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Grief and Its Impact on a Marriage

The loss of a baby or babies can and does have an impact on a marriage as each parent attempts to regain their equilibrium and balance after such a devastating loss. The loss of our child(ren) changes us forever. We lose our innocence and the future is forever changed. Add to this the fact that men and women grieve differently, and the impact on a couple’s relationship is not always a positive one.

Generally speaking, women tend to be more open about what they are feeling than men. Women may have one or two girlfriends, a sister or mother with whom they “open up,” express what is on their minds and how they are feeling. Men, on the other hand, don’t usually have close relationships with other men which would include speaking about their emotions or the sharing of feelings and thoughts. Traditionally men have been inundated with messages such as “suck it up”, “crying is for wimps” and “act like a man”. In such an atmosphere, with no safe place to express their emotions, men have not been dealt a fair blow when it comes to expressing those inner emotions.

It is important to note, however, that things are changing. Thankfully there is more dialogue regarding men’s feelings, not only by the men themselves but also by society as a whole. Parenting magazines are offering support articles for men on how to help a partner with breastfeeding, through the pregnancy, dealing with loss of a baby or babies and more. Internet Sites have sprung up providing ample opportunity for men to write about their feelings, express their pain, joy, feelings of insecurity and fears about parenting. Support groups for men and dads are more readily available in many communities. Book stores now carry books for fathers regarding parenting, relationships and grief. Oprah Winfrey has done a couple of shows regarding men and their inner feelings and fears. All of this is important and hopefully, over time, will help bridge the gap between men and women!

It is acknowledged that not all mothers and fathers experience difficulties in connecting while grieving. Some couples are brought closer together, communicate regularly and feel much closer in their time of greatest need. What I would like to explore in this article, however, is the possible negative impact of the loss of one or more of babies on a couple’s marriage. Further, understanding that men and women grieve differently and what some of those differences can be is helpful. We also need to understand a little bit about Grief itself:

  • Grief is a journey, not a destination;
  • Grief has no timeline;
  • Grief is personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve;
  • Just when you think that you are feeling OK and doing well, Grief will “rear its head” and you may feel overwhelmed all over again. This is normal;
  • Some of the triggers for Grief could be a sentimental song, a beautiful sunset, a singing bird, a garden of flowers blowing in the wind, watching another child play and laugh, or for no apparent reason at all;
  • Grief can leave individuals with a sense of isolation, loneliness, anger, powerlessness, guilt and/or fear. All of these emotions are normal;
  • Grief has been described as an “open wound” which heals over time, but which also leaves a scar.

When we look at Grief from some of these perspectives, it stands to reason that mother and father will not always be on the same time line as each other and or be grieving in the same manner. Initially a couple may cling together and share their pain with tears, embraces and conversation. It isn’t unusual for the father to be the one in charge of making funeral arrangements, talking to the undertaker, hospital staff, choosing a casket, working through the finances and paperwork. He may also have to deal with other children at home, handle his job and the ramifications of his absence, worry about his wife and answer questions from family and friends. One father indicated after the loss of one of their babies, that he was sick and tired of friends calling and asking him how his wife was doing! “What about me? I lost a baby too!” They had skipped right over him and minimized his pain and grief. Juggling all of this and trying to find time to grieve the loss of his baby or babies is a monumental task for a Dad to face.

Mother probably has family and friends whom she can talk to about her baby or babies. She may need to focus on physically getting better in the case of having had a c-section, and may also need to take care of a surviving co-multiple(s).

After the funeral, it may be harder and harder for Mother and Father to “get together” on an emotional level, to speak about what they are feeling: of their fears for the future or the fears each has for the survivors of their multiple birth – “If I get attached to this baby, will she die too?”. One may “blame” the other for the loss, even inadvertently. It may become necessary to seek some bereavement counseling from: a cleric, grief counselor, social worker or psychologist who specializes in grief issues. Your family doctor can assist you in this regard or refer you to an appropriate support individual.

If, as a couple, you already have a child or children, this may add another difficult component to your grieving journey, or not, as each individual family will decide. Sometimes the need to continue to be available for your other children can be a boon. Having to remain mobile, available and responsive, for one or both parents, can sometimes be helpful in spite of mourning for a lost child or children.

Sometimes one or both parents may find the opposite and find it difficult to continue to be an attentive and available parent. One or both may experience feelings of being overwhelmed, pressured, resentful or of wishing to simply withdraw. All of this is normal and doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. Try your best to keep the lines of communication open with your children. Let them know you are feeling very sad at the moment, need some quiet time, or are thinking of their dead brother or sister. Let the child know that they didn’t cause your sadness but you are sad, nevertheless. It will be helpful for him (or them) to know that feeling sad is a part of grieving and your reactions and feelings were not caused by them. By being honest with your child or children about what you are feeling, you will be helping them and yourself, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

It may be helpful to try to keep in tune with whatever your partner may be feeling and to try and distract your other child or children for a time, in order to give your partner some space to him/herself. A role reversal may occur at another time for the other spouse.

Here are some suggestions to aid a marriage in time of grief. You and your spouse may add some others that will work for you.

  1. Don’t expect your spouse to be a tower of strength when he or she is also experiencing grief.
  2. It is very important to keep the lines of communication open.
  3. Be sensitive to your spouse’s personality style. In general, he or she will approach grief with the same personality habits as they approach life. This may be in a private manner or open and sharing, or some place in between.
  4. Talk about your loved one(s) with your spouse. If necessary, set up a daily time period when you both know that it is time to talk about your loved one(s).
  5. Seek professional help of a counselor if depression, grief or problems in your marriage are getting out of hand.
  6. Deal with things as they occur. Do not overlook or ignore anger-causing situation. It is like adding fuel to a fire. Eventually there will be an explosion.
  7. Remember that you loved each other enough to marry. Try to keep your marriage alive: go out for dinner or an ice cream cone; take a walk; go on a vacation.
  8. Be gentle with yourself and with your mate too.
  9. Join a support group for bereaved persons. Attend as a couple, come by yourself or with a friend. Do not pressure your spouse to attend with you if it is not his or her preference.
  10. Join a mutually agreeable community betterment project.
  11. Do not blame yourself or your mate for what you were powerless to prevent. If you feel personally responsible or blame your spouse for your loss, seek immediate counseling for yourself and your marriage.
  12. Remember that there can be a loss of sexual desire or hypersexuality during the grieving process. You can discuss this with your mate.
  13. Be aware of unrealistic expectations for yourself or your mate. Try to remember that your spouse is doing the best that he/she can.
  14. Marital friction is a normal part of any marriage. Don’t blow it out of proportion at this painful time.
  15. Try not to let everyday irritants become major issues. Talk about them and try to be patient.
  16. Be sensitive to the needs and wishes of your spouse as well as yourself. Sometimes it is important to compromise.
  17. Work on your own grief instead of wishing that your spouse would handle his/her grief differently. You will find that you have enough just handling your own grief. Remember, when you help yourself cope with grief, it indirectly helps your spouse.
  18. As one grieving mother stated: “Value your marriage. You have lost enough!”
  19. Hold on to Hope. With time, work and support you will survive. Life will never be the same, but you can learn again to appreciate it and the people in your life.
  20. Allow yourself and your partner to feel whatever it is you are feeling without judging yourself or each other.

Bibliography

Grief and its Impact on a Marriage, Fact Sheet by Bereaved Families of Ontario – Ottawa.
Men & Grief, by Carol Staudacher, 1991, New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas, by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., 2001, Companion Press

Other reading resources:

When a Baby Dies: A Handbook for Healing and Helping, by Rana K. Limbo and Sara Rich Wheeler, 1993, RTS Bereavement Services
The Worst Loss: How Families Heal from the Death of a Child, by Barbara D. Rosof, 1995, Henry Holt and Co.
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss, by Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D., 2000, Taylor Publishing Co.
Trying Again After Loss, by Ann Douglas and Lynda P. Haddon

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Best and Worst Advice on Breastfeeding Multiples

Best Pieces of Breastfeeding Multiples Advice …

  • Yes, you can breast feed twins and triplets
  • If you have problems, ask for help from a Lactation Consultation, Doula or midwife
  • If you get into any difficulties with tandem feeding, feed the babies separately so that you can focus on one at a time and identify the difficulty;
  • Relax and just give it a try!
  • Invest in a proper, large,u-shaped nursing pillow
  • Persevere, it is possible!
  • Just because your breasts don’t feel full, doesn’t mean they are empty (Note: breasts don’t actually become empty)
  • Because the babies want to suck more often doesn’t mean that you don’t have enough milk but rather that they have hit a growth spurt and are trying to stimulate more milk to come in
  • It will come (from the Midwife and the Nurse)
  • Use cold cabbage leaves in your bra to help relieve engorgement
  • Breastfeed them together. It saves time and gets them on the same schedule
  • Use breast compression to maximize milk intake and reduce time at the breast, while still getting the advantage of a full feeding
  • Latch on your ‘best’ sucker first so s/he is happy then focus on latching on the other
  • Make sure to switch your babies side to side so that each of their eyes receives an equal workout and stimulation
  • It’s always ready at a moment’s notice and is always the right temperature

Worst Pieces of Breast Feeding Multiples Advice …

Be prepared for lots of negative advice whether you ask for advice or not. Here’s a sampling of what to ignore.

  • You can’t breast feed twins, triplets, quadruplets
  • You look like a cow
  • OB: “Don’t feel guilty about breastfeeding. Plenty of mums of singletons can’t produce enough milk to feed their baby. Just supplement from the start.”
  • I didn’t breast feed my babies and look how well they turned out
  • Or a variation on that theme: I wasn’t breast fed and look how well I turned out
  • Hospital Nurse [when approached for help with breastfeeding]: “Sorry, I’m a floater. I don’t know anything about breastfeeding. You’ll have to wait until shift change.” (Shift change came 6 hours later)
  • Hospital Staff: On the day I was to be released from hospital the nurse told us: “Baby B has lost 2 lbs. (nearly 30% of his body mass). You are not able to breastfeed.” I asked first if she had mixed up the twins. She replied: “No, I’ve checked the chart twice and weighed him again. He’s definitely lost 2 lbs.” I begged to stay in the hospital, fearful that he was not thriving. The nurse replied: “You are safe to go home. But you and your husband must bottle feed this baby every 2 hours over the next 48 hours.” She gave us two full cases of formula! I cried all the way home from the hospital. All night we stayed awake trying to force-feed our baby formula (he repeatedly vomited). In the morning our midwife called. I told her of the weight loss. In 10 minutes she was at our house. She discovered he had lost nowhere near two pounds and that the nursing staff had, indeed, mixed up the babies. Two days later a community nurse visited our home — and also checked the hospital records, confirming on Day 2 following the C-section, nurses had mixed up the babies, switching their weights. I then began the struggle to wean off formula and increase my breastfeeding. I began breastfeeding, as a first time mum, and with multiples, following surgery. (PS. I successfully tandem breastfed my twins for 18-19 months)
  • From a Doctor – You’re not superwoman. Just bottle feed them
  • Shouldn’t you have stopped nursing them already??
  • From an Obstetrician – Many women can’t produce enough breast milk to feed a singleton. Don’t expect you can breast feed twins and don’t feel guilty. Just supplement
  • Wean Keandra [the older child] right away!
  • Wake the other baby when one wakes up first. Mine have very different needs (their weights are more than 2 pounds apart)
  • They need to have a supplement
  • A nurse came into my room one day after our daughters’ births, sat on my bed and said, “We’ve [the nursing staff] been talking about you in the Nurses’ Lounge and I’ve been elected to come and talk to you. You can’t breast feed twins. We think you aren’t being fair to these babies. You need to bottle feed at least one of them .”
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Multiples and Speech

Chances are you want to provide a wonderful environment for your children to learn and grow. But life is busy. Your multiples (and maybe singletons too) need to be bathed, dressed, fed and nurtured. And when you’re not caring for your little ones, there’s housework, shopping, cooking, and laundry. Perhaps there’s a job too – and the resulting runs to the sitter and daycare.

Luckily, all children learn to talk. It’s something that comes naturally, right? Not always. Some children talk late. Some children need speech therapy. And all children need help from their parents to reach their highest potential.

Learning to Talk – What to Expect

Multiples acquire language just as single-born children do, however, sometimes they develop it at a somewhat slower pace. Even though multiples tend to make sounds and gestures early on to each other, they often say their first word (other than “mama” or “dada”) about a month later than most single born children.

Studies have shown that some multiple born children are prone to early speech and language difficulties and later literacy problems.  Even if your children are developing speech and language skills normally, research tells us that between three and five years, twins may be six months behind their single-born age peers. The good news is that by age five, twins, who do have speech and language problems, differ very little from their single born age peers.*

To multiples, language is a way to bring closeness and intimacy with each other, and can often be very rewarding. In some cases, they appear to talk together using words and sentences that only the two of them can understand. Research has shown this “twin talk” is not a private invented language, but actually a persistent use of immature or incorrect speech patterns. Many children often create some words of their own, or use incorrect vocabulary, grammar, and syntax when they are learning to talk. Since multiples spend a lot of time together, and have a strong desire to communicate with each other, they listen to each other saying words incorrectly. Sometimes, these troublesome words grow more and more distorted and, as a result, the multiples are the only ones who are able to understand their communications.

Twin language is not a cause of language delay, but may be an indication that your child may have a difficult time learning to talk. A British study showed that approximately 50% of twins who have speech and language difficulties may use twin language. Only 11% of twins who are developing language on schedule use twin language. If your multiples are using “twin language” to communicate with each other, it is very important they are also developing the communication skills that are necessary to communicate effectively with others. Therefore, your multiples need to be understanding and expressing new words at least every few weeks and using these words to communicate with others.

Taking Steps to Avoid Delays

It has been documented that speech and language difficulties are more common in multiples than in single born children. However, this certainly does not mean that your multiples will have speech and language delays. Experts believe that sometimes these delays may be due to the social and biological factors listed below that can effect any child, born a multiple, or not. Language is learned by a baby watching the adult’s face, in particular the mouth move and change shape for the different sounds of the expressed words. With twins, triplets and more, finding time to address each child individually in order to give them the best chance to learn proper speech is a challenge but not impossible. Having knowledge of the risk for speech delay in multiples is half the battle. Following are some very easy ideas to help you help your multiples with their speech…..then watch out as they all get gabbing! You probably won’t get a word in edgewise

  1. It is helpful to understand that multiple-birth children are behind their singleton counterparts from the get-go. They, by the nature of their birth, share the available maternal nutrition while in utero and this sharing isn’t always equal. For twins it could a sharing of 50/50, or 70/30, or 60/40 or anywhere in between. For triplets and more, it can be determined by their various birth weights, that not each received equal portions of the available nutrition. As a result, each multiple-birth child begins life from a different position and their progress will not only be different from each other, but will cerainly be different from their singleton counterparts who received 100% of the available nutrition.Solution: Remember never to compare your babies or toddlers to each other and especially to your neighbour’s toddler of the same age. Even though multiples arrive together, they will not necessarily reach the same stage at the same time. As well, there can be differences between boys and girls. As long as each child is progressing, this needs to be your benchmark.
  2. Multiples don’t have as many chances as single born children to interact directly and individually with their parents. Twins can participate in conversations in which they communicate with either the parent or the other twin. Triplets and more can choose within their own group whom they will converse with, as well as their parents.Solution:Try to schedule as much time as you can talking and playing with each child alone. There is no need to schedule special outings if that is difficult (e.g. in the Winter), but instead, use your daily routine activities. While bathing, feeding, or dressing your child, count toes, sing songs and rhymes, and talk with your child. Take a little extra time to change a diaper and chat with each baby as you do so. Take one child to the supermarket. As your child sits in the cart facing you, this is a great time to talk about what you are seeing, feeling, doing, and touching. If one of your multiples has a tendency to talk for the other(s), this will give all of the children an equal opportunity to practice talking.
  3. Multiples often copy each other’s poor syntax and mispronunciation of words. This is because when communicating with each other, they often omit the beginning and ending sounds of words and use short phrases.Solution: Some parents think that their multiples’ mispronunciation of words is cute. Instead, it is wise to give your child many opportunities to hear words pronounced correctly. If your child says a word incorrectly, don’t ask him to “say it again.” Instead, say the correct pronunciation, emphasizing the word or sound with which he had difficulty. For example, if your child says, “Me do to pool,” try saying, “I g-go to the pool.” Emphasize “I” by saying it louder and emphasize the “g” sound in “go” by stretching it. Expand your child’s words or phrases into full sentences. Repeat what your child says and add one or two words. Don’t change your child’s meaning, but, instead, make her remarks slightly longer.

For example:
Child: “hat.”
Adult using expansion: “Yes, blue hat.”

  1. By the nature of their birth, multiples have a unique closeness or bonding. The group offers built-in playmates and as such, parents may not feel so pressured to socialize their multiples as they would for a singleton child.Solution:Give your children many opportunities to interact separately with other children. Try to arrange play dates. These can provide wonderful opportunities to develop social and language skills. Your child may begin to model the speech of other children and communicate effectively with his age peers.
  2. Twins are often born premature and subject to developmental delay. Triplets and more are born even more premature and their developmental delays can be even further, well, delayed.Solution:If you have any questions about your child’s development in any area, at any age, it is important to seek professional help. Expecting too much, or too little, can both be harmful. You might start by expressing your concerns with your pediatrician. This may set your mind at ease if you learn that your children are developing as they should, or get needed help at an early age. There may be some options in your community. If your children are two years or younger, you can call your local school district for a referral to the early intervention services in your area or find listings in your community by looking in the government pages of your phone book under Education or Health Department. If your children are three-five years of age, call your local school district to request an evaluation.

Other ideas for improving and encouraging language development in your multiples

  • if your children are 24-30 months or older with very little language or do not turn towards you as you address them, have them checked by their pediatrician to ensure that they are healthy and have no hearing problems.
  • feed the children in their highchairs with a space between them for example, one highchair to your left, one in the centre, on the right. When the chairs are set beside each other, we tend to talk ‘between’ our toddlers rather than make eye contact with each child. Further we may be looking down at whose eating what and how much rather than looking at the child, thus not providing each with ample opportunity to focus and watch our mouths move.
  • involving other adults, such as grandparents, in the care of your children can take some pressure off of the parents and give the toddlers another chance at meaningful conversations.
  • because we are so busy looking after the babies and perhaps other siblings too, we tend to rush through the tasks and “talk into the air.” Pick times and jobs (e.g. grocery shopping with one toddler) when you can slow down, make the necessary eye contact, talk about what you are purchasing and why, thus giving for each child and opportunity to learn and improve.
  • it isn’t unusual to have introverts and extroverts within the group. As a result one may try to speak for the other and one could hold back, waiting for his co-sibling to do the actual asking while reaping the benefits, without speaking a word. If this is your experience, don’t let one child speak for the other. Encourage each child to speak for himself. Praise him when he does.
  • when your child is struggling to ask a question, don’t interrupt or finish it for her. Offer encouragement to complete the sentence (e.g. saying, “I’m listening.”) and then offer praise when she does. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Take the opportunity to repeat the right sentence and/or expand on it.
    Child: See a doggie!
    Adult: Yes, I see the brown dog too!
  • it isn’t unusal to have one (or more) multiple progress rapidly and the other, for example, may have a prounounced tongue thrust. It is complicated when one child moves forward and another doesn’t. Don’t despair if this is your experience. Having the tongue thrust professionally assessed and with timely speech intervention, things will soon be back on track.
  • reading out loud helps a child hear the sounds of words and watch your mouth as words are formed.
  • repeat, repeat, repeat important words and phrases.
  • offer encouragement and positive feedback for a job well done when each child speaks.
  • don’t act instinctively to your child’s needs. Let each voice his needs and wishes.
  • encourage each to tell stories: “Tell Daddy what you did today at swimming (the park).”
  • remember that your children are individuals and will not necessarily do the same things at the same time. Avoid comparing them to each other.
  • several parents have successfully taught their toddlers sign language before they are able to speak. Signing helps them to identify what they want and not become frustrated by not yet being able to form the words. While it is difficult for small babies and toddlers to learn recognized signing, Hildy (mother of twins) introduced her girls to simple signing beginning at age 6-1/2 months. They began picking up the signs by age 9 months and signed their needs until their language skills took over. As Hildy explained: “’ Drink’ or ‘eat’ might be the motion a flat hand towards the mouth.” She noted that her girls were less prone to tantrums, outbursts and fusiness than her friends’ children of similar ages, whom couldn’t always successfully make their needs clear.**

All parents, no matter how busy they are, want their children to grow fully in each stage of development. In order for your children to develop a love of the spoken and written language, it is important to read, sing, and talk to them often. While driving all together in the car, at diaper change or at bathtime are good times to sing and tell stories. When you create a learning environment that is fun, loving, and nurturing for your children, the benefits will last a lifetime.

Bibliography

Double Duty: The Parents’ Guide to Raising Twins, from Pregnancy Through the School Years , Christina Baglivi Tinglof
The Art of Parenting Twins , Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland
Discussions with Hildy Lesh, mother of twins who used sign language with her babies from 6-1/2 to 19 months old.

Reference

*The Relationship Between Multiple Birth Children’s Early Phonological Skills and Later Literacy
Langauge, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 11-23.

**Web Sites for Baby Signing Information

www.signingbaby.com
www.mybabycantalk.com

Multiple Birth Support Sites

About the Authors

Dorothy P. Dougherty, M.A.,CCC-SLP is a Speech/Language Pathologist who has worked with children and adults in clinical and private settings for over 25 years. She is the author of Teach Me How to Say it Right: Helping Your Child with Articulation Problems (New Harbinger Publications, 2005) and How to Talk to Your Baby: A Guide to Maximizing Your Child’s Language and Learning Skills (Perigee/Putnam, 2000). For more information about speech and language development or to contact the author, please go to www.1speechproblems.com .

Lynda P. Haddon, Multiple Birth Educator, mother of 3 daughters, including twins. Working with multiple birth parents, grandparents, researchers, healthcare professionals for over two decades. Author, speaker, multiple birth prenatal educator, writer, bereavement support, creater of her own multiple birth support website at www.jumelle.ca.

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Talking to Children About Death

How do I explain to my child about death?

Begin by teaching your child that death is a necessary and inevitable part of life – This might include discussing ‘smaller losses’, such as the death of a pet or a plant. Such discussion lays the groundwork for a deeper, more painful loss when it occurs. It also lets your child know that is okay to talk about the painful feelings that death can bring.

Tell your child simply, but honestly, about the death – Depending upon the age of the child, choose words that are simple, age-appropriate but also straightforward. Be ready to honestly answer any questions that your child might have. A child has very keen senses and will sense that something is wrong, if you decide not to tell him and ‘spare’ him the pain. When a child senses your sadness but it has not been explained to him why you are sad, he is most likely to internalize the feelings of ‘something is wrong’. As a result, his anxiety levels will rise and he may see himself or his behaviour as the reason for your sadness. Prepare your child in advance by explaining to him what he will see at the funeral home and/or how the funeral/memorial service will progress.

Grieve with your child – This time gives you both a perfect opportunity to grieve together, to hold and comfort each other and work through some feelings together. It can be very beneficial for both of you. Your child may have feelings of guilt, that he somehow was the cause of the death. You will need to assure your child that this is not so. He did not cause the death nor could he have prevented it.

Avoid clichés or euphemisms when discussing death with your child – If you indicated the person ‘has gone to sleep’, your child may fear going to bed in that the same thing may happen to him. Even using the words ‘lost’ or ‘gone’ can plant the idea that the person who died will eventually be ‘found’ or ‘come back’. This can increase a child’s anxiety levels. It is perfectly all right to use words like ‘died’ or ‘dead’ to describe what has happened.

Questions children may ask – It is not unusual for children to ask the same questions over and over. They are attempting to process the information and to understand the finality of death. Answer your child honestly each time any questions are asked, even if the question is the same one asked again and again.

Children working through their feelings of grief – It may be helpful to put together a memory book together. Include notes, drawings, cards, feelings or other special items. Feelings can be expressed through play and even puppets – anger, guilt, sadness and maybe the realization ‘that all of the toys now belong to me and I don’t have to share them any more’. These are normal emotions that a child may experience. Try not to judge your child for any of these feelings. Like adults, children grieve in their own fashion, even brothers and sisters may grieve differently. Speak to your child again about the loss over the ensuing weeks and months. Don’t be shy about mentioning the deceased’s name and don’t feel your child will not have feelings if he goes several days without mentioning the loved one.

How do I tell my child about the death of his sibling and when is the appropriate time? – If you have a photo of your baby/child who has died, perhaps keep it in a prominent place in your home. You may refer to the photo from time to time and include the deceased child in some conversations. The photo invites conversation when your child/children wish to speak of him. The prompt of the photo encourages your child to speak of her deceased sibling when she wants or needs to and not when the parents may feel it is time to talk.

Some families celebrate special occasions by lighting a candle that will burn all the day long, as a memorial. Make your surviving children a part of these celebrations. Some choose to light a candle on the Birthday of the deceased child, the day he died, as well as meaningful holidays and any other occasion that may be special for your family. In this manner, from the beginning, all of your family is aware of this child and he or she can remain a part of the family. One family found a toy bear who was holding a wooden block with the letter ‘J’ on it, being the first letter in their deceased triplet son Joey’s name. This bear is included in each special photo so that Joey too, can be remain a part of their family.

Some families never speak of their dead child again. In these cases, this denial can cause additional pain and suffering beyond the actual loss. At age five years, twin girls both contracted the same disease. One survived and one did not. The parents removed all clothes, toys, photographs and possessions of the dead twin and she was never spoken of again. At about age 40, the surviving multiple, spoke of her tremendous sense of loss, isolation, confusion and pain as she was not permitted to speak her twin’s name nor was it fully explained to her why her sister had died. She spent many, many years feeling guilty for surviving the disease that killed her sister. She felt that her mother, in particular, blamed her for living while her sister did not. She felt she was less affectionate to her after her sister’s death. She advised she spent so much of her life ‘looking’ for her twin in crowds and on the streets.

Sometimes when we delay, postpone or deny the existence of our dead child, it is because we have not yet faced our own feelings regarding our loss. In such cases, it may be wise to seek some professional assistance in order to help fully address the issue.

Should your child be a part of the funeral arrangements? Depending upon the age of the child, you could ask him if he wishes to be. He may also wish to spend some time alone with his dead sibling or together with you. He may wish to help choose what his sibling will wear or which piece of music will be played at the service. For older multiple birth children, it is not unusual for them to have confided in each other as to what they would like to occur at their funerals. It may assist a co-multiple to be a part of the funeral arrangements and knowing decisions are being made that his co-multiple wanted. Being a part of the arrangements could be very helpful for a co-multiple in coming to terms with the finality of death. It may also be of help to you as you assist and support each other through this most difficult of times.

Be careful not to overdo it – It is good to speak openly and age appropriately with your child(ren) about death and to include them as much as possible in funeral arrangements. On the other hand, be aware of some possible pitfalls of a prolonged focus on the dead sibling within the family. Initially after the death, communication between you and your child(ren) may continue smoothly, but trouble may occur with an extended or continuous ‘over focus’ on the dead child. One family, for example, had shrines to their dead baby in two rooms of their home. The lost daughter’s name was mentioned almost daily as the parents continued to keep her as a current, ‘alive’ part of the family, even one year after her death. An older sibling would constantly bring home pictures of the family with the dead sister included in the drawings.

Although remembrance is important and helps to deal with death, it is also important not to idealize a dead child and make no distinction between them and a living child. There is a risk that siblings may feel that they cannot live up to the image of their dead sibling. While they grow and develop, with the ups and downs that this implies, their dead sibling remains forever ‘perfect’. This is a difficult situation for a child to live with on a day to day basis. They cannot compete with their dead sibling and may forget to get on with their lives through the normal growing stages.

Of course, this doesn’t mean ignoring significant anniversaries as a family, but parents need to be aware of the danger of not providing their living children with space and encouragement to live their own lives to the fullest. Indeed, living in the shadow of a deceased sibling can be a challenge for surviving children at the best of times. All the more difficult, however, if the parents refuse to truly mourn the loss of their child and, instead, establish the child as a permanent, living presence frozen in time.

“Always tell your children as much of the truth as they can understand, if only to establish the most valuable attribute you have as a parent: your credibility.”
– Stan and Jan Berenstain

Article written with input from Dr. Arthur Leonoff, Psychologist/Training Analyst

References

  • Bereaved Families of Ottawa-Carleton
  • St. Mary’s Grief Support Centre, Duluth, Minnesota
  • On Children and Death, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 1983

Additional Resources 

  • Loss of a Multiple: Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infancy, Multiple Births Canada
  • Loss of a Multiple: Childhood, Teens, Multiple Births Canada
  • Forever Angels, quarterly newsletter of Loss of Multiples Support Network, Multiple Births Canada
  • Loss Series of Fact Sheets covering many topics, Multiple Births Canada
  • Loss of Multiples Support Network, Multiple Births Canada
  • Bereavement Support Kit, Multiple Births Canada

 

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Breastfeeding Resources

Yes, it IS possible to successfully breastfeed your twins, triplets or more!

This list is a great place to start learning and researching about breastfeeding your babies. Learning about breastfeeding twins or more and practice, practice, practice once they arrive ensures a satisfying experiences for the whole family.

The following in no way constitutes a complete list as there are many wonderful breastfeeding resources available other than these listed. Don’t limit yourself to just books on breastfeeding multiples. Please feel free to let me know if there is something special you feel that needs to be included.

Booklets

  • Nursing your Infant Twins, booklet, Multiple Births Canada
  • Special Delivery: The Handbook for Parents of Triplets, Quadruplets & Quintuplets, booklet, Multiple Births Canada
  • Twin Care: Prenatal to Six Months, booklet, Multiple Births Canada
  • Expectant & New Parent Support Kit, Multiple Births Canada

Books

  • Finding Our Way: Life with Triplets, Quadruplets and Quintuplets ,
  • Triplet, Quads & Quints Assoc., 2001, ISBN 0-780968716007
  • Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More, Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, La Leche League International, 1999, ISBN 0912500514
  • Double Duty, Christina Baglivi Tinglof, Contemporary Books, 1998, ISBN 0809230194
  • The Joy of Twins and Other Multiple Births, Pamela Patrick Novotny, Crown Trade Paperbacks, Inc., 1994, ISBN 0517880717 (has great diagrams for positioning the babies for simultaneous feeding)
  • Expecting twins, triplets and more, Rachel Franklin, 2005, St. Martin ’s Griffin , N.Y. , ISBN 0-312-32823-0
  • When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads, Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein, 1999, Harper Perennial, ISBN 0-06-095723-9

Video

  • Side by Side: Breastfeeding Multiples, a 16-minute video by Calgary POMBA and the Calgary Foothills Hospital . Available through the Hospital, Public Affairs Office AGW5, 1403-29 th St. N.W. , Calgary , Alberta , Canada T2N 2T9

Websites

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Advantages of Having Multiples

They are finally here!

The many doctor’s appointments, the pregnancy and births went well and now you are enjoying so many of the experiences around raising your multiples.

Following are some advantages of having multiples; thoughts, which parents have shared about what they enjoy about having multiples.

  1. One pregnancy can mean an instant family.
  2. A unique parenting experience at every stage.
  3. The children have each other as playmates and a source of entertainment, and as they grow older may play freely for longer periods.
  4. A wider variety of games can be played because of built-in playmates, e.g. tag, board games, playing school, etc.
  5. Parents have two or more little faces looking up at them at once with love and affection.  Multiply the giggles, kisses and hugs.
  6. Many of life’s lessons are built-in with multiples:  sharing, negotiation, waiting your turn, compromise, learning a task from the other, e.g. getting dressed.
  7. One of life’s challenges is the fear of being alone.  Multiples are never alone unless they choose to be.
  8. The children may take the same programs and activities on certain occasions, which gives them the security of a buddy, makes the family schedule simpler and which may include less driving.
  9. If it works for everyone, only one birthday party a year.
  10. They can potentially be best friends.
  11. There can be a special sense of status with being a multiple.
  12. A special bond and friendship is often experienced between the multiples themselves.
  13. The joy of growing up together.
  14. Interesting for a parent to watch them grow and develop.

 

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We are Bored! Rainy Day Entertainment Ideas

It’s inevitable. Eventually there comes a time when every parent hears the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” When you are facing such a situation and can’t think what to offer by way of distraction, check out the following suggestions and see if something clicks.

Thankfully these entertainment ideas are not necessarily limited to Rainy Days but also if someone(s) is home sick.

If you have an Entertainment Idea that worked for you and your kids and would like to share it, please drop me a line with your idea.

These boxy ideas are used with permission from www.savvymom.ca

I won’t take the TV, but can I buy the box that it comes in? My kids will have more fun with that.

In a world where plastic toys are not so cool (and recycling is), parents are finally getting back to the basics and creating their own toys which encourage deep play and help foster a child’s imagination.

Imagination Blocks: Just think about the number of boxes that come in and out of your house weekly. We know that all of those tissue and pasta boxes can be recycled into crafty building blocks because we’ve seen what our friend Katie (aged 5) has done with her basement. She has literally filled it with a collection of boxes that she uses for building and imaginative play, and we noticed that when kids come over to play—of any age—they have no interest in the other toys. They just want to play with the boxes. Katie’s mom collects the boxes as they come in (shoe boxes and tissue boxes are the most popular). With a big roll of recycled craft paper from Ikea on hand, she wraps the boxes and leaves them for Katie to decorate with stickers or crayons/coloured pencils, etc. Wrapping the boxes with plain paper gives them uniformity (makes them all the same but different) and provides a clean slate for young artists to work on. There were literally hundreds of box-blocks in the playroom we saw – enough to build a decent sized fort. But remember that you don’t need that many to keep your kids entertained, start with just a few and the interest will evolve as the number of boxes do.

Big and Fast: For the big boxes, cardboard cars are a favourite for the toddler set. Sit the box down, cut out the top and bottom so that all you have is the four sides. Punch holes on either side of the front and rear and attach some thick string front to back. This will form your shoulder straps. You will need to adjust the straps depending on the height of your child.

Next, pull out some paper plates which are the perfect shape and size and attach them to the sides as wheels and one more for the steering wheel. Now let the kids get to work decorating it with racing stripes, wipers and horns. See what you can find around the house to accessorize with.

Walking Tall: We remember making these coffee can stilts as kids and we loved them then as much as our kids do now.

Using 2 empty coffee cans, some smooth rope and lots of duct tape and craft decorating tools, you can put some coffee can stilts together in a flash.

  1. First, empty the coffee cans and punch two holes in the opposite sides of each (approx 1/4 inch from the bottom). Be sure to punch holes inward to keep sharp edges from sticking outward.
  2. Measure the length of rope—it should equal the length from above the child’s knee to the floor. Then double that length allowing enough extra for a knot.
  3. Before adding the rope, allow each child to decorate the cans to their liking. Try different coloured duct tape and markers so each child can make their own mark.
  4. Thread the rope through holes and tie securely so that the knot is inside the coffee can leaving a large loop for the child to hold.
  5. Glue the plastic plastic lid back onto coffee cans with white glue (don’t try the glue gun on the plastic lid).
  6. Invert, grab hold of the rope and see what your child looks like two inches taller.

If the kids are old enough to sew, give them some old fabric and either with the assistance of an adult or precut large circles, give them the Button Box (every home should have a Button Box) and let them sew on the buttons as a face or other design to suit their fancy. It never hurts anyone to learn how to sew on a button!

As another idea on the sewing theme, cut coloured straws into about one inch lengths and have the children thread them together on a piece of yarn to make fun and easy necklaces. Plastic needles are available in most craft stores.

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Weaning Multiples

Weaning, in some instances, can be a challenge. When is the right time to wean? What if one baby is ready and the other(s) isn’t? What if two or three are and one isn’t? How can I make this as painless as possible and not feel guilty? What if nursing them settles them down and it’s the only way they will fall asleep? What if they are ready and I am not? Or what if I am ready and they are not?

Decide when you think it is time to consider weaning. You know your own situation best. The children could be 2 months, 10 months, 1 year, 2 years or anywhere in between. Reaching the decision may be because you need to go back to work, or it has been a year and you are exhausted with nursing combined with everything else needed doing. There may be pressure from others and having a plan to handle that pressure may be necessary. Nevertheless, think about introducing weaning slowly so that not only do the kids have a chance to learn the new routine, but your body can also make the necessary physical adjustment. Just as demand and supply increases milk supply, a reduced demand will result in less milk production. Slow reduction also allows for the physical relationship of Mom to babies and vice versa to change.

How to recognize when your multiples may be ready to wean

  • the kids themselves may be ready to give it up, but not completely and you would like to speed up the completion date;
  • maybe the kids are becoming disinterested in nursing and are self-weaning (it does happen from time to time);
  • weaning can be challenging when one is ready and the other isn’t. To add to the mix, the one whom is ready may continue only because his sibling hasn’t stopped yet. Multiples can become quite competitive if they feel their sibling(s) is getting something they are not; or
  • it could be that the opposite happens and one stops nursing and isn’t bothered that his/her sibling(s) continues to nurse.

Knowing one is ready to wean, may be the impetus needed to begin thinking along the lines of weaning all of them.

Suggestions for implementing weaning

  • changing the routine is a good place to begin. Drop the easiest daytime sessions first, or stretch out the time between daytime nursing with a distraction (story, trip to the park). You may still need to nurse at nap times;
  • try a sippy cup or straw if someone is thirsty;
  • a good rule of thumb, “don’t offer, don’t refuse;”
  • have a nursing song, perhaps ABC’s or slowly count to 20, to indicate the length of a nursing session. Be consistent so they know what to expect;
  • avoid areas of the house where they were nursed, e.g. sitting/lying on the sofa, their room, la-z-boy chair;
  • some children respond well to verbal interactions/preparations, e.g. big girls and boys use a cup;
  • you may only nurse them at nap/bedtime for a time;
  • when working on giving up the nighttime nursing, some Moms leave the house so that Dad, partner or grandparent can be the one to put the kiddies to bed. If Mom is anywhere in the house, expect to be found and there be a request to nurse. Staying out of the house ensures that someone else is the soother and comforter for the time being;
  • weaning, for whatever reason, may need to occur while the babies are still very young, e.g. 4 or 6 weeks. In such case, try not to switch to formula in one or two days. Dropping a few feeds each day will allow Mom’s body to respond to the decrease in demand and make weaning a more comfortable experience;
  • babies/toddlers nurse also for comfort so as weaning occurs, they are also looking to increase their other sources of comfort. This can take a little time to become the norm. Lots of hugs and physical touch is helpful.

Things to think about

  • never compare the children to one another, e.g. Look at Harry, he’s a big boy and doesn’t need to nurse;
  • be flexible, especially at the beginning. If one (two or three) is having difficulty letting go, be aware of each child’s individual needs and concerns. Being in tune to those needs will, in the long run, pay dividends;
  • stick with what works for a period of time until each child is comfortable with the change in routine, e.g. stretching time between day time nursing, no nursing during the day;
  • be prepared for setbacks. Tomorrow is another day and you can all try again;
  • don’t rush the process. Let the children tell you as much as possible what they need and when;
  • do not plan any huge changes in nursing patterns at emotionally stressful times: holidays, travel, having family guests, starting daycare, illness;
  • if you need to wean your babies because you are on medication, don’t stop cold turkey. Pumping from time to time will comfortably help reduce your supply;
  • for older toddlers/children, consider having a Weaning or Milestone Party to celebrate their growing up;
  • consider rite of passage changes to their bedrooms, changing cribs to Big Kid beds, moving out the rocking chair, and so on;
  • one inventive Mom put band aids on her nipples signifying that she had a “bobo”;
  • if you are receiving pressure from others indicating “it’s time,” gently stand your ground as to what you and your multiples need; and
  • speak to parents with older multiples and find out what worked for them.

Sources

Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More, Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, La Leche League International, 2007

La Leche Leaque of Canada
www.lalecheleague.org

Additional Resources

Searching “breastfeeding multiples weaning” offers many helpful blogs.

These 2 books are not multiple-birth focused but they do contain helpful information about weaning. They are available on line through La Leche League:

  • How Weaning Happens , Diane Bengson
  • Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning , Kathleen Huggins and Linda Ziedrich

Lynda P. Haddon, Multiple Birth Educator, with helpful in put from Erin Shaheen, mother of multiples + more, and Kathy Litalien, Mom of twins.

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When multiples are the bullies…

It is probably safe to say that all siblings argue, fight, and  bully one another.  You may remember your own battles with siblings.  Sibling arguments occur even in loving families. Arguments have an upside (although it is difficult to see any when the fur is flying and your ears are ringing from the taunting and screaming) and can offer fertile ground for learning to compromise, share, take turns, patience, and sometimes for the aggressors or bullies, to feel badly about their behaviour. Or not.

When children fight, a parent may step in for a variety of reasons:  escalation of the argument, things are getting physical (or dangerous such as throwing things) and someone can really get hurt, the fight has no obvious ending, or the fight is taking place during a car ride, making things dangerous and distracting.  A parent may try to mediate, teach compromise tactics or try to make sense of who did what to whom, and perhaps why.  If the argument began in another room or at school, there is no hope to truly figure out how things began.

When the aggressors or bullies are the multiples, things can really get challenging.  Because of the bond multiples have, they may “gang up” on younger, and even older siblings.  As a gang, they can be a force to be reckoned with.  It doesn’t seem to matter the multiples’ genders as they learn that as a group, they are more apt to be able to enforce their will.

sibling-bullying-thinkstock-100526086-617x416A twin Mom shares she has 10-year old twin boys, a 6-year old boy and 3-year old girl.  The 6-year old tries to emulate his older brothers and they, as a team, pick relentlessly on him causing melt-downs and chaos as a result, “you’re too small; you’re too young,” “such a baby” and so on.  They race ahead knowing their much-younger brother cannot physically keep up.  Younger brother does a lot of screaming, yelling and acting out while the two older brothers “look innocent.”

Another Mom of 12-year old twin boys shares that they relentlessly pick on and irritate their 8-year old sister.  The tears and resulting chaos make their home life next to intolerable.

A Mom with a 12-year old boy, 9-year old girl and 6-year old twin boys shares that even though their twins have a special relationship, they idolize their older brother and want to do whatever he does, giving him no peace.  When they have to go to bed before their older brother, the screams of “It’s not FAIR” reverberate off the walls.  With their combined reactive behaviour, the household is in turmoil.

In some cases, multiples will carry this “gang-type” behaviour into the classroom and school yard.   As a team, they can be formidable and the more they look alike (and are dressed alike?), the teachers may not be able to decide who is actually the culprit.  Punishing both, or all, may happen no matter how many were originally involved.

If these stories reflect some of what may be occurring at your house, there are some ways to deflect the gang-style behaviour and hopefully make it less likely to continue

  • first and foremost, congratulate yourself for reading this article.  You have recognized that there are issues in your household and you are attempting to rectify them.  Good for you!
  • avoid referring to the multiples as “the twins,” “the triplets” and so on.  This reinforces the package deal and in truth, they are individuals who happened to arrive together.  Use the children’s names at all times even when speaking to friends, family and peers to reinforce their individuality.
  • not dressing them alike is helpful to all so that they are not perceived as a package.
  • think about defusing the situation by giving the multiples their own rooms (if possible).  This action gives them less time together to scheme.
  • splitting up play dates, errands, sleepovers dilutes their “power” and helps them learn to separate from each other as well as  dramatically changes the family dynamics.  The bonus is that you get to spend time with each of your children in a completely different fashion.
  • try to put them in separate classes at school.  It will help each (all) develop their own friends and give them less opportunity to get together to collude.
  • foster a relationship between your other children if you have more than one other.  This relationship is also special and can become lost within a multiples’ relationship.  Even if they are different sexes, they can enjoy being and playing together.
  • set aside a “King/Queen for a day” day where each child gets to pick the family activities, chores, perhaps menu, outings.  Making each child feel special is great for self-esteem and learning patience until it is there turn to be in charge.
  • connect with other families in your area with children about the same ages as yours so that they can pair off and each have their own special friends.
  • reinforce common interests amongst all the children.  Depending upon their age ranges, it could be the park, colouring, skiing, skating, sports, music and so on.
  • look for at least one special skill in each of your children and help foster that skill, so that they will feel good about themselves and help them stand separate from their siblings.
  • give your other children the tools to handle bullying.  Screaming and crying only makes things worse. Providing tools to help control their environment empowers each child.  There are some good books and Web Sites to help you with those tools.*
  • making each child a part of the solution and not a part of the problem is not always easy, but is in the best interests of all.  With practice, positivity replaces the negativity and again, empowers each child.  No matter how small the good behaviour, focus on it and unless they are putting each other in physical danger, ignore the bad behaviour.  When one of the multiples is praised for passing the milk to a sibling for example, eventually that praise takes precedence and replaces the behaviour of refusing, ignoring or “you didn’t say please” type of behaviour.
  • realize that what is “fair” is constantly changing over time as your children grow and develop.   It will be affected  by the maturity level and capabilities of each child.  A later bed time, for example, may be negotiated and influenced by behaviour during the day, if it is a school night, and the age of the children.  Flexible and changing rules help children understand that some goals are earned and teaches them about negotiating and consequences.
  • try to keep calm.  Children, even young ones, pick up very quickly on the mood and tensions around them and will try to exploit it to their advantage.  It isn’t always easy but keeping calm, using a low voice, being consistent and working together as partners (i.e. Mom and Dad agreeing with how to handle the situation so the children can’t play one against the other) goes a long way to helping the children remember who is in charge.  If you are really angry about something that has just occurred, indicate, “I am really angry right now and cannot speak to you.  When I have calmed down, we will talk about what just happened.”  This statement lets them know your limits and boundaries, and rather than immediately flying off the handle and doing/saying something rash, taking the time to cool down and revisiting the issue at a later time is the wisest step to take.

RESOURCES

Books

  • Parenting School-Age Twins and Multiples, Christina Baglivi Tinglof, McGraw Hill, 2007
  • The Bully and the Bullier and the Bystander:  From Pre-School to High School – How Parents and
  • Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence, Barbara Coloroso, 2008


Websites

Googling Bullying turns up many helpful sites.  I am not listing any here because they change so often.

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Birthday Parties: Planning those important birthday celebrations

The majority of us aren’t required to share our Birth Day with another family member and therefore get to revel in our own celebration with each of us at its centre. Such is not the case for children born on the same day.

If you are anything like me, that is non-creative and can’t bake to save her life, but feel birthdays are special, important and fun to celebrate, then you will appreciate the following ideas for celebrating your multiples’ birthdays.

Don’t limit the celebration to just these ideas – you are no doubt more creative than I – but making the day special for all (singles’ birthdays as well as multiples) of our children makes the memories last a lifetime. And don’t forget to keep the camera handy to record it all.

While some of these ideas will work for any of our children, the focus is on those birthday that are shared.

  1. Sometimes our babies are born on the either side of midnight or perhaps in different years, i.e. 31 December and 1st January. At least this way, everyone has their “own” day. You may consider two separate parties in this case or some families will do separate parties nevertheless, a week apart (or sometimes, two days following each other). I never found I had the stamina nor the inclination to subject myself.. I mean to organize, two separate parties. Important Note: For two (or three) separate parties, and depending on the natures of your children, you might need to make absolutely sure that each party, if held separately, does NOT in fact fall on one of their actual birth-days! This could open a Pandora’s box of fallout because one might feel that they had “one upped” their co-multiple(s), and we don’t want to go there!
  2. The first birthday is often kept fairly low-key and may be limited to family and close friends. We gave each daughter a cupcake for her first birthday and kept the camera rolling as they “dug in.” We still cherish the photos.
  3. I always made sure each child had her own cake – yes, there should always be ONE CAKE PER CHILD. This is so important for a couple of reasons: 1) Why shouldn’t they each have their favorite flavour? As impossible as it may seem, not everyone prefers chocolate; 2) With two (or three, or four) cakes, you can focus on each child individually – bringing in one cake at a time with lit candles and singing Happy Birthday for each child, singly. Each child needs to feel special on their birthday, even though they are shared. I broke this “rule” once in our daughters’ lives – I had to go a wedding on their 11th birthday and just couldn’t deal with the visitors in the house, getting ready for the wedding as well as making and decorating two cakes. I didn’t get about to baking a cake until about 3 and a half months after their birthday – and they particularly enjoyed reminding me of my failure. Heavily greased with a coating of guilt, I finally took a large, rectangular pan and divided the cake into two with icing, cross corner to cross corner. I iced their names and ages on the cake, we sang Happy Birthday twice, whipping the cake away in between to reset the candles and focus on the other child. Luckily my girls love to laugh and the opportunity to begin again, with the same cake, provided us all with some jocularity and good memories.
  4. You may have gathered by now but in case I wasn’t too clear, I prefer One Party. I just didn’t have the energy for two parties and truly admire those who will go to the lengths of preparing two separate parties. Nevertheless, we did have really neat party themes. One year we had a Tea Party using their toy dishes. We had applejuice, grape juice and various flavours of Kool-Aid ‘tea’. I made teeny, tiny sandwiches and cookies, to fit the small plates. Everyone could serve themselves and were thrilled at playing grown up. Note: Use a white, double sheet for a table cloth. It doesn’t matter if stuff is spilled and goes right into the washing machine. Oh yes, and everyone came in their best dress up clothes. You might pick similar themes for the party for boy/girl combinations, say Bat Man and Wonder Woman or G.I. Joe and Barbie. Once again this allows a focus on each child but within the same party context, on the same day! ?
  5. We always had each child sit at one end of the table, surrounded by the invitees of their choice. This, too, allowed for the focus on each child individually.
  6. For other party ideas and depending upon the ages and interests of your children check out the following in your local community (most of these places will do everything for you, including loot bags): Wave Pool, Cinemas, Community Centres, YW/YMCA, Athletic Clubs, Museums or Library. You can “rent” Magicians, Clowns, “Scientists”, and Reptile Specialists (unless these are off limits for you ?). On our girls’ 13th birthday, they each invited one friend and we went White Water Rafting. My husband took the day off work and we had a trip to remember. It was not only a wonderful experience, but also a great family outing.

Individual, Happy Kids: Priceless!

Have you got Birthday ideas that worked for you or Birthday photos and you would like to share them?  Please send me a note and I will be pleased to add them to the list.