Getting out with twins

A big part of the Multiple Birth Awareness Week theme for this year around ‘Sharing the Journey’, is about joining a community or group to build a support network. personally, is something that I found quite difficult to do with a 2yo & newborn twins initially, & so I want to share a bit of my story in support of others who may be feeling the same.

In those first few months, I spent a large chunk of my time on the lounge (or in bed at night) feeding the twins. A process which took at least 1.5 hours & didn’t leave a lot of time before starting the next feed 🙈 I was constantly exhausted & getting through each day at home was enough for me without thinking about trying to leave the house solo with our 3 little ones. I couldn’t work out the logistics of trying to breastfeed the twins, sort out their naps, plus their older brother’s nap, whilst trying to keep him out of mischief & get to know new people & form connections. And to be honest, the whole idea terrified me & the thought was enough to overwhelm me.

In my experience, it was 10 weeks before I managed a full day at home on my own with all 3, & from there, my only solo outings would be a walk down to our local chemist for the twins weigh-ins with a midwife, or a visit to see family. It wasn’t until the twins were 1 (& 2 weeks) that I had the confidence to manage solo trips to the park, which I was very proud of then (& still am now). Shortly after that, & with the support of my sister-in-law, we then joined a local Playgroup which we all really enjoyed, & which also helped me continue to rebuild my confidence. It got us all out of the house, & gave me the chance to have some adult conversation & to make some new friends, & the kids a chance to play with some new friends too 💛

Putting yourself out there to meet new people & to join a new community isn’t easy. It takes courage, confidence, risk taking, faith, & more.
To those who haven’t yet felt comfortable to join a new group or community, you are not alone. Give it time. If it is something you want to do, then keep trying. Ask for someone to go with you, as you never know who might also be wanting to go but not wanting to go alone.
To those who run the groups & communities, thank you for creating these opportunities for us! Your work is incredible & much needed.
To those who have taken a chance & joined a community, Congratulations! I hope the connections you’re making is providing some extra support for you on your journey 💛


Sharing the Journey

Today marks the start of Multiple Birth Awareness Week for 2019 & the theme this year is ‘Share the journey’, encouraging parents of multiples to ask for support, build connections & community, & share their experiences. I personally feel this is so important for all parents, so that we know we are not alone in our experiences & are supported, & as a parent of multiples, I know firsthand the challenges that having 2 newborns brings, along with a 2yo in our case, & the importance of asking for or accepting the help when offered. I also know the importance of sharing the journey in a sense of sharing our stories as a way of creating connections, awareness, & opening up communication channels, having started writing & sharing when our twins were 6mo. There really is so much power in sharing our stories 💛

We are so very lucky to have so many people to share our multiples journey with, & we are so grateful to experience being parents & parents of multiples. Our support came in all ways from my Mum coming to stay with us for 5 & a half weeks when our twins were a week old & my husband went back to work, to parents, in-laws, sister’s, Aunties, friends, etc who would help out with nappy changing, burping, bathing, entertaining our 2yo, meals, etc. I also received great support from an amazing lactation consultant & our local chemist.
Sharing our journey with so many, has been vital to our success, especially over the first few months in terms of exclusively breastfeeding the twins, keeping our 2yo entertained, & my mental health, etc.
Over the week I will share & re-share a few more stories in support of MBAW to encourage others to reach out for support, to share their journeys & to know they aren’t alone 💖💙


Tackling the toy room turmoil

Over the last 18 months, we’ve had what we call, ‘Project GSD’ (Get Sh*t Done), taking place in our house. We started by pulling together a list of things we want to do around the house (which we sometimes add to after we’ve completed a new job that wasn’t on the list). Jobs like, giving our room a makeover (which we did last August), creating a nature play area for the kids (which we finished last September), sorting through our ‘junk room’ (which finally tackled last month), decluttering wardrobes, etc. One of the things that I’ve being trying to do, unsuccessfully, has been to declutter the kids toy room.

Last year, we created a great play space for the kids out in the main living area, separate to the designated activity area that we have in the back of the house. Parenting Joys Toy Play Room IdeaWe did this so that I could keep an eye on all 3 kids in the main living area and could block off the front and back areas of the house. As the twins were only 8 months old at the time, I wanted to be able to see them, and their big brother, whilst doing things in the living area / kitchen, and to know what they were up to / getting into. On the occasion that we had visitors, I also wanted to be able to sit at the dining table, instead of hovering over a half wall, whilst watching the kids and attempting to have a conversation. So the second play area was created, but what came with this, was also a clear view of the ruins that remain once the kids have let loose in the play area, with toys constantly strewn across the floor.

We have, what I think is, a CRAZY amount of toys. The majority of which have been gifted (as presents or hand-me-downs) by our large and lovingly generous families. As the pile of toys has continued to grow over the years, I’ve found myself saying, ‘no more toys please’, as we approach each Birthday and Christmas. Whilst I don’t enjoy being the ‘fun police’, as I know how excited the kids get (especially Mr 3) when they get a new toy, and how you want to be the person that gifts an exciting present, I also know that we already have too many toys. I’m conscious that more toys means more clutter, and gives us a bigger task when it comes to finding homes for them or cleaning up, but I’m also conscious of the impact it has on the kids. Not only the impact of them having so many things and potentially not valuing them, but also the impact of them being amongst all of the things, as I have noticed that once they have turned the play area into a bomb site, they don’t go back to play in it.

Now, over the past 18 months, I’ve attempted to organise a ‘toy rotation’ and to cull some toys, but, to be honest, I’ve struggled.  Whilst it is easy to pass down toys that are no longer age appropriate or to throw out toys that are beyond repair, I’ve found it hard to cull beyond that because I know that family or friends have gifted our kids these toys and that they are of value to the kids. I definitely prefer the toy rotation method to culling, as it not only means fewer toys in the play area, and therefore only a portion of the mess, but it also means not having to get rid of any toys. However, despite my efforts, I have had my battles with this too.

In my quick attempts at organising a toy rotation, I’ve found it difficult to decide what the kids could do without for a week or so (okay, maybe more like a month or so by the time I remember to rotate the toys), and I haven’t found any successful hiding spots. I’ve tried putting some toys in the back spare room or putting a box of toys in a storage cupboard which has then been ‘locked’ with a ribbon. Both of these options have failed me (no surprises there!), as my clever little 3y.o would pick his moments (when I was distracted) to drag out what he noticed was missing, or what he wanted to play with, from the back room. He would also ask Daddy to ‘unlock’ the cupboard because he needed just one thing out, and somehow the whole box of toys would end up out again…

Recently, a friend shared how she had organised a toy rotation in her house as she too, struggled with the number of toys they had, the constant mess, and the lack of quality play with the toys. Upon reading her approach, I was inspired to give this toy rotation a ‘red hot go’, meaning that I would also put some extra effort into finding a decent hiding spot. What inspired me, was how she had categorised all their toys and organised their toy rotation based on a particular theme, having set up a construction zone for the first week of their rotation. I also found it encouraging how she had explained that whilst it might seem like a lot of work to stay on top of swapping over the toys (which had definitely been a thought I’ve had!), it would be equal to, if not less work, than cleaning up the mess that is left each day (or however long it takes you to get sick of looking at it).

So last week, I decided I would give this toy rotation a proper go. img_6162I laid out all of the kids toys during naptime (okay, there were still a few missing) and organised them into categories – transport toys, mega blocks, kitchen / shop toys, etc. I then got out some plastic tubs and my labeller and sorted the toys into tubs, putting one option / category of toys into the tub, with a label on the front of the box, and a second option on top of the tub, with the corresponding label on the back of the box. I did this for some added organisation so that if option 1 was out, then option 2 could be away, and vice versa. img_6175I then explained to our 3y.o what I was doing and why I was doing it, to create more space to play and to take turns playing with toys, etc. so that he was involved. We then worked out what toys should stay out for the first rotation, keeping in mind what his sister and brother might also like to play with. I then got serious about my storage spots and pulled out everything on the top shelf of our linen cupboard (a cupboard where the kids don’t go), and stored away the toys whilst the kids weren’t watching (and left the rest of the linen cupboard a mess… job for another day!).

After a week in, I feel like this has already been a success! Even just that first step of categorising the toys made it so much easier for me to make a decision on what toys should be kept out or put away. It also made it easy to pull together a little tub of toys to keep in the garage as our ‘travel tub’ if we ever need to take some toys out with us. Whilst the toys that are on rotation still end up strewn across the floor for the most part, the mess is about a quarter of what it was, and the toys that are out are getting some quality play time which is great. I have even noticed the kids going back in the play area to play with that smaller mess around, which has been a big win! I just haven’t noticed them packing the toys away unprompted yet… but experience tells me I’ll be waiting a long time for that. The play room feels lighter, I feel lighter, and even hubby has commented on how much nicer it is to play with the kids in the toy room without so many toys around, and that ‘less is (definitely!) more’.

Here’s hoping that we can keep this going, and that this helps someone else who may be struggling with tackling their toy room turmoil! Good luck! xx


Coming up for air

Today, marks 2 months since our twins turned 1. Reaching that first year milestone was quite emotional for me. We had mentally prepared ourselves (as much as we possibly could) for the first year, and the huge challenges that we would face, but achieving that milestone brought about so many feelings – exhaustion, elation, new nerves for what the next year would bring… Over the last couple of months, I feel like we’ve finally had a chance to catch our breath, and I have really noticed a positive shift in myself and the family.

To start with, the household is feeling more in control… Well, as in control as we can be with 1 year old twins and a 3 year old under our roof! We feel like we’ve got a little bit (still very miniscule on some days) of order back in the house, and we are house proud again – it’s funny how you forget the positive vibe that a clean and organised house creates, especially when it’s been a long time (like a whole year) since you’ve been comfortable with how it looks, and where you’ve put things. We’ve completed some extra projects around the house, having finally claimed back our bedroom (which is something we said we’d do once our bubs were all in their own rooms), giving it a long-awaited makeover, and finished our backyard project for the kids. After a year off, we’re back to putting some advanced thought into our meals (instead of asking our 3yo son for ideas, or being reliant on the generosity of our families in those early months), and I’m taking the time to prepare some of our family favourites again.

There has also been a noticeable shift with the kids too. As they’re growing older, they’re playing together and entertaining each other more (of course, with the usual sibling arguments), which gives me a little bit more freedom to stay on top of a few things around the house during the day. I also feel I’ve been able to do a bit more with them, such as, doing some baking with our eldest, involving him in jobs around the house, or making weekly solo visits to the park with our 3 (which I’m pretty proud of!). We’ve also been on a few more family outings over the last couple of months, with our confidence growing with every successful and enjoyable event. Whilst these things might be regular activities for others (like they used to be for us), the addition of twins has meant that the ‘regular’ activities now come with an added sense of accomplishment.

The biggest change over the last couple of months is that I’m finally doing some things for me. I’ve always thought, “I’ll start looking after myself once I’ve finished having our babies” (such a ‘mum thing’ to put ourselves last isn’t it!?), but when the work clearly doesn’t stop once you’ve grown your babies, birthed them and breastfed them, it can be hard to take some much needed and deserved time for you. So, now that I’m a year in to being a Mother of 3, and in my mind our family is complete (ignoring the hubby’s whispers for another…), I’m now starting to think a bit about my needs. In the last 2 months, I’ve finally seen a physio for a postnatal check-up and 2 follow up appointments, I’ve had my hair and makeup done as part of a competition that a friend entered me into (and I was lucky to have won!), and I have had a couple of heavenly massages. Having weaned the twins, I went on my first ever girls weekend away from the kids, and I’m happy to admit that I enjoyed every minute of it! (it was so good for my soul, and the perfect amount of time for me) I have also read a book for the first time in years, made the time to write some more blogs (like this one), bought myself some new clothes (in an attempt to work out what I’m comfortable in these days), and looked into some new skin care products (to get on top of the new stress lines – thanks kids!). All of these things, that were once a higher priority for me, but had completely taken a back seat (like ‘back of the bus’ back seat), are getting some attention again, and it feels good.

For us, the last 2 months have been about taking the opportunity to come up for some air. It’s hopefully the beginning of making some positive changes to our priorities, rewarding ourselves for the challenging times, and enjoying our beautiful family. Unconsciously, we seem to make little goals for ourselves (i.e. 12 months of breastfeeding the twins, a room makeover to claim back our room), and we end up with little milestones to celebrate and to reward ourselves for achieving. I really feel that this has helped us as a family, especially my husband and I, in getting through some tough times, and I hope it will continue to help us through this next year (we’ve been told the first 2 years of twins are the most challenging, so fingers crossed we’re over the half way mark) and the many years to come. Sending extra positive vibes to all those going through some extra challenging times. I hope your opportunity to catch a breath is not too far away.

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Tweaning

After reaching my goal of breastfeeding our twins for 12 months, I decided I was ready to start weaning them. In the lead up to weaning, I was concerned about how it would even be possible to stop breastfeeding two babies, how they would adjust, and of course, the threat of mastitis. I trusted my gut and took it slowly, taking 4 weeks to end our journey. I am really proud of how long we were able to breastfeed for, and I was so happy and relieved with how well the twins adapted.

As we approached our 12 month milestone, I was still breastfeeding the twins 3 times a day around meals. I had them in a routine, feeding them first thing in the morning, again when they woke from their afternoon nap, and then again before bedtime. If they woke during the night, which we were lucky they rarely did at this age, hubby was able to settle them without a feed (very lucky I know, but teamwork is so crucial with twins). After their 1st birthday, I decided I would start cutting down feeds, and approximately a week later, I dropped the middle feed of the day. Rather than giving a milk bottle, I chose to substitute this feed by offering the twins their water bottles and adding in extra dairy during the day with yoghurt, cheese, extra milk in their cereal etc. The twins took a couple of afternoons to adjust, needing a bit of encouragement to drink from their water bottles and some extra cuddles, but thankfully, it didn’t seem to worry them too much. I was also relieved not to notice any major changes or breast discomfort with cutting out this feed.

Three weeks after their birthday, and approximately 2 weeks after cutting down to the 2 feeds, I decided that I would wean the morning feed next. I gave the twins their first bottle / sippy cup of cow’s milk, and just like their older brother, they loved it! I chose to drop this feed (instead of the evening feed), as I thought it would allow me to see how the twins reacted to the cow’s milk during the day, and I also wanted to get them used to the bottle before introducing it at bedtime, so as not to disturb that routine by introducing something completely different (we all know how precious a smooth bedtime routine is!). My breasts felt quite uncomfortable by the end of that first day, and I was cautious in protecting myself from any knocks, but that feeling eased after the evening feed, and thankfully didn’t return the next day. I was both surprised and relieved at how well my body adjusted and also how well the twins took to the change.

Over the week that followed, I felt reluctant about cutting down the last feed (I know, I was surprised too!). Even having my very first weekend away from the kids coming up, still didn’t make me want to rush the process. Things sped up on the Tuesday night though (8 days after stopping the morning feed), as sick kids meant that I needed to attend a family dinner celebration on my own, leaving hubby at home to look after the kids. I hadn’t really given the evening feed a thought, until Adam suggested that he give the twins a bottle of milk as he would be doing that over the weekend and it would be good to start earlier. I felt a little upset and as though I wasn’t really prepared for the feeding to end. I had wanted to capture the last feed for my own memories and celebrations, and I hadn’t done that the night before. Despite this, I knew that it would be easiest for the night and for the weekend if they had a bottle, and so I accepted that we’d reached the end (at least I tried convincing myself of that). While we were having dinner, Adam sent my family and I a photo of the twins having their first evening bottle and I won’t lie, it stung a little.

The next day, the milk makers were still quite full, and so that night I decided I would feed the twins and make that our last breastfeed. I felt that I was more prepared for the end, I enjoyed their last feeds, and I was able to capture the moment(s) how I’d planned. On the Thursday night, we went back to the bottles and the twins were unfazed (they could have pretended to miss me a little, right?). Although I had the occasional ‘leak’ over the following weeks, I didn’t get that full feeling again, but instead felt rather deflated (yes, I’m talking about the airless airbags). This definitely helped put my mind at ease (…that awful mum guilt) with the decision as I felt my body had been waiting for it. I also think that extra feed on the Wednesday night helped with slowly decreasing my supply.

Overall, I was really happy with how our breastfeeding journey ended. My Mum was quite surprised at how relaxed I was about weaning the twins, after listening to my countdown from the beginning, she thought I would have cut them off ‘cold turkey’ on their 1st birthday, and to be honest, so I was I. I found that I was quite emotional, especially compared to weaning our firstborn, as it signified the end of something I was so incredibly proud of, and that the twins were growing up. I was relieved that I avoided the dreaded mastitis during weaning, and that the twins adjusted so well. I couldn’t have wished for things to go smoother, and for a more positive end to what was a very challenging, but rewarding experience.

*Please note, that this is for informational purposes only. It was written by a Mother trusting her gut who is not a professional / medical expert.


Going from 1 2 3

Since becoming a mother of 3 (whoa!), not only do I pinch myself often, but I also find myself pondering over the differences between having our first baby, to now having 3 children. There are so many things that change when you bring home a second bub (with a third, in our case), and we definitely found the experience to be very different to our first. We’ve had so many, ‘this is new’ moments over the last year, which have continued to prove that this parenting gig is ever-changing, ever-challenging, and ever-rewarding. Having a 3yo and 1yo twins certainly makes life interesting…

One of the most noticeable changes when deciding to grow to a family of 4, is of course, the idea of a sibling. You start using the words sibling, brother, sister, etc. as you prepare your firstborn for the big change that’s about to occur, whilst hopefully getting a mostly positive response (if they’re old enough to understand). When you first find out that you are expecting, you might question whether you’ll be able to love another as much as your first, but once they arrive you soon discover there is more than enough room in your heart. That moment when you introduce your firstborn to their new sibling is one of excitement and nervousness as you await their reaction. Thankfully for us, this first meeting was one to be treasured, as our 2yo son was so proud to meet his little sister and brother, grasping their names quickly, and excitedly introducing them to the family.

When you bring your newborn home, the phrase ‘be gentle with your sister or brother’ seems to run on repeat, as you try teaching your eldest about the fragility of their new sibling. Those yucky feelings of guilt do unfortunately seem to grow as your time becomes apportioned across children, and your firstborn no longer has your undivided attention. You might find that you need to remind yourself of the joys that a sibling brings, and that although the adjustment may take some time, it won’t be forever. To add to this, the luxuries of ‘sleeping when baby sleeps’, or leaving your newborn on a play mat or in a bouncer for a few minutes disappear, unless their older sibling is napping or is right by your side (perhaps knocking on the toilet door). Although there are new risks and challenges, there are certainly new advantages, such as having a little helper who can get nappies or wipes from the nursery, or who can help feed, calm or entertain their younger sibling(s).

As they all get that little bit older, the battle of sharing begins, with sibling upsets over toys becoming more common than the cold. In our case, our son quickly learnt his power of influence, encouraging his little sister and brother into mischief, often opening bedroom doors and security gates for them to get through (thanks hubby for teaching him how to open the gates!). Whilst playtime can often resemble a cat fight in the street, there are times when they surprise you and play so nicely together (even if only for 2 minutes), and you stop questioning why you thought it was a good idea to bless your firstborn with a sibling. All jokes aside, one of the biggest rewards of having multiple children are those heart-melting sibling moments, whether it’s a kiss or cuddle, a little chat or giggle, a game of peek-a-boo, or helping one another, when you can see just how much they love and care for each other.

With the addition of siblings, also comes enormous change around the house. Mess is created in half (or a third) of the time, with food or drink spills needing to be cleaned straight away, or you risk them being spread throughout the entire house. Child locks become more important as, not only do you have 2 or 3 (or more) little people to keep watchful eyes on, you also have lots of little fingers that could get caught in cupboards and drawers. In our case, safety gates have been erected in an attempt to block off ends of the house to, again, minimise that risk of harming little fingers, to keep all 3 kids where we can see them, and of course to confine them to a space where we know the floor is relatively clean… There are also new challenges when it comes to family illnesses with multiple children, and maintaining your own wellbeing with the added pressure of managing a larger household. Each new child also comes with a new truckload of washing, and you learn not to celebrate seeing the bottom of the laundry baskets (if you see them!), because there is always another dirty item hiding somewhere (or being covered in breakfast, lunch or dinner). Despite the house becoming messier and the endless washing piles, our house has never been so full of love and gratitude for our family of 5.

Time also certainly seems to go faster with the more children you have. There’s always an event or milestone sneaking up on you, which become even more exciting as there are more special little people to celebrate with. As we’re rushing around getting ready to leave the house (when we leave…), I often find myself questioning where the time has disappeared to. It can be a mammoth effort getting 3 kids dressed and into the car, whilst making sure we’ve got the suitcase full of food, drinks, nappies, wipes, changes of clothing, toys etc., and we all have shoes. We usually find ourselves exhausted before we’ve even left the driveway. The days seem to fly when you’re running a larger household, and there is always something to plan or organise (a shout out to those with school aged children and the extracurricular activities that brings)… and the nights seem to vanish just doing the dinner, bath, book, and bed routine for 3 (and we don’t bath the twins every night). Despite time flying by, we still find time to embrace the special moments of family life with our 3 gorgeous giggles and family of 5 cuddles.

Whilst each stage of growing your family brings new challenges, we’ve found that they are far outweighed by the added love and happiness that a buzzing family home brings. Although things do become busier with each new addition, we found that we became more relaxed, as we were able to draw on our previous experience, and we worried less about noise and routine, and more about enjoying the ride. We’ve learnt to laugh at the impossibility of getting a ‘perfect’ family photo and embrace the perfect in everyday family life. As the saying goes, ‘if you think our hands are full, you should see our hearts’.

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