Category Archives: Parenthood

Is an holiday with toddlers relaxing?

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

Sorry…

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!

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The end of an era

Tomorrow B and T will go to their first “solo” swimming lesson. No more mum and daddy to hold them and make sure their are safe. We will be by the side of the pool, but we won’t be needed in the water anymore.

If you have read the previous post “Just keep swimming”, you already know how important swimming is for our family. We don’t do it to keep fit or so that the boys can become Olympic swimmers, we do it because it’s our family activity. We love the individual time we spend in the water with each twin and the together time when all of us have a shower and get dressed. We love it!

We started when the boys were only 5 months, so it has been over 3 years now… rain or shine we have always been in the pool on a Saturday morning. They have grown so much in this time! I still remember having to give them a bottle of milk after the lesson as they were starving. They still ask for a snack now, but certainly not formula milk! We moved from baby swimsuits to swim nappies to children swimwear. Mostly importantly of all, we never had a poo in the swim nappy! A true miracle.

At the end of their last lesson (only B was present unfortunately), the swim teacher gave B a huge hug. She was sad about them moving on, like a primary school teacher at the end of year 6. I almost cried.

It is amazing how in all these years, we didn’t simply teach them a life skill. We didn’t simply spend time together as a family. Looking back at each kick and dive, it now feels like the boys were learning to swim (almost), while we were learning to be parents… almost.

A short reflection on parenthood

Last week I read a comment on an article from The Guardian. It said: “if you raise your kids sort of ok, they shouldn’t complot to kill you”. Except for the poor choice of words, I took the message at heart. It was referred to a couple of Californian brothers who killed their parents 30 years ago and now have been put in the same prison. Most of the comments sympathized with the brothers saying that they were abused, that’s why they killed their parents. I don’t actually know anything about this story and I don’t want to express an opinion on this, but the comment I quoted before really made me think…

Earlier in the year I was zapping through the hundreds of tv channels available, when the word “twins” caught my eye. I had to stop and investigate. Was it going to be a useful program? Did I even read the correct word? Well, I did and I’m sorry I stopped to watch it. It was a program about twins who became murderers. What a lovely thing to watch!

These two recent episodes made me reflect on my way of parenting. I always strive to be the best mum I can be. I would like my boys to grow as emotionally strong and happy children. To achieve my objective I always think of ways to improve their understanding of the world around them, activities to improve their motor skills, literacy and maths and I expose them to as many different environments as I can. Some days I succeed, some day I barely keep them (and myself) alive.

From now my aim on a good day will be absolutely the same, but on a bad day it will be: don’t give them any reason to complot to murder me!

Mums on Facebook

I will be controversial and I’m sorry about it…

In school this term we talked a lot about internet safety and how people on Facebook often create a different image of themselves. I know about it, you know about it, but it’s a useful thing to teach to 12 year old girls. This sparked a conversation at lunch amongst me and my colleagues and one of them told us how she has an account, but she never posts, only reads what other people are up to.

I thought about all of this later that day. What do I post? Only the good things? Well, I do. But the question is, why wouldn’t I? I do not think anyone believes Facebook is a true representation of someone’s life. Of my life! People who reads my profile are not teenagers, they should be aware that no life is perfect and only made up by amazing pictures and unique moments to share. So, why would I even consider sharing boring or sad stuff? No, I will carry on sharing lovely pictures of B smiling or T being proud about his latest Duplo built.

I will moan about a long night awake with a feverish child. I will also vent about bad traffic, but I won’t share every single time I am tired or low. Why would I? Just to remind you that my life is not perfect? Well, here’s your reminder: I have twins, my life is upside down on the best of days.

When Facebook shows me “memories you shared”, I don’t want to look back at lots of boring entries. I want to see the funny pictures that put a smile on my face! I want to see how young and chubby the boys used to look at 18 months or how cute was the first time they had solid food. I’m sorry if I create a false image of my own life, but those are the memories I want to share. Why wouldn’t I?

All those mums that share lots of pictures of their children and where they have been at the weekend… please carry on, you have just reminded me that I want to go there to. And by the way, I don’t believe for a second that your weekend was as perfect as it looks in the pictures you shared. I know there was a fight for a toy or a smelly poo or a spilt drink all over your favourite carpet. I am a mum… I know!

Parents’ evening

As a secondary school teacher, I’m not really a fan of parents evenings. It generally means talking to 26 pairs of adults in the space of 2 hours in a freezing cold gym. Not my favourite pastime. Parents evening at nursery though is very different…

First of all, you need to sit on tiny tiny chairs. This creates an atmosphere which is much better than the aforementioned freezing gym. Strangely my first thought was “is this going to break?”, but my immediate reaction also was “Don’t be stupid! Now, shall I sit on the red one or the blue one? “. As an adult, you don’t usually get to choose the colour of your chair anymore. It is obviously a sad part about getting older. 

The conversations were centered around much more important things than GCSE subject options. For example with T’s key person the main topic was “stickers for pooing on the potty”. A much more pressing matter!

Although we agreed that B is not trying hard enough to talk at the moment and that his vocabulary could be expanded, we also agree that we are not to worried about his GCSE English language exam in 2031.

We set targets for T:

1) Learn to count to 5 

2) Learn the colours

For B we decided to let him choose what to learn next as there would be no point otherwise. For example he knows all the sounds of animals (such as cow, lion, snake, et …), but it has been two weeks that for daddy he only does the sealion noise.

In many ways this was a typical teacher- parent meeting, but it was definitely so much more fun not to be the teacher for once! 

Potty training boot camp

The latest parenting ideas from the US is “Potty training boot camp”. 3 days of intense training on how to remove nappies. Basically you don’t leave the house for 3 days and you put your poor child on the toilet/potty a ridiculous number of times each day. Sounds strange? Impossible? A waste of time? 

T, daddy and I are doing it right now! 

Preparation phase

Browsing the Internet you can find long lists of essential items for the training to work, videos on what to do (day by day) and in general a huge quantity of information. My preparation had to be very different as daddy was going to do day one almost entirely by himself!

Not only I prepared plenty of clothes and underpants, laundry detergent and waterproof mats, but I also wrote two lists of possible indoor activities to do. The easy list and the difficult list. In the easy list there were the usual: drawing, duplo, watching TV, etc… In the difficult list there were much harder tasks, such as painting and baking. 

In the build up to day 1 we managed to convince T of how wonderful going to the toilet is, instead of using nappies. We told him that only big boys have underpants so he asked us to see the underpants of the only big boy in the house… That followed a very strange, but hilarious moment for my poor husband.
Day 1 – Nappy off, pants on!

Accidents number: 2

Day 1 was a breeze. Mainly because I was at work! Except for the usual toddler tantrums, he behave really well.

On the morning of day 1 we put some pants on and explained how they need to be kept dry. We reminded him that it is a very important thing to wear underpants and only brave big boys do it. T thought about this and then asked to have a pair of pants for his train as well… Mmh… That was not in any of the videos I watched online!

Day 2 – Adventuring outside the house

Accidents number: 1

We didn’t plan to try our luck outside the house so soon, but after a great first day we felt confident enough to go swimming. Yes, you read that right: we felt confident enough, not him. The thing is that he doesn’t really know what it means to be embarrassed because he peed in his pants in public. He doesn’t have to clean up the mess and he certainly doesn’t realise how expensive his car seat is! The good news is that the car seat was fine, but the cold had the better of his bladder and caused the accident. If you notice a little puddle outside my front door, you now know why. 

Day 3 – Regression

Accidents number: 2

He pooed in his pants… do I have to add anything? 

Christmas holiday review

If my Christmas holidays were a movie it would have had to be a 5 out of 5 stars. It had everything! Drama (the cancelled flight to Italy), surprise  (visiting the English grandparents earlier) and a little sadness (missing my mum’s birthday). It also had some suspense (when the new flight was late and we didn’t know if it was going to be cancelled again) and even a grand finale with a trip to lake Maggiore on the first of January. 

Next year though, I would rather have a boring Christmas with no cancelled flight and avoiding arriving on Christmas Eve at 2AM. That’s cutting it too close for conformt.

The boys are getting the idea of Christmas although it’s still more about the lights and decorations that about the birth of Jesus or the presents giving and receiving. Also this year we focused on the introduction to reindeers. In December we went to a theatre performance called “How do reindeers fly?” which took the boys right into the Christmas spirit. They loved it from start to end. Their little eyes showed so much concentration! 

If there’s one thing we need to work on before next Christmas is the presents. Although the vast majority of presents were really good and enjoyed by the twins. We had too many “opening days”. We opened some on the 22nd with the English grandparents, some on Christmas morning (obviously!), the “socks” on the Epiphany (Italian tradition), but we still have their biggest present to open yet! It is too big to transport so we didn’t take it to either Suffolk or Italy and now we don’t really know when to give it to them… mmh… it’s the middle of January!!!