As our group grows and changes, so have our meetings. We have tried to incorporate more fun guest speakers, games, and activities for each meeting. And also tried to give you more incentive to be there with giveaways, yummy food and drinks, and fun themes! In case you have had to miss the meetings so far, here is a brief update on each.
August Meeting: End of the Year Camping Trip (preparation, enthusiasm, preparedness)
For our first meeting of our new year, we had a record turnout of 53 members and guests. We sat at tables based around our children’s ages, and began our year-long focus on our President, Ashley Hughes’, FWMoM Keys for Success by enjoying table discussions centered around preparation, enthusiasm, and preparedness. We heard a presentation from our sponsors at iCare ER on first-aid, safety, and immunizations, and enjoyed some yummy campfire food, including walking tacos and s’mores at our tables! Several lucky people received a funny mom shirt or FWMoM car decal as giveaways. It was fun night filled with laughter, great conversation, and meeting new friends! Personally, it was so moving to see such a wonderful turnout and be in a FULL room with so many great women -- all laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company! It was such a great sight and sound!
September Meeting: A Night at the Movies, Trivia Style (confidence, collaboration, inclusiveness)
For our September meeting, we moved into our new space, the Trinity ballroom, where we are able to accommodate our growing group much more comfortably! We also had a wonderful turnout this meeting, with 51 members and 4 guests in attendance. We enjoyed pizza and salad provided by our sponsor, Susan Wentworth at Enfamil, and then heard a presentation from her on picky eaters, brain development, and DHA. Our Keys for Success at this meeting were confidence, collaboration, and inclusiveness, which we focused on by channeling our inner celebrities with movie-themed trivia, and sitting at tables based around the areas where we live. The winning trivia teams enjoyed gift cards received in donation from the Cityview Target and QT. For me, this was such a fun night to see everyone’s competitive side come and out, and find out who knows their movie facts! It got LOUD in that Trinity ballroom, and was so much fun!
October Meeting: A Meeting of the Super MoM League (responsiveness, efficiency, courage)
For our October meeting, we were blessed with a wonderful donation from Corey Bearden at League Real Estate that provided us with a baked potato and salad bar, and we were provided with cookies from our sponsor Dr. Brazeal at Legacy Pediatric Dentistry. We had 34 members and 1 guest in attendance, and sat at tables based on which female superhero we identified with. Before the meeting began, we took time to honor those who had lost a child for Wave of Light (pregnancy and infant loss). We heard a presentation from Dr. Brazeal on dental health for our kiddos, followed by a self-defense class demo provided by Robert and Jennifer Klenka from Fort Worth Combatives. A few lucky guests received a pair of BentGo boxes, a FWMoM water bottle, and a book from Fort Worth Combatives as prizes. This was a packed and very busy night, where we actually ran over on time. But personally, this night was one of my favorite meetings to date because of everything I took away from the self-defense class and seeing everyone there enjoy both presentations! The self-defense class was very interactive and it was great to see everyone laugh and get into it!
November Meeting: Moms’RUs Kids, We Don’t Wanna Grow Up (organization, delegation, attention to detail)
At our November meeting last week, we enjoyed some taco soup with all the toppings and some delicious Lego brownies. We had 37 members and 4 guests present, and sat at tables based on our locations again. We heard so much great “grown up” info from one of our sponsors, Clint Dennis of Killen & Dennis, on wills, powers of attorney, and all that is involved. Afterwards, we rebelled a little against growing up and had fun with a Playdough Challenge where we created ourselves as MoMs, and enjoyed some fun conversation. The winners of the Playdough Challenge received Target gift cards and a FWMoM water bottle, and other giveaways included a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and QT free drink cards. This meeting was pretty low key, but it was such an informative meeting with so much laughter and fun!
Taking over a role in Programs on the FWMoM Executive Board this year has been such a fun undertaking for me! Before joining FWMoM, I did not take time for myself as a person, away from my family or outside of being a mom. This group has allowed me a fun space to do that, and given me the chance to take on a role where I can utilize my skills and interests. In my role as a Co-VP of Programs, I am able to do something that I truly enjoy... plan parties! It has been so rewarding to plan and prep meetings with topics or themes that I think everyone will enjoy, work with budget and donors to get as much out of our nights as I can, and then to see everyone enjoy their time and leave full and happy is just the best part!
And seeing our meeting attendance grow has been such an exciting thing! It is an amazing feeling to be in the meeting space as it is quiet, before anyone arrives, and then hear the noise level rise with laughter and conversation as everyone enters. These meetings are such a warm place to be with people who are truly excited to see you, care about you and enjoy your company. Looking around the room and seeing so many different women who come together and enjoy each other in such a way, is truly a special thing!
We have such a big year coming up and so many amazing meetings planned, so be sure to mark your calendars and make it a point to attend, invite guests, and encourage other members to come out as well! Take time for yourself each month to get out of the house and unwind. You will not be sorry you did!
December 17th: Dr. Wadley from 127 Pediatrics will speak, topic TBD
Craft Night – bracelets with Patty Marshall from Texas Phoenix Art Glass
January 21st: FWMoM’s 1st Ever Health Fair featuring local gyms, fitness groups and trainers, nutrition/meal prep coaches, overall health/wellness experts, and healthy living options. There will be free health checks for all, and lots of great giveaways! Open to members AND GUESTS!!
February 18th: Celeste Holbrook, PhD. and sex educator will speak on female sexuality and how it’s affected by marriage, motherhood, and life!!
Author: Heather Wilks is a girl mom to 3 year old Rowan, and 22 month old twins Zeplyn and Parrish. She’s married to her best friend and travel buddy. She is a stay at home mom to her girls, loves cooking and working out; and this is her first year serving as Co-VP of Programs on the FWMoM Board.
Fear starts with a thought and usually it’s not alone. It is kind of like getting caught in a rainstorm... you never just feel one single drop of rain. Fear thoughts come in like storm clouds that soak you to the bone. I remember when we were ready to start trying again for another child. Our oldest was 3 and we were hopeful for pregnancy to happen quickly. We had always gotten pregnant easily, and already walked through one miscarriage before Lucas, and I was thankful that that unpleasant experience was behind us... certainly that would not happen again. Like before, we were overjoyed to get pregnant again quickly!
Like a flood, I remember being angry, sad and consumed with fear when we lost that child. It wasn’t just one fearful thought, it was millions. It wasn’t just consuming my mind; fear affected my body and our marriage. Thankfully, my husband remained unmoved and helped me pull myself back together and began believing again for a child. We were surrounded by a church family that were all praying, and the support of that community helped heal my heart.
I soon moved out of fear and back into confidence. However, we suffered not one more, not two more, but three more miscarriages in the subsequent year. A total of 4 babies. We did all the right things, saw all the doctors, took all the supplements, wrote a prayer of petition, sought out a holistic approach, visited high risk specialists... all to learn there was absolutely nothing wrong with either of us. We were clearly fertile and there was no good reason for us to be losing these babies. The one bad reason was that we have an enemy, and that punk had come to steal from us. Fear rained hard, and at times our umbrellas folded under the pressure.
We had a choice to make. Would we let the fear of never having another child stop us in our pursuit of expanding our family? Or would we press forward in confidence? The battle with fear always starts between your ears, in your mind. Eventually, what’s in your mind will come out of your mouth in the form of words, which will shape your life. We really felt the pounding rain of fear inside us. Then we read a scripture that gave us the wisdom on how to rise above these seemingly never-ending rain clouds:
2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, and casting down arguments and reasonings and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive into the obedience of Christ.”
Gosh, take every thought captive. What that means is that anytime a thought comes into your mind, you must verify it has the right to be there. Similar to the way the TSA agent verifies your flight information and examines your bags (and you) before allowing you entry to the internal part of the airport. That is the way we should screen our thoughts to clear entry to our minds. Specifically, before they come out of our mouth and cause damage.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” What you say guides your life and choices. Like I said before, fear thoughts rarely come alone. They show up in droves to the entry to your mind with baggage designed to keep you from taking off. If fear can get your focus off your destination, it can keep you from flying above the storm! For my husband and I, we knew we had to examine every thought that came into our mind. Anytime fear would rain on me, I would say out loud, “I’m so thankful to be a happy mother of children.” It didn’t matter what I was doing. Even if it was a weird time to say it, it was a tool I used to take those thoughts captive and refocus.
We continued all the things we were doing in the natural. We followed all the physician's advice, but our main battle was in our minds, and we were determined to win. We were going to take off and set out at an altitude above the rain clouds of fear. See, once you determine not to allow fear to consume you, your life can rise above the storm where there's peace and clear skies.
Not long after, we got pregnant again. I vividly recall that drive to our first ultrasound appointment. I prayed the whole way, and my husband and I shared stories that encouraged our faith. We were battling in our minds and stirring up hope in one another for the family we had dreamed of. He’s pretty good at making me laugh and said, “Even when we have a healthy baby, we could still practice some more at conceiving!” For Heaven’s sake!
We desperately wanted to hear the whoosh of a little healthy heartbeat. As you all know, God had done a lot more than just one little heartbeat! He multiplied our family dream with twins! I was so thankful; all I could do was laugh! You would think fear would have taken me over at that point. However, instead of being flooded with fear and worry over a high-risk pregnancy, I was filled with the strongest peace I have ever felt. That peace carried me through the entire pregnancy, and we welcomed our two sweet additions with no fear!
You too can overcome fear by paying close attention to what is going on in your mind. Verify and screen your thoughts carefully, because they will produce life or death. To be clear, fear will always come. The power to overcome fear rests entirely on what you allow to come out your mouth in that moment. Consider what you can say when the feeling of fear rains down, and you will be living a fearless lifestyle before you know it!
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.
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.)
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.
Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples
P.O. Box 123874
Fort Worth, Texas 76121
Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.