I have twins. Once we made it through the sleepless nights and round-the-clock feedings, I thought things would get easier. And, it did…in some ways.
Right around their first birthday, they started walking…and they were fast.
Baby gates and cabinet locks were no match for these two. Suddenly, I was searching for parks and playgrounds enclosed by fences. I wore tennis shoes at all times to be ready to sprint after an escaping child.
My husband and I would quite literally stand with arms and feet wide – like basketball players on defense – at family gatherings.
Left unchecked, twin energy can consume anything and everything in its path. Maybe it’s personality, maybe it’s just having two kids of the same age, but it was clear: we needed a plan to move every day.
Outdoor play was and still is a big priority at our house. However, we live in Oklahoma. We’ve had mild 70-degree days in January and we’ve also had weeks of sub-zero temperatures where they cancel school.
We’ve found that as twin parents, we need a few tricks up our sleeves. We need strategies for indoor “energy management” so the twins aren’t wrestling by 7:30 a.m.
Honestly, I can relate. As an adult, I feel better when I get to go for a run or do a quick workout in the garage. Movement calibrates my day and puts me in a good mood.
I suspect that many families with singletons and twins are like ours. We need a way to harness the energy while also managing bad weather, sick siblings, nursing babies, and dinner prep.
Slowly, we’ve built up an arsenal of toys that encourage movement. Grandparents, aunts and uncles have helped by gifting many of the big-ticket toys at birthdays and holidays.
Here are the tried and true winners for our household.
Different families have different house rules about climbing on furniture. At our home, it’s a no-go. River Stones are the perfect outlet for the classic game, “The Floor is Lava.” The rubberized edges keep the stones in place on tile, hardwood and carpet. We use them for balancing competitions and obstacle courses as well. They also seem to be a hit with older cousins, too.
Little Tikes Bounce House
This thing was the MVP of the entire pandemic. If I could personally thank the good people at Little Tikes, I would. The bounce house is just like the one you’d find at a birthday party, only smaller in scale. We opted to push aside a couch and set ours up in a living room where I could keep an eye on everyone. It would also be perfect for a basement or playroom. (Take measurements!) Add balloons or ball-pit balls for variety.
When the kids were toddlers, we could have 3-4 kids in it at a time. They would jump in 15-20 minute spurts, but it was a secret weapon when we all needed a change of pace.
If you’re sensitive to noise, I’d recommend some noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to drown out the sound of the blower. Also…keep in mind, there is a weight limit. We had to retire the bounce house when my kids were about four years old.
Indoor Laser Tag
Long before the twins had ever seen any of the Star Wars movies, they were enraptured with all things Baby Yoda and Darth Vader. After an unfortunate incident with a lightsaber and a lamp, a new house rule was established: All galactic battles must take place outdoors.
When Jedi Knights are INDOORS, they prefer laser tag. This set has four blasters, but you can also buy extra blasters if needed to eliminate squabbles over turns.
Santa’s elves knew what they were doing when they delivered this magical trampoline. This workhorse gave and gave until it could bounce no more. My son would spend hours jumping on this thing. He would bounce before preschool, he’d bounce before bed. He would bounce while watching movies or when I would read bedtime stories. I even considered taking it on vacation, but my husband refused to strap it to the top of our minivan. I’m still salty.
Our pediatrician told us that jumping provides great vestibular and proprioceptive input and can be a great outlet for sensory-seeking kiddos.
Laundry Basket Sled
Another recommendation for sensory seekers came from a child development expert in our area. She told us to grab a plastic laundry basket and put a 15 or 20-pound weight inside. Then, have the child push the laundry basket across a carpeted floor. Turn it into a game or let them push on their own until they are tired.
I was a bit concerned I’d soon be running a cross fit gym for toddlers, but I will say my kids loved this activity. We’ve also used the “sled” in obstacle courses. There is something about engaging large muscle groups that fills a need in our kiddos.
Training Wheels and Tennis Shoes
Pelton has yet to introduce a line of child-sized spin bikes, but you can make your own with a little bit of ingenuity.
We were in the thick of a home remodel when a terrible ice storm shut down our city for nearly 10 days. Looking for a way to pass the time, I brought everyone’s bike indoors and created a spin class.
Take a pair of old tennis shoes and put a shoe underneath each of the training wheels. The shoes lift the back wheel off the ground just enough so the wheel can turn freely as the child pedals. I’m able to convert my road bike into a stationary bike via indoor trainer.
Turning on the TV is a bit counterintuitive to movement, but I’ve found there is a lot of great, free content to get kids up and on their feet. Our Pre-K teachers turned us on to GoNoodle this year. We’ve also enjoyed Cosmic Yoga and just about any Freeze Dance video we can find.
As we head into shorter days and cooler weather, I’ve discovered the best offense is a good defense. I’m a happier mom when I give options instead of warnings. (Believe me when I say I have done both!) I have the power to set the tone for our day, even when our days don’t go as planned.
Finally, I want to encourage parents of high-energy children. You are not alone. There are other moms, trying to contain the chaos, hour by hour, just like you.