9 Things You Need To Know About Raising Twins
If you're expecting twins (congratulations!) or have young twins already, here are some tips to help make life easier.
My own twin boys are 5 years old and I know the journey can be hard. I’ve put together some observations and lessons I’ve learnt along the way, which I wish I knew then. Maybe you’re a parent of twins of a similar age and can identify with our journey so far. Maybe you can offer some more tips for fellow twin parents? If there are any mothers of older twins reading this I’d love to hear your words of wisdom, so leave a comment below!
1. Be ready
The average gestation for twins is 35 weeks. It’s a good idea to have your bag ready to go from 28 weeks. I had my bag ready earlier, and though I thought it had everything I needed, I didn’t have small enough baby clothes (get premature baby clothes), I had nowhere near enough muslin cloths (the boys had a reflux problem, as premature babies often do,) cot sheets (the hospital didn’t provide these!) or blankets to wrap the babies in once they are born (we ended up using hospital towels.)
2. Be ready financially
Twins are expensive. Obviously two of most things are required. Borrow where you can, or look online or locally for second hand items. You will need them for such a short time, there’s no point in buying new everything for items you don’t have to. Trust me; you’ll need the money later. I won’t lie to you: twins are expensive (as are kids in general!), but they’re worth it.
3. Have a support system ready to go
Any baby’s first few months are demanding on the parents, especially when it comes to sleep deprivation. If you can afford to hire someone to help you out in the first few weeks, then great. You can hire night nurses; costly but if you can afford it, sleep keeps you sane! After a few weeks of sleepless nights (and days!) we hired a local nurse to look after our boys for a couple of hours a day. I could either sleep or go for a walk/coffee while she looked after the boys in our house. If you can’t afford those options, ask family and friends to help out. Don’t be afraid to say you need help, it’s tough and no man (or woman) is an island!
4. Be prepared for all of the attention
Especially when the kids are babies. Just about everyone is fascinated with twins. Some people will stop you to talk about the twins – ‘Are they natural?’ ‘Are they identical?’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Do twins run in the family?’ ‘How can you tell them apart?'... You will be asked these questions about a million times a week. Some people talk about your twins as though you can’t hear them. Be prepared to be an attraction!
5. You will hear the expression ‘double trouble’ a lot
My reply has always been ‘multiply that again.’ It’s more than double the work. It’s hard to put a figure on it, but it feels like a lot more than twice the work, especially when they’re young.
6. It really does get easier
The first 6 months are the hardest, but once the babies start to get a bit of independence, life will get easier. They’re not as fragile anymore, if they had colic they are (hopefully) over it by now, they can sit up, they can hold a bottle, they may be sleeping through the night.
7. Don't compare
It’s important to mention here that you should not compare your babies with each other or with other babies of their age. All babies develop at their own rate (within the standard guidelines). Our boys did not reach milestones at exactly the same time, especially for sleeping through the night – they were both 18 months when that finally happened.
8. They will fight
Like all sibling they will fight a lot but they’ll also be each other’s best friend. They will always have a companion of their own age to play with even if no one else is coming out to play. They’ll always look out for each other. If I give one boy something he will always ask for one for his brother too.
9. Remember to look after yourself too.
Twins can be very demanding. When they’re younger, they both want your attention immediately; to be fed, winded, changed, comforted. As they get older you’ll find that they can ‘gang up’ on you as it's two against one; they can wear you down. So, be kind to yourself. Take time out to unwind. Don’t compare to other parents. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; re-evalute your expectations of yourself and your family as you go along.
For first time multiple parents, it’s a good idea to meet other multiple parents who have gone through or are going through similar experiences. Contact the Irish Multiple Births Association to find a group near you.