Everyone told me that parenting twins is hard when I found out I was having twins half-way through my first pregnancy. And I knew they were probably telling the truth. But, as a new mother, I didn’t have anything to compare having twins to – I have never had a single baby. I guess for a long time you’re really just in survival mode. You just do what has to be done and forget about everything else. As a new mom to twins, you only occasionally get a glimpse of what it could be like to have one, when one is awake during nap time, and the other is sleeping, for example. And often in those moments I have thought, “Gee, one must be really easy.” And I’ve also marveled at how nice it is to only have one child to devout your attention to, and how different they act when we are interacting one-on-one.
As my girls have gotten older, the challenges have changed. While they are much more independent and not so dependent upon me for everything, there are a whole new slew of parenting challenges that a singleton’s mother would not have to be dealing with yet.
So, as a mother of twins, I want to share with you just why twins are so hard, at every age from 0 months to just under 2.5 years.
Having twins is hard because you need double the amount of supplies, especially as a first time mother, when you have nothing to be handed down from an older sibling. This means two pack n’ plays, two cribs, two mattresses, two swings, two car seats, two high chairs/booster seats, infant carrier/slings, a double stroller, and double the amount of bedding, clothes, diapers, and wipes. It also means twice the amount of feedings, eating utensils, toys, and books.
If twins are your first you go from having no baby products, to a huge amount of them, costing you a lot of money and stress of where to fit it all in a small apartment and car. After they outgrow various items, you then have to find a place in your home to store double the amount of products, just in case you were to have twins again. It also means having to carry around two babies at the same time because they both need to be held a lot, no matter how old they are.
The First Year
I definitely don’t fondly pine for the days of my twins first year of life. While they were cute, small, and relatively remote, they depended on me for everything, and when you have two who need you like that, it is very hard. Often in the first year, I had to listen to one scream as I changed the other one’s diaper or breastfed one and then the other (I didn’t like tandem feedings). I had to finagle two squirmy, heavy-headed infants in my arms to calm them down, without dropping them or losing circulation.I had to feed them all the time, and change their diapers and clothes all the time, and get up in the middle of the night fairly often (though they were pretty good sleepers, eventually). The first year just becomes a blur to pretty much every new mother of twins. It’s a marathon. In fact, I often had to remind myself that I needed to eat and sleep too, because sometimes it would be hard to find the time to do those things. To compound the first year’s difficulties, my girls were walking before a year, causing me extra stress and worry. I am glad those days are behind me.
Two babies screaming, crying, pooping, peeing, bathing, yelling, talking, eating, destroying, jumping, begging, whining, messing, running, sleeping, taking off diapers, using the potty, wanting to be held, throwing tantrums, grabbing, stealing, pulling, and generally terrorizing AT THE SAME TIME. Twins definitely play off of each other. If one does something mischievous, even after they are called out for it, the other almost always immediately follows suit. You often have two kids just screaming and yelling and fussing about something, at the same time. While that’s not always the case (thank God), when it does happen it knocks you off balance. It prevents you from thinking clearly, because you can’t even hear yourself thinking!
*Related: Why You Should Let Your Kids Be Loud
And twins fight often. Unlike mothers who space children out a few years, mothers of twins have the joy of sibling rivalry and fighting beginning very early on in your parenting career. And it’s not very awesome.
And then there is the fact that instead of one toddler destroying everything you have TWO – two kids writing on walls (See this post on how to remove crayon marks from walls), exploring cabinets they shouldn’t be, breaking DVDs, ripping pages in a book, eating books, picking at your walls, chewing on your furniture, slamming cups and bowls and utensils into your wood table, trying on glasses and breaking them, screwing up presets on your computer and electronics, writing on pages of everything, pulling stuffing out from stuffed animals, and tearing stickers off their toys. Yes, all of those things have happened in my home, and I probably missed many more. Sometimes this house is just a crazy house, plain and simple.
Diapers and Potty Training
Our girls have developed this habit of removing their clothes and diapers; if one is stripping, so must the other. It has been going on for over a year! This often leaves me cleaning up twice the amount of pee and poop, changing two sets of sheets and blankets, and wiping off two cribs and babies. And while we are working on potty-training, it seems they still have no qualms about just peeing in their beds at nap time or bedtime or crapping on chairs or floors. Potty training is doubly messy with twins.
And we have tried everything to get them to stop this habit, from onesies, to pants under onesies, to jammies safety-pinned closed, to jammies put on backwards (by far the most effective, though not really practical when hot outside), to duct tape over the velcro tabs, to duct tape wrapped all around the diaper’s top, to pull-ups, to candy bribes. Most of these resistance methods have been overcome by our girls however. They are smart, and apparently determined to get undressed, one way or another. And this has been going on for one year here people, one year.
Oh, nap time. How you often get the best of me. Lisa has always been our more difficult sleeper and nap time has sometimes been an enormous headache. This past week we finally removed the front of Lisa’s crib, converting it to a toddler bed. Before this though, if Lisa wasn’t tired enough, she would enlist her sister (who was in a toddler bed) to roam around the room and pick up toys and books and give them to her in her crib (who would probably be bare bummed and pee on most of the items), and then Lisa would still never end up passing out, because she has all these toys in her crib!
Alison is a great sleeper, but having a sister who you can play with, entertain, share with, and talk to, doesn’t help her fall asleep very fast. But, if she is tired, she’ll pass right out, often on the floor. Some days they just spend all of nap time screaming and playing and enjoying themselves in their room. And despite my efforts to lay them back down, tuck them in, sing them another song, or tell them sternly to sleep, play they continue to do. With one child this would be much, much simpler. No distraction.Related: How to Get a Child to Nap Past Their 4th Birthday
When they are on good sleeping schedules, you often run into the problem of living your life around nap time. When they were taking two naps a day, it felt almost impossible to get anything accomplished outside of the home because the window of opportunity was just so small when you factored in feeding, packing supplies and kids in a car, and then the travel time. You then had maybe an hour to do what you set out to do before you had to head home and put them down for another nap.
And then there’s the fact they always seem to want food. My girls eat a lot. And they always seem to want cereal (my daughters through and through). But, as a good mother I give them other things to eat. Some days though I feel like all I did was make food, serve food, clean up the eating area, clean up my kids, and put away the dishes, only to do it again about an hour to three hours later. Two growing kids need twice the amount of food. Having twins also means you need to carry twice the amount of food with you wherever you go, or pay doubly for the mistake. Parenting twins is hard on my pocketbook and my lack of cooking abilities!
Related: How to Afford Twins
I often wonder as a stay-at-home mother, how on earth I am supposed to enjoy my time at home with my children, when most of what I do feels like crowd control. Parenting twins is hard because young children have very short attention spans, so even when I do bust out the crayons, play-doh, bubbles, or side-walk chalk, the activity is often over in 10 minutes or less, because after that time they just want to figure out ways to destroy said objects, or eat/drink them, or use them inappropriately (like drawing on walls). So, even when doing fun things and activities with my children, the joy is often short lived. And I don’t really get to give them the one-on-one attention they often crave because if one snuggles in close, the other is sure to follow. The only time I seem to get the chance to bond with them one-on-one is at the grocery store, when Josh and I split up to do our shopping. I wish I could give them that attention more.
And, seriously, nothing can prepare you for being a mother, especially not to two at once. It’s a whole new world of experiences, of delights and frustrations, of sorrow and gladness, of pain and joy. When I was a teenager, I was told by a woman that she and her husband never knew anger or rage until they had children and thought how strange and wrong of a statement that was! But, now I am beginning to understand the truth to those words. Parenting is hard, hard work, and often extremely frustrating, because you don’t see the fruits of your labor for a long time.Mothering is a selfless sacrifice that is often unappreciated, under-recognized, and underscored. You give and give and give. And sometimes I have a hard time giving or making motherhood a selfless sacrifice, because I am selfish. I crave time to edify myself for my personal benefit. I spend so much of my day towing to the needs of little people, that I often just want to connect with the outside world to feel like a person of worth outside of my small sphere of my home. I want to be more than “just” a mother and wife. And that selfishness is hard to overcome.
And then there is the doubt – you doubt yourself, your parenting, your choice of activities, and how you measure up to others. You fear that your faults and imperfections will one day come back to haunt you in the form of defiant teenagers or vagabond young adults. You worry if you are teaching them enough academia so they’ll know how to read before kindergarten, or if you are teaching them enough about Jesus and religion. And you also start thinking about when you should introduce sports or musical instruments, if you should home-school or not, if you should split up your twins or keep them together. But, most especially you worry about how to protect their innocence for as long as possible. Motherhood stresses you out and makes you think so much about someone under your care. And again, nothing prepares you for that, and I am still trying to learn how to be a good mother but still retain some sort of identity.
May God bless we will get through these rough years. Because parenting twins is hard!
More Twin-Related Posts:
The Messy Reality of Twin Toddlers