Twin Toddlerhood – The 18 Month Chronicles


I thought that life with two toddlers (and a preschooler) was, quite possibly, going to be a nightmare.

There. I said it.

I love my girls – don’t misunderstand me there. I was just scared out of my mind to have them actually move. They were so lovely and contained in their bouncy seats, their swings. I could always see their hands.

IMG_6456Fear had me imagining how one would be splashing in the sink, and the other would be heading for the basement stairs. Or one would be noshing in the flour tub, and the other would be climbing into the dryer. Or maybe they’d both make a pact to destroy the only houseplant I’ve kept alive for over a decade.

Perhaps that’s a fear of every mother with multiple children. A mama can only be in one place at one time. But children don’t abide by those rules. Toddlers run all over like the butter you were only supposed to soften in the microwave. Preschoolers slather themselves, and the surrounding walls, in vaseline because they have an owie. On their toe.

Meanwhile, in the middle of me trying to figure out how to quit being afraid of calling my girls toddlers, Gabby got off her knees and balanced on her heels, arms held wide. She was slow and methodical, and immensely pleased with herself. Lucy joined her after a month, and immediately, life changed. Thankfully, it changed in a very good way.

Here at 18 months and fully mobile, the girls are happier. More self-directed. (My three and half year old included.) They are less apt to scream for things they can’t reach, whine for something across the room, or cry because they need a change of scenery.

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No way, sister. No way.

Along with the physical steps, they’ve started making verbal strides as well. Words are still sparse, but every day I hear them say something new. I also now catch them singing, talking on the phone (any object with buttons), and jabbering to their stuffed animals. They’ve also mastered the art of yes and no. Specifically no.

But by far the best thing I’ve noticed this month is their level of affection toward one another. I’m friends with a lovely group of twin mamas on Facebook and Instagram, and I’d always feel a twinge of jealousy when I saw their twins hugging one another, kissing each other, or sleeping side by side.

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                Love.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed something new. Lucy rested her head on Gabby’s shoulder in the shopping cart. It was the first time I’d seen them intentionally take comfort from one another.

Since then, I’ve seen all three of my girls venture into the territory of sisterly affection. I caught Ellis holding Lucy in our old blue rocking chair, singing you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Gabby has started giving kisses on demand. Lucy is always game to snuggle with any of her sisters that are sitting down.

It’s nothing short of amazing to me. All of it. The walking. The attempts at talking. The affection.

In all my fearful wonderings about how it was going to work managing two toddlers and a preschooler, I made a big mistake. I didn’t temper my fear with any IMG_7305 (1024x749)daydreams of how awesome it was going to be to see my girls grow.  (Or in today’s case, how interesting it would be to type with a baby sitting on the desk in front of me, randomly poking at the keys.)

That sounds so rote. I know. Don’t worry about the scary stuff!! Think about the good stuff!! Smiley face!! Hearts!!

But please. Promise me something. Promise me you’ll try envisioning your children growing up. Not because I said so. Not because you need another piece of advice to pin, or something  to write on your chalkboard, or another link to store in your phone. Try it because if you’re anything like me, it’s simply too easy to lose sight of the big picture.

We are raising our children to be people.

Imagine your daughter sitting at the piano. Your son designing his first science project. Your teenagers sitting down at the table for pizza night. Think about the first time your child tells you they’re in love.

Fear doesn’t deserve as much space as we give it in this life- motherhood or otherwise. But growth?

Growth deserves all the energy we can give it.

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Take Care, Make Care – Part 2: Amber’s thoughts

Take CareHey Everyone! I’m really excited to share this week’s Make Care Take Care guest post from Amber Kuiper over at Mommy’s Me Time. Amber has a great way of encouraging and making me feel really stoked about being a mama (not always an easy task on rough days.) And she’s not just saying it – as mom to a toddler, twins who just turned one, and a baby due in September, she’s in the glorious thick of motherhood – and she’s living and loving it. Here are her thoughts on prioritizing self-care.

Hello Fellow Passengers readers! I’m so excited to have the chance to chat with you today. When Rachel and I randomly met in the bathroom at a mom’s night out a few months ago, I’m pretty sure it was fate. After a few sentences, we learned that we both had a toddler and twin babies at home. Our friendship was a match made in heaven.

One of the things we talked about that night was how wonderful it was to be out of the house BY OURSELVES. We didn’t have to think about high chairs or messy fingers or having to rush home to get them to bed on time. We simply had the night to relax without wearing our mom hats. We could just be us.

I have to admit though, sometimes it can be easy to forget who I really am. I stay at home with my kids who are all two and under, so most of my conversations are about toy airplanes, pooping on the potty and peek-a-boo! My days are spent singing nursery rhymes, pretending I’m Lightning McQueen, and changing endless dirty diapers. When I actually have the opportunity to have an adult conversation it can feel really awkward, unless I’m talking about my kids.

As moms, we give and give and give to our families. We love our kids so much that we’re willing to do whatever it takes for them to be happy and content. When they need us in the middle of the night, we’re there. When they wake up early in the morning, we scoop them up in our arms and cuddle. When they’re hungry, we make sure to fill up their little tummies. From the little things to the big things, we do it all. We provide for their every need. We oftentimes don’t even think about how much of ourselves we’re pouring out because we simply view it as doing what needs to be done.

At some point though, I think we’ve all felt empty. But instead of acknowledging that we need to be filled up, it can be easy to beat ourselves up and feel inadequate. We feel overwhelmed, defeated, and alone. We look around and everyone else seems to be painting a picture of their perfect little lives. We wonder why our life doesn’t feel like that.

The truth is, none of us have a perfect life, and none of us can do it all. We weren’t designed to! Perhaps one of the most important things I’ve learned since becoming a mom is how important it is to humble myself and ask for help. It isn’t easy, because for some reason we think we should be able to do it on our own. But that just isn’t realistic or healthy.

We all need breaks. We need time away from our kids to reflect on who we are. We need to remember what we loved doing before kids, what fills us up and makes us have more love to give to our families.

I love this metaphor:

If you’ve been on an airplane, you likely remember hearing this phrase from the flight crew before take-off.

“Should the cabin experience sudden pressure loss, stay calm and listen for instructions…Oxygen masks will drop down from above your seat…If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children.”

Mommas, we need to be breathing if we want our kids to be breathing. We shouldn’t be grasping for air. When we’re filled up, we’re able to be the best moms we can be and love on them like crazy.

We need to stop making excuses as to why we don’t deserve or need “me time.”

Here are some things that helped me to prioritize self-care. I hope they can be of some help to you, too! You matter, and you deserve to be taken care of.

5 Steps To Prioritizing Self Care

1. Make a list of things that fill you up. Maybe it’s reading, or exercising, or sleeping, or blogging. Maybe it’s something totally different. Whatever it is, you need to pinpoint it.

2. Communicate to your husband, family, or friends that you need a break. And don’t feel ashamed when you do. Ask them to help you make it a priority. They want what’s best for you, but unless you tell them how you’re really doing, they won’t be able to know what you need. Schedule a time for them to watch the kids. Ideally, make it a reoccurring appointment for as often as you think you’ll need it!

3. Follow through. Unless there’s a life threatening emergency, do not postpone your “me time.” You NEED it!

4. Don’t micromanage while you’re gone. Trust your husband to take care of the kids. Or your friend, or your babysitter. Don’t check in a million times. I promise, the kids will be just fine. I know it’s hard to give up control, but it’ll be good for your soul.

5. Don’t return until you are in a better place. Give yourself the time you need. Don’t rush it. When you walk through the doors and pick up your sweethearts, you’ll look at them with new eyes and a new perspective!

IMG_0984 I’m Amber, a 28 year old stay-at-home mom to three sweet kids. I have a two-year-old son, one-year-old twin girls, and we’re expecting Baby #4 in September! God’s grace is the only thing that gets us through each crazy day!
I’m passionate about encouraging moms to prioritize self-care and take time to fill ourselves up by pursuing Christ. When we’re full, we can love on our families like crazy and be the moms we’ve always wanted to be!

Amber blogs at www.mommysmetime.com

 

What’s new in April (besides snow)

Hey everyone! Today is a little like a mystery flavor post. There’s just way too much great stuff going on to make cohesive sense, so I’m just going to mix it all together and call it good. It worked for Airheads, right? Anyway. It’s April 1, and it’s snowing. I want to say it’s some sort of April Fool’s joke, but who am I kidding. It’s just Minnesota.

First and foremost:
This month, we’re starting a month-long series on self-care around here. Why self-care? Have you ever heard the phrase, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?

Right.

For the next three weeks, I have three different voices lined up to give you their thoughts on how they take purposeful care of their personal lives in order to help them in their vocations. I hope you can glean something from their ideas and find a few new, practical ways to care for yourself. Check back in on Thursday for our first post!

Second:

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Well rested babies are happy babies

Sleep training for the twins is complete. No more crying it out. No more muscle jerking, ear-splitting, teeth clenching wails at 3:00 am. We are finally all sleeping through the night – as in 7:00 pm to 6:00 am most days. The twins stopped wanting their “dream feeding” two weeks ago, and since then, it’s been a solid, 11 hour stretch of beautiful sleep.

No swings. No rocking. No more pacing the floor required. Our bedtime routine now consists of changing diapers, putting on pajamas, and then bringing them to their dark room to lay down with their nuks and loveys. We turn on the fan for white noise, and off to dreamland they go.

It was a long, dark road. But we’ve now emerged in a pleasant place. God is good.

Third:
The twins aren’t the only ones who got trained. Some sort of switch went off for Ellis, and she is suddenly potty trained. I’m dumbfounded.

Two weeks ago we did another round of undies training (same as a year ago). This time she had a 50% success rate, and I ran out of carpet cleaner. Then she got sick, and we put it all on hold. I figured she wasn’t ready. But this Wednesday, she requested undies again, and kept them dry all day. Thursday was the same. Since last Friday, she’s only had one accident.

I have no idea why now was the time. Nor do I think I’m any sort of oracle for potty training wisdom. Best I can say is that she was ready, and in typical fashion, just made her mind up and went with it. She never ceases to amaze me, my spirited, sassy, stubborn little Swede.

Fourth:
We’re going to learn how to make yogurt! Okay, maybe I’m the only one super excited about this. But my friend Lacey offered to show me her tinkered, tested, and perfected method for homemade yogurt, and I feel like I inherited the moon.

We are going through yogurt like WATER at my house these days, and it’s eating my grocery budget alive. So if you A. hate paying $4.50 for a tub of organic yogurt, B. hate paying $9.00 for two tubs of organic yogurt, or C. HATE paying $18.00 for FOUR tubs of organic yogurt a week, you should probably check back in next week.

That’s all I’ve got. If you want a good giggle, here’s an adorable video of Ellis making the twins laugh. We are loving the 8 month stage.