Formerly - A look at the ups and downs of life with a double pushchair!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

What's wrong with zips?

Any Mum spends a considerable amount of time doing up presstuds, poppers and buttons on a baby's clothes. In my life it sometimes feels like I spend the majority of the day doing this task. This in itself is no mean feat with 2 almost toddlers who would rather do anything than having their clothes changed.

2 morning nappy changes means undoing all the poppers on 2 fleece sleepsuits, 2 babygrows and 2 vests. For some reason I often do the vests and  and babygrows back up so that they can eat breakfast in their pyjamas and allowing them to be covered with cheerios and toast crumbs.

After breakfast we have to remove these 2 layers of clothes to put on fresh vests (at least 3 poppers each), and clothes. Dresses, tops, trousers, dungarees - pretty much any item of clothing has poppers, buttons, toggles, occasionally velcro but never zips.

I do often look at the lovely baby boutique vests that don't need to go over their heads but are made in a crossover style. Great for not annoying a baby by pulling a tight vest over their heads, not so great as it takes 3 times as long to do up. These are the sort of items that were designed by someone with no children. Don't even get me started on the French designer vests with ribbons that need tying up - there are simply not enough hours in a day.

When we go out it's not just a case of putting the girls into the car, grabbing my bag and the keys and leaving, oh no I have to first put their coats on. As pre-walkers all my kids spend a lot of time in snowsuits as I like to ensure they are cosy from top to toe. I invested in rather snazzy 2 piece snowsuits for my girls and
remarkably the way the feet piece and the jacket piece are connected is with poppers! I have got it down to a fine art and now it only take 8 minutes to get 2 girls into 2 snowsuits with all the poppers attached correctly so that each girl only has one leg down each leg hole.  I haven't managed to find another family member that can get Baby A and Baby E into them so swiftly.

At the end of the day with just a couple of nappy changes in between we remove the daytime clothes and get back into vests, babygrows and fleece sleepsuits.

In just one day I have worked out that I do up a minimum of 110 poppers/pres studs and buttons. Not only do I need to teach Baby A and Baby E to walk and talk, I really need to get them adept at self-dressing. Failing that they are going to spend the next few years wearing leggings and tops and I have made a promise to only buy sleepsuits and coats with zips.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Springing forward

I remember fondly my days pre-children when the clock sprung forward an hour at the end of March and I never understood how my parents told me that I would have one hour less in bed. I didn't - I just got up one hour later.

Now however I have a different view and firmly believe we should cancel BST and GMT altogether. Why didn't we just move the clocks forward half an hour on Saturday night and then live permanently on this time zone? I can't really see any major change to life and the world, but to all those of us with young children we would reap the benefits.

Each Sunday morning I go for a run at 8.30am so this week I really did understand having one hour less in bed. But I got up and wearily met up with my running mate to go on a rather bracing 5km run. Of course I was up anyway, as Baby A and Baby E unused to telling the time were up on the dot of 8am as that had been 7am the day before. I did leave eldest daughter and boy in the middle fast asleep as I went out but seconds later they were up and demanding dear husband to make them a whole concoction of cereal for breakfast.

It wasn't until bedtime came that I realised the effects of the time change. I was lucky in that we had been out in the afternoon and so Baby A and Baby E has managed to miss their sleep making them so exhausted by 7pm, which of course had been 6pm the day before, they were thankful to get into their cots.

On the other hand we tried to persuade boy in the middle and eldest daughter into bed for 7.30pm and there was no chance that any sleeping was going to happen so early in the day. It resulted in a 9pm bedtime and then we had to drag them both out of bed this morning to get them out of the house.

And so as Spring is now well and truly here we do have lighter mornings and lighter evenings to look forward to but as a Mum of 4 I know that my battles will now begin. Firstly my eldest two kids like to go to bed when it is dark outside. They seem to forget every year that they go to bed in the summer when it's light. Even I sometimes go to sleep at night when it is light. No matter how many blackout blinds I have bought over the years, there is still a tiny chink of light around the edges and children over the age of about 4 can no longer be fooled.

Will my kids be up bright and early at 7am every day for school because it is light outside? Somehow it doesn't seem to work that way. The evenings may be lighter and longer but for the next 6 months my eldest two are going to go to bed later and later I will still have to drag them out of bed in the mornings.

But it's ok because in 6 months time we will move the clocks back to GMT and I will be able to have an extra hour in bed on that Sunday morning . 

Who am I kidding - I will have to be up at 6am instead of 7am.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

It had to happen one day...

I can't believe it finally happened and that I am about to blog it. By blogging it I am acknowledging the ultimate parenting error that I managed to make last night.

I still have 4 happy and healthy children and to be fair none of them are traumatised because my mothering abilities managed to slip for one night.

I only realised the error of huge proportions when eldest daughter and I went to get Baby E out of her cot this morning, and in one swift second eldest daughter looked at Baby E and said "Why is Baby A sleeping in that cot?"

Yes I had actually done it. I had dressed my identical twin girls entirely in the wrong pyjamas, wrong fleece sleepsuits and I had put them to sleep in the wrong cots. When they had both woken up at about 10pm I had given them both a cuddle and called them by the wrong name. Perhaps that was why they took so long to settle back to sleep because I was just confusing them both.

To cut myself some slack they are identical twins and they do look the same. Since they were born people have asked if I have ever got them mixed up but I haven't. As newborns Baby E had an umbilical hernia so we could easily tell the difference and then one day dear husband noticed that the shape of their ears were different. Also Baby A has always had a slightly narrower face than Baby E. But lets face it we are really clutching at straws to tell them apart.

Thankfully on their first birthday Grandma and Grandpa bought them a bracelet each with their name on. These bracelets have never been taken off, so now we have no excuse in mixing them up.

So back to last night. It was bedtime. We had to get the babys into bed for 7pm as we were taking the oldest two kids out. The babys were playing on the bed and dear husband went downstairs to get the milk. In a flash Baby A catapaulted off our bed and Baby E cried because I had to put her down to pick up her sister. There were a lot of tears but then we sat with them as it got darker outside with only a small light on and they happily drained their bottles of milk. Dear husband and I each pulled a vest and babygrow from the pile in front of us and dressed the girls. We then put on their fleece babygrows and they snuggled down into their cots.

At some point during that whole episode of bedtime we obviously thought we were holding the other baby to the one we were. The problem is that half way through drinking their milk they crawled off to play for a while and then when it came to dressing them I imagine that the other baby crawled towards me and I just presumed I still had the baby I had had previously. As I write this I am starting to feel less guilty as I know that it's an easy mistake to make.

Since before they were born we always said that we wouldn't dress them the same as it's better for their individuality. I also like the fact that at a glance across the room I can tell from the clothes they are wearing which baby is which.  Now however I am wondering whether if I had conditioned myself to always dress them the same perhaps by now I would  recognise the ever so minimal differences in their faces and last nights mix up may never have happened.

I know that before long they will be talking and will be able to correct me and then they will have years to trick me by pretending to be each other. But I think as identical twins they will absolutely have a right to do this.

Tonight I know I haven't made any mistakes. They are wearing the correct fleece sleepsuits and both girls seemed to breathe a sigh of relief (as did I) as I put them to bed in their correct cots.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Fish 'n' fowl

Often after school outings involve splashing in the pool with your kids, watching them pirouette at ballet, running around the park with them, teaching them to ride their bikes or other such fun activities.

On Thursday I had the pleasure of taking Baby A and Baby E to be vaccinated against chickenpox with eldest daughter and boy in the middle for support and to assist me. Not being able to have this vaccination on the good old NHS I had to go to a private clinic. It was all rather clandestine as I followed the instructions that had been texted to me. I was not to park outside a red garage and I was to go down the side of a house and find a door to the surgery.

All good in theory until the path down the side of the house wasn't wide enough for me to get my double stroller through by myself. Finding the "surgery" and the receptionist was straightforward enough and then between us we managed to manouevre the stroller with babies who wanted to jump out down the pathway. With everyone in situe at our alloted time it turned out the nurse was stuck in traffic. Baby A and Baby E used this time to crumble crackers all over the portacabin surgery floor.

With images in my mind of two screaming babies needing to be comforted I couldn't believe it when Baby A who has been crying due to teething pain on and off for 5 days, didn't actually let out a murmer when the needle went in. Baby E cried for a couple of seconds - it was all rather painless. The pain of getting the stroller out onto the street again was worse than the injections.

With no food prepared at home I felt it best to take the kids out for supper and so we chose a fish and chip restaurant around the corner. I've never taken all 4 of my kids out to eat by myself and now I know why.

Firstly their were no highchairs. Secondly I forgot the babies cups. Thirdly Baby A resumed her role as the screamer, refused to eat and cried continuously. One plate of goujons, one plate of chips and a couple of bottles of water later I urged the oldest two to eat quickly. Baby E had a rather brilliant time sitting on a chair and eating piecs of goujon with a fork.

To top it all off the restaurant only accepted cash to which I had none. Thankfully there was a cashpoint next door so I didn't even have to consider leaving boy in the middle to wash up.

All in all it wasn't a terrible outing.  Dear husband was thrilled at the chance to eat proper fish and chips that we brought home in a take out box. Next week however when we have a free afternoon I think we may see if its less stressful at the park.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Couscous recipe for disaster

Boiling Water
Chicken pieces
2 Bowls
2 Spoons
2 Babies

Fluff the couscous with boiling water. Add small pieces of chicken to the couscous.
Place the chicken and cous cous into 2 small bowls.
Add a spoon into each bowl.
Place the bowl in front of a baby in the highchair.
Watch the disaster unfold before your eyes!

I regularly serve couscous to Baby A and Baby E becasue they enjoy it and it is so quick to make. Each time I make it and serve it and then spend 3 days finding it all over the house, I wonder why I don't just stick to pieces of pasta.  Not only does the couscous get down both babies vests, it fills every corner of the highchair, the floor looks like a giant couscous spillage and I can often find it hours later in the babies cots or amongst their toys.

My biggest gripe however is that I haven't yet discovered a dustpan and brush that will successfully clear the stuff off the floor and out of my life! As much as I sweep it the stuff remains stubbornly on my wooden floor. As I write this I am looking at the post lunch disaster area and realise I must get the baby wipes out to properly free my kitchen from the stuff.

As much as Baby A and Baby E enjoyed playing with it, flinging it across the table and wiping it through their hair I wonder if any of it was consumed at all?!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ready, Steady....Climb!

Why do children and babies feel the need to climb pretty much continuously? In a typical afternoon from the gates of the school pick up until I finally get 4 children into bed, I feel like I am monitoring various stages of an assault course.

In the cold of the playground whilst waiting for the eldest children, invariably Baby E practices her new trick of proudly removing her arms from her snowsuit and the straps and sits forward waving excitedly at the other children. She then tries to lever a leg over the bar of the stroller and I often catch her before she launches herself towards the concrete. 

Once the oldest children appear, boy in the middle leaps out from the classroom, throws his bag on the back of the stroller, dives into my bag for an immediate snack, jumps over the wheels to shout at his sisters and then bounces towards the car.

The second I unlock the car the eldest two fight to open the boot, clamber up and over the seats and then usually proceed to jump over to the middle row to fight that one of them wants to sit in between the babies. To prevent fighting from within the troops I make them both sit in their seats in the back whilst strapping the girls into their seats usually holding them down with a hand in their tummys as given half the chance they would like to have a go at exploring the inside of my car.

Back at home and I like to contain everyone to play in the kitchen/playroom, but if the door opens you can be sure that at least one baby but probably two will quietly crawl out towards the stairs and by the time I have wondered where they are, they are usually at the top of the stairs, waving at me through the open stair gate.

Dinner time and the wonder of the modern highchair. Four styles of highchair later and I still haven't found one that means my girls will remain seated for the duration. I find myself bored by my constant repetition of "Sit on your bottom", "Sit down" and all that happens is that they bob up and down for a bit, smile and generally remain standing. This makes eating chicken and rice even messier and the spread of debris wider across the floor. Normally at least one baby climbs out of her highchair and onto the table to get a closer look at the fruitbowl. This signifies the end of the meal.

While I clear up I try and get all four children to play together. In our playroom we have one of those wonderful Ikea childrens chairs which spins around and has a cover on it that can be pulled down for privacy. After threatening to throw this chair out after four years of two children playing in it, I find myself once again wishing I had removed it from existence. Baby E has taken a liking to sitting in this chair. Baby A therefore gets jealous and climbs on top of her. With boy in the middle cheering them on encouraging this wild behaviour, and madly spinning the chair around, I have to do my best to prevent both girls hurtling out at top speed.

As bath time approaches all the children race upstairs. If I change the babies in their bedroom there is a lot of running between the two cots and often boy in the middle climbs up and into a cot in a general plea to be a baby again.  Meanwhile in the bedroom next door, eldest daughter usually has to be reminded to stop trampolining on her bed and Baby E chooses this time of day to pull out the contents from various drawers and climbs in them.

From the safe (ish) confines of the bath it isn't long before both babies practice their ballet by lifting their legs up and onto the sides of the bath in an attempt to get out.

At bedtime boy in the middle climbs up his ladder to bed, the babies climb (with assistance) into their cots and eldest daughter pirouettes her way into bed. I breathe a sigh of relief, listen to the quiet bedtime sounds and then I abseil back downstairs into the abyss of mess and destruction that they have made throughout the day.