Calm mum=happy babies. We all know that. That’s why I’ve been reading a lot about how to achieve this, follow any advice that fits and that the twins seem to like. Because I want to spend quality time with them, both at home and when traveling. Without yelling. Just connecting!
1. Pick your battles
It’s not worth asking the twins to stop tearing that book apart – they won’t, they will just fear me, and honestly who cares about the book. It won’t help if I yell at them because they are being too loud – they will just cry and be louder. I don’t ruin our relationship by quarreling with them. Instead of yelling for every single thing, I pick my battles carefully. And in doing so, I give myself the time to calm down.
Away: No battles. Just hugs and moving on!
However, if it’s a matter of safety:
2. Get rid of everything that causes frustration
The twins were playing with the mirror on the wall. And we were asking them 10 times/minute to stop, explaining carefully how that might hurt them. Waste of time. We got rid of the mirror, as well as baby proofed the apartment thoroughly. And now the twins play… with their toys!
Away: The minute we enter the hotel room, we hide anything the twins might use to hurt each other or themselves. Candlesticks, fireplace accessories etc.
3. Meals are not battlefields
“Eat quickly”, “If you leave as much as a crumb, you won’t eat dessert”, “eat lentils, they are full of iron”. Do those lines ring a bell? Do you yell or get frustrated at every meal? Stop. If your kid’s crying or spits food, he’s not hungry anymore so don’t stuff his mouth with food. Eat with them, instead of feeding them – it’s less of a hassle. Trust them to eat on their own, keep in mind that each meal lasts at least 30 minutes, and everything will be much better!
Away: It’s a good idea to offer them food you know they eat. Don’t skip meals. Don’t sit on any table if they are not hungry. Eat together, as a family.
4. Wear them 🙂
If he is crying in his stroller, wear him and breastfeed him if possible. If he is crying at home, do the same. Your baby crying is frustrating and it makes no sense asking him to stop.
Away: They will feel secure on you. They will get calmer if you wear them.
5. Self care is important
It’s our fault if we yell at our kids, not theirs. Yelling is a choice. Not yelling is a better one. And in order to control our reaction, we must be calm and happy. Mums ought to have some alone time everyday. 1 minute to meditate. 15 for a relaxing bath. 5 for some stretching. Once in a while, visit the salon. Ideally, 2 or 3 times a week, you should be at the gym. And once a week, out with your girlfriends. If you find time to unwind, you’ll be a much calmer mum.
Away: I take a long, relaxing shower every night, no matter where I am!
I read in Momma Zen that when you sing, you breath correctly, just like in meditation, and hence you relax. Ιt’s a good thing I’ve been singing to them since day 1!
Away: My twins feel safe when they hear familiar songs, they relax listening to my voice singing. And I get calmer as well, since I need to breath properly in order to sing.
7. When they are difficult, love them more
It is indeed a choice: when they are whining/crying, you can bark at them, or hug them and reassure them. “You are safe”, “I love you”, “I am here for you” are more effective utterances than “why did you do that?”, “you are so difficult”, “stop crying”. Yelling is the first reaction. Putting it aside needs some heavy breathing and leads to hugging, understanding your baby’s needs and satisfying them. You first need to realize that babies are not manipulative, they just need something. Usually to eat or sleep.
Away: Your toddler has a tantrum? Hug him, speak with empathy “I understand you”, “It’s ok to cry”.
8. Offer nap opportunites
If every night, your kids are very active and you’ve reached your limits, your kids haven’t napped (enough) during the day. You ought to find nap opportunities, during your stroll, or at home, with some lullabies playing in a darkened and quiet room, or on your chest while breastfeeding. This way, you relax too, since even if the twins are both napping on you (true story), you get to have some quiet time. But most importantly, your baby calms down. So, the minute you see them rubbing their eyes, yawning or not standing straight, begin.
Away: If you are out in a new city, all the new images, smells and noises will wear them down, so they’ll nap a lot.
9. Satisfy their needs for naps, meals, nursing, playing
Unless you want them to nag. Or if you think they are manipulating you. And that “this should be done your way, because you said so”.
Babies cry because that’s their only way of communicating their needs. If you listen to what they are trying to ask and you satisfy their needs, they are happy and hence you are too. If you decide to ignore their needs, they will cry and whine. And if they are nagging, you all get upset and frustrated. And you yell. And they cry. Vicious circle.
Away: Especially away! Respect their routine, follow their cues, listen to them. I’ve written more about this here.
Obviously I’m barely scratching the surface here. Those are merely the very first and basic steps towards becoming a calmer mum (and therefore having calmer kids). There have been tons of pages written about this, so those are just a few tips I manage to follow at home and during our travels, to be calmer and have the best time with my family!