Children’s Culture – Opera And Ballet For Babies

Yesterday marked a big milestone for me and the babies. For the first time I went to the city center with them. With a colic baby we have stayed mainly near home. Now we can start moving around more. Yey!

We had a good reason for going. Helsinki Opera & Ballet organized an event where parents could take their babies to the Helsinki Opera House and get their first opera and ballet experience.


High quality children’s culture is close to my heart. In my opinion it’s not only fun for both the kids and the parents but it’s also a great way to teach children to consume and value culture.

With the older boy we have been to concerts, theatre, music theatre and museums. Also children’s festivals, theme parks and library visits have been part of our life.

Yesterday was twins’ first culture event and what would have been a better way to start than the National Opera and the beautiful Helsinki opera house. The staff had created a wonderful, warm atmosphere. The music was beautiful. The babies and mothers participated in the act occasionally. The most rousing part was when a ballerina came front and danced for us. My babies stared at her, mesmerized. It was a small group. I think 20 babies with their mothers.


It was fun. Attending cultural events is always fun. We’ve created some great memories. At least for us adults. The boy has been so young that he won’t remember most things that we have done. The babies obviously won’t remember anything from yesterday.

Does it matter? What’s the point in attending events that they won’t remember anyway?


Even if they won’t remember the events itself, they will remember our positive attitude towards these events. And I believe they remember how it felt to be there. We have photos of the events and we talk about them later. Children are curious about happenings concerning themselves. Many times have we watched photos and answered questions like “why did we go? Who was there? What did we do there? Why? Is it far away? Can we go again?”

And those conversations are what it’s all about. That is what educating children to consume culture is all about. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to offer my kids these experiences. The events are by the way usually free of charge like the opera experience today.

Do you like to attend children’s concert, theatre or other events? 

Have a beautiful day!

Mannamaria



Pretending To Be a Good Mom 

Now that I can finally say that the baby colic is behind us, I have started to reflect that time. How did we get through it? What kind of coping methods I used? Could or should I  have done something different?

Things started get harder with us later than in colic cases usually. We had first many good weeks. The twins were two month old when it turned hard. Right after this post. The hardest period lasted until the twins were 4,5 months old. Then it started to get better but we still had many highs and more lows. It took more or less 1,5 months until we got to the “normal” life. They were 6 months old that time. Now I can say that for about a month we have been back to normal situation. It’s still not perfect but it’s good. The baby boy’s stomach hasn’t been hurting anymore.

But back to my coping methods. The other day I realized that for me one key strategy of coping was pretending to be a good mom. I mean little like ‘fake it ’til you make it’ but still different. That saying suggests that you are aiming towards something you want to be but are not. In my case I felt like I used to be a good mom but with the colic baby was slipping away from it. Slipping towards crazy, screaming, insensitive character of a mom.

During whole this colic situation I had only one rule for myself. “The colic is not your children’s fault – make sure they don’t feel that way”. This may sound like an obvious and easy rule but I think that only a mother of a colic baby can really understand how hard it is.

When the baby cries hour after hour and nothing, and I really mean literally nothing, helps you end up walking a circle in your home with the crying baby. At the same time you should feed the toddler, change him the pajama, brush his teeth read him the bedtime story, do all other evening routines and try to calm him down to sleep. And there is this horrible noise. I’m grateful for my husband for standing by me those evenings and really doing his part.

And of course there is also the other baby. Who is also tired. And cranky.

I admit that I was frustrated. Irritated. Tired. And disappointed. Disappointed that our life was like that and I didn’t know how to fix it. I spent nights googling about gastroesophageal reflux, frenulum of tongue, allergies and all that I could think of. During the days I tried out everything that I found from Google and thought was worth trying.

Biggest task with my rule was to always speak to the kids with a gentle voice. That they couldn’t hear my irritation. (Harder that you’d think in my situation!) I wanted to speak nicely to not only my older son and the baby girl but also to the crying baby. Since it was not his fault either. Quite soon I realized that when I talked to them with a soft voice it soothed myself as well. I didn’t feel that irritated anymore.

I also tried to make sure that my older son would get to the playground and one kids’ club that he used to go as much as before the babies came. And that all the other activities and rules would stay as similar to him as they were before. Even if I was extremely tired and it would have been so much easier to stay on our backyard I tried to force myself to the kids’ club.

I pretended to be a good mom.

I did snap sometimes. I’m not perfect (though I wish I was). But I can count those times with one hand. I didn’t participate on my son’s play as much as I would have liked to. I didn’t cook as good meals that I would have liked to. We didn’t go to the kids’ club every time. But quite often we did. In my opinion I did pretty good job pretending even if I sometimes wanted to give the crying baby to our neighbors so that I could get some rest.

I thought, and still do, that looking back that time is hard but had I acted differently towards the kids it would be so much harder. I truly hope that this colic didn’t affect the relationship between my kids and me.

The point of this text was not to glorify how marvelous pretender and fake good mom I am but to tell one coping method in a hard situation.

This might work in many other situations too.

If you pretend to be a good mom, the odds are you probably are one.

Mannamaria

Twins 6 months – eating more, sleeping less

So they are 6 months old already! Many things are easier than before. We have finally figured out why the other baby was crying so much and have that under control.

They eat better and more all the time and we have started to give them some fingerfood along with the purees. Cucumber and banana have been great successes. Family dinners are getting a lot easier when they learn to sit in their own high chairs and can concentrate on their own food.

We gave up the pram and started using the stroller (it’s the same Bugaboo but still). They like it better since they can now see around. Ok, in this picture they sleep but you get the idea.

They laugh and take more contact to people around them. N loves it since now the babies respond to his funny faces and other attempts to play with them.

They have started to crawl and like being on the floor more than before. It makes it easier for me to do stuff when I don’t need to hold them all the time.

But here we get to the negative side of this all and it’s that they don’t sleep well anymore! Until now the boy usually woke up once or maybe twice a night to eat and then he continued sleeping. The girl has always waken up twice a night to eat but other than that slept full night. But now.. they eat 3 or 4 times a night each and also wake us up to put the pacifier back on multiple times. Needless to say we are tired. But we’ve been tired all year.

It’s just different. Before our days were hard when the other baby cried a lot and we had to carry him all the time. It was also very stressful when we could see that something was wrong but we couldn’t figure out what it was or how we could help him.

Now that our days are getting better our nights are getting broken. We know that it’s probably about learning to move. Learning new skills. In a way I would like to start some sleep training thing but then I think that what if due to the crawling they need more energy (=more food) than before? Maybe I’m not able to offer that during the day so they demand it in the night?

At the moment my plan is to increase the amount of solids during the day so that we can train them to sleep better as soon as possible if this phase continues for a long time.

Sleeping problems aside, we are doing good. Summer has been great! People complain about the weather but for me it’s been ok. I have learnt not to worry about it, not to spend my energy on this negativity.

At 6 months the twins:

  • smile, laugh and scream loudly
  • turn around and roll over. The boy also crawls.
  • In the morning they eat rice porridge with mango/pear/plum/apple puree, afternoon they have carrot/sweet potato/cauliflower/parsnip puree, then cucumber/carrot/banana/apple as a fingerfood and again rice porridge with fruit puree in the evening. They don’t always have this many solid meals but this is my plan at the moment.
  • they put everything in their mouth and teething toys are pop. Sophie la giraffe is our favorite!
  • they are learning to sit and we have put them in high chairs and a swing for couple of minutes every now and then.
  • they don’t sleep well and we’re thinking what to do about it. I hope it’s just a phase that will pass without further drama.

I welcome all tips concerning how to get babies to sleep! 🙂

Next post will about Pärnu, Estonia!

Have a lovely week!

Mannamaria

Car trip with kids – my tips and thoughts

Our family vacation is coming to its end. Four weeks together traveling and renovating the house. At the same time it feels like we have spent the whole summer together and that time flew faster than ever.

This summer we made two trips by car. First we visited the grandparent, 500 kilometers one way. Then we went to Estonia which meant first a two hour trip by a ferry (we drove our car to the ferry) and then driving for another two hours.

With our first born son we made the long drive to the grandparents when he was 2 months old. We got only one advice: drive as long as the baby sleeps. As a first time parent I had read that it’s not good for the baby to spend many hours in the car safety seat. It would be bad for his back so we had thought that we should have a stop after about two hours and take him out from it. Then drive for another two hours and have another long break. I’m glad we didn’t. Drive as long as the baby sleeps was a great piece of advice. He fell asleep right after we started the engine and slept for about 2 to 3 hours. Then we stopped and after a good break we drove another 2 to three hours and we were there. It didn’t take much longer than our trips before kids. And since that was a very rare occasion, nothing happened to his back.

This summer we have three kids. Twins are about 6 months and the toddler is 3 years old. Since the other baby suffers from stomach problems and cries a lot anyways, we had done some back up plans before the first long drive in case he would start to cry at some point. We had called a family member half way and asked if we could spend a night there if needed. We had checked the train stations and time tables to see if it was possible to continue by train (where I could hold the baby) in case the car seat was too uncomfortable for him. And we had the mindset of spending all day to this trip.


The first half of the trip went well. Drive as long as the baby sleeps was our motto and so we drove. As fast as possible, as far as possible. Half way the babies woke up. We stopped, fed them, changed diapers and ate our self. It was a good stop. We decided to continue our trip but after about 20-30 minutes the crying started. We were middle of nowhere. We stopped by the road side to calm the baby. We realized that we hadn’t hold him in the upright position after eating long enough so he had gotten stomach problems. We held him, carried him around, watched the cars that were bypassing. After some time we decided to continue. Maybe 2 or 3 time we stopped by the road to calm him before arriving to the next town.

We had bypassed the family member where we could have spent the night at and there was no train station nearby. After arriving to the town we parked our car and decided to spend as long as we needed to normalize the situation with the baby. We spent there little over 2 hours. We ate dinner at a restaurant while holding the baby. When he got tired we packed everyone back to car and drove to our destination. The trip took us nearly one full day.


I had this chicken&goat cheese waffle while we stopped for a few hours..

What I learnt from that trip is

  • Know your kids. My baby needs to be hold up for about an hour after eating. Rushing with this one backfired big time. Most kids don’t need this and in that case..
  • Drive as long as the baby sleeps.
  • In case you are not sure make many backup plans (can we spend a night somewhere if needed? Are there nice hotels, amusement/water parks, family members on our route? What sights or cities there are on our route where it would be nice to stop for a couple of hours if needed?).
  • Be ready to make a plan on the go. The odds are, you are going to be in middle of nowhere when all hell breaks loose.
  • Try to make the new plan sound like fun for the other kids. “Let’s have dinner in a restaurant/Let’s have a picnic! We have never stopped in this city before! That amusement park/zoo sounds like fun, let’s go there!”

When we were coming back I tried to book train tickets but since it’s the summer holiday season all the seats where you can take a pram nearby were taken. Our plan b was to book a hotel night somewhere on our route so we booked a night at a spa hotel. It was fun for the older boy who loves water parks and hotel breakfasts and the trip was less stressful to us.


The spa hotel was by a beautiful lake.

Our next trip was easier. We knew what our baby needed. We were better prepared. The maximum drive was two hours. At the ferry he didn’t need to be on his car seat. We held him up as much as he needed, we had some medicine in case he needed it. We were well prepared.


Driving to the ferry was exciting especially to the boy!

I have heard many parents, especially twin parents, say that they are scared to go because so many things can go wrong. I would like encourage them to prepare yourself well, be ready to be spontaneous if needed but don’t be afraid to go. It’ll be worth it and it’ll go well! 

Have you done long car trips with kids? How did it go? Do you have any tips?

Have a nice week end!

Mannamaria

Funny stories

With the 3-year-old it’s sometimes tricky to get him to do as I’d like. For example, going out or getting in, cleaning up his toys or brushing his teeth are quite often difficult situations.

I try to avoid yelling at him no matter what. I do not want to bribe him with sweets or screen time, and threatening him with restrictions also feels uncomfortable. Usually, I try to make up a play and get things done without him even noticing that he did as I told him to do in the first place. For example, if we should get him overalls on and go outside I could say “Let’s play that we are firefighters and we have to put on our overalls and boots and go quickly outside to put the fire out! Let’s go! There is a fire! We have to be quick!”

It doesn’t work every time but when I try different things I usually find something that works well enough. One thing that he finds hard to resist is if I promise to tell him funny stories. He usually starts to laugh already when I say something like “if you come to brush your teeth now, mommy will tell you three funny stories”.

The stories can be anything. He will laugh and ask for more no matter how lame the story (or joke) was. In that way he’s the best possible audience. 😄 One of our classics goes like this: “one day mommy saw a man walking on the street eating a banana. Accidentally, he dropped the peels on the ground but didn’t see them. So he stepped on them, slipped and fell on his butt!”

Other’s can be something like “what is white and is peeking behind the corner? -shy sourmilk” or “what is red and goes up and down? -lingonberry in an elevator”

Telling funny stories or jokes is also a good way to turn negative atmosphere into a positive and relaxed one.

How do you get your kids to do what you want? Do you know some lame jokes that I could add to my repertoire? I would love to hear them!

Mannamaria

How does it feel to be a big brother?

Ok, I’m back. It took me couple of days to recover and get back on my feet after the past weeks but now I feel good. The other day I complained to the husband that I had lost the joy or fun in my days when he was working so much and I felt like I was just carrying out tasks one after another after another for so long that it felt endless. But anyways I’m glad that things are back to normal. The joy has made a comeback into our lives.

Today I thought I would talk about our older son and how he has reacted or accepted the new siblings.

How does it feel to be a big brother is a common question for older siblings. My three-years-old is not very keen on talking about his feelings so when one asks him that question he usually rolls his eyes and leaves and I’m left there explaining if there has been jealousy. If the person asks “is it nice to have a baby sister and a brother?” one may hear a yes before the boy is gone.

I know that the situation may change at any point but the first four months have gone surprisingly well. He is a proud big brother, always ready to help with the babies. It’s lovely to see how he takes care of the babies, kisses them good night and always makes sure that I remember to mind the babies too. Couple of weeks ago he did something that he was first very nervous of doing. Afterwards I told him “mom is very proud of you”. He thought about it for a while and said “mom is very proud of the babies too”. “Yes, mom is very proud of all of her children”.

He wants to know where the babies are at all times and if one starts to cry and I can’t get there immediately he runs to the baby saying something like “don’t worry baby, mom is coming, it’s gonna be OK, don’t worry”. The babies start to smile when they see their big brother and I think that’s all he needs as a reward.

I know that the biggest reason that everything has been so well is his character. He’s very kind and caring and always wants to do the right thing. I can’t take credit on this good situation. It’s all his own merit. But there are things we try to keep in mind.

I think that in our case, involving him to take care of the babies has been the most important thing for us to remember. He doesn’t feel left out but very important when we give him tasks. Those tasks involve for example measuring the temperature of babies’ bath water. Sometimes he doesn’t want to help because he’s playing and that’s ok. On the the other day I asked him to bring me a pacifier and replied “mommy I can’t do that right now, can’t you see that this boat is just about to get through a canal” . “Ok, hon”.

Another thing I try to keep in mind is giving him one on one time without the babies. Every evening we read a bed time story and that is a moment he gets alone with mom or dad. Once a week the nanny is with the babies and I go to the playground or do something else alone with him.

There are many things in our life right now that I’m hoping are just phases and I hope will pass quickly but this one I hope stays the same for a long time.

Have a lovely day!

Mannamaria


 

 

Some days it’s hard to stay positive

When looking out of the window you see this


Or this


when it’s mid-May. Everyone is talking about the weather. Even the meteorologist burst out laughing when talking about the weather (clip with English subtitles). These pictures are from earlier this week.

The only person I know who is not horrified by this weather is my son. That snowy day I went to pick him up from daycare and told him we couldn’t go to the playground. He looked at me with puzzled face and asked “why?”. I told him that it’s cold and we have to go home. He asked if there are no toys at the playground and I said yes there is but there are no children. That puzzled face asked me again “why?”.

I wish I could be more like him. Not whining about something I can’t change but taking it as it is and making the most of it. Dressing up appropriately and going to the playground.

Luckily the sun is shining again and it’s getting warmer but this weather whining is something I fell too often to. I have to do something about it.

Do you complain about things you can’t change? Does it bother you?

Mannamaria