Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Singleton moments

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?


  1. For us, we have an almost 3 year old and 15 month old. We pretty regularly split up and do things solo: hubs will take A and I will take O on errand runs, playground, etc. I love spending time alone with each of the boys. Again, it's those coffee shop moments of chatting and paying full attention to ONE that I think it crucial to do as much as possible. Plus, because both boys get 100 percent attention, I do notice significant changed in their behaviors toward each other--a little less jealous and fighty. Plus they MISS each other, and that is evident in their interactions.

  2. I work 4 days a week and plan to start taking one to daycare and keep the other home with me one day for the very same reason - once we bathed them separately, I can't even remember why, and were amazed by the difference. This was a few months ago, so I can't imagine what it would be like now!

  3. The story of she-beat at the bakery made me smile. What a proud, wonderful mama you are!

  4. I think this is a really good observation and as you said, an important one. Scheduling and doing what is simplest is beneficial to you and the kids, but being able to spend time apart will bring out some amazing things. Just as getting Cooper together WITH other kids his age does for him. I don't have any great suggestions other than carving out specific times to switch off the kids having solo time with you and Grey. This will get more and more important as they get older and possibly more annoyed at having to be (and share) with their sibling all the time. It will be great bonding time for you guys too.

  5. I obviously don't have any experience so I can't really offer advice, but I loved reading this just the same. I am so glad that the two of you got to spend some quality time together. I knew a couple of sets of twins growing up and I swear they had some secret emotional language (and were always inseparable). I am glad that you are recognizing that even though they are always going to be very close and possibly alike in many ways, it is also important to spend time with each of them on an individual basis. You are one smart mommy! Keep up the great work! :-)

  6. My sister and I aren't twins but we are relatively close in age. Soon after she was born, my mom and dad started taking me on "dates." At first, we went on these dates to the dry cleaners or grocery store. Later, I got to go on dates to the movies or a similar fun excursion. Early on, my sister then got one-on-one time with the other parent at home but, as she grew, she got to go on "dates" as well. They didn't happen all that frequently as both of my parents worked but when they did happen, they were incredibly special. So much so that I somehow fondly remember how important I felt going to the dry cleaner with my mom as a toddler.
    Your story with she-beat warmed my heart. I think you're doing an amazing job at being a twin mom.

  7. Such a sweet post. She sounds like she loved having that time with you. :)

  8. This was such a cute post. I have no answer for you on how to carve out some singleton time, but I agree that it's a good thing. Glad to hear the prognosis is good for She-Beat too.


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