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 😊

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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10 Things I Didn’t Know About Having Twins

So I just thought I’d share some of the things I never realised about having twins, until we had them! Obviously this is just my perspective but I’d be interested to know if others can relate 😁

1. You get more attention than you could ever have thought possible.
Being out and about with twins is at best conspicuous and at worst a bit of a freak show. I had never realised just how much attention parents of twins get. Complete strangers will want to peer into the pushchair at your babies, get closer than you’re really comfortable with to your babies, even kiss your babies! While I’m not too keen on people overstepping the mark like that, personally I have never minded being stopped for a quick chat. Yes, it can be a bit inconvenient, like when you’re running late (which is always for me – see number 7 πŸ˜‚πŸ™ˆ) or in the earlier days when you had a narrow window of time to run errands between feeds. But I love that people are so amazed and fascinated by twins and I love to talk to people about them. You do get the same questions over and over and over though, and I WISH I had the balls to give some cheeky responses sometimes.
β€˜Are they twins?’
Well durrrr….
Yeah it was buy one get one free.
No they’re triplets but I left the ugly one at home.
OR
β€˜Are they identical?’
Um one has a penis and one doesn’t.*
*Yes I know there are very very very rare circumstances in which boy/girl twins can be identical but people don’t generally know that when they’re asking πŸ˜‚
β€˜Were they natural?’
Errrrr… Well they’re not aliens…. Wait are you really asking me, a total stranger, how my babies were conceived?!!
(It always amuses me that people think this is an appropriate thing to ask, especially as tons of singleton babies are conceived through IVF as well as twins but noone would ever dream of asking a mum of one baby whether they got pregnant by hormone injections and test tubes or by bonking πŸ˜‚)

 

2. You’ll never want to hear the phrase β€˜double trouble’ again.
You will have the phrase β€˜double trouble’ said to you with a β€˜knowing’ smile at least five times every time you leave the house with twins. What amuses me is that everyone who says it looks really proud of themselves like they think they’ve thought of something super clever and original to say to you that you won’t ever have heard before πŸ˜‚ Again, I don’t mind it. I know for some twin parents, this phrase is like a red rag to a bull and they take offence and respond with things like β€˜no, double the joy actually’ but I tend to just smile politely and not give away my amusement that they’re the fifteenth person to have said that to me that day. Also, my two really are double trouble anyway πŸ˜‚
3. Everyone knows some twins.
Nearly everyone who stops you will want to tell you about how their neighbour’s second cousin’s uncle’s brother’s dog had twins – as if somehow that’s interesting to you just because you also have twins 🀣 I must admit though, I love it when elderly people come up and tell me about their twins who are like 40 or 50 😍 Gives me hope that I’ll survive if nothing else πŸ˜‚
4. There will be some things that you just can’t do with your singleton mum friends.
Or if you can, they’re just not worth the added stress of trying to do with double the children. I’m talking about swimming for example. A lot of swimming pools have set ratios of adults to children which wouldn’t allow you to take young twins swimming. Personally, whether the pool allowed it or not, I wouldn’t attempt it in a million years. You may know if you follow me on Instagram that Henry is a runner. It’s generally his sole mission in life to escape from wherever he’s meant to be. And damn that kid is fast. Add to that, he’s extremely stroppy and unpredictable and his sister can also throw a good tantrum, and you can see why I wouldn’t feel confident attempting the logistical nightmare of changing, getting to the pool, managing them in the pool and changing back again, by myself. I know some twin parents manage it and hats off to them! 😁 But I know my limits (well, sometimes πŸ™Š) and that is definitely a no-no for me. The dreaded softplay is another. Well, not a total no-no but there’s no doubt that it’s decidedly trickier to keep an eye on two mini-demons tearing around an indoor hellhole than one, especially when said mini-demons ALWAYS go in opposite bloody directions. Again, if you were lucky enough to have children who actually listened to you and/or stayed together, it might be more manageable, but Henry’s Houdini capabilities make me too nervous to take my eyes off him as I know he’ll somehow find his way out of the building πŸ™ˆ So I tend to stick to the small local (sometimes slightly crappy πŸ˜‚) softplays – you know the ones with a bouncy castle and a few toys, maybe a little ball pool if you’re lucky – because at least then they’re both in one room and I might actually have half a chance of being able to knock back a hot coffee while they play (I can but dream πŸ˜‚)
5. Leaving the house will become an actual military operation.
I could never have envisaged just how difficult it would be to get out of the house after having twins. Changing two nappies, choosing clothes, dressing them, brushing hair and teeth, getting ready yourself, packing a bag or two with snacks, drinks, nappies, wipes, spare clothes, toys, coats, hats, the kitchen sink… When they become toddlers, you also have the added joy of having to chase them round the whole house and wrestle them in order to change their nappies and get them dressed, not to mention a few thousand battles over why they can’t have a snack right that second, why they can’t bring their most special comforter out, why they can’t wear their jelly shoes when it’s -2 degrees outside… And just when you think you’re fiiinally ready to leave the house, suddenly it’s all systems πŸ’© and you’ll have to bring them both back in to change their nappies 😬 Even better, one or both of them will have had a full-on poonami so you’ll have to remove the coat and shoes you battled to get on and change their whole outfit as well.
6. You will never be on time again.
See number 5 πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚
7. You will get through more nappies and wipes than you could ever have imagined.
I mean really, it’s just INSANE. And if they get a tummy bug, you may as well just take out shares in Pampers. (Or Tesco, or Asda, or a cloth brand – whatever you use 😁 We’ve always used Aldi nappies as they’re super cheap and we’ve found them to be really good 😁)
8. Time goes So. Fast.
Yes I know this is true for having one baby too but I swear it goes eeeven faster when you have two πŸ™ˆ Everything’s so crazy and busy, time just flies by. It’s the weirdest thing though – half of me feels like they were just born a few days ago and doesn’t know how the frick it’s been two and a half years… But the other half feels like it was another lifetime when they were babies and can barely even remember what it was like. It makes you feel like you really must savour and appreciate every moment because it’s all so fleeting and will be passed before we know it… This is true, however what’s also true is that not every moment is a savourable one – some of them are downright crap and I still think it’s important not to feel guilty and to talk about those ones if you feel you want to or it helps you. Completely went off track there but hey ho! 🀣
9. Two hands are not always enough.
Sometimes, it’s really f**king hard. To have two babies demanding from you and needing you All. The. Time. can feel quite relentless. If they both get poorly, or when they both had reflux/wind issues when feeding in the earlier days, or when they’re both teething and grumpy, two hands really aren’t enough. It’s not easy picking up two babies (although it’s amazing how proficient you do get at it – I used to just scoop C up with one hand when they were smaller) and jiggling/rocking them both for hours, especially when you have bottles to sterilise, or washing to do, or cleaning or, heaven forbid, needing to eat something yourself πŸ™Š Also it’s just so stressful when two babies are unhappy and screaming, especially if you don’t really know what’s wrong or what to do. Babies’ cries are designed to elicit an emotional response from you, so when you double that, it can be really quite distressing. I used to feel such anxiety at going out in public, in case both of them decided to have a meltdown and I looked like I couldn’t cope. (Nowadays I am much more relaxed about this – the twiglets are a lot more predictable now and you can reason with them a bit and if all else fails, there’s always snack bribes πŸ™ˆ Plus, I think I just don’t care as much about what other people think).
10. Seeing the really sweet moments between your twins will totally make up for the hard times.
I mean when he runs over to check she’s ok and helps her up when she’s fallen, without having been asked. Or when she chooses to share a toy with him of her own accord, not even realising you’re watching. Or when she rests her head on his shoulder as they sit watching tv together. When they make each other properly belly laugh and you have no idea what the hell they’re even saying but to them it’s hilarious. Or when they give each other a hug for no reason. Or when they chase each other round the living room, giggling and squealing. I could go on. These moments may be interspersed with extreme naughtiness, a ton of tantrums and just the daily grind of changing twice as many pooey nappies, sterilising twice as many bottles etc etc but they are so amazing that they just make you sit back and think β€˜holy crap, we made two babies at once and they’re actually pretty bloody awesome.’

What would be on your list of things you didn’t know before having twins? Anything I’ve missed? I’ve tried to include things that are specific to twins, rather than having a baby in general, but I’d love to know your thoughts 😁

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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 πŸ˜‚) 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 πŸ™ŠπŸ˜‚) 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 β€˜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 β€˜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 πŸ˜‚) 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 β€˜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!πŸ™Š) 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 daysΒ πŸ˜‚) 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 β€˜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 πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‚)