Tantrums!

When you have twins, tantrums can sometimes happen in stereo. Two children, screaming bloody murder over seemingly inconsequential things such as being put down when they wanted to be carried, can be overwhelming. Tantrums happen with every child, but with twins there can be added complications.

Of our two children, it is our daughter who most often throws tantrums. I describe her often as full of passion and someone who needs a sense of control and autonomy. With a child like this one thing you can do when tantrums happen is try to give her lots of places where she can make her own decisions. The more areas where she has some control over the situation the less she may throw fits at other times. Think about how much of their day is decided for them – what they eat, where they go, what they wear, what music is played – there’s tons of things. Pick things where whatever she chooses won’t matter to you – do you want the red dress or the blue one? Do you want to brush your teeth first or put on your pjs first? Do you want Mommy to take you out of your car seat, or Daddy? Try that first and see if it helps a bit.

As for when they’re actually having a tantrum, what I tend to do when one of mine has them is to remember that the tantrum is about huge feelings that they don’t yet know how to control/express. I try to just hold space for that child by being with him/her. That way they know they are safe, that their feelings are ok to have, that they are not getting whatever it is they are screaming about when they are screaming but that Mommy is ready to listen when they are ready to calm down. With twins it is not so simple to just remove the child having the tantrum. ¬†If I am alone with the two I just sit near the child with the tantrum and tell her that I love her and I will be here to talk when she’s able to calm down. At the height of a tantrum kids can’t hear you giving solutions. Literally. Their capacity for hearing is diminished drastically. Try to notice when she is beginning to “come down” a bit and THEN gently offer a hug or ask if she wants to sit in your lap or suggest a distraction. Once she has calmed down you can talk more effectively (obviously).

For us, it is actually more effective NOT to leave them in that moment. To me, when a child is losing it, it is when they need us most. They don’t understand all of the feelings they are having. Getting angry at them (as you may want to, because it’s SO frustrating) will eventually just show them that it’s wrong to have those feelings. We have to teach them how to express themselves. For younger children it’s hard because most likely they don’t have a ton of language, but it is still worth doing because tantrums will continue and having some tools in your toolbox to deal with them is great.

What we have done, over the years, is a combination of things.

  • We constantly try to give them language for what they are feeling. Use all sorts of words – not just angry and happy. “I feel jealous”. “She hurt my feelings”. “I feel left out”. “I want your attention”. Whatever you think might be going on for them. When you verbalize what they are feeling they feel connected to and almost instantly the drama lessens. “Connect before you redirect” is the phrase I always try to keep in mind.
  • We try to express our OWN feelings when the kids are around. “Mommy is getting frustrated” “I feel my frustration in my tummy” (helping the kids to begin to notice where they feel things in their body so they can be aware when those sensations arise). “Mommy feels so relaxed now” (as if that ever happens. Hahaha) and so forth. Don’t forget to express good feelings!
  • I have worked with them a lot to try to learn deep breathing. It takes some time, but by the time our kids were 3 years old, if they are wailing away I can now say “you need to calm you body down, can you take a deep breath?” and they most often were able to start doing it. Deep breathing is an amazingly effective tool for calming not just THEIR bodies but yours as well!
  • Help them calm down by creating a “cool down” place. I don’t like to use time outs as a punishment (everyone has different ways of looking at this issue – this is just what works for us). Instead, I am working with the kids to let them know that everyone (even adults) have times when emotions are really big and they need to cool down. When they are getting really worked up and headed towards a tantrum I try to catch them and say that I notice they are having a hard time and do they feel like they need a cool down. Sometimes they say no, but sometimes they agree and we head off to “Alaska”. They picked a place that is “very, very cold” (Hence, they called it Alaska) and decorated it so it is comfy and that is where we sit to “cool down”. I go with them if it’s possible, sometimes they want to go alone (usually they want me). We just sit together and they chill out. When they’re ready to return usually things have passed.

These are all just ideas. Some may work. Some not. I’m sure there’s a ton I’ve left out. Our daughter went through a phase of tantrums and then they seem to have gone away. For the time being anyway. ūüôā It’s tough to deal with, but the more language they have to express themselves, the better.

Private Schools and Twins

I plan to pull together some information about what we’ve gone through during the process of looking for schools for our twins as this is a really daunting and sometimes frustrating endeavor. ¬†Let me begin by providing a link to terrific blog¬†called¬†Beyond The Brochure. Christina Simon, who writes this blog (and a book of the same name), has tons of great information about navigating the private school application process here in Los Angeles. ¬†She recently posted an entry entitled¬†“Two For The Price…Of Two”with really pertinent information for those of us going through the application process for our multiples.

I promise to write more, but Daddy is in bed sick and I am on birthday party duty by myself this morning!

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Ah…..sleep. ¬†I remember you well. ¬†Once, not so long ago you would find me in the afternoon. ¬†You would wrap your warm arms around me and whisper in my ear: “time for a nap”. ¬†Sleep. ¬†I used to sleep soundly through the night and wake when my body was rested. ¬†I used to¬†Sleep In!¬†¬†My husband would tease me because I could never sleep past 8 or 9 on a vacation and I would try to push myself to sleep a little longer. ¬†Somewhere along the way I have forgotten what all of that was like.

6:30 a.m. ¬†That’s what time our children wake now. ¬†And that’s late for them. ¬†We went through a long period where our son would wake at 5. ¬†5:30. ¬†A few times, even 4:45. ¬†And he was UP. ¬†And he wanted you to be up too and it was TIME TO START THE DAY. ¬†Seriously? ¬†That is not morning. ¬†That is what time you wake up if you’re in the army. ¬†Or prison.¬†

I don’t function well on lack of sleep. ¬†Somehow Dad manages to do it and still go to work and function at a particularly high level. ¬†Me? ¬†Not so much. ¬†I am cranky. ¬†I am slow. ¬†I am impatient. ¬†I resort to all sorts of things to get through the day like Jiffy Pop popcorn as entertainment and a Dora video as education. ¬†I decided it had to end. ¬†I needed sleep. ¬†And so did the kids!

I will say that¬†Sleepy Planet¬†saved our lives. ¬†They are geniuses when it comes to teaching your kids to sleep. ¬†They wrote a¬†book¬†which has most of their wisdom in it, but if it is in the realm of affordability to you, call and make a private consultation with them. ¬†Jill Spivack, one of the proprietors, is considered a¬†“twin expert”¬†and she has given us so much good advice over the years that we never got from just reading their book.

Sleep issues with children of differing ages is tough if they’re sharing a room, but I believe that, like just about everything else, sleep disturbances with twins is exponentially more difficult. ¬†But I’m not interested in debating that, I’m just here to share some of our major trouble spots and what has worked for us so far.

As newborns,

sleeping-baby-1we used Dr. Harvey Karp’s book,¬†The Happiest Baby On The Block¬†for our basic sleep plan. ¬†We swaddled, we used white noise¬†we shushed loudly and so forth. ¬†It worked very, very well for us. ¬†As a side note, many worry about getting “addicted” to white noise and I will say that our children still use a noise machine (although now they prefer music over “noise”). ¬†At some point your kids will be old enough to tell you they like it or they don’t. ¬†It helps them sleep when they are babies and, with twins, it helps make a noise barrier between cribs so hopefully if one wakes in the night, he/she won’t wake the other! ¬†The other things that was key to our sanity was keeping the babies on a schedule. ¬†With twins it is almost out of the question to just let the babies decide when they are ready to sleep or eat. ¬†If your kids are not doing those two things at the same time, you will never leave the house and you will never get any sleep yourself.

At 5 months old,

sleeping-baby-at-5-months

We “sleep trained” our children using Sleepy Planet’s methods. ¬†They were already sleeping in their own cribs at this stage but we were rocking and singing them to sleep. ¬†Our son was obsessed with his pacifier. Every night he would drop it and cry for it and I would have to retrieve it. ¬†Our daughter would wake up the instant we put her down after bouncing, singing, rocking. ¬†Getting her to bed was taking forever. ¬†There is a lot of controversy about CIO (Cry It Out) methods. ¬†I do not believe Sleepy Planet’s method is a true CIO. ¬†Yes, it’s hard to hear your baby crying and you do want to rush in to “fix” things. ¬†But you are not simply putting them in a crib and going to bed and ignoring them. ¬†You are slowly weaning them off of needing you to do everything for them and are teaching them to be able to soothe themselves to sleep. ¬†This worked fantastically well for us and within 3 nights our kids were sleeping on their own at night and within a week, naps were on track as well.

At around age 2,

We began to have the issue of waking really early (as mentioned above). ¬†I was beside myself (as mentioned above). ¬†I would go in to tell whoever the offender was (usually our son) that it was still night time and he needed to go back to sleep. ¬†Then try the check ins recommended by Sleepy Planet. ¬†The problem was I was usually so exhausted at this point that I would give in and take him to our room and pray he would fall back to sleep. ¬†God help me if our daughter woke too and realized her brother was in there already! ¬†I found a product called¬†The Good Nite Lite¬†¬†which is basically a moon night light that you can set to turn into a sun at the desired wake up time. ¬†On the advice of Jill Spivack, I created the first of many books¬†about our kids’ sleep habits.¬†Creating books about any major change that is about to happen is a fantastic way to help your children adjust. ¬†This book detailed their bed routine and introduced Mr. Moon and Mr. Sun (otherwise known as The Good Nite Lite). ¬†They learned quickly that if they woke up and saw Mr. Moon they would know it was still night time. ¬†If Mr. Sun was up they could call me quietly and I would come in to start the day. ¬†We’ve definitely had limit testing and they did scream for me if they woke early but if you remain consistent they learn very quickly that they are not getting what they want and they stop the screaming. ¬†I slowly was able to move their wake up time to 6:30. ¬†Heaven, for me!

By about 2 and a half

baby-at-2-yrs

Our daughter decided she didn’t need to nap anymore. ¬†Naps…..my only sanity in these early years. ¬†Our son would nap for 3 hours, but not her. ¬†At first she would happily play and sing to herself in her crib while he napped. ¬†Then she realized it was more fun if she woke him. ¬†I promptly put her in a Pack ‘N Play in another room. ¬†That worked for a while until I noticed that it was taking them over an hour to fall asleep at night and he was waking numerous times during the night as well. ¬†Sadly, I realized that both of our children were about to become¬†Non-Nappers.¬†¬†I cried for about a week I think. ¬†After I dried the tears I called Jill again and she helped me create a new version of our book which included information about mommy calling the sleep doctor who helped come up with a new night time plan and why it was important for the kids to get a good night sleep and how mommy isn’t coming into the room in the middle of the night etc. etc. (I will detail¬†these books on another page as soon as I have some free time….they really are extremely helpful). ¬†We dropped the naps and move bedtime up by about 45 minutes at first (that part was fantastic for mommy). ¬†They fell asleep instantly and slept through the night! ¬†Mr Sun was waiting for them in the morning! ¬†Yay! ¬†Life was restored. ¬†After a week or two, bed time was back at it’s usual hour of 7pm.

We’ve been doing really well with this routine but in a few weeks we will be¬†transitioning to big kid beds. ¬†I’m anticipating having some sleepless nights and early mornings again. ¬†But I am preparing new books about the rules for having a big kid bed and my husband and I are planning to sleep in the new room with them for a night or two then slowly ease our way out of the room and back to our bed. ¬†And back to sleep.
 
As with many things about having small children, I remind myself often that I should enjoy this while it lasts. ¬†Those early morning cries are tough when I’m tired, but watching my children sleep peacefully in their bed (or mine), as they clutch their loveys, is a wonderful thing. ¬†When they’re teenagers they will sleep until noon and I will miss them. ¬†I will, perhaps, be better rested…but I will miss the early morning cuddles with my little babies.

Looking for The One: The Nanny Saga

One of the first things a new parent of twins thinks about (after “Oh My God, how are we going to do this?) is “how am I going to find someone to help me take care of them”? ¬†I will post about my thoughts and advice on¬†finding a nanny¬†for twins, but first I wanted to share my own story.¬†¬†

Perhaps nothing brings out more anxiety in parents than finding a caregiver for their babies.I often compare the search to dating.  Each time I would put my heart out there to open up to a new person I would hope that this one was THE ONE.  But I would find myself disappointed.  Each time I would learn a bit more about myself and how to communicate what I needed and wanted.  I was hurt.  Sometimes terribly.  I was stressed.  Sometimes terribly.  In the end, I found the one.  At last.

Nanny One.  I approached the first time with a mix of insecurity and naiveté.  I thought because I was a new mom I wanted someone with more experience to tell me how to take care of my babies.  I ended up with a know-it-all (possibly sociopathic personality) who severely took advantage of my trust and put my children at great risk. It was through great luck and the bravery of another nanny that we learned the truth. I was jaded and hurt and it took me a long time after that to open up and trust again.  

Nanny Two.¬†When I finally did, it took me months to let the new nanny out of my sight; and when I did, I would send friends to spy on her to make sure she was doing what she said she was going to do. ¬†Sound a little like dating yet?¬†¬†With her, I misread the cues and it turned out that she was quite passive-aggressive and unhappy in her own life and couldn’t communicate effectively. ¬†Because it had been so hard to even let her into my heart¬†(because that really is what it is when you entrust your children to a stranger)¬†the thought of “breaking up” and finding someone new was so overwhelmingly stressful that I stayed with her until SHE broke up with me! ¬†

By the time I found¬†Nanny Three¬†I had decided that I knew enough to hire someone young and less experienced¬†(and therefore less likely to try to boss me around). ¬†She was great in a lot of ways – energetic, excited to be a nanny, willing to do whatever I asked – but after a while I began to notice that because she lacked experience she would defer to me about EVERYTHING. ¬†“What should the kids eat for dinner?”, “What shoes should they wear?”, “What should we do today?”. ¬†It began to drive me crazy. ¬†Then I noticed that as the kids got a little older she seemed less comfortable being alone with the two of them. ¬†It all seemed a little too difficult for her and her first response to my asking her to take them out was always stress. ¬†Which, of course, stressed me out. ¬†But, I kept saying to myself, she is great in so many other ways. ¬†I wanted her to be The One. ¬†I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole, as they say. ¬†The final straw came after about a year when she began to feel that the job was too difficult and that because she now had “twin experience” she could be earning much more money elsewhere¬†(although she was earning top dollar for a nanny with less than 5 years experience and most of her “twin experience” was hanging out with ME and the kids – I was the one with twin experience!!! ¬†On top of which, we were just entering an enormous recession so where she though she was going to get a job that paid $18 – $20 an hour I don’t know). ¬†Anyway, She began to get less and less reliable and began lying and missing work. ¬†I ended it. ¬†Abruptly and with great satisfaction, I might add.

Nanny Four.  Nanny Four I had met when I hired nanny two and wished she would have been available.  She was the best friend of another nanny we knew (who I refer to as our nanny angel) who had been a godsend to us and who had literally put herself in great peril to save my children from Nanny One.  I liked how friendly and confident she was and how my kids took to her.  She was suddenly going to be available at last Рbut I had to fill in 6 weeks before she could leave her current employer.  I could do that.  I found Nanny Five to fill in Рa lovely woman who just happened to be available for that exact amount of time. All I had to do was make it through 6 weeks and The One would be mine!

As those 6 weeks progressed I began to notice how fantastic this temp nanny was. ¬†The woman who I instantly liked but hadn’t paid much attention to because my heart was set somewhere else was actually amazing. ¬†She brought happiness and laughter into the house. ¬†She took the children out on her own with ease. ¬†The kids adored her. ¬†She listened to me but also offered her own suggestions without making me feel that she felt she knew more than I did. ¬†She never had a bad word to say about anyone yet she was a strong, intelligent woman with an opinion. ¬†But now I was in a mess. ¬†Nanny four had already left her job and I had committed to her. ¬†But now I was in love with someone else! ¬†Quite unexpectedly and through no fault of Nanny Four’s….Nanny Five was just The One.¬†

But I felt guilty. ¬†I had promised. ¬†And Nanny four was really good. ¬†It was ME, not HER. ¬†You know the story. ¬†She started work and the kids liked her. ¬†But she began to lose her luster. ¬†It was just little things. ¬†She said things that reminded me of Nanny One. She didn’t seem as warm as Nanny Five. ¬†There was no laughter coming from the other room as the kids played. ¬†Oh, the children liked her and I felt they were safe but there was just something missing. ¬†

Did I mention that Nanny Five was pregnant when I met her? ¬†Yes, she came with a little baggage. ¬†It didn’t matter when she was just a fling, but could I handle it if she were to be The One? ¬†I began to develop insomnia and massive headaches. ¬†I put on ten pounds worrying about how I was going to let Nanny Four go and how her friend (our nanny angel) would react. ¬†I didn’t want to hurt anyone but I had to do what was best for our children and for us.

Finally, I just did it. ¬†I fibbed a little because I didn’t want to hurt Nanny Four’s feelings. ¬†She really WAS a great nanny. ¬†Just not The One. ¬†Just not right for us. ¬†We gave her a very generous severance package and I helped her find a new job where she seems very happy and I believe that family feels they have found their One. ¬†Our nanny angel acted as I should have known she would – with great compassion and understanding. With immense joy I called Nanny Five and proposed. ¬†She accepted and I haven’t questioned my decision since. ¬†I had, at last, found The One.

The Nanny Search

As you may have noticed, I have been through a lot when it came to hiring a nanny to help me care for our twins.  I will begin by saying that when I had our children I knew next to nothing about kids.  I am an only child from such a small family that I really never had babies in my life until my own were born. So I set about finding someone with very little knowledge or insight on my part.  Now that I am on the other side of this long battle I hope that my experiences, tips and advice will help others avoid going through the same struggles!

Let’s start with the obvious. ¬†Where do I find a nanny? ¬†
  • All of our nannies, both good and bad, came from¬†PeachheadNanny¬†which is Yahoo chat group and a subgroup of¬†Peachhead. ¬†There are over 10,000 members on Peachhead and over 5000 members belong to PeachheadNanny. ¬†Parents will post when they have a nanny to recommend, nannies themselves will post advertising that they are available, agencies occasionally post there as well. ¬†I have found this to be the best source as there is such volume and it is solely dedicated to finding/placing nannies. ¬†I’ve never actually posted an ad looking for someone, I always answer other people’s referrals. ¬†I tend to only answer referrals from a parent as opposed to a nanny posting for herself – it seems like a more fair assessment of someone’s skills to have a referral from someone who has actually employed that person. FREE
  • Jen’s List¬†is another great source for finding a nanny (or just about anything else mom related). ¬†Jen Levinson, who created that website and email newsletter, actually has two sets of identical twin boys (plus another singleton) so you may find twin related stuff peppered in amongst everything else she lists. ¬†Every Tuesday she posts lists of nannies who are available to work. ¬†Her list has about 13,000 subscribers so there is bound to be a lot of nanny information passed around. ¬†It does tend to be Valley oriented, but nannies will travel farther than you think for a good family to work for. FREE
  • Some of my friends have found great nannies through¬†Craigslist. What I have experienced using Craigslist is that during the times I used it, most (although certainly not all) of the nannies who seemed qualified tended to be European or American nannies/Au Pairs. ¬†If that’s the direction you are leaning towards definitely give Craigslist a try. ¬†You will most likely get hit with a lot of junk mail if you advertise that you are looking for someone, but answering people’s ads should leave you free of that. FREE
  • Check your local Multiples Club. In SoCal you can go to¬†Southern California Mothers of Twins Clubs¬†to find a club near you. Outside of Southern California, go to¬†National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs. These are clubs to which parents (or expectant parents) of multiples can belong. There are wonderful and supportive parents in these clubs who post about available nannies – almost all of which will have had “multiples experience”. ¬†There is usually a small, yearly fee to join the club, but that money is put to great use and the club chat boards are so much more helpful than anywhere else when it comes to asking twin related questions.
  • Nanny Agencies are another route to follow. Agencies claim to do background checks, reference checks and interview each candidate before referring them. Most also offer to arrange Trustline verifications. In my experience, it is very important to thoroughly check all references yourself, as some agencies have been known to falsify records. And just because an agency sent her doesn’t¬†necessarily¬†mean she’s any better than a nanny you find through a personal referral or an online source such as PeachheadNanny. Agencies tend to take a fee equal to 15% of a nanny’s yearly salary which, depending on how much you pay, can be an enormous amount of money. But depending on what you are looking for and how specific your needs are, sometimes an agency will be the best place to find the nanny you require. Additionally, a reputable agency should allow you to work with a nanny for a week or two before requesting their fee; they should additionally offer up to 3 months guarantee where they will replace your nanny at no extra charge if it does not work out. Here in LA there are a lot of agencies; the ones who, as of this posting, have been recommended most to me are: S’il Vous Plait¬†(310) 395-8812,¬†Buckingham Nannies and Domestics ¬†(310) 247-1877, VIP Nanny Agency 310.614.3646,¬†Sandra Taylor¬†(310) 205-2810,¬†Elizabeth Rose¬†(310) 276-2555,¬†Bella Bambino Nannies¬†(888) 277-8730,¬†Nurture and Nanny¬†310-270-6177,¬†Lexington Nannies¬†(818) 890-2191,¬†La Maison Agency¬†(310) 553-3509,¬†Domestic Affairs¬†(310) 552-4444,¬†Elite Domestic Agency¬†310-424-5068,¬†Help Company¬†(310) 828-4111,¬†Pavillion Agency¬†(212) 889-6609 (in New York)
  • Lastly, you may come across a¬†“Nanny Broker”¬†in your search. These tend to be nannies who have many connections to other nannies. They do not do any kind of background or reference checks but they will give you names and numbers of nannies for you to interview. Some take a fee from the nanny, some take a fee from both nanny and employer; be sure to get details up front. In LA I know of two brokers; both refer primarily (perhaps exclusively) Latina nannies. Here is their contact information:¬†Alicia (310) 850-1502 and¬†Myra (323) 664-0843.

A word about “twins experience”

I feel that often nannies and nanny agencies prey upon new twin parents’ anxieties by making it seem as though only a nanny with prior experience caring for multiples can do the job. ¬†And because you have twins you should now have to pay a premium for that. ¬†I disagree. ¬†In fact, of our 5 nannies, only one had twin experience and she was actually the worst of the lot! ¬†Not that this is the way it always is, but I don’t want you to be bullied into a nanny that you can not afford simply because she has worked with twins before. ¬†I always say that most of us never had twin experience until we became parents of twins. ¬†It is possible to find a wonderful nanny even if she has never worked with twins.
 
It is best if you have a nanny who has worked with multiple children, but it doesn’t HAVE to be twins. ¬†Having a nanny who has done it before is certainly a comfort if this is your first child, however, if she’s new to multiples make sure she has an even temperament, is energetic and can multi-task, then half your battle is won! ¬† Be certain, as well, to discuss the increased difficulty of twin toddlers over twin infants – some nannies make great infant nannies but come the toddler years they are overwhelmed. ¬†And twin toddlers may make them exponentially so! ¬†

How much do I pay?

This can be a complicated question because it depends on so many variables. ¬†As I said, some nannies may feel that they can charge a premium for twins. ¬†But besides the fact that they may have twin experience, do they speak/read/write English well? ¬†Are they working legally (something that is a very real factor here in Los Angeles)? Do they drive a safe car and have a clean driving record (assuming you want them to drive your children)? Do they have a degree in child development or some other such extra qualification that would justify a higher salary? ¬†Most importantly (in my book): can you communicate with her? ¬†Not just language-wise but someone who will tell you if they are unhappy or have concerns or if they disagree with something or have an opinion and so forth. ¬†A person who has all of the things you are looking for is worth every dollar. ¬†A nanny with twin experience who falls short in any of the areas that are important to you isn’t worth anything.
 
You need to know before you start what you are looking for in terms of time. ¬†How many hours per week do you think you will need? ¬†Do you want to pay weekly or hourly? ¬†How much more do you have to add when taxes are taken out? ¬†Will you be offering extra perks? ¬†Most families do offer vacation time, sick days, paid national holidays etc. ¬†How many years do you expect her to stay with your family? ¬†This is important because you will likely give her yearly raises; you don’t want to start her at a salary that is so high that you will not be able to afford to give her a raise. ¬†Any nanny will charge more for caring for more than one child and that is certainly fair and with twins you usually will pay slightly more but don’t get so caught up in the fact that a woman has cared for twins if you can’t afford what she is charging!

How do I chose the right one?

The first part of the answer is: Trust Your Gut. ¬†Easier said than done sometimes. ¬†We get wowed by the nanny with the glowing references or the smooth interview style. ¬†But your gut always knows. ¬†If you have any hesitation…..hesitate. ¬†Of the five nannies I hired (and countless I interviewed), there was only one that I hired on the spot without even having my husband meet. ¬†That’s the woman we have now who is beyond terrific. ¬†I just KNEW. ¬†Of course, I had already had a lot of experience choosing nannies who weren’t so great, so I had a lot to compare to!
 
The rest of the answer is: ask the tough interview questions. ¬†It’s very easy to just make small talk and ask yes or no questions especially if you’re not used to interviewing and being a boss. ¬†Here are a few really good interview tips from my own experience and from other mothers who’ve shared their own advice with me:
  1. A lot of references are fake. ¬†Vague questions will allow for vague generalities (ie: Q: “how is she with newborns?” A: “Oh, she’s wonderful with newborns. ¬†She’s so loving”). Try to ask questions that only the actual employer could answer, like how the nanny handles emergencies or specific examples of how she handles a misbehaving child. ¬†
  2. Ask the person referring the nanny what the nanny’s shortcomings are. ¬†Everyone has shortcomings, they’re a deal breaker only in certain relationships or contexts.¬†
  3. Ask open ended questions such as “what is a typical day for you as a nanny?”, “how would you handle disciplining my children?”
  4. Make sure your children are present. ¬†This seems obvious but you’d be surprised by how many people schedule an interview when the babies are sleeping so they can concentrate. ¬†You want to see what this person is like with your children! ¬†You want to gauge their reactions to her and she how she handles them. ¬†Does she get down on the floor with them? ¬†Does she ask to hold them? ¬†Does she offer to play/feed/interact?
  5. Arrange for some trial period with the nanny so you can see what working with them would be like.  She should be paid for this time and it will give both you and the nanny an idea of what working together will be like.  I suggest at least one full day if not more.  I had one nanny I thought was going to be great until she worked with me for a day and spent every free minute of her interview day texting people. I can only imagine what she would have been like had I hired her!
  6. If you are a Stay At Home Mom a major consideration to discuss is how you want to utilize this nanny.  Do you want someone to spend the day with you and accompany you with the children?  Do you want her to have one of the children so you can have one-on-one time with the other?  Do you want her to take the children on her own?  Many nannies do not relish the idea of being with mom (or dad) being at home all day so you will need to discuss this fully.
  7. If you are both working parents I believe one of the major things to be considered is that your nanny will be the person most involved in teaching your children. ¬†You certainly want someone loving and caring and trustworthy, but you may also want to consider that this person will have great influence over how your child learns to behave in the world. ¬†You may want to look for someone with more of a background in child development, someone who has creative skills when it comes to discipline, someone who is on the same page as you when it come to encouraging the development of your child’s emotional intelligence etc. etc. ¬†Some nannies are fantastic when it comes to babies, but less so when the tough work of raising toddlers begins.
In addition to all of this information I think¬†this article¬†has some great tips and interview questions. And¬†this New York Times article¬†is terrific for some insight on how to communicate with the person you eventually hire. Remember, you are looking for a person to be a PARTNER with you in raising your child. At the end of the day, let someone go if she’s not working out. ¬†The process of looking for a nanny for your twins can be really tough, but it’s not worth holding on to someone who’s not wonderful just because you can’t bear the thought of going through the process again. ¬†When you find the right nanny you really will know. ¬†And life will at once be simpler AND more complicated. ¬†But that is a post for another time! ¬†ūüėČ

What A Difference A Dad Makes

This is an article written by Leah Hennen that I thought was amazing. ¬†I am including it here, although it doesn’t specifically relate to twins, on certain levels it does. ¬†I say this because raising any child without a partner is extremely hard; raising twins on your own is damn near impossible. ¬†I believe that we all need a Father figure in our life for balance. ¬†The “Dad” referred to in this piece should be thought of not just as a male, biological parent, but as someone (even a woman) who takes on the typical male role in the family. ¬†So, if you are a same sex couple, look at it that way. ¬†If you happen to be a single parent, hopefully there is someone in your children’s life who can take on the other role in raising them – at least part of the time! ¬†The emotional and psychological benefits are so enormous.

Here’s Leah Hannen’s original article:

What a difference a dad makes

dad

There’s no doubt about it: Dads on diaper duty are part of the cultural zietgeist. ¬†Last month, British prime minister, Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, publicly called on her head-of-state hubby to put his political duties aside for at least a week to help care for their fourth child. ¬†Around the same time, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin stepped down from his high-powered post to put in some quality time with newborn son, Darius. ¬†But it’s not just high-profile dads who are feeling the siren call of home life – a recent study by the Radcliffe Public Policy Institute found that for the first time ever, working fathers rank family above career, and two thirds of these devoted dads are even willing to trade a chunk of their paycheck for more time to bond with their baby.

That’s good news, because a growing body of research has found that the more involved fathers are in their children’s daily lives, the smarter, healthier, and happier their kids will be. ¬†Among the perks of paternal pampering, according to recent studies:

  • Dads who are affectionate and spend time with their children are more likely to have securely attached infants.
  • Kids whose fathers do their fare share of hands-on childcare are ahead of the curve developmentally and in problem-solving, social and verbal skills.
  • Father-child interaction promotes physical well being, perceptual abilities, and social skills.
  • Children with involved fathers have enhanced cognitive development, greater self-esteem and self control, better life skills and social competence, and fewer behavioral problems. ¬†
  • Girls who have close, playful relationships with their dads tend to be more popular and assertive.
  • Boys with strong paternal bonds do better academically and score better on IQ tests
  • The more involved dads are with their children’s education, the better kids do in school and the more they enjoy learning.
  • Children with supportive fathers feel more competent, do better socially and cognitively, and are less likely to be depressed or have behavioral problems.
  • Children whose fathers spend alone time with them at least twice a week become more compassionate adults.
The benefits aren’t just for the baby, either: Fathers are healthier, better-adjusted, more involved in community and service organizations, have better relationships with their own siblings and parents, and have¬†stronger marriages¬†than non-dads do. ¬†What’s more, though involved fathers tend to log fewer hours at the office, putting children at the top of their priority list seems to give men a career boost as well. ¬†Research has found that these dads tend to handle work-related stress better, and that by middle-age, they’re more successful than workaholics.
What do you think? Do you think the father in your family gets how much of a difference his presence makes? I’d love to know what you think.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

One thing I have learned over the years is that even though a twin pregnancy is considered high-risk, it is more likely to be a healthy pregnancy if you have a healthy attitude and a healthy outlook on life.  That mind set is something I hope to encourage through this blog.  I wrote this post below a few years ago, before our kids were born.  I think many of us who have multiples have been through a struggle with infertility and with the desperation that diagnosis brings, so I thought I would post this here in the hopes of showing you that life changes and what seems like tragedy today may become triumph tomorrow. 

Life doesn‚Äôt always turn out the way you think it will. As a young girl I definitely had my ideas about what my life would be like when I ‚Äúgrew up‚ÄĚ.¬† I would, of course, be married. I would have my first child by 24. I would be a fabulously successful fashion designer. I would live in New York with my equally successful husband. Perhaps he was an architect. Yes, I had plans.

I did get married. And I did become a fashion designer in New York. 24 came and went. But I wasn‚Äôt ready anyway I told myself. By 28 I was starting to notice all the children in the neighborhood and getting that ‚Äúfeeling‚ÄĚ. So we started trying. We joked that we were so busy that we didn‚Äôt have sex often enough to get pregnant. But we tried for a year and a half before I started to think something might be wrong. It was 1997. We had been married for 4 years.

Eventually I somehow found my way to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.  Don’t ask me how, because I was so embarrassed about not being able to get pregnant that I told almost no one. I got furious with my mother for mentioning it to her friend. I hid it from my boss, my coworkers. I took hours out of my hectic work schedule every week to get blood work done, receive ultrasounds and have invasive testing done; all without sharing my struggle, stress, depression and fears with anyone.

My husband never went to the doctor with me. He never offered to help with my injections. We hardly ever were intimate except when the doctor told us to do so because I was ovulating. In retrospect, I should have noticed that his lack of interest not only in me, but also in the process of trying to build a family, was a sign of something wrong. Every time my period came I was distraught.  I felt so alone, so unloved, so unlovable. I felt broken. After three unsuccessful cycles I needed a break.

That’s when everything started to end. Or maybe it’s when everything started to begin. When dreaming of my future as a child I certainly didn’t include that 1 week after our 5thanniversary my husband would tell me that he was leaving me and that he had never even loved me. And I didn’t include in the plan that he would have been having an affair while I had been injecting myself full of drugs and crying over the failure of each cycle. I hadn’t planned on being childless and divorced at age 30. No, this was definitely NOT what I had planned on. But life had a different plan. And this most awful experience turned out to be an immense blessing I never could have planned.

Now I sit here, 10 years after my initial diagnosis of ‚Äúunexplained infertility‚ÄĚ with so much learning and experience behind me. I am remarried to a most wonderful, involved, caring man. I switched coasts and live in Los Angeles. I switched careers and, after much training and hard work, am now a practicing Holistic Healer. My husband and I are going through fertility treatments right now. We‚Äôre in the so-called 2-week wait after our first IVF cycle. Even after a year of trying again and three failed IUIs I feel none of the shame, depression, or desperation I felt all those years ago. Yes, some of it has to do with having a supportive partner. But even more of it has to do with who I have become, how I deal with stress and how I see the world as a whole.

In my old life (because that‚Äôs how I see it‚Ķ.like a movie with someone else playing the lead role), my disappointments took on enormous proportions.¬† I felt that I was personally a failure for not being able to conceive or for having a failed marriage. Each let down seemed like the end of the world.¬† I would think: ‚ÄúIf only I could have this one thing, my whole life would be better‚ÄĚ!¬† Never realizing that even when I would get that wish fulfilled it was the same old me who was receiving it! Eventually I learned how to have a different view.¬† I began to realize that we can‚Äôt always know what life has in store for us.

When I got divorced it initially felt like the worst thing that could have happened to me. Now I see that it was the greatest gift I could have received. 10 years ago I saw my infertility as a curse. Now I realize that had I been able to get pregnant easily I would have had children with a man who didn’t love me.

Our experiences are what we make of them. It is our tendency to link old pain, fear, and distorted stories to new events in our lives that make us suffer. All these years of studying the healing arts have helped me to see that what happened is all there is. The rest of it is just the story I’ve made up about it.  And it’s the story that makes me suffer. So I gave up the stories.

Hear, Hear! Welcome Ya’ll!

I have always been one of those people that loves to research and disseminate information. When I became a mom, I took this to new levels. My friends jokingly began to call me MOTY (Mother Of The Year) because I seemed to know every place to go, every website to check out, and had been through just about every scenario with our twins that you could think of, so I had some advice to offer. 

I grew up in a family of writers; my father, my grandfather, my grandmother, even my father’s adoptive father, all were or are writers. Writing was never my “thing”, as far as a career was concerned, but I always kept journals and knew that I enjoyed writing and that it was a medium that helped me feel creative as well as allowed me to process through some of the harder times in my life.¬†

Before our children were born, I had a successful practice as a holistic healer specializing in various types of energy therapies and combining that body work with talk therapy. I loved helping people get “unstuck” and offering them new ways to see things so that, ultimately, they left my office in a better frame of mind than when they entered.

And now, here I am, mother of almost 4-year old boy/girl twins. I have been through divorce and re-marriage, infertility, IVF, birth of twins, numerous career changes, becoming a SAHM, hiring and firing 6 nannies as of this writing, group therapy, individual therapy, couples therapy, a heart attack (my husband’s), extreme anxiety (mine), many parenting books, many parenting lectures, and many long-winded conversations with girlfriends about marriage and children and what it means to feel like a good mother.

I hope with this blog to make it feel like one of those conversations. I am by no means an expert on anything. I have more experience in certain areas than many people, and I like to share what has worked for me; but I purposely subtitled my blog with¬†“One part friend who’s been through it all. One part mom of twins trying to figure it out. One part mentor willing to share”¬†for a reason. I think as parents we can all learn so much from each other when we pool our resources.