If you haven’t visited this blog before, you might not know that we have a set of twins (boy/girl) who are now four years old. I never imagined myself having twins, and in fact, I had mixed feelings at first (read the story here).
However, our twins have brought a doubled joy to our lives that I could never expected. There is something so precious about watching them sleep side by side or hold hands as they walk down the sidewalk. Observing their unique bond has been a true privilege.
I hope they will always be best friends of sorts even though they are different genders!
Along the way, I’ve learned some methods for dealing with the not-so-cute moments of what can easily become twin madness, and I’d like to share them with you today. These methods would also work with children who are close in age to one another! 🙂
12 Twin Tips for Survival
1. Divide and conquer. Whatever task you face, it can be much easier to handle one at a time. For example, I read many success stories from mamas who simultaneously potty-trained their twins. It seems that for these blessed mothers, what one twin did, the other followed.
However, for us it wasn’t quite as simple. Our son was just not ready, but our daughter was! She insisted on using the potty even though I wasn’t trying to train her. So, I decided one at a time might actually be easier, and it worked! Not everything must be done in pairs. 🙂
2. Kill two birds with one stone. Some twin tasks are just easier to do together, such as diaper changing (one right after the other, of course), nursing (huge time saver if you can get the hang of it), going to the doctor, bathing, and feeding snacks or meals.
When you already have all of the “stuff” out, you might as well get it over with for the other twin, too! I even learned such talents as double burping, which only lasted a month or two.
Part of finding my groove with our twins was learning which technique worked best for which tasks – either #1 or #2.
Sometimes it even makes a difference which twin you do first! After a while, I learned to always put my twin son’s shoes on last because he would try to take them off if we didn’t leave the house immediately. My daughter didn’t seem to mind the shoes, so I could count on her to leave hers on while I wrestled with her brother. 🙂
3. Set up stations! When the twins were infants, this was a lifesaver when it came time to prepare a meal, or work with an older child, etc. I had a rotation of baby devices for them and when they grew weary of one (after about 10 minutes), I would quickly rotate them to the next thing in line.
Instead of having two of everything, we found we only needed one of most things and thankfully, many of these devices were given to us. So, at one point in time we had out an exersaucer, a jumperoo, a bouncy seat, a playmat, and a walker (before the walker days, we had a swing).
4. Identify the tough times. We definitely had specific times of the day that were much more difficult than others. Meal times, bedtimes, and late afternoon seemed to be the worst for us. Once we identified those tough times, we were able to problem solve to cut down the stress. If all else fails, then….
5. Enlist helpers! By far the best thing we ever did was to accept the gracious offers of friends and family to lend a helping hand. Many ladies from church took turns helping me with afternoon feedings (my husband worked second shift at the time) even when the twins were quite small. I would either pump ahead of time or I would take that opportunity to nurse one infant at a time and the company could burp or entertain the other twin.
We also are blessed to have a very helpful oldest son. He often rocked a fussy baby while I cooked supper or helped our middle child with a problem! Additionally, for a few
For a few months I also enlisted the help of one of our teenage nieces. I was able to pay her very little, but she loved coming over to help with the kids. It was totally worth the expense.
Twin mamas, do not be afraid to ask for help, especially in the early months – it will save your sanity!
6. Schedule, schedule, schedule. I wasn’t a very schedule-oriented mom when it came to nursing or even napping our first two children. Our firstborn sort of fell into a schedule all on his own, and our middle child fought any sort of schedule from day one!
However, by nature I’m a planner, so I like at least a loose form of organization. And after struggling with our strong-willed middle child, I was determined to start off right.
With two babies at once, I knew that I was going to need to be a little more of a tough mommy in order for us to survive. 🙂
Since our twins were born prematurely, they spent time in the NICU and came home already on a strict feeding schedule. So, we were already off to a good start. However, our infant son was not always happy to keep to the same schedule as his sister.
It was hard work to find a happy medium, but I knew I wouldn’t handle feeding and napping at different times very well. Persistence paid off, and the majority of the time, they ate together and napped together.
Find a sort of schedule that works for you!
The best pattern to follow for those first 6 months or so is: eat – wake time- then sleep, which is the complete opposite of what many babies naturally do. However, this pattern sets your infants up not only for feeding success, but for sleeping success as well!
You may be tempted to let sleeping babies go undisturbed, but it will be worth working to keep them awake when they reward you by sleeping for longer periods of time. Trust me. 🙂
7. Invest in the gear that makes your life easier. Being a parent is hard work. Being a twin parent is sometimes doubly hard work! Some baby gear makes that work a lot less difficult and is worth every penny.
For example, my husband and I debated about whether or not to purchase a double snap-n-go stroller. It’s basically a metal frame stroller that the infant carrier car seats can snap right into. Thanks to some generous gifts, we had the necessary funds and decided to go ahead and purchase it.
Next to my twin nursing pillow, it was the best purchase we ever made for the twins!
It made outings much easier, especially those I had to navigate alone – going to church, going to the store, going to the library, going to the doctor. I was no longer confined to the house, which made me and our two older children very happy!
Later we switched to a Schwinn double jogging stroller, courtesy of my father-in-law’s fabulous auction skills, and the last stroller we owned was a double sit-n-stand, which I highly recommend for the toddler to preschool years. When one is tired of sitting in the front seat, you can switch them out to standing, kneeling, or even sitting in reverse in the back seat.
8. Keep your older children occupied. Sitting down to nurse or feed two infants isn’t an easy task, especially if you also have an active three-year-old on the loose. Sometimes our middle child would escape into another room and I would just pray that he wasn’t destroying anything of value! 🙂
I wish I had known back then about busy bags! If you don’t know what they are, you need to find out. Just look up busy bags on Pinterest or Google and find a variety of ideas for quiet play. I have quite a few pinned on my Learning games and activities board. Books worked well for us, as well as singing. Sometimes I would even ask him to perform tricks for me while I was sitting. And when all else failed I turned to Netflix or PBS Kids. Did I mention that
Did I mention that having twins also taught me to lower my standards a little?
9. Remind your older children that they are special, too! Sometimes older siblings have jealousy issues, and then sometimes they have twin fame issues. 😉 Twins not only require a lot of extra attention from mom and dad, they also attract a lot of attention when you are out and about. People love to look at them and ask questions about them, which might leave your older children feeling a little ignored or neglected.
Going on one-on-one dates really helped our older children when they were exhibiting signs of attention-deprivation. Also, relatives stepped in often and took one or both of them for special activities or sleep-overs. Sometimes it’s as simple as mentioning something special about your older children when people are ooo-ing and aaahhh-ing over the twins.
10. Remember that it does get easier! Those early months are oh-so-tough. I well remember the sleepless nights, the double diaper blow-outs, the duets of screaming banshees, the illness multiplied by two in winter months, and sometimes it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. But there is!
Those twins will grow up and while you’ll always have two at the same stage, rather than one, as they grow older it feels a lot less like double duty and a lot more like having two children very close in age.
Believe it or not, our twins are so different in looks and personality that sometimes I momentarily forget about their special bond!
Focus on one day at a time, until you can focus on one week at a time, and eventually one month, and before you know it, you’ll be thriving instead of just surviving!
11. Count your blessings. On those really rough days, the ones when you barely limp across the finish line that we mamas like to call bedtime, try to let go of the challenges and remember the blessings of having twins.
There are many difficulties in raising twins, but there are equal, if not more, unique blessings wrapped into those challenges. So when the days are dark, count those blessings. Remind yourself of the things that you enjoy about your double gift, how one baby catches the other’s eye and both faces light up, how they “talk” back and forth to one another, even answering one another’s cries. Remember those good things; cling to them!
12. Pray. It sounds simple and everyday, but it’s not. Prayer is powerful! Some days I woke up after a sleepless night asking the Lord for supernatural strength because I just didn’t have it in me. He literally carried me, not just mentally but physically, through many of those early weeks or even months. I know others were praying for me, too – the power was almost palpable at times.
Don’t underestimate the Power of the Spirit; pray for the things you need to raise those twins – for finances, for strength, for wisdom. I even consulted the Lord on such mundane things as “Should I pick up this crying baby or would it be better to let him cry it out?”
While I didn’t get a direct answer to that question, I was overwhelmed by the peace of His presence. And suddenly, I realized that maybe it didn’t even matter as much as I thought it did.
Maybe there is no perfect way to parent, no perfect way to potty train or sleep train or breastfeed or, or, or… That peace set me free. 🙂
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
If you have young twins or are about to have twins (or even children very close in age), I hope you find this post helpful. And if you are already a twin mama and you have some advice to share, please feel free to share in the comments! I love finding out what works for other moms and seeing if it will also work for me.
Enjoy it while it lasts!
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