I remember the first ultrasound with our twins. The sonographer seemed to take a while until she finally spoke and said, “There’s two”. I remember being so shocked that I thought to myself, “Two what?” From that moment on, I started to think about the logistics of all that was ahead of us.
The first night at home with our twins, the clock struck 5:00 pm and it was like an orchestra of crying between the twins and our then 2 1/2-year-old. But in that moment of absolute chaos, even though the kids outnumbered us now, I thought, at least there were two of us grownups to counter the chaos.
During those first six weeks with the twins, it was “all hands on deck”. We were surrounded with love and support from family and friends. We were in our twin baby bubble. After the first six weeks, the adrenalin had worn off and the sleep deprivation was in overdrive. At this time my husband returned to work. Those first few days by myself at home, I remember thinking I was going to need an Olympic-size swimming pool of coffee to get through the day. I learned a few things about managing twins solo during that time, that I would love to share with you now, in the hopes that it will make your own life a bit easier.
1. Enjoy Your Summers to the Fullest
I think summer is my favorite season with twins. Warmer weather means less layers of clothing means less laundry equals more time. It’s a win-win. When you are solo with your twins, being anywhere near water can seem like a frightening thought. As long as you manage it safely, water has been a lifesaver when managing our twins by myself. From water play tables to playing with the garden hose, water has been a sanity saver in our family. The bonus part is if they get enough water on them you might be able to skip bath time for a night.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Park
Managing twins at the park on your own can be a challenge. There are so many factors to navigate, from them running in two different directions to eating tree bark. But it can be done. With some research about your local area you can find the perfect park for you to spend time alone with your twins and it not feel like you ran a marathon when you leave. Some things to consider are:
1. Is it fenced in? Or at least far enough from a road that if you have to chase them you have enough time to catch them?
2. Does it have ground cover? They say ‘dirt don’t hurt’ but I draw the line at eating rocks and chunks of tree bark.
3. Is there age-appropriate equipment? Unless your twins are skilled in an American Ninja Warrior Obstacle course, you might want to consider parks/playgrounds that have age appropriate play equipment/slides to allow you to juggle your time between the two.
One more tip – bring all the snacks! You definitely do not want to be caught out after a few hours at the park with two hungry humans.
3. Plan Ahead for Trips to the Doctor
Anybody who has held a sick child knows it is never easy, let alone with two. Taking two babies to the doctor on your own may seem like mission impossible. I remember the first few vaccination visits with the twins and the nurse would say “oh, you are on your own?”. I wanted to reply with “didn’t realize I had to bring a plus one”. I knew she meant well. The reality is, for most it is not always possible to have another set of hands at every doctor visit.
The trick I found to getting to the doctor’s office and back with all your hair still on your head is preparing the night before. A go-to snack box, diaper bag, the favorite teddy/blankie ready, Kleenex, and baby wipes for what’s ahead. Having an understanding doctor always helps. On a recent visit to our doctor with toddler twins and our preschooler, I had left their toys at home. Big, BIG mistake. Hungry, tired and unwell is never a good combination in a twin combo. The kids were trying to get out of the Doctor’s office like an escape attempt from Alcatraz.
Our doctor had a few cool things for the kids to play with (sterile specimen containers and throat sticks always rival anything invented by a toy company). Just make sure you take them out of your handbag, because carrying around specimen containers (even if they are empty) is never a good look.
4. The 3 P’s – Preparation, Perspective and PJs
Most mornings at our house are pretty crazy. With my other half leaving for work in the early hours of the morning, it’s shower, coffee, breakfast, coffee, dressed, snacks, and lunch to be done before we leave the house. Did I mention coffee?
With twins, being prepared is not only ideal it’s essential. Especially if you are the only grown up at home at the time. When I am home solo and we are planning to leave the house before lunchtime I try to keep it simple and organized. Did I mention coffee?
In an ideal twin world, everything would go to plan but we all know it doesn’t. When it’s “one of those days” and the snack choice is less than ideal or the fashion police need to be called on one (or all) of the kids’ chosen outfits, I always find comfort in finding perspective at that moment. View the day as a success even though everything isn’t perfect. Even though it may be a “bad” day with teething, tears, and tantrums, it is just that — one day. You got this. You did it. You did it solo. High fives all round!
And if all else fails, there is always your PJs to fall back on. So grab yourself some nice ones if you haven’t already. You might be wearing them a LOT.
5. Beware the Runners
Before kids, when I heard someone say “I was running around after the kids all day” I thought it was a figure of speech. I never knew in the years to follow it would quite literally be my life. Literally. I think for the first 18 months since the twins came along, I have lived in yoga pants and running shoes. Now that they are on the move and almost two I don’t see myself wearing much else because apparently when mom yells “stop” they hear “run away, run faster” so you gotta RUN. Sometimes in two different directions.
Now our days out are planned around how contained the area is. This can be our local library which has an indoor play section, local parks that are fenced, or a playdate at a friend’s, especially those that have houses that have been twin-proofed. Having friends who also have twins is a great way to feel less like a circus and more normal. Or if you are feeling really adventurous, head out with your twins, your twin mumma friends, and their twins and just embrace the chaos.
Just repeat to yourself, “I got this!”
Karissa Hannigan is a proud mum to a 4-year-old and 21-month-old boy/girl twins. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and kids and juggles her time between being a lawyer and multitasking with multiples. You can follow her on Instagram @karissahannigan.
Got twins? Us too! The Twiniversity Podcast with Natalie Diaz is created by parents of twins FOR parents of twins, from expecting times through the teenage years and everything in between. This podcast is all about parenting twins, offering plenty of tips, parenting hacks, and of course, humor. Just know that we are laughing WITH you every step of the way.
Are you looking to connect with an experienced parent of multiples who has been in your shoes? Do you want to feel supported, guided, and heard as a new parent of multiples*?
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If you said, “YES!” to any of those questions, then the Twiniversity Parent-to-Parent Mentorship Program is perfect for YOU!
We are looking for parents of multiples from around the globe who want to be matched up with a parent mentor, or who want to BE a parent mentor. We’ll be matching up moms with moms and dads with dads from all over the world to get personal support in this crazy life of multiples parenting!! All you have to do is complete a simple application form and we’ll do the matchmaking! And the best part? The program is totally FREE! There are no fees to take part in this program.
Ready to sign up? Visit the Twiniversity Parent-to-Parent Mentorship Page to learn how to apply!
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.