Thursday, 30 August 2012

Toddler wrestling. And not for fun.

Today, I was thinking. What if trying to get a toddler dressed was an olympic sport? It should be. 

It certainly feels like one. Dressing a wriggling, stubborn little person who would rather spend the day in a state of nakedness is a real battle and a half. It leaves me worn out and an awareness of muscles that I had long since forgotten about.

This morning, I watched as the twins tried to get their own trousers on. They are only 18 months old and frankly, a bit rubbish at putting their own clothes on, but they insisted on it. Every time I made like I was going to take an item from them and help them, they screamed and did 'the windmill' - arms swinging round at top speed like a whirling forcefield. Once I backed off slowly, they returned to attempting to dress themselves by putting their feet into the armholes of their t-shirts, or by sticking their arms up their trouser legs. This lasts for about ten minutes until, all too aware of the time, I jump in before they have a chance to start defensive manoeuvres and grab the clothing from the nearest one. 

Hi ya!
She screams and stamp her feet. Then, realising what is about to happen, makes a run for it. She shoots off across the living room, squealing like an escaped pig, changing direction any time I make a grab for her. Eventually I catch her, and hold her in place with one hand whilst attempting to put the t-shirt over her head with the other. But she has two hands to my one, and while I try to put the t-shirt onto her head, she is karate-chopping me with one hand and using the other to hold the t-shirt off. 

I struggle to get an arm in. She sobs in protest. While I am trying to wrestle the second arm and head in, the first arm has managed to pop it's way back out again. I shout at her, to no avail. It just makes the sobbing increase in volume. I am firm and I succeed. T-shirt down, trousers to go.

Before she can shoot off again, I grab her, sit on the sofa and trap her in a vice-like fashion between my knees. She wriggles but I have done enough to get one leg in. One. Then she gets free and dashes away, her trousers flapping behind her like a horses tail. 

In one last flurry of effort, I rugby tackle her to the ground, trap her under my weight, and get the last leg in. Ha! Victory is mine. I am knackered already, but I have one dressed toddler.

I feel like I've had a complete work-out and it's not even lunchtime. Hell, if someone designed some rules to this, I could compete internationally. I would be like the Jessica Ennis of the parenting olympics.

Dressing a single toddler would be my 1500metres - a middle-distance event that needs endurance, tactics and knowing when to make your move.

Now to do another few laps - where is her sister hiding?

Monday, 27 August 2012

#MedalMonday August 2012

This week, I came back unscathed from a short holiday with my in-laws. They booked a caravan up on the coast for a week. Mid-week I received a text from their other daughter-in-law, my comrade in arms, to say that their couple of days up there with them had been "hell". Oh goodie! It was then our turn to join them for two nights. I wasn't looking forward to it now. Mind you, I'm not sure I ever was.

Anyway, we got through the three days with no arguments - not one. The twins went mental in the caravan, running round and attacking any non-baby proofed items that they could, and there was some frustrating discussions about sleeping arrangements (i.e. how to get four adults, two children and two babies with cots into a two-bedroomed caravan), but I held my nerve, bit my tongue and we all got along just fine.

As soon as I saw the chance to make our escape, I got us out of there and back to the safety of home as quick as I could. It was fraught with danger, but the in-laws got to spend some quality time with their grandchildren, and I remain at the top of the daughter-in-law pecking order. Result. 

Medal for me.....


If you have a victory to celebrate, no matter how small, then grab the badge (code on the right), and link up your story below to be added to next month's round-up.

Over and out.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

How to support a twin mum

Here is a guest post from Rebecca at Here come the girls. She blogs about life with her three girls, and especially her two year old twin terrors. Here is the advice she would give to friends or family of a multiple mum.

I was really lucky and have had lots of support from my friends and family when I found out I was expecting twins. It can be a bit of a mine field really. Everyone is expecting one child, but to find there is going to be more than one is a complete shock to everyone. People don't always know how to react, especially if they aren't familiar with twins.

1. When you find out someone you care about is expecting twins be careful expressing your own reaction. Wait to find out how they are feeling. It is such a shock. You might be overwhelmingly delighted but the expectant parents are probably just feeling bewildered and out of their depth. Equally don't tell them how hard twins are, or ask how they are going to possibly cope, they will be worrying themselves. 
I was amazed by how many comments I received which were negative about having twins. By negative I mean - how many people said "Oh god, how will you possibly cope" or "Oh no, poor you, I'd hate to have twins." Congratulate warmly and then offer help. Lots and lots of help.

2. When buying presents, check what they need, money is going to be tight, so every present needs to be useful as well as beautiful. Check the parents' views of twin clothing. People tend to have strong views on whether they want to dress their twins in matching, coordinated or completely different clothes. Also be careful giving hand me downs, sometimes it's harder to find co-ordinated outfits if that's what they want.
It may not sound fancy but probably the best present we had was lots and lots of nappies. You can make them look very fancy with bows and ribbons, but they are the most expensive outlay twin parents will have.

3. Everyone will want to visit the new babies so be careful not to overwhelm the new family in the first few weeks. Let them lead the way. Also be patient if they don't get back to you with messages or phone calls. I found this the hardest in the early days. I was so happy to get the attention but when I did get a few moments to myself I couldn't hold a train of thought. I had a few conversations where I was so drunk with tiredness I made no sense whatsoever!

4. Help as much as possible. Offer something tangible like taking the babies for a walk in the pram rather than just a general offer of help. If the family has older children don't just offer to take them out. I wanted my daughter to stay close to us so she didn't feel pushed out, yet everyone offered to look after her. Instead I would have liked someone to take the babies for a few hours so I could spend time with her, or do some jobs.

All the books say help by doing household tasks. That's brilliant in theory but not many people would want someone looking under their sofa, so check, but do ask because any help would be appreciated. The easiest way to help is to offer to pick things up from the shop before you visit, it's really tricky popping to the shop with two or more babies so this will always be welcome. You can do a big internet shop but it's tricky if you've just run out of milk. 

5. Don't compare having twins to anything else. It isn't like having one baby. It isn't like having two babies eighteen months apart. These things have their own unique challenges. It's the same if I met someone with triplets, or quads. I wouldn't say - oh yes having twins is just as hard. It isn't. Ask them what it's like and what is hard. They will delight in telling you about the unique joys of raising twins. 

Finally tell them repeatedly they look amazing, they are doing a brilliant job and you are so proud of them. Even if they greet you at the front door in a tatty dressing gown, with unwashed hair, baby sick on their shoulder, three day old make-up smeared down their face, a pile of unwashed laundry in every corner and dirty plates on every surface. Tell them they are amazing - even if their twins are nearly five and on their way to school. Honestly twin mums need all the praise they can get - dear Lord - they are they just had two babies at once - two babies I tell you! They deserve a medal. 

You can follow Rebecca on twitter @1978rebecca
or find her on her facebook page

Saturday, 11 August 2012

For forks sake!

We have had an ongoing battle in our house for weeks and I, for one, am sick of it. 

The battle is one of wills between my four-year old and my eight-year old girls. They are stubborn little buggers at the best of times, but when they want something, they can really create non-stop headaches. 

We have a mish-mash of things in our house. Stuff we've accumulated over the last fourteen years of living together - first as a couple, then as a family.  Not much is coordinating or matching. We have some random stuff we can't even remember receiving. 

We have this fork. 

Oh, fork off!

It doesn't match any other piece of cutlery and I have no idea where it came from. It has a flower design down it, which isn't really 'us'. The four-year old loves it. She calls it her 'flower fork'. It probably came from one of the grandmas' collections.

Anyway, the four-year old asks for it at every mealtime. If it's dirty in the dishwasher, she doesn't mind, she can deal with it. What she can't deal with is if someone else gets it instead, like her big sister. 

The problem is that the big sister knows that her little sister loves this fork very much, and goes to great pains to make sure that she has it. Then it all kicks off. So I say....

"Don't be silly. Give the flower fork to your little sister. It's only a fork, and it makes her very happy."

The eight-year old gives the four-year old the fork, but then the four-year old does a little victory smirk.

"Muuuuuum! She's laughing at me!"

For forks sake, thinks I. I wish I'd never got the bloody fork out. I should have pretended it was in the dishwasher or something.

It goes on and on. 

So today, I was bold. I took one last pic of the offending item and put it in the bin. If it is asked for in the future, it will be perpetually 'in the dishwasher'. 

Hurrah! Victory for me. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

#FailFriday - August 2012

Wow, fails aplenty linked up last month, which is great. I think. Most importantly it means I'm not the only loser. 

So here's this month's round-up:

First of all, there is me, The Sarge, with another classic tale of taking my eye off the ball. Never, ever take your eyes off the ball. Especially when kitchen appliances are involved. Read my pitiful offering here. Oops.

Regular trooper, Katriina, ponders whether bringing her children up in a multi-national way is doing them any favours. I say yes, but then (as is shown above), what do I know? Read Katriina's story 'My little mongrel'

Actually Mummy told us all about her mummy, who has been having a moment or two. It's very bad manners to link someone else in to fail Friday, but we'll forgive her - she is only eight. Read her tale of Mummy reaching the end of her tether.

You're Not From Round Here made a complete tit of herself in front of her unwitting neighbours and children, all because of a tiny eight-legged enemy. Fail, fail, fail!!! Read her story here.

But taking the Big, Fat Fail award after submitting not one, not two, but THREE fail stories, it's Mum of Three World. Read all about a swimming trip disaster blamed on baby brain, not buying her child shoes, and a disastrous day full of school reports and crashing the car in Tesco's car park. Not clever, not pretty and nothing to be proud of.

Please visit all our failures and give them your sympathy.

Now to this week's proceedings. If you identify with the troopers above, then help is available. Grab the Big, Fat Fail badge (from the sidebar on the right), and link your post below. Tweet us on @parentfrontline with #FailFriday. We'll all come over, point and laugh, and offer our sympathy.

fail badge

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The battle of nappy hill.

Nappy changing - that essential job that no parent can avoid. It's crap, I know, but wishing it away isn't going to make it stop. The main problem with nappy changing is that the little person we are trying to help through the act of changing a nappy is the same little person who we have to fight to make it happen. And my word, aren't they good at resistance?

What are they thinking when we go to change their nappy? If only we could read their minds. The secret to successful nappy changing is being able to either make the little enemy conform, or to outsmart them when they try evasion tactics. Try our nappy changing advice and tips.

First of all, it pays to get good at the whole nappy changing operation while they are still too small to think about playing up. Practice doing things one handed and set yourself speed challenges. Once they start rolling over, you will find all the practice very useful.

nappy changing problems
Aw cute! But don't be fooled. These things can stink. Baaaaaad.

When they start rolling, you now have to be able to change nappies with one hand while holding the baby down with the other. If you don't have anyone around to help you, then pray that the nappy isn't tooooooo bad. Otherwise, it's game over already.

Keep the wipes within reach, unless you have twins and it's a whole different ball game altogether. This is when you need to keep them within reach of you and out of reach of the second twin, who will grab the wipes and run off laughing if you give them half a chance. Recommended kit: a play-pen. 

Also, if you do have twins or more, you will also need to practice nappy changing while blind-folded and with a wriggly weight on your back. Or you need to pay someone to do all this for you. Anyway...

If it's a really bad nappy, then get a couple of carrier bags ready - one for the waste, and one for any clothing. Avoid changing a wriggly baby on a mat placed on a carpet. Always put the mat on a wipeable floor instead. Lino is fab. I speak from experience here, so pay attention!

Older babies get wise to your tactics. When they get to around fifteen months old, they seem to comply with the nappy change, but don't be fooled. They are really lulling you into a false sense of security, biding their time until you let down your guard using your spare hand to get the clean nappy - then they're up and off quicker than a greased ferret. And that's you, chasing after a half-naked baby like a frickin' eejit. If they don't tiddle on the floor in the time between now and managing to catch them, then count yourself lucky, soldier. Do not ever remove your hand from that baby. Ever. 

As they get older, I'd like to say it gets easier, but it doesn't. They up their game, content wise. And then they get curious and start sticking their hands in. Recommended kit: straight jacket, or willing assistant. 

The next weapon in your armoury should be potty training, and the sooner the better. And good luck with that one!

Sergeant J's personal blog is over at Trouble Doubled.
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