Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Play 'Gether

This post is for the parents of multiples whose kids are still under two. This is for the mom who sent this link to the twins club. Excerpt:
Things will never get back to “normal”—as you defined normal when you were single—when you were childless. Never.
This is true. We're deluding ourselves if we think that we can add any other human being to our family lives and still be the same person, the same normal that we were before. Never mind adding two at once! The thing to do, then, is to focus not on how you've lost your true self, but to see what's still the same, what's left at the core. And to nurture that. So maybe you don't go to yoga five days a week anymore. Maybe you have to redefine what "doing yoga" means—a deep breath is yoga.

But I digress. Let us back on track:
It changes. You get better. You grow. Learn. And that little squealer—that awesome toddler—that slightly evil three-year-old—he grows. Learns. Changes. It gets better. When you learn and change and grow and all that—it all gets better.
It does get better: now when the boys are fighting over a toy, I often hear one of them declare "play 'gether!" And they do.

This is what change, what better looks like: I spent an hour bored on the couch while my boys played a trashcan game. Pictured above: clearing out the bins in order to dump more trash.

More better: An outing to the park during which I spent 40 minutes "punching tickets" with my phone while the boys went for a "train ride."

This is a train. I believe they're dismounting...

D is collecting more tickets to punch. N seems to be meditating.

Not everything is photo-worthy, but also nice are the small daily kindnesses I see these two bestow on each other. Almost every skirmish over a toy ends with a "Here, Dashie!" or "Nicky's turn!"—unprompted by me. The ones that don't end that way end with words like "Dashie sad. Dashie cry." (often followed by "Here, Dashie!").

Most better: I was too tired to carry anyone from car to house, so I suggested that they find another way. Dash tried to get Nick to pick him up; Nick had a different idea.

Good idea, Nick!

How can we make holding hands even more fun?

Well, we could climb stairs while holding hands.

Almost two-and-a-half is tiring and frustrating in many, many ways. But it's still much easier than  juggling two newborns.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Talking to Kids

I'm thinking a lot today about how we speak to people, and even more, how we speak to kids. Now, I'm certainly no saint in this regard—my whole life, I've been told (mostly by my parents) that my tone of voice gives away my true feelings. But I'm working hard especially with my kids to be aware of what I say, why, and how I say it. The book Simplicity Parenting offers a lovely set of guidelines to consider before speaking:

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?

Not everything I say in my children's presence meets all three of these criteria (and certainly not when I'm eye-rolling to a friend about the woman I saw telling her 2.5 year-old to "use your core!" when lifting a heavy toy). But I do try to keep them in mind when I'm speaking to my kids. Why? In my experience, our kids understand everything we say, and internalize the messages we send with our tone and our body language, even if they don't actually know what all the words mean. 

Here's the gist of what it means to communicate with your kids (from Janet Lansbury's lovely post explaining the basics of RIE):

Be clear. Be honest. That's what our kids really need.

There's a world of difference between being frustrated and taking out your frustration on your kids. And learning to be kind and clear is hard, especially when you're trying to help your two toddlers brush their teeth and go to bed. Sometimes, you catch yourself turning into the Monster Mommy (you know, growly and cranky), and you have to stop and go in another room and take a breath. Or five breaths. And then you sit down with that toddler and listen, really listen to what he has to say (even if all he has to say is screaming).

Every day is another chance to practice.