November 29, 2017

How we have survived vaccine appointments with our twins, from birth to kinder

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Vaccine appointments are never easy with kids, regardless of how many you have…and they are most definitely not easy with twins. Throw in a parent who can barely stand to go through watching their kids get poked and…GAH!

Over the years, we have developed some strategies for successfully taking our twins to get vaccinated! We have been lucky to avoid a lot of the crying and stress that many kids (and parents) have to deal with…and I wanted to share our tips with you!

When The Twins Were Infants

When the twins were babies, it felt like we were taking them in to get vaccinated all. Of. The. Time.

In addition to their regular schedule, which seemed like a lot, we also chose to vaccinate for rotavirus…and eventually also for hepatitis A and B, since we really enjoy travel. The babes took in quite a few little needles, so we needed a strategy to try to reduce the crying and stress for all of our family!

Tip#1 – Try not to be outnumbered by the kids!

First, and foremost, I always scheduled vaccines during days and times that my husband could be available to help. Really, this was about having a 1:1 ratio of adults to children – because who wants to console a crying baby while trying to hold the other for their turn? No one at all!

Tip #2 – Have a plan before you start and be efficient!

We started an assembly-line-type-process at their first appointment and it worked really well. No need to drag out the appointment any longer than it needs to be.

When the twins were infants, the appointments always started with a complete strip-down of each baby to weigh and measure them…so, our first part of our plan would be that we each would take a baby, find a little scale-station, and get down to work. Divide and conquer!

Once that was over, we could continue with the rest of the appointment, which always looked like this:

  1. Baby A is held by Dad and gets vaccine (mom’s eyes are, of course, averted!).
  2. Mom takes baby A to waiting area and starts nursing right away (because food always makes people feel better! It also keeps the crying to a minimum!)
  3. Dad holds Baby B for vaccine
  4. Dad brings Baby B to waiting area
  5. Mom and Dad swap babies and Baby B gets to nurse
  6. Dad takes Baby A to burp
  7. Mom burps Baby B once done
  8. Mom and Dad both finish dressing the kids, get them ready for outside, and get them into car seats to go. Waiting period is about up by this time!

Okay, as I look at this 8-step process, it looks a little long but it always worked really well for us. It allowed us to get through the process with minimal crying (mom included) and we had pretty good efficiency doing it this way.  That’s mom-code for ‘low-stress’.

A side benefit of my husband coming to these appointments was that I was able to get out of having to be in charge of holding either of the babies while they were getting their needles.  Some might think that I am a ‘strong’ person…but when it came to ‘putting them through getting shots’, I certainly wasn’t feeling very strong.  I remember feeling pretty anxious about it…and maybe even a little teary the first time.

Tip #3 – For the love of God, hold onto your babies arm, leg, whatever as firmly as you can while they are getting their vaccine.

I’ll forever be scarred for life remembering my first time I held a toddler for their vaccine (this was normally dad’s job) and I didn’t hold his leg firmly enough.

Without giving you too much gory detail, I’ll just tell you that poor little Grayson flinched while he was getting poked.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t holding his leg firmly enough, and it was NOT good. Thank goodness he doesn’t remember it…but I do! …And I would really like to forget!

Don’t do what I did! It was a total #ParentFail

When The Twins Were Preschool and Kinder-Aged

It gets a little trickier once the kids are this age because they are way more aware of what is going on around them and generally don’t love needles. Can we blame them? Heck no!

Here are some strategies to try that have been working well for us, so far:

Tip #1 – Make sure your kids are well-slept with full bellies

We all know that our kids function much better when they are not hungry and not tired. For last year’s flu shot, we decided to take the kids after attending a fun, daytime, TTMAC Christmas Party.

Tip #2 – No Need to Give the Kids Too Much Notice

In my opinion, it doesn’t help for kids have too much time to think about (and maybe develop anxiety over) getting their shots. Last year, we didn’t even tell the kids what was happening until we had left the Christmas party and were enroute to the clinic. When we were about half way there, I let the kids know (in a really normal-conversation sort of way) that we were going to make a quick stop for the whole family to get some medicine and it would be from a needle. I didn’t make a big thing about it, I almost just said it in passing and we continued on our way.

This year, it was the same…we loaded into the car after a good night’s sleep and I set them up with a healthy (not sugary) snack (which also is a treat since they don’t usually get to eat in my car). Then, as we were leaving, I let them know where we were going. I made a big effort to try to be brief and not act worried or like there was something to be concerned about. Of course they were a little nervous, but I tried to answer their questions (briefly) and in a way that seemed like it’s not a big ‘thing’.  Here is a video of this year’s conversation:

As you can see, by the end of the conversation (which was about a minute-and-a-half), Grayson was already onto the next subject. Squirrel!

Tip #3 – Try not to be outnumbered by the kids

Yes, back to this point again.  If you can get down to that 1:1 adult/child ratio, there are several benefits and each child can get vaccinated at the same time (first) without having to see the other go first. The second adult can simply be with their child to another spot in the clinic.

Tip #4 – Have a plan and be efficient

At this age, I like to have dad take one twin one way and mom take one twin another way once the nurses are ready for us…and the kids go first (not the parents if they are getting vaccinated too). This way, the kids don’t see any family members get vaccinated…especially their twin.

Last year, Darren took Grayson and I took Avery and we went to separate nurses. The kids went first and Darren and I followed with ours.

Avery actually didn’t even know it had happened.  I sheltered her eyes (and obviously held her arm ‘firmly’, lol).  The nurse had Avery count with her, and that was it.  Avery was surprised to hear it was all done when the counting was over.

Darren did Grayson’s so I didn’t see quite what their scenario was. I get get a good chuckle though, since I did hear Grayson reprimand the nurse with an, “Owe! You poked me!” – but there were no tears.  Phew!

The bottom line here is that most kids aren’t going to want to get their shot after seeing their sibling get one.  Especially if that child might be feeling and/or acting upset over it. Twins, especially, are prone to being sensitive to seeing their sibling upset or in pain.

Divide and conquer people!

Bonus Tip – Keep your dates straight!

Don’t do what I did last week (the day of the video in the car)…prep your kids, feel good about that, show up to appointment, get told you are there on the wrong day…a month early!  What?  lol.

#ParentFailsGalore

I appreciate that each child is different and there might be other considerations at play for your family. Having said that, this is what has worked for us and I hope you might be able to take away even one idea from this post – especially if you are a parent of multiples.

If I’m missing anything on here, don’t be afraid to comment with any other tried and true tips you might have of your own!

I took this photo of the twins after last year’s flu shot.  They even look happy – success!

 

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