August, a month I’d like to forget

August has been one of our most challenging months so far. At 27 months, our twins dealt with:

2 year sleep regression

I was completely unprepared for this, as I thought that sleep regressions had faded away long ago. My daughter started crying for me 1-2 times a night, and I soon learned that the 2 year sleep regression is no joke. This lasted for nearly three weeks, and then we transitioned to…

Toddler beds

After much debate, I decided to transition our twins into toddler beds rather than adult sized beds. I thought that the next few years of potty training, vomiting, etc. would leave stained mattresses, so I opted for smaller beds that we could upgrade later.

The first few days were surprisingly peaceful, but the last few weeks have been awful. Both kids have refused to sleep during their usual 1pm nap time. They’ve been running around, pulling drawers, and fighting. We have had to barge into their room to remind them to sleep several times, but it has been tiring! Usually they end up skipping their nap entirely or falling asleep 2:30-3:15pm. *sigh*

Oh, and the worst part is that my daughter’s sleep regression reappeared for another week!

The return of HFMD

Finally, HFMD greeted us during the last week of the month. My twins had HFMD last February, and this time, we were more savvy in terms of how to contain it. My daughter had sores all over–her mouth, hands, feet (but relatively mild compared to usual cases), while my son only had one sore on his tongue.

We quarantined ourselves at home for 3 days and only went out to the park for some fresh air on day 4. Surprisingly, my twins enjoyed being home for so long. They love to color and paint, and they entertain themselves books and appliance catalogues (my son is currently obsessed with washing machines, vacuums, and air conditioners while my daughter is fixated on rabbits and Hello Kitty). But yes, YouTube also kept us sane during this period.

Yesterday my twins returned to school (after being cleared by their pediatrician the day before), and my mornings have been tranquil and productive again!

Our favorite early morning breakfast spots in Singapore

Our two year old twins wake up around 6:45-7:00am. On Sundays, we enjoy venturing to one of our usual early morning breakfast spots. Most places in Singapore open around 8:00-9:00am, so parents with early risers may often wonder where to go for an early morning brunch. Our current go-to places include:

Kith Cafe

Family friendly cafe with 8 outlets in Singapore. The Marina Square cafe has a small play area for kids, and the Robertson Quay spot is right off the boardwalk–perfect for cycling and scootering.

Locations

1) 11 Cairnhill Road (6:30 am to 10:00 pm)

2) 619D Bukit Timah Road (7:00 am to 10:00 pm)

3) 69 Spottiswoode Park Road (7:00 am to 10:00 pm)

4) 7 Rodyk Street #01-28 (7:00 am to 4:00 pm Mon-Fri, 7:00 am to 6:00 pm Sat-Sun)

5) 9 Raffles Boulevard #01-44/45 (7:30 am to 10:00 pm)

6) 163 Penang Road #01-01 (7:30 am to 10:00 pm)

7) 6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-49 Marina Square (10:00 am to 10:o0 pm)

8) 350 Orchard Road, Level 2 (11:00 am to 9:00 pm Mon-Th & Sun, 11:00 am to 9:30 pm Fri-Sat)

Our favorite dishes

Hot dog, breakfast wrap, pulled pork & eggs (dishes vary slightly depending on location)

Baker & Cook

Bakery with 7 outlets in Singapore. The Namly Estate location has a playground across the street.

Locations

1) 77 Hillcrest Road (7:00 am to 8:00 pm Sun-Th, 7:00 am to 10:00 pm Fri-Sat)

2) 64 Namly Place (7:30 am to 10:00 pm)

3) 44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-56 Chip Bee Gardens (7:30 am to 8:00 pm Sun-Th, 7:30 am to 10:00 pm Fri-Sat)

4) 41 Sunset Way, #01-23 Clementi Arcade (7:30am to 8:00pm Mon-Th, 7:30am to 10:00pm Fri-Sun)

5) 1 Swan Lake Avenue (7:30am to 10:00pm)

6) 80 Middle Road, Intercontinental Hotel (8:00 am to 7:00 pm)

7) 2 Magazine Road (Kiosk at Holiday Inn Express)

Our favorite dishes

Savoury french toast, eggs benedict

Common Man Coffee Roasters

Pricier than Kith Cafe and Baker & Cook, opens at 7:30am. Serves the best coffee out of the 3 cafes listed here.

Our favorite dishes

Common Man full breakfast, organic eggs benedict

 

Do you have any favorite early morning breakfast spots? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Our trip to Legoland Malaysia with twin toddlers

We recently returned from Legoland Malaysia with our two year old twins. Luckily, there wasn’t much planning necessary, but I thought it would be useful to outline our trip.

Accommodations

We booked an Airbnb at the Afiniti Residences, just 5 minutes away from Legoland. The condo was spacious and clean, but the carpark was a winding maze. Our place was also near Gleneagles Medini, which was fortunate when my little girl another terrible coughing spell and had to see a doctor.

Exiting Singapore

We drove through the Tuas checkpoint and had to show the immigration officer our passports and Singapore identity cards. We then paid a $3.20 toll with our NETS cash card and drove across the Johor Strait to Malaysia immigration.

Entering Malaysia

At the Malaysia checkpoint, we showed our passports and identity cards again. We also paid a RM 20 fee with a Touch ‘n Go card. If you don’t have a Touch ‘n Go card, go to the immigration stalls at the right side of the checkpoint. It’s RM 50.60 for one card and contains RM 40 in credits. You will also need the card to pay the numerous tolls along the Malaysian expressways.

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How to manage sick twin toddlers

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post is based on my personal experiences.

My twin toddlers started half day child care at 15 months. Since then, they have become sick at least once a month. Yes, my twins’ vaccines are all up to date, and we maintain a reasonable level of hygiene by washing hands regularly, but this has not prevented us from continuous challenges with common childhood pathogens.

Here are some anecdotes and tips based on our experiences so far.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)

Interestingly, my twins contracted HFMD around 9 months–before starting child care. I suspect they came in contact with contaminated high chairs at a cafe.

My little girl first developed small, red spots on her knees, which I thought were an allergic reaction to the new floor cleaner we were using. She quickly developed the same spots on her hands, and her pediatrician confirmed that she had HFMD. Her brother caught it as well, and so did I. We experienced a mild case of HFMD, but the mouth ulcers were rather painful.

Tips:

  • I instructed my husband and helper to wash their hands thoroughly after changing diapers. HFMD can be transmitted through contaminated stool.
  • Eating and swallowing can be painful, so offer frozen breast milk or fruit juice to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid sharing food or utensils as soon as possible. I contracted HFMD from eating my children’s leftover food.

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5 ways to manage toddler tantrums

My toddler twins began their terrible twos long before their 2nd birthday. Even though they can speak relatively well, sometimes their emotions overcome them. Here are some ways my husband and I have managed their tantrums.

1. Ignore 

How often we do this: Rarely

When we do this: In the beginning, my husband I used to ignore tantrums but found this ineffective. Toddlers often throw tantrums because their “upstairs brain” (responsible for reasoning, thought) is not as developed as their “downstairs brain” (controls emotion, basic instincts), according to Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr Tina Bryson. Their book No Drama Discipline emphasizes that parents and caregivers should aim to nurture the development of both parts of the brain when managing tantrums.

2. Talk at eye level

How often we do this: Most of the time

When we do this: In most situations, this method is effective. Lately, the most common reason for tantrums is when twin A snatches a toy or book from twin B. Sometimes we leave our twins to settle the argument between themselves, but this often leads to hitting. So we mediate by saying, “Let B finish his turn. Then you can have your turn.” Speaking to them at eye level is often most effective rather than shouting from a distance.

3. Distract

How often we do this: Sometimes

When we do this: In the toy stealing situation described above, sometimes A is inconsolable when we insist that B finishes his time with the book or toy. A rarely finds solace on her own so we try to distract her with another item. We also praise A when she settles down from her tantrum and thank B when he finishes his turn with the item.

4. Naughty corner

How often we do this: Sometimes

When we do this: Currently, our kids’ worst habits are intentionally throwing food on the ground and hitting each other. When these situations occur, I often tell them in a stern voice, “Please do not hit” or, “Please do not throw food on the ground.” Sometimes they repeat the offending behavior, so I repeat my warning. On rare occasions, the bad behavior is continuously repeated, so we will send the naughty child to a designated corner to cool off.

5. Cuddle

How often we do this: Sometimes

When we do this: Toddlers are almost biologically incapable of managing their emotions at a young age. When hunger or tiredness overcomes our kids, we just hold them for a nice cuddle to help them settle down.

 

Toddler tantrums were extremely difficult to manage in the beginning. I remember spending several gloomy nights unwinding with wine and mindless television. It took me 4-5 months to learn how to manage endless crying and whining effectively (most of the time). I often cool down (if I’m feeling agitated–which was frequent in the beginning), assess the situation, and moderate to the best of my ability.

7 lessons I learned from my second year with twins

second birthday cake

My precious twins turned two last week. I reflected on my first year in a previous post, and this year presented a whole new set of challenges. Here’s what I learned:

1. Be prepared to handle countless tantrums. The terrible twos actually started before our kids turned two! Like most toddlers, our kids have little self control and are quite emotional. Handling outbursts has been extremely taxing and tested my patience every day, several times a day.

2. When things get bad, take the twins outside. If you watch the TV program “Dog Whisperer,” you’ll often see Cesar take dogs out for a walk when they are naughty. My husband and I soon discovered the same trick works with our twins. Even if you are dead tired, taking the family out for a few hours can make the day more manageable.

3. Facebook groups have been my new best friends. To all the mums and dads in SG Parents of Twins and Triplets and Stork’s Nest Singapore: your support and late night posts have kept me sane and grateful during this second year.

4. Spanking is not a good form of discipline. During a few bad moments, I lost my temper and spanked my children. I’ll admit it. But my heavy handedness did not help, and I felt horrible afterwards. After the last episode, I resolved to show more empathy instead. But it is really, REALLY hard.

5. Don’t buy too many toys. My toddlers have been fascinated with random household objects. Some of their favorites: empty water bottles, straws, shoeboxes, painting with water, combs, brushes…

6. Give your spouse a break. My dear husband works long hours, and handling twin meltdowns can be overwhelming. When I see my husband’s fuse dwindling, I often send him to the bedroom to chill out with Reddit or Hearthstone.

7. Take a break. I had my first getaway from the twins recently–just two nights in Bangkok, but it was so refreshing to be apart for a short while.

To my dear little sheep: our first two years have been full of ups and downs, but I can’t wait to see what our third year will bring! Mommy loves you. XOXO

8 free places for your active toddler twins in Singapore

Recently I have been scouring the island for free activities. My toddler twins have become increasingly active and adventurous. Here are some of my favorite places in Singapore:

1. Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden – Open 8am to 7pm but closed on Mondays (except when a public holiday is on a Monday). One of our go-to places. There is a water play area, two sand playgrounds, and a fun suspension bridge.

2. Botanic Gardens – Open 5am to midnight. There are plenty of places to roam around, collect sticks (my twins’ favorite new hobby these days), blow bubbles, etc. There is also a cafe called Food for Thought at the Tanglin Gate. The food is mediocre, but it is a good place to cool down for drinks. There is  also a small playground outside. Check out the new Learning Forest at the Tyersall Gate…amazing!

3. Central Public Library – Open 10am to 9pm; closed on public holidays. Has a spacious kids’ area with plenty of books and exhibits to entertain.

4. Pip’s Playbox – Open 11am to 6pm (closed 2-3pm for cleaning). Beautiful, well lit play area located at Level 4 of Esplanade. There is a large craft table, playhouse with stairs, blocks, crawl spaces, etc. Great for babies, toddlers, and older kids.

5. Art Playscape – Open 10am to 7pm, Sundays to Thursdays & public holidays; 10am to 10pm Fridays, Saturdays, and eve of public holidays. Beautifully painted murals and play area at the National Gallery.

6. West Coast Park – Amazingly spacious park with 8 separate play areas and obstacle courses. Highly recommended. There is also a McDonald’s nearby.

7. Palawan Pirate Ship – Open 10am to 6pm. At the former Port of Lost Wonder at Sentosa; park at Beach carpark. Meant for older kids but toddlers accompanied by adults should be fine. Lots of water spouts, slides, etc.

8. Water play area at Singapore Sports Hub – Open 8am to 10pm. Great for toddlers and older children. Has shorter and longer slides, swings, and a small pool.

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know!

My twin birth experience at Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore

Twin births are fragile and require special attention. Luckily, I received the right care at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore.

My pregnancy

I was extremely fortunate to have a smooth pregnancy. I had 2-3 days of mild morning sickness during my first trimester, traveled to the US during my 17th week, and experienced the predictable backaches and mild heartburn during my final few months. At 37 weeks–full term for twins, I delivered my babies via elective C section.

Before the birth

My obstetrician / gynecologist (‘gynae’ in Singapore) has a private practice, and at the time, delivered at three hospitals in Singapore: Gleneagles, Mount Alvernia, and Thomson Medical Centre.

My husband and I went on tours of all three hospitals (tip: tour your prospective hospitals around month 4-5 of your pregnancy). The care at Mount Alvernia was supposed to be excellent, but we found the environment to be quite dreary. Thomson also has a good reputation, but the hospital was often crowded and a bit chaotic. We found Gleneagles to be the most mellow hospital of the three, and the staff were very friendly during our visit.

A few weeks before my expected due date (EDD, as they call it here), we pre-registered at Gleneagles. We brought a letter from my doctor and paid a sizeable deposit for our elective C section package (tip: ask for package price sheets for twins during your hospital tour; they vary greatly among hospitals).

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