So, you’ve just found out you’re expecting twins. Naturally one of the first emotions you will feel will be shock. Your friends and family are quite likely to laugh at the news and will undoubtedly say, ‘Oooh, double trouble!’
No matter where you are in the world, being a parent to twins will automatically put you in this ‘special’ club. Other mothers of twins will instantly understand what you are going through and the challenges you will encounter on a daily basis.
Raising twins is like learning a new dance. Once you have found your rhythm, things will fall into place and before you know it, you will have accomplished things you never thought possible.
With that said there are ways you can ensure a less stressful first year raising twins:
1. Get organised
The first couple of months you will live day-to-day, or as in a lot of cases hour by hour! Learn to become more organised and time efficient as soon as possible because this will be your number one tool to having balance and peace in your life. Pace yourself and have realistic expectations of what needs to be done. Delegate where possible, eliminate what is not necessary and set clear boundaries with those who zap your energy.
2. Accept help
Some people are more independent (or stubborn depending on how you look at it) than others and, for this reason alone mothers of twins can be their own worse enemy. For some, accepting help automatically makes you feel like you’ve shouted from the roof tops that you can’t manage! When friends and family offer an extra pair of hands jump at the chance but stress that you may not have time to chat and they will have to help themselves to food and drink.
If like me you couldn’t possibly imagine not being the ‘hostess with the mostess’, think again. It will soon come to light which visitors like to ‘play’ with the babies whilst being waited on hand and foot, and those who genuinely wish to make your day more pleasant by rolling up their sleeves to helping with the washing up and make YOU a cup of tea. Invite the latter back, lots!! You can always show your appreciation later on.
3. Hang up your Wonder Woman outfit
You cannot and should not expect to be as house proud or as well turned out as in the days before having your twins.
Don’t put undue pressure on yourself. Learn to delegate chores or hire someone to come in a clean and do the ironing once a week.
Spending quality time with your babies, partner and more importantly yourself is worth the investment of having outside help to ease the burden of ‘keeping it all together’. Evaluate what is your main priority right now and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Remember a little bit of dust never hurt anyone and if you live in the UAE, then you better get used to it!
Above all don’t feel that you have to justify yourself to others. We all have different ways of doing things and if your way works for you, then keep on doing it and if it’s not working then experiment until you are comfortable.
4. Abuse your freezer
Whenever you cook a meal, make extra and store it in the freezer. There will be plenty of times when you are just too tired or simply can’t be bothered to cook.
Now is the most important time for you to eat healthily and maintain a balanced diet as you need to keep your energy levels up in order to function productively throughout the day. Casseroles, mince dishes, stews and soups are easy to make and can be done in one pot and are quick to defrost and re-heat. Accompany these with rice and steamed vegetables or a salad and you have a nutritious meal in minutes.
5. You and your other half
You and your partner are about to embark on one of the most challenging times you will be up against but it’s not all doom and gloom. One minute you will dislike your partner because you feel they aren’t pulling their weight, and then the next minute you see him holding the babies and happily making funny faces at them and you will fall in love with him all over again.
Whilst the baby’s health and safety take priority remember to make time for your marriage, this is a partnership and you are in it together. Now is the time where you need to be gracious to one another and practice kindness over frustration.
Both of you are going to be sleep deprived and your tolerance levels will be low so focus and acknowledge when things are going well and make time to touch base and connect. Leaving a note (car seat, under the pillow), sending a random text or a gentle touch, kiss goes a long way to validating each other and making you feel loved.
When the babies are older have date nights or afternoon getaways. Go for a nice meal, a walk on the beach or a bike ride. Take some time out to really listen to how they are doing and what they have been up to. Having a bath together or snuggling in bed with soft music playing and candles around the room is another way to reconnect and enjoy each other.
6. Laughter is the best medicine
If you didn’t have a sense of humor before, you’re going to need it now! Don’t take yourself or the little mishaps along the way too seriously. What mother hasn’t worn odd socks, become tongue tied because they are mentally and physically drained and has food stains on their clothing?
There will be times when you could just sit down and sob your heart out but then there will be other times when a hysterical laughter comes out of nowhere and you find the slightest thing side-splittingly funny!
The ultimate test is when a spoonful of Weetabix is suddenly catapulted across the room, redecorating the walls, floor and ceiling: you can either get upset or see the funny side. Life is too short to be angry all the time, so relax and laugh because these mishaps are stories you will one day tell you children and they will love them.
7. Keep things in perspective
Your life will get easier once the babies are sleeping through the night and settled into their daily routine.
Around every 3 months you will see a shift in your babies’ development and you will be amazed at the changes you get to witness. Before too long your wee ones will be more independent.
Again, be kind to yourself and pat yourself on the back for getting through another long day. Reflect and highlight the things you’ve accomplished rather than the things you haven’t. There will come a time when you will look back and wonder how you managed and marvel at how much easier things have become.
Remember a positive attitude will dictate how well you live your life instead of dictating how your life is living you!
8. Have some ‘ME’ time
You may feel you are losing your identity and your life has become one-dimensional. It is extremely important to have some quality time alone where you can get back in touch with YOU and not have to worry about being a wife, mother and bottle washer. This will give you perfect opportunity to shave your legs (mine resembled Frodo’s), slap on a bit of make-up, pull your shoulders back, hold your head up high and strut your stuff!
When planning your ‘ME’ time make sure it’s about you recharging and having some fun. It could be a pampering session at a spa, getting a day pass at a beach hotel, meeting friends for a leisurely lunch or going somewhere quiet to read a book.
Whatever you decide to do try and book at least one day a month where you are practicing self-care.
9. Give yourself permission to make mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect, so stop comparing yourself to others. We are unique and have all been on different journeys.
Every road we have gone down, every wrong turn, every bump, and every valley has nurtured us to where we need to be. Our mistakes are our failing forwards. Our struggles and difficulties can be our superpower.
Every day is a learning experience and the more we experience the more tools and strategies we will have in our tool kit. If at the end of each day you can say you have done the best you can with the tools and knowledge available to you at that time, then you have done an admirable job.
Don’t waste your time with ‘if only’s.’ You can’t go back and change things, so rejoice in the triumphs and learn from the oversights.
10. Been there, done that
Connect with other mums of twins, either in person or online. There’s nothing like talking to those who have been there and done that.
Through joining twins or multiple birth groups, you will get information with regards to the best places to go with a double buggy, deals in your local area, emotional support, tips and tricks that have worked for them. These groups can be a great way to meet your ‘tribe’ and a safe space for you to share your challenges and celebrate your ‘wins’.
11. Sing and Sign
None of my children went through the terrible two’s and I put a lot of that down to being able to communicate with them through signing.
When my boys were born, I came across an article called Sing and Sign. I did some research and got really excited about the benefits and advantages signing has on speech (neither of the boys had hearing difficulties).
By learning to sign, children become less frustrated and are able to interact with other people and their environment at a much earlier age. Sing and Sign uses the British Makaton. I started signing when Matthew and Sam were about six months old and, about four months later, they signed back.
Many people think signing decreases verbal skills. On the contrary, it increases vocabulary as you can use the same sign to depict words that have similar meaning. For instance, words such as happy, pleased, joyful and delighted can be shown with the same sign. So, the child understands that all the words are similar but not exactly same.
One important thing while signing is to make eye contact so that the child can assess your facial expression. Also keep talking while signing. As soon as the child has grasped to say a word, drop the sign and start using the word only.
If your babies wake at 6:00 am for a feed and are happy to go back down for a nap take this opportunity to make your bed, jump in the shower, have some breakfast and attend to some tasks that you may not have the time or energy to tackle later in the day. Thus, leaving you guilt-free to have a nap and re-charge your batteries later on whilst feeling like you have accomplished something productive.
Keep track of each baby’s fluid in-take and bowel movements either in a note pad or on your phone, then if you have any concerns, you will be able to present an accurate report, (and on the right child!) to the doctor when asked. An easy way to keep track of who’s drinking from which bottle is by simply putting an elastic band around one.
If you live in a two-storey villa, have two changing stations. The last thing you want to be doing, especially if you have had a caesarean, is to be running up and down the stairs. Clear a sideboard or desk that is waist high and keep a changing mat, nappies, wipes, clothes, etc. for easy access. This is also helpful in reducing the noise if you or your partner are having a nap upstairs.
Having a travel cot downstairs was a life saver for me. It was used for their ‘awake’ times so they could be in close contact with each other, when I had to go to the bathroom or make a cup of coffee and it also doubled up as a playpen when they got older and I needed to mop the floor or answer the door.
To help cut down on the ‘trying to get out of the front door’ (which can take an un-natural length of time!) have your babies travel bag stocked with all of the following: nappies, wipes, nappy sacks, changing mat, bibs, formula, change of clothes and muslin cloths. Muslin cloths are great for protecting your clothing, moping up projectile vomit, blocking out direct sunlight and keeping your babies warm in the chilly malls. I also kept some water and cereal bars in mine because in case I got the munchies and didn’t have time to eat.
Mini travel bag (2 nappies, 2 baby grows, 2 nappy sacks, 2 muslin cloths and wipes). I kept a mini travel bag in the car at all times as there will be occasions when you just ‘pop out’ and think you won’t need the full travel bag and then one or both babies either fill their nappies, vomit or both!
If you have an older child and another mother offers to do the school run, grab it with both hands. Don’t worry, you will get the chance to pay her back!
Enjoy your little ones. They grow up quicker than you know. My twin sons are nearly 18 and it feels like it was only yesterday that they were snuggled in my arms and looking up at me with their gummy smiles!
If you are interested in how we can work together then why not grab a coffee and book a free Clarity Call and let’s see if we are a good match!