Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

12 Twin Tips for Survival

on July 24, 2013

twins collage

If you haven’t visited this blog before, you might not know that we have a set of twins (boy/girl) who are now four years old.  I never would have imagined myself having twins, and in fact, I had mixed feelingsat first (read the story here).

However, our twins have brought a doubled joy to our lives that I could never have imagined.  There is something so precious about watching them sleep side by side or hold hands as they walk down the sidewalk. Observing their unique bond has been a true privilege.  I hope they will always be best friends of sorts even though they are different genders!

Along the way, I’ve learned some methods for dealing with the not-so-cute moments of what can easily become twin madness, and I’d like to share them with you today.  These methods would also work with children who are close in age to one another! 🙂

1. Divide and conquer.  Whatever the difficult task is that you are facing, It can be much easier to handle one at a time. For example, I read many success stories from mamas who simultaneously potty-trained their twins. It seems that for these blessed mothers, what one twin did, the other followed.  However, for us it wasn’t quite as simple. Our son was just not ready, but our daughter was!  She insisted on using the potty even though I wasn’t trying to train her.  So, I decided one at a time might actually be easier, and it worked! Not everything must be done in pairs. 🙂

OR….

2. Kill two birds with one stone.  Some twin tasks are just easier to do together, such as diaper changing (one right after the other, of course), nursing (huge time saver if you can get the hang of it), going to the doctor, bathing, and feeding snacks or meals.  When you already have all of the “stuff” out, you might as well get it over with for the other twin, too!  I even learned such talents as double burping, which only lasted a month or two.  Part of finding my groove with the twins was learning which technique worked best for which tasks – either #1 or #2.

Additionally, sometimes it even makes a difference which twin you do first! After a while, I learned to always put my twin son’s shoes on last because he would try to take them off if we didn’t leave the house immediately.  My daughter didn’t seem to mind the shoes, so I could count on her to leave hers on while I wrestled with her brother. 🙂

twin tips3

3. Set up stations!  When the twins were infants, this was a lifesaver when it came time to do something like prepare a meal, or work with an older child, etc.  I had a rotation of baby devices for them and when they began to grow weary of one (after about 10 minutes), I would quickly rotate them to the next thing in line.

Instead of having two of everything, we found we only needed one of most things and thankfully, many of these devices were given to us.  So, at one point in time we had out an exersaucer, a jumperoo, a bouncy seat, a playmat, and a walker (before the walker days, we had a swing). Even today, our twins will  often choose different tasks at the same time.  One wants to color while the other one wants to work with playdoh.  When they get bored, we just switch!

4. Identify the tough times.  We definitely had specific times of the day that were much more difficult than others.  Meal times, bedtimes, and late afternoon seemed to be the worst for us.  Once we identified those tough times, we were able to problem solve a little to try and make them as easy as possible.  Sometimes identifying and problem solving require a little trial and error, but when you get desperate, you’ll try anything! 🙂  If all else fails, then….

5. Enlist helpers!  By far the best thing we ever did was to accept the gracious offers of friends and family to lend a helping hand.  Many ladies from church took turns helping me with afternoon feedings (my husband worked second shift at the time) even when the twins were quite small.  I would either pump ahead of time or I would take that opportunity to nurse one infant at a time and the company could play with the other twin.

We also are blessed to have a very helpful oldest son.  He often rocked a fussy baby while I cooked supper or helped our middle child with a problem!  Additionally, for a few months I enlisted the help of one of our teenage nieces.  I paid her very little (because that’s all we could afford), but she loved coming over to help with the kids. It was totally worth the financial investment.  Do not be afraid to ask for help, especially in the early months – it will save your sanity! 🙂

twin tips2

6. Schedule, schedule, schedule.  I wasn’t a very schedule-oriented mom when it came to nursing or even napping our first two children.  Our firstborn sort of fell into a schedule all on his own, and our middle child fought any sort of schedule from day one!  However, I’m by nature a planner, a scheduler, so I like at least a loose form of organization.  And after our strong-willed middle child, I was determined to start off right.  With two babies at once, I knew that I was going to need to be a little more of a tough mommy in order for us to survive. 🙂

Since our twins were born prematurely, they spent time in the NICU and came home already on a strict feeding schedule.  So, we were already off to a good start.  However, our infant son was not always happy to keep to the same schedule as his sister.  It was hard work to find a happy medium, but I knew I wouldn’t handle feeding and napping at different times very well.  Persistence paid off, and the majority of the time, they ate together and napped together.

Find a sort of schedule that works for you!  The best pattern to follow for those first 6 months or so is eat – wake time- then sleep, which is the opposite of what many babies naturally do.  However, this pattern sets your infants up not only for feeding success, but for sleeping success as well!  You may be tempted to let sleeping babies go undisturbed, but it will be worth working to keep them awake when they reward you by sleeping for longer periods of time.  Trust me. 🙂

7. Invest in the gear that makes your life easier.  Being a parent is hard work.  Being a twin parent is sometimes doubly hard work!  Some baby gear makes that work a lot less difficult and is worth every penny.  For example, my husband and I debated about whether or not to purchase a double snap-n-go stroller.  It’s basically a metal frame stroller that the infant carrier car seats can snap right into.  Thanks to some generous gifts, we had the necessary funds and decided to go ahead and purchase it.

Next to my twin nursing pillow, it was the best purchase we ever made for the twins!   It made so many outings much easier, even those I had to navigate alone – going to church, going to the store, going to the library, going to the doctor.  I was no longer confined to the house, which made me and our two older children very happy!  Later we switched to a double jogging stroller, courtesy of my father-in-law’s fabulous auction skills, and the last stroller we owned was a double sit-n-stand, which I highly recommend for the toddler to preschool years.  When one is tired of sitting in the front seat, you can switch them out to standing, kneeling, or even sitting in reverse in the back seat.

8. Keep your older children occupied.  Sitting down to nurse  or feed two infants isn’t an easy task, especially if you also have an active three-year-old on the loose.  Sometimes our middle child would escape into another room and I would just pray that he wasn’t destroying anything of value! 🙂  I learned that if I did not find something to occupy him before it was time to nurse, it would be a frustrating experience for us all.

I wish I had known back then about busy bags!  If you don’t know what they are, you need to find out.  Just look up busy bags on Pinterest or Google and find a variety of ideas for quiet play.  I have quite a few pinned on my Learning games and activities board.  Books worked well for us, as well as singing.  Sometimes I would even ask him to perform tricks for me while I was sitting.  And when all else failed I turned to Netflix or PBS Kids.  Did I mention that having twins also taught me to lower my standards a little? 🙂

9. Remind your older children that they are special, too!  Sometimes older siblings have jealousy issues, and then sometimes they have twin fame issues. 😉  Twins not only require a lot of extra attention from mom and dad, they also attract a lot of attention when you are out and about.  People love to look at them and ask questions about them.  This might leave your older children feeling a little ignored or neglected.  Going on one-on-one dates really helped our older children when they were exhibiting signs of attention-deprivation.  Also, relatives stepped in often and took one or both of them for special activities or sleep-overs.  Sometimes it’s as simple as mentioning something special about your older children when people are ooo-ing and aaahhh-ing over the twins.

boys

10. Remember that it does get easier!  Those early months are oh-so-tough.  I well remember the sleepless nights, the double diaper blow-outs, the duets of screaming banshees, the illness multiplied by two in winter months, and sometimes it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.  But there is.  Those twins will grow up and while you’ll always have two at the same stage, rather than one, as they grow older it feels a lot less like double duty and a lot more like having two children very close in age. Believe it or not, our twins are so different in looks and personality that sometimes I momentarily forget about their special bond!

Focus on one day at a time, until you can focus on one week at at time, and eventually one month, and so on. I distinctly remember watching our twins play on the floor one day while their older brothers played at the table.  I was happy; the older boys were happy; the babies were happy.  I remember thinking, “We’re not just surviving anymore, we’re actually thriving!”  And we were!

11. Count your blessings.  On those really rough days, the ones when you barely limp across the finish line that we mamas like to call bedtime, try to let go of the challenges and remember the blessings of having twins.  There are many difficulties in raising twins, but there are equal, if not more, unique blessings wrapped into those challenges.  So when the days are dark, count those blessings.  Remind yourself of the things that you enjoy about your double gift, how one baby catches the other’s eye and the face lights up, how  they “talk” back and forth to one another, even answering one another’s cries, how they take turns giggling, and just as one is winding down, the other one revs up  and it starts all over again.  Remember those good things; cling to them!

12. Pray.  It sounds simple and everyday, but it’s not. Prayer is powerful!  Some days I woke up after a sleepless night asking the Lord for supernatural strength because I just didn’t have it in me.  He literally carried me, not just mentally but physically,  through many of those early weeks or even months.  I know others were praying for me, too – the power was almost palpable at times.

Don’t underestimate the Power of the Spirit; pray for the things you need to raise those twins – for finances, for strength, for wisdom.  I even consulted the Lord on such mundane things as “Should I pick up this crying baby or would it be better to let him cry it out?” While I didn’t get a direct answer to that question, I was overwhelmed by the peace of His presence.  And suddenly, I realized that maybe it didn’t even matter as much as I though it did.  Maybe there is no perfect way to parent, no perfect way to potty train or sleep train or breastfeed or, or, or…  That peace set me free. 🙂

trust in the Lord

Proverbs 3

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

If you have young twins or are about to have twins (or even children very close in age), I hope you find this post helpful.  And if you are already a twin mama and you have some advice to share, please feel free to share in the comments!  I love finding out what works for other moms and seeing if it will also work for me.

Jen 🙂

Sharing this post with: How Do You Do It?

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20 responses to “12 Twin Tips for Survival

  1. Sue says:

    I’m a mom of 34 year old twin girls and they have been a joy to raise. Except for the early months, I always found twins to be “easier” than a single child, there is always someone to play with! You do go through life stages intensely, i.e. the terrible twos and then as they are our only children we went from a full house to a very empty nest when they left for college. But I think that was the only down side ~ everything else has been a joy.
    My very best advice ~ relax and enjoy, the time is fleeting.

    • Sue, I totally agree! Ours are only 4, but once we got past the first six months to a year, it really was just like have two children close in age. Even when they were infants, I would sometimes get frustrated at the lack of sleep until I remembered that I actually got LESS sleep with our middle child and he was only one infant. 😉 Thanks for visiting!
      Jen 🙂

  2. aljung72 says:

    What precious precious pictures. I’m sure you have had to trust in the Lord with all of your heart as you’ve been on this adventure with twins. Blessings to you as you continue to grow as a mom and follower of Jesus!

  3. Great tips on twin survival. I often wonder how moms of twins handle everything!

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.
    Leslie
    http://www.violetimperfection.com

  4. What a great list … I’ve always seen that first response of divide and conquer on about everybody’s twin list. So important.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. 🙂

    ¤´¨)
    ¸.•*´
    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    Raising-Reagan.com

    • Lanaya, I only wish I had known about the blogging world when our twins were little! 🙂 Since we already had two older children who were spaced further apart, one of my biggest lessons was learning how to handle two at once. Thanks for stopping by.
      Jen 🙂

  5. What a great post about surviving with twins! Mine are barely 6 months old right now and it has already been a journey – but such a fun one. Doesn’t hurt that they are soooo stinkin’ cute. 🙂 Glad to have found your blog at Pin It Tuesdays, hope you have a nice week!

    • What fun! Six months old seems so long ago for us now. I love that stage of babyhood, though! I think each different stage has its own challenges and blessings. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some encouragement for me!
      Jen 🙂

  6. Heather says:

    Brilliant! And I totally agree. I have identical twin girls who are 3 years old, and I learned, even though they LOOK identical, they are completely different individuals, and that needed to be given the freedom to breathe and flourish. They wont sleep in separate beds, but boy, do they want to have their owns styles and wear their own favorite things! Thank you so much for sharing, and I bopped on over here from Deep Roots at Home linkup.
    Have a wonderful day
    Heather @ The Welcoming House Blog

  7. Gabrielle says:

    Jen I love this post! Thanks for linking it up at our Pin-It Party; I’ll be featuring it tomorrow. I’m a fraternal twin, so I thought this was pretty precious.

  8. Mum of One says:

    What beautiful children and such a great posts. There are really useful tips for parents of single children too! I love the idea of the different playstations set out and ready. Will try this with my little boy.
    Thanks so much for sharing with the Monday Parenting Pin It Party. I have pinned and shared 🙂

  9. Monica says:

    These are great tips! I have 5 month old boy and girl twins and you are so right about everything! Mine were in the NICU as well and every time I am too tired or frustrated I pray and thank God that they are healthy and home. Every moment is so precious and watching them grow together is amazing. I’m already doing most of these so it makes me happy to know that I am doing it right! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Monica, I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying your twins! I’m by no means an expert on “doing things right” because I know different methods work for different families, but I do like to share what works for me in the hopes that it might help someone else. 🙂 Raising twins is hard work, yet so rewarding. It’s an honor really – at least that’s how I feel about it. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you here again!
      Jen 🙂

  10. Thanks for sharing! So glad I found you on the link up party! Love meeting other twin moms! I have a hard time with #8 still. My twins are two and I have a hard time occupying my five year old while I am tending to the twins! Thanks again!

    • Hi, Amanda! I’m so glad you stopped by, and I agree – always nice to meet fellow twin mamas. 🙂 It’s hard to keep everyone happy when you have little ones at various ages. That was something that took a little getting used to for me. Hang in there!
      Jen 🙂

  11. ldskatelyn says:

    What a great post! Thanks for linking up to the HDYDI link up! My twins are 4 now too!

  12. […] were some great twin-specific posts linked up last week and I especially liked new linker Jen of Being Confident of This: Grace for the work-in-progress woman. Her b/g twins are now four and she’s sharing 12 Twin Survival Tips, all of which I heartily […]

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