As a Mom of Twins, Are You Feeling Personally Fulfilled?

If you ask any mom today, especially a mom of twins or more, if she is feeling personally fulfilled with her daily life, and she may say “absolutely”! Another may answer that she is not. Ask another mom this question the morning following a sleepless night up with sick kids, and she may tell you … to bite her. When my first set of twins were six months old, my husband Bruce and I moved away from Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, where we had lived and built our careers for nine years. We relocated, for reasons that included getting out of the crazy traffic of the Capital Beltway, as well as the desire to be closer to both of our families, and found ourselves in Gainesville, Florida. This particular city became our new home because Bruce received the best employment offer from a growing architectural firm there out of the several companies where he’d sent resumes in the various areas we’d considered relocating to. Though we were now closer to our families, we were not, however, in the same towns. In fact, we were still two hours by car from my parents, and ten hours from Bruce’s family. When the boxes were unpacked and we were finally settled into our two bedroom apartment, a particular realization of loneliness, isolation and culture shock descended upon me. My former life as a wife and professional no longer existed, and not only did we leave our home, city, jobs, friends and everything else familiar to us for the previous nine years of our lives, but I was now a full-time mom of two babies, and  …. well, that now summed up my life. Keeping constantly connected to friends on a daily basis wasn’t as easy as it is today. In 1995, the internet was just developing, and Mark Zuckerberg was only 11 years old. I kept in touch with my long-distance friends and family by phone, and was grateful when Bruce came home from work in the evenings. I loved my baby girls very much, and they kept me very busy. I took them up to our apartment pool, and for stroller walks around our complex, to the grocery store, the mall, and to a nearby park where a beautiful lake surrounded by a paved strolling/jogging path was it’s center focal point. I still, however, felt separated. Although I loved my life as a mom, especially after wanting to become a mom for so long, I missed my job … my old life. I missed enjoying my lunch hour with coworkers and friends, being challenged by projects at work, and needless to say, sleeping uninterrupted each night (but that’s another topic)! I took the advice of friends who were also moms and decided to contact the local twins club there in Gainesville so I could connect with other moms of twins. I also joined the Parents of Preschoolers group at our new church. Interacting with other women who were experiencing similar circumstances, or who were just wanting to form friendships, was the key for me to no longer feel alone and isolated. One area was still lacking for me, however. By the time my girls were about 18 months old and no longer breastfeeding, I contacted the creative department head who had been my boss in the corporation I worked for up in DC. We had discussed my freelancing for her before we had moved away, and I was now ready to work again. Granted, it would only be very part-time because my hands were very full with my toddlers, but I was ready to work, if only on a very part-time basis. Once I began to propose layouts and designs again, and receive rewarding feedback, I felt my self-confidence sky rocket. I had regained my ability to contribute my skills, talents and experience back into the career that I loved and had worked hard to build. I was an exhausted, fulfilled, busy but very happy mom! The paycheck that arrived every two weeks only added to the benefits of self esteem and growing self-worth. I was, of course, needed by my husband and my children, but knowing I was also needed in a professional capacity was enormously rewarding and fulfilling.  

My advice to mom of twins who desire personal fulfillment:

1) Realize that now as a mom, your life has now forever changed … but it can be better and more fulfilling than you ever imagined! 2) Count your blessings each day (your beautiful, healthy children, your supportive husband, the baby weight slowly ncoming off) because “a thankful heart is a happy heart” (yeah, I got that from a Veggie Tales song!) 3) Become involved in activities, organizations, clubs, church, and any other enjoyable activity where friendly human interaction is central to your involvement. 5) Take good care of yourself … don’t neglect your own needs such as exercise, wellness check-ups, quiet alone time, and regular salon/spa visits. 4) Hire a babysitter on a regular basis so you and your husband can go out and place “being parents” on temporary hold, and feel like “a couple” for a few hours. 5) Re-connect with your former career, or find a new one! My best advice is to find a way to work from home so that placing your children in day care or preschool too early isn’t an added expense for you, or time away from your children. (REMEMBER: they grow up SOOOOO fast!) And so to this day, two more sets of twins later, I’ve continued to enjoy my fulfilling life as a mom of now six children in addition to being a stay-at-home, work-from-home mother. I’ve also continued my involvement in my local twin club, church-related mothers organizations and ministries … all of which have kept me busy, productive, happy and, I believe, a strong role model for my children, especially my three daughters. If you’re like me, being able to stay involved with enjoyable activities, being available and flexible to plan my days around my children’s busy schedules, AND still being able to work from home to maintain and continue to develop my professional skills (and bring in needed income) could prove to give you a very rewarding life!

How Do You Approach Gift-giving When it Comes to Your Twins?

Christmas is here again, so it’s time to start our shopping …

A gift for sharing, indeed!

When it comes to buying gifts for our twins, we’ve all had the experience (with toddlers and older) that when we give one item and encourage them to share, we hit the inevitable conflict. So, do we try to avoid the fighting and buy two items? Are the items different enough that they can be distinguished yet alike enough so each child knows that he or she is getting the same, equal treatment? For instance, we buy two Barbie dolls but two different styles of Barbie doll. Chances are, as it occurred with my twin girls, that one will still want the others doll, and trading doesn’t always solve the problem!

Alike, but different

So, do we resort to buying two of the exact same items in order to demonstrate equal treatment, and also to avoid conflict? Disappointingly, this isn’t always the perfect remedy either because one twin will just grab both dolls and run off with them, leaving the other screaming in protest and chasing her greedy twin! When it comes down to it, we all want to assure our children that they are equally loved and equally treated. However, fairness and equality are not always attainable, and with further consideration, these treatments aren’t things we’ll always be able to count on in life, right? So, it’s fair to say that we should probably teach our children, twins and singletons alike, that sometimes every effort will be made so he or she will feel fairly treated, BUT, also be aware that this is not always possible and not always appropriate. Still, don’t we hate the fighting?! Don’t we greatly dislike the reactions our children give us after we’ve gone to such great lengths to please them all? My husband and I try to instill in each of our children that they are blessed to receive ANYTHING! They are NOT entitled to anything beyond our parental responsibilities to provide for their needs, so anything they receive for birthdays or Christmas or any such occasion is a gift that should be deserved … and ultimately appreciated. If gifts are fought over, fought for, not appreciated or shown any such reaction … goodbye gift! Now that’s when the tears start … and earning the right to deserve said gift has to begin all over again! Gift receiving is only half of the lesson. Each of my children, when they reached the age of five or so, were encouraged to participate in gift-giving as well. They could create a little crayon drawing for the birthday person or for their siblings and grandparents for Christmas, for example. In doing this little task, they would then experience the pride of seeing the happiness on the faces of their gift’s recipient and share in a little taste in the pure joy of giving. They would then begin to remark about how it was (almost) better than the gifts they received … (almost).

So, let’s discuss the topic of gift giving …

What are your best and most creative solutions for giving gifts to your twins and your other children who may be singletons? How are you teaching them what gift-giving and gift-receiving is really all about?  
Blessings ~

Twin Mothers Supporting and Empowering Each Other

Each day, I visit several facebook group pages and blogs because not only do I sincerely enjoy connecting to, relating to, and sharing with virtually thousands of wonderful women with whom I have the common experience of motherhood, but also because it strengthens my convictions to pay forward the wisdom and knowledge I have been given through my own personal experiences. As women first and mothers second, we relate to each others pain, frustration, fear, hope, fatigue, and excitement, and we share our many occasions for celebration.

Although tangibly connected by the internet, there are emotional bonding moments that occur when the act of understanding form deep connections. We reach out to one another to help calm fears, to encourage, and to assure while sharing and celebrating in the joys, and while mourning in the times of loss and sorrow. We share the common bond and experiences together as mothers of multiples. Some of us are moms of multiple multiples!

When a woman posts a question or concern, say for instance, about her high-risk pregnancy or upcoming delivery, I witness tremendous, generous support and assurance in the warm and sometimes humorous comments that are posted beneath the question. Some of the conversations go on for days, and include 40-50 comments. When the inquiring mom or mom-to-be thanks all of her advice-givers and cheerleaders, I know she means it. I know she’s just received some solid advice and information that she can trust because her supporters have BEEN THERE. They have walked 100 miles in her shoes, and she knows it. The inquiring woman is affirmed and empowered knowing that she can trust and act upon (most of) the advice of these trusted sources.

As for the many commentatorsthose women who encourage and support with their tips, ideas and suggestions —they are also on a receiving end. Knowing that she’s been able to contribute some nugget of wisdom that she’s acquired from their own experiences, and has personally contributed to the peace of mind and support of another, she feels affirmed and blessed.

We all know the saying: ’Tis better to give than to receive. It’s so true.

In giving, we receive a boost of self-worth because the advice or suggestion we have to contribute is received as valuable and will be put to use by the woman who needed to hear (or read) those particular words of wisdom we shared. As women, we have a strong desire and capability to nurture not only our families, but others who we may sense need nurturing. When we receive the nurturing and support, we are strengthened and comforted by knowing we are understood and we are going to be okay.

Assisting, calming or encouraging just one woman as she goes through the overwhelming experience of having and mothering her twins, blesses me tremendously, and is a very empowering experience.

Women helping women … it’s been going on for centuries.

Long before babies were born in hospitals, women were the only attendees and assistants present during childbirth. For centuries, women worked to prepare meals while passing on their skills to their younger female generations. Women naturally love to talk, to share, to commiserate, to vent, to laugh, and to confide.

Does sharing your wisdom and experiences give you a sense of self-worth, of confidence, of empowerment?

What experiences, knowledge or aspects of your life that have given you peace of mind or resolution could you share with another woman or mother who may be experiencing difficulty? Has a female friend or relative in your life reached out to you in a subliminal way, conveying a need, a desire, or the hope that difficulties won’t last forever … that a solution will present itself some how?

We’re here to support and help one another. It’s just what women do.

I think of the devotion between Ruth and Naomi in the Bible. For those who are not familiar, Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law who had lost her husband (Naomi’s son). Through all the trials and travels the two women experienced, Ruth remained loyal and devoted to the service of Naomi, stating in Ruth 1:16: “… Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Blessings ~

Are Your Twins Identical or Fraternal?

As moms of twins …

… especially those whose twins resemble each other, we have become quite accustomed to being approached by curious strangers and having this oh-so familiar question asked: Are your twins identical?

More often, mom and dad want the answer to this question before the babies arrive, and hope there will be a way to find out!

Twinning occurs in approximately 32.6 in every 1,000 births (2008 statistics) and with the increasing use of fertility medications and treatments, these statistics rise slightly each year. In 1980, only 18.9 in every 1,000 births were twins (1/3 of those twins being identical, and the other 2/3 being fraternal).

For those readers who may be expecting a set of twins, and for those who are just fascinated by twin facts (like me), you’ll enjoy the following info!

When referring to the types of twins (identical or fraternal), what’s really being referred to is zygosity, defined as the characteristics of the cell union at or shortly after conception. Identical (monozygotic = one zygote) twins occur when one fertilized egg (zygote) divides into two identical parts. Identical twins possess the same genes (DNA), and may share many similar characteristics. However, since environment plays a large role in one’s physical appearance (in addition to genes), identical twins can actually look different, especially as they age and are exposed to various external factors such as nutrition and physical activity. Identical twins are always the same gender.

Fraternal (dizygotic = two zygotes) twins occur when two separate eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm. They are basically the same as any sibling would be to another, but are conceived within a day or two of the other, share their mother’s uterus at the same time, and are usually born within minutes of each other.

Science has theorized a third type called Polar Body twinning, which occurs when an unfertilized egg divides into two parts and each part is fertilized by a different sperm. The twins would then share one-half of their identical gene set (from their mother). Because it is the father’s DNA that determines gender in all pregnancies, the twins can be either same-gender or male/female.

An ultrasound may be able to determine if a mother is carrying identical or fraternal twins. Some identical twins share the same sac and/or placenta. Some identical twins, however, can have separate sacs, and the placentas of fraternal twins can fuse together to appear as one placenta. Fraternal twins do not share the same sac.

Once the babies are born, genetics testing (through a painless swabbing of the inside of the cheek) is the only real way to determine if twins are identical or not (that is, if they don’t already look completely different from each other, and also, of course, if their genders differ!)

Additional twin facts:

The only type of twins that “run in the family” are dizygotic, because a mother’s genetic tendency to hyperovulate (ovulate more than one egg in one given cycle) can be passed down to her daughter. Although there is really no proven reason know for why monozygotic twins occur, it has been speculated that a rare enzyme found in sperm may cause the fertilized zygote to spontaneously split in two separate zygotes at some point during the blastocyst stage (during which tremendous, rapid cell division occurs) as it moves from the fallopian tube and arrives in the uterus prior to implantation. Conjoined (also referred to as Siamese) twins occur when the final division never fully completes. Conjoined twins can never occur in fraternal twinning, and can only be same gender.

As for my three pairs of twins, I have all fraternal sets. I have two girls (with whom while I was pregnant were suspected to be identical); a boy/girl set; and finally two boys! Having been pregnant three times each with twins so I really don’t know what it’s like to be expecting a single baby. From having none to two, then to four, and then to six has been an amazing experience filled with many blessings as well as challenges! Looking back to when we were planning just one baby seems like a lifetime ago, but it all has been a journey I thank God my husband and I were chosen to travel.

 

For more comparable facts about twins types, please refer to this Zygosity Chart comparing Identical, Fraternal and Polar Body twins at multiples.about.com.

Blessings ~

Being a Mom Makes You A Natural Problem Solver!

WE ALL DO IT …

As soon as our heads hit the pillow after we turn off the lights, we take a deep cleansing breath and close our eyes. While we recount the day’s events with snapshot images pulsing in and out of our mind’s eye, we inwardly laugh about a clever comment one of children made, or we wonder how a friend that’s struggling with personal problem is doing, and we wish we hadn’t eaten those four Oreo cookies after the dinner dishes were done.

We also begin to think about the bigger things that revisit our minds each night, such as: “I’ve got to succeed at finally potty-training my youngest son”, or “it’s time to bring the car back in for maintenance work and it needs new tires before winter arrives”, and “we’ve got to start saving more for college tuition because high school is right around the corner!”

As our minds attempt to visualize the end result of our goals, we consciously and subconsciously formulate plans, create strategies, and make commitments to achieve those important objectives for ourselves and our families. Sometimes expressing these wishes to someone else, or physically write them down on paper, make them all the more real and official.

As a woman, wife, and mother, what are some of the goals you’d like to achieve now or in the near future?

What elements in your life are keeping you from achieving your goals?

What specific obstacles are preventing you from living the life or lifestyle you want today, or are limiting your dreams for the future?

• Are you frustrated while trying to lose substantial weight?

Has the extra weight you’ve been carrying around been plaguing you with thoughts like, “I just gotta figure out how to lose it”, or “I’ll start that diet plan tomorrow”, or “Did my last attempt not work because of my lack of  full commitment?”

• Are you worried about one or more of your children?

Do you worry about a slow weight-gaining baby?

Are you having difficulties with breastfeeding (low milk production, plugged milk ducts, or latching problems)?

Do you have a child who is doing poorly in school or is demonstrating a behavioral problem? Are you trying to find the source of his or her challenges?

Does your heart break as you watch your child struggle wishing you could snap your fingers and solve whatever the problem is?

• Are you experiencing financial worry?

Are you struggling to pay your mortgage or rent each month?

Are you putting off home repairs or renovations because there are more urgent issues eating up your household funds?

Are you considering placing your children in day care or after school care so you can go back to working full-time outside of the house to help pay bills?

Are your credit card balances and other debts getting out of control?

• Are you experiencing difficulties in your marriage?

Are the stresses of parenthood with its physical, mental, emotional and financial demands putting stress and strains on the relationship with your spouse?

Are you both so depleted and exhausted by the end of the day that there is no longer time, energy or desire to personally connect?

Are moments of intimacy very few and far between?

• Are you experiencing difficulties in your marriage?

You alone know your deepest worries and hopes for finding solutions.

 

Everyone at one point will experience one or more of the above scenarios as parents in today’s fast-paced, demanding world. As women, and specifically as mothers, we begin solving problems simply by virtue of our nurturing nature. We instinctively comfort, protect and sincerely desire the happiness of those that we love. As mothers first calm and soothe a fussy newborn, it is ingrained in us to find the cause of sadness, discomfort or pain, and make it “all better”.

So, if we instinctively know if and when our child needs our help with a problem, we also instinctively know when it’s time to help ourselves. We know that the time has arrived for action on our part to better a situation that is becoming increasingly worse.

How do we do it? Our natural abilities to SOLVE, to FIND an ANSWER, to BETTER our situation kick in when we come to the point where we cannot endure the present challenging situation, as it stands, any longer.

It is amazing how true the saying is: WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY.

If you are struggling with a problem, or more than one problem, get up and find a solution. Dig down into your very heart and soul, commit to finding a solution …

AND MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Believe it or not, the answer is within your reach.

Success in any endeavor is yours for the taking.

You have the power to tap into the powers of your own mind, will power, sense of commitment and resolve.

As Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” writes: Whatever the Mind can CONCEIVE, and BELIEVE, it can ACHIEVE.

Blessings ~

 

 

Are You Trying to be A SUPER MOM?

With a large family, there are many aspects of “keeping it together” that need to be maintained on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. While I no longer insist that the entire house is in complete order as I once did before I had children, it is important to me to keep on top of the daily tasks and finances in order to keep our home and lives running as smoothly and as organized as possible! I’ve been asked on occasion if it’s possible to maintain an organized home with lots of kids. Honestly, some days don’t run as smoothly as I’d like, but for the most part, we all pitch in so that we all benefit from our team efforts.

7 Suggestions for Maintaining Controlled Chaos (well, most of the time):

Many share in the messing; many share in the cleaning.

1– Stay on top of daily chores: Keeping on top of the never-ending laundry, the ongoing kitchen tasks with meal prep and clean up, keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked with the meals for the week ingredients as well as basic staples, paying the bills and keeping control of the household budget simply are musts! But do I do it all on my own? Of course not!

2– Delegate: In our home, our four older kids each have a list of jobs to do around the house that are clearly posted in the kitchen for all to read and refer to (which, of course, they so appreciate being reminded about). Because two kids are 16 and two kids are now 12, each are required to take turns with dinner dishes and folding two large loads of laundry on alternating days in addition to their homework. Our 16-year-old daughters are to keep their shared bathroom clean (not that they always do the perfect job at it) and to help take care of their little brothers for me while I run errands. All are expected to keep their rooms in order as well as the upstairs loft which they all share to play games, computer work, homework and TV-watching.

3– Divide up tasks over several days: I try not to feel like it all has to be done everyday. I’ll spread my tasks out over a few days. For example, I’m content that the bathrooms get thorough cleanings on Mondays, vacuuming gets done on most Wednesdays, and dusting is saved for Thursdays, so that cleaning gets done once a week. The kitchen floor may not get completely mopped each day, but it requires sweeping and spot-washing several times a day.

4– Communicate/Post schedules: As for the children’s after-school activities, as schedules seem to constantly change, we communicate daily as to who needs to be where and when. A large, erasable calendar is posted for all to see showing Brandon’s baseball schedule, Erin’s soccer schedule, and Kathryn’s dance classes, Lauren’s Thespian (drama) club, social activities and presently, Driver’s-ed classes. My 8-seater van shuttles everyone all over the place, but I also have a carpool arrangement with another family. Right now, I have four kids in two different schools, and it’s a real challenge making sure that everyone gets to and from their activities daily.

5– Be money-conscious: Many families with several children are tightly budgeted, which is no easy thing to do. While it can become a habit to place this or that on credit cards when there’s more month than money, it’s frighteningly simple for spending to get out of hand. Before you know it, you’re in deep debt! Our motto is: if we don’t have the cash for it, we don’t buy it. I plan out the dinners for a week and stick to those ingredients so that I’m not tempted to buy lots of extras. I take advantage of sales, coupons and on occasion shop at second-hand stores for kids play clothing, etc. I believe that living this way is teaching our children to appreciate what we have and to respect the costs of daily life.

6– Take care of yourself: When the busy day full of home care and shuttling is over, find an outlet to relax. It’s important not to be hard on yourself when things don’t run as smoothly as you wish, so cut yourself some slack. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s what’s important! Exercise! I actually exercise in the evenings, followed by a hot shower or relaxing bath. The stress relief from endorphin release during physical activity, followed by the hormone oxytocin that the body releases while being soothed in warm water is the perfect prescription for relaxation! Additional Stress Reducers: Some evenings I go out to meet a friend for coffee and dessert or a movie. I also love to go to movies all by myself, allowing myself to get immersed in a good love story or comedy. After having the chance to take a break, I’m a much happier wife and mom!  🙂

7– Go on a date with your husband! Get out once a week or so, just the two of you. Reconnecting often as a couple is VITAL to the longevity, renewal and healthiness of your marriage!

 

You know, people say to me all the time, “Fran, I don’t know how you do it!And often I’ll answer, Some days I do, and some days I don’t!” And that’s the truth … some days go as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, and other days seem to be fraught with a hundred little fires that need to be put out one by one, just like most families experience daily! So delegate the house work tasks, and accept help, take care of yourself, and above all, don’t try to do it all on your own …

And here’s a good question: What is our ultimate goal as moms?

Is it to raise our children to become self-sufficient, independent, life-skilled, confident, responsible adults?

YES!

And there’s no better training for our kids than to entrust them with chores, responsibilities, and expect no less than their best efforts in return for our trust, and in the process, we provide them with our unconditional love, support and encouragement (with doses of correction and redirection when needed!).

 SO, in choosing to raise our kids this way …

We ARE SUPER MOMS after all!

Your Newborn Twins CAN Tell You What They Want!

When I was lying on the sofa during my last pregnancy’s first trimester (you know, when you feel sick all the time, and have no more energy than it takes to lie around watching TV), I paid especially close attention to the Oprah show that aired one afternoon. When the announcement of upcoming guests and topics was made just as the show was starting, a chord was stuck in me, and I knew I would be giving my utmost attention to this program!

One of Oprah’s guests that day was an Australian mom named Priscilla Dunstan who shared with the audience her discovery of distinct infant cries and their meanings. I was glued to the TV because I knew that once again very soon, we would be parents to brand new infants. Ms. Dunstan in her method called Dunstan Baby Language describes the 5 different and distinguishable cry sounds that babies in their first few months of age make when they are expressing different wants and needs.

As Priscilla began to talk, I reached for already opened envelope that was on a side table nearby, picked up a less-than-sharp blue crayon, flipped over the envelope and started to jot down some notes. I had lived through the early months with two previous sets of twins, and one of the difficult and frustrating aspects was trying to translate my babies’ cries. I’d so often wished that the babies could TELL me what was wrong during fussy times that, no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t always resolve.

According to Priscilla, babies’ cries are reflexes that are detectable in 0-3 month old babies. What’s important is that you have to catch these sound signals early on, because if not responded to with the requested need readily addressed, the baby will stop using them as they get older.

So here are the 5 distinguishable sounds that infants use to express what they need:

  1. EH means I need to burp
  2. NEHmeansI’m hungry (and might be accompanied by rooting for the breast and sucking on his lil hand)
  3. OWH means I’m sleepy (with this cry usually comes the little wiggly chin)
  4. HEH means Discomfort (“I need for diaper change, I don’t like the feel of these jammies, I scratched myself”)
  5. EAIR means Abdominal Gas (I got this one a lot, and it usually turned up in the late afternoon and lasted through midnight, as colic would kick in!)

For exhausted new parents, these tips can save lots of time and ease frustration. I truly believe these sound translations are accurate because I put it to the test once Sean and Benjamin arrived, and I was amazed when I compared the sounds to what I’d learned … My husband and I really could apply a cry sound to a baby need (most of the time)!

You’ll be surprised how distinguishable these are, and how you’ll readily you’ll begin to pick up on these sounds. And again, as all mothers know, any and all tips that can ease the challenges of having newborns, (especially in multiples) are very welcomed!!

Blessings ~

 

Traveling with Twins!

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go!

If you’re concerned whether traveling with your infants or toddlers will be a delight or a disaster, I can help with some suggestions after traveling with lots of kids of all ages for quite a few years now.

Now, although I can’t guarantee that your travels with tots will be necessarily delightful, I can give you some tips that will definitely have you prepared so you’re not ambushed by the unexpected, or have miserable experiences as you travel to and return from your vacation destinations.

 Tips for Traveling with Twins

When I traveled (as a solo-parent) with four young children by air from Florida to California (with a connection in Atlanta), I found that the following system worked beautifully:

Allow each child over 3 years of age to pack up his or her own special backpack. Pack it with coloring books and crayons, hand-held video games (with volume control), magna-doodles, special toys including a “lovey”, a small travel pillow, and favorite snacks (specially chosen by each specific child) so that these feel comfortable, are kept busy, and happily occupied!

If any of your children have ever displayed even the slightest tendency toward motion-sickness, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you give him/her/them a chewable, 12-hour-lasting motion sickness medication such as Children’s Bonine or the less-drowsy formula of Children’s Dramamine approximately 30-minutes before starting to travel. I am not recommending that you “drug” your children, but to avoid motion sickness and all the joy and drama that goes along with it, I always made sure to give my “easily-queezy” little ones that dose of prevention!

If traveling by air, you’ll need to bring the double stroller for all of the walking you’ll do through the airports, etc. Your stroller (along with other passengers’ strollers) will be loaded onto the plane after you board, and will be available for you as you exit the plane. You’ll need to baggage-check their car seats or stroll your babies in the rolling carts for car seats that are popular today, because you’ll need your car seats with you for traveling locally when you arrive at your destination. If you prefer to strap your babies into car seats in individual airplane seats, you may have to buy a separate ticket for them, which is why most decide to travel with their babies in their arms/laps. When on the plane, allow the older children a bit of independence by encouraging them to get up (when permitted), stretch their legs, and use the restroom by themselves. It may sound like much of an adventure from an adult’s perspective, but my children thought it was a blast!

•  On a road trip, try to leave as early as possible after getting as much sleep as possible. I also recommend packing up easy meals so that you don’t have to rely on finding fast food (or paying out of the nose for it). The night before traveling, I make a sandwich for each person (who eats table food) for two meals, pack the ice chest with the sandwiches, fruit, crackers, chips, juice boxes, yogurt, etc. I’m always careful to pack plastic spoons or forks as needed, and plenty of paper plates and paper towels. Stop every few hours for a chance to get out, go to the restroom, have a picnic lunch, run around and release some energy. Plan stops where you can find a park, or even just a rest-stop with some open space (but watch for land minds left by traveling doggies!).

 Tips for What to Bring on Road Trips

On road trips (which is our most-used method of travel now that there are eight of us … nine if you count our new pooch Simon, and not counting our cat Shannon, since she stays home and is cared for by a neighboring, trusted teenager), I pack us as efficiently as possible, and allow easy reach within the vehicle the following important items:

  The pack-n-play sleepers for my toddlers for their sleeping accommodations in hotels and at Grandma’s house;

•  snap-on-table high/booster chairs for restaurants (so you’re not using the establishment’s “icky” ones);

  LOTS of hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, paper towels and plastic (left-over grocery bags) for garbage, food wrappers, and in the event that the Dramamine failed or wasn’t given to someone who probably needed it. For babies/toddlers, pack that diaper bag with at least one full change of clothing for each baby and enough diapers to last a whole day.

  One full day’s worth of baby foods (with bibs and spoons) and/or formula for non-breastfeeding moms.

  Medications and first aid supplies such as pain reliever, bandages, antibiotic ointment, decongestant, cough suppressant, antacids, lip balm, moisturizing skin lotion (as traveling tends to dry out our skin), and any medications specifically needed by each person.

  Plenty of water for each person.

(Be aware that if traveling via air, you will not be able to carry on any bottled liquids larger than 3 ounces, but this excludes pre-filled baby bottles, nursery water, baby-specific medications such as Mylicon (for gas relief, but this is usually in 1/2-oz. bottles). Water and other beverages will be provided by the flight crew once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude. I’ve always found flight crews to be very accommodating to us with our family’s needs.

Travel tips for breastfeeding moms

Whether you’re traveling by ground or air, you know you’ll need to feed your babies every three hours or on demand, regardless of where you happen to be when feeding time arrives, so make sure you carry along with you:

  your nursing pillow(s)/boppie pillow;

  a portable, battery-operated or manual breast pump/bottles with nipples and caps (and cold pack, insulated carrying case);

  privacy blankets and burp cloths;

  nursing pads, and extra bra and shirt/blouse for you in the event the babies’ feedings are delayed here and there.

Obviously, you cannot breastfeed in a moving car because the babies need to remain safely buckled into their car seats, and you need to stay buckled up as well, so make the most of your rest stop nursing time by doing double-up (tandem) feedings. If you have older children, have Daddy take them off for a bit of leg-stretching and energy-releasing exercise so you can have some quiet time with the babies.

I found that sitting in a back seat of the vehicle with my support pillow(s) across my lap gave great support. Taking this twenty minute quiet time away from the continuous motion and noise of the vehicle to allow the babies (and yourself) a good feeding will be very relaxing and you’ll find it to be a very-needed break. You’ll all become relaxed and ready for the next 3 hours of travel before the next feeding.

Nursing on an airplane is a bit more challenging, especially as you try to keep the crying babies quiet. We may say that we don’t care about the glaring, irritated looks from the other passengers, but we do care. Settling your babies down by comforting them at the breast is the perfect solution to ease their fears, calm their anxieties, and warm their tummies. To tandem feed, lift up the armrest between two seats and sit between the two, providing room for you to comfortably feed both babies. If the aircraft is completely full, as it probably is during the holidays, you may have limited space and will to get creative with a cross-over feeding position for both babies, or feed them separately (feeding the fussier one first!)

 

Whether you plan to travel by air or ground, being completely prepared and ready for anything (because those what-if’s are bound to happen) will alleviate stress and anxiety for the whole family, and allow your whole vacation to be remembered with fond memories.

If you find these tips helpful for you, please share this article on to other families with multiples, or just a few kids or more!

SAFE TRAVELS!

 

Comments About Twins, and Our Witty Replies!

I so enjoy visiting online moms-of-twins forums. Combining my personal experiences with the experiences and topics discussed on these forums, I’ll simply never run out of discussion material to address and blog about!

A few days ago, one twins-mom named Samantha asked our group:

“What are some of the craziest stranger questions or comments you’ve received being out in public with your twins, and what were your replies?”

Oh, this is a good one! I requested the use of some of these comments for this post with the assurance that only first names would be accredited to the various comments, and my additions are in blue. So here goes:

Amber: One of the best ones I saw was when you get, “You have your hands full!” You say, “You should see my heart!” I love that one.  (If I had a DIME for every time someone said that to me, I’d have college tuition for at least one kid!)

Kimberlie: I get “how do you tell them apart?” I get this question a lot, and I always say “Because I am their mama and mama knows”.

Samantha: When people come up to me and say “Double Trouble”, I like to say “Double the Love” 🙂 (I add, double the fun!)

Heather: Well I’m sure we all get the random stranger at the store saying….“glad it’s u and not me”, to them I say “me too”!

Amy: I get “were they natural“?.. I say, well I gave birth to them …

Shelly: Ha! People ask me about the “were they natural?” question (I really think they do not realize HOW invasive a question that is!?) I usually laugh it off and say “Stay away from Barry White, track 5”. (love it!)

Michele: When I get “are they natural?” I say “well no, I had a c section, why do you ask?”

Carissa: If I get asked of we used fertility drugs, I say “does wine count?” (love that, too!)

Carey: I hear the “Oh you have your hands full” and I reply with “Better full than empty” And for the “were they natural” there is a video out there called: “They Are Not Aliens”.

Michele: I like to say that “I had sex twice in one night, and once with hubby, once with, oh I’m not sure who, was it you?” i love their stunned looked. And sometimes I’ll add “if you ask a stranger an invasive personal question, you should be prepared for whatever answer you get!” (you go, girl!)

Wendy: I used to get asked all the time if my b/g twins are identical…lol Guess people don’t know what the word identical means. It used to drive me nuts! (I got that one many times with my boy/girl set … I mean, really?)

Amanda: My favorite question is: Are they twins? My response (at least what I would love to say but bite my tongue) “No I cloned my baby, that’s why they look exactly alike.”

Amy: When asked if they are twins I usually say “no they are born a month apart” and then when they ask are they girls when clearly they are both wearing bows, I just say “no they are boys but I really wanted girls”…lol! My mother in law about died when I told a lady that in a grocery store…lol (LOL)

Tammy: When my girls were toddlers and people would ask “do twins run in your family?” I would say “No, but they run all over my house!” And whenever I hear “I’m glad it’s you and not me”– I always smile and answer: “So are they!”… most people don’t catch on, which makes it all the better.

Chielo: I have two set ID twins and people always ask me if I planned to have twins. (Don’t all of us PLAN to have twins? Really?)

Bonnie: Usually when asked “are they twins” I’d tell them “no, they were having a buy one get one special at the hospital!”

Valerie: We were out trick ‘r treating with the twins and some lady walks up and gets in the babies faces to see if they are real. I told my husband if she actually asked I would tell her… nope we put 2 stuffed animals in a stroller to get candy! lol

Calley: To the “are they natural” question I always smile and say no…they are supernatural….it always makes me giggle and they kinda stop asking questions wondering if I am crazy or not….

Debora: Everywhere we go, everything we do, our identical twin girls are attention grabbers. We just plan extra time, smile, and introduce our 3yo girl and 7yo girl so they feel included. And we stress the amazing BLESSING we have. When people comment “How Cute!” to our twins, my husband says, “Well thanks, I am very cute! But what about our FOUR girls???”

 

Thanks ladies for your creative and clever replies. Over the years I’ve been approached just about all of the above, with a few more additions, like:

— “Are all of those YOURS? OMG, and they’re ALL TWINS? … Harold, HAROLD! Look, this woman has 3 SETS OF TWINS!!”

— “You know they figured out what causes having children …” (wow, that’s some nerve!)

— “Are they all paternal (or maternal)?” I reply, “Yes, they are FRATernal.

My advice: Have fun, just go with it, laugh it off, come up with clever come-backs, and ENJOY living the BLESSING of having TWINS!  🙂  🙂