Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Strengthening Immune Systems!

When our twins came home from the NICU, they were just 10 days old.  Born at 34.5 weeks, that put them at around 36 weeks, developmentally.  For twins, this was a very good scenario.  But we were still very cautious (possibly paranoid) at first, worried that our precious premies would get sick and we'd land back at the hospital.

Baby A, the day he was born.  He was less than 5 pounds!

Baby A was quick to rip off his breathing tube...ahhh, that's better!  

Thus, the twins spent almost their first two months at home.  They got visitors, but we had people wash their hands before holding them.  We did laundry and sanitized surfaces like crazy.  Born on Halloween, a family gathering at Christmas may have been their first time to venture to a new place with a larger group of people.  We did take them on stroller walks outside, but not places where a lot of people would touch them.

And they were healthy!  Then we started leaving them at the church nursery, moved to a new state and I joined MOPS, where they had childcare.  Eventually they went to childcare for a Bible study I went to, as well, and started going to more play dates.  And then they were sick a lot!

Baby B, a few days after birth, soaking in the blue light for jaundice.  

It's inevitable that your babies and children will eventually get sick.  They need to be sick sometimes, with minor things, to build up their immunities to certain strains of viruses.  But one winter my twins and husband got the flu.  The actual flu, that can be miserable and deadly, not just "stomach flu." The year after that we all seemed to be on an endless cycle of colds and infections, and we all got strep throat several times.  (Though I will say, again, that we've had pretty good scenarios in terms of health in our family, and haven't had to endure the RSV lockdown period that many families of premies and micro-premies have.)

So, tired of being sick, and with threatening reports of rare viruses going around, I'm stepping up my game this season in my battle against illness!

Here's what we're doing:

  • Multi-vitamin for myself daily.  Our pediatrician seems to think my boys don't need one yet, since they eat so well and can get their nutrients from food at this point, but I may be doing further research on this. 
  • Elderberry syrup for the kids and I, daily doses.  This is the brand we've been trying; they also have an adult version that I take.  It's pricey, but the dose is only a teaspoon for children, so it lasts awhile.    
  • Flu shots for the three of us.  Check!  Still trying to get the husband to go in for his...
  • Echinacea tea once a day, If I remember to make it for myself (not recommended for children).
  • Vitamin C supplement.  My doctor recently suggested I take one daily.  She said it can't hurt and anything my body can't use I'll just pee out anyway.  Currently, I'm just using Emergen-C packets, but I'm thinking of looking into more natural options.    
  • Breakfast smoothies for myself:  at least 1 serving of fruit and/or 1 cup of leafy greens, with a source of protein (usually plain, unsweetened, whole milk yogurt, or oats) and sometimes chia seeds.  I also add a liquid of some kind, such as coconut water, milk, orange juice, or chocolate almond milk, and if the rest of the ingredients weren't very sweet, then some honey.  A friend of mine gave me the idea to pre-package smoothie concoctions in baggies in the freezer (just the produce and chia seeds, not yogurt, oats, liquids), so I'll do that now whenever I find a good price on frozen or fresh items.  
  • Fruits or vegetables, obviously, and for the boys my goal is 1 serving with every meal and snack.  We're pretty good at meal times, but sometimes I slack off at snack times and they end up just eating crackers. Recent favorites have been apple slices and any vegetable dipped in hummus.
  • Probiotics.  I'm still learning about these, so right now I just make sure we eat yogurt or drink kefir at least once a day.  I recently discovered kefir and we love it!  This is my favorite brand so far.
  • Sleep!  Travels and summertime skewed our bedtime and naptime schedules.  The boys recently started preschool, and naptime there is much earlier in the day.  So we've slowly started to revert back to an earlier bedtime, earlier wake up time, and hopefully thus an earlier nap time.  I also need to resolve to go to bed earlier and get more sleep myself. 
  • Hand washing!  I've armed my purse, the car, and our bathrooms with hand sanitizer, you know the drill.  However, I consider hand sanitizer my "in a pinch" solution, since I don't want to overuse it.  As for traditional hand washing, I've been trying to observe the "20 seconds" rule of thumb.  
Stay healthy out there!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Get Fresh Air

It's undeniable:  kids need exercise, and they need fresh air.  And it's September!  Which means, here in Texas, we know that soon...okay, soonish...okay in a few months...it will cool off!  And in the north, it means that warm weather hasn't completely given way to snow...yet (hopefully...?)  So take advantage of the autumn and get outside with your kids!  

I belong to MOPS:  Mothers of PreSchoolers (which I praised in this post), and at a recent meeting our speaker was Nell F. Bush, Ph.D, mother of 4 and university professor.  Her talk was "Positively Parenting Your Preschooler," and she emphasized the importance of children's physical development.  For young children, having time to develop their gross motor skills is just as important as developing their fine motor skills.  LOTS of FREE play outside is good exercise for them, and helps build their muscle tone and coordination.  During this outdoor play, a child's central nervous system is actually making the connections they will need when they're older, sitting still and learning math concepts!  

Sometimes our children seem to have so much energy to burn off, and show early interest in sports, that we think an organized sports activity will be good for them.  We think they'll be more coordinated, more disciplined, more socialized, more whatever, if we sign them up for a sports team.  However, Nell Bush pointed out that sports for children has become a money-making industry.  Now that I think about it, that makes sense:  just because the amount of sports and teams available has risen since I was a child doesn't necessarily mean it's because we've discovered how much it benefits children; it's because people figured out that parents would pay for it.  In organized sports, a child must spend more time not moving than if you were to go to the nearest park.  For an organized sport, the child may have to sit in a car seat on the way there, and back, be still while listening to directions, and be still again while taking turns practicing a skill.  According to Professor Bush, in such a structured environment, the child is actually making fewer neural connections than if they were to be running free and using their imagination.  She also pointed out how having too many structured activities can set yourself up for more discipline issues: "I don't want to go to soccer, I'm playing!" or "I don't want to wait my turn!" etc.  (She did concede, however, that swimming and gymnastics are two sports which do tap more into a whole-body experience in which the child can engage with their environment.  Also, it's certainly not wrong to put your toddlers and young children in structured athletics, but keep your expectations low and enjoy the practices and games as opportunities to be outside.)  

And let's face it:  most of our children won't grow up to be pros.  If a child has had plenty of time to freely develop their gross motor skills, then in early or even later elementary and beyond, it can take a child less than an hour to catch up with the skills it takes to play most team sports.  Did you know, Michael Jordan didn't start playing basketball formally until high school?  So, get those kids outside!

I feel strongly about this subject, and I've written two other related posts:

Old-Fashioned Friday: 3 Hours Outside?

How Much Time Outside?

Monday, September 22, 2014


Depression can be complicated, since it can be  "caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors."   I'm thankful to God that I've only experienced mild depression.  I believe that, whatever our struggles, as parents we must do whatever we can to be our best for our children.  I also believe in talking about depression.  In certain communities, there's still a stigma attached to depression, and shame in sharing about it.  I don't know why.  I'm a traditional gal, but not always a conventional one, so... here we go!

My depression in the past has been triggered by stressful times or big changes in life.  My first encounter with it was as an adolescent, trying to navigate those crazy times of surging hormones and middle school!  I tried self-diagnosing with encyclopedias, instead of doing what I should have done: talk to my mom about it.  It didn't rear its ugly head again (in full force) until the guy I was dating and loved (now my husband!) took a job in another state.  When we got engaged, it happened again, as we tried to keep up the relationship long-distance and plan a large wedding.  The last time I had a longer episode was when we moved to yet another new city, this time with baby twins in tow.  I felt trapped in our rental with the babies, didn't have many of my own friends yet, and it was too hot to enjoy the outdoors.  (I did eventually learn some coping skills, which I outlined in this post here.)  These were the major episodes, lasting many months at a time, with smaller episodes of just a few days in between.

So cute.  Yet, multiple babies can be very draining, and leave you feeling isolated.  

For me, depression begins with the feeling that a dark cloud is moving in, getting ready to rest right above my head for permanent lodging.  Then the darkness seems to settle into my brain and my heart.  Scary ideas and thoughts that I don't even feel comfortable writing down flash through my mind.  I'm an emotional person to begin with, crying easily, but also easily excited.  The difference when I'm in a depressed episode, is that I seem to no longer take joy in...anything.  I know rationally that I have a good life, yet everything seems muted.

So, as my twins' birth approached, I read up on post-partum depression in particular, and had the number of a counselor at our church all lined up, just in case.  After all, carrying, birthing, and caring for multiple babies can be very stressful, and it was all so new.  I was ready.  I waited for it to happen.  And it didn't.  I was relieved, and pleasantly surprised.  According to this article on WebMD,  I did have some risk factors for PPD, but those factors don't necessarily mean you'll experience PPD.  But if you're expecting, it's a good idea to have it in the back of your mind, just in case.

Below is a list of things that help me.  Maybe it will be helpful for someone else, too.  However, please keep in mind my experience is only with mild depression, and I'm no doctor!  Seeking professional help is always a good thing.

  • Be aware.  Be aware of your family history, of your own tendencies, and of the facts.  Sometimes just knowing what is happening to me makes me feel marginally better.
  • Talk to someone.  Don't keep your feelings to yourself on this one.  Let your spouse, or family members and friends know about what your struggles.  If they don't know about it, they can't pray, listen, or support.  If they love you, there should be no shame in talking about this!  True friends will listen with love.  If someone reacts poorly to you, that reflects badly on them, not you!
  • Remember, you aren't alone.  When you share with others, you may find that they have similar experiences.  You are definitely not the only person who feels this way!  In fact, mothers of multiples are at greater risk for PPD, according to this article.
  • Let your doctor know.  When we moved to our current city, I let my new general practitioner know about my background at my first appointment.  She told me as a good rule of thumb, that if you cannot shake the depression through other means after two weeks, that one really should make an appointment to see their doctor and possibly obtain a prescription.  Do your research and decide who you should see: your regular doctor, a psychiatrist (sometimes you need a referral, so you may want to start with your regular doctor first, anyway), psychologist, or other trained lay counselor.  Sometimes it's good to get recommendations while you're feeling good, and then those phone numbers are right there when you need them.  
  • Eat well.  Obviously.  But when I'm down, my first instinct is to eat junk food, instead of, say, a smoothie or salad.  But healthy food can do wonders for your overall mental health.  
  • Exercise.  My doctor said this can be one of the best ways to keep depression at bay.  Do whatever is easy and fun for you.  For people like me, a walk around the neighborhood refreshes me.  When living in Pasadena in a good neighborhood, I could take hour long walks, pushing the double stroller ahead of me and enjoying the weather.  It's no wonder my health took a toll when we moved to Houston, in the summer, into a sketchy neighborhood:  the heat and humidity and our location kept me indoors most of the time.  If you're in this kind of situation, look for online workout videos for free, order some DVDs, or join a gym that has child care (if you can afford it).  An idea for when your children are much older: a wonderful older-than-I lady once shared that she would leave her kids in the house, and just take laps around the block.  She would close the blinds when she left, and instruct the children to only open them if there was a problem, and then she'd come back in the house.  
  • Follow your routine.  Many decades ago, one family member of mine had trouble getting doctors to believe she was experiencing depression, partly because she had amazing self-discipline:  She was dressed and well-groomed; she continued to care for several children and a home almost entirely on her own while her husband worked hard outside the home.  But doing those daily tasks and having a schedule to follow can sometimes keep our bodies moving along when our mind won't cooperate, something I touched on in my post "Do The Next Thing."  
  • Pray.  Lean on your faith, if you have one, for support.  (If you are a Christian, this article might be helpful.) Sometimes this is all I need.  Sometimes I need other things too.  I believe taking steps towards caring for our physical needs (and depression is a physical thing) should go hand in hand with taking steps in caring for our spiritual needs, and that these two steps together can be powerful in caring for our mental health.  
"...but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sleep...and keeping your kids in their cribs: Part 2

You've worked so hard to transition your babies into a crib, and to train them to sleep at night, and knowing they're safe in their cribs gives you peace of mind.  And then they figure out how to get out and it's all over!  Then you have to either train them to stay in the crib and not get out unless you take them out, or if you're worried about safety you have to transition to a toddler bed, perhaps earlier than you'd planned.

I'll never forget the first morning I heard the running feet and noises getting closer and closer...  The boys had gotten out of their cribs one morning for the first time (see my post here) and then somehow forgot about it.  But that fateful morning that they burst into our room I'd left both their door and our door open because they had cried a lot in the evening and I wanted to hear them if they woke again.

What we did:

  • We turned their cribs so the highest side was away from the wall.  This did not deter them from climbing out AT ALL.  (To my husband, "you were right.")
  • I strongly "encouraged" them to stay in their cribs at nap time.  (I actually don't mind if they get up to play in the early morning in their room, but I need my afternoon break!)
  • I put up a gate to the bedroom door even while they were sleeping.  This was mainly for safety, since I don't want them wandering the house at night if they happen to get up and out.  Also, one of my sons had opened the door to the garage for the first time, and I didn't want them somehow unlocking or opening doors and leaving the house while I'm sleeping and not supervising! 
  • We tried sleep sacks.  I ordered super-long, toddler-sized ones.  I chose the Halo SleepSack in lightweight knit, so it wouldn't be too hot over their winter clothes.  As you can see below they did fit my tall toddlers, but the leg openings still allowed them enough range of movement to swing their leg over the side of the crib!

More suggestions from twin moms on keeping your babies/toddlers in bed:

  • Use a "Peapod."  Click here to see an example.  These are portable, zip-up, tent-like sleeping beds.  A member of my local twins club used hers by setting them right inside her cribs after converting the cribs to toddler beds.  She also says twisty ties can keep the zippers in place, since her twins quickly learned how to unzip the pods.  
  • If using sleep sacks, and your child learns how to unzip it, another member of my club sewed her own version of a sleep sack that had snaps in the back instead of a front zipper.  
  • If putting the crib mattress on the floor within the crib itself, don't just lay the mattress touching the floor, as it will too easily slide around.  Unscrew and lay the original crib bottom on the floor, then put the mattress on top.  
  • Pray.  

Some of these things might work to slow your children down or prevent their crib escapes.  Eventually, as you can see from the title picture above, we took the plunge and switched to toddler beds!  Stay tuned for a post on this transition!

Snuggling with daddy after a nap.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Preparing for a Consignment Sale

It seems my Facebook and inbox are flooded in the fall and spring with notices of consignment sales.  If you're not involved in these, you're likely familiar with garage sales.  Sales can be a great way to make back a marginal amount of the money you spent on your children's gear and clothing.  Here are some tips on preparing for a consignment/garage sale.

  • Find a container where you can set aside items you mean to sell.  A shopping bag, plastic garbage bag, laundry basket, anything will do, as long as it won't get confused with other items in your house, and can be shoved into a place where your children won't find it!  I tend to stick things in that spot throughout the year as we are finished with them.

  • Obviously, you want to launder or clean your items as well as possible before trying to sell them. Try to find all the parts, and keep manuals to go with larger items.  
  • If your consignment sale has rules about how to price and label items, follow it to a 'T.'  You don't want to cause unnecessary confusion in receiving your share of profits.  
  • Colored dot circles.  If you're in charge of your own garage sale or table, then labels such as these from Office Max, will do just fine.  Use a sharpie so people can see the price more clearly.  

  • Advertise.  If you're part of a large organization's consignment sale, then they probably do some advertising.  But don't leave it at that!  Get the word out among your friends, family, neighbors, and social media circles about the sale.  The more customers means the more likely you are to sell things.  

  • My local club sale suggests pricing items at 70% off retail value.  Sometimes you can get away with pricing things higher, sometimes you may need to go even lower.  If you're doing a large consignment sale, you can sometimes walk around and peruse other people's tables and prices, and gauge from there.  Start with a higher price and lower prices towards the end of the sale if you aren't selling well. 
  • Negotiate.  Many customers may enjoy haggling, so be prepared to negotiate prices.  If someone won't pay $5 per pair of pants, offer to sell two pairs for $8, for example.  You may want to have in your mind, for larger items, the price you won't go below. 

  • If you have a lot of small, related items that you think may not sell well, put them all in a zip-top plastic bag and sell as one item.  For example, I had several train set odds and ends that didn't fit my children's track system.  I put them all in a bag labeled "Train Accessories," and sold it for $5.  I've seen women sell a lot of little cars or other toys and label them as "Grab Bags." 
  •  Find your items online, and print off a page to show its value.  Circle the retail price in marker, and next to it write your price.  Tape the sheet to the item.  Customers will have a clear visual on what a deal they are getting!  (It's up to you to print off either the lowest online price you can find, knowing customers may be price-checking, the highest price you can find, or somewhere in between.)  

  • Clothing racks.  These make displaying and perusing clothing easier.  I got away without one because I sold very little clothing at my last sale.  The items I did have I put on hangers and hooked them to the edge of my table.  If you can't borrow a rack, some places rent them.  They do say that clothing that is hung up sells better.  
  • Hangers.  For the purpose of hanging, save any little children's plastic clothing hangers that you come across throughout the year.  

What to bring:
  • Folding chair.  You don't want to be sitting down the whole time, and looking like you don't care, but you will get tired eventually.  
  • Food, snacks, and drinks.  If the sale starts early, I like to treat myself to a drive through for coffee and breakfast, and eat it on the way or while setting up the sale.  
  • Change!  If you're in charge of your own table, you'll have to make your own change.  Bring plenty of one dollar bills, and a handful of larger bills.  If you price your items only in dollar increments, rather than in 25-cent increments, you won't have to worry about having quarters for change.  However, it's up to you on what you want to deal with.  Some items may not even seem to be worth a dollar, in which case go ahead and price it lower, and bring coins for change. 
  • Wagon or stroller.  Some larger sales have rolling carts to bring things in from the cars.  If not, think about how you're going to unload your vehicle and carry everything into the sale venue!   
  • Table cloth.  A suggestion from a member of my multiples club, this helps to brighten up your table and draws attention.  It can be any color or fabric, even a cheap plastic table cloth from the party supply section of stores can work.  

Have fun!
  • Remember, if you don't sell everything, that's okay!  There are plenty of worthy organizations to which you can donate, or you can keep things to try at another sale.  Or, you can post your items to sell online.  Lots of options!  
  • Be engaging.  I smile, say hello or good morning to everyone who approaches my table or who even walks by.  I ask what they're looking for, the ages of their children, anything to get them talking to stay longer and take a closer look at my items.  This way I can also point out more effectively what might interest them.  Talk up your items and how useful they were to you!  
  • Have a buddy.  If you're in charge of manning your own table, try to be next to someone you know, or enlist a friend to set up a table of her own next to you.  That way you'll have someone to chat with when things are slow.  You can also take turns watching over each other's tables, while the other person takes bathroom breaks or does their own shopping.  
This is from ConsignmentMommies.com.   I confess that my last sale was a total wash, since I bought about the same amount that I sold!

Happy selling!  (And shopping...)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeding Two At A Time: Part 1, Nursing and Bottle-Feeding

Feeding two babies at one time is challenging!  But with practice, you can master all sorts of methods.  In this post I'll just be explaining what we did, and what worked for us.  This post, Part 1, deals with babies; Part 2 will discuss feeding two once you start solids.

When the twins first came home, we were doubly blessed with the two boys, and you might say quadruply (is it a word?) blessed to have both my parents living with us for the first couple of months.

When you have extra people around to help:

  • Nurse one baby while someone else bottle-feeds the other baby.  (Sometimes the bottle had pure pumped breast milk,  sometimes it was supplemented with formula if I hadn't pumped enough, and sometimes it was just formula.)  I kept track so that each baby had the same amount of "turns" nursing.  
  • Tandem nurse.  A few times I had my mom help me to tandem nurse using a large, twin nursing pillow.  But this was always very tricky for me.  It seemed almost impossible to position myself inside the pillow, which wrapped around my waist, insert a back support pillow behind, then balance one tiny, squirmy baby on a side while reaching for the second baby.  Then getting one latched, hoping the other didn't fall off the side of the pillow, getting hot and sweaty, trying to keep clothing out of the way, then doing it all again when the first baby stopped eating and needed to be "re-latched."  It was like a circus.  So, I rarely tandem nursed.
  • Other people bottle-feed babies, while you pump and/or sleep.  Self-explanatory.  One warning, however:  if you're serious about keeping up your milk supply, don't skip too many nursing or pumping sessions in order to rest.  

Eventually, my milk supply completely dried up and the boys became solely formula-fed.  This was bittersweet.  My parents had to go home when the boys were 2.5 months, and my husband was at work every day, so we quickly developed ways for just one person to feed two babies at a time.

When one person feeds the babies:

  • Tandem nurse.  See my description of the circus above!  But I know from first-hand accounts, reading online, books, etc., that this IS possible, and becomes easier with practice.  The "double-football hold" seems to be the most popular position.  The book  Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins and More! can be very helpful.  
  • Nurse one baby at a time.  Train babies to wait their turn while they lay nearby you, or adjust their schedules so that they eat one after the other.  Try and keep track of who nursed on which breast and alternate.  That way if one baby is a stronger breast-feeder, you will help to keep the milk supply somewhat more even on both sides.  This is, however, a more time consuming method.  
  • Prop babies on boppies for bottles (say that ten times fast).  You can lay them semi-sitting up and sit in front or between them on your bed, couch, or on on the floor.    
  • Put one baby in your lap, and another propped next to you, also for bottles.  I usually sat with my back against the headboard of a bed and bent my knees.  Then one baby could sit on my lap facing me    
A cheerful morning feeding!  

  • Place babies in seats, sit between them (again, for bottle feeds).  Sit so that you're facing the opposite direction the babies are facing, so that you can have your back supported by something.  Using the car seats was my mother-in-law's suggestion, and while it seemed so simple, it revolutionized the way we were feeding the babies!  I placed a towel or blanket under the babies to pad the seats more.  You could also use bouncy seats.  
Our favorite bottle-feeding position.  

In all of these scenarios, have bibs, burp cloths, bottles, remote, pillows, and anything else you think you’ll need for a feeding, ready and reachable.  Afterwards they took turns being burped.  Being on the floor had its advantages, because if one got sick of waiting around in the seat, I could put him on the floor and let him roll or wiggle to his heart’s content.  I spent a lot of time feeding, propped against our couch, watching Netflix.  It was about that time I developed my obsession with "Downton Abbey."

Spot the historical error in this Downton Abbey promo pic!  We were speaking of bottles...

If I wasn’t watching TV, I also could use this feeding time to pray, either silently or out loud, so the babies could hear my voice.  Sometimes I’d sing to them, or just sit and enjoy the silence.  Occasionally, I’d use it as an opportunity to verbalize what would happen that day, what needed to be done.  This was for my own sake; I figured if I said it out loud maybe I’d remember it!

Happy feeding!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Grocery Shopping With Twins

For months after our twin boys were born, we took turns going to the grocery store.  Eventually, I got brave and took the boys.  I stuck them in their car seats, clicked those into our double Snap 'n' Go, and walked.  It happened to be a Trader Joe's grocery store, which, if you're familiar with them, are designed purposely to feel like a small, neighborhood store.  Which means small aisles.  Tricky with something that steers and turns like a bus.  And I could just get whatever would fit in the bag below the car seats.  This is also how I would do the occasional Target run, though that required getting in and out of the car.  But for any trip that required buying a lot at one time, I had to go alone or send someone else.

When the boys were finally sitting up by themselves, we ventured into grocery stores that boasted double-seater carts.  By then we were living in Texas.  (How I love, and miss, HEB!  It's a chain that only exists in certain parts of the state.)  But sometimes the desirable carts were placed in odd locations, not in the parking lot or not even with the regular carts.  A few times, afraid to leave my babies alone in the car, I put them in the double stroller, searched for  the right cart, loaded them in, put the stroller in the cart, returned it to our car trunk, THEN went shopping.  Waaaaaay too many steps.

But not every store HAS double-seater carts, much to my, and I'm sure many a mother of multiples', dismay.  Or worse, stores that have just a few...or one.  Once, after the boys had been walking for awhile, I tried to bravely transfer them from the car to the store without the stroller in between.  I tried to have them walk by holding my hand, occasionally muscling a runner or a layer-downer up into my arms across the parking lot.  We finally entered, only to find no suitable carts.  I asked an employee who said they only had one, and uh, it was being used.  I gave up, and returned my squirmy squirrels to the car.  Then we went to Costco!  Beautiful Costco, where ALL the carts are double-seaters.  More retailers need to invest in these types of carts. (Market Street, I'm talking to you!)  Multiples are on the rise, and besides, mothers with several little ones of different ages surely need more of these carts, too!

Solutions for shopping with twins:

  • Scope out stores beforehand, if possible.  When we moved to a new city, it was oddly fun for me to go around, testing out all the new grocery store chains in our area, or even to see how local branches of familiar chains were laid out.  I could also do some product and pricing comparisons.  I would see if a store had good carts, and if so, WHERE they were kept.  Next time I went with the boys I could try and park as close as possible to those carts. 
  • Be organized.  It took me awhile, but I've finally gotten into a better meal-planning routine, and this helps with my grocery lists.  If you can keep your twin-accompanied grocery runs to once a week or even less, score!  
  • OR, if you don't mind grocery shopping more often (sometimes it's nice just to get out of the house), take your double stroller and just stuff in whatever will fit at that time.  Then go back in a few days for other necessities.  
  • I WISH I had known about this product before (my kids are too big for it now), but it looks very helpful:  the Buggy Bench!  Carry it in the car and just insert into the basket of a cart for an instant, second seat.  
  • When the babies are still tiny, you could also wear one baby, and have the other in their car seat in the basket of the cart.  I have also seen people put one car seat on the riding part of the seat, and one car seat in the basket...but then you have very little room for groceries.  
  • Bring whatever will bring more peace:  bottles, snack cups, sippy cups, pacifiers, etc.!

Happy shopping!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Top 10 Tips: Twins Arrive!

1.  Know that it's going to be crazy.

Don't expect the kind of life your imagination might have cobbled together from television commercials, or other families' carefully coordinated professional photography sessions for Christmas cards.

2.  Be prepared.  

There are a lot of things you can do before the babies come to feel sort of set up.  See my post on top five tips for a twin pregnancy (some of which applies to higher order pregnancies, too).

3.  Don't be surprised if NICU time is required.

A lot of multiples arrive early, and thus, need to spend a little time in the NICU.  There are many parents out there a lot more qualified than I to speak to this.  But don't be disheartened by it:  know that this can be a little added recovery time for yourself, and more importantly, a well-monitored catch-up time for preemies who just might not be ready for this world yet.

4.  Get help!

Most people can't afford night nurses, nannies who help while you're home as well, or even a cleaning lady.  If you CAN, more power to you!  For the rest of us, beseech your family and friends to come at regular intervals.  Get over your pride and ask if nobody volunteers.

5.  Have a night-time plan.

See my posts on Sleep...and what we WISH we had done, and Sleep: tips for making the night go smoothly.

(For even MORE sleep advice, this link goes to a list of all posts on Sleep.)

6.  Create a schedule, but don't worry if you can't stick to it.

By now I'm sure you've heard the mantra that if one baby wakes to eat, feed the other baby, too.  Eventually, you will get more rest if you can get your twins to eat and sleep at the same time.  It can also help you mentally if you know what to expect throughout the day, rather than feeling that each day (or night!) is an endless stretch of the unknown.  A few tips:  In Praise of Routine.

7.  Order stuff online.

While I do recommend learning how to get out of the house with your multiples soon, to avoid cabin fever, I also know it's very difficult.  Sometimes it just seems easier to stay home.  In which case, ordering diapers, formula, pajamas, whatever it may be, from Amazon or Diapers.com can be a very easy and convenient option.  And while we never did it, I've heard online grocery delivery services can be amazing.

8.  Don't compare.

Try and accept early on that your life with two or more babies at one time will NOT look the same as your friend or cousin with just one baby at a time.  I once heard a quote, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, that "comparison is the thief of joy."

9.  Join stuff. 

I've been a member of a multiples club in two different cities now, and I can't stop gushing about the benefits!  Most groups have an online presence, in which you can ask questions related to twins, buy a used triple stroller for a good price, or be inspired by that mother of quadruplets!  Both groups I've joined had monthly meetings with interesting, relevant speakers, and my current group even serves a free dinner before every meeting!  There are usually play dates and events for the kids, or moms' nights out for happy hour or dinner.  I've made lots of friends this way, and can't say enough about the emotional support these groups can provide.  If you don't have a multiples club near you, join another parent group to meet other people who are (almost) going through the same thing.

Find a multiples club:  Multiples of America

10.  To repeat, remember:  it'll be crazy.