We just got back from a 5-week trip with our toddlers (2 years and 3 months) to Thailand - we live in Vancouver, BC, so that was more or less a 16-19hr. trip all together (with layover). This isn't our first rodeo.. we took the boys to Thailand (with a side trip to Japan - we were crazy) when they were 4 months old. And to say that travelling with infants and travelling with toddlers is different is an understatement. I did a lot of research - asked educators who worked with toddlers, asked parents who travelled, asked parents who travelled with toddlers, asked parents who travelled with twin toddlers, asked parents who travelled twin toddler boys - you get the picture, I asked around A LOT. They gave a lot of good advice and a lot of them you'll find in blog posts or articles that talks about travelling with toddlers - you know, the bring LOTS of snacks, bring LOTS of new but inexpensive toys (they will get lost in the plane), bring LOTS of change of clothes, bring an iPad or some tablet so they can watch a movie, bring stickers, books, their favourite cuddly, etc. so I'm not going to talk about that, because we already know that those are the basic things you need to prepare when you're travelling with toddlers. After our travel, I realized we encountered a few things that nobody talked about (I wish they did) that would have been helpful to know ahead of time so we could have prepared for it.. so here goes:
Request for a children's meal (IN ADVANCE)
Ok, this might be a no-brainer for some, but hear me out. So, before our trip, I was thinking of whether the boys would children's meal or not, you see, my boys like to eat what we eat, if they see what they're eating is different from our food, they won't eat their food and they will take ours, so I thought, ok, might be easier if we just had the same food. BIG MISTAKE. And it's not because they ended up wanting the children's meal - it's not even about the food, it's about WHEN they serve the food. You see, if you request for a "special" meal, it gets served before they serve the rest of the plane - and this is a HUGE deal because 1. Restless toddlers - FOOD! 2. When they're serving food, these restless toddlers cannot walk along the aisle - so if they have their food, then they will be eating them as the rest of the plane is being served!!!! 3. The seat is so tight that you don't want to have your tray open full of food while you're trying to feed and wrestle your toddler - best that they have their food while your table is clear then you can feed them and have more room. And by the time your food comes, you can hand your child's food tray back to the flight attendant so your kid won't spill his entire tray on the floor (this may or may not have happened to us.) So, you see, ordering children's meal is great! I rest my case. (oh and you have to do it in advance - give them a call or do it online)
The plane runs on its own "timeline"
This is a simple statement, but realizing this meant that our travel back to Vancouver was WAY smoother!! So, we travel maybe every year or every other year, it's not like we are "newbies", but I never really paid attention to this, because it didn't really matter at that time (pre-babies). But man, with children, this piece of information is GOLD! So, it doesn't matter if your flight leaves at 12midnight (like ours did) or 2am or 7pm or 7am - doesn't matter! When you board the plane, it will be busy, luggages everywhere, flight attendants walking up and down the aisle, etc. and then, they will serve you your food/snacks - even if it's 2 freaking AM!!! You see, our flight to Taipei was leaving at 12midnight, so we thought, ok, the boys woke up from their nap at 3pm, so by the time we get on the plane, they will just sleep right? WRONG. because they can't sleep!!! 1. They're overtired 2. THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON!! - have you heard flight attendants prepare the food? they are loud! So, what would I do differently next time? I would have encouraged the boys to nap before our flight (short nap would do) or if they didn't want to nap, I won't let them run around like lunatics to "burn off" their energy so they'll be dead tired on the plane (husband's theory not mine), I would have them relax and slow down a bit, to get ready for boarding the airplane, so when they are on the plane, they won't be so wired up. I'd keep them awake for the meal, and then slowly get them ready for rest/bedtime after - when the airplane turns off its light. I think the key is to follow the timeline of the plane, get up when the lights turn on, and go to sleep when they turn off the lights.
Download movies on your phone (or tablet)
We don't have an iPad or a tablet, so we just used our phones (which was perfectly fine) - but the lifesaver? Downloaded shows on Netflix!!!! Some planes turn off the in-flight movie/video before taking off and when landing - which are the most crucial times because you need something to distract them so that they'll stay on their seats and keep their seatbelt buckled (we didn't have our carseats with us, so if you have your carseat, keeping the seatbelt buckled won't be a problem, not sure if it will help with the screaming and crying part)!! So I can't even express my gratitude to Netflix and their download options, because it has saved me from having to pin my boys down and have them scream bloody murder during take offs and landing. One thing to note though is that some shows or movies that you download won't be available in certain areas (depending on where you're flying to). But seriously, THANK YOU NETFLIX!!!
Our baby carriers (we have a toddler Tula and a Lillebaby) were lifesavers when we first travelled with the boys when they were 4 months old, and it still is for our most recent travel. We decided not to bring our ginormous double stroller, instead we just prayed that our boys would listen to us. LOL. we're risk-takers! But seriously, hauling our carry-ons and running after toddlers is NOT easy - so there were times when I had to tell them that they have to stay in the carrier so we can board the airplane - I only insisted on it when we were boarding the plane. But it also helped for when they needed to be carried on the plane, especially when they are tired and need a little help to fall asleep. Our boys are HEAVY so, we can't really comfortably carry them on our own for extended periods of time.
Travelling with our boys is tiring, I'm not gonna lie.. but oh so worth it! It's a lot of fun too! I am so proud of them because they've grown and learned so much - our trip back was so much smoother because we (the parents) were more "prepared" (we had the information mentioned above), and the boys also knew what to expect, we talked a lot about being on the airplane prior to our flight - having to sit down and keep the seatbelt buckled especially during take offs and landing, etc. and that helped a lot too!
Hope these information helps! Have fun travelling with your kiddos!
Toddlerhood came in with a BANG. And by that I mean, it just smacked me in my face and I am still in shock. Mainly, it's really sleep regression (or whatever you want to call it).. and it is killing us! We had a good thing going.. from when the boys moved to their room (January of this year) they were 1 years old, they were sleeping pretty well and in their own bed. Sure, there were "off" nights.. where one (or really rarely both) would cry and end up on our bed.. but generally it was good. We had a "routine" - bath, play, milk, brush teeth, sometimes we read stories, cuddle, then off to bed they go. But a week or two weeks (can't quite remember, it was all a blur) before their 2nd birthday, Z decided he will scream bloody murder every time it's time to go to bed... this happened EVERY.NIGHT. for weeks (it really felt like a year) and I was SO DONE. It just hit me so hard that emotionally and physically I just could not cope. For the first time ever, I had to take time off work because I was just DONE. I also had to see a therapist/councelor because I could not cope anymore.. the phrase that best describes my feelings were "I AM DROWNING". As soon as we wake up in the morning, I would dread bedtime.. it came to a point where I couldn't even remember the good moments we had during the day (which I'm sure we had)..all I could think of was how HORRIBLE bedtime is and how I just did not know what to do. It didn't help that I also felt guilty that Z was taking so much of my time during bedtime that I felt like I was neglecting L (which now looking back, was not true. But I couldn't see that). I was hit by toddlerhood so hard... I didn't think I would survive. But after much soul-searching and grasping for help wherever I could find them... I finally realized I had neglected my soul.. That's when I started connecting with other moms, started to openly talk about my struggles and fears. I also re-connected with a mother's group in our church and started attending a weekly bible study and growth group and started reading my bible and doing my devotion more regularly. I neglected my soul and I think that's what ultimately got me. We're still in the midst of the "storm" (called toddlerhood) but I am beginning to see the beauty in the midst of the storm, I am finally able to see past the "difficult" moments.. I still have my "off" days and we still have our "struggling" moments.. but I'm honestly good.. because I know I have a God that has my back (and He loves my boys dearly too!).
Sharing with you two of the verses that has been my anchor these past few months. It has given me so much encouragement and I hope it can do the same for you!
Happy New Year! 2017 will be awesome (the snow is even here to welcome the new year!)
My boys can get painful-looking rash on their to bottom. So I made this bum cream that soothes and heals those nasty rashes.
1. Coconut Oil
2. Shea Butter
3. Tea Tree YoungLiving Essential Oil
4. Lavender YoungLiving Essential Oil
5. Frankincense YoungLiving Essential Oil
6. Gentle Baby YoungLiving Essential Oil Blend
I whipped coconut oil and shea butter using the electric mixer until it's nice and creamy and then added the essential oils. The amount of essential oils you use will depend on the age of your child.
Tea Tree essential oil is known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and has strong immune building properties. Lavender essential oil is known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Frankincense essential oil is just awesome for the skin. Gentle Baby essential oil blend has Geranium, Palmarosa and Rosewood (plus other awesome oils)- all of which are great for skin, moisturizes and promotes skin regeneration. I'm quite picky about the essential oils I use for my boys.. especially coz I am putting it on their skin - I've only really used YoungLiving oils on them and it has been great!
To be honest, I'm not really the extreme "all-natural" momma. But when the boys were born, so many things were "not safe" for infants.. that's really when I started exploring essential oils and started making our own creams and rollerballs to help with rash, coughs&cold and just to boost their immune system. And honestly, we've been loving it!
A lot of people were asking me about the Thieves Cleaner when I first bought it, but because I just got it at that time, I didn't really feel comfortable to give my feedback mainly because I haven't used it much.. When I first got our Thieves Cleaner, I used it primarily for our kitchen counter and our laminate floor (using our steam mop)- and I've been really happy with it. But one of my main motivation for purchasing this product was to be able to switch all my bathroom cleaning products to Thieves Cleaner - because I get nauseous when I clean our bathroom using the regular bathroom cleaning products & I didn't want the boys to be exposed to very strong chemicals. Well, next week we have a visitor coming over, so I finally HAD TO clean our guest washroom (after months of not cleaning it 🙊). Here are my thoughts on it:
1. In my opinion, Thieves Cleaner can completely replace Windex for cleaning mirrors - I was so surprised by this, no streaks and same result as Windex minus the nauseating chemical smell.
2. I used it to clean the toilet bowl (outside) and it cleaned just as well as my Lysol. I used it to clean the inside of my toilet bowl, and it did a pretty good job, but I think I might have to find a better way to reach the inside part of the bowl- maybe I'll reuse the toilet bowl cleaner coz it has the spout thingy?
3. Shower - worked well, just had to scrub a bit (and by scrub I don't even use a real scrub, I just use a paper towel), but based on my experience, I usually still scrub even if I am using the "no-scrub" cleaner.
4. Counter top, faucet and shower head - cleaned just like my regular bathroom cleaner, so Yay!
I think I feel confident enough with the results to completely switch all my bathroom cleaning products to Thieves Cleaner - I know there are also a lot of recipes to make toilet bowl cleaner, etc. but I haven't explored that yet.. Right now, I'm happy with using just a higher concentration of Thieves Cleaner when I clean the washroom.
Oh and I did not feel nauseous AT ALL after cleaning the bathroom - usually I'll have a nasty headache after, but not this time! I expected this, but was happy to confirm it!
This is possibly my most favourite product from Young Living!
If you have any questions about where to buy it, or how to use it just leave a comment, send me a message or email 😊
* note that I used a higher concentration of Thieves cleaner (1/4 cup thieves on my 500ml spray bottle) and I used paper towel to wipe/scrub (I am very particular about cleaning our bathroom and I don't want to reuse sponge or scrubs. )
Ok, so the boys sleep through the night and it is lovely! But they are so attached to their crib that travelling is just so scary for us because they cannot sleep without their crib!!!
After much research, we decided it was time to sleep train them for when we travel. We bought the Kidco Peapod to help them get used to sleeping in their tents so that when we travel, they'll have a familiar place where they can sleep and feel comfortable. So far, they have napped inside their tents and it's been good. We haven't tried travelling with it yet and testing it out!!! I'm nervous and excited! I'll update you guys on how this new sleep training journey goes for us!
Sleep training.. This is something new to me being a first time mom, also our culture was more the "cuddle-and-rock-to-sleep" type. My first encounter with the idea of sleep training is with my friend, when we went to their home to have a bible study. In the middle of our discussions, she said it was time for her 2-yo son to go to bed - so she brought him to his bedroom and placed him in his crib and kissed him goodnight, walked away and closed the door. I was stunned (and impressed), she said he will fall asleep on his own (and he did!). Years later, we had our boys and when they were little, I had no problem rocking them to sleep or holding them as they sleep. Sleep training for us had to happen because it was no longer an option to hold my two growing babies as they sleep, I eventually developed a wrist injury because they were just getting too heavy. I also noticed that they would just fall apart because they needed to sleep but couldn't or didn't know how to fall asleep without me holding them. I then began to do a quick research and talked to our twin mommy groups about how they sleep trained their twins. I also realized how controversial this topic is, from mommies who are hardcore CIO advocates to moms who would cuddle and rock their babies to sleep and refuse to let them cry it out. I am more of in the middle, I don't claim to have researched a whole lot about the effects of each sleep training method (whether it is rocking your babies to sleep or letting them cry it out). I read and tried to follow the Sleep Sense program by Dana Obleman as it was the most accessible to me (I just bought an ebook and speed read), I felt more comfortable with it and it was something that was more in line with my values and beliefs about sleep and babies. I did not strictly follow the steps, I did some modifications that suited our family and our boys personality. I am documenting this not to say that this is "the way", but could maybe encourage moms that it is possible to sleep train your babes and that it is hard but so worthwhile in my opinion. Also, I realized that as they get older, I begin to forget the details of how we sleep trained and the emotions that I felt while sleep training them. So this is also to help me look back and remember what happened and what I did back then.
Here are a few information about how we sleep trained our boys:
1. We sleep trained the boys at around 6-7 months, when they were just too heavy for me to carry and rock to sleep both at the same time. They never really liked their bouncy chair, so carrying them was my only option.
2. I browsed through Dana Obleman's Sleep Sense Program and then formulated a plan in my head on how we will execute it. I talked to my husband about it to get him on board. I feel that it is crucial to have your partner and yourself on the same page, because consistency is crucial to the success and/or failure of your sleep training. Also, sleep training can be very difficult and emotionally draining (for me it was), so the support and understanding of your spouse is very important, especially when you are beginning to doubt yourself or when you want to give up. I remember many nights when I would breakdown and cry because I felt so lost and such a failure because it didn't seem like it was working. It helped that my husband was more firm and was committed to the sleep training so he was able to take over for me when I couldn't take it anymore, or talk me out of quitting when I felt like it was just not working.
3. Have a plan and stick to it - but also trust your gut when you feel like you should make some changes to the plan. I know this is confusing, but to give you an example. The Sleep Sense program I was following said that we had to sit with the boys in the room so they feel like we are not abandoning them but we minimize touching them or helping them sleep. But after weeks of doing this, our boys would just escalate and would be hysterical because as long as they see both of us, they want us to carry them - this is our boys personality and up until now, they still do this. As soon as we leave the room, they stop crying in a few minutes. I made a judgment call based on what I saw was happening (it was also an experiment), so I would put them down, give them a goodnight kiss and leave the room and it was much easier for them to fall asleep that way. Sitting there in the room just prolonged their agony and did not help them sleep at all, so we had to change our plan.
4. There will be times when you just have to make changes your bedtime routine (this happened to us after our sleep training, when they have already established a bedtime routine), and usually this happens when they are sick/not feeling well or when they just need an extra cuddle time. Once in a while, one of my boys would do this, so I would take him out, hang out with him and they put him back to bed, and he will usually go to sleep quite easily after. I acknowledge that while we do have a bedtime routine and I don't want to mess that up, sometimes they (or I) just need extra cuddles. There was also a time when one of the boys would wake up in the middle of the night hungry, so we'd have a late night snack before he goes back to bed. He eventually stopped doing this, I think it was just a growth spurt or something! Point is, you might have to tweak your routine as your baby grows and have different needs.
5. Have a bedtime routine. Our bedtime routine is bath time, story time/quiet play, milk, brush teeth, pray and then go to bed. Note that during our quiet play, it is usually the adult that needs to be quiet, I find that when we have family over, they tend to be too rambunctious with the boys and it doesn't help them feel relaxed and ready for bed.. I also make sure that it is quiet in the room and the lights are dimmed (so no TV too).
6. The boys did not sleep through the night until we dropped their night feedings. And we did this per the advice of their pediatrician that it was not good for their teeth to drink milk in the middle of the night, so she said to switch to giving them water instead if they do wake up. They woke up a few nights but after that they just stopped waking up in the middle of the night, I'm assuming it's because they felt like water is not worth the effort of waking up. Haha. Works for me! They also started sleeping through the night once we moved them to their own room. Our boys are really sensitive, so when we shared room with them, they would wake up when they hear us come in the room.
7. We play music for the boys in their bedroom - I have a playlist of mostly classical music that we play for them while they sleep. I don't know if it really helps them sleep, but it's just our habit.
I'll add as soon as I remember some more details about sleep training the boys. It is a journey, and when you are in the middle of the storm, it's hard to see the light in the end of the tunnel, but it does get better! Wishing you all the luck mommas!
When I was pregnant with the boys, I loved taking photos of my belly so that I can look back and see how crazy and amazing it was.. I also tried to start a journal to talk about what I was feeling, etc. while I was pregnant.. I probably had 2-3 journal entries and then I just stopped for various reasons, primarily because I was just too busy (in between working full-time and doctor's appointments).
I revisited journaling after the boys were born, because I wanted to document their milestones.. I am not a "scrapbooking" type of mom (I wish I were!!) but I definitely wanted to document the amazing things the boys are learning and doing, struggles I might be having and just new things they have experienced. It is also my release.. a way that I can express what I am feeling and/or thinking, my joys and my fears.. and one day, I hope the boys can read it and see how insanely amazing and crazy they were.
I sort of do that via social media - my Instagram.. but I feel like I have to filter myself a bit when it is being read by the public.. plus I also just love looking back at something that is handwritten (even if I have the most ridiculously weird handwriting).
Today was a special journal entry that I have been meaning to write.. it's a letter to one of my sons.. he has been a bit more "challenging" this past few months and I have been thinking and reflecting a lot on our parenting style and his personality.. and finally I was able to sort through my thoughts and also find the time to write him a letter describing my fears, my thoughts and what he is like right now in my eyes.. And there are moments when it gets too overwhelming and this morning was one of those moments.. but after writing that letter, I just felt so much better and I was able to process my feelings and just pour out my emotions.. It's like having a coffee with a non-judgmental & empathetic friend.
Do you write a mommy journal? scrapbook memories?
Ok, so it's been almost a month now since I have gone back to work part-time (how momma's who go back to work full-time do it, I have no idea! kudos to you all!). I think we are starting to get into the groove.. it is less intense and less crazy - still insanely exhausted, but that's to be expected! We are able to get our schedule organized such that we have one family day together and Daddy gets one day with the boys while I'm at work. Because of the nature of hubby's work, he cannot have weekends off, but he also has a bit more flexibility in terms of asking for days off so that he can be with the boys while I am at work. The other two days that I'm working, my boys are with my lovely momma - I am beyond thankful for my family for helping out with the boys.
Right now, I think I am working on making sure that we get to spend quality time as a family and one-on-one with M. And that doesn't necessarily mean we have to go out and have a busy day.. spending quality time with the family at home can happen too. I also want to make sure that I am off my phone when I am with the boys (with the exception of taking photos) - so no uploading or checking my instagram until the boys are taking a nap.. It's not that easy, especially when the boys are playing so well together and doesn't necessarily "need" me.. but I think being in the moment with them and watching little things that they do is so very precious and I don't want to take that for granted.. It's a work in progress.. I am not 100% there yet.. a nasty habit to break!
Let me know if there are any other working mommas out there and how are you guys coping?
My boys love touching their food and feeding themselves.. so I have to make sure that I have some finger-food for every meal so that they have something they can touch and eat. I still spoon-feed them since honestly, it's just way cleaner and easier clean up for me and less human-food that our little Koko gets to eat. And this is one of my favourite recipe that I found in the internet - I love that it is easy, healthy and I can freeze it and just pop it in the oven.
Recipe is in this link.