of a gnat and would only be interested for 30 seconds then run around spreading paint everywhere, leaving you with 20 minutes worth of clearing up – like there wasn’t enough to do anyway 😭 At least sending them to nursery I know that they’ll do lots of messy sensory activities there which eases my guilt slightly. But probably the primary reason for them starting nursery was to give me a break. I know that sounds bad and don’t get me wrong, I love being at home with my bubbas and I do feel super lucky and privileged to be able to spend their early years with them – I know there are lots of mummies who would kill to give up their job and spend their time with their babies. If we hadn’t have had twins, making it not financially viable for me to go back to work, I’m quite sure I would have done without question. However, being at home with children all day every day is hard bloody work – harder than I could ever have imagined. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the sheer relentlessness of it – the fact that you’re always on duty and always in demand is both amazing and yet totally draining. Sometimes you just need some time to yourself – to be you, rather than ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy.’ I was certainly really feeling that it was too much and something had to give. It was also really starting to stress me out that I couldn’t keep on top of the housework – that sounds silly and unimportant I know. While I was on official maternity leave, I wasn’t too bothered about the state of the house as it all felt very temporary somehow – but once that time was over and I’d left my teaching job, it started to feel like the house was a complete shit-tip on a more long term basis. To be fair, it probably wasn’t that bad but you know when it’s just not really to your standards and it starts to get you down? It only seems to have got harder to keep up as they’ve got older, as I’ll be tidying something up somewhere but simultaneously the twiglets will be causing absolute carnage somewhere else! Not to mention that I’d feel guilty for just leaving them to play by themselves a lot so that I could get housework done.
So yes, I send my children to nursery when I don’t really ‘have’ to. It doesn’t mean I love or appreciate them any less – it means I find it hard sometimes and recognise that I need some time away – to do the housework, to run the errands that are a nightmare to do with twins in tow, and even to do something for myself, like an exercise class or a bath. I feel it helps me to be the best parent I can be to my twiglets – (slightly) more patient, more sane, happier and definitely more appreciative of the time I spend with them. Some people don’t feel they need that time apart and that’s great. We’re all different and we shouldn’t be judging others on their choices – the world would be very boring if we all raised our children in exactly the same way. I’ve spoken to other mums who feel judged for not sending their children to nursery so it seems you can’t really win whatever you do! Ultimately, the vast majority of us love our children to bits and are just trying to do what’s best for them in whatever way we can, and if anyone feels the need to voice their opinion on a Facebook group or otherwise, then f**k ‘em – ironically, they’re probably the ones with too much time on their hands! 🙊

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When every First is a Last

FB_IMG_1503699793762Ok so bear with me because I do have a point to make … (I think 😂) Previously, when the twiglets would wake from their nap, they would both desperately want to be carried downstairs as they were still a bit sleepy, wanted a bit of a cuddle etc. So rather than take one at a time and leave the other crying, I would carry them both down, one on each hip, and everyone was happy (for a whole five minutes anyway 🙊😂) The other day, I suddenly realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d carried them both down the stairs. One maybe, but not both. I’m not sure that I could safely do it now, given the weight and size of them. Just a silly little part of our daily routine but the fact that I hadn’t even realised that it had ended got me thinking about all those ‘lasts’ and how you just don’t always know when that last time will be. The thing is, for us, as we won’t be having any more children, (almost definitely not, at least), every last really is a last.
Recently I’ve seen a few posts in which people have talked about feeling sad as their last child achieves milestones as they know it will be the last time they see a child of theirs do these things. This has made me feel a bit more justified in how I feel about every milestone the twiglets reach; happy, excited and heart-achingly proud, but each one tinged with a hint of sadness. I think that when you have twins or multiples or one child but you know you’re not having any more, this ‘last-child syndrome’ is heightened because every first is a last as well. For example, both the twiglets hit three months (at the same time – funny that 😂) and bang! That was it – I’d never have a newborn again. When they turned into toddlers, that was it – no more babies. I remember a friend I used to teach with being an absolute sobbing wreck on her twins’ last day at primary school and at the time I couldn’t understand how it could be quite that upsetting. She tried to explain that it was because she didn’t have another child coming up through the school after, to soften the blow by allowing her to experience it again in a few years – that was it. This was pre-twiglets so at the time I just couldn’t relate at all – now however, I totally get where she was coming from and am quite sure that I will be exactly the same when the time comes.
The reason I mentioned feeling ‘justified’ in how I feel about these bittersweet first-lasts is that I worry I could come across as ungrateful, moaning about being sad when milestones are reached. This is so not the case. I feel so so lucky to have two beautiful, amazing children; I love being a twin mama and, despite the amount of whinging I do, I actually wouldn’t change it for the world – it’s so amazing and special to experience double of everything at once (though hard work of course!🙊) But I like to be honest and share my true deep-down feelings and I know that there are lots of other mamas who probably feel the same way. I think for me, it’s heightened at the moment because it seems everyone is popping out newborns left, right and centre and I’m SO broody at times (that is, until I actually think back to the reality of those early days 😂) But our little family unit feels pretty complete and pretty flipping perfect really 😊😍 So I will just deal with the extra bit of emotion at each birthday and each ‘first-last’ and try to just focus on celebrating all the fabulous new things the twiglets are learning to do (and get my newborn fix from cuddling other people’s babies 😊😂)