Category Archives: Parenting

Establishing a Bedtime Routine (that works!)

The studies are done and the results are in:  Children with healthy sleep patterns have higher IQ’s and perform better in school.   

(It’s true, you can google that!  http://parenting.thesfile.com/the-brain/sleeps-impact-on-the-brain/sleep-and-intelligence/

I have a follow-up theory to that:  Parents who have children with healthy sleep patterns are happier people.  I’m not sure there’s a ton of scientific research to back that theory up, but I’d be a grouchy mess if I didn’t have a few hours of quiet at the end of each day.  Establishing a bedtime routine is easier than you might think, even if you’re starting late or completely new to following a bedtime ritual.  Kids like the comfort of routine and it’s never too late to start!

Taking bedtime from a battle to bliss isn’t a big mystery, but it does require a solid routine, consistency and a strong resolve to not give in.  Establish a routine and stick with it.  It’s worth it!  It’s important that you develop your routine around your family’s needs.  Make it work for you.  Write it down.  Post it on your bathroom mirror.  Do whatever you have to do but be consistent.

Here’s a peek at our current bedtime routine(s).  It works for our family.  You can borrow it, you can tweak it, you can completely overhaul it.  Totally up to you.  Depending on the age of your little one(s), you can incorporate their last feeding (baby), one last trip to the bathroom (toddler), journal time (older child).  The key is, it has to work for you and your family.

For my little twins who are 4 years old, my goal for getting them in bed with lights out is 7:30pm.  We start our bedtime rituals at about 6:30pm with a bath.  As long as they are out of the tub by 7:00pm, we’re on track without having to rush.

  •  Bath Time
  • Jammies
  • Brush Teeth
  • Story Time:   I always read one story, sometimes a few.  My only rule here is that they must be still and quiet during this.  We all pile into bed together for the story.  It’s a fun time to cuddle and calm down before bed.
  • Prayer:  I pray over each of my children every night.  As a Christian Mom, I believe that modeling prayer out loud to our children teaches them how easy it is to talk to God.  I’ve personally seen that each of my kids have developed a very natural prayer life.
  • Song:  I’m not claiming I am a great singer by any means, but singing to my little ones makes me feel kind of like a rock star.  It’s a sweet part of bedtime that everybody looks forward to.  Sometimes I take requests and sometimes I share my favorite old-timey hymns with them.  Often, they all sing with me and that makes this Mama’s heart soar.
  • One Last Trip to the Bathroom
  • Bed:  Tucked in, hugged and kissed, reminded to stay in bed and sprinkled with sweet dreams.

Easy as pie.  Right?  Well, most of the time.  Here’s the hard part.  You must look at this like a business transaction once they are in bed.  No refunds or returns (with the exception of sickness).  Stand firm.  It’s bedtime.  Bed is where they need to be.  Be prepared with consequences ahead of time for when they test you.  (Notice I said “when” and not “if”.)  Well rested children are happy, healthy children.  If your little guys are having a hard time falling asleep at night or you feel like they are just nocturnal by nature, consider the environment in the hours leading up to bedtime.  Watching TV, playing on a computer, hand-held devices, sugar, caffeine too much stimulus can make it harder for your little ones to wind down enough to fall asleep.

For my older twins (who just turned 10!) it’s pretty much the same, although, of course, they have a later bedtime and some quiet time before the lights go out.  They still join us for story time and the song, which I think is magical considering their age.  I give them about half an hour in their beds with the lights on so they can quietly talk to each other, read or write in their journal.  Having that little bit of time being quiet and in their beds helps them wind down but also it gives them some time to talk about their day with each other.  I suspect that when they are older, those nightly talks will be cherished memories.  I go in and tell them goodnight, do hugs and kisses and prayers and turn their light off.

That’s it.  Kids in bed.  Lights off.  Seacrest out.

It’s still early enough in the evening to clean the house, pack lunches for the next day, finish the laundry, start the dishwasher, make a cup of coffee and enjoy the rest of the night!  (Or, make that cup of coffee and fall asleep in the chair.  Whichever. No judgement here.)

World'sOkayestMom

 

 

 

 

Beating the School Morning Rush

…and Taming the Mommy Monster.

 

rush school morningsSomething mysterious happens in my house on some mornings.  It’s not pretty.  I’m not proud of it.  Somewhere in the rush of trying to get everybody out the door to school, I transform into a complete Mommy Monster.  I’m talking Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I hear myself snapping about hair being brushed and lecturing about dental hygiene “…you’re going to have those teeth for the rest of your life…”.  It’s terrifying.

I go to bed at night as a pretty normal, fairly easy going Mom.  I wake up happy.  I’ve been a morning person most of my life. I have literally done cartwheels out of my bed in the morning.  I’ve even been known to wake my kids up by singing to them.  To further emphasize this point, my college roommate doesn’t eat eggs because of me.  She was the opposite of a morning person and my cheerful knocking on her door in the mornings to let her know that I had made her breakfast led her down an ugly path of lies and deception.  She would hide out in her room pretending she couldn’t hear me.  It was a sad situation.  (I love you, Roomie!) 

My Mommy Monster persona leaves me feeling guilty all morning and starts my tender hearted children’s day on such a sour note.  I try my best to change the mood I’ve set on the drive into town, but I always know that I could have done better as I’m watching them walk into school.  I have found a few ways to make our morning rush less harrowing.  They are probably pretty obvious, but I know that with as busy as life gets with two sets of twins I sometimes forget to employ my meltdown prevention tactics.

OPERATION: BE PREPARED

Most of this happens the night before.  I’ve noticed when I follow these simple (although sometimes time consuming) steps, our mornings look a little more like a Disney movie and a little less like a scene from the Titanic when the ship is going down and people are pushing each other overboard to get a spot on a life raft.

  • Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it.  Sleepy people move slow and are ill-tempered.  Having a consistent bedtime routine is a must.
  • Set out everybody’s clothes– including socks and shoes- the night before.  Simple time saver, especially when you have little ones who like to help pick out their own outfits.
  • Have all bags (school bags, diaper bags, gym bags, lunches) packed and ready to carry out the door.
  • Be thinking about breakfast.  I know this might sound silly, but when you’re cooking for a small army of people breakfast can take a long time.  Know what you’re having for breakfast the night before.  Prepare it if you can.  I have a few go-to breakfasts that I can put together the night before.  My kids love oatmeal and I have a great recipe for an oatmeal casserole that can be prepared ahead of time and baked in the morning or even baked ahead of time and reheated.  I also make oatmeal in the crock pot that is always a big hit.  For those mornings that just don’t go as planned, keep an emergency quick breakfast on hand.  Granola bars and yogurt are easy and quick and not a nutrition disaster emergency option.

OPERATION:  LET IT GO- TAMING THE MOMMY MONSTER

Even with careful planning and preparation, people are people and sometimes meltdowns happen.  I try to remind myself that probably nothing that happens is going to lead to the end of the world.  Do I love the idea of my kids waltzing into school with their hair not brushed?  No.  But, it’s not the end of the world.  Do I feel like insisting on zebra patterns not being worn with polka dots?  Yes…but again, life goes on.  I sometimes need to remind myself to pick my battles and let the rest go.  Even being a few minutes tardy to school won’t stop the Earth’s rotation.  That one is a little harder to swallow and I could write for a day and a half about teaching children the importance of punctuality.  However, is a tardy slip really that much worse than a morning of yelling and hurt feelings?  For me, I think my relationship with my kids ranks higher than making the first bell on time.  But seriously, teeth brushing is non-negotiable.

 

Hopefully some of my strategies will help you tame the morning beast and get out the door on time.  I’d love to hear what other techniques you use to help beat the morning rush.

 

 

What Is It Like Having Twins, You Ask?

photo- coffee- okayest-mom

As a mom with two sets of twins, I’m constantly being asked what it’s like having twins.  The best analogy I can think of to describe it is this:  Having twins is like sprinting a marathon– a never-ending, cross-country, up-hill both ways in ten feet of snow – marathon where stopping to rest isn’t an option.  (Heck, moms with newborn twins are lucky if they get a shower or a bathroom break.)  Of course I don’t really tell people that, because I don’t want to seem like I’m whining or complaining but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Usually, when a mom with one baby asks me what it’s like having twins, I say something like, “It’s probably just like having one baby.  I do all the same things you do, I just do them twice in a row”.  I don’t know that I actually believe that, by the way.  There’s a secret element to twins that most people don’t ever think about unless they have them.  Life with twins almost demands adhering to strict schedules, hyper-organization, forward thinking and planning for practically everything, super-human multi-tasking abilities, complete selflessness, and a strong immunity for the need to sleep. Whew.  Yeah, it’s takes all that, and coffee.  Disturbing amounts of coffee.  *Note:  Moms with infant twins who are breastfeeding have to settle for cold, decaffeinated coffee that we made 4 hours ago and never had a chance to drink.  See?  I really wasn’t kidding about complete selflessness!

Photo- Keep Going you're doing great!I’m going to state the obvious and follow it up with some less obvious observations.  Twins are a lot of work.  Remember the marathon analogy?  I’ve never actually ran a marathon, but I’ve seen them and what really stands out to me is the number of people positioned throughout the route that are there supporting and encouraging the runners.  There are people holding signs that say things like “Keep Going”.  There are people standing by with water and protein bars to help re-fuel the runners when their energy is low.  That’s like having twins, too.  Twins draw attention because, well, they’re awesome.  People will run to hold a door for you while you’re carrying two babies around.  Complete strangers will sing your praises.   You instantly turn into a super-mom in other people’s eyes.  I suspect you don’t even have to be a really great mom to earn that title with twins.  I think just surviving earns you an honorary cape.  I’m not sure if moms of singletons get to experience that level of support in quite the same way.  I get reminded everyday of how special my children are and how blessed I am as a mother – by people who don’t even know me!  Having twins is like running a marathon in the way that people are lined up, cheering for you, encouraging you, offering you nourishment (sometimes literally in the form of food!) and holding up “Keep Going” signs.  And just like completing a marathon, having twins is a badge of honor.  (It kind of rocks.)

Moms with twins have two excellent reasons to lose sleep and two beautiful faces to adore.  Sure, the work load is double, but so are the rewards.  Even when things are bad (picture two screaming, colicky babies and a husband deployed overseas) they’re good.  Better than good.

So, what is it like having twins?  It’s probably just like having one child.  I do all the same things you do.  I look on in amazement at how incredible my little one is, overwhelmed with the purest, unconditional love for this precious gift that God has blessed me with.  I just do it twice.

 

Twins and the Law of Attraction

You know when you’re looking to buy a new car and then suddenly every place you go there’s somebody driving the same make and model as the one you’ve been looking at? That’s the Law of Attraction at work. Here’s something useful and interesting to know. The Law of Attraction applies to twins, too.

Before having twins, I knew maybe 5 sets of twins- total- in my whole entire life. Now? Every single day I meet (a) somebody with twins (b) somebody who is a twin (c) somebody with twins in their family or (d) somebody who knows somebody with twins. It’s fascinating. It’s a blessing. It’s a curse. It’s how I’ve met some of my dearest friends. (Shout out to all my twin mommy friends!)  And, it always starts with the same phrase.  “Are they twins?”

Just be prepared to graciously acknowledge and patiently listen to every person whose dear old grandmother had twins…or was a twin. Commonalities connect people. Connecting with people is good.  Getting stopped repeatedly while out with your little angelic twins can turn getting milk and diapers into what feels like a hostage situation.  Here are a few perfectly acceptable phrases to keep on hand for when your time and patience are running low:

  • Twins are a blessing!  It certainly sounds like (you/ your great grand-mammy/ your neighbor’s cat) have been blessed.
  • Looks like we could have a twin convention in aisle 4!
  • Thank you for sharing about your twins- it’s always encouraging to hear from another twin parent/ grandparent/ 3rd cousin twice removed).

And, if all else fails, you can rely on the one phrase that makes most moms of multiples cringe:  “I’d love to stay and chat but as you can see…I’ve really got my hands full!”

I’d love for you to share your experiences about being stopped by people who are excited “talk twin” with you.  Please comment!