Well, I’ve been thinking about the topic of this article for weeks. At first it seemed so straightforward. Now that I’m a mom to multiples I can’t live without my washing machine, extra strong coffee, easily-foldable double stroller, minivan, and breast pump.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that what I can’t live without is a combination of tangible things but also concepts. The tangible and the intangible! So, here we go…
“Now that I’m a mom of twins, I can’t live without my…”
Meal plans and crock pot
This house could not function without my trusty crock pot and meal planning. I never realized how extensive meal planning can be and exactly how much food 5 people can consume. During college, when I was single, I lived on a bagel and coffee a day. Ah, the bliss before carbs were considered taboo. My food budget then = $7 a week (it was the 90’s and I got a bagel and coffee for .50 cents each from the food cart). Food budget now = Ridiculous. I can’t even divulge the number because I do coupon, plan, cook everyday and buy as much organic food as I can, but I live in the NYC suburbs so prices are crazy no matter what.
More math: 5 people times 3 meals per day plus snacks equals: let’s use this crock pot to make some mac and cheese because I am preparing 15 plus meals per day! My point is, having the equipment you need and a food plan that works for you to keep everyone’s belly full is top of the priority list. Whether it is using a crock pot, microwave, cooking bulk meals once a week or having healthful meals delivered to you (if you can afford it) I can’t live without a food plan, or we all end up eating sandwiches at every meal.
The support of my family and friends
My mom comes over once a week after work until bedtime to watch the kids while I race around the house. I catch up on laundry, pay bills, and attend to any other loose ends that are hard to do with two babies and a six year old around (like my favorite, scrubbing the bathroom). This is the time I rotate their clothes and toys to clean house and set up activities for my older child. I have a friend watch the twins once a week while I work from home. She is a trusted friend who plays with and watches over them, all while making them laugh (I can hear them through the wall, since, sadly, my bedroom is my office.) That is invaluable because my mind is at ease.
If you don’t have family help and you can afford it, have a “mother’s helper” come once a week to watch the kids while you are home, even for an hour or two. You can get some things done and be close by to see how your twins interact with the helper. Once you get to know them well enough and trust them alone with your kids, you can get some errands done outside the house. It also helps to ease separation anxiety if your kids aren’t used to babysitters, although, last week the twins were so cranky and loud, I joked with my friend that I would supply her some earplugs this week!
Since the twins were born, I’ve found them to be most handy for breastfeeding and training them to take bottles of breast milk so I could easily feed them at the same time. I’m secretly thankful that we had new super plush carpets installed the year before the twins came, because I spend the majority of my time with them sitting on the floor for playtime and feedings. Now that they are older, we still use those Boppys. When it’s time for their mid-day bottles, they lazily recline back for a drink. It’s like having two little couch potatoes sans the couch. I also used them in the hospital and when I came home after my c-section for neck support. You’d be surprised that you can sleep sitting up with the help of Boppys!
The art of list making
If I thought I was super organized back in my single days with my Filofax (if you are under 30, that was the new-fangled organizer of the time, and mine was pink!), now with modern technology, I can rule the world. I have an ongoing list as long as the Great Wall of China that I am constantly adding to, prioritizing, and checking off tasks. It can be difficult, but I try to focus on the big picture and plan ahead. School has just let out, but I am already gathering school supplies for my oldest and shopping for winter coats for the twins. I have fun with my list and put things on there that will never materialize like “Cash that $1 million check” so when I come across it, I can laugh. It does help me to stay on task and set goals for all of us. My list is never-ending, but always chock full of good stuff to do.
Healthy foods and moderation
During my pregnancy, I resigned myself to stick to a healthy way of living. I don’t like to say diet because I did not deny myself anything, but instead added healthier foods. I ate countless bowls of strawberries, kiwis, and oranges and plenty of protein to get my twins to a healthy weight. My goal was to get them to 5 lbs each, and I fell a little short. They were born at 34 weeks at 4.7 lbs each, the same weight! I love, love, love food, so it was difficult, but somehow, I made it through.
I also did it out of superstition. When I was pregnant with my singleton all I wanted was a gyro. We lived in Queens at the time and there is a famous Greek place with the best gyros ever, but because they are not the healthiest, I denied myself until my 40th week of pregnancy. I got the gyro, took two orgasmic bites, and my water promptly broke. So this time, my craving for a Reuben sandwich and lemon meringue pie were put on the back burner, because I already had pre-term labor and was hospitalized and put on bedrest at 29 weeks. So, after my last anatomy scan and spending 6 hours at the hospital being monitored, they finally sent me home to continue my house arrest — I mean, bed rest. I figured, what the heck, I just got the all clear, bring on the goodies! Hospital food was its own type of special torture. Well, this time I finished my Reuben and the pie and 30 minutes later, my water broke! That was my last uninterrupted meal, well….ever! I am trying hard to live in a healthy way and eat right, but don’t deny yourself that treat. All this mothering is hard work!
Knowing when to let it go
Let it go! Let it go!! Before my children were born, I could never let anything go. I like to control it all and I like things the way I like them. That reasoning doesn’t go over to well, with two screaming babies who want their grapes and yogurt NOW! I’ve learned to just let it go. My house is a mess, I’m almost always dressed like a hobo and I can never ever eat a bite of hot food without sharing. It’s like feeding pigeons 24/7. I’d rather spend my time enjoying them and laughing with them. Their latest tricks include tickling each other and shouting out, “Oh no!” It’s hilarious, I have pint-sized unlimited entertainment so I choose not to spoil it by trying to keep everything in order. I am guilty, however, of picturing it in my head in perfect order — but not to worry, that’s number 1,476 on my to do list.
There are lots of things we can and can’t live without, and thankfully, we are fortunate to have what we need. I’ve learned so many tricks and tips from other moms on Twiniversity posts, so I’m grateful that social media gives me an instant fount of information to my questions at 4:00 am. We have a roof over our heads, our health, and our family and friends to support us. A little lemon meringue pie doesn’t hurt either.
Daniele Parris is a work-from-home mom to an upbeat six-year-old boy and almost one-year-old boy-girl twins. She lives in the suburbs of New York City and has degrees in Fine Arts and Philosophy from New York University. She makes her living in the Healthcare industry and spends most of her time with her boisterous Italian family, trying to get a word in edgewise. Her hobbies include cooking and baking, an unholy knowledge of 80’s hair-metal bands and trying, albeit almost always in vain, to guess the monetary value of the items on Antiques Roadshow.