Category Archives: Parenthood

An empty house

Everyone needs a break at some point. My point is usually during the first school term. If you are not a teacher it is difficult to explain, but basically teachers work only a few weeks at the time because they work all the time in those few weeks. It’s not sustainable so God invented half-term. 

If on top of your full time job, you also have twins toddlers you will reduce yourself to a comatose state, your house to a rubbish tip and your fridge/cupboards to a wasteland. My half-term begun by sleeping 20 hours over a 36 hours period. I was exhausted!

The boys and daddy went to stay with the grandparents, so that mummy could recharge her batteries. She could also rebuild the house brick by brick, she could eliminate some interesting leftovers from the fridge and even empty all washing baskets. So a break for mum is not really the same as a holiday or a weekend at the spa, but it feels like the best time ever anyway. There’s no screaming and no waking up at 6AM on a Saturday. There is no eating dinner at 6.00 PM, because 6.03 is too late. The programmes on TV are not animated and there are no trains involved, but most importantly mummy can have a wee by herself!

This time I don’t even feel guilty. Maybe I am wiser or maybe even more exhausted, but I really believe I deserve a break. They are having a great time in the countryside, chasing toads, playing with model trains and riding the loan mower. I have an empty, silence and clean house for a few days, they get spoiled by grandpa and grandma… It’s a win-win situation.

Do I miss the cuddles? Yes. Do I miss the screaming? No. As I said to my husband on the phone, I look at their pictures and I miss them, but I also enjoy the silence in the house. He offered to take a video of them screaming tomorrow. What a generous husband I have!
Another thing I really missed is not having to plan dinner. Whatever is in the fridge/freezer will do. I worked from 3 till 6.30 today and then I adventured towards the kitchen looking for food. No time pressure, no hungry toddler at my feet and I could even use the oven without standing guard to avoid a trip to the burning unit! 

An empty house can really be a blessing… Once a year. 

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The Dark side of parenthood

Life as a parent is not easy. In fact people will tell you it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. They will also tell you it’s the best thing you’ll do, but it takes time to appreciate it. Sometimes I still wonder when I will appreciate it fully…

A couple of days ago I was talking to my husband about something that happened a few years ago and I said “yeah you know, that was something we used to do before our life stopped”. He knew exactly what I meant, but he corrected me “you mean, paused”. He looked at me as to say: it won’t be like this forever. His reaction made me wonder. Does your life pause or change when you have under 5s? Depending on your point of view you will certainly have a different ride as a parent. If you believe, like us, that your life pauses for 4 or 5 years when you have kids, you’ll probably struggle. You definitely won’t have any more children! Like us. 

I remember my life before children as perfect. Obviously it wasn’t, I’m not stupid, but I am too tired and busy to remember all of the details. I know I had entire phone conversations without a break. I know I used to sleep at night. I also remember distinctly being able to leave a room without hearing anybody screaming. It was a long time ago…

I don’t even remember last time I had breakfast without someone trying to steal it or asking me to change a dirty nappy! 

When your toddler screams for 70 minutes on a 75 minutes journey and then wakes up the other and they screamed together for the rest of the journey… can you really appreciate parenthood? 

Some days are really bad, some others start badly but end up great. What I still struggle with after 2 years is the crying. The long uninterrupted crying. Despite not being newborns, the boys still cry every single day. Twins cry much more than single children as they have more to “complain” about. For example they would cry “in stereo” when they both want mummy to take them upstairs or feed them breakfast. Or one would cry when the other twin steal his favorite toy. And most importantly one would scream when his twin is wearing something he want at all cost. This accumulate to a lot of crying… every… single… day! Some of those days all you need is a break… but do you know the hardest thing about being a parent? There are NO breaks! 

24 months later…

Here we are again. Another year, another birthday. If the first 12 months seemed to fly, this second year was travelling at the speed of light. Between full time work and nursery, it feels like a barely saw the twins since last September. Then I remember the funny Christmas holiday, the rainy Easter weeks, the travelling May half term and the long and hot summer break and I realise how much I have actually seen my boys grow up despite my full time job. 

In the past 12 months they learned to walk AND talk. No other 12 months periods in their lives will have 2 major milestones together like this year. It’s amazing how much they have changed physically, but most importantly mentally. Their personalities are so clear now. It’s not just a guess over a cheeky smile, we know B is the one to keep an eye on. It’s not a parental intuition, we know T wants to play the role of the responsible older brother (that 1 minute makes all the difference). We know them now!

We also know when they are tired or hungry or bored. We know why they cry and how to make them stop. We know why they laugh and how to make them laugh harder. We love our boys and they are totally part of our lives. It took only two years, but we are a proper little family now.

Their second birthday is not only a celebration of the twins presence on planet Earth for the past 24 months, but it’s also a commemoration of the sacrifices we made for this to work. It’s a big day and we ought to celebrate in style!

Can you survive parenthood without Calpol?

Although the twins are pretty healthy little boys and they never had anything major, we occasionally have a fever (or two) to deal with. In my household we follow a very simple plan:

Cool – take all clothes off and see if it works

Cuddles – we have reached 10 episodes of Thomas & Friends in a row once!

Calpol – when it all fails, there’s always paracetamol 

A few weeks ago one of my colleagues was telling me about feeling his son kicking for the first time. That brought me right back! He confessed how what worries him the most is the fact that he won’t know what to do if (or when) the baby becomes ill. On the spot I told him not to worry and that lots of help and support is always available, but the more I think about it, the more I found that I was wrong. He will worry about it and that will make him take the right decisions. Do I need to call a doctor? Do I need to give him some more milk? Babies cannot talk and they cannot tell you if it hurts or where it hurts, they can only cry. It’s very frustrating of course, but it’s also empowering. You are in charge. You make the decision! 

You also make the mistakes…
1) Driving to the doctor with a very unhappy, sick and feverish boy… and seeing him improve and cool down in the waiting room. The doctor told me he had never seen such a healthy toddler in his life!

2) Wake up in the middle of the night with a crying child and after 20 minutes of uninterrupted scream, give him some medicine (just in case)… to then find out all he wanted was food and proceed to feed him 8 biscuits and a cup of milk.

3) Be absolutely convinced that those small spots on my feverish child were mosquito bites… to then find out he had had Chicken Pox and we didn’t notice!

4) Sending one child to nursery despite being sick at breakfast and hoping for the best… and being called 2 hours later to pick up the other one for being sick!

5) Rushing B indoors after falling in the garden, to wash his leg and clean his wound. Worrying about bacteria and infections… to then find out that all you need is a plaster. Of course, he is a toddler he forgets anything within 3 seconds and loves plasters!

Despite all the mistakes, the most important thing is that they survived 23 months and they will survive 23 more. After that I hope they will be able to tell me where it hurts or at least if it hurts.

Splish splash splosh

The twins and I are on holiday in Italy to see nonna. The weather is as usually sunny and that inspired me to organise some water play at last.

On the first day, I didn’t have time to inflate the paddling pool, but with a temperature of 30°C I had to think outside the box. I collected some old washing up bowls from the laundry room, I found some measuring cups and I even froze some water and food colouring to form coloured ice cubes (my Pinterest addition is out of control). The result was a fun hour of water play. The boys loved transferring water from cups to jars to bowls and back again. On the other hand, they couldn’t care less about the coloured ice cubes! Good to know so that I can save some time in the future. 

I think that the best part of it all was seeing the boys playing together and not fighting. Maybe it was the lack of trains, which are usually the source of many arguments, or maybe it was the availability of more bowls and cups than they could possibily use. Whatever helped, it provided mum with a much deserved break. After all what is difficult about being with the boys is not playing with them, it’s not watching cartoons, it’s not cooking for them… it’s breaking the fights! The interminable fights!

Water is an excellent toy. It doesn’t stain, it cools you down and there’s plenty to go around. Thank God we are on holiday in a very hot country, so yesterday we took the boys to a water park with slides, sprays, bubbles and an amazing pool. They didn’t fight once! I love a day spent without toys, as it means a day without arguments. Parents of single children can’t understand this, they love toys! Their lonely child doesn’t have anybody to play with, but also doesn’t have a brother ready to steal his toys as soon as he turns. The single child doesn’t know what it means to fight to be able to get one more piece of Duplo. He doesn’t know that sometimes screaming is not enough… biting is a much more powerful weapon. 

It must be so easy having only one child… I can only imagine!

 

Night night

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 the rulebook goes out of the window

I am a very strict mum. There’s no doubt about it. I have a set of rules that everybody needs to follow (mainly the twins obviously). The no chocolate rule. The tidy up your mess rule. The going to bed at 7.30 rule. Etc… Sometimes I can be a little too rigid about my rules, but it’s only because I strongly believe it’s in the boys’ best interest. So IF my mind can be changed, I can be extremely flexible. And that is what happened last week… 

Monday

I’m about to go to work. B is not looking too good today, but I think he should still go to nursery.  Daddy calls 30 minutes later to tell me that he threw up. Mmh…

All rules still apply.

Tuesday

B has been ill for a couple of days now. He actually went to the doctor twice in two days. He has tonsillitis and then he had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics today. 

Rules still apply.

Wednesday morning

B is still not well and he has not been eating for 3 days now, so today I called the doctor simply to find out how long can toddlers carry on without eating (apparently two weeks!) The doctor though sounded really worried. Not about the lack of eating, but by the lack of drinking. We went to the doctor (again!) After checking that B wasn’t actually dehydrated yet, the doctor came up with lots of ideas to get him drinking again. In the end she said “try anything you want as long as he drinks something”. 

After trying everything in the usual list of drinks (water, juice, milk…), I went to the kitchen and got him some squash. I know many kids his age drink squash already, but I am not a big fan of it. After all it’s basically food colouring with a lot of sugar. It didn’t work anyway! 

Wednesday afternoon

I start to worry… We haven’t had a wet nappy since yesterday. 

Rules do not apply anymore! 

Anything liquid in my sight is now acceptable. He starts to drink a bit of my Earl Grey. Not great, but it’s a start. 

I try an ice lolly… no luck! 

Watermelon is even worse! 

I’m starting to panic so I drive to McDonald’s. All children love it, why not B? It works!! He drinks lots of Coke (not in the rulebook, but who cares) and we finally have a wet nappy. I have never been so happy to change a nappy! 

The day ends with chocolate milk. Yes, you read that right: chocolate milk.