You’re having twins! To some, the news is unabashed excitement; to others (me) it’s pure and utter shock. Whether having twins is a dream come true or the scariest thing you can imagine, one reality is true: having twins is HARD. Not just two times as hard as having a singleton—but exponentially harder. I mean, sure anyone with half a brain can understand it’s going to be more difficult to have two children then it is to have one, but most people have never experienced life as a mom of twins. And many of those who have, are past the hardest parts and on to the good stuff (and trust me, there is A LOT of good stuff). But, during that first, sleep-deprived, insanity-making year, Siri cannot answer all of your questions and no book exists to guide you (or maybe it does, but who has time for that??), so here are 5 plain and simple strategies for survival.
- Number one rule of twindom—keep them on the SAME EXACT schedule. Not just approximately, kind of, sort of feed them at the same time, but actually stick the bottle in their mouth at the exact same moment. If one is up, wake the other. Yes, I said to wake a sleeping child. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll want to cry doing it, you’ll imagine what it would be like to just have to worry about one diaper change, one feeding, one gloriously free arm…but don’t give in to the temptation or YOU WILL PAY. They will use their secret twin telepathy powers to completely mess with you and ensure that you do not eat, pee or take a single step without a tiny human physically attached to you around the clock. If you only heed one bit of advice, let this be it.
- You will feel like a cross between a celebrity and a freak show. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes no matter where you go. Not just because you feel like you are unpacking a clown car’s worth of gear just to purchase a gallon of milk, but also because you will be stopped… incessantly. People can walk by a single baby and ooh and ah for a second and move on. With twins, the intrigue is just too high. First question, every time—are they identical? Despite the abundance of pink accessories on one and blue accessories on the other, making it crystal clear that one is a boy and the other a girl, people will ask. In my particularly crabby moments I found myself responding with—you mean except for his penis? Save the dumb for someone who has showered and slept in the past week.
- Surround yourself with other moms of multiples. This seems silly—a mom is a mom and all moms do “get it”. But especially if these are your first children, it is so important to interact with others who have the same norm. As moms, we have an innate tendency to compare ourselves and our children—whether we mean to or not. When moms of singletons become your baseline, you suddenly feel like an epic failure. The quick jaunts to the park, the weekly tumbling classes, the homemade baby food…it’s just not as easy with two. I remember leaving a Little Gym class with my twins, red in the face (me, not them), sweat stains dripping down my shirt, a child in each arm kicking and screaming because they didn’t want to leave. I no sooner shut the door to my car and the floodgates opened. They were not just tears of frustration, but sobs of inadequacy. There was not one single moment in that 45-minute class where both children were in the same place, doing the same thing. All of the other moms were laughing and chatting with one another, helping their little one walk gingerly across the beam, while I was running a marathon. My daughter needed help reaching the bar, my son hit his head doing a forward roll off the mat; just as I helped one, the other would shriek for help. I could feel the pity of the other moms radiating through me. Let me tell you—if you want to feel like an utter failure, try doing with two children what other moms do with one.
- Don’t just accept help—beg for it. Ok, maybe not beg, but ask. If you can’t afford a babysitter for a few hours each week, get a mother’s helper. Sometimes just an extra set of hands or someone to entertain the twins while you do some laundry can feel like a God send. If you can stash some money aside to have your house cleaned every few weeks, do it. When people offer to bring you meals, just say YES. And guess what? People will understand if you don’t invite them in for tea and crumpets. Simply leave a cooler by your front door and let them know that you can’t wait to give them a hug when life slows down, but your schedule is so crazy that if they could just leave the food in the cooler at a set time you would sure appreciate it. They will understand, and if they don’t—well, at least you got a meal out of it.
- Get a journal. I never understood when people couldn’t remember how old their child was when they started to crawl or spoke their first word…until I had kids. There is no way humanly possible to remember every detail of junior’s life, and there’s certainly no way to remember times two, minus sleep. Especially in those first few weeks where you have to track feedings and dirty diapers and sleep cycles and medications, having a journal handy is key. They make apps and gadgets and specific baby tracker books, but even those can become overwhelming, duping you into tracking things that really don’t matter to you or your twins. A plain and simple empty notebook has my vote. Even if you put the most mundane information in it, save it. Years from now you’ll look back in amazement of ALL you survived that first year.
You may not be fashionable or social or even clean during that first year, but spoiler alert: YOU WILL SURVIVE. There will be hours and days that it won’t feel like it, but there will be years where you can’t imagine any two people bringing you more happiness!