Friday, 5 February 2016

Find 30

This isn't about exercise. I do nine minutes a morning. That's it. This is about spending individual time with each child. 

A reality of life is the first born child is going to receive loads and loads of individual attention. When they're not having one on one time with Mum, they're probably getting two on one time with Mum and Dad. When it comes to individual attention, first born children have it made.

A second born child will get much, much less individual time. That's reality. Then if the second born child happens to be twins and becomes second and third born all in one, the amount of individual attention they receive isn't just halved, it's pretty much negated. Parents of twins put a lot of effort into getting their children on the same schedule or risk insanity. One of my boys went through a phase of waking up from his afternoon nap a bit earlier than his brother and I would whip in and get him before the other woke. At first I was annoyed that he wasn't napping properly but I actually came to love that half an hour I got to spend with him. A week or so later when he went back to napping properly I was actually a little bit sad. Other than little snippets like that, the only individual attention the twins have regularly received is a bed time story which takes about five minutes. The singleton first born child probably got about ten hours a day. The second born twins, five minutes each. It's not fair but it is reality.

Side note: Singleton is a word only parents of multiples have ever heard. It is a word though. I didn't make it up. 

I'd heard it was a good idea to give twins individual time but hadn't really put much effort into it until their physiotherapist recommended a book on speech to me, "Baby Talk" by Sally Ward. I diligently purchased it but then nearly dismissed it because it's based on the premise that you need to spend thirty minutes of individual time each day with your child. Ed gets home from work around 5pm, we have dinner at 6pm and the boys are in bed by 7pm. How are we meant to fit in 30 minutes each?

Well it's not easy but we're trying. Motivated by a desire for them to learn to talk more and whinge less, we're trying really hard. We definitely don't achieve it everyday but just having the goal means that the boys are getting more individual time than they would otherwise. The best days are when Miss 3 is feeling independent and Ed can take one boy while I have the other. Sometimes it's not a solid 30 minutes, sometimes we only do one boy, sometimes we skip it all together. But with the goal of 30 minutes a day, we achieve it more often than we thought we would. 

Is it making a difference to their speech? It's hard to say. They're definitely coming along but that could just be good timing. What I can tell you for sure is that it's making a great difference to our relationship with each child. I'll admit that sometimes the thirty minutes feels like something I have to do, like a chore. I actually set a timer. Despite this, afterwards I feel great that I've done it and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting to know each boy individually. Another reality of twins is they do get treated the same, especially identical twins. The newborn months are a blur for everyone. There was no time to sit and stare. If both boys were happy, it was my opportunity to spend time with their sister. There's just no way I could have bonded as much with each boy as I did with the first born singleton. Try as I might, it just wouldn't have happened.

Now, by spending individual time with each child, I'm starting to feel that bond come along and I'm actually getting to know the boys as individuals. It turns out Master L is really keen on jigsaw puzzles. I never knew this before because if we ever sat down to do a puzzle, it would just be the two of them fighting over the pieces. Or just as likely, Miss 3 would swoop in and do it for them. Now by giving them half an hour of individual time, they get the opportunity to do their own thing without interruption and they love it. We started the individual time to help with their speech but I think we'll be keeping it up long after they're talking well. It's nice. I like it.

It's also turned out to be a great activity to do during the witching hours. Children don't whinge when they're getting individual attention. It's a fact. The last hour before dinner has always been pretty hard work but now we've turned it into an enjoyable and productive time. Yes, it means I have to be super organised with dinner, yes it means I don't really get to speak to Ed when he gets home and yes it's probably the last thing Ed feels like doing when he gets home. Ultimately, though, we both agree it's a great little exercise for the whole family. I really do recommend it to anyone with little children close together. 

Find 30. It's a good idea.

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