The first 3 years of being a parent it was pretty much my husband and I doing it all. He went to work, then to school and work while I took care of our twins at home. Finding someone who was willing to watch infant/toddler twins was like finding a needle in a haystack for us. I noticed that people I knew liked the idea of twins but had no idea what it REALLY was like. They saw what it was and became instantly overwhelmed. It was our life and I more or less knew that I would put myself on hold until my children were school aged, and I was okay with that. My job was taking care of our twins. As they got older, I began thinking about going back to school and started looking at my options on what I could do for childcare. Now enter my mom, “Grandma”, who happened to be moving closer to us and became my nanny, so to speak.
My mom was not my first choice in childcare (sorry mom!) I wanted to figure this out on my own. I went to daycares and did tours, I put myself on several different waitlists, and looked up what type of assistance there was for childcare. Childcare can be very costly, sometimes more than rent or a mortgage, and on a single income it was going to be hard. I would get calls, “We have an opening for your daughter in our 3-year-old class.” As soon as I asked, “Does that mean both of my daughters or one of them?” I would get the “Oh… twins. No we have only one opening.” I was getting discouraged and really wanted to give up. I really wanted to go back to school but with my husband’s schedule being unpredictable, I needed some type of stable childcare, since online classes were hard to come by. I knew I was running out of options, and I bit the bullet and asked my mom if she would be able to help me and watch my girls when I would go to school and she said yes!!
When I started taking classes I had a night class twice a week. My mom and I somehow made the hour distance between us work with arranging pick up and drop off. Towards the end of the semester my husband and I moved less than a mile from her home. This made it a lot easier for us all. My mom was there for me if I needed extra study time for my tests. I used to do everything when my twins napped, but naps became a thing of the past. All-nighters seem to get harder and harder as I got older and the twins got older too. I don’t think she knows how much I appreciated the additional help. It’s not something she had to do, but she did it.
My mom has told me in the past that she wants me to do well and succeed, which I think all moms want for their children. She is there when I need her, she has even watched the twins when my husband and I go out for a date night. I am thankful that this is an option that I now have.
One thing that I remember growing up was doing a lot of different things with my mom. She had, what I remember, a million craft books and I would spend hours looking through them trying to find the perfect craft for that day. We would find the supplies and do the crafts that were chosen. My mom is now passing that on to her granddaughters. My mom will call me telling me about sun catchers they made, they decorate vases, make cards, Halloween decorations, Christmas decorations, and even new puzzles. While my girls and I will do those types of things together too, they always tell me how they love doing it with grandma. When this summer’s semester starts, my mom plans to teach my girls how to sew. We’ve already taken a trip to to the fabric store and helped the girls pick out the fabric they wanted to make their aprons out of, which they are super excited to be making.
Another thing that my mom has passed on to my daughters has been cooking. She bought kid-friendly kitchen tools and all three of them will prepare and cook meals and desserts together. I can tell you from experience, the girls can cook a good dinner. My girls told me that they “love going to grandmas because they get to cook dinner and dessert. And the games. We get to play lots of games with Grandma. She lets us play a lot.” This is what reassures me that this is what is right for my family and our childcare needs.
I am thankful that my mom is on the same page as me in regards to parenting. I have witnessed grandparents who let their grandkids eat, drink, or do whatever they want. My mom respects my wishes on what my kids eat, drink, and do. Grandma’s house has rules, just like my house has rules and they are pretty much the same thing. I know she breaks a few here and there, but it’s nothing that really worries me. If someone isn’t allowed any screen time, grandma won’t put on any cartoons. I feel that when grandparents are the nanny/childcare they need to respect how the parents, parent.
My girls look forward going to my moms’ house and that makes me know I made the right choice in going back to school and asking my mom for help. I wish this was an option for all twin parents. I don’t think I would be where I am today with school if I didn’t have my mom to help with childcare. I want to do well in school to eventually get a good job and help provide for my family financially. I feel at ease going to school, knowing that my kids are with someone I know who has their best interest at heart and loves them dearly.
So mom, I don’t know if I say this often enough, but thank you for all of your help. It means more to me than you know!
Twiniversity Tips for Having a Loved One as Your Nanny
If you are considering having a family member or friend as your twins’ primary care providers, here’s a list of tips to get you off on the right foot with what can be a difficult balance!
- Set expectations from the beginning. Whether you are paying this person or not, you are the parent and you should take the lead in this arrangement. Set a meeting in advance and go over the game plan. Discuss openly what your expectations are for the daily schedule, what happens if they need to take a day off, what if their own children are home sick, etc. This is the time to tell them if you have strong feelings about specific things, such as getting them on a schedule, feeding them at the same time (or within 15-20 minutes of each other), how you feel about screen time, etc.
- Deck out your home to make them feel welcome. Find out their favorite foods and drinks and always have them in stock. Designate a specific area in your home where they can keep some of their things there at all times (changes of clothing, reading materials, etc.) Ask them how you can make them feel more at home!
- Address issues early on. If you notice some things that they are doing that really bother you, don’t keep it in. It’s just going to fester and make you more upset as time passes. Be upfront with them and express how you’re feeling and have an open dialogue about it. Don’t point fingers and blame — ask why they are doing such and such, and find out their thought process behind it first. Maybe they are doing it that way for a reason that you didn’t understand and after their explanation it all make sense. Or maybe you still don’t feel right about it — in that case, tell them! In the end these are your kids.
- Have them keep a log book of what happened each day. You will probably have a journal to track feedings when the babies are young — keep this going to see how often the babies are eating, sleeping, having bowel movements, doing tummy time, etc. Asking your care provider to keep track of all of this will ensure that it happens, and it will help give them some structure to the day. Then at the end of the day you can see how everything went, giving you peace of mind.
- Set up a private Instagram account so they can share photos of your babies while you’re at work. This is a great way to capture moments and keep up with how your babies are doing.
Robyn Gogue is currently a stay at home mom to her 5 year old fraternal twin daughters, Kayden and Kaylee, and wife to her husband, Roy. She is currently pursuing her career in the medical field. Follow Robyn on Facebook here. For articles by Robyn on Twiniversity, click here.
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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.
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