Pyjamas

What do you wear when you sleep? … Okay, and now think back to the time before you had children. Is there a difference? No? Wow, I am not sure how you managed that.

See, before I had I my boys, my mood decided what I wore at night. If I wore anything at all. But there was definitely the possibility that I wore something that looked a little sexy. But those sexy negligees have been at the bottom of my wardrobe for some years now. It all changed when I was pregnant. I suddenly realised that I would be in the hospital for a while and might need something that covered everything if I had to roam the hallways. So I bought my first full pyjama since I was a kid: a pair of long soft baggy pants and a vest with buttons, so I would have easy access for breastfeeding.

Once the boys arrived I realised that one of ‘those pyjamas’ was not enough. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that wants to walk around in pyjamas all day. But when you have to get up at night to tend to your children and you’re wearing only a short negligee, you’ll get cold very quickly. So then you have to put on socks, slippers, a bathrobe and/or pants, depending on the season. All this takes time and effort, and you are seriously sleep deprived. And now imagine doing that six times per night. You have to prepare for the worst every time, as you never know how long it takes to get your child back to sleep. So, very soon I had more soft and cosy but very not sexy pyjama pants in my possession than I had ever had in my life. Because really, the only thing you want when you are woken up in the middle of the night is to be back in your bed as soon as possible, preferably while you and your bed are still warm.

As the weeks and months go by, and you are still doing this 3 to 6 times per night, the negligees end up at the bottom of the pile. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it still has not changed. My children were born more than 3 years ago and I still have to get out of bed at night regularly to comfort them.

I don’t care about negligees anymore. All I care about is sleep.

Finding the right stroller for twins

Somebody recently asked me how I had chosen and bought our twin stroller and it made me rethink all the things that have lead to our decision. Twin strollers come in 3 different types: with seats next to each other, with seats behind each other or with seats ‘on top’ of each other. You can choose them in many price categories, the cheaper ones starts around 100 euro, the most expensive one probably is the bugaboo donkey twin (around 1700 euro).

How to choose the stroller that suits your needs the best? These are the things that we took into account:

  • Size. Will it fit through your door? (some are too wide so measure the smallest door in your house that it needs to go through) Will it fit in the building elevator? (strollers can be too wide and too long!) Will it fit in the boot of your car when folded?
  • Where do you use it? Do you take public transport a lot? Then make sure you pick a model that fits in the tram/bus/metro. You can easily check this with other twin mums in your city to see what they use (social media is a great source for this). Do you travel a lot by car with the kids (on your own)? Then make sure you look at how easily the stroller is folded and if you can actually lift it yourself.
  • Where will you use it most? Now think about where you intend to walk to with your twins. Brussels has a lot of of cobblestones and walking on those with thin swivel wheels is horrible. The same is true for forest walks. The more expensive strollers have strong air tires, which takes away a lot of the ups and downs of bumpy roads.
  • Then of course there is the budget question. Spending more than a 1000 euros on a stroller is not a light decision to make for most people. The only thing I want to add to this is that if you take good care of your stroller you can resell it for quite a bit of money after 3 years. There will always be new twin parents looking for a bargain. This is also something to consider, you can buy yours second hand as well and save money that way.
  • The last thing to think about is what model you actually like. Do you want your children to sit next to each other or not?

I recommend you answer all the questions mentioned above before you visit a shop and then try out different models. Walk with them and especially turn some corners. Or ask other twin moms if you may try their stroller. My opinion changed completely after trying several strollers.

We ended up buying an Easywalker Duo. More than 3 years later I am still very happy with our choice.

Reflections

One of the stories we are reading a lot at the moment is Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson. It’s a great rhyming story, not the easiest one to read to be honest, but with a lot of hidden meanings and discoveries to make. The story is about Drip, a duckbill dinosaur that ends up in the wrong nest and is raised as a T-rex. But he really does not feel at home with this family and one day he runs away and ends up with a herd of duckbills, the dinosaurs that the tyrannosauruses want to eat. –spoiler– When the T-s finally have a way to get to the duckbills, Drip scares them off with their own disfigured reflections in the water.

Our boys find this concept very interesting; of course they know about mirrors and they have seen reflections before. But recently I realised that the story really had stayed on their minds… Last week it had been raining and there were quite a few puddles on the street. On the way home from school, they suddenly stop their bikes in the middle of the sidewalk.
‘Mom, I see the clouds’, one of them says, pointing down.
‘Mom, I see the sky’, the other one says, also looking down.
At first I am confused, but then I see what they mean. The sun has come out and the sky is reflected in the puddle.
Then one of the says: ‘It’s just like the story, mommy.’
From there on they run from one puddle to the next to see what else there is to see ‘in the ground’; houses, windows, street lanterns, cars, even an airplane. And then of course their own faces. It was so great to see how much fun they had.

Father’s Day – some craft ideas

Father’s Day is coming up. Yes, I can just hear you think– Yaiks, there is no time, I am too busy and I have no idea what to make or buy.
We all know how busy we get, so here are some quick ideas to still be able to give your man a present from the children and you.

  • Take a walk to a photo-boot (to be found in metro- and train-stations) and take a (funny) picture of you and your kids together. Either make 1 picture or a set of 4 for in his wallet. Frame it, or not. Just see how much time there is. This idea is perfect when you have a very small child.
  • Get the finger paint out, put your child’s hands or feet in it, put them carefully on a canvas and your are done. Best done before bath timeย  to ease the clean-up ๐Ÿ™‚ Perfect with a very small child and also great gift idea for grandparents.
  • Get the finger paint out for your toddler/ older children and give them a canvas to make their own art. Cheap canvas can be found at any Action shop.
  • Buy some white cloth handkerchiefs for men (Hema has them) and some permanent clothing markers. Have the kids draw on them. Wrap them up. Can also be done with tea towels, t-shirts or an apron, but I find that handkerchiefs are the most likely to actually be used.
  • Design some labels for beer or wine bottles. This sounds more fancy than it is, just cut out some white cardboard or thick paper and make sure it fits around the bottle you have picked out as a gift. Give this paper to your children to be drawn or painted on. When they are done you use sticky tape or glue to fasten is around the bottle and you have a perfect gift.
  • Make cards. Go to Action or Hema and buy loads of stickers and some empty cards. Let the kids design their own card for daddy. They can of course also use their markers, pencils and stamps.

Hopefully this was helpful. Enjoy the fun!

Silence

Sometimes she has a few moments

of quietly floating amongst the clouds

then the noise starts

again

like a helicopter whirring

closer and closer

a crescendo of voices

mom, mommy, mom!

silence

is a twin mother’s

needle in the haystack

 

(c) Carien Touwen 2018

*PS. This weekend I went on a writers retreat and this is one of the pieces I wrote during the workshops.

Blackboard paint

So I bought blackboard paint and painted a big piece of one of the walls in our living room with it. When it was all dried and finished I explained to the boys that they could now write on this wall with their chalk. They were very happy with my surprise.
‘Wow,’ said the first. And he started scribbling on the wall.
‘Wow,’ said the second. And he walked to another wall and before I realised what happened he had scribbled some huge scratches on our normal walls.
Aaargh!

Gift ideas for 3 year olds

Children usually have a lot of toys already and with a birthday coming up, you usually don’t want to add to the existing pile. For me a birthday is great moment to get rid of some toys that they don’t use often anymore. Either by giving some toys away or selling some on a second hand place before they actually get so annoyed with it they break it. However, there is still the issue of ‘new toys’ because a birthday with no gifts to unwrap is not a real birthday. My family usually works with wish-lists that we make available a few weeks in advance, so people can buy something that your kid can actually use. This also avoids doubles (although with twins, some gifts have to come in doubles).

When our boys turned three I asked around a lot for good ideas and was very grateful with the input I got. So here is my list with suggestions for when your child has his or her third birthday. I am not going to list bicycles, tricycles or other vehicles to ride on as this is very individual, every child is different in his development and it what he likes. Instead I list some smaller gifts that are great to ask for.

  1. Books. This will always be my first choice. It’s really good for children to listen to stories being read aloud. Here are three books that we are currently reading that our boys really enjoy.

2. Marble run. This only works if your child is not putting little things in his mouth anymore, as the marbles are quite small. They are also not able to make it themselves yet, but if you build it together with them, they can play with it for a long time. They simply love seeing the ball run through the maze of tubes.
3. Watercolour paint. They absolutely love this. And so much less mess than finger painting!
4. Guitars. For their musical ambitions.Our boys really like playing them and singing an absolutely not related song at the same time ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย 

5. Puzzles. Something to do together first and then let them learn by themselves. Start with 4-6 pieces and work them up to 20-24.