You may think twins are so cute and innocent but the truth is they are a team from day one. Here is one of my biggest mom fails when the bigs who were almost two, teamed up on me.
When I was a few months pregnant with the second set of twins—this happened, at 7:51 AM!
One morning while the kids and I were playing outside in our backyard, they headed back to the house and closed the door. So I strolled back to the door behind them, in my cozy warm robe, to find... I was locked out! They had never done this before.
I was locked out!
I began waving at them frantically through the glass, motioning for them to unlock the door! Before I knew it, they gave up on trying to understand, or pretending they didn’t understand, what I was saying.
As if they had been waiting for the moment I couldn’t get to them, they pushed a chair over to the counter, together, near our coffee maker. I couldn’t believe how fast this was all happening! I began to get really nervous and didn’t know what to do.
I watched them push the chair over to the counter
They started climbing on top of the kitchen counter and all I could think of was they’re going to fall and I’m not in there! How will I get back in?!
ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN TO GET BACK
INTO YOUR HOUSE WHEN YOU HAVE TODDLERS!
They’re going to get hurt and I’m not in there!
As fast as I could, I ran to three neighbor’s doors... I needed a phone, fast! It wasn’t even 8am and I was able to catch a mom at the bus stop, screaming, “Can I use your phone? My babies are locked in my house and they’re on top of the kitchen counter!“ She said she totally understood and that her toddler locked her out when she was pregnant, too!
I needed a phone, fast
I didn’t know my mother-in-law’s phone number by heart so I called my mom (who was 2,000 miles away), quickly blurted out what was happening and asked her to call my mother-in-law to come help. My mom was able to get her right away and she rushed over with her spare key and let us in. She arrived in minutes and really saved the day!
Thankfully, nobody had fallen or gotten hurt but I sure had an adrenaline rush! My two cuties had teamed up on me, locked me out, climbed up on the counter and played in our coffee grounds. The whole ordeal was only a few minutes but it felt like an eternity!
My two cuties had teamed up on me, locked me out, climbed up on the counter and played in our coffee grounds.
The second twins haven’t teamed up on me too bad... yet! They are at the stage (age 2 1/2) where they love to take everything out! Empty the dresser drawers on the floor, empty the silverware on the floor, empty the junk drawer on the floor. Seriously, you can’t take your eyes off of them for one second at this age! Our house is messier than ever with all four now able to get everything, that isn’t child safety locked, out on their own. They love this independence!
Our house is messier than ever
A few days ago, I got this photo of their latest unload! It happened in seriously thirty seconds or less! They did help clean them up when I did my best acting of how sad it made me, although maybe it wasn’t all that much acting.
Here is one of their latest... emptying every book from the bookshelf onto the floor!
They “cleaned“ them up. It didn’t look quite the same, of course... but I was still proud they took a little ownership.
After the toddlers “cleaned up” their book dump.
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This is How We Halloween: Our Pumpkin Filled Traditions, Clothes, Decorations And Books!
- Decorate the house near October 1st- decorating is a morning activity and the kids love to join in and help! The kids decorate their own rooms and I do the mantel. It’s fun to let them be involved in how we decorate. See velvet pumpkin decoration at the end of this post.
- Buy (or Make) Costumes Early- We’ve had sooo much fun with dressing up for Halloween! Dressing young kids up as animals, especially their own spirit animal, is the cutest! I like to buy the costumes a little big, so they will definitely fit on Halloween and they can get use out of them through the year! I just add them to our costume bin, after the big day. I also like to try them on as soon as they arrive so we can make sure they fit ok and wash them beforehand. About a week before the big day, we dress up and have a photo session! This makes Halloween night so much more fun because I can just post the photo that I have already taken -- one less thing to think about! On Halloween, we get action shots and enjoy the kiddos and the fun of the day! Next week, I’m going to post photos of all four kids from past Halloween celebrations, so please check back! I like to do twin costumes but this year, they’re choosing their own so they will all be individual.
- Pumpkin Patch- We love to go pick out our own pumpkins at the patch. Sometimes we do the hayride (this year, we're going to skip the hayride because of Covid) but we always see the animals. It is the one time of year we have donuts and cider for breakfast!
- Pumpkin Carving- I love this! It grosses Adam out... I usually carve the pumpkins while he’s at work. We like to take all the seeds out, carve faces, count the seeds and talk about all of the senses we’re using. Some of my kiddos enjoy this more than others. It’s funny to see who takes after who with the gooey mess!
- Pumpkin Seeds- We love to bake the seeds in the oven with just a little salt and butter. Just mix them in a bowl with a couple teaspoons of butter and pinch of salt, pop them on a cookie sheet for 45 mins at 300 for a delicious and healthy snack.
- Candy- This is not my favorite part of the holiday but it is the kids’ so I try to remember to keep it light and fun! I’m usually pretty strict about refined sugar and junk food. In the past, we've let them have one piece at the end of the trick or treating event, and then one piece after dinner for a couple of weeks. The kids collect their treats in a bucket and we stash them in the pantry in individual zip lock bags. We’ll see what happens this year!
Modified Halloween for the Pandemic
Click the pic for more info or to purchase!
Click the picture for more info or to purchase!
Here are some of my favorite Halloween books (click the pics below to order online!):
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Next Week: Halloween Costumes and Activities
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AND ROBOTIC CLEANERS.
Letting go of control is a big way I stay calm and centered among the chaos of two sets of twins.
Daddy- I think the hubby has to be your number one teammate. A supportive spouse is nice to have but when you're pregnant or nursing newborn twins, there is a unique urgency. My husband, Adam and I, grew closer through the challenge. He worked tirelessly along with me to make sure I always had what I needed whether it be a glass of water, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the middle of the night (pregnancy cravings!) or a foot rub. While I was pregnant and nursing, he took care of me so I could take care of the growing babies. He's also very calm which has really come in handy in our circumstances.
The Grandparents- We are so lucky to have four wonderful grandparents that have helped us through many of the difficulties of having two sets of twins, in two years. One of the hardest times we've had parenting so far were the two months before and six months after the second set were born. Imagine having two babies when you already have two babies! The 'bigs', as I like to call them, had barely turned two when the littles were born. Both were still in diapers, I was going to have four in diapers at the same time! Both were sleeping in cribs, so toward the end of the pregnancy, I couldn't even lift them out of their cribs! I felt like a whale and could barely walk for the last month. It was a pretty extreme situation. My husband was only able to take a couple of weeks off of work for the second sets' birth, so I was pretty desperate for helpers. Luck and love was on our side.
We are so fortunate to have my Adam’s Parents help us and be on back up, anytime. When my parents weren’t living in town, they helped cover the hour I teach yoga, regularly and have been a huge part of all four kids’ lives. They also helped so much with the important date night relief and let us take time to ourselves, if we asked.
When my parents were still living far away, a good friend of Adam’s mom, who lives five houses down the street from us, offered to let my parents move in while she temporarily moved out of state. They stayed for the time that I really needed them- the last two months of the pregnancy and were on call for the littles' first six months of life. For my parents to do this and for our neighbor to let them rent her house was a life saver for us! I would have lost my mind completely if it weren't for my parents and Adam's parents being so close. Adam's parents were very helpful when it came to the delivery time, too! They took care of the bigs when we were at the hospital having the littles. I am so thankful for all four of the grandparents helping us.
Both of our parents cooked weekly meals for us while the littles were newborns which helped so much with getting enough calories. None of the grandparents took a night shift for us and even though the extra sleep would have been amazing, I think it actually helped us get through sleep training, more quickly. I liked being the only one who bonded with them during the night. For me it was important to be the one there for them. But the first set was HARD!! We were like zombies! They woke us up so much and so often and never at the same time! On top of that one only took 20 minute cat naps during the day. We learned so much about how to get sleep and how important a good night's sleep is that by the time we had the second set of twins, it was actually pretty easy. We couldn't believe the difference the experience of sleep training the first set, made.
Auntie Love- My music educator sister likes to send cute clothes, musical instruments and educational toys for the kids. We are a music loving family and she helps us with ideas, songs and understanding the many benefits of music in the home. She also spoiled me with a care package during pregnancy and a Robotic Mop that I LOVE! Robotic cleaners have helped so much (check out my favorite robotic cleaners and home products here)!
One of our delivery must haves, Amazon Subscribe and Save has made keeping up with household items simple for me. As long as you subscribe to five items in the month, you get 15% off of diapers (Pampers are my favorite). You can interchange which five items but I have the biggest box of diapers and wipes, every month. You can add most household goods: laundry detergent, shampoo, soap, napkins, you name it and they have lots of brands to choose from. It is so nice to not have think about what you're almost out of ever again! Amazing and simple, your favorite brand household items just show up on your doorstep before you even need them. I never thought I would need this kind of service before kids but now I wouldn't live without it. It's nice to have one less (BIG) thing to keep track of in the chaos of parenting two sets of twins! Click the link below to learn more and sign up for Amazon Prime and Amazon Subscribe and Save.
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Let's be real, my house is not as organized and perfectly clean as I wish it was. I am continuously working to keep our home organized and ahead of the next stage. All of the items that come along with having four young ones pile up fast! I love the organization guru, Marie Kondo and have tried to incorporate some of her techniques but not all of them work for large, young families. Here are some of my favorite organization products that help me stay sane: Organization Must Haves.
Our family likes to laugh and we will always keep laughing about how ridiculous some of our experiences have been and are. One of my favorite funny memories, that my family will never forget, is when the bigs teamed up on me while I was pregnant with the littles! If you'd like to read about that, here is the post: Twins... They Will Team Up On You!
Here are a few of the ways I’ve learned how to make time for myself with four young kiddos:
Independent Playtime- I started making independent playtime part of our regular routine, when the first two were about nine months old. I make sure this is a positive, fun and safe experience that help the kids gain independence and confidence in themselves. When they were very young, I surrounded them with their favorite toys, played fun music and cheerfully told them, “I’ll be right back”. I started with only a few minutes at a time and as they grew more confident with me out of their sight, I would add a minute or two, building their independent playtime stamina. While away, I would order groceries, change the laundry, sit and have a breather, whatever I needed. I always listen carefully and make sure their room is completely baby proofed. Sometimes during independent playtime, especially when they are very young, I listen or watch through the monitor if necessary. Now that they are four and two, all four are completely happy having independent playtime on their own or together, while I get a little done around the house. When I come back, most of the time everyone is fresh and in good spirits from the little down time and break.
Grandparent Play Dates- It has been so wonderful to have Adam’s parents or mine take the kids on a weekly basis for a few hours so I can have time to take care of things and honestly, catch my breath. If grandparents aren’t an option, a sitter or nanny will do!
Relaxing Evenings- We make sure all of the chores are done before the kids go to sleep so we can relax and recover after they go down! One of our routines that really helps with this, is the way we do bedtime. I sing and rock one baby to sleep at a time while the kids play with Adam. When I sing and rock the second baby to sleep, Adam reads the first book to the bigs. When I come out, I read the second book to the bigs and Adam does the dishes. The dishes are done, books are read, four kids are down, all in about twenty minutes. Then, right when the kids are tucked in, we start our parent only, relaxation time.
Hatch Baby Mornings- This has been one of the best products I’ve discovered that I didn’t know about before I was a parent. This awesome device is a night light, sound machine and the best part of all, it changes colors however you set it, so your child knows if it’s time to rise! It can even be controlled from your phone through the Hatch Baby App! For us, at bedtime a soft yellow light goes on and stays on all night and at 7am the light turns blue and the kids know morning is here and it’s time to wake up. We have a water sound set for the sound machine to help block out noises. If they wake up and the yellow light is still on, they can either go back to sleep or play or read quietly until the light turns blue. This has been an amazing, life changing product for our family. I know it’s a little pricey, but for me it is worth every penny!
QUIET TIME ACTIVITIES
Adult Supervision (ages 3&up)
This picture is from our six year wedding anniversary. We put the kids down earlier than usual, set up a table, lit a candle and enjoyed a delicious sushi delivery dinner! We didn’t even need a sitter and had a special time, with just each other.
We make sure have enough quality time together since it is both of our love languages. Sometimes we will take a walk with the family, pushing two double strollers around our neighborhood, just so we can have a conversation without interruptions. It works well and the kids enjoy themselves, too.
Another way we make time for each other, is by having all of the chores done or at least to a point we are okay with, so that when the kids go to sleep, we can relax and connect and chat about the day.
“Don’t worry about the chores, they will wait patiently.” -Grandma T.
A perfect example how I try not to sweat the small stuff is how I don’t fold laundry anymore. If it’s clean, I’m happy. Sorted, even happier. In the drier and clean and dry, that’s okay, too.
The differences in how I’ve started out with the two sets of twins are another example. With the first set, I tried to soothe using anything but bottles and pacifiers. Though later, they needed bottles anyway. With the second set, I started them from day one with pacifiers (loved that decision!) and they never had a bottle in their life! It’s so funny how you can have an idea of how things will go before you have kids and then in reality, you learn how to let go and not sweat the small stuff!
We do a lot of assembly line style parenting! 4 bowls at snack time, 4 milks- ready to go and we even bathe them and have them brush teeth together. Sometimes it feels like we have quads!
1 Kindness First- No Hurting Each Other
2 No playing with the doors (a constant problem and tiny fingers)
3 Help with family jobs
4 Listen the first time
These cover almost everything and if they aren’t followed, they get an age appropriate time out (minute/year of age) or we will take away something fun (outside time, a show, books before bed, etc.) We try to save these consequences and use them sparingly. I’m lucky that time out is still so effective for my children but I don’t overuse it.
My Favorite Discipline Strategies:
Love And Logic
Dr. Phelan’s 1,2,3, Magic
I also love to give warnings before most transitions, “We’re going to clean up to go bye-bye in 2 minutes.” Or “Pretty soon, we’re going for a walk, does everyone have their shoes on?” This can really set kids up for success when they know what to expect with transitions.
What are your favorite ways to use positive discipline at home? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
I learned very early on, during my first year of teaching kindergarten, and I’ve never forgotten, how important follow through and consistency are with young kids. They are constantly testing you and that’s their job! They’re wired to see what they can do and what is unacceptable. Consistency is key- if one day you give a 4 minute time out or take away a privelage for certain behavior, then next day they should expect the same reaction. This should be across the board, every time! I know it’s hard to do this, I have trouble for sure! Sometimes I’m more tired or less patient and sometimes I’m feeling like I really don’t care but I know I have to at least try to be consistent.
This is so similar! If you give a warning with a possible consequence, “If you do this again, you’ll have to go inside and miss out.” They will sometimes do the thing again, sometimes to test you, sometimes just because it’s that fun... either way, you HAVE to follow through. I still have to remind myself of this constantly!
Whenever I don’t know where to turn or what to do, I go to my mom or do yoga. Yoga has saved my life in the past when going through tragic events or just trying to explore how to navigate my future. My yoga training in Austin was life changing and I’m so happy to share my passion of yoga!
I teach virtual yoga classes and have videos for sale, check them out:
Have you ever noticed that the cutest baby socks they sell always come in packs which every single pair is different!? It's maddening! This has driven me crazy since the bigs were less than 6 months old... Well I'm done! I can't take it anymore! The sock chaos has driven me to the point that no matter how cute those little animal faces are, I'm never buying them again!
Here is the answer... lots and lots and lots of the same color socks! It's so simple and the switch over has already been a lifesaver. I bought all black, with grips for the bigs and all gray, with grips in a smaller size for the littles and now there is sock harmony in our home...
Sorry kids... the simplicity of all matching socks makes such a difference when you're getting ready to go somewhere and can only find 10 non-matching socks! When you have four children, three and under sometimes simplicity wins and in our home, sock simplicity is one win that keeps mom happy day in day out! It also, of course simplifies the laundry/put away steps, too. I keep two bins, one with the gray socks for the littles, one with the black socks for the bigs and these bins are kept out of reach. It's also really important to have PLENTY of pairs so you aren't short when they inevitably start getting lost- behind furniture, in the car, diaper bag and everywhere else. I bought two sets of nine for each set of twins... yes, that's 36 tiny gray socks and 36 small black socks. Sock simplicity...
Why didn't I do this sooner!? It's the little things that make life just a little simpler and help me spend more time enjoying the kiddos!
Want to Try Sock Simplicity?
(one color for each age!)
When I became pregnant with the second set of twins, I discovered our city’s local Jazz Music Radio Station which plays a nice combination of classic jazz and modern jazz. It was so soothing to me while I was pregnant that I didn’t change the station for two years! Now, when driving, I only listen to Jazz which is calming but also makes me feel two generations older than I am. I still have memories of my grandparents driving me as a child and they listened to exclusively Jazz in the car. Now, my kids even know how to request it on our Amazon device, “Alexa, play Jazz Music”. I love the way many jazz songs highlight different instruments and the kids and I can talk about the different instruments we hear, in the car or at home.
We use the Amazon unlimited music for 7.99/month. It’s awesome! We listen every day, they have everything you can think of and you can just tell your device what to play! “Alexa, play kid music by Lisa Loeb” or at nap time, “Alexa, play soft jazz.” I love that it is so easy to incorporate music into your daily life. Sometimes I think of a song I loved from a long time ago like “Lightning Crashes” or “There is So Much More” and since it popped in my head and I’m holding a baby, I can still play it, using voice command. I also love that it is completely Ad free and you can listen offline with unlimited skips. It even includes podcasts which is nice, too if you want to catch up on your favorite show. This is a nice way to catch up on the news or a favorite talk show without the unnecessary screen time. Click the link below to get Amazon Unlimited Music with a 30 day free trial. This is another thing that improves our life and in our mind is worth every penny!
We did all of our panicking and worrying ahead of time.
We brought lots of quiet toys in the big kids' backpacks.
All four had access to suck on the ascent and descent. The bigs had small baby bottles with water and the littles had breast milk, pacifiers and a bottle with breast milk for options. This is so important for the pressure change on their little ears!
We gave in with a movie for the bigs on the flight home. We used these awesome, kid-friendly headphones.
We tried to stick to our regular schedule and routines as much as possible. We picked flights around the babies' schedules. It made a HUGE difference but I know this is of course not always possible.
The flight home was after bedtime and the littles slept for most of the four hour flight.
We were extremely nice to the flight attendants and passengers onboard. Everyone was so kind and helpful when they saw we had four babies between the two of us. One flight attendant even held a baby in a pinch when we had to maneuver switching seats. She called him "a tank" which we still laugh about, today. People really do give the positive energy back, most of the time.
What we did wrong:
Underestimated how long packing would take and didn't get enough sleep the night before.
We brought the wrong kind of snacks.
We have a hard time finding snacks that everyone likes so I tried to bring as much variety and plenty of everyone's favorites. What I didn't think about ahead of time was how inconvenient and messy they would be on a plane! DUH! We were so grossed out by the squished bananas and puffs container that ended up completely dumped out by a baby! We learned that choosing easy, non messy snacks on a plane is extremely important! Haha... such a rookie mistake!
Some snacks that work well on a plane are:
- small bags of nuts
- cheese cubes
- pre-sliced cucumbers, red peppers, carrots or broccoli
- pirate booty
- trail mix (small bag so a big mess is less likely)
Items to bring (I used to travel light!):
- Umbrella Strollers
- Extra stuffies, quiet toys, quiet books, pacifiers, blankets, new books, sticker boards (Melissa and Doug), Magic Coloring Pads, Dimple Toy, Fidget Cube. Make sure everything is new or they haven't seen in a few weeks so that they're excited when they open their backpacks for travel day! So much of keeping the kids happy and occupied is having appropriate and quiet activities and PLENTY of them!
- A small lunchbag cooler with easy, non messy snacks
- Cups to fill with water. (Buy the water or use a filling station, after you pass through security)
- Cleaning Supplies: Hand sanitizer, baby wipes, clorox wipes, tissues, mini first aid kid, and paper towels... you're bound to need them.
- A backpack for all of the parenting supplies to stay right by your feet. You don't want to be reaching for your carry-on bag in the bin overhead for wipes or a pacifier at the wrong time! Make sure you pack the bag logically and know where the most important items are (outside zippers).
- Zippered Onesies with the footies. I like them because they're the easiest and the littles can't get their feet too dirty when they inevitably take their socks off. Another twin mom friend of mine recommended zippered onesies when I was pregnant with the bigs and I've been a believer ever since! Just make sure they're big enough for their feet as they grow out of them.
My favorite baby carrier
Zippered-footie Onsies- a twins must!
- Your arms, back, positive attitude and love! I've learned, the best thing you can do is bring a loving and kind spirit and excitement for the trip. We held our littles and played with all four for the entire time. It's exhausting and we felt like we ran a marathon, trying our best to keep all four kids so quiet and entertained, while cooped up for four hours straight. Somehow, we had so much fun and we laughed a lot! I've learned whether you have one kid or four, your attitude makes all the difference. You can feel miserable, scared, tired, and nervous the whole time or you can laugh at the craziness and know it will not last forever. Kids, especially babies, will always feed off of their parent's energy. So the next time you are traveling with your kids, don't forget to take some deep yoga breaths, stretch and meditate before, during and after your flight/drive and to laugh as much as possible!
How Do You Do It?
Kathleen, M.Ed.-mom of two sets of twins, educator, yoga instructor, nature enthusiast.