From almost the minute the nurse exclaimed, “Oh, there’s two,” I began to prepare for what having two babies meant. I scoured message boards trying to find out what we really needed to purchase in double. I read countless accounts of the miracle of schedules, and tried to mentally prepare for the reality of TWO newborns. I had the recommended snap and go stroller, quickly planned a reliable routine, and looked forward to a maternity leave spent out and about, enjoying what I envisioned to be a life of fun and leisure with “portable” babies who would mostly just sleep and eat while I got to enjoy getting to know my kiddos and (bonus) taking a break from work.
The reality check came almost immediately – twin babies are NOT “portable.” Our first excursion was a visit to the doctor. After completing paperwork that took way longer than expected, a diaper bag that was missing DIAPERS, and a real struggle extricating one baby from the car seat (due to a very difficult buckle that would become absolutely hated before they finally outgrew the seats) – my husband and I were complete wrecks. I would love to say that it got easier after that inaugural experience, but subsequent trips were endured on. my. own! “Quick and easy” trips to Target, stop-overs at the grocery store to pick up a few necessities, and even a stroll around the neighborhood to walk the dog, became the entirety of each day’s events.
As my two got older, it became apparent that keeping up with two little ones going in different directions at the park, or trying to cart around groceries for a week and find room for two babies, too, takes more planning and management than I expected. What I never even thought (or was warned) to anticipate, though, was the utter loss of convenience that occurs when you have multiples. Gone, even now that my children are almost six years old, are the days of running in to the store to get a bottled water, or remembering that you need shampoo and popping in to the drugstore. Just yesterday I was almost to my house when I remembered that I had agreed to bring a snack to my daughter’s class party. I mentally groaned, and pulled in to the grocery store parking lot. After thirty minutes (!) of “don’t touch anything,” “no, you both can’t sit in the cart” and looking on enviously while catching up with a friend whose daughter was sitting very politely waiting patiently for her mom to finish her conversation, I definitely regretted agreeing to supply the “goldfish” for the extravaganza.
The loss of convenience that occurs when you have just one baby, is amplified when you have two babies, to the point that I try not to have to go to any kind of store, gas station, or bank when it is two on one, even now! Getting two babies buckled, unbuckled, into the store, out of the store, and buckled again, is exhausting. I would honestly much prefer to have “tuna surprise” (or whatever else I can find in the pantry) for dinner, rather than go through the hassle of getting the kids in and out of the car, and behaving reasonably well in public, for just one or two ingredients. I have only ever had two children at once (the twins were my first and only), but I imagine that it isn’t quite as daunting to run an errand with one child in tow. It is still an adjustment, for sure, but our (me and the kids) first grocery store trip really was an experience to remember.
The kids were still in carrier car seats. I circled the parking lot a couple of times looking for a stray grocery cart, with a plan to put one baby in the front with the car seat carrier hooked on to the cart and one in the basket part surrounded by the groceries I intended to buy. No luck finding a grocery cart near the car meant that I pulled out the trusty snap and go and tried to figure out how I would push the stroller and a cart. I ended up, that time, only getting things that would fit in the basket/storage part under their stroller. I eventually started putting one baby in a carrier strapped to my chest, and one in the front of the cart to leave room for the actual groceries! That solution, though, came only after I came to the realization that the old way of running errands and making convenient stops for one or two items, would have to come to an end. Convenient and twins are not synonymous!
I have had almost six years to learn how best to handle everyday situations, and to adapt to the unique challenges of having multiple children of the same age to manage and keep up with. Throughout that time I have begun to appreciate that together the three of us can make any excursion enjoyable. Two may be company, and three may be a crowd, but three also means another recounting of a super fun day from a different perspective, or a much livelier rendition of “Let It Go!” I have also learned to appreciate that with age comes an improved ability to behave (and fall prey to bribery). Now the kids know my expectations before we even enter the store, and moreover know that the store’s sticker or cookie reward can only be theirs if they cooperate in trying to make mom’s life a little bit easier. Twins definitely mean that things aren’t ever going to be as convenient as before children, but I bet you will never enjoy a mundane errand more than when you are with your duo!
Here are some great articles to help you get out and about with your duo
Shellie Fossick is “mom” to 5 year old boy/girl twins who started Kindergarten this year! She is also the Development Director for a non-profit organization that provides high quality early care and education for more than 400 low-income children in Middle Tennessee. She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two children.
Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
What to Do When You’re Having Two is the definitive how-to guide to parenting twins, covering how to make a Birth Plan checklist, sticking to one sleep schedule, managing double-duty breastfeeding, stocking up on all the necessary gear, building one-on-one relationships with each child, and more.
Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.