You can do this. These 7 tips from a mother who has been there can help.
“I couldn’t do it.”
I wish I knew how many times I’ve heard this phrase in the years since our identical twins were born. From strangers in the grocery store to close friends over coffee, fellow parents of small children look at me with that trademark exhaustion in their eyes and say they could never parent twins.
The truth is, I said the same thing. Our oldest child was only 1 when we found out we were pregnant with twins – that we were going to have two babies at the same time. I was terrified. But we made it, and you will, too.
My memory of that first year is a blur, but there are a handful of truths that stand out like lighthouses in a very, very foggy harbor. Here are my 7 best tips for parenting newborn twins.
1. Accept help.
If friends offer to make you dinner, let them. If other friends offer to take your oldest to the park to play, let them. If still others offer to hold your babies or vacuum your floors or even scrub your toilets, LET THEM. Your life is Crazytown, but you don’t have to go it alone. Ask for help, accept the help and tell Pride to take a hike.
2. Simul-naps are your friend.
If at all humanly possible, put the babies down for naps at the same time. This may sound impossible, especially if your twins have opposite personalities or schedules. Just try it. Persist. It will take effort and time, and it won’t work for every family. But if it does, you can sleep! And shower! And go to the bathroom alone, or eat lunch, or do absolutely nothing! If you have a toddler in the house, try adjusting his or her schedule to overlap as well. Never say never! It might just work.
3. Everything x2.
This may seem like common sense, but humor me: Do everything twice. Change diapers together, do feedings together, give baths together. What you do for one, do for the other. Your sleep-deprived mind will have a lot to keep up with. Make it as easy as possible.
4. Color-code all the things.
At our house, one twin was green and the other, blue. Cheesy? Maybe. But color-coding will go a long way in keeping you and your helpers sane. Color-code pacifiers, bottles, blankets, even clothes. Not only will it help with daily logistics of who gets what, but it also helps when you look back at photos and can’t remember who’s who. Hypothetically, of course.
5. Set up stations.
Venturing out of the house may not happen often, so give yourself some room to breathe on the inside. Rather than restricting yourself to one or two kid-friendly rooms, try creating some twin-safe solutions in different areas of your home. Maybe a blanket and toys works for the living room, or an exersaucer and a jumper in the dining room. Two bouncy seats in your bedroom or bathroom will make it easier to grab a shower now and then, and high chairs in the kitchen can double as a place to play while Mom does the dishes (or takes a chocolate break).
6. Don’t think too far ahead.
If the phrase “one day at a time” ever applied, it’s now. When your twins start sitting up, don’t worry about how you’ll cope when they crawl. Don’t panic about walking when they’re crawling, or about running when they’re walking. You’ll develop the necessary systems for each new phase when the time comes. Worrying about later now is a waste of your time and sanity.
7. Your gut trumps their advice.
You will never receive more unsolicited advice than when you are carrying or parenting multiples. Take it in stride and maybe even tuck away a nugget or two for future reference, but never let someone else’s opinion or experience silence your own. Every child is different, after all, and you had two of them at once. So enjoy/tolerate/survive this season as best you can. Soon toddlers will replace these babies, and the specifics of how you survived will be the stuff of legends.
You CAN do this, Mama. (And Papa!)
This post was written by Amanda Bible Williams, who likes words and books more than just about anything. She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and English, nearly a master’s in religion, and a deep love for a farmhouse east of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their three children. Chief Content Officer of She Reads Truth (shereadstruth.com), Amanda spends her days happily rearranging sentences and explaining that her maiden name really is Bible.