I’m not going to tell you how I’m an expert at raising twins but after almost five years I think we do alright. One of the things I knew before our twinnies were born is that a strict schedule and consistency was going to be our top priority going forward. It has worked well for our situation and I stand behind it anytime I am asked advice on twins, or even one kid for that matter. While keeping in mind that parenting is never perfect, sometimes you do what you can to survive.
From day one we treated our twins as one. Now I am aware they are two individual people with completely different personalities and needs. Especially in our case with having a boy and a girl. But in the bigger picture they are two babies at the same stage in life. When one of them got up to eat in the middle of the night we immediately woke up the other to do the same. Not only did this get them on the same feeding schedule it allowed this momma here to get a little bit more sleep. Since I was breastfeeding this was very hard to do. It was a challenge to a sleep deprived mother trying to football hold two babies in the middle of the night. If you decide this approach I recommend pumping a bottle so daddy can help out.
Naps were another importance. With my first child, her naptimes revolved around what we were doing. For the first two years of our twins’ lives, life revolved around their naps. While naps decreased over the years, they pretty much stayed at the same time of the day regardless of what was going on. Holidays with family were scheduled around us and if there happened to be a big event at 1 pm in the afternoon you wouldn’t see us there. Skipping things was a little disappointing but not as much as that tantrum at night from a missed nap.
The next big milestone was before their third birthday when our son decided to become a ninja and sneak out of his crib. Two weeks later they were both in toddler beds. Our daughter could have gone another six months sleeping in her crib but wham, bam, another thing out of the way. The third big milestone was potty-training. I’ll admit, I was terrified to go through this, I didn’t feel like I had the strength and motivation to do this. Another piece of advice on the side, don’t push potty-training. While we had criticism from people who didn’t understand why we waited so long, it isn’t always about getting it done first, it’s getting it done fast. If your kids aren’t ready, it will take a long time to get it accomplished. We waited until they were 3 ½ years old before doing it, and you guessed it, we potty-trained them at the same time. One weekend and a lot of carpet cleaner and tears later, and they were bathroom masters. Ok, not masters, but our wallets sure appreciated the extra diaper money we weren’t spending.
The point of all those examples is this-establish a schedule and be consistent with it. Also, consistency in the things your kids do is very important. For us, our kids sleeping in their own beds was important. I’ve talked to several parents whose children sleep with them and not by their choice. They have told me that they weren’t consistent on enforcing that rule, and kids are smart, they feed on that inconsistency. You show weakness one time and before you know it you are half hanging out of your bed with your child’s toe up your nose. That is just one example of all the many things parents need to be consistent on. This is especially true as they grow up and more rules are established in the household.
Our twins are 4 ½ years old and while our schedule has changed over the years, the pattern stays the same. Unless there is something going on, or someone comes to the house, we pretty much do the same thing every day, at pretty much the same time. While this is great, and the kids know what to expect next, it sometimes has its issues. Our son, being slightly OCD, does not do well if something is off in our schedule, and he has no problem telling me so. Like I’ve said before, this approach may not work for everyone, especially if consistency and repetitiveness isn’t your thing. For me, I have learned to embrace this lifestyle, even if it tends to be boring and monotonous. With all this I gladly hold on to my sanity, at least until the teenage years.
Marlana Zank is a stay-at-home mom to three kids, including an eleven year old daughter and four year old boy/girl twins. Let’s not forgot her amazing husband and Luna, the newest four legged member to the family. Her hobbies include reading, Zumba at the local Y, and a crazy obsession to “Gilmore Girls”, “Parenthood”, and “Supernatural”. Realistic hobbies include laundry, house cleaning, cooking for picky kids, and knowledge of all Disney and Nickelodeon.