Date nights with Plated

Weekends are so different after twins.
Before babies, friday nights equaled take out from our favorite burger place, and saturday nights were always for dinner & drinks out the two of us or with friends. Now, the two adorable little humans that have overtaken our lives have changed that. While grandma is more than happy to babysit so we can go out, we quickly realized that the extra expenses of diapers, wipes, and doctors appointments were draining the funds we typically used for nights out. Plus, our babies go to bed between 6:30-7, so we still have extra time before we crash to spend together!

We had been given a gift card to Plated before the babies were born. Have you heard of these boxes that are all over your new feed these days? Essentially, they provide all the ingredients you need, pre-portioned out, along with easy to follow directions. We decided to give Plated a try first.

What did we love?

The ingredients
Typically the recipes are not something part of my staples. They usually contain ingredients I may not have had before, or wouldn't have ever cooked with normally. This definitely added to the "special" feeling of making it a date night. Plus they are all packaged up by meal so there's no confusion on what goes with what meal.
Ingredients for tonight's dinner....
chicken tostadas!

The cost
Normally, when we get takeout we would spend $30-40. A night out would typically cost $100. That is almost $140 a week on date nights! For less than $75 with Plated, we get 3 dinners for 2 people. 3 dinners for less than the cost of one night out! Throw in a bottle of wine from Costco & you have yourself a very frugal date night!

Pollock with blood orange
The taste
Every dish is fantastic (ok there was one lentil dish we didn't love)! The food is always really fresh, the flavor combinations are awesome, and we honestly feel like its a meal we would get at a restaurant.

Baked Gnocchi with Kale

What didn't we love?

Really, only the fact that I have to cook it and clean it up afterwards.  The work of planning and measuring is taken out though, so it does help there!

Parents of twins, or babies in general, jump on this train to make your dinners with your hubby a little more special than heating up a frozen pizza.

Bon App├ętit!

Surviving the First 3 months with Twins

Surviving the first few months with a new baby is exhausting. Surviving the first few months with twins is beyond what you imagined you were capable of handling. 6 months have literally flown by, and I'm convinced that is because I can't remember the first half of it due to the newborn twin fog. Now that I have emerged from full blown zombie status, I wanted to share my tips on how to survive those first few months.

Get your twins on the same Schedule
This was the #1 piece of advice we got from every twin parent we encountered throughout my pregnancy. After hearing it over and over again, I was determined to make it happen. So how do you go about getting 2 tiny little babies on the same schedule? When someone is hungry, you wake the other and feed them too. Diaper changes happen at the same time or right after one another. Sleep happens at the same time. In the beginning, the sleeping at the same time is easy because newborns sleep so much! Feeding the babies will be the foundation of your schedule, which leads me to the next must-do.....

Master Tandem Feeding
Whether you are nursing or formula feeding, you MUST master the tandem feed if you really want your babies on the same schedule. The other reason to master the tandem feeding, is that instead of spending 40 min feeding one baby, followed by 40 with the second, you chop that time in half. Which means you might have 40 minutes to sleep, shower or eat!! All important for survival as you are in zombie phase and can't even begin to remember the last time you did it. We used the Twin Z nursing pillow. I use it to nurse my twins, and my husband used it to prop them up to bottle feed them. In my opinion, a must have item to be successful at tandem feeding.

Figure out what works for you for feeding
My goal was to try my best at nursing, but I would formula feed if I had to. You might want to formula feed from the beginning or do a mix of both, or exclusively breast feed. I had to supplement with formula right away in the hospital due to blood sugar issues with both my babies. We also had a lot of trouble with latching and a tongue tie on my daughter. I am happy to say that with the help of the ENT, a few great lactation consultants, and some nipple shields we are still going strong. However, in my zombie haze those first few weeks we experimented with what would work best for us. We tried me nursing all day & night with bottles after if needed, we tried bottles of formula or pumped milk given by my husband while I pumped, we tried alternating every feeding. It took some experimentation. There were some nights I was so exhausted that I just begged my husband to make them a bottle of formula so I could sleep more than 1 hour between feedings. Eventually we got in a  rhythm where my husband gives them a bottle of formula before bed, and I nursed them during night. My point of all this is that you have to find what will work for you. Breastfeeding is hard. 2 babies attached at your boob constantly is even harder, especially in the beginning as their tummies grow. Do NOT feel defeated if your original plan isn't working. Try out other options to find what works for your sanity

Make Sure your partner is helping
I cannot imagine what those first few weeks/months would have been like if I had a partner that wasn't helpful. My husband was amazing. He did the laundry, cleaned the house, and brought me food while I was recovering from the C section. He got up every single time during the night those first couple weeks while we were figuring out what worked for us. I may have had to kick him or yell at him to wake up. Hell, there may have been times when I cried and yelled at him for being lazy because he could sleep through the babies' wails. Even just to have his help to change a diaper and hand me a baby to feed was so helpful. I did take it a little easier on him once he went back to work.

Divide and conquer (babies & time)
If you have a helpful parter, the divide and conquer is an important skill to master. You can do this in 2 ways. The first is to divide & conquer babies. Kevin would do diapers, comforting, etc with one, while I did the other. It was literally "You get him, I'll get her," and then I would feed them both. The second was dividing & conquering the night. After Kevin had to go back to work, he started practically falling asleep at his desk from the divide & conquer babies plan, which is when we decided to start shift work. We would work together to get them fed, changed, and to sleep by 9pm. Then, I would sleep in our bed with the twins in pack n plays in our room, while my husband went to the guest room. I took the first shift of any wake ups from that 9pm time, until 4am, so he could get enough sleep to function at work. Usually this meant I got up 2 times alone to change & nurse them. Anything after 4am, I would go to wake up Kevin (Usually a tug on his sleeping foot, and a grunt of "shift change"). I would trade and sleep in the guest room while he changed, fed, and put the babies back to sleep. When he left for work around 7, he would wake me and I would go back to sleep in our room until the babies woke up again. This got me an extra 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep (and those uninterrupted hours are like heaven!) In reality, I could have made it earlier than 4am, but I didn't want him to get fired. Plus, soon enough the babies were down to waking only once during my shift, and started getting more efficient with nursing, which gave me more opportunity to sleep.

Get help with the house and cooking
The single best thing my mother did once the babies were born was to take care of feeding us. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. She would cook and bring it over, or pick up take out, and it was amazing. Not having to worry about what you are going to eat is a huge relief.  Especially if you need to make sure you are eating enough relatively healthy foods (i.e., not crackers and cereal alone) to breastfeed your babies! I had also made some freezer meals when I was pregnant that were perfect for the crockpot, that I started with after my mom tapered off with the nightly dinners. Accept that your house may be a mess, but if someone offers their help, take it! Kevin did a great job in the beginning keeping up with laundry so we didn't run out of things to wear & keeping things relatively clean. The most amazing thing was when a friend and her husband came over & spent the day scrubbing my house. I still am so thankful for that! If you don't have someone to help, don't stress if your toilets don't get scrubbed for a while or you can't remember when you ran the vacuum last. You have twins. Your days of a perfectly clean house are over.

Gradually increase mommy alone time
A week after the twins were born, Kevin took me to the next town over to try & find something for me to wear in their newborn pictures. I cried the whole way there. I cried in the fitting room. The babies were with my mom, and I was gone less than an hour, but it was so tough to leave them. Eventually I built up the time. Coffee or a drink with a friend, a pedicure, a trip to the grocery store or Homegoods alone! It almost makes you remember the human you were before these little ones took over your existence. 

Get outside
I was so lucky my twins were not born in winter. Not only because I HATE winter/cold/snow, but also because warmer weather makes you want to get outside, makes you less afraid to venture out of the house with your new responsibilities, and instantly picks up your mood. A little sunshine goes a long way in making me feel like a human. After 2 weeks, we started getting out for walks. By that time, it was August and pretty hot outside, so we went early to avoid the heat & humidity. I would feed them, and immediately pack us all up to go (remember you are probably on a strict "I eat every 2-3 hours" schedule placed by your demanding infants & have a short window of opportunity). We started with around the neighborhood, then eventually to the bike path in town with some other new mommy friends.

Find some "new mom" friends
We decided to try a play group. I was nervous about getting out of the house on my own, but I had made a trip or two to the doctors office solo and was ready for a challenge. A new mom that I had grown up with was going to the group too, and I told her I'd meet her there. It went from seeing her at playgroup, to walks a few times a week on the bike path after a trip to Starbucks, to trying a new playgroup, or having rainy day play dates. Even if you have friends who have older kids and are happy to share their advice with you, having a new mom in the moment with you makes you feel like you are not the only one whose world is falling apart. You have someone who doesn't care if you are still in sweatpants and no bra, who understands why your house is a mess or why you are crying and its only 8am. Most importantly someone to run to starbucks to get you a latte because it is significantly easier to get one baby in for coffee than 2. Bonus: They all think you are a rockstar for keeping 2 babies alive while they work on 1. 

Set- up stations
Once your babies start to wake a little more & do things besides eat, sleep and poop, you need to find ways to occupy their time. A good portion of that time can be watching you look like a fool as you dance around the playroom singing disney tunes, but having stations set-up can allow for more "independent" play time so you can maybe get a cup of coffee, pee, or even check your email. We had activity mat stations (we had 2 different ones), tummy time station, swing or rock n play, and snuggle or play with mom or  dad stations. 

Make a list
Not a daily list, I think that would be depressing with how little you actually accomplish in a day with newborn twins. I made weekly lists broken into 3 parts: call/email, errands, and projects. The call and email ones were easy to check off quickly during a nap time, errands I would occasionally run with the babies depending on what it was, and small projects around the house (start the baby books! do the laundry! Hang up pictures in the playroom!), usually carried on week to week.  Even if I didn't get everything on my list crossed off, just having a few things done made me feel like my days weren't wasting completely away and I was capable of a little more besides feeding and changing babies.

Ignore unwanted advice from strangers 
The "advice" begins once you are pregnant, and only gets worse from there. Some advice is helpful (especially the advice comes from twin moms!), but some advice will have you rolling your eyes and wishing you could get people to just stop talking. Things like "Sleep when the babies sleep, make sure you nap!" Hard to do with one baby let alone two! During daylight hours I found myself comforting one, while the other slept, and then as soon as that one settled, the other one would cry.  Or another favorite "Never let your baby cry, even for a minute!" Which is perfectly fine with 1 baby, but when theres more than one someone is usually crying the moment you start doing something with the other. Don't beat yourself up if one of them has to cry for a few minutes. The point is learn to master the fake smile of "thanks so much for your advice," while in your head your roll your eyes & do what is working for you.

Explore Babywearing
This deserves a post in itself. It has saved me from many a miserable minute and days, made traveling significantly easier, and helped me get a few things on that to-do list done since I had my hands free.

The first few months are a blur, but manageable. Now that we're through the fog, we can look back and remember the all nighters we pulled. Every morning at 5am, we would look at each other and celebrate that we made it through another night. In the beginning, the best thing you can do is take is day by day and celebrate the little victories. 

Are you a twin momma?
Any other tips to add?

What will 2016 Bring?

2016 Already, Can you believe it?

To me, that means my twinsies are almost halfway through a year!! It is crazzzzy how quickly the time passes by. I seem like there are never enough hours in a day to get done what I want, but I'm enjoying all the joys (and stresses!) that new motherhood brings.

Looking back, the blog has had less than 25 posts by me over the last 3 years. YIKES! In 2011 & 2012 I posted almost every other day at least. I really want to be sharing my experience adjusting to life with twins and offer suggestions and advice to new moms as I found the twin blogs with advice lacking when I was pregnant (I can imagine why, twins take up a LOT of time). One of my goals for the new year is to blog more frequently.

If you know me from my Running to Health days, you know that instead of resolutions, I like to make goals for the year. Here are a few of mine for 2016....

1. Blog 2 times a week: I can't expect to help anyone if I'm not posting! Along with this, updating more frequently to my Twins on The Run Instagram, Twitter & Facebook.

2. Exercise 2 times a week: Winter is making me nervous for being able to get out walking with the kids. I am going to try to get to the gym maybe days the nanny comes if I don't have a consulting job, or when Kevin is home on weekends.

3. Cut out the junk food: I've always struggled with healthy eating, but was a much healthier eater prior to pregnancy & childbirth! Lately I've been snacking on candy and sweets.  My goal is decrease my sugar intake, start juicing again, plan out my lunches and snacks to have quick healthy things on hand for easy choices.

4. Cut back on spending/Save more money: I think I make this goal every year, but now it is especially more important since I'm no longer working full time and money is more important to save than ever before. I am aiming to stop purchasing everything I see and want, pay off our debts and increase our savings. Our savings has taken a huge hit with some unexpected house repairs, and really needs to be vamped up.

5. Enjoy quality time as a family: When Kevin and I are both home, I want us to be more present with the kiddos. As they grow up, do more fun family activities. Right now, they are so little its hard. We spend a lot of time at home to stay close to their cribs for nap times, they can't interact or enjoy things like a children's museum, zoo, or park. As they get bigger, we are really excited to get out & do more with them.

So those are my main goals for 2016!

What are your goals?