A Day in the Life | Photoshoot

Amy, otherwise known as @thetriggertwins on Instagram posted a fantastic feature the other week showing a day in her life with twins and I absolutely loved it. I find it really helpful seeing what other multiple mum’s get up to during their days and so I thought I’d join in on Monday and post mine (I’ve popped it in my highlights for anyone who missed it). I’ve had this post planned for a few weeks since I received the photos but I thought now seemed a fitting time to also share our ‘Day in the Life’ photoshoot with Angela Fenwick.

Angela got in touch and asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating together and having some photos taken. I pretty much bit her hand off! You may remember another lovely photographer, Becky, took the girls photos when they were newborns but they have changed so much since then and developed the funniest personalities so I really wanted to document this and our everyday life.

Angela’s, Day in the Life shoots are literally just that… she comes along armed with her cameras and blends into family life while you carry on your day as you would normally. Perfect for someone like me who gets really awkward on camera!

angela fenwick family photography twins

Angela visited us on a Saturday, when Jason was home rather than at work and our weekends are incredibly different to our weekdays. Saturdays are usually very relaxed days where the two of us will feed and change them together before heading out somewhere for a walk or to do some shopping. Winter seemed to return the Saturday Angela visited and so we ended up staying in and playing for the day avoiding the bad weather outside.

One the things I love about Angela’s photos is they capture really ordinary moments but ones that are so special to me. I absolutely love feeding the girls their breakfasts on a morning. They wake up in such happy moods on a morning and they look hilarious with plastered purée all over their lips, chomping down on chopped fruits. They giggle away while I clean up the floor from their spillages – I’m not sure why it’s so hilarious to them but they love it and I know when they’re older, breakfast time with them at this age is one of the things I’ll miss the most.

Our morning routine is one of the first things I feel like I nailed as a mum and I became much more confident as a  once I’d figured it out. After a bottle and breakfast, I get the girls ready for the day in the living room. They have a wash, change into their clothes, playtime/floor time followed by a story then their nap. They adore books and will lie intently next to me concentrating on the pictures and giggling away.

twins naptime angela fenwick photography

On weekdays, I put the girls down on my own but on Saturdays we’re lucky enough to have J help. Lots of people ask me what I do to get them to go to sleep and the answer is nothing. It took us a while but after doing my own version of sleep training (I couldn’t bare cry it out) which I’ll discuss in another post, all I do is pop them in their sleeping bags and leave them. They usually nod off within five minutes if not before.

The day flew over while Angela was with us and before I knew it, it was lunch time. After another bottle, I give the girls a meal around an hour later. I try and give them something savoury, a purée and then some solids. Edie devours fruit whereas Mabel is clearly a snacker – she demolishes carrot crisps and wafer biscuits. After lunch is when we’d generally head out for a walk, usually to collect the eggs from our hens and have a wander around the farm but it was so cold and the wind was blowing a gale so we didn’t get very far that day.

One of the things I was desperate to capture was their personalities. Edie is so hard to please but in the funniest way, she sums people up for quite a while before smiling, whereas Mabel laughs at almost anything and is a strangers best friend in seconds.

The time between 4pm and 6pm is always the hardest for me. I think it’s because the girls are tired and usually on a weekday, I’m ready for J to come home and help. I try to fill those couple of hours with play and floor time, moving between the bouncers, the ball pit and floor to avoid the girls getting bored. It’s very rare for me to have the tv on during the day but we usually pop CBeebies on around now ready for the bedtime hour. It occupies them while I get the their milk, pjs, vests and other bits and pieces ready for the night.

I think Edie and Mabel use the bath as a last attempt to rid of any energy they have left. They go crazy kicking and splashing each other and us. Once they’re up and out we give them a little massage with some plain oil, pop on their clean vest and pj’s followed by a bottle of milk. Just like at nap time, they go into their sleeping bags in their cots and within around five minutes, they’ve usually dozed off for the night.

I was a little worried that we are quite boring, our daily routine is quite monotonous but I’m so pleased with how the photos turned out. They were only taken a few weeks ago but I’ve loved looking back over them and noticing how much the girls have already changed. I’m having them all printed to go into an album as I cannot pick only one or two that I want to be framed.

Angela is based in County Durham but works across the North East offering a range of newborn, family and day in the life shoots. You can find out more about her work by taking a look at her website here or drop her a message about having your own photoshoot here.

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The quickest way to stop babies fussing

I’m going to try and keep this short after yesterday’s mammoth ‘going abroad with twin babies’ post. This is the best way I have found to stop Edie and Mabel from whinging, fussing or playing up in the car. If they get a bit twisty, this trick has so far always worked.

AND it’s scientifically proven!

All I do is pull out my iphone, open Apple Music and press play on Imogen Heap’s, Happy Song. I even use it to get them to smile so I can take photos.

I have tried to record a video on several occasions of how quickly the two of them will go quiet to listen when it comes on however this is challenging in the car as they face the other way and the music stops when you press record on an iphone. So you’re going to have to trust me and give it a go yourself but this song is magic.

It was created by Imogen Heap for C&G and you can listen online to the track here or have a look at the video below to see how the song was made. Let me know if it works for you!

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Going Abroad with Seven Month Old Twins

I started writing this post when we first came back from holiday in January! I made a list of everything that we took and used, so not to forget anything. It does usually take me a couple of days to write a blog post now the twins are here but this one took a lot more of my time, partly because I wanted to make sure I covered everything.

As it’s so long, I found while I was writing it, that it was easier to split it up into pre-flight, flight, arrival and coming home. I’ve covered pretty much every question that came into my head before we went below in detail. If you haven’t got the time to read my novel below and just want to see our packing list, click here and also I’ve started a specific twin holiday FAQ’s page which you can find here.

Twin baby girls

Pre- Flight:

Besides our bedtime routine, this is probably the most requested post I get asked to write. Call us crazy but we booked to go to Tenerife in January when our twins were 7 months old (6 months corrected). They still couldn’t sit up on their own at this point and as the date got closer, I did start to get a little anxious.

I googled all kinds of questions in the run up to going and made lots of lists. I saw other bloggers with twins who showed pictures of carboots full of baby paraphernalia but actually looking back, we didn’t really take or need that much stuff.

One of the best things we did was, we booked to stay the night before we travelled at the DoubleTree by Hilton at Newcastle Airport. We’re only a 30 minute drive from the airport but we were flying at 9.30am and I didn’t want to be rushing around trying to get the girls fed/dressed etc and then in the car at 5/6am. They don’t normally get out of bed till 7am so this seemed like the best way to ensure we all got as much sleep as possible before the flight.

We stuck to our routine and they had a bath, bottle and then straight into the travel cots that the Hilton had provided for us. We hadn’t slept in the same room as the girls since they were 4 months old so getting ourselves ready for bed was hilarious tip toeing around them. When our alarm went off in the morning, they slept through it!

Confession Time: We actually asked Jay’s Mum to come up to the airport with us that night for a couple of hours. Once we got the girls into bed, she stayed with them while we went for a meal in the restaurant downstairs. It was such a treat! I hadn’t had a meal with Jay in a restaurant without them since they were born.

The next morning, we had to wake the girls up! We tried to stick to our routine as much as we could whilst we got ready and all had breakfast together in the airport.

Carrying milk through security was one of the things I had been dreading and I’d heard rumours of been made to taste it! However it just got scanned like everything else and it was that simple! I took powder in the dispensers that I usually use, and bought some ready-made milk for emergencies (along with a bottle of Calpol and Baby Nurofen) in Boots once we were in the departure lounge.

We’d asked to keep the pushchair until the airplane steps and that was a smart -move. We used our second-hand Britax B-Agile Double, which has zip close storage bags on the back and it was so handy to have extra storage for things we didn’t need up in the cabin.

On a side note I bought some memory foam universal seat liners for the Britax pram from Amazon before we went. We usually only use it for short periods out and about on the farm and personally I don’t think the seats aren’t the comfiest.

Baby Mabel asleep on plane

The Flight:

Edie and Mabel don’t usually have dummies but given they can’t suck on boiled sweets, I took some with us for the flight. We were lucky as they usually have a nap at 9.30, so they were already getting sleepy once we sat down. They’d left a bit of their milk from earlier so we gave them that, popped a dummy in and they both nodded off in our arms.

You are actually allowed to take a changing bag plus your hand luggage bag when you travel with a baby but instead we just combined ours. Jay took his backpack and I just popped a spare changing mat, nappies, cream, wipes and a dummy in it for him to use. And I used my Jem + Bea Marlow changing bag which I’d kindly been gifted from Alex and Alexa.

It is true that if you’re travelling with a baby on your lap, you can’t sit next to each other. However when we checked in, we just requested aisle seats so we were. (We were 26c and 26d) This actually was really handy, as we didn’t have to disturb anyone for nappy changes.

I asked one of the air stewardesses to wash my bottles for me with boiling water once the girls had finished and then got them to add boiled water so I could make up the next feed.

The flight was so easy and loads of people commented how shocked they were at how quiet the girls had been – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so proud. They didn’t cry once. We were supposed to be in the air for four hours but it took five because of a head wind.

h10 conquistador tenerife playa de las americas

Arrival:

When we arrived, I was really glad that I’d brought my baby carrier. Jay’s a bit stronger than me so this didn’t bother him but we weren’t able to get the pushchair back until after security. I just popped my carrier on though and it meant I could have my hands free for passports etc.

I’ve been to Playa de las Americas in Tenerife quite a few times now and it is fantastic for families. We’ve usually stayed in the H10 Gran Tinerfe however this is an adult only hotel, so this time went for the H10 Conquistador. Although our girls are too little at the moment, it has a massive kids club and sports club and it is right on the sea front. As soon as you exit via the poolside gate, you’re in front of a children’s playground area, not to mention there are plenty of supermarkets, pharmacies and pretty much anything you need, can be found within a five-minute walk.

At the time we went away, both girls were drinking 4 bottles of 8oz each day, so I actually took 4 boxes of Aptamil away with us. You can buy it in Tenerife and if you need to, it’s called Milupa but I’m super stingy and it’s a bit more expensive abroad. I just packed two boxes in my case and two in Jay’s.

To make up bottles abroad, I just used bottled water I bought from the shop. I asked my doctor when I was in for an appointment one day and he said to look for the lowest sodium content but not to worry about it. The hotel swapped our coffee machine for a kettle for us and though he never said I needed to, I boiled it before making the bottles up.

I took a couple packs of nappies with us and wipes but these I just purchased while we were over there. Pampers are readily accessible but I just used whatever brand was closest on the shelf and they were fine.

Feeding twin babies on holiday

We tried to stick to our routine as much as we could while we were away. During the days when we were out and about, this was more difficult. Edie and Mabel quite often sleep in the comfort of their Bugaboo Donkey for naps at home but I think with the huge change of scenery and different noises etc, this didn’t happen. They did nap, just at different times and for shorter periods than usual. The great thing about the Britax pushchair is the hoods are huge just like the on the Bugaboo. I did take some pram clips and a couple of large muslins but only needed to use them once or twice.

We were quite lucky as we had family on holiday at the same time as us so we met up and on a night they were kind enough to sit with the girls in our room while we went to dinner. This meant we were able to put the girls down each night at the same time we would at home – if we hadn’t been able to get a baby sitter, our plan was to have an early dinner or get room service. Some people suggested taking the girls with us in the pushchair but to me, it wasn’t worth upsetting their routine just so we could have food when we wanted. They slept through 7pm – 7am every night… even through the very loud Michael Jackson poolside tribute act one evening!

We’d booked a Junior Suite to give us a little bit more room and this actually had a curtain that you could use to separate the room, which was perfect. The cots were in the living area, so on a night we made sure the balcony doors were securely locked, pulled the curtain across and they had their own little dark area to sleep in. It meant we could watch tv or leave a light on to read without disturbing them as they’re so used to their own room at home.

As well as bringing their sleeping bags with us, I also packed two plain cot bed sheets, which they use at home. I’m not sure if this helped them to sleep through or not but my theory was the smell might make them feel at home in an unfamiliar environment.

Baby Swimming

We had talked about the possibility of going on some trips but the girls couldn’t have cared less about zoo’s or monkey world. Instead we decided to take it easy and after a long breakfast, we spent our day’s going for long walks through the resort. We’d stop for mocktails or an ice cream, have lunch and head back to the hotel for an afternoon swim. It was so relaxing and just what Jay and I needed.

One thing to note that did start to annoy me: we were approached a LOT. It happened much more than here in the UK and quite often people would get quite close. I know I like my personal space so I’m fairly sure Edie and Mabel didn’t want a stranger’s face in theirs. One day we even found euros in Mabel’s clothing that someone had snuck in. We went away in January, which isn’t busy season so perhaps people just had more time on their hands but I did start to feel very much like we were other people’s entertainment. Having said this, it didn’t stop us having fun and I didn’t want to come home.

Twins on holiday

Coming Home

This was something that I couldn’t find any articles on whatsoever and to be honest, I didn’t really think too much about the consequences until we were on the plane. We were due to land at 6pm and by the time we got sorted and back in the house, the girls had taken a danger nap and it was 8.30pm.

Though we were shattered and just wanted to go to bed, Edie and Mabel were wide-awake. We’d picked up some take away on the way home so we let them play while we had food, then started our bedtime routine at around 9.15 and thankfully, they went straight down and stayed asleep till 6.30am.

Between coming back from holiday and the clocks changing, they started to wake that little bit earlier. I couldn’t really complain about getting up at 6 when they slept for 11 hours though. Once the clocks changed however, it’s sorted them out and we’re back to 7am till 7pm again.

This was such a long post to write but I’ve tried to cover everything that I questioned before we went away. To make things easier, I’ve made a downloadable packing list, which if you haven’t already you can get by clicking here. I’m sure that some people would add lots more to it but these were the things we took and there wasn’t once that I thought ‘damn it I’m missing x, y or z.’

The whole holiday went so well, we’ve now booked to go to Florida in November when the girls will be seventeen months old. No doubt my list will be completely different by then!

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you for sticking with me and I really hope it was helpful! If you think I’ve missed anything or have something you’d like to ask, drop me a comment below or send me a message on Instagram – I’d be more than happy to try help!

Happy holidays!

FREE Downloadable Twin Holiday Packing List

Twin Holiday FAQ’s

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Identical Twin Diaries – Nine Months Old

The girls turned nine months last week but I’m only just getting around to posting this now… It’s a common theme with most things in my life nowadays! Sometimes I have to pinch myself because it often feels like a bit of a dream and the last nine months have gone by so quickly that it can’t possibly have happened.

Over the last couple of weeks the girls have changed a huge amount each day; Edie’s hair seems to have sprung out of nowhere, both are desperately trying to crawl (and failing at present), Mabel woke up on Sunday morning and started saying ‘Babababa’ and Edie joined in by whispering ‘Dadadada.’ Then just this morning as I went in to get her out of bed, she started saying it out loud. It’s so hard to believe they were tiny babies who didn’t fit in preemie clothing nine months ago.

Things I’ve learnt:

  • Babies have a sixth sense. On the days I’m more relaxed – so are they. It sounds so obvious but on days where I’ve had a cold or not slept well the night before, they become so needy and moan constantly.
  • They definitely know more than they let on! Sometimes they do things that astound me. Mabel hides carrot crisps down the side of the highchair so she can eat them later, knowing I’ll forget and give her more.
  • People can be so rude without meaning to be. This is the ultimate bugbear of all multiple mum’s I’m sure, but yes they are twins, yes they were natural, no they weren’t planned and no their identical girls, not boys or one of each. My hands aren’t full and they are not ‘hard work.’ The ‘oooh I bet they’re hard work comment’ drives me nuts, because it implies having one is easy which I’m sure it is not.

Things I want to remember:

  • Both are now sitting when helped up and both can roll back to front… they did one day master the art of rolling back and I spent an entire afternoon chasing them round the lounge but the next day, they totally forgot how to do it and haven’t since!
  • I’m not sure what Edie is trying to do but she gets on her front and all her limbs go in all directions. She looks a bit like a seal and everytime I try and capture this on camera she stops.
  • Considering the fact they are genetically identical, they look totally different. Mabel has a slightly wider forehead, an extra crease in her eyelid and a little nobble on her ear. Edie has LOTS more hair, which is like Jason’s and is totally uncontrollable.
  • How cute they when they hold hands! A lot of people ask me if they interact with each other and they do to an extent. They seem to like been close and touching each other and they’re clearly aware of each others presence but they don’t really have a chat or play together just yet.
  • Sneaking in on them. They now sleep 7pm – 7am at night and before I head to bed, we sneak into their room to ‘check on them.’ I say ‘check on them’ but we might go in a few times. There is nothing cuter than a sleeping baby.

mabel tate nine months old

Routine:

Our routine consists of four bottles of milk a day, around 7/8oz and three meals. I do a combination of puree and baby led for them and it seems to be working. In the last couple of days their appetite has increased and they’ve doubled the amount of food they were having. I’d love to say that I make everything fresh but I’m all for an easy life… I use pouches and then just give them bits of whatever I’m having.

Sleep:

I hate writing about this in case I jinx it but they now sleep for 12 hours straight at night. With the exception if they’ve been poorly or had a nightmare however I go in shush them and they go back to sleep. It’s very rare one wakes the other.

Naps:

They take two naps a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon, which tends to be slightly longer. If we’re out and about, they sometimes doze off in the car but generally it’s only on a long journey that happens. Whenever I can, I try and let them nap outside in the fresh air. I wrap them up and pop them in the Bugaboo in our garden.

In the last couple of days, I’d had an issue getting them to nap in their cot and was a little worried, that I’d be sat in the pouring rain outside while they napped from now on however after posting about this on Instagram, I had an idea and it turns out Edie prefers sleeping on her front. Her fussiness was because she was trying to turn over, so I’ve been leaving her a little longer and off she goes once she’s got herself comfy.

Me:

I realised the other day I stopped writing about how I felt when they were born and hadn’t really mentioned my recovery or anything else. At nine months postpartum you won’t be shocked to know I feel physically fine most of the time!

I was warned by the doctors, it was possible I would suffer from migraines after the preeclampsia debacle and rather annoyingly they were right. I’ve only had a couple but it’s tended to be if I’ve been about to come down with a cold or if I’ve been quite tired. Despite the fact the girls sleep really well at night, my days are still long and entertaining them takes a lot of work!

 

Physically, I hadn’t really put on ‘weight’ while I was pregnant. I was ‘all baby’ as they say and I think this was down to the fact I stayed really active and ate healthy meals. My body has changed though and I’ll admit, I’m not overly happy about it but it’s just something I’m trying to accept and get on with. Hopefully as time goes on and now the nights are lighter, I’ll be able to get out for a run more often.

My maternity leave is now officially over and thankfully I was already in a fortunate flexible position working for our family businesses and myself. I love working and although I enjoyed been off with the girls, I’m so excited to get stuck into lots of new projects.

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It’s not that bad!

I wrote a post last week on my old blog, Girl in the North called ‘New Beginnings’ about my move over to here and it felt so strange writing it, but it feels even stranger writing this one! It’s taken me a good while to get things the way I wanted here and it still isn’t exactly how I imagined. No doubt, I’ll be tweaking and making little changes for weeks (months) yet. I thought for ages about how to start this post and I guess it makes sense to start at the beginning of my journey to becoming a Mum.

The day I discovered I was pregnant with twins, myself and Jason drove back home in pretty much silence. Every so often one of us would mutter ‘I can’t believe it…’ or some expletive. We hadn’t planned on one baby coming along at that time, let alone two. After getting married J had moved up from his place in London to Durham where we lived in my tiny two bedroomed house, which wasn’t close to either of our families and we both drove unsuitable three door cars. To top things off, it hadn’t been long since I’d took the risky move of leaving my well paid public sector job to go freelance. I’ll be the first to admit, even at 29 (only a couple months off 30) I didn’t feel ready.

I did what anyone in my position would do and came home to google ‘pregnant with twins’ and I really struggled to find anything positive. I joined various groups and still the majority of comments I found were negative. This didn’t just include multiple-pregnancies, it was singles too and it wasn’t just the internet. The majority of books told me my life would be over and how I’d be desperately seeking solace in a large glass of red every night. So despite the fact my blog mainly covered things to do in the North East, I started using it as a coping mechanism and wrote about my twin pregnancy journey.

And having come through it and currently at 8.5 months on the other side, I can honestly say, it’s not that bad.

Of course, there have been moments… there have been long sleepless nights and days where I’ve felt like I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing but they are fleeting in comparison to the joy Edie and Mabel bring. I noticed very early on, that the days when I was most chilled around the girls and didn’t worry or stress, they were also the most relaxed.

Until the girls came along, I’d barely held a baby – there weren’t many in my side of the family or at least none that lived near us. I’d never changed a nappy before or put clothes on anything other than my dolls when I was younger. So when they arrived, I began winging it. There were lots of ‘guidelines’ floating around from various different organisations and coming at me from all directions but shortly before J went back to work, during one long sleepless night, I came up with a plan that contradicted my naturally panicky personality and decided to just do what I thought seemed logical and best. And the most important part of my strategy… (try) not to worry about it.

I kept writing as it was quicker than filling in the baby book my Mum had got me (sorry Mum) and I wanted to remember everything. And since the days were long and quiet without many or sometimes any adults, I started rambling away on Instagram Stories. Other mums (and not just multiple mums) online and offline started commenting on how relaxed Edie and Mabel were and they asked questions about my routines or how I did x, y and z, and quite often my answer was just, ‘I don’t know really I just tried this.’  So despite the fact I’m no expert and I’ve never claimed to be, I started writing about these things and planning posts as I thought it might just help people who were in the same position as me. These were the things I craved during pregnancy, honest articles that weren’t designed to terrify.

Since entering the club of motherhood, I’ve realised that just like in school, I’m a bit of an inbetweener. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly ‘mumsy’ but I’m also not desperately throwing myself at the Vino every night. There seems to be this trend in the parenting world at the moment that it’s ‘cool’ to point out all the not so nice stuff that comes with it. I imagined from some of the things I’d read that my life would be full of poo explosions, I’d be covered head to toe in sick and I’d never sleep again and I’m not going to lie, it’s happened but not every day. The good far outweighs the bad.

So that’s what I really hope Crap, I’m a Mum will achieve: as well as giving me an outlet to write just like I used to, that it will also provide a resource of honest, down to earth information that doesn’t put the fear into soon to be or new mum’s because it’s really not that bad.

Photo courtesy of Angela Fenwick

 

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