Infant twins are tough, even when you have help from a partner or family. So what about when you don’t? A mom of twins (plus a toddler) shares her top tips for managing twins solo!
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 was 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 outnumber 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 by love and support from family and friends. We were in our twin baby bubble. After the first six weeks, the adrenaline 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-sized swimming pool of coffee to get through the day. I learned a few things about managing twins solo during that time, and I would love to share that with you now, in the hopes 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 fewer 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.
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2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Park When Managing Twins Solo
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 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 the equipment age-appropriate? Unless your twins are skilled in an American Ninja Warrior Obstacle course, choose parks/playgrounds with age appropriate play equipment that will allow you to juggle your time between the two with less stress.
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.
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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 when the nurse said, “Oh, you are on your own?” I wanted to reply with, “I didn’t realize I had to bring a plus one!” She meant well but the reality is that for many families it’s not always possible to have an extra 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 mistake. Hungry, tired, and unwell are 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.
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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 a shower, coffee, breakfast, coffee, dressed, packing snacks, and lunch. And that’s all before we even leave the house. Did I mention coffee?
With twins, preparation is essential, especially if you are the only grown-up at home. 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, 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, AND you did it solo. High fives all around!
And if all else fails, there are 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 When Managing Twins Solo
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. 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.
RELATED: How Can I Carry My Twins to the Car Alone?
Managing your twins solo is possible!
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 mama friends, and their twins, and just embrace the chaos.
Just repeat to yourself, “I got this!”
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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.