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.