Thursday, 30 April 2015

Learnings from three under three

The twins are now one and my big girl is three. We made it through a few weeks of three under two and a full year of three under three. What have I learnt?

1. It will pass. Whatever is going on with your baby, it will pass. Newborns often have tummy issues. People will recommend trying gripe water, infacol, infant's friend, gaviscon, a special concoction from a particular pharmacist, cycling legs, adjusting your diet, more frequent feeds, less frequent feeds, feeding while lying down, holding your baby up after feeds. One of these things may work, they may all work, you will never know. In the end, it will just pass. This principle applies to most things. 

2. Waiting creates independence. Inevitably I am busy when my daughter thinks she needs me. I used to fear her getting up just as I sat down to feed the twins. Now when this happens, she knows I can't help so she gets out the breakfast things herself. Each day there will be something she needs help with and when I'm not there immediately, she will work it out for herself. "I can't put my shoe on" is regularly followed with "oh, I did it." 

3. Hovering doesn't help. Toddlers hurt themself. It's going to happen whether you are standing right next to them or sitting on the other side of the park feeding your twins. Don't feel guilty for not being right there. Similarly, panicking doesn't help. I have caught Miss J climbing far higher than I am comfortable with. Screaming for her to get down is what made her fall. If I had just let her be, I expect she would have been fine.

4. They're probably fine. Babies get sick quickly but they also recover quickly. No matter how much booga there is or how nasty the rash looks to you, unless your baby actually seems really sick, like is extremely floppy or difficult to wake, they are probably fine. (Please note, I am not a medical expert - this is just my experience).  

5. Don't interfere with a happy baby. We've all heard the expression 'don't wake a sleeping baby' but I think it is more important not to interrupt a happy, awake baby. When my three are playing happily, I am always tempted to go and see what they're up to but inevitably more joy comes from watching from afar than trying to get involved. This extends to letting them be pretty free range. Unless they are at risk of hurting themself, each other or breaking something, I pretty much let them do what they want. I often look at my boys and think I would never have let J get as dirty as they are and certainly never had to fish as much dirt or sticks out of her mouth, but these guys like to explore and I like them to be happy.

6. Toddlers and sleep deprivation don't mix. It is a simple reality that toddlers can be infuriating and newborns result in sleep deprivation. If you find yourself wanting to strangle your toddler for behaving exactly the same way as she was the day before when you thought she was delightful, have a think about how much sleep you've had and remember it might be you that's struggling not her. There is not much you can do about this. Just be aware and try to be kind.

7. Routine means you don't have to think. One overtired baby is pretty hard work, two is a bit of a disaster, three pretty much leaves you in the corner rocking to yourself. The answer to this is routine. You may think that you're not a routine person but if you are so tired that you simply cannot think, you will be pleased to be able to revert to an established plan to get through the day. Getting into a routine might be hard to start with but in the end you will be happier for it.  For at least the first six months, neither of my twins would sleep for more than forty minutes at a time during the day but I knew this wasn't enough so when they woke up, I would put them in the pram and either go for a walk or just rock them back and forth at home so they got the sleep they needed. Now they know when they're meant to be asleep and usually they're pretty compliant.

8. They're probably hungry. This applies to babies and toddlers. If someone is out of sorts it is highly likely that they are tired or hungry. If you've nailed the routine thing, you probably have sleep covered, so then you're left with hunger. Snacks are critical. In our house, bananas are pretty much the go to snack. We also have a regular supply of pikelets in the fridge, usually some kind of vegie pikelets. 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 egg and whatever we have in the fridge just grated through - carrot, zucchini, mushroom. If it's in pikelet form, they will eat it. Also, it seems like no matter what time a meal is planned for, the babies will reach melting point ten minutes before hand. I have accepted this and just put them in their high chairs and give them an 'appetiser' until the meal is ready. This is usually cucumber sticks or cherry tomatoes.

9. Just say no. If you are invited somewhere and the logistics of attending create anxiety, just say no. You don't have to do everything. This one has been hard for me. When I had one baby, I just took her along to things. It was easy. We had routine but it wasn't a big deal to adjust it and if she ended up overtired it was difficult but managable. This is not the case with three. To mobilise is a big effort and it has to be worthwhile. I also recommend taking control of plans. If there is general chit chat about catching up with friends, jump in early and say where and when. Make it work for you.

10. Don't get angry with people who comment, "You've got your hands full". They don't know this is the fourteenth time you've heard that expression today. For some reason they just think "you've got your hands full" is a more socially acceptable comment than "you're awesome."