by Erin Sweeten
My husband and I dated for a few years and were married twelve years before we had our first kid. That means we had almost 1.5 decades together without needing a single babysitter. We’d just say, “Hey, I’m going for a run—wanna come?” or, “Ooh, there’s a meteor shower tonight. Let’s drive out of the city and go watch it.” Or, “I feel like going to a taco stand.” Then we would just do it. If I needed an ingredient for a meal, I’d run out to the store and get it. Then we had the kids. That’s when we learned that there was no longer such a thing as a Free Date. That’s when I learned that herding three kids under age five into the supermarket at the same time is a harrowing obstacle course that takes up to three times longer than it used to. That’s when I learned there are no sick days in parenting. Having kids in a state far from family can cost big $$ in childcare. It came as a shock, let me tell you. Like firecrackers-going-off-suddenly-in-the-street level shock. But I have found some ways to reduce the financial burden of paying someone else to pay attention to my kids awhile so I can pay attention to my husband or, if the stars align, actually get some things done. Did you know that some supermarkets will watch your kids for you for free? Check out these cost-saving options.
Inexpensive kid-free time is possible, even if your mom lives five states away. So push that non-car-shaped shopping cart around the store with a mind at ease.
Katherine Betts interviewing fellow twin mom Oly.
It's time to here from another Mom of Multiples Hero! If you missed our last story from Bonnie, find it here. This blog series helps us MoMs celebrate our triumphant moments, because momming is tough and we all need a little encouragement from those that have been there.
Q1: Please introduce yourself. How old are your children and what's your favorite thing about them?
My name is Oly and I’m 25 years old. I’m originally from New Mexico but after getting married in November of 2015, I moved to Phoenix. Shortly after my arrival in the valley of the sun, I was shocked to find out not only was I pregnant (thanks for nothing, Mirena) but I was pregnant with twins! Needless to say, life changed very fast for me. Before my pregnancy, I was just a 23 year old trying to pick a grad school!
I have 13 month old fraternal boys named Lawrence (Law) and Orion. They are complete opposites. Law is my fearless adventurer, my go-getter and the one frequently on the receiving end of my “wait! Don’t do that!”. Everything about him is big, loud and determined. Orion is my sweet bug, mellow as they come and so ready to crawl into your lap to be held. Truly my favorite thing about them is how well they balance each other out and even though they are completely different personalities, they really are so mellow.
Q2: What's the one thing you wish you'd known before having your multiples?
It’s so cheesy but I wish I would’ve known how much they would make me grow as a person! I was given all the horror stories about the sleepless nights, the colics and the public meltdowns, but I wasn’t told about how accomplished I would feel when we faced a challenge and crushed it.
I love to be challenged. I tend to throw myself head first into things and fight to succeed. That mentality has lent itself quite nicely to the whole twin parenting thing but it has also made me the biggest advocate for myself and for my boys.
Q3: How do you practice self-care? What do you do to pick yourself up after a tough day with the kids?
My first love will always be the outdoors. Pre-babies, I used to be an avid long distance runner and hiker so now when I’ve had a rough day with the boys, I first take the time to meditate and think about the good that’s in my life, then I go for a run.
At first, running was defeating in and of itself because I was not in the shape I was in before but even that has been a trying but welcomed learning experience. Before I took for granted being able to just walk out the door and knock out a run. Post baby, I’ve definitely developed patience and respect for what my body has gone through.
Q4: What has been your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it? (or how are you currently working on it?)
We had faced quite a few medical problems with Law in the beginning. At one point, we had an appointment for him almost every day of the week. That was rough but we made it through the bulk of it and thought, “there’s no way things could be worse that that!”. Then we got news that my husband’s grandfather had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His grandparents are the only family he has so we made the decision to leave everything and move back immediately. We had no plan, no jobs lined up, nothing. All we knew was that we had to get back as soon as possible. So in a week, we packed up the babies, our two cats and left.
We were blessed to have 3 months with him and will cherish those moments forever. I wouldn’t say that we overcame it because in that type of situation, you’re just along for the ride. I do think that while losing him was the biggest struggle we faced as a family, it taught us just how precious life is and how there was a plan in place for everything. Before we were so surprised to have gotten pregnant with twins against all odds, but now we really like to think it was so he could meet his great grandsons and have those moments of joy in his last days.
Q5: What has been your Mom of Multiples Hero hero moment? That moment you gave yourself an internal high five because you were totally bossing it?
This memory always makes me laugh. The boys were 5 weeks old and it had officially been the longest we had gone without camping. To say we were going stir crazy was the understatement of the year. At the time, my husband was working 12 hour days and was due to be home smack dab in the middle of our witching hour. I had had ENOUGH.
I went to our outdoor closet and started throwing everything that we would need for one night into the living room. Tent… sleeping bags….coffee….bear spray….water reservoir…jetboil.. and then I realized that I had no clue where to even begin in packing stuff for these teeny tiny babies that were screaming their heads off at me.
After a few minutes of googling the weather conditions for the surrounding 100 miles, I decided to throw together some warm-ish things for them, my pumping stuff and just sat down on the floor with them (still crying) to wait for my husband’s arrival.
The second his foot passed the threshold, I told him we were going to go camping. Much to my surprise, he just shrugged his shoulders, grabbed some things and started packing the truck. We literally picked a direction and started driving while I looked for campsites. After one particularly scary moment of feeding the babies on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, we managed to find a campsite at 11 pm and settled in for the night.
Well the boys slept amazingly while we were up every hour trying to make sure it wasn’t too cold for them, cleaning bottles, checking for wild animals, etc. It got down to 43 degrees that night. The next morning, with the boys wrapped up like burritos on a cot, my husband and I looked at each other and just smiled. We realized that our previous lifestyle of being outdoor junkies had not ended; we had instead just gained 2 more adventure buddies. Since then the boys have been to 5 states and have camped out under amazing skies in beautiful landscapes. All because we had survived our first overnight camping trip.
Thankyou Oly for your story! I feel like I need to pick my jaw up off the floor at the thought of going camping with 5wk old twins. Sometimes you've just gotta do what feels right and I admire your determination to make it work!
by Erin Sweeten
Watching my five-year-old boys eat is akin to watching someone putting money through a shredder. They have breakfast. Then a snack on the way to school. Then a snack at preschool. Then lunch. Then two more snacks before dinner. Then dinner. Then a bedtime snack. Every few months I mentally revise downward the estimated date we will have to buy a second fridge. Don’t even get me started on how fast they wear out the knees of their pants and the toes of their shoes. For fun, I daydream about how much life will change when we don’t pay two preschool tuitions.
Kids are expensive. The Department of Agriculture estimates that it now costs $233,610 to raise a child to age 17. With multiples, those annual costs of nearly $14,000 are not staggered as they would be with singletons. We have double (or more!) the baby gear, the diapers, the child care, the preschool tuitions. But it doesn’t have to be a bank-account-crushing experience. There are always workarounds and ways to cut costs.
This, week, we’ll cover food, diapers, and clothing and gear. Next week, check in for ways to save money on child care, education, and enrichment activities. First off, here are some general money-saving tips.
Feeding Infants and Children
Clothing and Gear
There are very few items that you need to buy new. Many of our toy acquisitions come from the stuff piled on top of the clothing racks at Goodwill. In addition to your Swip Swap groups, take advantage of children’s consignment shops and thrift stores. One of our PVmoms owns Once Upon a Child Scottsdale and is a club sponsor. Her store has high quality items at good prices. Here is a map of child consignment shops in the Valley, where parents buy and sell gently used goods:
Now go forth, and raise those babies on a budget! May the wind be ever at your back. We'll have more tips next week.
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