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Archive for February, 2008

I have lots and lots of twin mommy friends from my twin club, and we’ve all discussed this topic at great length. There seems to be two schools of thought:

1. There’s no way in hell I’m taking my kids to the store, they can spend some time with Daddy, I need some time by myself to peruse the Lean Cuisines, and I don’t care if it’s midnight when I finally get to the store.

and

2. I don’t care if people stare at us, I don’t care if we’re in people’s way, I don’t care if the kids are making a scene, we need groceries, and I need to get out of this house and see some sunshine before their third birthday.

I’ve noticed there are many moms who flat out refuse to take their kids shopping unless they absolutely must, and there are just as many who take their kids everywhere. It’s been something of a point of contention between my husband and I, because HE thinks we should stay home, thus avoiding car accidents, stray dog attacks, purse snatchers, kidnappers, and cold germs. Of COURSE he thinks this, since he’s away from the Casa de Chaos for ten hours a day. I, on the other hand, spend most of my life right here in this very kitchen, standing at this very counter. I get to where I feel like my eyeballs are sunburned from all the Playhouse Disney. I need to sit and drink cocktails chat with my mommy friends at someone else’s house while the kids color on the walls once in awhile.

First shopping trip alone. So, from the very beginning, I’ve been putting myself out there in the world. One of the things I was dreading when I found out I was expecting my second set of twins was the whole logistics of GETTING anywhere. What I’ve discovered, though, is that it’s not that big of a deal. I mean, sometimes it sucks – when the weather is cold, when people at the mall let the door shut in my face when they see me struggling to get my stroller inside, when people make comments like, “I would kill myself if I had that many children.” (Yeah. Somebody actually said that!) But for the most part, it’s no biggie. When our second set of twins was a couple of months old, I decided it was time for me to figure out how to go shopping. I went to a store where I knew I’d be able to get my hands on one of those big shopping carts with the toddler seats, and I buckled my one-and-a-half year old kids into the seats and I put the two infant seats on top of the cart. Hey, it worked? I had to shove the groceries underneath one of the infant seats, but by golly, we managed. We got a lot of stares and comments, but I felt so completely VICTORIOUS on the drive home, I was practically in tears!

The answer to But babies grow quickly, and it wasn’t long at all before I realized we were going to have to figure something else out. The kids were just getting too big for me to sling them around in their infant seats. We needed another option. The answer for us was the Quad Stroller! Now, this is no wimpy plastic stroller from Babies ‘R Us. This is commercial grade, designed for daycare centers. It’s all metal and weighs EIGHTY POUNDS. (Yet another example of something you can do when you realize you’re out of options: lifting an 80-pound stroller in and out the back of your van!) It’s not the prettiest stroller in the world, but my God, I had a love affair with that thing. With the quad stroller, we could go anywhere – the zoo, the mall, the park – and yes, the supermarket. I somehow figured out how to push the stroller with one hand and pull the cart behind me with the other. My research has indicated that this is the method most twin mamas employ while grocery shopping with very young children.

Time for School! You make it work. That’s something I wish someone would have told me when I was expecting twins: you’ll figure out a way. If it’s something you feel like you need to do, you’ll figure it out. And honestly, that time period goes by in the blink of an eye. Now I long for the days when I had no choice but to push the ginormous stroller around, because I knew where all the kids were! Now, they all want to walk, and I spend all my time counting them to make sure we haven’t lost anyone!

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Ah, the first three months (three years?) with twins…..You’ve spent hours a day feeding the babies solids, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, offering snacks. Then, they finally go to bed and you look at each other and realize that the fridge holds two onions, a carton of half and half and three week old Chinese take-out. Yeah, we have this issue many nights. So, how do you ever find time in your day to have food to eat yourselves (and no, having Domino’s on speed dial isn’t what I had in mind, athough I’m not going to judge you on that).

Have friends bring food

In the first three to four months, have your friends bring food over. And more food. And food you can freeze. This is key. You must eat, and there is so little time. Easy to eat things are good—the best food gift we got was a huge fruit salad. Yummy. Didn’t have to be heated. Healthy. And easy. Fantastic! We also got vats of mac ‘n cheese, lasagna, chili, stew, pasta with pesto, all sorts of yummy stuff.

The slow cooker

So, once your babies have hit the four month mark (a magical age for twins!), you eventually have to learn to fend for yourselves. Sadly, the take-out menus will only get you so far. (And certainly not get those final 20 pounds of baby weight off of you). Thus, the slow cooker. Fantastic! There are tons of cookbooks for the slow cooker out there. We have the Cooking Light cookbook and It’s Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker. There are websites galore. You can put the food in in the morning, while babies are calm and happy and have your house smell yummy all afternoon, as babies get closer to the witching hours and begin to fall apart. There are websites with tons of slow cooker ideas. Check out www.cookinglight.com if you are working on loosing the last 1o lbs of babyweight. Or, just google “slow cooker”. (I have to say, I was shocked by how many recipes required a cream of something soup. Who knew?)

Premade dinner places

So, I made fun of these kinds of places before I had kids. These places are popping up everywhere, under brand names like Let’s Dish, Dinner Concepts, or  Dream Dinners. You sign up for an evening and then go and put together the six, eight or twelve meals. The meals are frozen, in easy to store containers (usually plastic ziplock bags) for future empty fridge nights. These meals have gotten us through many a tough night. We are making Carribean Chicken tonight. Yum. Last week it was burritos in the slow cooker.

Fast dinners

So, we have a whole bedtime routine. My husband bathes baby #1 (whichever is louder), I breastfeed baby #1 upstairs while he bathes baby #2, then I take baby #2 upstairs to feed. That feeding time is often dinner prep time. So, you ask, what can you make in 15 minutes? Scrambled eggs. Bertolli pasta in a bag (not proud of it, but we do eat it a lot. So fast!). Pancakes (yep, there’s a breakfast theme here). Leftovers (meatloaf/chili/stew/enchiladas/pasta–all heat up so well). Quesadillas. Salad with chicken.

Cooking ahead on the weekends

The other option we’ve found helpful is to cook ahead on weekends. This is made easier by the fact that my husband gets bored just playing with babies (perhaps he needs a blog of his own?). Anyway, he loves to cook and on a happy baby morning, can actually finish a project. Homemade pesto is fantastic for the summer, and really juices up pasta all winter. Enchiladas (see previously posted leftovers). Chili. Pasta. We’ve become THOSE people—make twice as much and freeze half for later. Seriously, the bag of tortellini we went through the other day was frightening. Imagine how much tortellini is in a $7.99 bag at B.J.’s. Mixed with homemade pesto (see above), chunks of mozz cheese and marinated chicken, it makes a great dish to both eat immediately or freeze for another night.

 All that said, I was still at the point last night where I looked in the fridge, got scared by all the empty shelves (and no, I CAN’T make a dinner out of three bottles of salad dressing, catsup & two eggs) and called out local sandwich shop for a salad with grilled chicken and feta. Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

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Know what’s super-awesome? When your husband is there to help you manage the two screaming little babies you are now responsible for taking care of. So what do you do when he’s NOT around? If you’re really fertile lucky, you might have an older child around the house that is capable of helping out with small, but important, tasks. Of course, the things that your bigger little one can help out with varies depending on their age and maturity. Twice a week I work a full day at home with all three of the girls and no helper. Let’s just say I’ve become resourceful!

Some of the baby-related jobs that I tricked encouraged the Monkey (who is 5) to help me out with:

  • Nuk-Keeper: She’s like a little detective! Jason blamed me for mis-placing all of the Nuk’s. Peyton found 5 of them under the crib.
  • Toy Duty: She is in charge of the toys. She knows which ones they like, and before we leave she gets them out of the toy basket and gives them to the girls.
  • Bottle-Shaker: OK. One piece of advice: Make sure that the lid is on properly. You don’t need any unnecessary frustration.
  • Pajama-Picker-Outer: We have this really awesome alternative to standard dressers. It is low enough for Monkey to reach, so I can tell which drawer to look in and pick out an outfit when the girls are in need a change of clothes!
  • Diaper-Runner: self-explanatory!
  • Dirty Bottle Finder: She does a quick once-over to make sure there are no dirty bottles that we forgot to put in the dishwasher.
  • Entertainer: We always put the currently unhappy baby in the middle car seat so that Monkey can practice her silly faces, re-insert nuks, hold bottles, or sing songs to said baby to help the drive go a little more smoothly. (see picture above)

Some of the Monkey’s other favorite household jobs to help me out with include (all require supervision!):

  • Laundry: Putting in the quarters, transferring from washer to dryer, folding towels & baby blankets, etc.
  • Watering plants
  • Cooking: Finding ingredients, stirring noodles
  • Kitchen detail: Wiping down counters, putting away silverware

Some things definitely do NOT work (ie: Letting Monkey push the double stroller while at the mall on the weekend. Bad idea all around). So, what has worked for your family? What has not? (Please also share your big kids’ ages!)

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Anyone who has ever heard this saying knows how true it is! Recently, it occurred to me that as the Mama to F and J, my attitude has a direct and important impact on THEIR happiness.

As MoMs we expect a lot of ourselves, and our days are often consumed with tasks, chores, obligations and expectations. We are under a lot of pressure, and most of us collapse into a heap of “used-up-Mommy” at the end of the day. Some days our kids are lucky we fed them and didn’t lose them at the grocery store! Other times, our homes are flooded with illness (and vomit, and snot!), and our caregiver capacity is stretched to the max. Occasionally, we just have really rotten days, or find out that our house needs a new $roof$. And my personal nemesis, PMS, usually rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times. And yet, my emotional barometer sets the tone for my whole family. That is a big responsibility!

My son and daughter are still pretty darn young. But they are growing up quickly, and they study me like crazy. They watch my expressions, and consider my movements. For example, anyone who has young children knows that if you cheer when they fall, as opposed to gasping in horror, that they are less likely to cry. Why? Because they are picking up on our cues. (If Mommy or Daddy aren’t freaked out about my tumble, then I must be okay, but if they are freaked out then I must REALLY be hurt!!!)

As F and J’s Mom, I am challenged to make the most of our days, especially when the weather, the world or wiping noses is getting to me. This really isn’t a “how to” post, rather, I am writing to remind myself and others, that as moms, we have the power to infuse our homes with laughter, joy and happiness. OR we can be a black and angry cloud that rains down on our family.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not super-mom. There are days when I have to hide from the kids or take a bathroom break just to have a few minutes sans-crying, or I will lose my mind. But I know that if I pick up the screaming child and do a little jig and make funny faces I can usually stop their crying. In a way, I guess that does make me a super-powered, super-mom!

My sister-in-law was housebound with my 2 year old niece during a stretch of particularly nasty weather. You know what they did? Built a fort in the dining room and read books with a flashlight! Now that is how you turn crummy circumstances (AKA Pennsylvania weather) into a good memory.

We at “How Do You Do It?” would love to hear how you creative MoMs out there keep family life in perspective, and work at being Happy Mama’s!

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After recovering from the initial shock of hearing I was having two babies instead of one, my next thoughts were of my older child. She was our princess, our angel. For 22 months we had essentially been at her beck and call. Spoiled? No. But definitely used to a certain amount of attention. How would she cope with the colossal change in her little world?

Things started to change for her when I was put on bed rest. It is hard for a 2-year old to comprehend why suddenly Mommy won’t get up anymore. But, she was a trooper during most of that time. And a little really went a long way towards reassuring her. The best investment we ever made was in two breakfast trays from Bed Bath & Beyond. We would enjoy meals together (albeit in the living room or in my bedroom),  color or play with play-do. We also did a lot of reading together, although now she had to sit next to me as my lap had all but vanished!

Finally the babies were born and we were all home together as a family. Unfortunately, most of the time Mommy’s two hands were occupied by … two babies. And, even though the babies ate at the same time, their nap schedules didn’t always jive. So, usually there was one baby awake needing … something. That didn’t leave a lot of time for one-on-one time with the Big Sister.

So, what’s a MoM to do? Obviously I’m meeting all of their physical needs, but am I doing enough emotionally for each? How do I make sure everyone is getting enough “Mommy Time”? And how do I keep myself from being consumed with guilt when my Big Kid seems to feel left out? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

First, accept that you can’t be everywhere at once. It is physically impossible to meet the demands of three (or more) crying or whining children at the same time. The sooner you accept this, the better. In our house we take a triage approach. It’s not necessarily who is crying the loudest that we tend to first, it’s who has a greater need. For example, a poopy diaper wins over “I need a snack NOW”. And getting a potty-training toddler onto the toilet wins out over a baby who just happens to be done in the exersaucer NOW.

Second, stick to routine. We kept our daughter in daycare throughout my bed rest and for the first six weeks after the boys were born. That way, she knew what a good portion of her days would entail. Now routines help us to manage her expectations of we can do for/with her in the course of the day. For example, the boys’ bedtime routine ends about an hour before her bedtime. So, while she may lack the attention she desires in the evening while we bathe/dress/feed them, she knows the end result is undivided attention from Mommy and Daddy before she goes to bed.

Third, recognize the cries for attention and try to make up for it where you can at a later time. A toddler or preschooler may not have the words to say “I really need you to pay attention to me because I miss you.” But even the best-behaved children will try to relay this information through their actions. Here are some things we’ve seen in our house:

  • Potty regression (if I have an accident, they’ll have to stop what they’re doing and deal with me)
  • Refusal to eat meals when served (Dinner is important to Mommy. If I say I don’t want it, she’ll put her attention into getting me to eat)
  • Tantrums (self-explanatory!)
  • Bedtime troubles (they want me to sleep and will do all in their power to get me to do so)

While we try our hardest not to give in while a tantrum is taking place, we do try to give her a little extra one-on-one time in the following days because we know the behavior was her way of trying to tell us something.

Fourth, invest in a baby carrier. As previously stated here, a carrier is a must for any MoM. So, get one baby down for a nap, strap the other one on and then use your TWO free hands to play with your big kid(s). It is amazing how much more you can do if you have one of these!

Fifth, communicate with your child. Saying things like “I can’t right now” may actually sound like “I don’t want to” to a 2 or 3 year old. Try being more specific, like “I’d love to read that book to you. Let me just finish changing this dirty diaper and settle your brother down. We’ll both enjoy the book more if he’s quiet.”

Sure, there are days when you’re going to feel pulled in a million different directions trying to be there for all of your children (oh yeah, and your husband may want some attention too!) But if you really try to accept that you’re doing the best you can with the time you have, you’ll feel a lot better.

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This week’s question comes from Shree, who is about 20 weeks pregnant with mo/di twins. She wants to know what the moms of How Do You Do It? did with regard to nutrition during pregnancy, and whether or not we followed the guidelines in Dr. Luke’s book, When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads. She also has the special concern of being a vegetarian, wondering about getting all she and the babies need while avoiding meat. So, here we go. Ask the moms, and we shall answer. This one’s for all the pregnant ladies in the hizzouse…

Yours Truly (Goddess in Progress) – Stats: gained 65 pounds (lots of retained water/swelling at the end), delivered at 36 weeks, baby weights were 6lb2oz and 4lb8oz.

I did read Dr. Luke’s book, and thought the recommendations were good in theory, but insane in practice. I thought I’d have to immediately quit my job so that I could eat, drink water, and sleep all day long. But I did try to make sure I was eating a fair amount, and while I did not forgo junk food altogether, I remember wanting to feel like most of the things I was consuming had at least some positive nutritional value. At work, I’d often take an early break in the morning and go to Starbucks, where I’d get one of their sausage and egg sandwiches (so tasty, plus protein – bummer that they’re discontinuing them!) and a chocolate milk (dairy!). A favorite workday lunch was stir-fry from the Thai place around the corner – lean chicken and lots of veggies. I definitely paid a lot of attention to having a source of protein at every meal. I also knew I needed extra iron, which I used as a great excuse to have cheeseburgers frequently. 🙂 I briefly, after reading the Dr. Luke book, created an elaborate spreadsheet to see if I was getting all of my servings every day. I don’t think it lasted 24 hours. Ah well. Oh, and then there was the water. I started the pregnancy with a minimum of two quarts a day. By the end (yay, pregnant in July), my trusty Nalgene and I made it through well over a gallon each and every day.
From the archives: Here’s what I thought when I read the book, and a wake-up call over the importance of hydration.

Cheryl – Stats: Gained 45 pounds (but lost a few before delivery), delivered at 36w5d, baby weights were 5lb14oz and 4lb14oz.

When I picked up the [Dr. Luke] book (mid-way through my pregnancy), I did feel a bit intimidated by it…my doctor assured me that I was on target weight gain-wise, so no, I decided it would be more stressful than helpful to attempt…especially with a “belated” start. Naturally dodged the recommended “avoids,” and genuinely tried to get more protein “down.” Nitrates I know are oft-verboten, but I craved gas station hot dogs (yes, the spin in the grease kind), and relented often. Since that was an a-typical craving for me in a non-pregnant state….felt it must be one those “trust your body” motivations. (Doc okayed in moderation!) Ate a lot of double cheeseburgers as well…protein intake was a primary concern nutritionwise for me. Did eat a great deal of dairy, too….always felt like the preggers Lucy Ricardo when I did! If I had to define the “diet” I followed, I’d have to say I went with the “Go With Your Gut” diet! Our kids were slightly small for their gestation, but both were breathing well and did great from the get-go, requiring no NICU time at all…nursery gen pop right away! With the benefit of time, we now know our “smaller” baby, our daughter is simply DNA destined — as opposed to prematurity/prenatally predisposed due to diet — to be small/svelte. She’s been a 3% weight curve girl and just now at age six rose to the 10%. Nuts and tofu were big satisfiers for me, as were yogurt, ice cream and homemade milkshakes and smoothies. If you are finding a craving a true craving (a palpable compulsion as opposed to “Hey, I can have 70 cookies, I’m pregnant!”), so long as it poses no danger (ask the OB-GYN), I’d go with it!

American Wife – Stats: Gained about 50 pounds, delivered at 37 weeks exactly, baby weights were 5lb7oz and 4lb14oz (no NICU!)

I don’t even know who [Dr. Luke] is! I did not avoid eating anything, unless it made me physically sick! I couldn’t drink coffee, or eat any fish that I cooked (yet I could eat cooked fish from a restaurant, as well as sushi). I tried to work in lots of Omega 3’s, so I used the Smart Balance PB, and ground flaxseed (which can go into almost anything). Also when I made mac n cheese, I used cottage cheese instead of milk for extra protein. My advice is to mix proteins and fruits! Cheddar cheese & Granny smith apples! Peaches & Fresh mozzarella with a little bit of balsamic (MY FAVORITE!). Salads with walnuts/pine nuts, fruits (mandarin oranges are good), and dark leafy lettuces/spinach with balsamic dressing. Another thing I did was to make smoothies using frozen and/or fresh fruit and either yogurt, soymilk, or sometimes tofu. I got lots of recipes from vegfamily. Here’s a decent guide to some foods that have important vitamins. A few more suggestions. Oh, also don’t eat an entire quart of Dulce De Leche by Hagen Daas in ten minutes, trust me. It tastes great going down, but coming up….
From the archives: How I got off to a really bad start.

LauraC – Stats: Gained 54lbs, delivered at 36w3d, baby weights were 6lb3oz and 6lb1oz.

Dr Luke book: YES. I read it the day after I found it was twins (18 weeks) and followed it to a T. I ate 100g+ of protein every day and 4000-5000 cals a day, as directed in the book. I avoided anything that made me vomit (eggs, soy, nuts, beans). And I generally gave in to real cravings. I was a vegetarian for 10 years before getting pregnant. Every form of vegetarian protein made me instantly vomit for the length of my pregnancy. I made the decision that the health/growth of my boys was more important than my reasons for being vegetarian and started eating meat. You CAN have a vegetarian twin pregnancy but I would recommend reading nutrition labels to get accurate protein counts. The book “Your Vegetarian Pregnancy” was helpful to me too until my m/s got so bad. The only special thing you would need to watch is your iron level. You should talk to your doctor about that.

CarrieinAK – Stats: Gained 65-70lbs, delivered at 36 weeks, baby weights were 4lb11oz and 5lb6oz

I am not sure of the nutritional guidelines in the Dr. Luke book (I didn’t read it). I just tried to aim for about 3,500 calories a day (more than likely I ate around 4,000 calories), with around 75-100 g of protein…and a helluva lot of agua. I ate a lot of homemade egg salad, bean burritos and cottage cheese. I was a vegetarian for 28 1/2 years (raised that way), until I got pregnant and started eating chicken a couple of times a month. My body craved it. I did avoid soft cheeses, etc…all the usual guidelines. And I’d never had fish before, so sushi wasn’t an issue. Kids were born at 36 weeks (exactly) and they weighed 4 lbs, 11 oz. and 5 lbs, 6 oz. Reid had been diagnosed with IUGR, but once they were “out”, their weights were way different than the ultrasound said they were.

Krissy – Stats: Gained 49lbs, delivered at 39 weeks, baby weights were 7lb12oz and 6lb12oz.

I have to say that I didn’t count calories at all, but I did try to follow the basic March of Dimes guideline (24lbs by 24 weeks gestation.) I had major adversions to most healthy foods…could barely choke down a salad, which I typically adore. I tried to eat nutritious foods, but I definitely ate more high calorie crap than I ever had in my life. I avoided the usual stuff (soft cheese, fish, etc.) and avoided most artificial sweetners.

Cynthia – Stats: Gained 40-45lbs, delivered at 34w5d, baby weights were 5lb11oz and 5lb2oz.

I read the book cover to cover and then put it away. I applied some of the general concepts to my eating/shopping/cooking routines but I did not take the book out and try to follow verbatim. I avoided the soft cheeses, sushi and (obviously) alcohol and caffeine. Although I did have the occasional glass of red wine or cup of half-caf coffee to hold off a migraine. My concern was protein (see below) but I also just tried to eat veggies at every turn. Thankfully I enjoy them so it wasn’t too hard. I was not a vegetarian by choice. However, with pregnancy I tend to develop a severe aversion to meat (gag reflex and all). Particularly chicken, but pork and beef as well. I was religious about drinking high-protein Boost shakes (chocolate, of course) 3 times per day. My twins were misdiagnosed mono-mono until 23 weeks. I had read on the monoamniotic.org website about mommies drinking Boost or Ensure so I just started. Once I found out they were mono-di, I was still worried about TTTS and knew that Dr Delia (sp?) recommended protein shakes for those diagnosed. I figured if it helped once diagnosed, perhaps it would help to do proactively. At the end I felt so big that I was struggling to get in enough of anything (good or bad) during the day and I felt like the Boost helped me with the calories in that regard. I did put them in the blender with fudge swirl ice-cream somewhere around 30 weeks. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right? 🙂

Rebecca – Stats: gained 38lbs, delivered at 36w2d, baby weights were 6lb6oz and 5lb15oz.

So, no, really didn’t follow the Barbara Luke book. My weight gain got quicker towards the end. I had at least 2 weeks where I gained 4 lbs a week, which I think is what the Luke book doesn’t want you to do. Don’t they think you should do the weight gain pre-20 weeks? No NICU time. Roomed in and came home with us. Oh, I also had a really easy pregnancy—no blood pressure issues or sciatica or diabetes or anything. Or preterm labor–just my water breaking. I avoided unpasturized stuff, alcohol, all but one serving of caffeine a day, sushi, undercooked meats, cold cuts. Hmm, can’t remember if there was anything else. I tried to eat more protein than usual. I’m not a real big meat eater, so I tried to get chicken on salads, eat more cereal (for milk), yogurt, even some of the South beach diet bars, which have extra protein. I was also focused on avoiding empty calories, so I cut out crackers and cookies and stuff, for the most part, after the first trimester (first trimester, goldfish crackers were my friend).

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Rock-a-Bye

Sleep has been on my mind lately, namely because I haven’t been getting any. I used to think that when my twin boys reached a certain age, sleep would again return to the blissful stage it was when I was child-free. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be case. Our challenge right now is that the boys start out in their own beds but find their way to our bed. But that’s whole ‘nother story, which I blogged about over here.

The baby sleep stage with two babies (or more) is a challenge, to put it mildly. I found it best to work out a tag-team system with my husband, just as CarrieinAK said in her post earlier this week. My favorite part about this stage is all the inane questions from people without multiples like: Do they wake each other up? (Goodness no! That piercing wail that wakes me from a dead sleep? The other baby sleeps right through it!)

So at risk of stating the obvious, even though that’s sometimes exactly what we all need to restore the sanity, here’s some advice for getting some shut-eye:

1. Baths help. They calm kids down. They signal that the end of the day is near. As exhausted as you are after a full day, and maybe you have already given those kids several baths already depending on how many explosive diaper moments you have had, try doing a bath.

2. Play some music. We have a CD player in our boys’ bedroom that has played the SAME CD for the last four and a half years. God forbid that thing ever gets broken. The music is part of the signal to our guys that it’s time to relax and go to sleep. This is in contrast to whenever we are out of town, where I find the only thing that knocks them out for sleep is to wear them out physically.

3. Establish a routine. For older kids (2 and up), it helps to establish a routine. We do a bath, medicine, teeth, books, then lights out. My guys know what’s next, so it helps to keep us going. It doesn’t mean it cuts down on the whining, but at least they know what’s next.

4. Limit the drinks within an hour of bedtime. This is for the older kids again and especially important when you’re working on potty-training. Less liquid in their little bodies means they won’t be up and down quite as much.

5. Don’t listen to anyone. Not even me. Don’t let ANYONE make you feel guilty for doing what works when it comes to getting some sleep. Some families like to sleep in one big bed. Some families have strict lines that cannot be crossed about who sleeps where. You have to do what works for you, your marriage and your kids (and probably in that order).

My husband and I agreed when the boys came home from the NICU to do what works until it stopped working – and then we would try something else. They slept with us for a few months, then they slept in a single crib, then they slept in separate cribs, then they slept in separate rooms, then back to the same room. There were sleepless nights and nights we all slept like logs. And everything in between.

One last piece of advice: don’t ever think, “Okay, we’ve got this thing down. No sweat.” That’s the exact moment when everything will change. Trust me.

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