Why mums can’t ever drink a hot cup of tea

Here in the UK, when someone asks you if you would like a cup of tea, they mean so much more than a hot drink. They are asking if you would like to take a break, to sit down, maybe have a biscuit and possibly even a quick chat. They are simply trying to help you slow down.

I know this, not because I’m English (as I’m not), but because I’m a teacher and I get offered a lot of cups of tea during my usual week. I also have a lovely husband who does the same at the weekend. So why do I feel like I NEVER slow down? The answer is simple: I’m a mum.

I don’t recall the last time I had a hot cup of tea. Maybe I was at work a couple of years ago or maybe it was sometime in the 90’s. Since I became a mum I drink cold tea… If I’m lucky.

I’m not sure why, probably just to look at their reaction, but months ago I let the twins try my tea (it’s decaf anyway). That was a serious mistake. Since then I can only drink tea alone and quickly standing up in the kitchen or I have to share it with both of them! I guess they like drinking from a big cup or the fact that my tea is sweet, but whatever the reason, I haven’t drunk a cup of tea by myself for months.

Although back wash and sticky fingerprints are not my favourites, tea really is the solution to all problems. If one of the boys is upset, the sudden appearance of a cup of tea makes everyone happy. To drink from the big cup he had to stop crying so the problem is immediately solved!

Every parent has a secret to keep their children happy and calm. I saw parents at the supermarket offering a snack to stop a toddler crying. I saw the classical, but never out of fashion teddy bear appearing from a mother’s handbag. I even saw some parents desperately trying to bribe their child with their car keys (and then ended up locked out of their own car). I must confess I have never seen a parent stopping a child tantrum with a cup from Starbucks, but I am volunteering to be the first to try.

Wish me luck!

The holiday are definitely over

Somehow we managed to survive week 3 of the after holiday period and I barely noticed the past weeks have gone, but now the holidays are definitely over.

Our morning routine has changed so much after being away in Italy for 2 weeks. The twins had no idea at what time to wake up, so they tried 5.30 one day and 7 the day after. Now we seemed to have reached a good compromise with 6.45AM, which is as late as we can let them sleep, but also as late as we want them to sleep to. You don’t want two screaming hungry little boys when you wake up, you need a minute to compose yourself, another minute to prepare their breakfast and finally a minute to inhale your breakfast (yes, mums of twins don’t eat breakfast, they don’t have time).

At the weekend, we are trying to make them believe that they can wake up later. There’s no extra breakfast if they wake up earlier! Unfortunately it doesn’t work all the time and it may just work for one and not the other. For example last Sunday T woke up at 6.50 and while having breakfast he kept on pointing at B’s highchair as to say “where is he?”. Daddy’s response was simple and to the point “B is still sleeping. He’s good!!”. An understandable although regrettable response!

T soon realised that he was an only child for the time being and it was time to take advantage. In fact he managed to eat most of the breakfast (prepared for both) and some of daddy’s cereal. He loved the extra attention! When B finally woke up, T asked to join him at breakfast for a second round! He wouldn’t want to miss out, would he? Sometimes I don’t really know where they keep all this food…

Another sign that the holidays are over is the mess. If you work part time or you are on holiday, you have the time to clean and keep your house tidy. When you have twins and a full time job… If you have the time to pee it will be a miracle! Tonight for example, I arrived home at 5.45PM to find a half drunk cup of milk on the dining room table and simply realise I never got to finish my breakfast this morning. Oops!

Althought the holidays are over and the house is a mess, I’m not disheartened… I’m a teacher and half term is behind the corner!

All I want for Christmas is olives

Exactly as it happened this summer, the twins appetite had double since we landed on the land of the pizza. The amount of bread they can have for a small mid morning snack could fill Homer Simpson’s stomach! The latest crave is olives. Their nonna (grandma) bought some Sicilian olives marinated in chilli, garlic and olive oil. I had the bad idea to let them try one…

The following two days were spent eating olives. I tried to stop them, but if the box was taken out of the fridge they could smell it a mile away! Their healthy afternoon snack usually consists in a yogurt or some fruit, but after their discovered olives, everything changed. Bread and olives became the standard. Obviously I couldn’t let them eat as many as they wanted as they were salted and spicy, but taking them away resulted in screams and cries like I have never seen before (not even for biscuits). We resorted to eat them only after they went to bed!

Now that they believe olives taste that good, it’s going to be hard on them when they’ll go back to England and have a “Tesco olive”; but that’s part of being Italian and growing up knowing that Italian food is after all the best!

Unanswered questions

Becoming a parent means having more responsibilities, having less time for yourself,  but also having a lot more unanswered questions in your life. I’m not talking about “why is he crying NOW??” I’m more thinking of the little mysteries behind everyday things. For example, how can T fall asleep while B is screaming in the cot next to him, but then if I creep slowly in to the room (ninja style), he walks up immediately? How is that possible?

I also wonder about the interaction between the twins sometimes. Why do they randomly start shaking their heads together and looking at the ceiling? What does it mean? I’ll never know, but they find it hilarious and start laughing every time they do it.

But most importantly I wonder about what other people must think of when they ask me: “Is it hard with twins?” Even one of the girl at nursery asked that the other day! If someone that look after babies and toddlers as a job still ask you this, it must be a very sincere question, right? I have a standard answer, although I’m always so tempted to bluff it and answer something like “it’s much easier than having only one! Are you kidding me? They are 1 year old now and I taught them to change each others nappies!”

Someone asked me: “how can you find the time to raise twins, build a cardboard castle, work full time and still find time to write a blog and cook lasagna from scratch?”. Time seems to change when you become a parent and some days feel as long as a week, but this question will remain unanswered to me, as well.

The day before I went to hospital to deliver the boys, my husband went to the supermarket and destiny made him meet a mum of twins, who told me that the first 6 months were going to be the hardest. Wisely he didn’t mention this till 6 months later! Now that they are a year old, we both ask each other: “how did we survive?” We can’t remember much, we were too tired!

Finally the most important question you ask yourself, that you are a parent of one or ten children, is always going to be: “how long till bed time?”

How to stop your sister from ever having children

I distinctly remember visiting a friend with a 4 weeks old baby and thinking that being a parent cannot be that hard. The baby was perfect. He didn’t sleep much (which at the time I thought it was great as I was there to see him), drank all his milk, looked around while we were having lunch and then fall asleep on our pleasant walk along the seaside. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day like that? Who would think that parenting could be hard after such an example? My friends did warn me that he had never behaved so well before, but I clearly must have ignored them, because a few months later my husband and I started trying for a baby.

Today, more than two years later, my mother and I took the twins to my sister. If my mother wanted to take the boys to convince her she should have kids, she was wrong! The encounter couldn’t have gone much worse.

You need to know that my sister has no intentions of becoming a parent, but she is also 30 and married (and probably our mother asks her about kids once a week!). She has met the twins a handful of times and strongly believe that all children hate her. It all started when we told her that B can now “high five” people. She tried and he gave a high five to everyone in the room but her. My mother tried to convince her that it can happen and that it wasn’t personal. No harm done… yet.

The boys behaved well till lunchtime and then sat nicely in their highchairs while we ate some pasta. By the end of our meal it was time for their lunch, my mother was waiting for this moment has her ace of spade. The twins eat really well for their age, they are not messy, they eat everything and they are very patient. We had a meal that they really like, large bibs to avoid food stains (just in case) and two highchairs despite being away from home. Nothing could have gone wrong! If you have a baby or two, you know that they never respect your plans. T intercepted one of the spoonfuls and spread the food all over his head. At the same time B decided to eat only some of the ingredients in his food, spitting out everything else. He had never done that before, what a time to start!

After a good clean up and a long walk, we came back home to find out that B had a fever! We didn’t have any infant paracetamol and it was too hot to put him in a car seat for an hour journey. To cool him down we decided to put him under a cold shower. You can imagine the amount of screams! It worked, but it also scared my poor sister, who thought saw the worse of it at lunch time.

They didn’t play with each other nicely, they didn’t make all those cute noises that babies do, but they almost definitely convinced my sister that having children is the last thing she wants to do! From B and T: sorry nonna but it looks like we will be your only grandsons!

All you can eat

We are currently on holiday at the seaside in Italy and that opens up a variety of topics to discuss. From why you shouldn’t introduce your twins to lasagne (as that will be all they want to eat from then on) to the correct use of swim nappies (leave them on after being in the pool and quickly go back to the hotel room will almost certainly end up in a disaster). Despite this, I think I’ll spend my precious time (they are sleeping now!) to discuss eating at a restaurant with 10 months old twins.

Looking around our table, it is obvious that feeding any child in a restaurant can be hard, but if you have two, if they are particularly hungry, if they are also tired from a long swim in the sea and if you don’t have their usual food, you have a recipe for disaster!

First of all, if the restaurant has a high chair, even if it’s dirty, you must use it… trust me,  that will make your life so much easier! Unfortunately here we only have a couple of seats that clip on the table, but no one had a pen to mark an area in which T and B could grab things! In the past 4 days they got hold of pretty much anything, from a knife to an entire plate of pasta, some bread, a glass of wine and a huge number of napkins. Most things ended up on the floor! One asks for food or water, while the other grabs your fork; then you turn to pick up the fork and the first twin is already half way out of his seat to get hold of your napkin! Are we sure they are to young to work as a team??

My boys are really good with food, so I shouldn’t complain, but finding some food without salt in Italy is almost impossible. The only baby food available is a soup of potato, carrot and courgette. First of all it’s over 30°C, so I can’t see who would want a soup for lunch and dinner.  Secondly I don’t see how anybody would eat that insipid blob, when you could have lasagne or pizza or spaghetti! My boys agree with me, so they enjoyed some pizza, monkfish and ricotta tortelloni, sausages and cream pasta, lasagne and even ricotta and spinach cannelloni. I can’t wait to see what they are going to eat tomorrow.

10 months old kids love finger food, unfortunately this is a little messy and may create some problem in a restaurant. Usually I would have avoided finger food when out and about, except for a very small and easy to clean rice cake. Realistically I can’t use this trick for 14 meals in a row so I tried to find something to keep them occupied while mum and dad can eat their dinner. Breadsticks seemed to work for a few days, but then both twins caught on the idea that the food that adults eat must be better! After this revelation, the floor under their seats had more colours than a rainbow. Some food was gobbled down, while other was spat out in less than a second. Either way, they usually had so much to eat that they fell asleep on the table!

If after reading this, you still insist on taking your twins to a restaurant… GOOD LUCK!