I guess it depends on your definition of relaxing. Going to the seaside last year was definitely NOT relaxing, while going to see my family this Easter was a lot closer to the textbook definition. After 2 weeks in Italy I felt less tired… despite the early morning starts and the long fights between the boys.
It is sad to realise that going to work for 10-12 hours a day is tiring, but not as much as spending all day with the twins. It is not only physically challenging, but psychologically and emotionally draining. Despite the long afternoon nap, it almost feels like there’s no rest bite. There’s always a fight about a toy, someone to take to the toilet or a spilt drink to wipe. Nothing like this happens in my office… except the occasional spilt cup of tea, I guess.
In a day with toddler boys there’s a lot of running, a large amount of screaming and a good dose of fighting. The word NO is essential to keep order and the word SORRY is often used: by the boys to each other, but also by embarrassed parents to strangers…
Sorry my child stepped on your shoes
Sorry my child kicked that bird (at the zoo)
Sorry my child pushed yours down the slide
So how can I consider this holiday relaxing? Well, it’s simple, there’s always someone there to help. When they wake up at dawn, nonna gets there first. When they want to be chased, auntie Co runs to help. When it’s the end of the day and I had enough of T moaning about his big toe hurting… someone else can help with putting them to bed.
Strangely enough this doesn’t happen on an average week night!
As a parent I always have to choose between convenience and discipline. For example, going on holiday at an All Inclusive resort means going to a restaurant 3 times a day and last year it meant dealing with two very naughty toddlers. My husband suggested the infallible use of a tablet. It does work, but at what price. Surely every meal is a chance to learn how to behave at the table. It’s a chance for mum and dad to give the good example. Or maybe it isn’t…. Maybe every meal becomes a test. Maybe it’s not worthy.
We recently had guests coming to our house for lunch and T’s behaviour at the table was impeccable. He ate all his food and then asked for permission to leave. B on the other hand clearly felt that the pressure to entertain was solely on his shoulders…
Never mind the fact that he refused to eat anything but olives. Never mind him sliding under the table. Never mind when he started chanting like if he was at a football game. The problem actually started when he left the table and started to remove all his clothes! All I can say is that I’m happy we weren’t in a restaurant, as he could have been charged with public indecency.
Half term is coming up, this means spending 24 hours a day with the boys and occasionally eating out… Will I bring a tablet or some crayons? Will I go high tech or old school? But most importantly, will B show his bottom to any other innocent bystanders?
Most people with young children have a bedtime routine. If you have twins, you hang on to your routine as if your life depended on it! Changes to the schedule are as rare as a new pope and you need a conclave to agree on them. Or at least I thought so…
My mum (nonna) has been visiting for a few weeks now and the twins subconsciously decided to include her in their routine. They changed it slowly. One night at the time. They were subtle about it and before too late their bedtime was extended to 8PM and they added a “jumping on nonna’s bed” session between bath and storytime.
They always tried to run around when asked to walk between the bathroom and their bedroom, but we were usually too tired to let them do it. Herding the flock in the right direction was always a difficult job, but an essential one, too. Moving straight to storytime seemed better (for us, at least). It kept them calm and ready to go to sleep.
In almost a year (we started this routine in September) they obviously changed and grew, but we didn’t really notice. 7.30 is too early for them now. They are a little older and it is summertime. We needed a new plan and they organised everything for us!
It is great to have another member of the family here for them to interact with and it’s only right that she should also be involved in the bedtime routine. Now after bathing we all sit on nonna’s bed and play a little. There’s some jumping, some rolling, a little head bashing and a lot of laughter! It’s a twin boys bedtime routine!
When did you first give chocolate to your child? The twins are 20 months old and have never had chocolate. People find it strange or even cruel, but I can’t see why. Although chocolate is lovely and I have it on a daily basis, it does contain exiting substances and trust me when I say that the twins don’t need any help to be hyper!
At nursery they occasionally serve chocolate, so I asked for the boys to have an alternative dessert when chocolate is on the menu. This request was found so unusual from the staff that I had to explain it to the nursery manager to convince them. They even tried to make me believe that the boys seemed upset when everyone has chocolate but them. That may well be the case, but as they had never had chocolate how would they know what they are missing out on? Do vegetarian children feel upset every time someone in their class has a sausage? Do children on a gluten free diet start to cry at the sight of pasta? I hope not!
One of the hardest moments in this battle happened last weekend. We had guests over and we bought 2 cakes, one with strawberries and one with chocolate. I ate only the non chocolate one and gave some to B, who happily ate it and then moved on to another thing to do. On the other hand, my husband decided to eat the chocolate cake, but gave T only bites from the strawberry one. That did not go down well! T was determined to have what daddy was eating and nothing was going to stand in his way… except for mummy! I immediately convinced daddy that he could say no to his son. Even if he was crying. Even if he was using his best version of the this-is-so-unfair look. If you don’t say no to a toddler, when will you start? When they are 5 and they can argue back? When they are teenagers and taller than you? No, this is the time to say no. No to biting your brother. No to climbing on top of the coffee table. No to another episode of Thomas the tank engine. No to chocolate.
Sometimes I think it’s a matter of principle more than dietary requirements, but I still think it’s a very important lesson in parenthood. When daddy said “Sorry T, mummy said no” and then quickly added “and daddy says no too”. I knew I won a small battle, but the war is still long… I know.
Discipline twins is not as straight forward as it might sound. What if twin A starts something naughty and twin B just follow him? Is it right to punish both of them? At 18 months can they really recognise when it’s wise not to follow a bad example? I don’t pretend to have an answer to this, but I’ll tell you what happened when T and B got both into trouble.
It was a nice Friday afternoon and it was time for a snack. Mummy prepared something really tasty, so the twins started to eat ferociously. For some unknown reason, T decided to pick up a piece and throw it on the floor. Nothing new there, he is a toddler after all. Before I could react, B thought it was a great idea to follow his brother, but being B he wanted to exceed the previous result and proceeded to throw half of his food on nonna (grandma). They immediately got sent to the naughty corner(s).
Now, if you have one child, you need one naughty corner (or step), but if you have two? Well, send them to sit down together and have time to plot the next mischief doesn’t sound worthwhile; so T was sent to the left and B to the right corner of the dining room. T spent his minute there in silence, then mummy went to explain why was he put there and off he went. B on the other hand…
If a naughty step is a way of punishing children, surely it must be a way to stretch their creativity as well. B tried to leave the corner in so many ways I lost count. If only he could fly he would have tried that as well, I bet. He started by walking away. First to the left, then to the right. Mummy brought him back. Then he thought he could crawl. First to the left, then to the right. Mummy brought him back. So he thought he could stretch by keeping one arm in the naughty corner. Stretching to the left, then to B the right. Mummy brought him back. So he trew himself on the floor and start sliding on his belly. Mummy dragged him back. He also tried to walk backwards and sideways and hide behind a chair and dragged that along with him as a shield. It was getting very funny by this point, but mummy brought him back… EVERY TIME.
The best part, the one that supernanny will not tell you about, is the fact that you can even leave the room if you would like: if B moves a special alarm goes off! It’s his twin who will point a finger and sound surprised and ashamed that his brother could even think of leaving the corner. T’s expression of indignation made it very difficult to keep a straight face in this process, but it made me feel less stressed about having to keep on bringing B back to the naughty corner. Sometimes it’s really fun to have twins!