Silver Lining

August 31, 2016

every parent needs their one thing

I'm a firm believer that every parent needs one thing. Well, two things if you count an emergency chocolate stash. I'm not here to talk about a chocolate stash, but every parent should probably have one of those as well. ;)

Parents need at least one thing that doesn't involve being a parent.

We love our kids. We really do. We love watching them grow up and meet exciting milestones and experience things for the first time. As you can tell from the content of my posts, my kids are a huge part of my life. It's a choice I made, it's a choice I love, and it's a choice I wouldn't change for anything.

But the truth is your daily sphere of influence shrinks a lot when you're a stay-at-home mom (or dad). It can be incredibly lonely, isolating and terrifying to just be home with the kids. If the only thing you're involved with is your children, it's easy to feel stretched thin and frustrated on the days when it seems like all your children do is whine and make mess after mess. Anyone would feel grumpy and depressed after long days of children teething or refusing naps or fighting with their siblings!

That's why every parent needs at least one thing that's completely separate from their role as a parent.

I learned this the hard way. When I had my first child and my job fell through at the last second, I thought it was a sign I wasn't supposed to work. But it wasn't just that I was unemployed. I wasn't leaving the house, I wasn't getting much adult interaction, I was barely involved in my church community, and I definitely wasn't happy. It's so easy to stay home in your own rapidly shrinking bubble, providing for your child but neglecting all other aspects of your personal life and emotional health. That's what I was doing, and I was incredibly depressed. In fact, I didn't start being happy until I started working part-time six months later. 

You see, my one thing is working. I love getting a babysitter for the kids and utilizing a completely different skillset. I love solving problems, interacting with other professionals in my field, and contributing financially to my family. First I worked as an educator, and now I work as a blogger and influencer, but for me the bottom line is that I'm working. It's what I'm passionate about, and what makes me fulfilled.

It doesn't have to be a job. That's just my thing. One of my best friends is very involved in her church community, and her thing is creating the most amazing, insightful sermons to teach every Sunday. Another friend is a beautiful singer, and her thing is singing professionally with a local choir on Wednesday nights. Another friend loves to try new and complicated recipes, and bakes delicious intricate desserts. I know moms who are super involved with book clubs or running in races or thrifting. 

It doesn't matter what your thing is, how much time it takes up, or whether it generates income. It just matters that your thing is separate from being a parent, and that it makes you excited. It's about creating balance, variety, and interaction in your life. It's about using skill sets you don't always utilize as a parent.

I've taken an unofficial poll among people I know who have children. Guess what? 100% of them feel like a better parent when they have do something besides being a parent. 

I know I'm a much more patient and loving mom when I have that balance in my life - that chance to step back from the diapers and fussing infants and toothpaste smeared on my bathroom counter. When I get done working, this magical thing happens. I realize I missed my children! And I really really like them! And the toothpaste on the counter isn't a big deal - it's just a little toothpaste. I'm happy to snuggle them, play with them and change their diapers the rest of the day.

So I guess, if I were to give advice to people about to become parents, I would say this: Becoming a parent is the best. You will love it. But find your one thing (or two things, or three things!). Find what makes you happy, fulfilled, and excited, and don't give up on it. You'll be surprised how much of a better parent it makes you. 
Photos showing glimpses of work and home by Photography Hill

I'd love to hear from you about this (especially if you mostly stay at home with your kids).
What is your "thing" besides being a parent?
Do you feel it adds to or detracts from your experience as a mom or dad?
And when does having a side hobby start being detrimental for your life as a parent?

August 29, 2016

three things every twin mom needs

New moms need a lot of the same things regardless of how many children they're adding to their family. You know the list. A few really great maternity wardrobe pieces, lots of breastfeeding/ bottle feeding supplies, a carseat, somewhere for the baby to sleep. In this way, becoming a twin mom was easy because I already knew what I used with one baby, and knew I'd have the same preferences with two babies.

But there are some things that you only need if you're expecting more than one child. Obviously "need" is used loosely, because none of these items even existed 50 years ago, and hundreds of thousands of twin moms have survived without them. That being said, I compared the twin products I love with the myriad of gear advice on my twin Facebook groups, and there were very clear winners. Here's what every twin mom should have:

TWIN PILLOW
Are these the coolest invention or what? I'm not exaggerating when I say the twins are in this Twin Z pillow at least five hours every day. Wear it one way if you're nursing both babies at once, or flip it around and use it to bottle feed two babies at once. It's also used for tummy time, supported sitting time, and independent sitting time. My twins have even taken a few great naps in this thing. If you know a mom expecting twins, buy one for her! Pool together with a few friends if you have to, and make sure you buy an extra pillowcase or two.

DOUBLE STROLLER
I know, strollers are expensive, and double strollers are even more expensive. But you really will use yours every single time you leave the house (unless you plan on staying inside for two years straight?). It's worth the time to research what type of stroller you'll like best, and worth the money investing in a good double stroller. The general consensus is that this City Select double jogger is the best twin stroller on the market, but we have this much more affordable option (that fits our carseats without any adapters) and have loved it so far.

TWO ROCKERS
Even if you're the biggest babywearing advocate, or even if you have no space in your home, or even if you're on a tight budget, trust me: you'll need two rockers, and they will be lifesavers. It's just not possible to hold both of your babies all the time. My twins take all their daytime naps in these - they're compact, easy to move from room to room, and self-rocking. Seriously we love our two rockers. It's going to be a sad day when the twins outgrow them!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

BABY BREZZA
I don't have this, but all twin moms swear by it. It's a machine that mixes bottles for you. This may sound superfluous (mix the bottles yourself, ya lazy bum!), but on the other hand, doesn't it sound nice to have two perfectly warm, perfectly mixed formula bottles at the push of a button? No shaking the bottle to mix it, no waiting for the water to be exactly the right temperature, just two bottles made for you. Twin moms say this saves their life during that 3am feeding (and all the other feedings too).

TWIN CARRIER
Twin moms have very different opinions about the best twin carrier, but the TwinGo has emerged over and over as a really great option. It can separate into two separate carriers (one for mom, one for dad!) or you can connect them and tandem wear your twins.

BUGGY BENCH
Shopping carts at basically every store (except Costco! Yay Costco!) have only one baby seat built in. Enter the buggy bench. It's a fabric seat that attaches to the back of any shopping cart so you can put both your children in - and still have room to put groceries underneath. It's also lightweight and folds up nicely, so it's easy to stow in a diaper bag.

TWIN ZYGOSITY TESTING
The number one question you'll get when you mention your twins is: "Are they identical or fraternal?" Medically speaking, it's actually a very tricky question and isn't just dependent on how many amniotic sacs or umbilical cords your twins have. If your twins are the same sex, you'll probably be dying for twin zygosity testing so you can know whether or not they're identical. It's about $75 per child, and involves a simple cheek swab, but is rarely covered by insurance because there's not a medical need to know. What a great gift this would make for any twin mom!

Twin moms - what am I missing?
Other essential gear?
Hope you found this helpful!

*This post contains affiliate links.

August 23, 2016

the ups, the downs and the matching pajamas

Sometimes life is pretty chaotic around here, especially when Sam's gone and it's me against alone with my three babies. Like when all three of my children take turns being awake during what is supposed to be naptime. Or when Claire's having a meltdown for reasons like she she wanted the green fork instead of the blue one, or she's mad that I won't let her throw the basketball at the babies. Or when I'm supposed to be answering emails + reading Claire a book + changing two dirty diapers all at the same time - and then I realize it's 6:45 and I don't have a clue what we're supposed to eat for dinner.

But, more often than not, it's good. This continues to be the biggest surprise of my life. It turns out I really like having twins! And it's not the terrible hellish existence I thought it would be! We have lots of sweet moments around here, like when Claire strokes the babies heads and whispers, "So cute! So tiny!" Or when Sam takes the early shift so I can get some sleep (he does this almost every night because he is an absolute rockstar). Or when everyone's schedules line up and I have time for all those unanswered emails - and even a nice long shower or a few extra minutes to paint my nails.

Not to mention babies in matching pajamas. I have this theory about international diplomatic meetings - if everyone was snuggling a sleeping baby in soft pajamas, 90% of the world's conflicts would be over before they start. (But seriously, I really do have a theory about world leaders solving problems while holding sleepy babies....)

If you're in the market for baby or toddler essentials, may I suggest you start here? I was excited when Burt's Bees Baby offered to sponsor this post, because their clothes are out of this world soft -and 100% organic too. (They run a little big, so if you're deciding between sizes, you should be good with the smaller size.) I also ordered the most darling matching fall outfits for Claire and Addie, and now I can't wait for Addie to grow a bit and fit into hers.

So here's to the ups and the downs and the matching pajamas! The twins are wearing theirs right now, and I'm hoping it will make up for the fact that I'll probably see them three or four times tonight when most sane people are asleep. ;)

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