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May 1, 2012

Who Goes First?

I remember running into a young family at Starbucks when the girls were small, maybe six or seven months old.  We started chatting, and the husband asked how I decided whom to feed first. 

He then talked about someone he knew with twins, who ALWAYS alternated the feeding schedule.  No matter which baby seemed more hungry, more fussy, more ready to eat, the mother was intent on alternating who went first, so as to never show any favoritism.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but I realized I’d just been going with who was screaming the loudest!

That wasn’t always the same baby, mind you.  I remember times when Baby A was so aggressive with her milk, and Baby B was content to take a pacifier.  And when we started solids, Baby A was happy to hang out in her swing while Baby B enjoyed peas and carrots.

And of course this thought process doesn’t only apply to food.  There certainly are times where BOTH my girls are needy, but I have often thought of God’s grace in usually allowing one babe to be at least relatively more chilled out than the other.  And – again – because the neediness alternates – I haven’t been too worried about some kind of perceived favoritism developing.

For a long time now, I’ve been deferring to Baby A when it comes to clothes.  I don’t allow my girls to pick clothes at will from their closet, but I usually pull two outfits for them to choose from.  Baby A was always so quick to say, “I want the blue one!  And Baby B was always so precious to be just as excited about whatever her sister didn’t pick. 

[From a very early age, we joked that B knew the word “conciliatory” since she was so agreeable.  Silly-tory!” she’d echo.]

Anyway, this system was working for us…but I was beginning to itch a little bit about the fairness factor. 

Yes, deferring to Baby A was the easiest thing for me, but – since it had been this way for so long – was I doing anyone else a service?  Was I teaching Baby A to deal with consequences?  Was I helping Baby B recognize what she wanted…which is not necessarily what her sister wants?

Spurred by the “Kid of the Day” approach of Helen at Three Times the Giggles, and encouraged by the twin discussion panel our MoMs group hosted a few weeks ago, I implemented a new system.

One day, Baby A gets to choose which outfit she wants.  She also gets to pick a reward sticker first at night (for keeping clean undies all day), and she gets to choose our bedtime story.  The next day, it’s B’s turn.

This system is working so well, and I am so proud of my girls!  They took to the approach immediately, and I don’t think we’ve had any fussing whatsoever!

The biggest test has happened a couple of times.  We have a “set” of shirts – one is a kitty, and one is a butterfly.  Without fail, Baby A has always chosen to wear the kitty shirt.  I pulled those shirts on one of B’s days.  I can’t say how proud I was of B for picking the kitty shirt…showing me she does have an opinion, even when she had to know that her sister usually wears it.  And I was so proud of A, too, for happily wearing the butterfly print.

Parenting: one day at a time...trying not to scar anyone in the process.


Trish said...

Okay, I have run into this EXACT same thing many times now, and was wondering how to handle it! I love the Kid of the Day approach and will have to try this. One of my girls, much like your Baby A, almost always has an opinion about which color/outfit she wants, and my other is so agreeable she is easy to go along. Here's the one question I have: When do they actually get their own set of clothes that they don't have to share? We have a few toys and things that belong only to that one child (one sleeps with Donald Duck, the other with Goofy, for instance)...I'm wondering if/when this happens with clothes? Just wondering if you had thought about that issue at all! (I'm thinking ahead to pre-teen years!) Right now we have one closet with all the clothes.

Charlene said...

Love this, Mandy!

When my twins were newborn, Sarah was always more agressive, while Zach was content to just sit back and wait his turn. They are still like that....

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I've also been asked that question and my answer is "whoever's screaming the loudest" :)

We also found ourselves refereeing a lot and one day I said, "THAT's IT! No more" so now I let them sort it out and surprisingly, K has become a lot more assertive and C has had to refine his negotiation skills. I should blog about it but just yesterday I don't know what they were "arguing" about and from not wanting to play with something, he persuaded K so beautifully. I love it but will have to keep an eye on my little salesman.

Miss Megan said...

I love the "Kid A Day" approach! We have the same sort of issues - I do the exact same thing with clothes - and baby A will always choose the pink monkey shirt leaving her sister with the purple parrot shirt if she's given a choice. Not that baby B ever seems to mind, BUT, yeah, I think it's about time to start trading off who gets to pick in our household too =). Great idea!

Deanna said...

My sister and I used to have assigned days to ride in the front seat. : )

I also have to make a point to be sure I am not deferring to one girl more often than the other. A lot of times, I go with whoever is least likely to throw a fit, but that's just for my own sanity!

Barbara Manatee said...

I've seen this idea before and thought it was a good one but hadn't used it. I think I might this summer though and pick some special days where each kid will get to be the one to choose what we do, what we eat and help make all the decisions! This will likely benefit Adam the most...the other two often over rule him when its a 'vote' thing.

Great job, Mama!

Cecilia said...

Interesting topic. When my girls were babies our Baby A was the "needier" girl and would always get fed first. Now they can take turns like champs thank goodness! Although I do let them pick out their clothes! Love your blog!


K. M. Berry said...

Oh my... We've discussed doing this with our boys but have worried about the implementation. I guess it's about time that we start doing so now that they're getting...well, let's call it "strong willed" and somewhat competitive with one another with respect to going first, attention, etc. *sigh* Ok, so some things really were easier when they were little. I'll report back on our progress once we implement this. Thanks for the link to Helen's useful post!

By the way, I came here via Multiples & More's Friday Favorites.