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Join us as we visit with Renee Monte, mother of 4 kids, two sets of twins, only 14 months apart. Hear how she navigated through the challenges of bedtime and getting out the door when they were younger; to new challenges that arise when raising her tweens. Join us at facebook.com/groups/reallifemomz/ to continue this discussion, share your stories and let moms everywhere know they are doing a great job!
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Welcome to Real Life Momz, I'm your host, Lisa Foster, and Real Life Momz is a podcast where real moms have conversations about real-life issues of parenting. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics and to continue these conversations through a Real Life Momz Facebook group, where you can become part of our community today's topic is called being outnumbered, and here to share her stories about parenting is my beautiful friend, Renee Monte.
Hi Renee. Hi Lisa. I'm so glad you can come to the show today. Thank you for inviting me. This is exciting. So our topic today is called drum roll being out-numbered. And I think, you know why I asked you to come to this show.
Yes, indeed. I do. Yes, because not only do you have four kids, but you have two sets of twins. And how far apart are those twins? They are
14 months apart almost to the day. Yeah. You know, my son, I was telling him we were going to do a show with you on it. And he, he was very funny he said wait, 14 months. So how old were the twins first round and yeah, then the math gets a little, a little sticky in there. Doesn't it?
That's a little tricky. Well, not only did we not expect them, but they were also born early. So it was, it was interesting. Being pregnant. If we can go back a little bit for you was not an easy feat the first time around when you had the first twins, it took you years to get pregnant. Right. Four years, four years, and took over. I stopped counting fertility treatments at 13. Yeah, it was. And I, I had wanted to end and not do it anymore. I had adoption paperwork, all filled out. I was ready to go. And then one morning I just spoke. Let's do this one more time. I have one more in me and let's go. And it took a lot and they did a lot. Um, they knew it was my last time, took every precaution to try and make it happen. And I don't know if it was one of those or if it was pure luck or if it was just time, but here they were.
Yeah. And you got, and you got to, so that was, that was awesome.
But then we were very. Happy. Yeah. And then a few months later
Yeah, it really was. I was trying to lose weight and you know, the things that just started to like, you know, soft up and start, you know, pounds started coming off and then all of a sudden my stomach got real hard again and I was like, what's going on? And it was getting bigger and going, what is happening here? I'm trying to eat less. I'm trying to exercise. And finally, someone just said, take a pregnancy test. And I said I can't get pregnant. They told me that it is impossible for me to get pregnant. I don't even have the correct organs to make it happen. Go take a pregnancy test. So I took it, and there, it was as dark as day, a positive sign. And not only with one but two with another two. So somebody actually said that is a dark line that you have another set of twins. And I said, don't, you dare say that. I wasn't sure how long I had been pregnant for, but I figured I must've just, how did they even get out of the house alone with four kids? So this was fun. So the big girls were walking at that point. They were, you know, they were 14 months. They, they were walking. Um, and we walk a lot, you know, we lived in Brooklyn and you walk everywhere. So walking for them was no big deal. I did have a double stroller, but I usually just walked then because it was just easier for me to get in and out of stores because a double stroller doesn't fit in a store in Brooklyn. So when the minis were born, we literally, I had the big girls on leashes and I felt so bad. And I know that sounds horrible, but it was, it was dangerous cause it was just me. And I thought if they take off, what do I do? Do I chase the one that's taking off? Do I, I can't run fast enough with this carriage with two of them in it. And a third one on the side. So I did have a system where one would sit on the front of the, because the minis were so small that they didn't even take up half the, um, the stroller. So one would sit in the front and then I had that like stand on thing in the back, but I still, I was so afraid of them taking off and me not being able to get to them fast enough or because I have the stroller and then who do I leave behind? And who's, you know, in more danger.
So that was, that was really hard. So that was one of the reasons why we had to leave Brooklyn because it was just so hard to get around. And if I didn't have somebody else with me, if I had someone else with me, the girls just walked, you know, it was, it was not a big deal. And if I could, I also had these great areas from Australia that you put on your back on your side, on your, so I used to have one on either side of me or one in the front and one in the back, the minis. And then the big girls would, you know, just be able to hold my hand and walk, but that was exhausting. So if we were going to the park down the block, not a big deal, I would do it. But if we had to walk, you know, a mile to the doctor's office or to the grocery store or wherever we were going, then it was, then it was big, it was a big to-do I'm exhausted, like listening to that, to be honest, I could just picture you with like them hanging. From either side of you. Like it was, it was quite the show. It was, oh, I've got a lot of looks and a lot of questions. You’re definitely a supermom for sure. You get what you get and you just handle it.
Now. You also had some systems for like bedtime because you know, I'm a good bedtime fail. Like I did all the things to get my kids to bed and make sure that they're in bed by eight and the tucking in and all this stuff. But, um, you know, my kids are up way late now they put me to bed. So I don't think I did that. Right, but you had four. And, I remember talking to you and you had a system, you had a down. We did well, we were actually very, very, very lucky. The big girls were sleeping through the night, six weeks and eight weeks. So they were like, they were literally, they were dream children. I can tell you that if the minis were born first, the big girls never would have happened. But, um, the big girls were such dream little babies, and we were, we were shocked at how well things were working and how smooth things were going and how easy it was and I was sleeping from 10 at night to six in the morning. It was, it was amazing. Wow. So when the minis came home, cause the minis were in after I had them, they were in the hospital for over six weeks. So by the time they came home, it was nice to kind of settle in at home and have somebody else taking care of them for a while. Um, slept with me for a while, cause I didn't want them to wake up, not, not in a, like in a bassinet next to the bed, cause I didn't want them waking up, waking up the big girls. But then I, I just, I knew I wanted them on the same schedule. Fortunately, after about three weeks of being home, the minis cried for 24 hours a day, a week for about two months, from November to January 1st. And I remember the exact day that they stopped crying. We were upstate and they were getting fresh air and we were out of Brooklyn and they just stopped crying out of nowhere. So, um, for two months straight, they cried. So for that two months I have to, it was really hard and I did get help at that point. We got a nanny to come and help from around 11 o'clock or um after bath time would, I would just hand them off to her. I would just say, take them, just take them to get out of here. I have to go get out. I have to go downstairs and shut the door and sleep. I have to, you know, whatever it was I had to do. And I used to spend time with the big girls. So the first two months of them being home, I was a mess. I was a total and complete and utter wreck and they were not happy. And after that I knew, I knew, knew, knew more than anything that I wanted them to be on the same schedule. So as mean as it was, I forced them to be on the same schedule when those big girls went to bed, the minis went to and the big girls woke up in the morning, the minis woke up in the morning.
I would wake them up. I would let them cry it out at night to make sure that they learned how to go to bed. I would wake them up when the big girls got up. So they would get into this rhythm when they napped. I made the mini's nap. I knew that I could not do four different schedules and survive right now. Yeah. I knew I needed that, um, to yeah, to really, to be able to survive. So I got them all on the same schedule. And, after some work, it was hard. It finally kicked in and they all started sleeping and napping on the same schedule and, and going to bed at night on the same schedule and waking up on the same schedule, and eating at the same schedule.
And we were able to get back into our lives and, you know, start our normal. When you have to do what you have to do. Exactly. Yeah. And you have to, your kids are beautiful and fine. And it sounds like that was so beneficial because then you could have downtime and then be the mom you wanted to be versus never sleeping and just following every single routine of each individual child. Right? Yeah. I had to be in charge. I had to, you know, you, you know, and that's what it comes down to. Whether you have one or you have 15, you have to do what is best for your family. No matter if someone says, oh, you make them cry it out. You're a horrible parent. Oh, you, you know, you let them sleep with you. You're a horrible parent, whatever, make your life smoother and keep going. And you know, and to have a normal life after kids, not normal, I don't know if that's the correct word or not, but you know, just, just have fun and to be able to enjoy your kids. And that was something that I really was able to do. I got to really enjoy all my time with them. Okay. And that's, so great. I feel like I’m hearing, in this podcast and the other podcasts I've been doing is hearing people's stories because there are so many different ways to do something and it really depends on your family. And I, and I think there are so many people who want to give advice, right. And to say, do it this way, but this way it would never work in your, especially your scenario. Right? So it's so nice to hear stories of other ways that we can just listen to you. And that was successful. That was successful for you might not be successful for somebody else, but it was definitely a success. And it was it. And it was hard. It was not an easy task. Those first, that first like, you know, ma letting them cry it out, you know, no one wants to do that. I don't love hearing my kids scream all night long. You know? Like want to go in, you want to comfort them. You want to do those things. But I, I knew what I wanted in the long run. And I knew what I had to do to get there. So they had to it out a little bit. I never had to do that with the big girls. They, they just went to bed. When you know what kind of parent you want to be, you know what you can handle, you know, what you want out of your life and what kind of life you want to have. Then you just have to make sure that you the best way to make that happen.
Now, now that they're older because they're older, they're tweens. Right. So with tweens, like there's a whole nother, you know, you got the sleep and you got them all set with that, but now we're into like four girls, lot of hormones. Raging hormones. Yeah. How is it now that they're older? I mean, how do you even deal with like activities and drama and things like that? You know, they're all very different. Although there, you know, the big girls are fraternal twins and the minis are, um, identical. They’re as close as close can be, but personalities are all very different times. It's really difficult to not compare, but what works for one or what I say to one that to make them feel better, may not make the other one feel better. So it's kind of just playing around and trying to figure out what works for each one because the big girls are in middle school and we all know middle school drama, the bullying, the back and forth of friends. Who's friends with who who's leaving the group. Who's, you know, I mean, all in all, I have to say, I'm really, I'm so proud of the girls that they are, that I get that compliment a lot, that my girls are so sweet. They say, thank you. They say, please are always very helpful. So that makes me feel good. Yeah. That's one of the best compliments. Yes, exactly. So, but when it comes to the drama, it's, you know, and this is all new to me because this is the last year. It wasn't as much because they were, they were kind of quarantined in school. Um, so they didn't venture out as much, but this year it's, it's been tough. It's been, you know, just trying to figure out and remember what it was like in middle school, you know, and, and telling them, you know, I warned you that friends would leave and come and go, and you're all going to grow up at different times. You know, you're all going to experience things at different times. And then, but middle school stinks when it comes to social issues, you know, uh, you know, when they're sad, you're sad, you know? So when they come home and they're crying over a friend or whatever the case may be, you know, you just start crying and then, and then you feel bad. Cause then you're like, well, no, this is okay. You know this is normal. This is okay. It's fine to feel this way. And then they're like, well, why are you crying? And I'm a crier. I cry for everything. All those hormones in your house. Of course, you do. I do feel, So you're really in it to this middle school. Um, but the whole middle school is really tough. And, and I find it is really hard not to jump in the drama with them. I want to try to, I try not to like, you know, a friend and you know, my daughter and their friend, aren't getting along all of a sudden, you're like, wait, why are you not getting it? You know? Like, you want to get all in that. And then, yeah. Like I don't even like who I become that I, like, I have to take a step back and go, okay, whoa. Right? Like this is a listening moment, mom, you know, not at like I'm going in, but you just have this protective reaction right. To your kid and I always feel so bad when I get mad at another kid for not being nice to mine. And I'm like, wait a minute. But this is normal. This is normal. They're 12. That's like, they're supposed to do. That. That's how they learn how to negotiate with friends. Leave. They make up the, I mean, that's such a learning process, even though it's so hard, right. It is, it is. Yeah. That middle school is definitely a changer. Cause I feel like in middle school is they're physically changing so much. Right. They're mentally changing so much. And then people are a little bit more like wanting to try different things that maybe they weren't doing before. Right. So there's so much change that occurs and there's a lot of decisions to be made at that age. Right. So, but yeah, it's tough at middle school. Middle school is tough. I don't know if it's tougher than having two sets of twins, but it's tough. You know, I have to say, you know, when they were, and I don't want to scare anyone, it doesn't get easier. It just gets different.
Yeah. I think that's with all parenting. Right? Exactly. Doesn't get easier. Just gets different because now there's just, there are so many more players also usually involved. Right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was very easy to take out their outfits and get them dressed in exactly what I wanted in the morning and get them out of the house and pack what I needed and leave and do what I had to do all day long. Now it's, you know, there who, you know, who has what and who wants to wear this and who's fighting over this and where does everybody have to go and be in? I think one thing you said earlier was that you know, you needed to have the control, right. And as they get older, we lose that control as much as you know, and, and that's, I think that's hard because no one tells us, you know, you still feel like you should have the control. Like, you know, you're under my roof, we're doing these things, but you don't, as they get older. And that's also hard, I think you lose that. You do, you definitely lose it. And uh, and you don't wanna, you don't want to fight with your kids all day long. What, how's the day I'm like, well, it was fine until 3:30 when I had everybody home. And then all I did was, you know, clean up your messages and make sure your homework is finished and get ready for, you know, whatever sport you're playing. and I feel, just feel like I'm so tired of listening to my self-talk by the end of the day, um, by the time he gets home, I'm like, leave me alone. I don't want to speak to anyone. I don't want to talk to you. I don't even want to listen to my own voice anymore. I absolutely hate nagging. I'm not, I'm not a yeller. That's not in my nature. And I, and I hate nagging and like, you know, even getting ready for school and getting them out the door. I'm like, you know, guys leaving in five minutes. Like, I'm always like yelling and now like lately with phones and stuff, my kids have a phone. So I honestly will call, call them or text them now because I just am so sick of yelling, you know, I don't want to yell and they don't, it's not like me. So I'm like, okay, leaving in five minutes, mom's out the door, you know, whatever, whatever you need to come on down. Yeah. So the phones come in handy.
They, you know, I just, my, my girls don't have phones yet. We were trying to wait for as long as possible. And I just said to my husband, last weekend, I said, we really have to start. We have to start thinking about it. I mean, so many different levels. It's just, they're in too many different places for me to like, and they, you know, what they get by fine with it. They, they borrow their friend's phones to call. They call from the school. I seen know wherever they are. They, I said, you can always find a phone somewhere. You can, you know, and they have their gizmo watches so I can trace, you know, I can track them.I can call them, you know? So it's not the end of the world. Yeah. That's, that's been another social issue that turned into these dang phones. And even my fifth graders, someone asked me today, they were like, what is their messaging number? They don't have a phone number. They're 11 they're in fifth grade. I remember that time period. Cause that was, when like, do you get a phone? You know, there's so much of this, like, phones are bad, you know, or too young to have one or they'll lose it or whatever it is. But yeah. And in middle school, I think was our big change over of like saying, okay, they need to definitely have something because you know, we needed to get in contact with them, for whatever their activities were or whatever. And I don't really know why. I honestly remember the teacher saying in middle school that like phones it's too early, you know? Yes, yes. They told us the same thing. Wait, to 8 th grade.
Yes. Yes. And, and it was too late for me because I had already gotten just FYI. Um, but I think once again, that's all about knowing your children and what your needs are as a family. I know there's a lot of families that are separated and kids bounce back and forth and they get phones early because they really need them. They have watched so I could track them. But yeah, socially it's been tough. And you know, we were at a lacrosse game, a tournament last weekend, and one of my girls was kind of pushed away from the group. Cause they started this lacrosse text messaging, and everybody had a number and everyone was part of it. And she was the only player on the team without a phone. And they kind of slowly like edged her out of the group, standing there and I'm going, oh like now, now I'm mentally torturing my children now, now like, and is this why I get a phone?
Is this why I get a phone? At least you're going to get a family plan.
They gotta help me out here a little bit. But that's the other thing, do we really need our kids walking around with a $700 phone? I'm like, where are the old flip phones? My mom has one and they made her upgrade. So you're not going to find the flip phone. I just want a phone where they can, they can text and they can call. You know, all that stress, all that, you know, it's those are such small moments and, the hard times are such small moments in time.
What do you absolutely love about having a big family? Well, I love definitely the support for each other. You know, as much as they will fight, like sisters, I have seen them stick up for each other, ask each other questions. Um, you know, one of them had gotten their period and one hasn't, but things are starting to happen. And I hear her calling the big girl did the other sister in her twin in to ask her questions, you know? And I think because it's, it's all girls, we are super close. So even at 12, my girls are still coming to me to tell me every little thing that happens to them. You know, they get in the car and they're like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They know each other's friends, they stick up for each other. You know, even the little ones know what's going on with the big girls, with friends and stuff, and they'll stick up for them too. I had told them a long time ago and I remind them of this often that the best gift I ever could've given them was each other. Like sisters don't always get along. So it's here. It's so nice to hear that yours are so close. They are they, and they, let me tell you, they fight. They definitely fight. And I just sit back and watch and I go, you know, when somebody bleeds, let me know and I'll put an end to this. So I let them fight. I let them work it out. That's a great thing, too. Learning how to work it out with your sisters who are always going to love you. And you know, no matter what plays a role in your life, you know, how to, how to deal with friends, how to deal with bosses, how to deal with coaches. You know, that's just another tool to help you get through your life.
But I tell them all the time I go, no matter what, you can be on the other side of the world and your sisters will be there for you no matter what, just keep sticking together. And I love that because, you know, I have a boy and a girl, right? So it's a little different of a relationship. They are very different from each other. And they're both very kind and loving and good-natured kids, but they both like the total opposite, right? Like I have a gamer who loves video games and things like that. And then I have one that's like, can't stop dancing and singing everywhere, you know, very different. Um, but what I found that, especially in COVID, um, these two, they always got along, I wouldn't say like, they were the best friends, but they never, they didn't really fight. They just, you know, they just were very different. And in COVID when we were locked down for a while, they became like good friends and it continued. And it's like the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, because, you know, now they ask each other for advice on things, which is so cute because they're very different. And I, the other day, both of them had a bad day. They both came home. Well, both had a horrible day. Um, and I went upstairs, you know, to say good night, you know, cause I was going to bed. They weren't, anyway, I'm saying goodnight cause I was going to bed and they were both in their one-room together, you know, just sitting on the bed and talking about their day and just like giving advice to each other. And I just walked out of there and just like tapped my shoulder and said good mom, because that was the best thing.
The best thing that was amazing. I don't think moms do enough. Give yourself credit. Yeah. Your kids are healthy and well and okay. Yeah. End of the day, you know, celebrate that. Yeah. Given that a boy, I mean, it wasn't like that came out of thin air. That was their upbringing, you know, and that was amazing. And just like your girl’s, they are good kids and they have each other's back and that's because you did that. And that's amazing.
When they're playing, you know, their favorite sport or one's riding a horse or, you know, one of them is trying out for the school musical and she's just so excited and there's nothing better than watching them, you know, watching them do those things and enjoying it, having fun, you know, that's what you really want.
So Renee, for other parents out there that are listening, um, is there anything that you want to leave as a message or anything that you want to leave for them today? Yes. Figure out what type of parent you want to be, what, like what type of life you want to have, and then create that the best way possible for you and your family. Take advice with a grain of salt. You know, don't take anything to heart and do what is best for you. You will always get these opinions and these recommendations and these, you should do this and you should do that. Just do what's best for you and your family. And, and that's what, that's what a work a mom's gut. A mom's gut is always right. You've gotta do what's best for you guys. And you will be fine.
And go with your gut. I love that. Huge. And I think a lot of moms out there will question, especially newer moms that, you know, it's the first time around. And then the answer is if you're going with your gut and what you think is right. And it will be right. Yes, absolutely. Renee, thank you so much for sharing all your stories, but I love that you really stuck to who you are and what your family needed. And that's why there are these four beautiful ladies that are so beautiful and kind because of all the work that you put in behind the scenes there. Well, thank you, Lisa, like you said, we have to pat ourselves on the back more often, right? So hopefully all the moms pat their selves on their back after they listened to that.
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