Friday, February 28, 2014

Hats off to the SAHMs of twin toddlers

I did something yesterday that I never do: I spent an entire weekday at home alone with my sons.  Why don't I ever do this, you may be asking?  I work full-time outside the home--and have since my sons were 10 weeks old--and until recently, that work was at a job that did not afford me any paid leave.  So even if my sons were ill, or my nanny was sick herself or had the day off, I would have to go to the office, and we would make other arrangements for my sons' care.  That was just the way things were.

Yesterday's arrangement came about due to a few factors.  First and foremost was the fact that the boys' nanny called in sick.  Both boys have been sick with a gastrointestinal illness off and on all week, ever since MJ vomited all over himself in his car seat on our way from the children's museum to his grandparents' house on Sunday afternoon.  One or the other of them has had either vomiting or diarrhea each day of the week since then, and they shared that illness with each of their adult caregivers.  I was laid low on Tuesday and had to leave work early and call MM to cut his workday short and come home and take care of the boys while I lay in bed, battling chills, cramps and nausea, wishing for death.  MM had a much less severe case of the same illness the following day.  Yesterday was apparently our nanny's turn.

Given my job change of a few months back, I now have paid sick leave which allows me to take a day off in circumstances such as these, and because MM already cares for the boys on his own all day every Friday, and I had nothing scheduled for Thursday that could not readily be rescheduled, it seemed to make the most sense for me to take the day off and stay home with the boys.

After spending the day in the role of a SAHM, at least temporarily, I have to say that my hat's off to those twin moms of toddlers who do this every single day.  I think I might be able to manage one of my sons on a daily basis, or both of them if they were spread apart a bit in age.  But taking care of two 2-year-olds is hard, hard, hard.  It's one thing to deal with the irrationality, impulsivity and emotionality that is age TWO for a few hours at a time (as I usually do).  It's another thing entirely to deal with these things for an entire day without a break.  (Did I mention that my sons no longer nap for us unless being driven around in the car?  And then only for an hour or so at best?  Yeah.)

By noon I had confirmed for myself that continuing to work outside the home, rather than being a SAHM, is the right choice for me.  Not that I had ever had any real doubt the decision.  I believe that knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key to making good decisions for yourself and for your family, and I know that I require a high level of intellectual stimulation and quite a bit of adult interaction in my days, and that I am not the world's most patient person by a long shot.  I also think that the net benefit to our family of my income--in addition to the benefits to me, personally, of working--makes the choice the right one for us.  And I am fortunate to be able to afford excellent care for them when I'm not there.  (Believe me, our nanny is FAR more patient than I and provides them with much more structure and age-appropriate stimulation.)

At the same time, I also enjoyed getting to spend the extra time with my sons.  AJ clearly wasn't feeling well, and I liked being able to give him extra cuddles myself (even though I know our nanny would have cuddled him if she had been there).  I shared several laughs with both of them.  I enjoyed being able to take the boys to the park myself and to see firsthand their excitement at seeing two school buses (and the "big kids" who got off them) and a kite being flown by two little girls and their mother.

Maybe I would "grow into" the role of SAHM if I occupied it long enough.  Who knows?

I will say, though, that being home with my sons all day, without any real break, was a lot more taxing than a typical day at the office.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New study on breast-feeding benefits

I came across this article today summarizing the findings of a new study of comparing siblings who were fed differently in infancy.  One thing that struck me particularly: asthma was associated more with breast-feeding than with bottle-feeding.  Who'd have thought that?  I actually have friends who chose to breast-feed longer primarily in the hope of helping their children avoid asthma.

One of my favorite parts of this article is this quote included from the study's author:

I’m not saying breast-feeding is not beneficial, especially for boosting nutrition and immunity in newborns,” Colen said. “But if we really want to improve maternal and child health in this country, let’s also focus on things that can really do that in the long term – like subsidized day care, better maternity leave policies and more employment opportunities for low-income mothers that pay a living wage, for example.

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, February 14, 2014


The Mom I Am vs. The Mom I Hoped to Be

Amber's recent post about things she swore she would never do when she had children got me thinking about the same subject with regard to my own parenting.  As well as doing some things with my sons I never thought I'd do, there are also things I definitely thought I *would* do that I didn't do, or at least haven't done so far.

For me, part of the difference between my ideal and my reality has had to do with the fact that I had twins instead of the one baby (or one-baby-at-a-time) I had envisioned.  As I wrote about here recently, there are just some things that either don't work as well, or don't work at all, when you have two babies or toddlers who are the same age at the same time.  So I attribute the fact of my having twins to my not "wearing" my sons more when they were infants; to my inability to breastfeed (though my premature delivery, preeclampsia, and postpartum/postoperative hemorrhage were certainly factors in that failure as well); and to my decision to put, and keep, my sons on a schedule, rather than letting them dictate their own schedules as infants.

Here are a few other areas where my real life has not squared with my imagined ideal.

FOOD:  I have touched on the fact that I had planned to breastfeed my sons and was unable to do so.  Instead, they spent their early days being sustained by formula.  Oh well.

I also want my sons to develop better eating habits than their parents, and I believe that good nutrition in the early years is extremely important for a number of reasons.  To that end, I had planned to feed my sons only wholesome, organic food.  I also wanted to feed them a variety of foods, in the hope that they would grow up to have palettes more varied than their father's (who is a self-confessed, lifelong, "picky" and unhealthy eater).

I haven't done horribly in this regard--my sons have never tasted fast food; when offered a lollipop or other candy by someone, will throw it on the floor because they don't know what it is; and love fruits and some vegetables--but I have fallen far below the standard I had set for myself in this area in terms of providing them with a variety of healthy choices.  There is still time to improve here, and I hope to do better.  It is just a challenge to find the time to plan and prepare toddler-friendly meals on top of everything else I have going on.

MEDIA USAGE:  Like Amber, I was wholly opposed to TV viewing--actually, the use of all media--before age 2, in line of the AAP's recommendations on the topic.  I have never been a big TV watcher myself (and have lived without it entirely during several longish periods of my adulthood), and have a few friends who followed these recommendations, so I foresaw no problem with following them myself.

What changed was that my husband did not agree to a complete ban on media usage and would only agree to restrictions on screen time and content.  So I have had to compromise in this area, and our sons now watch a few shows geared toward preschoolers, an occasional DVD for the same age group, and sometimes YouTube videos on my iPhone.

DISCIPLINE:  I thought I would be patient and understanding and would guide our sons into correct behavior in age-appropriate ways.  I have had extensive contact with young children through my 42 years, and I have also done quite a bit of reading on this topic, so I thought I had the necessary skills and knowledge to accomplish this goal.

Guess what?  Most of the recommended behavior management strategies don't work nearly as well--or at all--when you are dealing with two same-aged toddlers at once.  Good luck trying to gently correct one child while the other one is climbing the furniture, getting a knife out of a kitchen drawer, crawling out the dog door, or otherwise engaging in some type of dangerous behavior.  Ditto for trying to get them to stay in bed.  Before our sons were 2 years old, they had already decided it was a fun game to "double team" us--one would pick up with the prohibited behavior the moment his brother had been prevented from doing it.

You also can't effectively keep two toddlers in time-out at one time.  Just sayin'.  I don't know how the child care workers at day care centers keep order because it is chaos at our house much of the time these days.

Also, both my parents are yellers.  My sister and I were yelled at many times during our childhood.  I have worked hard over many years to control my temper, and I was determined not to yell at my children.  I confess that, so far, I have failed in that regard.  I don't yell at them a lot, but I do yell.  I continue to work on this, but for those of you who have toddlers or older children, I think you can understand how trying it is to try and maintain patience with two misbehaving toddlers at one time.

READING/CRAFTS/ETC.:  I thought I would spend a lot of time with my children reading books, coloring and doing various crafts.  What I have discovered with my sons is that, in general, they don't have a lot of interest in these activities.  They will occasionally sit and look at the pictures in books, but if I try to actually read a story, one or both of them will pull the book away and run off with it.  They try to eat the crayons or playdough any time I offer it to them.  They fight over the supplies if/when we try to make things together.

I am told that these things are partly due to their being boys and partly due to their age and may improve with time.  We'll see.

Fortunately for me, most of my views about what kind of mother I would be were privately held vs. being broadcast to the wider world, so I doubt most people in my life would see these deviations from my ideal as failures.  I guess even before my sons arrived I realized, at least to some degree, that the kind of mother I would be would depend in part on the kind of child(ren) I had.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I often feel that the majority of the posts I write here focus on the negative.  I don't think I am alone in this practice; I think that many of us use our blogs as a place to vent or to record difficult thoughts or feelings.

That said, there is so much more that is good about my sons than bad.  Yes, there are challenges to having twin two-year-olds.  No doubt about that.  But at the same time, two is a very fun age.  The boys are a constant source of entertainment, and it is really great to see them learning and growing every day.

MM and I remind each other often that the same behaviors that we find difficult to manage signify appropriate development in our sons.  We would much rather they be going through this phase than not.

Also, while I will admit that I am more than a little biased as their mother, I think that both AJ and MJ have very likable little personalities.  They are two very lovable little boys.  MJ makes me laugh every day, and AJ is a little sweetheart.

My life is much more complicated now than it was three years ago.  I sleep less, I have less money to spend, and my time is not my own.

But in addition to the fact that I love them both dearly, I feel that my life is richer and more nuanced for having these two little men in it.  And for that reason, I wouldn't wish to go back to the days before they were here. . . even though it would mean more sleep, more money and more time for myself.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The hardest part of having twins


I am a little hesitant to even post about today's topic here.  However, it is something that has been weighing on my mind for a while, and I know that there are a few other twin moms who (I think?) still read this blog, so maybe someone will be able to relate.  (more after the break)