It's meal time at your home and you're planning the menu. You lovingly prepare the meal for your family and place the food on the table. You all proceed to sit down and dish up. You are secretly praying inside that maybe, just maybe, this time your child is going to take some vegetables. If your prayers are answered, maybe they will even try them. Some of you might be saying, "Oh well... My child has always loved their vegetables." Congratulations! You have a magical unicorn! For the other 99% of us, getting your kids to eat, let alone "like" vegetables can seem like a daunting task.
As a chef for over 18 years, I have seen every kind of kid eater there is out there. While I don't have a magical recipe that will make your kids love their vegetables overnight, I am, however, going to explain some things about this most very important part of your child’s diet. I'll shed some light on the rainbow of vegetables, and how they benefit your child, and maybe even share a trick or two that can help you out, mama.
In June 2011, the United States of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the tried and true Food Pyramid that we knew growing up, with My Plate. Just like its predecessor, My Plate puts a big emphasis on vegetables for your child’s diet. It encourages you to make your child’s plate a rainbow of vegetables. Why would they now start to emphasize this, you may ask? Well, believe it or not, every color and type of vegetable comes with its own health benefits for that growing body of your child. Vegetables are broken down into 5 categories: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy and other. I am even going to do one better for you, mamas. I am going to identify each group and their health benefits:
1) Dark Green: This includes broccoli, collard greens, dark green leafy lettuce, romaine and spinach. This category brings along with it the benefits of strong bones and teeth; vision health, and lowers the risk of some cancers.
2) Red/Orange: This includes acorn and butternut squash; carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. This category brings along with it the benefits of boosting the immune system (Vitamin A), heart and blood health (red veggies); vision and teeth health (Beta keratin) and lowers the risk of some cancers.
3) Beans/Peas (legumes): This includes black beans, black-eyes peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), pinto beans, red beans and white beans. This category brings along with it the benefits of helping digestion (good ol’ fiber), lowers cholesterol and lowers the risk of some cancers.
4) Starchy (everyone’s favorite category of them all!): This includes corn, green peas, green lima beans, jicama, plantains and white potatoes. This category brings along with it the benefits of extra carbohydrates that feed working muscles. The brain can only use carbohydrates as fuel for your body. In this category moderation really is key.
5) Other vegetables: Includes asparagus, avocado (yes it counts as a veggie), cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers or pickles; green beans, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, radishes and zucchini. This category brings along with it the benefits of providing color and nutrient variety, healthy heart (white vegetables), and memory health and aging (purple/blue vegetables), and lowers the risk of some cancers.
While this might seem all well and good, the question I know you must have is, "Just how many servings a day or week does my child need?" Well, this all depends on the age, and, yes, even the gender of your child. The USDA recommends these daily servings:
2-3 years: 1-1 1⁄2 cups
4-8 years; 1 1⁄2- 2 1⁄2 cups
9-13 years (girls): 2-4 cups
9-13 years (boys): 2 1⁄2-4 cups
14-18 years (girls): 2 1⁄2-4 cups
14-18 years (boys): 3-4 cups
Now, you might ask, why such a big range at each age? Like most other foods, how many vegetables your child should eat has a lot to do with your child’s activity level. An active child burning more calories will need more vegetables than an inactive child.
And what counts as one serving of vegetables for a child? According to the USDA, one serving is equal to 1⁄2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables and 1⁄2 cup cooked or canned peas or beans. So, looking at a weekly goal for your child’s vegetable intake incorporating the 5 categories of vegetables could look like this:
1) Dark greens: 1⁄2 cup each week
2) Red/orange: 1 1⁄4 cups each week
3) Beans/peas: 1⁄2 cup each week
4) Starchy: 1⁄2 cup each week
5) Other vegetables: 3⁄4 cup each week
And now that you have all this knowledge, I am sure you are asking yourself, "Well this is all fine and good, Jennifer, but how do I get my child to actually eat said healthy vegetables?” As I mentioned earlier I do not have a magical way for your child to eat their vegetables. I do, however, have some suggestions and tricks to help you to get them to try and eat them.
A love of vegetables can be started at a very early age. Most experts recommend starting early by offering your older infant and toddler a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Examples of how you can start this love of vegetables at any age for your child:
-Set a good example by eating vegetables yourself. Like they say “monkey see, monkey do.” You need to make sure your own choices are in line with the foods you want your child to eat.
-Prepare meals together. By having a hand in making the meal increases the chances your child will want to taste his/her creation.
-Avoid showing disinterest or disgust when trying new foods. A study found that mothers who showed that they didn’t want to try a new food had a child that also tended to refuse new foods.
-Mix in vegetables with foods that your child already loves. Examples of this could be as easy as an extra topping on pizza, extra veggies pureed in spaghetti sauce or mixed into a casserole or soup.
-Visit a farmer’s market to buy fresh vegetables and let your child pick them. If you're feeling hands on and have time, let your child start their own vegetable garden.
-Offer low fat dressing or dip as a side for vegetables. Let's face it most kids have a slight obsession to dip their food.
-Provide raw vegetables as a snack. Good examples of this are baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes or celery sticks. Remember provide a rainbow.
-Offer your child A LOT of choices. At first, provide smaller servings, and then increase. Remember and keep in mind most children, especially our picky eaters, will not try a new vegetable until they see it on their plate at least 10 times. So don't give up hope easily, mama.
At the end of the day, we always say, “Fed is best.” Every family is different when it comes to how they will incorporate various foods into their child’s diet. I hope the knowledge, advice and tips I have provided you can help start a love of vegetables in your child. Whether they know it or not, the eating habits they start now at a young age affect their health as an adult. So let's start our children on the right foot towards a healthier future.
Author: Jennifer Beckom is a twin mom to four year olds, Clara and Elizabeth. She is a wife, chef and child nutritionist. She has served as Secretary and Programs VP for FWMOM.
“Are we going to the nice hospital mommy?” Santiago asked me as we pulled up to the entrance. He'd been crying for over an hour about an earache on this last visit. I didn't want to go to the local children's hospital and have to wait for hours for such a small medical issue. iCare ER is quick ride from our home in Crowley down Chisholm Trail, where it is located on Sycamore School Road exit. It is well lit with a bright waiting room and accessible snack and drink bar in the front waiting area. The front desk ladies are quick and helpful.
We are quickly escorted into a room within minutes of arriving each and every time. We've been to the iCare ER with our 7 year old medically fragile triplets many times over the past year. They were born weighing 1lb each and, because of that, have many medical maladies. This simple, yet thoughtful action, reduces the other sicknesses we might come into contact if we went to the local children’s hospital, and gets us back home safely after treating their illness.
As a working mom who is also a doctoral student at Texas Christian University, with four special needs children, iCare ER is the best place in town for our everyday maladies. Each and every time we have to visit the iCare ER they are kind, knowledgeable and efficient. On one occasion, we all had to go. It was nice that both adults and kids could stop at just one place and be individually assessed. We all had the flu, and we were quickly tested and diagnosed, and given Tamiflu. We were grateful that we were able to go as soon as symptoms appeared, and not have to wait days for a doctor’s appointment. Last month we were in and out in thirty minutes with a script in our hands!
So thank you “nice hospital” for treating our family!!! We love the amazing service and make sure to tell all our multiple moms about it!!
Author: Liz is mom to 15 year old (Gabriel), and triplet 7 year olds (Felicita, Frida & Santiago). She has been a Fort Worth Mother of Multiples for about 5 years. She manages an Au Pair company, Adjuncts at TCU and is a full time doctorate student. She also sits on Committees at Cook Children Hospital, MHMR, and Crowley ISD.
If your family is anything like mine, then perhaps you find yourself feeling overwhelmed when it comes to the holidays. In addition to having FOUR Christmases (which is perhaps 2 more than anybody needs), we are invited to office parties, friends’ parties, holiday shows, and seasonal events. And it starts earlier and earlier each year! The “most wonderful time of the year” can quickly become the most stressful time of the year, if I am not careful. Add in the fact that we're moms of multiples, and the holidays can get downright chaotic! I have had the privilege of learning some great holiday tips and traditions from others, and from experience, and would love to share them with you all.
Because we have four Christmases, and always travel in December, my family has decided to never travel for Thanksgiving. We will always be home on that Thursday in November, because we realized we need a holiday for ourselves. This is our opportunity to make our own traditions, do our own thing, and not be on the road on one of the busiest travel dates of the year. So come Thanksgiving day, you will always find my family at our home, with the juiciest smoked turkey, all the fixin’s, and the game on TV. We decided we will always invite our families to join us, because the purpose of staying home for this holiday is not to exclude anyone, but rather to have family time in a stress-free environment that allows us to really enjoy the holiday and each other’s company.
After Thanksgiving, December is upon us. This seems to be the busiest time of the year. I have found that I must do some prep work if I want to also make it the happiest time of the year. When I say prep work, I don’t mean a to-do list a mile long, or a shopping list for gifts that includes everyone I’ve ever met. I mean TWO simple lists: (1) what NOT to do, and (2) my priorities.
First, when deciding what NOT to do, I like to use this simple test: Does it bring me joy or does it cause me stress? Here's what I know about myself: I will NOT send out Christmas cards. It’s just something that I find very stressful (what if I forgot someone, what if I don’t send them out in time, etc.), and have decided not to do. I also will NOT buy too many gifts for my kids (even though I really want to give them everything!!). I have adopted a really cool idea I heard about - to intentionally give your kids four gifts: (1) something they want, (2) something they need, (3) something to wear, and (4) something to read. This gives me a clear list of four different things I can gift my children with, and keeps me from going overboard with the toys (because, let’s be honest - we already spend enough time cleaning up the toys they have now but hardly play with).
Secondly, when it comes to setting holiday priorities, here’s what I’ve accumulated over the years:
Feel great about saying, “No.” When adding something to the holiday schedule, I try to ask myself if it will add stress OR if it will add joy. If it doesn’t bring us joy, I feel good turning it down. There simply isn’t enough time to do ALL the things. I must choose what’s best for our family.
Make FUN memories by doing something out of the ordinary. We like to "put the kids to bed" early one night, only to go right back in and surprise them with hot chocolate and a family car ride to go look at Christmas lights. Other ideas include: having a special treat for breakfast, chasing the kids all over the playground, playing whatever game they ask to play, and putting my phone away for the entire day.
Be of good cheer. Playing festive music and singing along can do wonders for bad attitudes. Impromptu dance parties also provide a great mood-boosting break. I also love to turn on a cheery Christmas movie and grab a bowl of popcorn to enjoy with the family. Whatever it is, make time to keep your spirits bright.
Do something for myself. I need time to breathe and relax, and some of my favorite ideas to choose from include: taking a walk around the neighborhood, enjoying a chapter of a good book, soaking in a hot bath, sipping on a mug of coffee or tea, taking a nap, or making time to hit the gym. Investing in yourself is important, because you cannot give of yourself when you are empty. You must first be full!
Enjoy time spent with family and friends. This season is all about thankfulness and joy, and some of my greatest blessings are my husband, children, family, and friends. Get rid of the distractions and simply enjoy the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.
Have high hopes and low expectations. I try to hope for the best and be optimistic, yet at the same time be understanding when things don't go to plan. If I spend all my time planning for the holidays, I find I am very easily disappointed when any little thing goes wrong - and something almost always goes wrong! Instead of stressing over the schedule, I try to enjoy the preparations. I particularly like to make a family fun night out of decorating the tree and baking cookies.
Beware comparison. If I start to lose focus on what really matters to me, or start looking around at what everyone else is doing, that’s when I start to stress. Am I doing enough? Can I rearrange my schedule to attend that event? Everyone else has taken all their decorations down already... Are they going to think I'm rude if I don't send them a Christmas card? If you start to compare, remember your priorities!
I've shared my list with you. I know it may not be the same as yours (remember, no comparing!), because my priorities are what I am choosing to pursue. Whatever your choices, feel good about your decisions this holiday season. Don’t let the fear of missing out steal your joy!
Please comment below and share your favorite tips for a stress-free holiday season.
Author: Ashley Hughes is a twin mom to 4 year olds, James and Timothy. She is a wife, baker, artist, and the President of Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples.
It started out simply enough. Back in May, some friends and I sat chatting at a FWMoM social event. Of course our conversation inevitably turned, as it always does, to our kids. One particularly amiable mom’s twins are about ten months younger than my triplets and she wondered aloud about how to begin gently guiding her year and a half year old girls in their behavior as their personalities blossomed and their independence soared. I realized during that conversation that really, I was in need of a discipline revamp in my life as my once extremely compliant 2 year old had become an emotional whirlwind of a 4 year old and I had a new crop of three 2 year olds who were, let’s say, less than compliant. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Well in this case, as I realized my need for a different approach to discipline in my household, necessity became the mother of a book club!
When I found a book that resonated with me, No-Drama Discipline, by Siegel and Bryson, I invited my friend to join me in reading and discussing the book, hoping to hold myself accountable to studying the book for my own benefit and perhaps support my friend as she navigated the same hurdles. We decided to open it up to the club to see if any other moms would be interested and were they ever! We had 22 moms register to be members of the group initially, with double that eventually joining our online discussion forum. With this format, moms unable to make the weekly meetings (set up as a play date, with the kids playing on a shaded, gated playground while the moms discussed the book each Tuesday morning over six weeks in the summer) could still benefit from the group by reading the chapter and responding to a weekly chapter summary and discussion questions. Before the first six sessions were even over, we all knew we weren’t ready for it to end; we wanted more! We not only decided on a second book to read together, The Importance of Being Little, by Christakis, but also on a name for our fledgling group: Overbooked (a play on words for all these exceedingly busy moms of multiples!). Although we have only had the pleasure of analyzing two texts through these studies together, we all have the same goal in mind: to explore issues that are important to moms. Together. Because this life as a mom to many young children is hard. Beautiful, but more difficult and demanding than maybe any of us knew. But there’s strength in numbers. There’s strength in moms coming together with a common objective; working to make all of us better. Together.
So, yes, it started out simply enough. Now though, months later, it feels less simple. Although it is still uncomplicated, just a group of mom friends meeting up so our kids can play and we can talk, it’s far from simple. As we sit, discussing the weekly chapter, we are the recipients of multiple blessings afforded by this group. First, the motivation to actually finish that book sitting on the nightstand! I know I speak for many moms of young children when I say my relationship with books has been largely pushed to the backburner as the daily tasks of caring for my home and family have begun taking so much of my “free time.” With weekly meetings, we have broken these books into very manageable pieces at one chapter per week. There is incentive to being able to actively participate in discussion and the books we have chosen so far have been ones that push us to evaluate our parenting strategies and how we love on and enrich the lives of our children.
Through our weekly conversations and exchange of ideas, we gain new perspectives from each other and benefit from other moms’ experience in a way we otherwise couldn’t. Although I knew many of these moms before the book club started, I didn’t know their parenting styles well. I might not have shared my struggles as a mom so openly in any other forum, thus missing out on the encouragement and advice I’ve received.
Primarily though, we are deepening our relationships with one another. As our club membership grows by the day, it becomes increasingly important to slow down and take the time to really get to know one another, to find other moms with similar interests, moms with whom we can share ideas and wisdom and glean some mothering wisdom in return. As an added bonus, our children are also socializing with one another, making relationships and navigating those budding relationships through play (and of course, some playground conflict).
It’s messy; not once have we ever met and not been interrupted multiple times by kids wanting snacks, needing attention in one way or another, getting into disagreements with each other during their play. But it’s the kind of messy that resonates as comfort and familiarity, the kind of messy that feels like family.
Author: Emily is a stay at home mom to Caroline, 5, and 2.5 year old triplets, Jameson, Shepherd, and Audrey. She loves to play board games with her husband, Clint, and she serves on the board as the social coordinator for FWMoM.
I find the telltale signs of fear or love when parenting are the words that we use. For example, the opposite of fear is love, and of course it is loving to teach your child to swim, to provide protection from drowning. Love says, “I want you to learn how to be a good swimmer, because one day you will go swimming without me, and I want you to have the skills to keep you safe.” Fear says, “I want you to learn to swim because water is dangerous, and you can never trust that the lifeguard is truly watching. Haven’t I told you stories about kids who died? Don’t ever think of going swimming without me, or without your life vest, or in any open body of water like a lake... That’s just too scary.”
Can you hear the difference? Motivation is revealed in our words, and they rub off on our children. Kids are intuitive and when we parent from a place of fear, they not only pick up on it, they pattern their hearts after it. The truth is, we can never fully protect our children from every risk and consequence. It may not show up at first, but our fear can plant seeds in their hearts that produce consequences we do not want. Fear teaches them to not reach out and try new things, to be scared of new opportunities, or to give up when something gets hard or scary. Fear will stifle their growth, and ours. Parenting from a place of love requires trust and confidence, not in ourselves, but in the Creator.
One parenting rule we live by now is to never make any decision based in fear. When I’m facing a decision for my children and I’m afraid of the consequences, I stop and pray. I want my confidence always to be in God and His love for my children. In full transparency, I don’t always start from there. I have learned to make a daily choice not to be fearful for my children. My confidence is not in my ability as a mother, but in the one I trust to guide my parenting.
This is our anchor verse: 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” A sound mind is wisdom and brings calm to any decision. If I'm not calm or well-balanced in my thinking about a decision, I know my thoughts are coming from fear. A sound mind is vital and not to be overlooked. However, truly parenting in love comes from a place of trusting God. This is not a Pollyanna mentality - that nothing bad can ever happen. Of course it can (hence my sons burned hand). We've been given a brain for a reason, and we need to use it by equipping our children to know the stove is hot! We can give our children the wisdom they need to navigate this life, in confidence not in fear. Remember, though, that they learn best from your example, so before you go off re-thinking every decision you have ever made, start with examining your motivation and confidence. From there, your parenting will be guided by wisdom.
One last thought, parenting in confidence and love isn’t a message we preach to our children, but part of living a fearless lifestyle daily. Living it out is the best form of teaching we can provide our children; they will do what we do. These verses help me the most when making daily decisions for my kiddos, as I endeavor to live out a fearless lifestyle with them along my side:
Deuteronomy 11:19, 21. “Teach them to your children, talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night... so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land.”
What a picture of a mother in action with children by her side all day, teaching throughout the day! We all want our children to truly flourish and live a fearless lifestyle. As we walk in confidence, we are giving them a fantastic start!
“What did mommy tell you?” I said as I held the ice on my little boy’s fingers. In my head, I recounted the numerous times I'd told him to not touch the stove while we were cooking. Lucas didn’t really give an answer, he learned the hard way that a warning and instruction coming from my lips was for his benefit. At the time he was only 3, and gosh I wanted so badly to save him from any harmful experience! I think that's the nature of a mother’s heart; bubble wrap our precious ones, keep them locked up safe as they grow, never letting the world touch their pure hearts! As noble as that sounds, the motivation can often be driven by fear, and when it is, the results can be devastating. My heart sank that he was hurt, not badly and certainly recoverable, but I was afraid I had failed him.
I told my husband what had happened that morning, and to my surprise he said, “Good.” Dumbfounded, I pressed for an explanation. “He’s learned two things from burning himself: that you are to be trusted, and not to touch the hot stove! Don’t we want him to be obedient and wise?” He was right. My head still whirled with fearful thoughts about my mothering capabilities, the what if’s and long-term consequences of messing up with him on a bigger scale consumed me. I get that this is a small incident in the scope of all of life’s struggles, but if I couldn’t keep him safe from the stove in our home, how could I protect him from anything else? The fear must have been showing on my face, because my husband then said, “Great job, momma Tonya! We can’t protect him from every harmful or poor choice he'll make but we can teach him to trust God and use wisdom to make choices.” This is why I love this man. He brings me back to earth with statements like that.
Confidence. I was putting my confidence in fear and not in love.
As parents, there are so many decisions we make, so many choices we guide our children into across the course of their lives, that our internal motivation becomes evident and has consequences. When we parent our children motivated by fear, they learn to fear. You know that old saying ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ is a known falsehood to any parent. We know our kids will do what we do, even if it's the opposite of what we say. For example: when your child hears you lie to the annoying salesman in the store, they learn that sometimes it’s ok to lie. No matter how much you lecture them about telling the truth, you lived out in front of them that lying can have a temporary benefit sometimes, and they pick up on it. The next time they tell you a lie to get out of trouble, the correction you bring loses its effectiveness. They learned the lesson already, now they resent your punishment because you seemingly don’t have to live it.
Same thing is true with fear, it’s just not always as obvious. Fear gets into your parenting in sneaky ways, because it can be cloaked in concern and worry. We can sound like great parents but if we're driven from a fearful place, it’s not truly love. It is possible to parent from a place of confidence in love and wisdom and not in fear, and that’s what I want to explore! (Read more in Part 2 of this blog post.)
Author: Tonya Flowers is the mother of 3 boys: Lucas who’s a 3rd grader, and 3 year old twin boys, Wyatt and Timothy. She is a nurse part time, a minister at her church, and serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.
During many travels back and forth to Mickey’s house and Grandma’s house, as well as my 14 years of experience as a flight attendant, I have narrowed down my top 10 must-pack items to bring on the airplane.
10. Two diaper bags
Since most domestic planes are configured with 3 seats per row, my husband and I expect to be split up – we each get a girl. I pack the same thing in each bag so that the other parent will be prepared with everything they need for the flight and we don’t have to worry about needing something out of the other bag during the flight. And, since we fly standby, our seats usually end up being at opposite ends of the plane.
9. Diaper bag necessities
Pack each diaper bag with at least 1 change of clothes, extra diapers and wipes, pajamas, blankets, comfort animals, sippy cups, bottles, sanitizing wipes (I like the Wet Ones brand, single use packets), and extra formula. Many times, while I’m at work, I encounter parents who are not prepared for the unknown. They don’t anticipate what would happen if their flight ended up being delayed or canceled so they aren’t prepared. They run out of diapers, or even formula.
8. Empty grocery bags (at least one per diaper bag)
I am always amazed by how much trash we can accumulate during a 2-hour flight. We collect our trash in the bag to keep our area clean and then we aren’t waiting for the flight attendant to come around with a trash bag.
We buy the 10 pack Minnie Mouse ones at Walmart. The tray tables are dirty and gross, my girls are dirty and gross... At least I can control one of the variables!
6. Snacks! Lots of snacks!
Again, plan for the unexpected. And snacks keep them busy!
5. Melissa and Doug Reusable sticker books
My girls LOVE these books! They will play with these for hours and there is so much creative play involved.
4. Invisible Ink books and Coloring books
When I was a little girl, I would get a new invisible ink book every time we fly. I have continued the tradition with my girls.
3. Dollar Store toys
I make a trip to the dollar store and buy a few different fun toys. New surprises, and if the toy gets lost in the trip, it isn’t the end of the world.
2. Tablets and headphones
I love the LilGadgets Connect headphones. They are padded, super soft and easily adjustable. My favorite part of these headphones, though, is the SharePort. Many times, my girls want to watch a movie together. I can easily plug one adaptor into the other set of headphones so they both can hear. Of course, I make sure their favorite movies and games are preloaded, as well as some new games.
1. Cares Device
This is my absolute, ABSOLUTE favorite product. This device is the only one of its kind approved by the FAA. It allows the airplane seatbelt to turn into a 5-point harness. Not only is it safer for the children, it gives them the familiarity of a car seat and how they are supposed to behave in the car, without the bulkiness of an actual car seat.
When preparing for a trip with multiples, you may already feel like you’re packing everything including the kitchen sink, so hopefully this list is helpful in determining necessities. Do you have any “must-have” items that are on your list? Any additional ideas, comments, or suggestions? Leave a comment below!
Author: Jenna Bingener is a twin mom to 3 year old girls, Annabelle and Maggie. She is a flight attendant and training instructor. She also serves on the board as the VP of Membership for FWMoM.
As moms of multiples, we need to cut ourselves some slack. And this isn't even as much about making time for self-care as it is just being nice to ourselves in our thoughts, actions, and words.
My twins are 16 months old, and I am currently 16 weeks pregnant with another set of twins (feeling ALL the feels!). It only recently dawned on me that most days I wake up with negative self talk in my head, running through all the things I didn't finish yesterday, and the impossible list of things that need to get done today. Not the best start to a day -- feeling defeated and overwhelmed before I've even begun.
So I've started trying to run through some positive affirmations about myself at the start of each day. Coupled with prayer and reading the Bible, this helps to set some semblance of calm before the busyness of the day commences when the twinadoes awake.
But why do us MoMs have such a hard time giving ourselves grace? I imagine this applies to all moms, but when you have multiples, it feels like the situations are amplified. I find that I so often compare myself to singleton moms (which I know I shouldn't but still do anyway...) and the waves of self-judgement start rolling in. "She's lost all her baby weight so quickly, and I still haven't after all this time."She took her baby out to such fun places, and we were just staying at home trying to survive." "How can that mom look so put together, and I can't even remember if I put on deodorant today?"
That's why I am so incredibly grateful for FWMoM! Even then, we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, but it certainly helps to see that our definition of "normal" is different from moms who have never experienced the joys of multiples... and to know and learn from MoMs with older multiples who have already walked the road we're walking, and have lived to tell the tale!
I always used to tell expecting MoMs that the best advice I had for them was to lower your standards or expectations -- whether it's expectations of what you're capable of, standards of tidiness around the house, you name it. Just making it through the day, whether you work or stay at home, and you have managed to keep multiple little ones alive and healthy (with or without help) is a win!
But now I would add, "Be kind to yourself." Life can be hard... Caring for multiples IS hard. But you are divinely equipped for this. God has seen that in you. You just need to see it in yourself. And celebrate all that you were created to be.
Author: Koula Budler has 16 month old twins, William and Emma. She works part time from home, creating content for an ad agency, and freelances as a writer and social media content developer for several clients. She is also the publicist for Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples.
I bought my double stroller pretty early in my twin pregnancy, around twelve weeks. I remember it very clearly because a friend of mine spotted it at a garage sale and texted to tell me I needed to go buy it right now. I was on a work retreat and wasn’t able to snag it at that moment, so I went to the seller’s house later that day, knocked on the door and awkwardly asked if she still had it. It was there, waiting for me: a Bumbleride Indie Twin, green, in excellent condition and priced at a quarter of what I would have paid in the store.
Fast forward six months. The twins had arrived! They were tiny and cute and never slept at the same time. They demanded so much from us. I was delirious. I was scared to take them anywhere, terrified they would scream at me in tandem, needing to be fed or changed or held or something I couldn’t figure out. So, at far younger than the stroller manual recommended, I strapped the babies in the stroller and started walking. We walked, then we walked some more. A lap around the neighborhood in the morning. Then another one in the afternoon. Then after dinner, a walk before bedtime. The stroller walk became my retreat.
Eventually the personal escape of the stroller walk turned into my social outlet. The lap around the neighborhood ended with playtime at the park. I began to meet other moms from the neighborhood. I texted my friend Michelle, a neighbor and fellow twin mom I met through Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples, and we walked together. I met another neighbor, Judy, just out in the street one day as she was going to visit a friend. A few days later, she spotted my green double stroller; we began to talk and set up the first of many playdates for my girls and her granddaughter.
We left evidence of our stroller walks all around the neighborhood. As the girls got older and more independent, they required a whole slew of items just for a short walk - breakfast, snack, sippy cup, another snack, toy, book, pacifier, many of which were thrown overboard during the course of the walk. In turn, my walks sometimes doubled in length as I traced my steps in an attempt to recover the lost items (pro tip: if your soothie pacifier gets run over by a car, just run it through a dishwasher cycle and it’s as good as new). As I got to know more neighbors, I would even receive texts letting me know they had found our little dolly on the ground a couple streets over, usually covered in tire tracks by the time I got to it.
I have worn the wheels off my stroller several times, once pushing it over a mile with a deflated back tire (pro tip: don’t do that). It’s had entire cups of coffee spilled on it, been disassembled, soaked, scrubbed and reassembled. It’s been unintentionally pushed down a hill with the brake on, then had the brake replaced. It’s been to the zoo, Sundance Square, trick-or-treating, an Aggie football game (whoop!), a scavenger hunt with some twin friends. It’s been flipped over by two standing twins. It’s had the snack trays’ stitching torn and then reinforced with the help of grandma’s sewing machine. The stroller has been my steady source of escape for the last 4+ years.
My girls are now almost five, and our stroller walks still happen, though not as frequently as they used to. The twins’ feet now hang past the footrests, and they often ask mommy to go faster and get to the park already. They prefer to ride their bikes sometimes, or to push their baby doll strollers instead. But as long as I can convince them, I’ll keep taking them on stroller walks. And when anyone asks me for the must-have item for twins, my answer will always be: a good double stroller.
Author: Tyler Wright is mom to four-year-old twins Audrey and Juliette. She is a CPA, yoga instructor, Moms Group Coordinator and Public School Liaison for her neighborhood association, and Webmaster and Newsletter Editor for Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples.
Yes, you read that right. Worry and fear are sisters. Identical twin sisters likely, or fraternal twins that look so much alike even family members can’t always tell them apart. They act similar, make messes together, and sometimes even dress alike to make them even harder to tell apart. There is one distinguishing feature between worry and fear, though: one has a deceitful smile, creeps in quicker to our heart, and stays around longer while the other is a little terror -- loud clamoring dread, and ruining even the greatest of experiences. Both sour our mind, distort our thinking, sap our energy and lead us to dark places and poor decisions. Yet worry is the one we tolerate or consider even noble to hold hands with as mothers. She makes us feel like perhaps we are getting something accomplished. Meanwhile, everything she says is all a lie. She fools us, she traps us, and her unattractive nature is a face only a mother could love... and so often we do!
Of course I'm not talking about any actual little people (don’t be tempted to put your kids’ names in here, lol), but of fear and worry. I’m usually pretty good with identifying fear when it comes up inside me, and over the years I’ve become better at overcoming it. Worry, on the other hand, can get me.
We moved over the summer, which was a significant adjustment, as well as a tax on my marriage, finances, and children. The moving prep time happened to be when preschool enrollment opened throughout the city, and we planned to enroll our twins. I had no energy to put into researching or visiting schools, so I let the search slip to the back burner. We successfully moved, and nobody lost their life (thankfully, although it was close), finances settled down, and my children explored our new home with excitement.
That’s when she got me. She took my hand and held on tight. I began to worry about what we were going to do about preschool. I called and emailed a few places -- anxiously waiting for responses, only to realize after days, most were out for the summer. I reached out to the free public PreK and they were so full, but offered me the waiting list. My boys were CLEARLY ready for a chance to grow, and I was CLEARLY ready for them to go off to preschool. The weeks rolled by, and day after day was filled with consuming thoughts about how we were going to find a school for them. Sure I prayed about it, but I didn’t truly give it over to God. I wouldn’t open my hand to Him, because I was holding the hand of worry. She wouldn't let go, either. School was starting for my older son, and I had found nothing.
Had you asked me if I was fearful about it, I would have said “No, it will be fine... We will find one.” But on the inside, that sinister, ugly worry had a tight grip. Just like twins, wherever worry is, fear is right there, too. Fear and worry come from the same place. Along with the entire family of anxiety, dread, horror, terror, disdain, panic, agitation, and distress... But just like fear, we can overcome worry with love. Do you remember from last month: “Love turns fear out at the door and expels every trace of terror (1 John 4:18)”?
The word worry is a translation of a phrase from the Greek meaning: “to be thoughtful,” considering or striving after. Worrying is thinking over and over something, allowing it to consume every thought. It’s replaying a situation in our minds; it’s feeling dread over tomorrow or that upcoming appointment. As mothers, we often misinterpret worry as caring about someone. “I’m just worried about...” and you fill in the blank. Being full of care is a symptom of worry, which is exactly where I was with the preschool search.
So, let’s get down to it. How then do we overcome, and let go of the pesky hand of worry? SO GLAD YOU ASKED!
The battle in our minds over worry starts with calling it what it is. Worry is fear. Once we come to recognize it for what it is -- an ugly deception of fear -- we can overcome it. Our culture in America says that worry is a good thing. The truth is, worry gets you nowhere! Luke 12:25-26 says it best: “Does worry add anything to your life? Can it add one more year, or even one day? So, if worrying adds nothing, but actually subtracts from your life, why would you worry about God’s care of you?” Worry steals from you. It is not noble or good of you as a mother to obsess about anything. When you hear it in others, and in yourself, recognize it for what it is and call it out!
Once you admit that fear is there, then you can deal with it the right way. Whether you know Jesus as your savior or as a historical man, His recorded words are full of wisdom in this area. Let me share His thoughts here, because this is what jerked the slack out of me and helped me identify and get beyond the fear of not finding a preschool for my twins. Jesus was talking to people, some of which were probably mothers, and just like us, they dealt with everyday worries. I often wonder if there were mothers of multiples there in the crowd...
“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? “Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith?"
Hang on. I want to pause here a minute in the narrative and say, He is not saying don’t ever think about any of the natural things. We must have clothing, and prepare food... that is life. Sometimes that’s the majority of our lives on the daily! What He is saying is we do not have to be consumed with thinking about and worrying over them. His bigger point is not the things in front of us, it’s what is going on in our mind, and who we are holding hands with -- fear or love. Ok, back to the story...
“So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
And there's the kicker at the end! When we refuse to worry, we stop fear in its tracks and kick it out of our minds! I like the word "rebuke", because it’s the opposite of worry. What rebuke means is to “give no thought.” When fear comes into your mind, you can refuse and rebuke it by not paying attention to it. It starts with recognizing the fear in the worry, and then rebuking it by not giving it any of your time and attention. He gave us a practical plan on what to think about instead. In the scriptures above He said, think about His Kingdom and all that proceeds from it. Ladies, that’s where the goodness is at!
To wrap up, we did find a preschool in the ninth hour. Once I relaxed about it, I could clearly see my hands were tied to fear and I was able to let it go. Bye Felicia! You momma, can do the same thing with all that concerns you! Tell those ugly twins of fear and worry that your house and heart are too full of your own multiples to give them any time!
Author: Tonya Flowers is the mother of 3 boys: Lucas who’s a 3rd grader, and 3 year old twin boys, Wyatt and Timothy. She is a nurse part time, a minister at her church, and serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.
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