I was thrilled when I found out that my wife was pregnant with twins. We knew there was a possibility of us having twins since my wife was raised alongside twin brothers while my sister is mother to twins. Would they be identical that no one would tell them apart? Would they love pranking everyone around as my cousins did? What would their personalities be like? Needless to say, I was excited.
Fast forward to when the twins were born, and the demands of raising Logan and William became a reality. We were caught off guard by the sheer amount of work it took to raise twins. They always needed to be fed, burped, and changed every few hours. When they were napping, we still had to parent their elder sisters. We had to prepare the twins’ bottles, do laundry, prepare meals for the rest of the family, and meet other obligations. We were overwhelmed. Nothing prepared us for the workload that came with bringing up two babies simultaneously.
Finding a balance while juggling between the twins, our girls and handling the other family’s other needs is still overwhelming. Raising twins is no easy task. It is hard.
We have faced some challenges parenting twins and figured out how to deal with some while learning how to cope with others as we go along. In this post, we share some challenges we have faced while raising our twin babies and some tips that seem to work for our family.
Raising multiples is hard work.
Becoming a parent is a life-changing event. Becoming a parent to twins is an exciting yet overwhelming journey. Everything you do needs to be done in double. You put in double the energy, double the time, and double the resources to ensure they are comfortable. It is a demanding job as you are always up doing one thing or another. When the twins are up, especially during the newborn phase, they are feeding, burping, and in constant need of diaper changes. Once they are down for their naps, you need to prepare the next bottles for feeding, cleaning the feeding station for the next feed, and if they are breastfeeding, pumping milk for the next feed. It is a never-ending cycle. In our case, we have two older children who need to offer our attention to and meet their needs. Working as a team has helped us deal with this challenge. We have divided up the daily chores to make sure we ease some of the work from mom.
When you have multiples, the amount of sleep you get is unpredictable. During the newborn phase, they feed almost every three hours. The number of hours you both get some sleep in is minimal. The trick is to ensure they are on a routine so that when one twin wakes up for a feed, you wake the other twin to have his feed to make sure that you catch some time to rest. It is easy to go through consecutive days sleep deprived when you have more than two babies who can wear you out. Lack of sleep can cause stress and harm to your physical and mental health.
Time Is Never Enough
Especially in their early years, raising twins can feel like you are repeating the same routine every hour. You are feeding, burping, changing, cleaning, pumping, and preparing bottles on rotation. You can never seem to have the opportunity to schedule some self-care, intimacy, or even rest. It becomes more challenging when you have older children to raise because they also demand your attention. There are no lazing-around moments on Saturday afternoons or catch-up drinks with the girls or the boys over the weekend. Yet, it is important to learn to manage your time wisely by maintaining a routine. Get everyone in the family on a routine to create some time for rest. Remember, this phase is temporary, and as the children grow older, these long days and nights will soon become a blur.
Parenting Twins Can Lead To Stress
The amount of hard work coupled with sleepless nights and lack of time for self-care is enough to stress any parents. Having a great support system can help you survive the parenting journey that comes with raising multiples. A good babysitter will come in handy when you need the opportunity to catch a nap or get some minutes for some self-care or to catch up with your spouse or partner. Another helpful tip is to try and eat healthily. It is easy for parents to multiples to forget to have healthy meals since they are always tired.
It Puts a Strain On Intimacy With a Partner
Having children is exciting and energy-draining, more so when you have twins. The drastic change that comes with welcoming two babies to the family exerts absolute pressure on your relationship as a couple. Nurturing twins is different from singletons. You can always steal a few minutes to catch some intimate moments when the baby is asleep with one child. On the other hand, twins seemingly never do the same thing simultaneously, leaving little to no time to yourselves. In this case, you can enlist other people’s help to help you take care of the babies so that you create time to reconnect and keep you from drifting apart.
Individual Moments With Each Child
With singletons, the parents have enough time to bond with the child individually. The breastfeeding mom gets to bond with her baby while feeding him, while the daddy gets an opportunity to bond when burping the baby. During playtime, all the attention is on one child. This is not the case when you have twins. You don’t have the luxury of bonding with each child separately. They feed together, play together, almost everything is done with the two at once. You hardly have time to offer exclusive attention to each child. This is guilt often experienced by parents with twins.
With twins, the logistics of moving around and doing things can be challenging. This can be significantly harder when only one parent takes care of the babies while the other parent has to work. Feeding, burping, and changing the babies when you are alone is a logistical nightmare. This can be more daunting when one twin is more demanding than the other. When they are older and of school-going age, having two children on different schedules and social activities and events is one of the hardest things for twins’ parents.
Squabbling & Competition
Many people assume that since they are always together, twins never fight and are best of friends. This may be true but, right from their infancy, twins are always squabbling over toys and competing for attention. Parenting twins is an exciting ride of refereeing and quashing fights every minute.
As they grow older, you can take turns in having some personal time with each child so that they can get your unreserved attention. When making any purchases, always make sure you have two of everything to minimize the fights.
Individuality For The Two Babies
Most parents with twins admit to having faced this challenge of raising their little ones as individuals. You are constantly questioning if you want your children to dress alike or take them to the same class once they go to school. While every parent’s dream is to raise each child to explore their unique traits and individuality, parents with multiples face this challenge daily. Also, there is always a tendency to think of twins as a unit, yet, it is important to respect their unique differences and encourage individuality. An essential way to foster this is by resisting the urge to refer to them as “twins” and use their names.
Playing Favorites With One Baby Over The Other
When you have two children the same age, you feel the pressure to provide each child equally. You want to ensure that each child gets the same resources and opportunities. You have to be keen that you don’t seem to play favorites with one twin over the other. Another challenge that parents with twins tend to encounter often.
As a parent, there is always the urge to compare your child with another of the same age. Parents with twins are tempted to compare the twins’ milestones and development journeys. While we may not realize it, it can cause harm to your children if they grow up hearing the comparisons, which may easily discourage the child or make them feel like they are less loved or capable than their twin sibling.
Attention To Older siblings
When parenting twins, the hard work of taking care of them, especially in their infancy, can be a source of stress to their older siblings. They may have difficulty getting used to new babies who seem to be taking away mom or dad’s attention. Parenting twins when there are older children requires a delicate balance. You can involve the old kids to help the twins by helping you clean the bottles, disposing of the diapers, or even playing with one twin when you bottle-feed the other. It will help them feel loved and needed in the family.
Multiples Attract Attention
Once you get twins, be ready to answer a million questions and draw numerous glances from strangers on the streets or wherever you go. People are naturally curious about how you are coping with twins. Mom will get questions like, “How do you breastfeed them?” or “Do you feed them together?” or you will hear comments like “Double Trouble.” Practice how to respond to such comments or how to deal with them.
Parenting twins is the best thing that happened to us. It is a lot of hard work and comes with a lot of pressure. Yet, they have brought so much joy to our family that we wouldn’t have it any other way. The older siblings love helping around, and we have all learned to work as a team.