“Two Heads Are Better Than One!” typed the enthusiastic ultrasound tech on the screen. Staring in disbelief and delight, my husband and I were unprepared for how those two heads would change us, especially that first year. We survived those 12 months — as proof, our twins are 17 years-old now — and you can too, with these 12 tips, one for each month.
Register realistically, and take a P.O.T.
Nothing induces nirvana or a nervous breakdown more than registering for baby gear. We actually found it fun and enjoyable, but it’s easy to go overboard. Having a P.O.T. (Parent Of Twins) along can serve as a valuable “been-there-done-that” source in choosing the most efficient and practical items that you’ll really use. (Hint: it’s not the Baby Wipe Warmer.)
Join a parenting group for multiples— the earlier the better.
Multiples of America (formerly known as the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs) offer information, resources, and support. To find a chapter near you, visit http://www.multiplesofamerica.org/.
Embrace that four-letter word: “Help.”
Although determined to manage newborn twins myself, I quickly realized I needed help. Allow your partner or a relative to assist and don’t criticize if he or she does things differently. Be open to offers of help . We arrived home from the hospital to a stocked refrigerator and kitchen, courtesy of friends who bought us AN ENTIRE MONTH’S WORTH OF GROCERIES. No joke. We will never forget that. Members of our church also offered to prepare and deliver meals, and I scheduled them during my husband’s first week back to work.
… but set boundaries.
Everyone has that relative or friend who doesn’t realize when their well-meaning visits become excessive. Discuss with your partner how frequently you’d like company and clearly communicate your wishes.
Establish a bedtime routine sooner rather than later.
When our twins were 3 months old, people thought us crazy when we introduced a bedtime routine. Bath-Bottle-Book-Bed was our same bedtime routine (with the bottle replaced by a snack) for YEARS.
Stagger the overnight feedings with your partner or spouse.
If you’re home with the twins during the day, get help with the overnight feedings. If that’s not possible, try a staggered sleep schedule. One of us would head for bed at 8 p.m. and wake up around midnight for a feeding. Then the other person would take over in the wee small hours.
Get the earliest pediatrician appointment.
If they could talk, babies would quickly be on a first-name basis with their pediatrician. With so many doctor’s visits crowding two newborns’ schedules, try and schedule the earliest appointment possible, especially if seeing a specialist. (Most likely you’ve already been awake for hours anyway.)
Consider the socialization needs of older siblings.
If there’s an older child in the family, pay attention to his or her needs for socialization. The majority of your time and energy will be given to the infants. Consider keeping or enrolling the older child in a preschool or daycare program, if the child isn’t in such a setting already. The older child will likely be more productive and happier having opportunities to socialize among a peer group.
Resist the urge to sign up for too many baby classes, playgroups, and lessons.
It’s tempting to accept every play date invitation, join Mommy and Me music classes, and jump into swimming lessons. Such activities are great, but two infants can make it difficult to participate fully and meaningfully. There’s plenty of time for such activities as your twins grow into the toddler stage (or older) and begin to develop individual interests.
Make time for yourself as well as your partner.
A trip to the grocery store at 10 p.m. doesn’t count as “alone time.” Time for yourself doesn’t have to mean an expensive spa weekend. Spending a few hours at Starbucks with a good book (preferably one that’s not about parenting twins!) or taking a walk alone in a park can restore your energy level. Similarly, arrange for a babysitter for a few hours so you and your spouse can enjoy dinner and conversation together. Even if you wind up talking about your kids, you’ll feel better after communicating about the challenges of raising multiples.
Remember that you’re the best expert on your children.
What works for other parents and other kids might not work for you. During your first year as a parent of multiples, don’t underestimate your parental instincts.
Take photos. Lots of them.
Sure, you’ll take photos of the big milestones, but capture the simple everyday moments and your daily routine. The same moments that seem interminable will be the ones you’ll want to relive — even if to prove that you really did survive your first year of parenting twins!