In this photo you see a beautiful winter day with a mom and her twins enjoying a whimsical outdoor adventure. She must have it all together going on blue sky snowy hikes to pass the time. What’s actually happening: I was desperate to tire them out before trying to nap them at the same time so I could attempt to get sh*t done. It was beyond freezing and a frozen lake seemed to be the safest place to let them run without needing to corral them from roads, cars, or the ridiculous things they would get into if we were somewhere else. I was exhausted, cold, and doing my best to keep it together – like yesterday and what would be tomorrow. Each day I would try something different to foster their curiosity, be a good-ish mom, wear them out, and keep things manageable for me.
There have been many days like this. All beautiful and memorable while equally hard and unseen.
In this post you’ll find useful learnings from both first-hand experiences and advice from other moms of twins. We hope these tips help create a balance between your hard and beautiful day scale.
The first year:
It’s all a blur: You’re probably not going to remember their first year of life so don’t beat yourself up about it. That’s what photos and videos are for.
Schedules: Get them on a schedule. It doesn’t matter what the schedule is – just get them on one.
Help: If someone offers help, set your ego aside and say yes. You know you need the help, so take it. You’ll remember the help forever.
Work as a team: If there are two parents you need to work as a team. It’s the only way to ease the load. You cannot do it all yourself. There are two infants in the house and two hands aren’t enough full-time. Find a rhythm together and stick with what works. Your relationship will strengthen and you’ll know you have a true partner in life. What worked for us:
- My husband would take them out in the stroller when he got home while I napped for an hour or so.
- At night he would take the second feeding. This way I could get one 4 hour block of sleep and two shorter blocks.
- When one of us cooked or focused on our older son the other was in charge of both babies.
- We began sharing the housework. He was great at laundry and vacuuming so these tasks became his. We still share a similar schedule.
- On weekends my husband would take the twins for a couple hours while I did what I needed to do. Sometimes I cleaned, other times I walked with a friend, I would connect with our oldest, and there were times I just stared at the wall. I cannot say enough about this time. He really bonded with the kids and what started as a mommy time out turned into Saturday hikes, bike rides, exploring, and cruising around with Daddy. To this day he still does this and the twins love their Daddy Days.
Comparing: Don’t compare your twins. It’s going to be difficult, we know. Do everything you can to not compare them on milestones and gains. They are each tiny humans developing at their own pace. You’re going to eventually see their unique pattern emerge and later understand why they didn’t run parallel.
Evaluate travel: We are BIG travelers. In the first year I must have thought travel would be manageable. I made our holiday, Spring Break and Summer travel plans as usual. One voyage to NYC, one cruise, and a trip to Newport later it was jointly decided the madness had to end. We were basically counting down the hours until bedtime in random cities with no ability to explore, relax or enjoy ourselves. Family travel was placed on hold and instead we chose staycation options. I’m grateful we did this both for our sanity and also for the opportunity to explore what was right in our backyard.
Find friends with multiples: Do whatever you have to – just find them. Try Facebook groups, pages like our’s or your local Mom’s Club to start. They need you as much as you need them. They will get you through the hardest times and become part of your family. Their homes will look and sound like yours – wild, loud, and chaotic. You’ll finally feel like you fit in and understand being a parent of twins looks and sounds different than singles. You will have these women forever.
Playdates: Playdates will be difficult with single toddler friends. Get ready. Single-kid moms will have complete control of their kid and you’ll feel like a train wreck. You won’t be able to sit and chat either because you’ll be too busy chasing your kids. You’ll cry in the car on the way home. The invites may slow down. It’s okay. Your children are not wild or crazy, there are just more of them and they feed into each other. You’ll find your people. This is when you rely on your other twin mommas.
Socializing: Same goes for parent/kid gatherings too. You’re going to leave a BBQ or house party early carrying your kids in a surfboard hold on your way out. Again, you’ll cry in the car. Again, it’s okay. You’ll eventually find your groove and know before things go downhill when it’s time to make a clean exit. Because you and your partner work as a team, they’ll be in this one with you!
Showering: They are going to get into things when you shower. Still, you have to shower. Make sure the house is as safe as possible and take a damn shower. They may find forks and hoist each other into the freezer for ice cream while you’re in there but who really doesn’t want ice cream.
Make couples time: Parenting twins is hard on both of you. When the kids were about 1.5 we realized we hadn’t had a break and figured it was time to reconnect. We had been talking about important decisions in between diapers and feedings. We wrangled childcare and took a 2 night trip alone. We had no idea how much this time was needed until after. From then on we looked to sneak away every few months. We still do this a couple times a year and can feel when it’s time to get something on the books.
Create structure: They need it and you need it. Set clear limits and boundaries. Twins have their best friend with them all the time so everything seems like a great idea. Imagine if you lived with your best friend 24/7. “Tito’s at 11am – Great idea!” You have to be structured with twins to ensure not every idea is a great idea. This will save you a lot of clean up and excuses later.
Make something out of nothing. Some days it will be hard to leave the house. Alright, really most days. You can create fun where you are. I once put an inflatable house in our living room and let them have a go. Dress up was always a hit – anything goes. A plastic pool indoors filled-up 3 hours of entertainment on a Tuesday. You don’t need to get dressed and pack them up to make memories. No judgement here.
Social skills: As tiring as they may be, twins definitely have a major advantage over singles when it comes to social skills and cues. By the time they reach school years they have no issue sharing, playing with others, and not always being the leader. This makes your twins exceptional in a school environment and ahead of the curve. Take that single baby mom who stopped inviting us to playdates!
Time for growing: You’re going to ask yourself when it gets easier every-damn-day. It will, sort-of. Either that or you get better at it. 7 seems to be the sweet spot where you gain some control and ground. You may suddenly find yourself teaching them things you couldn’t while they were little (you were too busy chasing, herding, and keeping them safe). The power of their choices may become a topic, together or alone. Separation may be a focus as they begin to crave more independence and identity. The great news is there is time to do this now and it’s not too late.
More separation: This is big in the elementary years. They may stay in the same class or be separate. They will have friends in common and some apart. They will do similar sports and also join sports without their twin. Encourage what works for them, plan for some fall out and move forward. They are their own person and we have to let them be that person. But remember, they still have their built-in best friend and that’s not going to change.
Competition is now a thing: With growth comes natural competition amongst each other. She’s faster, he’s great at math, she has more friends, he excels at sports. They will constantly be working to be ahead of the other. It’s totally normal and okay. Nip any mean spirited bragging in the bud and let them be themselves. If the other feels down over their lack in skill remind THEM to not compare and that they are each special in their own way. We’ve found this curbs the frustration and leads them to cheer on their best friend later.
Alone time: We’ve always tried to get one on one time with the twins. In elementary we’ve found it to be super important. There are so many new feelings and experiences for them now that they’re in school. You’ll want to strengthen your connection with them to keep them communicating with you. As they grow they crave more individual attention than before so give it when you can. It may be a full day or something simple. Sometimes it’s a walk around the neighborhood or an ice cream while the other is at their sport. Other times it’s a mani/pedi together. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate day planned to count.
I’m on year 9, as are most of our twin parent friends. We have absolutely no idea what comes next! We’ll try and update this post as they grow with additional gems. Are you parenting twins and see something we missed? Can you help with what to expect next? Email us your tips and we’ll add them in. For more parenting survival tips check out our Basics Guide.