Monday, 29 July 2013

Holiday hell... to holiday heaven

As the English school holidays get underway, and mums and dads south of the border frantically dream up six weeks' worth of fun things to do, stock up on crayons and Play-doh, and generally batten down the hatches, I've had a bit of a revelation. I was utterly dreading this holiday. The twins were so happy in their routine, but for a month-and-a-half, all they were going to have was me. Surely, we'd all go insane.
But with just two weeks left before the Scottish schools return, something strange has happened. I've realised I'm actually going to miss them...
Maybe putting them on the other side of the bars is the answer...

A London friend of mine started panicking the other day when she imagined a world without organised activities.
'We used to spend all day every day together,' she pointed out. 'But now, the thought having to dream up something to do every day is terrifying.'
I probably said those exact words at the end of June.
The first few times I took the twins to nursery were agony. They'd always had me. We'd always been a team. But as the months passed, and I saw the girls' confidence grow, I realised how good going has been for them. Both girls came out of their shells, and started to really look forward to their three afternoons a week. We filled another day with a morning of gymnastics and an afternoon of dance. In short, we were busy. But that was all being taken away. Everything just stopped for the holidays. It was just going to be me and three bright, boisterous bundles of energy. I was starting to panic.
And it wasn't just routine that was being taken from us. My husband has started working in London four days a week and, typically, his first day was also going to be the first one of the holidays. Not only would we have to cope without nursery, we'd have to cope without Daddy. I was really starting to panic.
But, you know what? I've loved these holidays. Yes, I couldn't have done it without being lucky enough to have fantastic grandparents on hand, and yes, I'm even more tired than usual, and yes, I've sprouted more than a few new grey hairs, but it's been, dare I say it, fun. As one routine was ripped out from under our feet, we've simply slipped in another. My dad visits twice a week, and we've been exploring anything and everything Perth has to offer. The museum and library are firm favourites, while the fabulous weather has meant much fun have picnics in the park. And when Daddy comes back each weekend, we've packed in as much fun as possible, with fabulous trips out to Scone Palace and The Beatrix Potter Exhibition in Birnam among the many highlights.
Jeremy Fisher, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Peter Rabbit
But the real revelation has been when my mum steps in. Twice a week, she's been taking two of my girls for a morning, while I take one, just one little person, out with me. Now, as any parent of multiples knows, this is an almost unheard-of luxury. Just one girl, all to myself. It's been wonderful. The twins have both blossomed on their own. G especially is more willing to try new things when she knows she has my full attention, but little T too obviously loves the one-on-one time. While G has, so far, insisted on our time being at the swimming pool, last week, T opted for the library. We snuggled up on a sofa and read book after book, before heading to the cafe for lunch. She grinned the whole time. And so did I. Even my time with M was been fantastic. Although she is more used to having me to herself when her sisters are at nursery, she's usually napping, or we go to the supermarket, or just play at home. When I took her alone to the swimming pool, I can tell at first she couldn't quite believe it. We were actually doing something. She loved it. And though I was exhausted from chasing her around and grabbing her before she leapt off things (M was born without any form of fear gene), I realised how much I'd missed this with all my girls.

Three little people
When the nursery goes back and the classes restart in two weeks' time, yes, I will sigh with relief. yes, I'll enjoy having some time to myself, even if it is just to do housework, and yes, I'll be relieved that the girls are once more being entertained and . But mostly, I'll miss my girls. They are already looking forward to heading back to preschool, so much so that from next month, they'll be going to nursery four days instead of three. But it seems our Mummy one-on-one time is once again going to be a distant dream. Until the October holidays that is. I'm already lining up Granny for babysitting duties. I've loved really getting to know my girls, and I don't plan on stopping now. I'm a mum-of-three, but I'm also G's mummy and T's mummy and M's mummy. I might have to spend a lot of time telling two to be patient while I deal with the other one, and I have to accept that they are going to get annoyed by the lack of attention. But I plan on grabbing these little glimpses of one-on-one parenting whenever I can. If you possibly can, try it. You never know who you'll meet!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Flying solo

G (right) only had me to herself for one minute before her little sister came along!

The first few months and years with your firstborn are wonderful, aren't they? Just you and your precious little one night and day. Getting to know each other. Feeding, cuddling, playing... Just the two of you. Well, unless your firstborn is only your only child for one minute.
Twin mums don't get one-on-one time. Ever. In the three-and-a-half years since my girls were born, I can count on one hand (well, hold up for one of them to count on one hand) the number of times I've had either of them to myself. Even then it's been to go to the doctor or the supermarket.
But this week, with the nursery on summer holiday and Granny on hand for babysitting duties, I packed up the towels and costumes and took my eldest swimming all by herself. G loved it. Usually a bit nervous, taking her time to analyse every situation, she threw herself in (not literally, obviously). Despite the fact that, with the schools off, the pool was busier than we're used to, she was in her element.
When we've gone before as a family, she's taken things slowly, hardly daring to brave the little slide, and getting no closer to swimming than walking round the baby pool. But happily gripping my hand, clearly delighted to have me all to herself, she marched straight into the water, giggling and insisting on being swum round to the outside pool to practise jumping in. Encouraged by her enthusiasm, I laid down a challenge.
'Do you want to try swimming?' I suggested. 'You're such a big clever girl now.'
A flash of uncertainty crossed her adorable little face. But it lasted no more than a second or two.
'OK,' she smiled. 'But don't let go!'
I mauoeuvred my way round in front of her, and held her under her arms. She clung on to me for a second... then spread her arms wide and soared! Kicking her legs delightedly behind her, her face lit up.
'It's like flying!' she giggled. 'I love floating!'
We circumnavigated the pool more times than I can count, floating round the wild water time and time again. It was wonderful. When G finally tired herself out, we giggled our way to the changing rooms (so much easier to get dressed with just one rather than three in there, by the way) then up to the cafe for lunch. My shy little mouse went up the the counter by herself, chatting sweetly to the lady behind the till as she handed over her money. She was flourishing.

Someone's having fun!
When we got back to Granny's, she couldn't wait to regale T and M with her adventures. And I couldn't wait to regale Granny.
I'm honestly not sure who loved our morning more. I've always been very careful to not treat my twins as a set, never dressing them alike, playing up their different looks and personalities. But in truth I'm probably more guilty of seeing them as a pair than anyone else. They've always done everything together. I often have M to myself when the girls are at nursery, or the twins and I go somewhere while the little one is with a grandparent. Why haven't I done this before? Each one of my girls is so different and so special. It was fantastic to get to really know G as just G. Not as a twin, or a sister, or a combatant in the latest fight I'm refereeing. Just G. And a wonderful little G at that.
And tomorrow, I get my T time. Will she let loose like G? Or just want to sit quietly, proving how different she is from her sister? I know I will never be able to stop comparing them to each other, or to M for that matter. The ways they are alike and differences between them, their strengths and their weaknesses are what make them all so much fun. But they're not a set. They're three fantastic little people who I can't wait to get to know.