I often wonder what my boys dream of at night and even more why sometimes they wake up screaming. Do they really have nightmares? Once a friend told me that her little girl fell off a slide at the playground and then for a few weeks she would have nightmares about it and wake up screaming in the middle of the night. That made perfect sense for her as the little girl would talk about her dream when she was awake. My boys on the other hand don’t really talk yet, so it stays a mystery what they dream of. At least till earlier tonight…
It’s 8.55PM and Sue and Mel are about to announce who will leave the Bake Off tent tonight, when I hear a scream in the monitor. I wander upstairs ready for the usual back-to-sleep-now conversation, when I find a very scared T sitting in his bed with no intention of going back to sleep. He is very upset, he is sobbing and not even seeing mamma calms him down. He obviously had a nightmare. When I ask what’s wrong he actually replies instead of crying. In his own words he says he had a nightmare about a train… “Nooooooo! Choo choo! Nooooooo!”.
Has the train derailed? Has he been run over by a train? B stole his favourite train? We will never know. All we know is “Nooooooo! Choo choo! Nooooooo!”
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!
I haven’t spent a full night awake since the boys were much younger. Now the only reason to be awake in the middle of the night is an illness, but God invented Calpol for it (or maybe it was a scientist?!). What do you do when Calpol AND Ibuprofen don’t work? You sing…
At the age of two there’s nothing as powerful as your mum’s voice. If she sings she can cure almost anything! The atrocious pain which makes a little boy scream and scream and scream, can be taken away by the magic of mum’s voice. The beauty of this is that, not only the little boy will feel better, but mummy will feel a hero. A superhero, in fact!
Unfortunately mums don’t run on batteries so after 7 hours of on/off singing (instead of sleeping), they have to go to bed. Grandad is here to take over, but he doesn’t have mummy’s magic power so he will have to go back to basics: ibuprofen and TV. Good luck grandad…
Mummy is going to sleep!
I waited a while to write this story because I was waiting for a verdict and the FULL investigation to close, but I can now share the full extend of what it might seem like an episode of a TV series, but it’s actually what really happened at the boys’ nursery a while ago.
One day my husband was called into the manager’s office and asked to sit down. “I have something to discussed about B” the nursery manager said. My poor husband was already tired from a long day at work and about to have dinner with the twins without mummy. He really didn’t have time for this, but he kept listening, wondering who had B bitten that day and why it was so important today. To his enormous surprise B hadn’t bitten anyone, but apparently he had been the victim of child mistreatment. Child services were called and a full investigation was taking place. “As his parent we thought you should be aware and for your peace of mind we have suspended the member of staff involved in the incident” concluded the nursery manager. My husband’s jaw dropped inadvertently.
What really happened is that someone woke up B by splashing his face with a couple of drops of water. THAT’S ALL!
I can only imagine how B would have reacted to that and I feel I should have apologised to the staff member… sending an Italian child to an English nursery, what was I thinking?! I bet he screamed the place down!
I personally believe the nursery went a little over the top this time, but child safety do come first and I’m glad my boys are in a super safe environment.
The boys have been attending swimming lessons since they were 5 months old. It’s part of our weekly routine now and we are used to it, but we shouldn’t take it for grant it. There are so many reasons to go swimming with toddlers, I can’t understand why most of my friends stopped.
Where to start… The obvious one, swimming is an essential life skill.
Compared to most activities is not too expensive.
It’s the only “sport” you can do before the age of 1. Better start them young!
It improves gross motor skills and built confidence. The first time B held on to the side wall by himself he looked like he just won the lottery!
And most importantly it tires them out, which implies a longer afternoon nap! Excellent to catch up on your housework or maximise on cuddle time on the couch.
Despite all these reasons, for us the original idea behind the swimming lessons was very different. We started the lessons in a time in which I was feeling very isolated. I was still on my maternity leave and I was home alone with the boys for hours and hours every day. Despite signing up for a thousand baby and mum courses, I still felt like nobody could relate to what I was going through except for a couple of other twins mums. On top of that, my husband and I only had one type of conversation “at what time does my shift start?”. T was still not sleeping through the night, in fact he was waking up every couple of hours. We were tired, stressed and occasionally desperate. We needed something to do together. Something to do as a family. After all we were starting to believe we made a mistake and we didn’t really want a family anymore. It wasn’t how we pictured it (it never is) and we couldn’t see when or even if we would ever be that nice little family we dreamt of. Swimming came along as a desperate way to force the four of us to do something together every week. And it worked!
We love swimming now and we wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. It gave us a chance to see how our unit of four could work. Although it was only for 30 minutes a week. Those were 30 minutes without nappies, feeding, screaming and moaning. It was a small window into the future.
Now that we reached that future. Now that we are a nice little family. Now that we can finally sleep. Now that our conversations are back to normal… Now I can finally write about this.
And like Dory said in Finding Nemo… just keep swimming!
I know that technically I have never written about exhaustion part 1, but do I have to?? Can’t you just imagine how exhausting was breastfeeding twins, going shopping with newborn babies or the classical sleepless nights? Even people without children could guess how exhausting that was. Raising toddler boys thought requires a surprising amount of energy…
Not that I thought that it was going to be a walk in the park, but when I do take them to the aforementioned park I would hope to see them running around and enjoy myself while supervising. The cold reality is very different! For every time they go down a slide, you have to pick them up and put them at the top. Every time they want to climb somewhere, who is pushing them up? And there are always two of them! Two!
And then there are the night calls. One coughs and wakes the other one up. One has a bad dream and wakes up crying and wakes the other one up. Or even one farts too loudly and wakes the other one up! If it happens 2-3 times in the night (and you can bet it will) and you still have to wake up at 6.30 the morning after, it becomes exhausting after a while. All of this had some consequences.
You know you and your husband are exhausted when one of the following thing happens:
1) One of you falls asleep on the floor (in the living room, in the kids’ bedroom or even in the bathroom during bath time).
2) Shaking with cold when outside there’s sunshine and 20C.
3) Waking up at all hours of the night (it’s counterintuitive, but if you are too tired it can be more difficult to sleep).
4) Meeting your neighbor at the park and not having enough energy to recognise who she is.
5) Putting a dishwasher tablet in the washing machine!
6) Writing a really boring blog post…
I guess I’d better go to sleep then.
When I bought my washing machine two years ago, I was puzzled to see that among the normal washing cycles there was also a 30 degrees 15 minutes super quick cycle. I often wonder who could be in such a hurry to wash something and only have 15 minutes to do it. Apparently having toddlers answers a lot of questions…
At 1.30AM on a Wednesday morning normal people are asleep in their comfy warm bed, but I have twin toddlers so I am not in the normal people category. I was awake and using the 15 minutes super quick cycle on my washing machine!
It all started when B woke up and screamed. Although this happens often, this was a very strange scream. Almost as if he was hurt. So I went to investigate and found him being sick all over his bed. I let my husband deal with him while I changed his bed and calmed down his brother. After a wash, a new pyjamas (for B) and 2 long lullabies (for everyone), both boys were in bed and ready to go back to sleep. Even daddy was back in bed. Mums though, can’t really go back to bed that easily, so I adventured downstairs.
Putting everything in the washing machine to be washed immediately was an obvious choice, but choosing the 15 minutes cycle was a brilliant idea! In 15 minutes I managed to empty the dishwasher, drink a cup of hot milk, get myself ready to go back to sleep, prepared a hot water bottle and even started to write this entry to my blog. What a perfect length washing cycle!