Last Thursday She-Beat had her second evaluation. Per usual, Grey and I packed the Beats into the car and did our commute downtown to daycare. As these babies have aged, they've become familiar with the route we take, so when they see certain buildings they both become incredibly excited and will begin issuing shrieks of delight as they know they are going to school. So imagine She-Beat's reaction when we arrived and her brother was promptly released from his carseat but she remained strapped in. The look of confusion and worry is one that caused both Grey and I to stop and offer reassurances that she would be back at school later in the day.
The thing is that because we have twins, usually the Beats do everything together. From sleeping to eating to playing. Even diaper changes tend to be coordinated. For a couple of weeks in daycare, they were separated as He-Beat was transitioned to the toddler room first. But otherwise they come as a package. This pattern is due to Grey and me, as we needed it in order to survive. Separate schedules (or no schedule) would have resulted in zero sleep and pure mayhem, so when the NICU nurses established their initial schedule we stuck to it. And their daycare has found it to be very useful as it allows for things to run smoother.
The consequence of this, though, is that it's rare we get one-on-one time with each baby. Normally we don't think too much of it as it doesn't seem to bother the Beats. But Thursday was a good reminder for why we need to start prioritizing this.
Following dropping Grey and He-Beat off (Grey's work is a 10 min walk from their daycare), I drove with She-Beat to the neighborhood were the PR clinic is located. As we had an hour to kill, I decided to stop at a popular bakery with her to get her some breakfast. Pulling her out of her carseat, it was clear she was very confused. Where was her brother? Her teachers? What was this strange place???
Acting casually, I pointed out the different items in the display case and allowed her to select a raspberry scone for breakfast, which I naively assumed we would split, then ordered some jam, milk and juice to complete our meal. Once our order was complete, I found us a table that faced towards the room and pulled up a highchair for her to sit in. The whole time a very quiet little girl was looking around and taking in the scene.
As soon as her scone was placed in front of her, that changed. A huge grin spread across her face when she saw her breakfast and she began happily munching on her food, breaking to drink her milk from her sippy cup or to look at the other patrons who stopped to say "Hi." As breakfast went on (and it became comically clear I wasn't going to get a bite of that scone), I reflected on the fact that this scene was so foreign to me. Instead of splitting my attention between two babies, I could focus solely on She-Beat, talking with her and observing her interact with the world around her. And as the hour went by, I noticed that she seemed to be enjoying this one-on-one time too.
After breakfast, She-Beat and I went to her appointment. Again, instead of worrying about navigating a double-stroller, I was able to wrap her in a Moby and carry her into the clinic. We read a story in the waiting room and spent some time watching the activity in a fish tank. During the appointment, when she became overwhelmed with all the strangers, I found it easy to comfort her and calm her so that they could continue the assessment. Though they noted that she has low muscle tone that would benefit from physical therapy, the PT also noted that she was very bright-eyed and aware. And because it was just the two of us, she had the time to show me some exercises we could work on while waiting for the weekly PT sessions to begin.
Later that night, Grey and I talked about the morning. He noticed a similar response from He-Beat that morning while dropping him off at school. And thinking back to a few sick days with He-Beat where he was home with me, I remembered him having a similar response to our one-on-one time. It dawned on us in that moment the one-on-one time is incredibly important. That even though the Beats do enjoy one another's company, it is likely they also need moments without the other. Hence we need to start scheduling "singleton" time. That instead of constantly keeping the Beats together, we needed to make an extra effort.
The question is, how do we do this? There are obvious things we can do, such as Grey taking one baby with him while I take the other while running errands. Or making sure to spend some one-on-one time with each at home in the evenings. But beyond that, we're looking for ideas.
For those who find themselves in a similar situation (either parenting multiples or more than one child, or finding yourself in a situation where you're trying to carve out one-on-one time), what activities or special things do you do in order to the child in your life this special attention?
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