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 🙂 🙂  

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

The first sunny day of the year

Yesterday it was the first sunny day of the year in Brussels. Blue skies, freezing cold but loads of sunshine. We took the boys to a park and WOW, they could not be happier. While we sat in the sun they ran around, putting their hands in the sand to make piles and throw them over again. They found little stones and flowers to show us. They found sticks and leafs to play with, ran up and down on little hills, felt the trees and plants and looked at ducks. Time flew and we did not feel the cold at all. We go outside everyday but they usually don’t last that long. It’s incredible how much a little sunshine can do. It was like a whole new world outside had opened up to them.

Candle light dinner

No this is not a post about a romantic evening. This is about getting your toddlers to eat. Our latest success formula starts with candle light! Read and learn peeps, hopefully this trick can be used on all toddlers 😉

As the days were getting darker due to winter times I decided it was time to light candles more often. I also thought it was a good idea to make the boys a bit more aware of fire and especially the dangers of it, as many people we visit in winter have candles in their houses. So I put two candles on the dinner table and explained our boys about their use and dangers.

They were mesmerised. Not specifically by the pretty flickering light, but mainly by the idea that they could blow it out. Of course I did not want them to do this yet, I had just lit the candles. So I said they could blow out the candles, one each, after they finished their dinner.

This resulted in them eating quicker than I’ve ever seen. Their plates were clean before I had the first bite of my dinner. Wow! Of course I kept my promise and they could blow out a candle each. It was not easy, as they had hardly ever done this, but they managed. Next day the same happened. And the next. And the next.

It  has been weeks now and every day they finish their dinner in order to be allowed to blow out a candle. Nothing makes them happier, they even ask for candles at lunch now haha.They have gotten really good at it too and it only takes a few blows before they succeed. So when they will turn three later this year, they can actually blow out the candles on their birthday cake, another bonus. And they behave very carefully around the candles, are very aware of its danger.

So all in all this was a great win. But the biggest bonus of course is a relatively hassle free dinner with two toddlers.

The Styrofoam incident…

So last Sunday morning we were quite tired after having some friends over for an end of the year-party. But as anyone with children knows, sleeping in is not likely. So when I heard one of the boys waking up, admittedly only around 8.15, I was really not ready to get up yet. I gave him his milk and tried to convince him to sleep a bit more. But he wanted to play. So I turned on the lights and the heating and told him to enjoy himself with the toys in the living room. I would be 3 meters away, in bed, if he needed anything. He seemed all right with that.
I heard him play nicely with the Duplo and my mind quickly faded into sleep. Around half an hour later I suddenly realised it was too quiet. And too quiet is never a good sign.
I got up and found my son in the hallway, very happy and surrounded by something that looked like white snow. I rubbed my eyes, what was this? The snow got thicker and thicker towards the Christmas tree in the living room and there the whole floor was covered in white stuff.

Then I realised what had happened. He had taken one of the decoration gifts from the Christmas tree and opened it. And then he had taken the Styrofoam block inside and crumbled it into a thousand pieces. I did not know whether to cry or laugh.
I managed to get the next block out of his hands just in time to prevent an even bigger mess. Of course this is when our other son woke up and wanted to play with all this cool white stuff on the floor.

Lesson learned: even the most gallant toddlers can not be trusted. And another one: the sound of the vacuum cleaner is not what you want to hear first thing in the morning, before you’ve even had your morning tea.

 

Shoe presents

Sinterklaas has come and gone. The boys were quite impressed, especially with the recurrence of getting presents. They also were lucky enough to meet Sinterklaas in person this year. That was not something they liked too much. Especially meeting Zwarte Piet made them frightened. The reason for this was that Piet repeatedly threw candy on the floor. This caused them a lot of stress, especially when other children started running around to collect the sweets. I explained about Piet being naughty and nice at the same time and how he liked to have fun.
But when they got sweets themselves they started warming up to the idea. One of them even dared shaking Piets’ hand 🙂
But the best surprises for them were the ones they got in their shoes in the morning. Waking up and finding presents to unwrap, a chocolate and some pepernoten to eat before breakfast… that was what made it all worth it for them!

Announcing twins

Keep calm!

We were over the moon when we realised we were expecting twins. Of course it did take a few weeks to get used to the idea of what this meant, so we first took our time together.
But honestly I was also worried about all the things that could go wrong during the pregnancy, as twin pregnancy can be more complicated. So we were quite late in announcing the news.
Our parents were the first who heard and we announced our news by visiting them and just telling them we were pregnant. They were of course very happy and emotional about it. And only when they got used to the idea we added: by the way, its twins!!
The effect of this was quite nice so we stuck to it when we told others. Every time we said it, we thought it was more hilarious. We really had no idea what we were in for, haha!

Anyway, apparently we could have been a lot more original in the way we told everyone. I found this page with 15 great pictures of how you can announce a twin pregnancy. So if you are expecting twins now, take your pick.
I am very curious though and would love to hear your stories: How did you announce your pregnancy to your family and friends?

Sleeping through the night

It still happens. Those nights that I hoped to be gone forever by now.

You fall asleep at 11 pm. Only to be awakened by one of your sons at midnight. He had a bad dream and keeps crying. By 3 am he is finally asleep. In your bed.
Meanwhile your other son has started crying. You try everything, cuddles, milk, music, stories, singing, but he is sooo upset. By 6 am he is exhausted and finally falls asleep. In your bed. Somewhere in between you managed to get your other son back in his own bed.
At 7 am the alarm goes. Another night has come and gone. Yihaa! You managed to get 2 whole hours of sleep!
Somewhere in your head you hear the voices of other parents. ‘Mine slept through the night when he was only 3 months.’ ‘Our kids never had any trouble sleeping.’ Right. Great for you. Not every child is the same, thank you.
The worst one is: ‘Just let them cry, they need to learn.’  What do they need to learn I wonder? That when they are sad, afraid or hurt, no-one comes to their aid?
Even half asleep and in my grumpiest mood I will do everything I can to make my boys feel safe.Till whatever age they need me.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. There is no specific age that children will always sleep through the night. Our boys are 2,5 years old and usually fall asleep without a problem. They can sleep for 10/11 hours but that does not mean they will not wake up in between. And with more than one child that often means that every night has something in store for you…

Welcome to TwinTales!

Welcome to Twintales! My name is Carien and I am a mother of non-identical twin boys born in 2015. The first two years after they were born I was not able to do much besides taking care of them. It was great spending so much time with them, but I also was always tired and my body was (and still) is not 100% recovered from the pregnancy and birth. Even writing was too much then. Luckily I made lots of notes, so now that I feel better again I can start sharing my experiences from then and now.

On this website I will share my thoughts, our adventures and everything else that seems worth sharing or discussing regarding raising children, but also the consequences of that for your body, mental health and social life. Not everything has to change when you have kids, but a lot usually does.

We live in Brussels (Belgium) and are raising our boys bilingual. I speak English and my partner speaks Dutch to them. Two years down the line I can say this: it’s easier for them than it is for me!

This website is not specifically aimed at parents of twins, although there will be quite a few anecdotes regarding things that only happen with twins. I am sure this website will speak to all parents (-to be) as I often feel that having two kids whom are exactly the same age means you will experience everything there is to experience at a certain age… When I hear another mom telling me about her child I usually think; hey, one of my boys did or does that as well. When one twin sleeps trough the night, usually the other one does not, if you get what I mean… No child is the same, that is for sure, and having twins is double trouble and double the fun.

Enjoy our adventures and share in our exhaustion 😉