Double the pleasure, double the fun. Or so they say…while we understand that sentiment, we’re also willing to bet that if you are having twins, you’re experiencing double the anxiety and double the stress. Two babies! At once! That means twice as much laundry, double the crying, double the spit-up and a whole lot of poop. Twin births are happening more than ever before. In fact, reports show that “the number of multiple births in the U.S. rose to 34.5 per thousand births in 2010 from 23.3 per thousand in 1990, according to the U.S. Census.” And because of the rise in fertility treatments and increasing average maternal age, we’re willing to bet that number will continue to go up. Which means a lot more families are preparing for twins.
So how do you get ready to welcome two new members into your family? It’s not just about logistics, though that’s a big part of raising twins. There’s also a big emotional and mental piece to this puzzle. While parenting any number of children is complicated, parenting twins comes with its own challenges. As Psychology Today reports, “The unique situation of twins is that they need the same developmental attention from her at the same time.” This scenario has the potential to create a lot of guilt for the mother especially, as she will not be able to tend to both babies equally with her undivided attention. It’s totally normal to feel stressed about raising twins, but there are some things a parent can do to mentally and emotionally prepare for having twins.
1. Don’t buy matching clothes It will only confuse you, confuse friends and loved ones, and eventually confuse your babies. Yes, there is a cuteness factor when you put your twins in matching outfits, but do you really want to constantly have to remind your friends which baby is which, or worse, try to remember yourself? Coordinating outfits are just as cute, and allow each child to develop a unique identity that is observed and respected by others around them.
Read Related: Double Duty: The Challenge and Beauty of Raising Twins
2. Purchase in bulk Newsflash, babies come with a LOT of stuff. You won’t just be adding to your family, you’ll be adding to your collection of things exponentially. If you thought two adults go through a lot of toilet paper, imagine how many diapers two babies who pee and poop constantly will go through. Then triple that. Here’s a little tip to help you maintain your sanity when you adjust to life with twins: buy in bulk. Whenever you can, buy more cleaning products, wipes, diapers, formula, butt cream etc. than you think you might need. We promise you’ll use it, and you’ll appreciate the lower costs of buying bulk and the less frequent trips to the market.
3. You have two arms; learn how to use them both at once You have two babies, and you’re in luck! You also have two arms! Learn how to use them at the same time, meaning if both babies need to be rocked, you can rock them in unison. If the babies are too big to hold at once, use a sling or baby carrier for one and you arms for the other. Eventually you can tag team by alternating your babies between a bouncy seat and your arms. The trick is to maintain eye contact with both babies and switch them around when you can so they both get close contact and attention from you.
4. Setting a schedule is key Even if you are not a planner by nature, getting your twins on a schedule will help keep you mentally sane and emotionally balanced as a mom. Trust us. The hardest part of parenting can be the unknown…When will they nap? When will they eat? When will I eat? Will I ever get rest again? How will I feed them at the same time? If you set a schedule and try to sync their naps and feeding schedules then you’ll not only have some free (read: quiet, baby-free) time when they rest, and you’ll also be able to better manage the bottle preparation and avoid spending your entire day breastfeeding.
5. Expect the unexpected Raising twins (and kids in general!) is chaotic and exhausting, and no matter how hard to work to plan for any potential situation that might arise, you’ll never be perfectly prepared. It’s just not possible. Once you accept that fact, you’ll be much happier and less freaked out when you are faced with an unexpected challenge.
6. Seek a support group and ask for help Never be ashamed to ask for help or to admit that you are overwhelmed. All parents get stressed and doubt their parenting skills from time to time. While it may be normal to experience stress, you should always ask for help, especially if that feeling becomes more serious. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that “nine months after delivery, mothers of multiple births had 43 percent greater odds of having moderate or severe postpartum depressive symptoms compared with mothers of single babies.” Pay attention to your emotions, and tell your partner or loved ones if you experience any feelings of depression. In addition, a support group with fellow twin parents is a great way to voice concerns, commiserate with other parents and develop a network of parents to support you, listen to you, and help you cope.