Life with Twins: Yes, Every Day is an Instant Playdate

Play, especially when self-directed, is not only natural — it is vital for our children’s emotional health. Through play babies naturally develop physical and cognitive skills, stretch their imaginations, flex creative muscles, build resiliency and a strong sense of self.

The quote above is from the article “Baby, You Are Born To Play” by Janet Lansbury, a proponent of RIE parenting. I can’t say I’m a full on RIE parent (actually I feel iffy attaching any label to my parenting, such as it is; I sort of do a little of this and a little of that style I guess), but a lot of the stuff I’ve read about RIE make sense to me. I’m not equipped enough to adequately describe what RIE parenting is all about (for that, you can check out this link), but letting kids enjoy uninterrupted, self-directed play is one of its principles.

I used to feel guilty for not spending a lot of time doing “activities” with my twins, but now I can just say, hey, RIE parenting! Ok, just kidding. There is RIE parenting and there is distracted parenting, which goodness knows is also one of the things I can be guilty of.

In any case, because they are now full-fledged toddlers, the twins have become increasingly adept at entertaining each other. As long as they know that I’m around, I can more or less just stay in one spot and let them do their own thing. Once in a while they’ll come up to me and sort of check in, tell me what they’re doing or ask for my help in something, then off they go again. They do pretend play, horse play, throw-everything-within-reach play, run-around-giggling play–whatever strikes their fancy. And should one twin happen to be asleep, the awake one is also capable of playing by herself. We’re still a long way to the point where I can actually work on my computer for long stretches while they play, but we’re also a long way off from when they needed to be entertained or held all the time.

Twins are definitely high-maintenance, especially in the infant days, but at this stage, the fact that they have each other is just all sorts of awesome. Here’s a short video that shows some of those awesome moments. Hope it brings a smile to your face 🙂

Japan Home Center Finds

I was in the Panay Avenue neighborhood last week, and these days I seldom find myself outside at all, so I couldn’t resist taking advantage of the opportunity to check out the big Japan Home Center branch located there.

I’ve always found it amusing to check out Daiso/Saizen and Japan Home stores because they always have such nifty little things. Some make me go “Wow, that’ll really come in handy,” while others make me go “Wow, they invented a device for that? Really?” Either way, a Japan Home Center visit makes for an amusing and potentially productive half hour or so.

The Panay Avenue branch was big and had two levels, so I think I spent more than an hour checking things out.  I was particularly tempted by the collection of big glass storage jars that they had, but eventually what ended up in my basket are these:

paints; paint containers; tongs and spray bottles for fine motor practice;  sensory play materials, chalk, big masking tape

paints; paint containers; tongs and spray bottles for fine motor practice; sensory play materials, chalk, big masking tape

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First Play Dough

first play doughMy attempt at DIY play dough: looked iffy at first, but with a bit of troubleshooting, it was a success. I loved it when the consistency finally came out right. On the other hand, my attempt at getting the twins to play with it: not so successful. One twin found it a little icky while the other one was amused at squeezing it for a while then she was more interested in the little animals and props that I included in the play. However, the play dough can be refrigerated and reused. All in all, I’m calling it a win.

DIY play dough recipe from The Imagination Tree. I love this site!

some quirks of having twins

Quirks that have become part of my life with my 1.5-year-old-ish twin girls:

  1. Of course, there is the need for two (or at least good for two) of everything. Two cribs. Two strollers. Two high chairs. Way too many bottles. Extra large diaper bag. When we go somewhere with the yayas and grandmother/s in tow, we need two cabs. As early as the pregnancy, even the ultrasound costs were marked up for two, and do not even get me started on the daily NICU and nursery costs times two! Mercifully, we didn’t have to buy all of the baby items ourselves, thanks to family and friends who helped lighten our load through gifts, loaners, or hand-me-downs.
  2. You post a photo of a baby on Facebook and nobody knows for sure who it is. Not that it really matters, except to you, of course. But it does make for an instant, entertaining game as some people try to guess.
  3. You have to remember, and sometimes mark, which partially unfinished bottle belongs to whom. Otherwise, the more voracious twin may always end up having more. We used different-colored baller bands.

    Renewables Now baller bands for Dahon, Saving Philippine Reefs for Ulap

    Renewables Now baller bands for Dahon, Saving Philippine Reefs for Ulap

  4. The twins don’t understand that you can only safely carry one of them at a time, and at this age, they don’t yet understand the concept of taking turns. However, even if they can both comfortably sit on your lap while you read a book, they most emphatically do not want to. Pushing will happen, and yes, most likely tears will, too.

    when both want to sit and read on mommy's lap

    when both want to sit and read on mommy’s lap (photo by Abby)

  5. For most mothers, alone time with their baby is a precious bonding moment. For mothers of twins, alone time with the babies can be a terrifying prospect.

    please don't wake up yet

    please don’t wake up yet

  6. At least 70% of the time, the toy that one twin is playing with is the toy that the other twin wants. Never mind that there’s an exact replica within reach. However, this all the more makes you appreciate the other 30% of the time when one twin will voluntarily relinquish a toy to her sister. It will give you a few precious moments going, “Aaawww, look at that, that’s so sweet, they’re going to grow up to be best of frie—oops, there she goes, she’s grabbed it back! There, there, don’t cry … you, give it back, you little—come back here!”
  7. When they get a bit older, they can play together and entertain each other for a few minutes, while you just sit back and watch, or even try to complete a chore. Yey, instant playdate! But you can’t afford to be complacent since the most harmless toy can turn quite the opposite in a matter of seconds, because it can be used to bop the other twin in the head, or be the subject of an all-out tug-of-war (see #6).

    Ulap: That's mine, i'm 8 months  old today! Dahon: No, I'M 8 months old today!

    Ulap: That’s mine, I’m 8 months old today! Dahon: No, I’M 8 months old today!

  8. This one I just read somewhere, and can attest to be true. One advantage of raising twins is that when something iffy’s going wrong with one twin, you don’t automatically assume that you’re doing something wrong, because hey, it’s not happening to the other one! But of course, if it’s both of them, like that time they both came down with gastroenteritis and were hospitalized within days of each other, you gotta think that you dropped the ball somehow.
  9. There’re always enough babies to go around for excited grandparents, relatives, and friends who come visit. They practically come to the house ready to see a show because, hey, twins! There’s so much built-in cuteness there that all the babies have to do is scream “Eh?!” to each other and the adults are entertained.

    that rare photo where they're both smiling. the twins at 6 months

    that rare photo where they’re both smiling

  10. Related to #9, twins just attract good vibes. When you go out, people do a double take, smile, and ask, “Are they twins?” You nod and smile, and they say something like, “Ang cute naman!” and smile back. Maybe you start a conversation, maybe you don’t. Maybe you start a friendship, maybe you don’t. Maybe you get some sort of favor or special treatment because they know you must be exhausted somehow, maybe you don’t. But for a while, there are smiles all around.

As the other items in the list show, of course, it’s not always smiles and sunshine. When the twins were newborns and born prematurely, I was discharged out of the hospital ahead of them and had to resort to visiting them everyday. One afternoon, we were at the nursery viewing area talking to some friends while the twins were on display along with several other babies. One of the other visitors, not knowing that I was the mother, said something like, “’Kambal? ‘Yung isang baby nga lang ang hirap, paano pa yung dalawa?” Which is, of course, a perfectly natural sentiment, one that has occurred to me as well. But at that moment, a rush of irritation for that guy came over me. Hey, buddy, don’t rain on my parade okay? Everybody else is thrilled!

So to you, stranger in the hospital otherwise known as harbinger of bad vibes, I have this to say: it’s been more than a year, and yes, it has been very challenging, but it also has been awesome.