When I found out I was having twins after two singletons, I wondered how different it would be having two babies instead of one. I’m not going to lie; having twins is a lot harder than a singleton. The twins take up so much of my attention that it is difficult to figure out how to still give my older boys the attention they need and to meet everyone’s needs, including my own. Here are six ways I have learned to manage everyone’s needs.
1. Get one settled so you can attend to the other(s)
For me, it is very difficult to decide where to begin when I have both babies crying to be fed and two older boys needing something at the same time. The easiest way to manage is to get one pair taken care of first so I can focus on the other. For example, if it’s time for the babies to eat, I get the boys’ lunch made first so they can eat while I can feed the babies without (too much) interruption. Or I will get the boys settled with a TV show so I can get the babies down for a nap. Sometimes I do end up running back and forth between each pair, but overall it has been much easier if I can take care of one group first and then the other.
2. Give your older kids as much attention as you can
Since having my twins, it has been exponentially harder to give my older boys the individual attention they need. One way I can focus on them is when the babies are napping. Or when the babies are settled on the floor with some toys and I can play a game of hide and seek with the boys. Sometimes even just asking the boys for help with the babies or talking to them while I am feeding helps, too. Still, no matter what I do, the boys are not going to get nearly as much attention from me as they used to. Which brings me to my next tip.
3. Teach them how to entertain themselves and each other
My boys have had to learn how to play independently a lot more since the babies were born. Now they play together in the backyard or occupy themselves with their toys. When it comes to caring for twins, older children unavoidably must learn to be more independent. Helping them to learn to better entertain themselves is extremely valuable and necessary.
4. Don’t feel guilty about using screens
Sometimes the kids just won’t settle down at naptime or any other time, and I need a quick and easy way to occupy them. I’m not going to lie; we watch a lot more TV around here than we did before the twins. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get the boys to be quiet long enough to get the babies to sleep. I try not to feel guilty because I honestly don’t believe it will hurt them, and there are plenty of times when they get bored of TV and go off to do something else. When my hands are as full as they are, sometimes I just have to use the TV so I can focus on the babies or get some peace for myself.
5. Don’t forget to take care of yourself
This is a big one. I can’t be a good parent to my twins and singletons without meeting my own needs too. It’s vital to take time to eat, shower, and sleep, even if you have to eat last, can only take a shower when the kids are in bed for the night, or can only get a twenty-minute nap on the couch while the kids watch TV. Mentally, I also need frequent breaks. At least once a week I take time to get out of the house by myself to go shopping or do something else fun. I take time throughout the day to read a book or play on my computer. As a stay-at-home mom, it’s all too easy to forget who I am outside of being a mom. I need those breaks in order to keep my sanity, and I have learned not to feel guilty about it. How do you get time for yourself though? Here’s the final tip.
6. Ask for help
Raising twins and singletons (or any children) is an incredibly difficult job, one that no one should try to do all on their own, if help is available. I am so grateful to have the support of my husband, my parents, my in-laws, and other family and friends. If you have no family nearby, try your local church or local twins club and see if you can find someone who could give you an occasional breather. It can be difficult and humbling to ask for help, but sometimes it needs to be done. If there’s one thing I have learned since having twins, it has been asking others for help when I need it.
Having twins after having singletons can be a very different experience. Managing two babies at once along with your older children requires a lot of balance and trial and error to find what works. There are days when you will need more help than others, days when your older children will watch more TV or get less attention, and days when you will feel just plain burned out, but as long as you survive the day and everyone is fed and happy, that is all that matters.
Sarah Morel has been married to her wonderful husband for six years and is a stay at home mom to four kids five and under, including infant twins. She spends most of her days chasing her boys around, caring for babies, or struggling to keep the house clean. In her limited spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading Harry Potter and young adult fantasy, chatting with other parents on internet forums, and writing. You can find out more about her on her blog.