Apologies for the tardy update! That photo was taken on the 16th, as per usual, but finding time to actually post it was a challenge.
People, we have LITTLE KIDS now! Kids with their own preferences and opinions, who can both communicate their likes and dislikes with us, do things deliberately to either make us laugh or wind us up, and occupy themselves in all sorts of creative – and often non compliant – ways. Hattie has a vocabulary that may soon exceed mine, and is busily teaching herself colours, how to count, and various other things that make me wonder whether she might be one of those little weirdo kids who start reading before they’re three. And when he’s not building towering structures with his stacking cups, Joe has started to toilet train himself. During the past five or six days (and I’m writing this on the 25th), he’s asked for the potty several times a day and produced the goods (of both varieties) pretty much every time. Life is never dull with toddler twins.
Every day I think of things that should be shared in this blog, but the combined work loads of motherhood, university, and voluntary stuff (not to mention an occasional desire to just relax and do nothing) mean that it can be challenging to write much. However, I’ve got exams in early November and then three and a half months off (aside from some multiple birth club-related projects up my sleeve), so I’ll be able to update far more often. I promise! Here are some recent photos, in the meantime.
A couple of days late, but never mind!
Here they are, on the downhill slide to two!
Hang on, that’s not quite in focus – let’s try another:
Hmm. Third time lucky?
And at that point my models scarpered, so I gave up.
It has been a full on month, as Hattie and Joe seem to have been sick for most of it. It’s been nothing serious – just colds – but that leads to coughs, and then they’re awake a lot more in the night, and are generally miserable a lot more often during the day. And we’ve had ongoing teething for what seems like months, and the now-typical toddler tantrum high jinks. So it’s been a busy time, and I’ve been even more thankful that I do this motherhood gig part time!
I’m very happy to report that the 18 month weaning plan went off without a hitch, and was very peaceful in the end: on the day after they were 18 months old we took them straight to the living room and offered them milk from a bottle, and they were absolutely fine, and haven’t asked for a feed since! So although they were obviously very happy to have that morning feed, they definitely didn’t need it.
Another update: we’re still on the same two sleep a day routine: 8.30am-9am, and 1pm-3pm. Occasionally Joe will skip the morning sleep, but it never happens on two consecutive days, and we often have to wake up at least one of them at 3pm. They’re the only children of this age that I know that still want/need two day sleeps, but it still suits us very well, and if it means that I have well rested kids then I’m in favour of it. However, the bane of our existence has been the continued early wake-ups, which have become closer to 5am than 6am, and sometimes even earlier than 5am (which really is the middle of the night). I could wake up at 6am every day with no problem at all, but 5am is too early and makes me exhausted, so we’re experimenting to see if we can encourage them to sleep in a bit. We’d tried pushing back their 6.30pm bedtime in the past, but it hadn’t made a difference, possibly because we’d only try it for a day or two before giving up. This time, we’ve decided to push back bedtime to 6.45pm for at least a week, and see what happens. Early signs are encouraging, with the kids sleeping until nearly 6am today and yesterday. If we could get them to sleep to 6am from that 6.45pm I think we’d eventually try to push bedtime back further, to 7pm, in the hopes that they’d sleep until 6.30am. Their early wake-up is a real barrier to them dropping their morning sleep because even if their one day sleep was at 11.30am or 12pm it would currently require them to stay awake for around six hours beforehand, which is just too long.
The introduction of potties has gone smoothly as well, although it’s going to remain a very low key “would you like to sit on the potty before your bath” thing until after their second birthday. Surprisingly, although Hattie seemed to be the most likely to go first, she hasn’t yet produced anything, whereas Joe sits there like Joe Cool, looking like he’s waiting for somebody to bring him the newspaper, and has managed a few potty gifts already.
Hattie and Joe are such little kids now. Every day they amaze us with the new things that they’ve learned to do. And their talking is so funny now – they really chatter away all day. A lot of it is parroting the last word of whatever sentence that we’ve just said (which certainly makes you aware of the language that you’re using), but we’re also starting to see them come up with their own things as well. For example, I occasionally refer to Joe as ‘Guiseppe’, and Hattie has now decided that she’s going to call him ‘Seppe’ rather than Joe. And she surprised me with her first simultaneous two word phrase a couple of weeks ago: I was taking Joe out of his highchair after breakfast, and she piped up with “and me!”, which was very cute. I can also report that the early signs of good manners are emerging, which makes me very happy: when Julie gave Hattie her morning tea today, she responded with “thank you!” – it may have been a complete coincidence, but hopefully not!
I know that the time is fast approaching when they’re going to say no to everything, and argue with me at the drop of a hat, but I’ll be really happy when their language skills evolve sufficiently to actually discuss their frustrations with me, rather than dropping to the floor and freaking out. Ah, toddler tantrums… such fun! Hattie is quite volatile at times, but tends to also be quick to get over it, and fairly easily cheered up or distracted. Joe, on the other hand, is challenging in this regard. The boy is tenacious, I’ll give him that! The other day he woke up early from his afternoon nap, and wanted to play with my phone, or the remote control, or the baby monitor: three things that are not considered toys in our house. His response was to have a 45 minute tantrum. That isn’t an exaggeration: he cried and carried on for a full 45 minutes. Because I am Team Nigel Latta about these things and flatly refuse to negotiate with terrorists, I pretty much left him to it, aside from occasional attempts to distract him (and when they didn’t work I’d leave him to it for a while longer). I know that I’m locked in a battle of wills with him when this happens, and that the worst thing I could do would be to teach him, through my behaviour, that having a tantrum pays off. However, I’m fully aware of the fact that my ‘leave him to it’ strategy, while successful at home, has not yet been tested in public! I can totally understand why parents give in for the sake of peace if their kids kicks off in the supermarket or the mall, and so far my tactic is to try to prevent imminent meltdowns with food or other distractions (like holding Mummy’s wallet while in the pram).
The other challenging thing in our house at the minute is food. Because they’ve been sick, they’ve had patchy appetites, and we’ve got to the point at the moment where Joe only wants to eat yoghurt and fruit for dinner, and everything is getting jettisoned off the highchair tray. And Hattie is just as bad at times, and often they decide that the other one is just hilarious for throwing food or refusing to eat, and decides to copy their twin. And Mummy just finds it all so much fun, especially when she’s knackered at the end of the day. The answer is remember that hungry children eat, and that skipping a meal or two won’t kill them, and that pandering to their fussiness is the worst thing that I can do. Easier said than done, though!
Anyway, aside from this assortment of grumbles and observations of the many challenges of raising toddler twins, life is pretty good for us. When they’re not streaming with snot and pitching fits on the floor Hattie and Joe continue to enjoy their play dates with their friends, going nuts at playgroups, climbing everything like monkeys, running around laughing their crazy heads off, reading and getting read to all the time (they are totally obsessed with Hairy Maclary), and giving Tristan, Julie, and me a lot of cuddles. They are the most gloriously affectionate children, both to us and to each other, and it’s just lovely. Joe gives the best kisses, and if he is upset Hattie will head straight over to him to rub his back and make soothing noises. And each bedtime ends with me cuddling both of them in the bedroom, and Tristan cuddling all three of us, and lots of kisses exchanged between all of us, before before long the two of them exclude Tristan and me in order to give each other bedtime cuddles. When I see the way that they interact I remember how lucky I am to have twins, and how lucky they are to be twins: their relationship is just amazing, and they have so much fun together. And now I’m definitely enjoying the payoff of having survived the hard first year with two babies: the gorgeousness of twice as many cuddles and kisses.
What a long blog post! Here’s some recent photos.
This parenting gig is a constant whirlwind of mini-projects, isn’t it? You sort out breast feeding, you get a routine going, you deal with sleep issues, you start solids, you wean from breast feeding, they crawl, they walk, they run around like crazy people, they climb everything, they talk, you try to encourage them to eat a diet more varied than porridge and macaroni cheese, you teach them to play nicely with others, you manage tantrums… And at some point you start to contemplate the blessed day when you’ll no longer have to change nappies.
When it comes to toilet training my very loose plan was to follow the advice of Plunket, Nigel Latta, and various other experts: start it in summer; wait until they’ve had their second birthday; and wait until they’re showing signs of being ready (which is a combination of factors, as I understand it – being physically capable of ‘holding on’, being emotionally capable of understanding what you’re asking them to do, and actually being sufficiently motivated to do it). My only aim was to try to have them toilet trained before they turned three, as the preschools that I’ve visited and may like to enrol them at will only take toilet trained kids.
This plan is still in place, and I’m in no hurry to crack on with toilet training (I think life is busy enough as it is), but Hattie’s recent behaviour had prompted me to wonder whether she might be vaguely interested in the whole thing. Specifically, during the past week or so, when we’d remove her and Joe’s nappies before their rudie-nudie dash to the bathroom for their evening bath, she’d invariably do wees. It seemed like she was waiting until after her nappy was removed before weeing, like her nappy was a pair of knickers. Things escalated yesterday afternoon, when she waited until I’d removed her nappy for a change in the afternoon and then, while I was grabbing the clean nappy, did a wee all over a sofa cushion. What fun to clean up! We’ve also found that they’ve started making it clear when they have a dirty nappy (by pulling out the change mat for us, for example), although I know that in most cases they’re still a long way off actually knowing when they’re about to dirty their nappy, as opposed to just informing us after the event. I say ‘in most cases’ there because I think Joe has occasionally got out the change mat as a pre-emptive move: he’s passed the ‘sniff test’ at the time, but has produced the goods shortly afterwards.
In the interests of fewer puddles on the floor, I figured that it might be sensible to get a potty and offer her the option of sitting on it after her nappy was removed. Off I scuttled to The Warehouse yesterday morning, and spent $14 on two fine specimens (this is Joe’s one prior to being used by a little bottom, obviously):
Last night we took them to the bathroom before removing their nappies, and before doing that we demonstrated how one sits on a potty, using a toy monkey and a toy cow as role models. Hattie and Joe watched intently, and when we took off their nappies they didn’t need any convincing to sit down themselves. Hattie did it all with a characteristically determined look on her face, whereas Joe was very blasé about the whole thing. However, Joe took the honours of being the first one to actually wee in the potty, which prompted applause, cheers, kisses, and general celebrations. Both children were extremely interested to see the wees actually in the potty, and Hattie immediately sat down again to try to squeeze out something. She tried three times in total, and although she didn’t manage to actually do anything, she received huge congratulations for trying.
I’m certainly not fooling myself into thinking that this is likely to escalate the toilet training process, but I figure that it’s a low-stress way to start getting the ‘this is how big kids do it’ message across. A lovely fellow twin mum did something similar with her girls, and now that she’s moved on to proper toilet training it seems to be going very smoothly and peacefully. We’ll keep offering them the option of sitting on the potties before their nightly baths, and if it does mean that we have less wee to wipe up then so much the better!
Can it honestly be only 18 months ago since these two little pickles arrived on the scene? I can barely remember life without them!
The difference between this month’s monkey photo and the 17 month photo seems quite astonishing to me – check it out on the Hattie and Joe page. They look so much older today!
I’m pleased to report that the two of them seem to have passed through some of the developmental upheaval that was causing a lot of mayhem last month. They seem a bit calmer, all of a sudden, and they’re definitely capable of doing more. In particular, we’ve had a real explosion of language during the past week – check out this video I shot after their dinner today.
Life jogs along. Hattie and Joe are still on their two nap routine, sleeping for 30 minutes in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. One reason for all of the sleep could be the need for energy to fuel all of the tooth-growing: after each only having six teeth for several months, in recent weeks Hattie has cut at least six teeth, and Joe has added at least four new teeth to his collection.
I’m making a concerted effort to get to bed at a decent hour each day, so I can’t write anything more tonight, but here are some recent photos.