Beyonce! Congratulations on your new arrivals! It’s likely that things are still a bit of a whirlwind and you’ve not yet really begun adjusting to having two babies at the same time, but when you’re ready, sit down and have a read. As well as providing boundless joy, twins can also present some…challenges. Best to be prepared.
First, you should know that you’ve joined a good crowd. Twin parents, by necessity, tend to be a resilient bunch. You have to be when you’re faced with two teething babies, two sets of diarrhoea-laden nappies, two mischievous toddlers and endless (ENDLESS!) sleepless nights. Here are my top tips for survival:
1. Get a flask!
I know that’s not a glamorous tip, but genuinely, if you value hot drinks and your sanity, invest in a durable flask that will keep your coffee hot for a good few hours. A top tip from Mr Osborne is to get Jay to fill your flasks first thing (Not a euphemism! You’ve just had two babies. It’ll be a long time before anyone has the strength or desire to fill flasks euphemistically), especially if he’s going to be out for a while. You’re then guaranteed at least a few sips of a hot beverage between everything else you’ve got to do.
2. Lower your standards
I don’t mean in terms of housework and eating habits, although if you’re anything like me those standards will be lowered as well. I mean in terms of general expectations of life. For example, in these early days it is not unrealistic to need to allow approximately two hours for getting out of the house. You’ll have to feed the babies, change them, get them dressed, get their stuff together, get yourself ready, and then I guarantee that just as you’ve got them strapped into the carseats and you’re about to open the door to leave at least one of them will have an explosive poo or projectile vomit all over the other one. And probably you as well. So, it’s back out of the car seats, back upstairs, everyone gets cleaned up, new outfits on, but by now they’re looking hungry again and oh fuck it let’s just stay home.
3. Some things will be harder to do, and that can be frustrating
You’ll watch your friends with singletons happily attend swimming lessons, or pop one baby in a sling for a stroll in the country, or effortlessly pick up and comfort a single crying child while simultaneously taking a sip of coffee. That is not your reality. But, with the exception of swimming, you’ll soon find that there isn’t much you can’t do on your own, or with the help of some good singleton parent friends. Build your squad (Taylor Swift optional); find the people who will love your babies. I’m lucky to have a few friends who will cuddle my boys like their own, and who don’t mind keeping an eye on one while I run (frantically) after the other. But most importantly, be confident. If you go somewhere new and it all goes wrong, put those babies back in the pushchair, leave, have a little cry, and try again another time. Remember what I said before: twin parents are a resilient bunch. Taking two babies out at the same time isn’t easy, but once you do it a few times you’ll feel like a boss, and the world opens up to you.
4. It is the best of times and the worst of times
Everyone will tell you that your babies will be good at sharing because they’ve always had to do it. Bullshit. My boys were good at sharing my womb, and that’s where it ends. They can each have the exact same toy, but they will always want the one the other has. Refereeing their disagreements is exhausting, and I’m even tired of hearing myself extolling the virtues of sharing and turn-taking. The flip side, however, is the utter joy of seeing the two of them learn to love one another. Yes, they bicker, but they also hug, kiss, cuddle, wrestle and really make each other laugh. None of the challenges and inconveniences of having twins can possibly outweigh the sheer wonder of watching them grow up hand in hand, learning from and finding happiness in each other.
5. Roll with it
Candid admission here: the first six weeks of my boys’ lives were a total shit-show. Despite being born at 37 weeks and a healthy six pounds each, they struggled with jaundice and establishing feeding, and nothing can prepare you for the intensity of the sleepless nights and the constant demands of two tiny dictators. I spent most of that first month and a half covered in all manner of bodily fluids, crying, shouting at my husband, crying, changing nappies, crying, juggling boobs and bottles and crying. Oh, and self-medicating with chocolate. I distinctly remember vacuuming the kitchen floor while shovelling Christmas chocolate into my mouth, wondering what the hell I’d been thinking doing a stupid thing like having two babies at the same time. But! Things started settling down eventually. We got into a bit of routine, which changed pretty much weekly but helped to provide some semblance of order. I learned the art of proper cushion placement to allow me to sit on the sofa, hold two sleeping babies and still use the TV remote (while intently ignoring the desperate cries of my bladder, but you can’t please everyone!). Go easy on yourself, try to be flexible and just muddle your way through. It’s what most of us are doing.
Best of luck to you, new twin mum. These are tricky times, but they also represent the start of some great times! Should you need any help, or just fancy a drink, do let me know. I’m always happy to pop round to lend a hand. Maybe we can organise a playdate.
Rebecca is an American living in England. A mother of twin boys, she used to enjoy baking and gigs but now spends most of her time singing nursery rhymes and answering the same damn questions from strangers over and over again. She is a part-time secondary school English teacher. You can also follow her on Twitter