I really love the Swedish Christmas and have this dreamy idea of how it should be. And this year it was just perfect! We even had snow! Quite rare for this period.
After a long breakfast we headed out to our sunny winter land to the nearest “hill” (there aren’t many in the flat South of Sweden).
The boys had so much fun with the “pulka” (sledge), going downhill, running up and going down again.
After playing in the snow we headed back home for lunch (traditional different kinds of “sill” (herring), eggs, sausage etc. and to enjoy the rest of the day – with Kalle Ankas Jul (Donald Duck’s Christmas) on TV, opening gifts, eating ginger bread and drinking glögg.
Each family celebrates Christmas in slightly different ways. But watching Kalle Anka on TV at 3 pm and opening the gifts afterwards is pretty much a common tradition for everybody.
Even dinner was according to Scandinavian traditions with meatballs, Janssons frestelse, Christmas ham etc.
The boys’ best Christmas present by far this year was a racing track – the same I had (well, it was actually my brothers’) when I was little. The one with two cars/tracks, joysticks and loops. They went to bed pretty satisfied that night, and so did we!
The day after, we flew to Rome. So we got a bit of the Italian Christmas as well. The boys get really spoiled with gifts when we come here. They are always the main attraction for family and friends! While “Babbo Natale” (Santa) is the main attraction for Emil and Marco 🙂
When I think back of the baby-toddler-time, I think of SLEEP. Or rather the lack of it. They say that babies’ sleep can be of varying quality in the first years but usually stabilizes around the age of three. Here’s our case.
My memories from the first year are a bit blurry, but as I recall, it was a relatively smooth ride. Both our twins slept well during the night. I normally got up just once to nurse. The hungry one always woke up first, I nursed him and after that, I picked up and nursed the other one while he was asleep.
Our days were rolling by, we had our routines. Especially with twins, it ‘s CRUCIAL to be one step ahead. Avoid getting into situations where you have to handle babies that are overtired, too hungry, too bored or too much of anything. That could just devastate you and make you regret the whole parenting thing.
I was pretty good at it – and the boys were good too. I know, for instance, that some babies only take short naps during the daytime, but our boys have usually slept quite long, on average 1½ hours. The trickiest part was to get them to fall asleep more or less simultaneously. By the end of the first year, I even managed to repaint upstairs. All while the boys were napping.
Well, at least that’s how I remembered it. But when Andrea and I spoke about it the other day, he just looked at me: “Have you forgotten? How it was?!?” Now that I have found the journal I wrote during their first years, it’s clear that my memories are more romantic than the reality!
Here is the real version:
One child did not sleep well during the evening hours (when we FINALLY had our chill-out time). He used to wake up and cry every 15-20 minutes for the first 2-3 hours. But he eventually fell into a deep and calm sleep until the next morning.
The other one woke up 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times during the night, killing our precious sleep and making us feel like a total wreck the next day.
I guess the glass is half full though. We could have gotten TWO babies who didn’t enjoy sleep as much as we do, but at least one of them was kind of a sleeper!
One more thing that I had forgotten all about: the cold and flu seasons that knocked the routines out in an instant. JUST as we’d got them into place again since the last fever. Simply put – FRUSTRATING!!
However, I want to point out how important it is to establish routines. And be prepared to do the work more than once because they WILL get erased!
If you’re not already doing it, keep the same schedule for your kids – think of it like running a mini Kindergarten =)
Set a time for naps, eating, changing diapers and adjust it as they grow.
Naps – Keep them more or less equally long for both.
Let them wake up at the same time. When the first one awakes – wake up the other one too. This makes bedtime easier in the evening since they’re synced (see more below).
90-minutes cycles awake/asleep – Babies (and even adults) have “sleepy windows” recurring every 90 minutes after waking up. Note the time your baby wakes up in the morning (or afternoon, or after a car ride etc.). The next sleep opportunity will appear after 1½ hours, 3 hours, 4½ hours and so on. So don’t miss it!
Last meal of the day – Let at least one hour pass before bedtime (going to bed with a full stomach is not a good idea).
Last hour before bedtime is for chilling and winding down. Make up your own routine that works for you. Kids LOVE routines – it makes them relax when they know what’s coming. Give them a bath, brush the teeth, cuddle, dim the lights, listen to soft music, read a book, sing or play an instrument.
Screen time – I have to admit that sometimes the iPad / TV is a helpful friend, but NOT before bedtime! Instead of calming them down it will generate a lot of impressions and activate their brain.
So, by having good routines and learning your baby’s sleep pattern – you could make a huge impact on your daily life. And it’s not hard! That’s the best part. Be consistent. When you start implementing it- you’ll be AMAZED at how soon you’ll start to see results.
You know those memories that you will forever remember as if it was yesterday?
“WE’RE GONNA HAVE TWINS!”
It felt like we’d won the lottery. However, that feeling faded a little bit along the way…
End of pregnancy, not so great.
Losing the ginormous belly after a 72 hours labor, that was a HUGE relief!
First six months – average night sleep: three hours. You don’t know who you are. You smell bad. Nutella is your new best friend.
Life is not hard, it’s horrible!
And you can’t just take a break from it. You are a lousy partner, an apathetic parent and a numb human being.
I remember one day (or actually my husband reminded me), during my parental leave. Me alone with the twins at home. The usual never-ending loop: whining, breastfeeding, diapers change, poop in the diaper, poop outside the diaper, shower, change everything. Then start all over again with the one who a-l-w-a-y-s falls asleep while breastfeeding, hence never really satisfied. I’m so tired I wanna puke. I can hardly keep my eyes open, and the feeling of inadequacy just keeps rising. I Feel The Blood Pumping Under My Skull and I’m dangerously close to a melt-down. In the middle of it all, the doorbell rings. We are trying out home delivery of groceries for the first time, and they decide to show up right THIS MOMENT! Four massive bags. Two of which containing frozen food that must be taken care of straight away.
It was supposed to make our life easier – but right now I just hate the world!
The whining (that never really stopped) has now reached unbearable levels.
This is too much. I can’t take it anymore.
I leave the boys and run upstairs, I start crying, I bang my head against the wall (literally!). I’m losing it.
It takes A LOT before I reach out for help. I call my husband in tears: “you, home, NOW!”. At “you” he’s already in the car heading home.
Everything is relative when you have small children. Everything gets a new value. Definitions change.
The definition of luxuryfor instance: to indulge in the shower for 5 extra minutes or – God forbid – take a bath! To do the dishes alone in the kitchen. To take a nap. The silence!
“Things will get better eventually. Just give it some time”. People tell you that. And you hate each and every one of those people.
The problem is that the concept of time does not belong to this phase. You are simply unable to see the light at the end of the terror-tunnel. You have no dreams. You have no energy. No empathy. No hope. You just survive in damage control mode and pray for some sleep.
So, how did we survive?
Remember: this is no time for giving. This is time for asking and taking. As much as you possibly can.
This is when you want to:
Go through your phone book and identify 15-20 contacts that you might see fit for the purpose. Friends, family, colleagues, neighbors. Doesn’t matter. The more the merrier. Couples with no kids are your best choice. Ask them gently (but firmly) to come over for dinner, and to bring food!
Order groceries, home delivered pizza or Thai/Chinese dinners. Or just any sort of cooked meal. It will spare you some time better spent resting.
Buy a dishwasher if you don’t have one
Hire a maid if you can afford it
Get a nanny if you can afford it
Stash up everything. Everything! Diapers, food, formula, baby clothes, painkillers (for the hubby), napkins (you’ll tear down half a forest during the first months I’m afraid)
Get half an hour a day of me-time. Doesn’t matter how. Just do it. Recharge!
Now, I don’t want to be one of those people, but you WILL manage to survive this initial period. And you’ll proudly get to the bright side feeling stronger than ever. And, believe it or not, those dark days will all of a sudden be a distant blurry memory.
But that’s a subject for another chapter.
In the meantime, keep fighting!
PS. We thought you might need a little something to keep up the spirit so we turned to our kids for some help… Enjoy!