Full disclosure: I’ve wanted twins since I first saw Full House in 2nd grade. I thought that having a twin was the most special thing ever. I will always stop and watch The Parent Trap (both versions). But even though I got my life-long wish after 18 months of infertility, I still cried with worry when I found out. How the f*** are we going to do this?
The novelty of having multiples (twins/triplets/quadruplets, and more) is just that. When it becomes a reality however, all of a sudden you could find yourself in a spiral: financial worry, health worry, regret, denial, mourning for your old life. What just happened? This is not what I signed up for. OMG, this morning sickness is next level…
Not to take away from the magic of multiples, but the chances of having twins are higher than ever compared to previous generations. Researchers have seen a 60% increase since the 1980s, with twins representing 33.3 of every 1,000 births. This is especially true for women having kids in their mid to late 30s, or undergoing fertility treatments, or if it runs in the family.
So, when Mary suggested we do a Surviving Multiples blog post, I figured we had a lot to cover. We have very different families and we are also two very different people. My twins are first and only, while her twins have an older brother. Mary is a SAHM, while I work from home. Mary is an only child, and my family is large and crazy blended. I am 2 ½ years in, while she is still in the trenches navigating newborn life. Twin life has a very broad range of low lows and amazing highs, from pregnancy onward.
But without going into our whole birth stories and pregnancy journeys, here are our tips on Surviving Multiples (so far):
- Throw everything you know out the window
Everything you thought about how you wanted to raise your kids or handle your pregnancy, get rid of it. It’s now null and void. This is especially hard if you already have a kid and are now having multiples. Even advice from singleton moms/bloggers; that no longer applies to you. Having multiples is a complete start from scratch.
- All Hands on Deck
When I found out we were having twins, I immediately called my mother and asked her to temporarily move in with us. After she left, we found a nanny on Care.com to come in each morning. Doing the math, having a part-time nanny is less expensive than having two infants in daycare. The house ran smoother and I wasn’t reaching crazy burnout like before.
For Mary, having a family member move in wasn’t an option, so it was important to start building an extended village; friends and trusted helpers to give an extra hand. Even for SAHMs, having the extra help for a few hours a week can make a big difference in your household. Moral of the story: Even if you want to handle it all, life will be much happier and less stressful with help.
- You don’t need two of everything
While there are definitely things you will need two of (car seats, high chairs, cribs), there are a lot more you don’t. Multiples, for the most part, can share clothes and toys. Items specially made for twins (Z pillows, twin strollers, pack and plays) are great, but sometimes don’t work for your household. Our suggestion is to assess your space and stock up on things that will be in heavy rotation. We had a lot of bottles, burp clothes, bibs, onesies and pajamas. Everything else you can go more conservative.
Tip: Check consignment sales and Moms-of-Multiples groups. You can get a lot of things gently used at great prices, especially things that you’ll only need for the first 6 months.
- Mastering Logistics
Multiples moms are the most logistical people on the planet.Why? Because the schedule is everything. A predictable routine helps babies regulate and adapt to their environment, plus it helps the home run and flow more efficiently. There aren’t many books on raising multiples, but they all say that you must keep your twins on the same eating/sleeping/pooping schedule. If you don’t, then you have to keep two different bottle cycles, poops become less predictable, and sleeping hours (for you) will be even fewer and far between.
In addition to a solid schedule, your diaper backpack will need to be twice as prepared, you’ll need a much larger backseat (if not an entirely new car) and traveling anywhere (overnight or just to run an errand) takes way more stuff that you now need to keep track of. Your to-do list just got way more detailed. Use BabyTracker or another app to help you build your schedule and keep it consistently. We also recommend an all-inclusive planner or calendar app to help keep your family in the loop.
- Same but Different
Being born within minutes of each other can have many people looking at twins as one entity. But in reality, they are two different people with two different development paths. Treating your kids as individuals not only helps them see that they have their own mind and personality, but it will help you with the bonding process.
You can encourage their individuality by limiting how much you dress them alike. You can also create moments where you have one-on-one time. This goes for your partner as well. For us, I would hang out with A on the couch watching Bravo while Z would be with Troy playing video games. For Mary, it’s during their nightly routine where she bathes one while Mark bottle feeds the other. Remember, even twins can get sick of each other.
- Man to Man Coverage
With a singleton child, it can be really easy to pass things back and forth with your partner. But with multiples, it’s one for each of you. Your partner is right there with you during feedings, changing diapers, pacing and shushing late at night. This is a true test of teamwork and there is no “default parent”. If your partner is unsure or scared, definitely sign up for baby bootcamp classes. The more they are involved, the more trust and ease you’ll build together.
We’d also like to recognize anyone who is a single parent with multiples. Quite literally, we don’t know how you do it. You are amazing and please let us know if you need anything whatsoever.
- Zone Defense
Sometimes man-to-man may not be possible, especially if have another child is in the mix. One of you may take care of the twins while the other handles the singleton, in some instances. In Mary’s household, she will get her twin babies ready for the day while Mark makes breakfast with their son. Come up with a game plan that works well for your family.
There will also (inevitably) be moments where you are handling two babies all by your lonesome, and they will both be crying and need your assistance. You may also have an older child requiring attention, or asking a question, or telling you about something. Remind yourself that there is only one of you and you can only do so much at one time. Start with the most pressing situation and take things one at a time. This takes a lot of mental and emotional resilience. Keep your head as best you can.
- Make Shortcuts for Yourself
This is going to look different for everybody. For Mary, it was getting a Baby Brezza to make bottles easier and faster. More me, it was getting HelloFresh to handle dinner. For you, it could be using DoorDash for quick takeout or Amazon subscription services to buy in bulk. A little bit of forethought and convenience can save you a lot of time in the long run.
- Mentally Prepare Yourself for Witching Hour
Witching hour refers to the period between 4-7pm where kids are simply inconsolable. One or both babies could be upset/fussy/restless/just doesn’t know what they want. It’s like clockwork every afternoon. This is a big trigger for many parents and aside from sleepless nights, I would say it’s the hardest part of the day, which leads to…
- Have a Mantra in the Moment
Tending to the needs of multiples can leave parents feeling somewhat detached (which is completely normal btw). So, when you’re having a bad hour, or if you are particularly drained at the moment, it’s important to have an anchor to reframe your mindset.
In our first week at home, the girls had bad sleep every other night. I had to remind Troy (and myself) that “This wasn’t permanent”. The girls were going to grow out of this phase and not every night will be like this. Witching hour, growth spurts, blowouts, teething pain, potty training; these are crazy hard in the moment, but aren’t permanent. You don’t have bad kids and tough episodes don’t make you a bad parent.
If you think you’re getting too caught up/heated/frustrated/overwhelmed, step away and remind yourself that this will all pass, so you can get back to neutral.
I know this is only the tip of the iceberg, but the truth is I feel extremely lucky and special having my twins.
Is it more work? 100%.
Will it get hard? More than you can fathom.
But it always gets better, it’s always worth it, and I’m ready for every adorable, sneaky, preteen Lindsay Lohan thing that they want to throw at me.
Have some multiples tips you’d like to share? Leave them in comments or on social media.