Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Top 5 Life Hacks For Living With 3 Kids Under 3

 


Someone reposted this image on Instagram yesterday and kindly described it as a "lived-in" room, rather than the chaos it actually is! But yep, accurate representation of what my toddler's room often looks like, although I actually unearthed these books from under his bed when I changed the sheets, so they were sort of "put away". Sort of. 

Anyway, the recurring refrain I hear these days when people find out I have a 2.5-year-old toddler and 7-month-old twins is, "Wow! YOU must have your hands full!" Ha. Ha. Ha. Like I haven't heard THAT ONE before. 

Yes, we often quite literally and figuratively have our hands full. But on the whole? It's not too bad. And that's partly down to the routines we have in place (and also because our eldest is with his nanny and her son during the day - a critical mention!). I thought I'd share some of them here, since I get asked about how we "manage" a lot! 

So, here are my top 5 life hacks for surviving - I mean, living with - 3 kids under 3:

Cook dinner in the morning - this is my favorite tip and one that I invoked when my eldest was a tiny baby. When I was on mat leave and my husband was working during the day (as is our respective roles now), I found it easiest to prepare dinner first thing in the morning, then re-heat it at night, as the evening inevitably always signalled cranky kids, fussy bed and bath times, etc. Ordinarily, my husband would cook dinner after work (since he's working from home at the moment) while I do bath time with the twins, but this way, he gets to spend some quality time in the evenings with our toddler (or I do, if we switch) and we aren't tempted by the Uber Eats or Deliveroo apps on our phones. So yeah, it's a little weird, but I tend to make dinner as soon as I bring the twins down after their first feed in the morning, which is usually around 6:30 a.m./7:00 a.m. 

Have strict morning and evening routines in place - everything runs like clockwork at our house, because we keep an eye on the, well, clock and ensure that we're not more than +/-5 minutes off of schedule. For example, in the evenings, we have sole parental responsibility for our eldest after our nanny leaves (soon-to-be-nursery!) at 5:30 pm, which means we play and catch up with him together when one of us gets the bottles ready for the twins. The twins are fed at 6 p.m., in the bath by 6:30 p.m., upstairs having stories read to them by 6:45 p.m., and asleep by 7:15 p.m. in their cots. Dinner is ready by 7:15 p.m. and John, our toddler, and I will eat together then, before our eldest has potty time for 15-20 minutes in front of his favorite TV show (currently Blippi on YouTube - "I'm an excavatorrrrrr!"). Bathtime for him is at 8:15 p.m. and he's in bed by 8:30 p.m, down between 8:45 - 9:00 p.m. (he typically wakes at 7:30 in the morning).

Do 10 things at once - okay, maybe not 10. But at least three. While dinner's cooking, I also throw on a load of laundry, put something in the oven that I can batch freeze for the twins' baby-led weaning journey (yes, I just referred to their feeding as a "journey" - no idea why), and prepare our toddler's breakfast before he wakes so that it's ready when he comes downstairs and I don't hear, "READY YET, READY YETTTT?"

Prepare for the evening in the morning - as soon as the twins finish their morning feed, I make the bed and prepare their cots for the evening, ensuring that their sleeping bags and pacifiers are in each cot, the curtains are drawn, and that their towels are set out for bath time. It may seem a little OTT, but it is an amazing time saver at night and makes life just that little bit easier.

Bring in the troops - sometimes, it all gets a bit too much. And without family nearby to occasionally lend a hand, we can easily feel overwhelmed. There have been times when John's had to work late, and so, rather than try to be a "hero" (and invariably be faced with three separate meltdowns from three separate kids all at once), we've asked our nanny to stay later to help keep an eye on our eldest while I wrestle the twins out of the bath or drafted in a neighbor to babysit for a couple of hours. 

So, those are the best tips I've found that have helped our family so far. If you have 3 under 3 (or even 2 under 3), how do you survive? I'd love to know!

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Mother's Day With TK Maxx


Pre-kids, and when my trips home were a little more frequent than just once (or less!) per year, my mom and I would spend hours combing our local TJ Maxx and Marshall's stores for treasures. In fact, it'd been a favorite past-time of ours for years - dating back to my high school and, indeed, even junior high school years: nothing beat the feeling of emerging from the store triumphant, with a pair of designer sneakers or dress (I found my prom dress on the floor of a Marshall's store, dropped under a rack!) at a fraction of the price I'd usually see them for.

So, when TK Maxx reached out to collaborate with me this (UK) Mother's Day, it was a no-brainer - I have so many wonderful memories of shopping with my mom at the US version of the store, and I'm often at our local branches in East London searching for new books for my toddler, adorable sleepsuits for the babies, or chic storage solutions for our home.

There are so many lovely items to choose from both online and in store (I shopped online!) but here's what I bought my mom with my £100 TK Maxx gift card:


This beautiful designer scarf. My mom has quite the impressive scarf collection - and by impressive, I mean, giant tupperware-boxes-full type of collection. From Hermes to bargain market purchases, she almost always accessorizes with a scarf artfully tied around her neck, particularly when she's judging a piano competition or attending one of her students' recitals. When I spotted this delicate designer floral number at TK Maxx online, it immediately reminded me of my mother. I love the two-toned aspect of this gauzy scarf, and the fact that it works equally well in the Spring as it does in the Fall. We always love perusing the scarves at TK Maxx when she's over, so I think my mom will be pleasantly surprised with my find this time!


These gorgeous scented candles with tongue-in-cheek exclamations. I love going home, walking in the door, and smelling the gorgeous scent of whatever candle my mom has lit in our cavernous living room. It gives the house an incredible sense of warmth, especially in the winter months, and I think my mom would love these two soy wax candles. Plus, the glass votives are so pretty, they'll look great as small storage jars long after the candle's been exhausted. TK Maxx is the first place I go to for candles, as they stock some of my favorite brands and scents.


This stunning photo frame. When my parents were visiting earlier in the year, I hired a professional photographer to come and take some natural, un-posed family photos, as I knew my mom would love to have some with her grandsons. TK Maxx always has an excellent selection of photo frames, and I think this one will take pride of place in our living room back home in Washington state.


This high-end body lotion, facial moisturiser, and body creme. My mom has amazing skin for her age - with hardly a wrinkle in sight! I'm always excited to see some of my favorite beauty brands at TK Maxx and thought my mom would love these moisturisers for some serious TLC, seeing as how she always pampers me with haircuts and manicures when I'm at home. I'm hoping this trio of skincare will inspire my mom to indulge in some self-care more often.

I can't wait to give my mom these gifts for Mother's Day - for now, I might have to arrange this over a WhatsApp video call until our next visit, but I'm most excited to tell her that I chose these lovely presents for her at the UK version of our favorite store, TK Maxx.

All items gifted by TK Maxx. All opinions are my own.
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Monday, March 16, 2020

Twins


Oh, it's been a while.

But for good reason: our darling identical boys were born on December 30th, and arrived home at a quarter to midnight on December 31st to a spectacular display of fireworks.

We've taken our sweet time getting to know them but even so, in the blink of an eye, the so-called "fourth trimester" has flown by and I've found myself putting away size 0-3 month sleepsuits and vest tops - forever.

The bony toes and ankles you see above have filled out into deliciously plump feet that I kiss every time I change their diapers; their saggy knees no longer the sharp obtrusions that jutted out below my ribcage but now round little mounds that dig into my postpartum belly when I lift them up to burp.

Although our house has remained inexplicably calm since their arrival (quiet, except for the indignant screams of hunger when I'm a second too slow in providing breast or bottle), for weeks I operated in a robotic survival mode: methodically changing diapers, feeding, and burping before gently laying them back down in their cot to sleep without so much as a cuddle.

"Don't!" I shouted at my parents who held them for a minute too long after burping. "They'll get too used to falling asleep on you!"

My mother obeyed me but looked forlorn putting Twin 1 into the cot; my dad almost always succeeded in making them fall asleep on him with his gentle, rhythmic pats.

I had trouble accepting them into our family life at first - it was an adjustment for us all. Their arrival was almost disruptive - a breaking of the bond between me and our eldest. At least, it felt like that to me. I wept as I watched my son play contentedly with his new fire engine, a "gift" from the twins, which felt deceptive and merely a tool to distract him from the fact that I was hobbling around the house, trying to stay on top of painkillers and night feeds.

And I worried. Oh, how I worried: that our eldest was having too much screen time; that we still hadn't been referred to the tongue-tie clinic and it had been nearly two weeks since we were discharged from the hospital (both boys were found to have severe ties, as was the case with my first); that my husband was fatigued and wrought with worry over work; that my c-section scar hadn't healed properly; that I wasn't bonding properly with the twins.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And then, one day, I opened my eyes, and they opened their eyes and looked back at me, and in that moment, I knew, I knew. Suddenly, it clicked into place and they fit into me in this outside world just as they did inside. Our bond was complete.

They were born with heads full of jet black hair: a pair of little ravens, with cries that filled the operating room like squawks and sharp, pointed little fingernails that bewildered and freaked me out.

Our eldest took an immediate interest in them, gently stroking their hair and kissing their knees. That's changed a little now: the hair-stroking is interspersed with violent rocking of the bouncers when he thinks we aren't watching, and blankets snatched from their laps, followed by a cackle of laughter, especially after seeing our stern expressions and hearing our exclamations of, "No, gentle!"

But, here we are: a family of five.

And we just fit. Like so.
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