The Absolute Worst Part of the Day

Before kids, I had visions of family dinner every night where we are all engaged in a happy conversation and eating without complaint and even complimenting the wonderful brussels sprouts mom.

Ha. Haha.

This is reality:

I spent a good amount of time cooking something somewhat healthy that has most of the food groups in it. By “good amount of time” I mean usually 30-45 minutes because if I spent any longer cooking no one would be alive to eat it.

While I’m cooking all hell is breaking loose because of “The Witching Hour”. Suddenly, the twins don’t know how to talk in a normal voice. They are either whining or screaming. No in between. They are suddenly so accident prone and every tiny bump on their shin or elbow is cause for a major melt down. They can’t keep their hands to themselves, so in between preparing food, I’m scripting apologies and making them repeat them to each other. While

What am I usually cooking? Chicken. Frickin Chicken. Again. Because that’s the only thing that everyone can eat due to pickiness or dietary concerns. I’m the only one in the house who can/will eat tomato based sauces, the kids won’t eat anything that has sauce of any kind at all on it, and hubs has some dietary restrictions that make cooking an adventure. And when I say chicken is the only thing everyone will eat, what I really mean is the girls will eat after complaining for 30 minutes and bribing them. But guys. I am so. sick. of. chicken.

Baby needs to eat at the precise time I need to be flipping the chicken on the grill, so chicken will be burned. I grill on days i have it together enough to have properly thawed the chicken in the fridge, other wise it gets cooked partially frozen on my stove.

No one except me will eat the dinner I cooked.  Serve it anyway. Listen to complaining.

Someone needs a napkin right as I’m about to put my first bite in my mouth. Get up to get napkin.

Someone else needs more water. Get more water.

Baby doesn’t want to sit in her chair anymore. Put baby in my lap.

Finally get to put a bite of cold grilled chicken into my mouth right as the baby grabs my plate and it falls on the floor, where the dog scarfs it all down as if we never feed her.

Get tired of listening to whining and give the twins yogurt for dinner.

I can’t be the only one, right?

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Sleep Tips for Infant Twins

This one is for all the other sleep deprived moms out there. Some of what I’m going to talk about definitely applies to only one baby, but my experience is with baby twins. A ton of people (naively, in my opinion) will say “Oh, I want to have twins so, bad!” And I smile. Twins are great. I love mine so much. But I’m going to level with you and say that twins are not two for the price of one. They are two for the full, not discounted at all, price plus some hidden extra fees you weren’t counting on. I’m going to reiterate that they’re so worth it… buuuuttttt…I felt like I was going crazy for the first 18 months of their lives. So onto my tips! I’ll do a follow up post for older baby twins and one for toddlers/preschoolers too. We had a wild ride with sleep, so I’m not an expert but I can tell you what did and did not work for us over the last three years. When I say “infant twins” I have babies under six months in mind.

1.) Reframe. This one is for anyone with a baby. I get the desperation you feel when you don’t sleep. Neither of my twins were especially good sleepers. Even if you have a “good sleeper”, babies just wake frequently. It’s part of being a baby! There is some thought in scholarship right now that babies need to wake frequently as a biological protective factor against SIDS. Babies, especially babies under six months, need to wake frequently and need to eat frequently. It’s totally normal and isn’t related to anything you are or aren’t doing. Releasing yourself of the responsibility of making your baby sleep might help you feel a little less crazy.

2.) Embrace room sharing.  The AAP recommends room sharing with mom for at least the first six months of life, preferably to a year old. This is a protective factor against SIDS, but it also makes your life a little easier. If your babies are right there in your room with you, you don’t have to go to a different room to do the whole wake up/go back to sleep routine. If you’re bottle feeding, I would prepare the nights worth of bottles and have them right there in your room. If you’re doing formula– keep the can of formula right there and mix it up when you wake up. If you’re exclusively pumping, have your pump all set up and a cooler bag ready for the milk. Start feeding your babies cold or room temperature milk or formula– it doesn’t have to be warm! If it must be warm, put the bottle warmer in your room too. It’s all about minimizing the spaces in your home you have to traverse. If it’s all there, takes less time.

3.) Wake the sleeping twin. There’s a time and place for “never wake a sleeping baby”…but that is not the case with twins. If one wakes up, I can almost guarantee the sleeping twin is going to wake up two minutes after you’ve just started drifting back to sleep. Feed them both at the same time and put them both back to bed.

4.) Get a good swaddler. I am the miracle blanket’s biggest fan. They’re my favorite swaddle blanket because it’s easy to use. There are no zippers or velcro or any of that business– just some cotton flaps and they are amazing. They keep baby’s arms in and they’re pretty difficult to break out of. They’re magic. Now, for brand new babies my only caution is this: swaddles put your baby in “off” mode and so your baby may not wake up to eat even if he or she needs to. If your baby is struggling to gain weight or has not reached birth weight yet, wake the baby after one four hour stretch at night and then every three hours after that. Once baby is at birth weight and weight gain has been established, feel free to let baby wake naturally. The twins had a lot of struggles gaining weight so I was waking them every three hours for months and months and months, but if you don’t have this problem… roll with it.

5.) Do what you can to get more sleep. Sleep when the baby sleeps is the dumbest advice I got as a new mom. That only works when both of your babies sleep and sleep at the same time. So that being said, if by some miracle both of your babies take a nap at the same time… you should take a nap too. Don’t do housework, don’t clean, don’t do anything except maybe take a shower. Sleep too. If you have a partner, work it out where you can sleep in one day. Your partner can take the babies and if you’re breastfeeding bring them to you to feed, then take them again while you go back to sleep. Keep doing that until you feel rested even if you keep going back to sleep all stinking day.

6.) Babies need to take naps. It was so true that “sleep begets sleep” for my twins, even when they were teeny babies. When they’re brand new, they kind of just sleep whenever. But by 8-10 weeks they naturally fell into some sleep wake patterns. Usually they would take a nap about 1.5 to 2 hours after each wake up. A typical schedule would be wake at 6am, nap at 8am and wake at 9, second nap at 10:30 or 11 until 12-1 or so, third nap at 3:30 to 4:30 (ish) and then bed by 7 or 7:30. It feels like they sleep all day– and they do. They were down to two naps by 5-6 months, which felt a little more do able for me. If they just would not go down in their beds, I did my fair share of holding them to sleep, or wearing them, or even putting them in swings. Do whatever gets your baby to sleep the best. Baby wearing was key for us for a long time.

7.) The name of the game is survival. My biggest tip for the tiny baby days is to be kind to yourself and not worry about anything other than taking care of your babies. Let your partner or friends do the rest of keeping the house in order. Let things slide. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to do everything yourself. Don’t feel guilt for not keeping your house as clean as you would like it to be.

Mom Confession: Valentine’s Day

So I accidentally started a Valentine’s Day tradition with my kids this year. I had planned a couple things to celebrate the day. Nothing much– just a home made card that both Brad and I wrote on (I literally glued a heart to a piece of paper!). They absolutely loved it. They still ask me to get their cards down and read them.

Dinner I planned to make homemade heart shaped pizza. I can’t eat dairy, Brad can’t do tomato sauce, and the girls will only eat “daddy’s special pizza”, so delivery is usually out because of all the restrictions. Not a big deal, it’s pretty easy to make some pizza crust…except right at dinner time everyone was having a melt down and the baby was being fussy. Right at 5, when I shoot to have dinner on the table, I was getting the yeast jar from my fridge to finally start the pizza. Except I dropped it and it shattered all over and yeast went everywhere in my kitchen. I had to vacuum the entire kitchen, clean up glass, keep the kids out of it, and listen to them snack-nag (But I’m hungwy! I want nack! Get me nack now!) the whole time. I tried ordering pizza, but found out after the fact that Pizza Hut has dairy in the pepperoni, so I tried to call them to verify. Well the number I called rolled over to some kind of national Pizza Hut call center who directed me to call the store (which I had done but got them!). After fighting with them to get an answer I finally just canceled the order and Brad came home with some yeast from target. Dinner finally gets started at 5:45. No one was happy.

In what I can only describe as the Holy Spirit himself whispering in my ear, I told the girls that we were going to have a special Valentine PJ dinner! They were going to go take a bath now and when they were done we would eat special heart shaped pizza. It was the hit of their lives, apparently. They LOVED it. And sometimes ask me to do another special PJ dinner “Because that was so fun and siwwy mommy!”

I share that story not to give myself a pat on the back for my sheer brilliance, but because I had a pretty big realization. In that moment where I was thhhhiiissssss close to completely melting down like a toddler, it didn’t matter. The girls still thought it was special and awesome. It made them feel like I had planned it that way the whole time just to make them feel special. Little things go a long way with kids. I get hung up on making things just perfect sometimes (You know, like having home made delicious heart shaped pizza on the table at exactly 5pm), but sometimes life just doesn’t go that way. And it’s OK! Things can still be special, even if they aren’t perfect. The more I think about it, the things my older girls have responded to the most and that have had a lasting impact on them have been the things that have been totally unplanned. I’m easily bogged down in my routines and schedules and doing everything “right”. Sometimes it’s not necessary to get it “right”, though.

Welcome!

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If I am completely honest, I’m not exactly sure what I want this space to be. I know I’ll be featuring some product reviews (more on this in a bit), some musings on parenting/motherhood, pictures of things we do as a family… but mostly I think this is going to be a space to try to shed some light on what works for our family and how we keep it together (HINT: sometimes I don’t keep it together). I want this to a real and honest space.

So product reviews. I’ve been selected as a Parental Guidance Guide Brand Ambassador. If you follow TheBabyGuyNYC, you’ll know this is one of his ventures. It’s a new website meant to feature product reviews from actual parents as well as a collection of resources we all go looking for (think Doulas, Occupational Therapists, IBCLCs, etc). Right now I’m reviewing products I already know and love, but maybe they will also send me a couple of products to review. The reviews are always based on my own opinion and are often reviews of products I’ve spent my own money on. I’ll always disclose if it’s a product that was given to me for the purposes of a review. The purpose of this blog isn’t to make money off it (honestly. I’m not monetized in any way). It’s to share about how I make life work with a family of 5, and a large part of that is what products we use. I’ve done a couple products on instagram already, definitely look me up there!

Since becoming a mom three(ish) years ago with the birth of my twins, I’ve had a lot of ideas for blog posts mulling around in my mind. As my babies grow older, I see how I’ve changed and matured as a parent. That’s what this journey is all about, right? Changing and growing as parents? I hope this space can be an encouragement that we are all in this together and that we aren’t totally effing up our kids by making mistakes. Let’s just be honest: mistakes are going to happen. But you know what? As long as your kids are loved unconditionally, you’re doing a great job. Truly.

Sometimes parenting just isn’t easy. If it were there wouldn’t be so much advice and stuff out there geared toward making life easier. Kids are stinking hard. Pouring your life into them is hard. It’s so rewarding to be involved in raising little people. There are many many aspects of parenting I do love: when one of my three year olds asks to “snuggle a widdle more mommy!” or when the baby looks up from nursing just to smile at me or when my preschoolers do something that reminds me they are listening to what I teach them. Those are the moments that I love and cherish, for sure. But I’m just going to be honest and say some days are a struggle and the only thing that gets me through is being slightly over caffeinated and looking forward to that glass of wine I can pour just before I crawl into bed. I know I’m not the only one.

Parenting isn’t easy. Join me with your mugs and wine glasses and we can do this together.