This weekend my twins turned one. Honestly, I can hardly believe it has been a year since I welcomed them into this world. The year has gone by so quickly, but I remember especially in the beginning wondering how a day could feel so long.
Raising twins is definitely a unique experience. I love to see them interact and grow together. I even think it’s cute when they fight. As cute as twins are though, raising them is definitely a challenge.
I don’t think anything could have truly prepared me for the struggles and lack of sleep that come along with twin babies. However, if I had it to do over again this is the advice I would give to myself. I hope that it will help you as your prepare for your twin’s first year.
How to survive the first year with twins
Get help while pregnant
I received this advice while I was pregnant and didn’t take it. I was sure that I was going to need so much help after having the twins that I didn’t want to exhaust my help before the babies came.
Don’t make this mistake. Looking back I wish I had gotten more help during the end of my pregnancy. Honestly, the only thing I have done that was more difficult than having newborn twins was being pregnant with twins.
Being pregnant with twins is a whole different ball game. You can sleep ten hours at night and after being awake for an hour feel completely drained.
If you have older kids set them up some playdate or have a friend come watch them and get some extra rest.
Prepare for an early delivery
Get everything in order for your baby to come during the first trimester. Being pregnant with twins is much different than being pregnant with a singleton. By the time the second trimester starts you probably won’t have much energy. Try to prepare as much as you can for the babies arrival at the beginning of your pregnancy.
Twins are notorious for coming early. Since I already had two babies who were both delivered full term, I thought for sure my twins would be as well. They weren’t. I went into labor and delivered them at 36 weeks.
It was an added stress to try and find preemie clothes and diapers after arriving home. I would suggest purchasing some ahead of time just in case. If your babies don’t end up needing them you can always return them.
Also, remember to prepare older children that you could be gone a while. We had told our children that they were going to go to Grandma and Grampa’s for the night and that they would then get to come up and see us and the babies. However, They thought we would then get to all go home together.
My twins were in the hospital for five days before they were released. Five days is a long time for children who are used to mommy being at home with them. This made for a harder transition when we were released from the hospital and returned home.
Avoid this by talking to older children about what could potentially happen if there are complications with the delivery.
Do what’s convenient
With my other children, I made my own baby food and almost exclusively nursed. However, after having twins I realized that I would much rather pay for convenience. I had so little time and energy that anything that saved time seemed worth it.
On the occasions that I supplemented my babies with a bottle it was easier for me to give them formula then pump. When they started solid food it was all store bought. I don’t feel bad about doing either of these.
In the end, what is most important for your family is that your kids have a mother who isn’t so stressed trying to do everything, that you don’t have time to enjoy them.
I also bought a bunch of prepackaged snacks for my older kids before the twins came. Even though this is less economical than the snacks we usually feed our kids it was worth it. This way when I was nursing or holding a baby, (which was almost always), the older kids had access to and could get themselves a snack when needed.
I sometimes have a hard time accepting help. I like to feel like I am capable of accomplishing tasks myself especially when it comes to parenting. However, after having twins I realized that I desperately needed help, and people were willing to help.
I had friends bring us many meals especially that first month. It was so helpful not to have to worry about dinner during those early weeks. We have a local program in our area that helps mothers of newborns during the first few months. I can’t tell you how helpful it was to have someone come to my home and play with my kids or hold a baby while I showered.
If friends offer to help you in any way, let them. When they ask how they can help, let them know what you really need. These people care about you and genuinely want to help.
Set your own routine
I received lots of advice on the best way to set a routine with twins. Many times, I was told that I had to get them on the same schedule, but you know what? That didn’t work for me.
Nursing two babies at the same time was difficult. Changing and burping them at the same time was impossible. So I chose to feed one put them to bed and then take care of the other.
Find a routine that works for you and your family. There is no right way to take care of newborn twins. As your babies grow you might find what once worked for you no longer works so well. Feel free to change and experiment till you find a routine that’s right for your family.
Cut out all other responsibilities
I recommend that you plan nothing for at least the first few months after having twins. We really enjoy going out and having plans in our family. So after about six weeks we started making plans and going out again.
It was way too soon. Even with just minimal activities, it was too much and I got burnt out several times and had to clear our schedules and retreat again.
The all-consuming infant stage of raising twins goes by quickly. You will get a life again and time to enjoy the things you used to. In those first few months when you have extra time just rest. Even after that limit your activities and responsibilities. Don’t over do things. When you let yourself get over exhausted nothing feels enjoyable anyway.
Take care of yourself
It’s hard to have time to take care of yourself after having twins. I get it, some days the only thing I would do for myself during the day was take a shower. If that’s all you can squeeze in, do it. You won’t believe how revitalizing that can feel when you’re low on energy and low on sleep.
Make sure you get enough calories, drink water and rest. Eating and drinking enough to nurse twins can feel like a chore. Seriously, it was exhausting to try and find enough time to take in the nutrients I needed to. Make it a priority and schedule it into your day like you would any other important task. I drank carnation instant breakfast drinks to get the extra calories I needed on top of meals.
I would love to tell you how to get more rest while you have twins, but I never figured that out myself. All I will say is make sure you get enough sleep to function. Constant exhaustion can make you feel crazy.
Twins aren’t the same baby
I obviously knew when I was having twins that I was going to have two different babies, but I guess I figured they would be similar. They aren’t. Aside from looking different, they have different personalities, temperaments, likes, and dislikes.
You aren’t raising two of the same baby. Things that work for one twin may not work for the other. It is so easy to compare twins but try your best not to.
One of my boys weighs quite a bit more than the other. For a long time, I was always worried something was wrong with one. I figured I was either feeding one too much or the other not enough, but you know what they are both perfectly healthy boys.
Having twins makes it easy to compare them and wonder why one is hitting milestones first or another is bigger. Don’t get hung up on these things your twins are both individuals, treat them that way.
You don’t need two of everything
This was one thing I wondered a lot about before my twins came. I can tell you eventually you will probably want two cribs as soon as your babies start scooting around, but there are many things that can be shared. With non-essential things like swings and bouncers, you might try starting with one of each and make sure both babies actually like them before you invest in two.
The best advice I can give you about buying baby gear for twins is to invest in a good double stroller. You would not believe how much use a double stroller gets when you have twins. When I am by myself it’s the only doable way I have found to take my kids places. When they were young and would both be crying I would often times push them in circles around our house till they feel asleep. This worked better for me then taking turns rocking one while the other cried.
I choose a Maclaren Twin stroller and I love it. It’s light weight yet sturdy. It easily folds up without taking up a lot of space. Also, it fits through a standard doorway which is something you’ll want. Another great thing is it has a five point harness. So babies can use it before they can sit up.
Do your research and find a stroller that will fit your needs. Maybe you like to jog. I don’t, but if you do a double jogging stroller might be a better fit for you. Whatever stroller you choose, make sure it’s good quality because, with twins, you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
It’s hard but it will pass
The days are so long, but the months will quickly fly by. It can be hard. So hard, but it is also going to be so rewarding.
I’m not saying this to try and scare you but I remember some days wondering if other twin moms felt like it was as hard as I did. If you find yourself feeling this way I just want you to know that I felt that way too. You’re not alone and you’re going to get through those tough days. It gets easier.
Allow yourself grace
Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned. There were things I felt bad about after having my twins. I felt bad my babies were premature, that I didn’t only nurse like I did with my older kids and that my older kids watched a lot of T.V or entertained themselves. Also, my house was messier than it was before.
Whatever, you are beating yourself up about, stop. You are doing something amazing. Raising twins is a lot of work. Do your best and what you feel is best for your family and forget about the rest. Don’t hold yourself up to some perfect standard. Just do what you can and enjoy your twin’s first year!