My ex-husband and I divorced so long ago that my girls can’t even remember a time that we were all together. I’m sure we would agree that it’s for the best. It’s been well over a decade now since our divorce was final and I’ve learned a lot. Some I learned from the experience and the advice of others. Most I had to learn the hard way (read, ignoring the experience and advice of others at my own peril). Allow me to share just a few of the little nuggets of wisdom I have picked up about co-parenting twins along the way.
I know I don’t have to tell you that raising twins can be hectic. Catching some of the speed bumps ahead of time can help prevent at least some of the added chaos that often comes with divorce. Without further ado, I present to you my top tips for co-parenting twins, in no particular order.
5 Tips for Co-Parenting Twins After Divorce
1. Get on the same page and stay there.
Make sure you are in agreement about as much as possible and communicate as much as possible to accomplish this united front. If you have previously decided you won’t allow bottles after 12-months-old, make sure you hold up your end and encourage your ex to get on board. If your ex doesn’t allow your children to go to unchaperoned parties, respect that. Your kids won’t like the rule but they will respect that they have no hopes of pitting you against one another. This comes in handy when they’re teenagers. All teenagers have their moments, but with twins, it’s like watching a tennis match trying to keep up sometimes.
2. Get as much in writing as humanly possible.
This is the single best piece of legal advice I have ever received to date. If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, that’s great. Write it out and sign it anyway. Much like married life, divorce has plenty of ups and downs. During the downs, those documents protect you, your kids, and your ex. Let’s be honest, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your children and your relationship with them.
3. Remember that everything is times two.
Did you offer to pay for your kids’ shoes, pay their cheerleading fees, and buy school supplies? Great. But keep in mind that there are two of them and it costs a lot to keep these kids in pencils and cheer shoes. This is a little different than having two singletons because typically having one teen and one middle schooler means that the younger one will be at least a little bit cheaper in many ways. Not true for twins. Cha-ching!
4. Have a plan B.
Once you have your agreement laid out, what is your plan B? What if one of the twins gets sick or has a major injury and cannot go to the other parent for a while? Will both twins stay home? Will the other twin go? Will they stay for the whole weekend without their twin? Does one parent forfeit time, or do you switch weeks or vacation time around? Is there a certain age when you will let the kids decide this?
My best advice regarding these situations is to decide as many of these things as you can now. Maybe your girl twin only wants her mom when she’s sick but your boy is always anxious to spend time with dad. Or maybe your twin never choose to do anything without the other so there’s no way one will go without the other. Discuss it now. Trust me. The last thing I wanted to do when my daughter broke her femur was to negotiate with her father about who is going where and when. For the record, her sister went without her a couple of times for short visits while she stayed home until she didn’t rely on her wheelchair. I imagine singleton parents often assume one will go and the other will stay in these situations. Some twins may prefer this too, but its best to at least start these conversations before the need arises.
5. Pick your battles.
Pick your battles with your ex and even your kids. If the kids are on spring break and want to stay an extra night with their dad every once in a while and it’s a reasonable request, consider letting them. If they want to skip your weekend to go to the beach with their mom and stay for a long weekend next time, and it’s a reasonable request, consider it. Sure, the other parent may claim the “win”, but isn’t nurturing the children’s relationship with their other parent more important than holding all the cards? I’m not saying to be a doormat, but be flexible and reasonable when you can. Your kids will appreciate it and a reasonable ex will too.
I debated putting this last little bit as a tip, but decided not to. This is more of a reminder/life lesson than a tip. Your twins did NOT pick their other parent. But you did. At one time or another, you chose this person. Try to remember why you chose them. Divorce can make that seem impossible. I would be lying if I said after the 4-year or 9-year mark things magically become easier. They do and they don’t. But, don’t punish your kids for your choice of co-parent. I may not have much of a relationship with my ex-husband, but my girls deserve to. And as long as they are loved and looked after over there, I will never interfere.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer and nothing you have read here should be considered legal advice. And of course, if you feel that your children may be in any kind of danger or may be subject to abuse, call a lawyer and local authorities.
Megan Loden is a stay at home mother of twin 13-year-old girls and a 9-year-old boy. She lives in Goodyear, Arizona with her children, husband, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. When she is not busy with her kids or pets she can be found working out at home, writing, or, in the cooler months, enjoying the nice weather on walks around the neighborhood.