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Archive for the ‘Ask The Moms’ Category

Have a question for the HDYDI moms?  Ask away in the comments or on our Features page.

What about reintroducing intimacy into your relationship with your husband – physical and emotional? How to be romantic when you worry about chores, finance, sleep deprived and the kids are sleeping in the next room? Early “physical” limitations (post-C-Section, vaginal birth, breastfeeding).

Oh yes.  The nookie.  Those of you rare few who were breaking rules and getting back in the saddle well before your postpartum appointment… this isn’t for you.  It’s for the rest of us.

So, OK, you drag yourself (with or without babies) to your six-week postpartum OB checkup.  Your doctor says all is well, and you’re clear to resume sex.  And just as soon as you stop laughing, she actually has the nerve to ask what you want to use as birth control!  Um, did she forget that time six weeks ago when she pulled two small people from your body?  Hahahahaha!

But sex is a serious topic, people.  And one we’re all about here on HDYDI.  For as much time as we spend as devoted moms, we are also (among other things) the beloved spouse/partner of some other grownup.  And I’m going to come right out and say it: I think physical intimacy is a really important part of that kind of relationship.  But, good lord, how is that supposed to happen with two needy newborns, zero sleep, and a body that has been through a war?  Here’s our advice…

Talk, talk, and talk some more

Communication can very easily break down in the first weeks and months of being a new parent, especially with two.  In addition to the mind-addling lack of sleep (and showers and meals that can’t be eaten with one hand), mama’s got some serious physical stuff to deal with.  You’re healing from delivery, your hormones are more volatile than the stock market, your boobs are leaking milk all over the place, and your belly resembles a lump of raw pizza dough.  You’re stressed and tired and trying to figure it all out, and sex is the farthest thing from your mind.  Well, guess what?  It might be lower on your beloved’s list than you think.  Maybe you’re on maternity leave but he’s gone back to work already, only to come home and help out with the night shift.  He’s tired and stressed too, so maybe postponing the return to the marital bed is just fine with him.  Or, maybe he’s more eager than you are.  But the only way you can understand each other is to talk about it.  If you don’t feel up for it, he needs to know that.  If he misses that aspect of your relationship, you need to know that, too.  But keep talking.

Make a choice, make a date

You may find that you both want to get back in the saddle, at least theoretically, but motivation is low and timing is poor.  But if you’re both in agreement: make a date.  Make several.  Make the choice to carve out time to re-connect, both emotionally and physically.  You don’t need to go anywhere, you don’t need to find a babysitter.  Just decide that you’re going to light some candles and sit down at the table for dinner.  Turn off the TV, don’t answer the phone. Open a bottle of wine. Maybe it leads you back to the bedroom, maybe it takes a few times. Maybe you just make a totally concrete, un-romantic decision to jump back into bed.  That’s OK. You have to start somewhere. The psych majors among us should think about behavioral therapy: set the behavior first, if you need to, and the emotional part will come along.  If nothing else, you’ll be glad you made the time for each other.  And I’m not kidding about that bottle of wine.  I’m all for (consensual) enforced relaxation.

Don’t rush, and don’t expect it to be the same

Everyone has their own timeline.  Some people are so looking forward to reconnecting that they go for it right after they get the green light (or some just decide to get that first time “out of the way”…).  Plenty of people don’t feel physically or emotionally ready for several more weeks or even months.  Don’t feel like you need to rush into anything that you aren’t ready for.

Speaking of getting things out of the way… know that the first time post-kids, nobody’s socks are getting knocked off.  Maybe the first few times.  It’s unlikely going to be the sexual highlight of your entire relationship, so don’t build it up in your mind.  It may be awkward, it may be a little painful, there may be some seriously leaky boobs. Keep your sense of humor about you, and know that it’ll get better/easier.

Another important bit of expectation-setting is this: your relationship with your significant other has now changed.  Your lives and priorities have changed.  This is neither all-bad nor all-good.  It’s different.  New stresses, new demands on your time.  New ways to connect, too, and new shared passion.  But it’s different.  As for what frequency of sex is “normal?”  There’s no such thing.  Some may find the time once or twice a week, some are not entirely sure they had sex for the entirety of September (or October…?). You have to find the balance that’s right for the two of you.

To the partners out there, I offer two important tidbits that I’ve picked up (the studies I, of course, cannot find right now, or I’d provide the links).  Tidbit 1: a study was done that showed that women who perceived that their partners did a “fair share” of housework and childcare were more likely to be interested in sex.  Laugh all you want, it’s true.  We stress about these things, about how many loads of laundry need to be done or whether the dishes are clean.  The more you can proactively take this stress off of your wife/partner/beloved, the more amenable she might be.  Not in a quid pro quo kind of way, but more as a general stress reducer.  Which brings me to tidbit 2: I read somewhere that, in general, men like to have sex to relax while women need to be relaxed to have sex.  Think about that.  Some men may want to have sex as a way to unwind after a stressful day.  But, I assure you, your wife is likely to need a lot more winding down (and maybe a few glasses of wine) before she’s ready to join you.

Don’t forget the birth control

If you’re not planning on trying to get pregnant again anytime soon, please do not neglect your birth control.  Don’t assume that breastfeeding will take care of it, don’t ignore it just because you figure you won’t be having sex all that often, anyways.  Remember what you learned in sex ed: it only takes one time. Research the methods (pill, “mini-pill,” IUD, condoms, etc…), and pick one that you will be able to use as directed.  Or, if you are all about continuing to expand the family, more power to ya!

There you have it, a few words of collective wisdom from the moms of HDYDI.  Sex after kids is real, it’s possible, and frankly, it’s important. When you’re ready, go for it!

For additional reading, see HDYDI contributor Cheryl Lage’s book, Twinspiration.  Also, a great entry by Dooce on the subject.  Or, check out what our readers have to say!  Comment, people, comment!

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Oh, hi there!  Remember Ask the Moms?  Yeah, sorry ’bout that.  We’re back now.  I apologize for the slacking.

If you have a question for Ask the Moms, please leave it in the comments, or on our Features page.

Today’s question comes from a new mom of twins:

I’ve read some of the great posts on the site about being a SAHM with twins, but it seems like all the posts address older children, and finding the right balance of activity and schedule. My twin boys are only 6 weeks old, and my husband just went back to work. I only just figured out how to (bottle) feed both of them at the same time, never mind leaving the house (or a shower everyday). My question is: how did all the other moms of multiples make it through these early days and keep their sanity?? Ideas for dual feedings, what to do when both are inconsolible and feed/sleep/play schedules would be great!

Ah yes.  The newborn days, when all of the help goes back to work or flies home to Florida.  It can be a very sad day when the extra hands are gone.  But, freak that I am, I also found it kind of empowering and liberating.  Truly, now it’s just up to you, in a good way.  You’re the mommy, you make the decisions.  Following are some of our sanity-savers, tips, and tricks for those very early newborn days when you’re all by your lonesome.

Double Bottle-Feeding

We all have had some variation on the bottle-feed-two-at-once trick.

LauraC's hubby shows us how it's done.

LauraC's hubby shows us how it's done.

Prop ‘em up in two Boppies, sit them in the bouncy or car seats, or have one little head resting on each leg.  In the very earliest (pre-rolling) days, lots of us did it on the couch.  Or on the floor, back up against the couch.  Get the babies situated on a stable incline and hold both bottles.  I for one have a near-permanent butt-print in the center of my couch, with two slightly rubbed spots on either side where the boppies lived for months on end.  Is it the cuddly and snuggly image you always dreamed of?  Maybe not.  And sometimes you might have a situation where one is ready for a bottle while the other isn’t, and you can get your snuggle on.  But most of the time, it’s all about efficiency when it comes to food.  Snuggles can come when their bellies are nice and full.

When Both are Ballistic

As my friend and fellow HDYDI contributor Rebecca put it at our twin club’s cope meeting last night, sometimes the bad parts are exactly how you pictured them.  Both babies red-faced and screaming.  It’s no fun for anyone, and it does sometimes happen.  We each have our own triage methods.  Some just go with whoever seems the most hysterical at that moment.  Some first attend to the one that is known to be easier to soothe, so that baby can be quickly calmed and then you move on to the trickier one.  Some just try to rotate who gets picked up first.  Whatever you need to do, you do it.

Do not fear tools like the swing, the bouncy seat, or pacifiers.  My son would only nap in the swing for the first five months of his life. There were times when I’d have them both in bouncy seats on the floor, and I’d bounce them both with my feet so that I could actually eat something (or just get my ears a few more inches away from the screaming).  And definitely, if you haven’t already, watch the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD.  Swaddling, shushing, swinging… a mom’s best friend.

A baby carrier can be a good friend, even if it only contains one baby.  If you have a fussier baby that wants to be close all the time, why not put that one in the Bjorn / Ergo / Sling?  Then you still have your hands free to grab a sandwich or pick up the second baby.  Don’t worry about the happier baby being neglected.  You can’t make a happy baby any happier.  So if one is calm and content, do what you need to do for the other.  The happy baby will get their share of the love, I promise.  (And, at some point, will likely swap personalities and become the fussy baby…)

If Mama Ain’t Happy…

Your sanity and, dare I say, happiness, is extremely important.  As moms, it’s easy to start neglecting ourselves.  But there has to be a balance.  Some people just plain do not feel human until they’ve had a shower in the morning.  If that’s the case for you… guess what, Daddy is on baby-duty for the whopping 10 minutes it’ll take you to wash your face and your hair and get that spit-up smell off of your shoulder.  Or, if there’s no other adult who can watch them, they’ll really be OK if they sit in their bouncy seats inside the bathroom (or just outside the open door if there’s no room), or even rest in their cribs for a few minutes so that you can hop in the shower.  Just make sure they’re in a safe and secure place.  If they start crying, it’ll be OK.  No need to leap out of the water with your hair still lathered.  They’ll be OK for the whole 60 seconds it takes to finish what you’re doing.

Activities and getting out of the house are key for your sanity, and good for the kids, too. Even if they’re still little and can barely see past the handle of the carseat, it’s OK.  Get out of the house, get a little fresh air.  Take a new mom class.  Meet other new moms, and especially meet other new moms of twins (have you joined your local twin club yet?!)  Take advantage of the first month or two when they’ll sleep any time you rock the carseat, and go out for lunch with a friend.  Look around for local movie theaters that often have a once-a-week mommy movie, where they show a non-kid movie at a baby-friendly time.  That way you actually get to see a recent release, and no one else minds if you take up four seats and have to change a diaper or breastfeed most of the way through the movie.  Getting out on your own with two babies can be intimidating… until you’ve done it a few times.  You’ll get the hang of it quickly, and then you can just let everyone you pass be in awe of your capabilities. :-)

Schedules are a good thing, and many (most? all?) of us here at HDYDI are big fans.  But newborns can’t read clocks.  More important at the newborn stage is routine. See our previous post on that subject for more details.  Routines are good, predictability is good.  But don’t expect a true nap schedule until closer to 5 or 6 months.

Finally, remember that those newborn days are not a sprint, they are a grueling marathon.  Do what you need to do to power through, nourish yourself (yes, that means make sure you get to eat and sleep), and survive.  Roll with the punches, get out of the house even for a short walk around the block.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of four months, the haze will lift and you’ll start doing more than simply surviving.  That’s when it gets good and interesting…

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Every month for the first 18 months of my twin boys’ lives, we took their picture in a chair together. I’ve seen this done many places but I had no idea how much work went into those pictures! In our house they were truly a labor of love. We always had one designated photographer and at least one baby wrangler. The baby wrangler’s job was to entertain the boys and prevent them from doing headers off the chair while also staying out of the photographer’s way.

I almost drove my husband Jon crazy with my insistence on continuing the series, but oh my, all that work was worth it. Some of my favorite photos are from that series, as well as some of my favorite memories.

I still carry a copy of this two month picture in my wallet.

This six month picture almost became our Christmas card photo with the words “Peace on Earth.”

This eight month picture proved the conspiring begins early.

The ten month series was my favorite of the bunch, and includes a picture that still makes me laugh out loud and a picture that is one of my all-time favorites.

This eleven month photo shoot was the worst – they both cried and cried because they were so sick.

And this 18 month photo showed me how far we had come – instead of tiny babies we had two little BOYS.

We decided to stop at 18 months when they would no longer stay in the chair together. I took all those shots and turned them into a photo book as a gift to the grandparents. Even the worst outtakes made it into the book. You can view our entire series here.

If you decide to embark on the series, two things helped us greatly. First, we kept on snapping pictures no matter what happened. We have pictures of babies falling over, babies pooping, boys crying, and lots of smiles. The series truly reflects life with twins – not always perfect, and often crazy. Second, we stayed flexible. If the boys were not cooperative, we’d try again at a later point. The five month series took four attempts before we got pictures we liked. Even with all the work involved, this remains one of my favorite activities from the first year with twins.

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When my boys were 16 months old, Nate started climbing out of his crib. We thought he would grow out of this phase but every time we put him in the crib, he tried to climb out. The cribs we bought did not have the option to use crib tents, so we made the decision to transition both boys to toddler beds.

If I could do it all over again, I would have bought different cribs that could accommodate crib tents. We have spent the last year trying to get naptime to work in our house on weekends. Until this weekend, our naptime routine was that we put the boys to bed, then I or my husband Jon watch the video monitor and intervene where necessary.

The boys generally play for 30 minutes to an hour, but sometimes they play for 90 minutes. They fight, they sing, they shout, and they generally go crazy in there – fun time with no supervision! It is anything but naptime as they egg each other on. Each naptime is filled with time outs, warnings, and frustration on our end.

We had numerous naptime ups and downs. We had days where we gave up and drove them around in the car until they slept.  I emailed every twin mom friend and every twin group to which I have access. I scoured the internet for solutions. And every person told me not to separate them at naptime if we wanted them to sleep together for bedtime.

This weekend, Jon and I decided to break all conventional wisdom. We were tired of spending our weekends as referees for an unknown amount of time. By the time the boys fell asleep, we barely had time to eat lunch before the boys were back up. We decided to split the boys into different rooms at naptime. AND IT WORKED.

We explained to them what we were going to do. We put them down in different rooms and they were both asleep within 10 minutes. Alex was a little sad and wanted me to sleep in Nate’s bed, but I rubbed his back and told him he would be ok by himself. They slept for two hours, their longest nap since the bed transition. At bedtime, they asked if they were going to be in different rooms and when we told them they were sleeping together, they happily talked for 10 minutes then went to sleep.

During this entire year, we thought we were doing the right thing by keeping them together. We kept thinking it was a phase they would outgrow. We were wrong. They simply nap better when they are apart. This experience taught me that there is no one “right” answer for parenting dilemmas and that even the collective wisdom of all the twin moms out there sometimes doesn’t have the right answer for your situation.

What about you? What advice have you gotten that doesn’t work for you?

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A reader asked through our Features page whether the HDYDI moms have any recommendations for high chairs.  Well, of course we do! But there’s no single “best” option.  It depends on your space and other needs.  We’ll review the two main types: standard high chairs and the ones that strap onto other chairs, as well as give you some tips on what to look for when making your selection.

Standard High Chairs

Certainly the most commonly-seen and with the most available options, the standalone high chairs are what most of us initially think of when it comes to feeding babies and toddlers their “solid” foods. A quick peek at the Babies R Us website shows over 60 chairs by 14 different brands, ranging in price from $45 to $300!  You can go from vinyl upholstery to sleek Scandinavian styling, full-sized with bells and whistles to compact and minimal. That’s one of the main upsides to the traditional high chair: lots of styles and options to choose from. Many have an extra layer to the tray that snaps off and is dishwasher safe for easy clean-up, and they are often cushy and comfy for the kids.  Many also have height adjustments if you want the kids to be sitting higher or lower for easier reach with the spoonful of pureed sweet potatoes.

The downside is space and portability.  Even with the slimmest of models, two traditional high chairs are going to take up a substantial footprint in your kitchen.  While some fold up more easily and compactly than others, the likelihood of you folding and storing both high chairs 3-5 times a day?  Questionable, at best.  For the same reason, they are not especially portable.  Sure, you can fold them up and throw them in the back of the van, but are you really going to want to do that for every little trip over to grandma’s house?

Booster Seats

The alternative is a wide variety of shapes and styles that are meant to attach to a chair or the table.  For today’s purposes, we’re going to stick with those appropriate for babies and young toddlers.  While there’s arguably wider variation in style than the traditional high chairs, there are overall significantly fewer options.  Some of the models strap onto a dining room or kitchen chair, usually with one strap that goes underneath and one that goes around the back of the chair. They have smaller trays than regular high chairs, and often the tray can be removed when you’re ready for the kids to join you at the table.  Some are hard plastic and some are padded, some recline.  The Fisher-Price brand boosters are a big hit among the HDYDI moms.

The second main category are those that hook onto tables.  Definitely consider the sturdiness of your table in relation to the weight of your child when choosing one of these, and know that they don’t work on all tables (like those with a bit of a “lip” underneath).  Also consider whether food will be placed directly onto your kitchen table, in bowls, or on some kind of placemat.  The likelihood being, we assume, that your kitchen table is not dishwasher-safe.  But two of the HDYDI moms have the Chicco brand hook-on chairs and love how much space they save, even if there are phases (say, the early days of finger foods) when everything manages to get spilled in the cracks.  But hey, that will happen with any of them.

While they don’t work in all circumstances, booster and hook-on chairs are a popular choice in twin families for the very obvious reason that they take up much less space.  They just work with furniture you already have and adapt it to your kids.  How handy!  Many of them are also very easy to clean, and fold up compactly for easy travel.

Features to look for

Once you’ve determined what your space constraints and aesthetic preferences are, there are a few other practical matters to consider.  First and foremost is ease of cleaning.  At my house, we have two standard high chairs that are essentially the same, except one has cloth upholstery and one has some kind of plastic/vinyl.  When we were setting them up, my husband remarked that he wished we had gotten both in the cloth, since the vinyl just didn’t seem an appealing surface to sit on for our delicate children.  Then those delicate children began spilling sweet potatoes and banana everywhere.  And everything they ate got mushed into the seats of their chairs.  They got quickly nasty, and it was then that I learned the cloth chair came with instructions to… wait for it… dry clean only.  You must be joking.  I threw caution to the wind and put it in the wash, and it came out just fine.  But still, that cloth one is an enormous pain in the butt to clean.  Even the vinyl one, though it wipes clean more easily, still has a lot of nooks and crannies where things get a little stuck. Anyways, have messy babies in mind when selecting your chairs.

Then, consider any particular features you think you’ll want.  For instance, some people find that it helps to slightly recline babies as they first get the hang of slurping off of the spoon.  Not all chairs recline, but many standard ones do, as do some of the booster variety.  Also test the way the tray comes on and off, and consider how you’d get a wiggly baby into the seat safely.  Check belts to see if you want a five-point harness or a three-point one (honestly, in my big high chair, I almost never use the restraints, as I find the tray keeps them in just fine).

Something Different

A few other notes on high chair options.  One of the HDYDI moms had a stroke of genius: wooden restaurant high chairs! If you can find a restaurant supply store near you, they can be a cheap and stable option, though not portable.  For other money-saving possibilities, don’t forget your local twin club sale and Craigslist.  IKEA also sells the high chairs that they use in the in-store cafeteria: very inexpensive, and they even stack! For traveling, I have really liked the Eddie Bauer Pop-Up Booster seat.  It folds nice and small, and while it’s maybe not the most stable or practical for everyday use, it’s a great thing to keep in the car or take on trips.

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Have a question for the HDYDI moms?  Ask away on our Features page, or in the comments!

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It’s Wednesday, time for Ask the Moms, and I’ve decided to turn it around and ask all of you for advice!  Today’s topic: transitioning from bottles and formula to sippy cups and milk.

Yes, it’s a self-serving one on my part, but one that I know lots of people can relate to.  We’ve hit the magical one-year mark, and I cannot tell you how glad I am to have purchased my very last pallet of formula at the warehouse store.  Milk may have become expensive recently, but it’s nothing compared to the cost of formula.

Here’s what I’ve done so far, please chime in with your favorite tips and tricks for transitioning to milk!

First, my kids started toying with sippy cups around 6 or 7 months, but it was very sporadic.  They started being able to drink water from it with real regularity probably around 10-11 months.  Now, it’s no problem.  They’ll drink water or even some diluted apple juice from any variety of models, though our favorite is probably the Take & Toss ones.  Heck, my daughter even figured out a straw yesterday.  But if I give them a cup of milk?  A sip or two, maybe, but they still want their bottles of formula.

So, I changed my focus to getting them to drink milk, whatever the vessel.  Today’s mix in the bottle is half-formula, half-milk, and it was no problem.  I’m guessing we should be to 100% milk by the end of the weekend.  My son would probably tolerate a more abrupt change than that, but my daughter is wary of new tastes, so we’re taking it a day or two at a time.

Now, any suggestions for the final step of getting the milk into the sippy?  My kids still seem to really want those bottles 3-4 times a day to satisfy a particular type of hunger-thirst.  But handing them their cups at the normal bottle time turns into a revolt.  Hand them a cup of apple juice at snack time, and they practically chug it and slam the cup upside-down like a frat boy.  But a sippy cup of formula when they want a bottle?  How dare I?

Dear readers, what worked for you when waving bye-bye to bottles?  Or for the exclusively-breastfeeding bunch, were there any difficulties for you when going from breast to cups?  I know that true weaning is a different topic entirely (which was discussed recently by both Krissy and Rebecca), but what about the sippy-cup aspect?

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This week’s Ask the Moms question/inspiration comes from a somewhat unlikely source: a dad of two singletons!  Still, though, some things are near-universal when it comes to parenting, and we couldn’t not address his concerns.  Dear readers, please feel free to chime in with your suggestions in the comments.  Here’s Chris’s comment on an earlier post:

I think I’m the only guy to post here and I’m sure glad I found a site where other parents feel the same pain. I resigned from work due to stress; unable to put in all the hours and give adequate time to my 2 1/2 year old and 9-month old.

I’ve been home for 3 months now and am just going absolutely crazy. I don’t know what to do to make myself feel better. I feel guilty turning on the TV so I don’t do that often — I basically just try to stick it out until my wife gets home to provide a hand.

Since I never leave the home I feel like I work a double-home shift until the kids sleep with at that point I’m fully exhausted with no energy to read a book or go to the gym. I don’t know if there’s a solution; perhaps it must be this way until they’re older.

My family is my top priority and I love my wife and kids but I’m slowly going crazy and am probably a bit depressed. I sure am glad though that I was able to read other folks’ comments and stories.

So very many things we want to address, I’ll just jump right in.  Being a stay-at-home parent can be great, fun, and rewarding. But it can also be incredibly frustrating, stressful, and isolating.

The thing that jumped out at all of us right away was “since I never leave the home.”  We have two words for you: Get. Out.   Get the hell out of your house.  Every single day.  I’ve said it many times, but staying inside with two babies/kids all day is the shortest road to crazy town.  And it’s no good for your kids, either.  All three of you need fresh air and different things to look at and explore.  The easiest way to do that is to take a walk.  Sometimes it can be a go-go-go walk where you need to exercise out some frustration. Give the kids some snacks and hit the pavement. Sometimes it’s pure entertainment, so let the toddler stop and check everything out.  Other free-and-easy options include the library (let the toddler browse the books while the baby is along for the ride, or enjoy the library’s story time together), the park, the mall playground, Barnes & Noble (they often have a train table in the kids’ section).  Sometimes I’ll just put the kids in the car and go for a drive, or hit the Starbucks drive-thru.  Go out for a snack or a meal together, or even go to the grocery store. In my world, that totally counts as an outing.  Heck, go to the gym and make use of the childcare room if they have one!

Whether you’re going out or spending a whole day at home, I find the key for lots of days is to have a plan.  A real one.  Before lunch we’re going to do x, and after the afternoon nap, we’re going to do y.  Even if the activity is just sitting on a blanket in the front yard, I feel much more in control if I have a plan.  Don’t set yourself up for disaster by insisting on doing to many things at precise times, but know what you hope to do that day.  It won’t always go perfectly, but it’s a place to start.

To whatever extent you can, we also wholeheartedly recommend coordinating naps as much as possible.  Very true with same-age kids, equally important with a baby and a toddler.  In all likelihood, the toddler is doing one afternoon nap, and the 9-month-old is doing a morning and afternoon nap.  Try to put them down at the same time in the afternoon so that you at least get some kind of a break.  And you may want to push the 2-to-1 nap transition when the younger child is just over a year, in the hopes of true nap coordination.  Of course, it may be that your toddler wants to drop the nap entirely.  We’re all about still enforcing a quiet “siesta” time, even if he/she doesn’t want to sleep.  2.5 is old enough to understand and to spend an hour quietly in their room.

Social support is also a major component here.  As I said, being a stay-at-home-parent can be really isolating, and I think that’s especially true of the less-common stay-at-home-dads.  Reach out and find a network in your area.  Even a virtual community is a good start (look at all of us bloggers!).  Some links include the At-Home Dad Newsletter, Meetup.com, and one of my favorite full-time-dad blogs, Looky, Daddy! For our main MOT audience, we’re all about Moms of Twins clubs, mom/baby/toddler classes, and the like.  The point being that you’re not the only one doing what you’re doing, and there’s nothing better than getting together with like-minded folks.

Finally, make some time for yourself as a person, not just a parent.  Go for a run or a yoga class when the kids are in bed.  Find a babysitter a few times a week so that you can get out of the house by yourself.  Heck, even get a neighborhood middle-schooler to play with the kids in the yard while you sit quietly with a book and a cup of coffee (or, in my case, with the sewing machine… whatever it is you enjoy).  Moms and dads are not endless wells of giving.  You have to recharge yourself if you’re going to have anything left to give.  Sometimes that means letting the kids hang out in a safe, childproofed space in your house while you take a hot shower.  Sometimes it even means letting them watch a few minutes of Baby Einstein so you can gather your thoughts.  If that’s what you need to regroup, do it.

Being a stay-at-home parent is hard work.  We all have rough days when the world seems to conspire against us.  Illness, crabbiness, never-ending bad weather.  There are days when I practically throw both of my children at my husband the moment he walks in the door.  But it can also be wonderful and fun and rewarding.  It’s all about finding the strategies to make it that way.  The really rough days can and should be the exception, not the rule.

One last thought: depression is a very real thing, and new stay-at-home-parents have any number of risk factors for it (major life changes, lack of social support, lack of sleep, financial strain, etc etc etc…).  If you feel like things are getting overwhelming, get help for yourself.  Call your local hospital for counseling referrals (imagine, an hour a week of one-on-one adult interaction!).  Even if you don’t meet the criteria for a medical diagnosis, you can still get help when it feels like life is a little bit too much to handle.  The better you feel, the better parent you’ll be, and the better your whole family will be for it.  Getting help is not a sign of weakness.  It’s a sign of strength when you get the resources you need.

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