It’s less than a month until my twins turn one, and I’ve been reflecting on what has helped me through the first year. It’s been a bit of an unusual twelve months thanks to the pandemic, but I’ve got through it, and you will too! Here are five things that have really helped me;
- Get your babies synced as best you can.
I think this one is the key to success. I remember the first couple of months really felt like I was treading water, desperately trying to keep on top of everything, but as soon as the babies were synced up, everything got a little easier.
As a twin parent, the old ‘sleep when they sleep’ trick doesn’t necessarily work. For the first month in my household, I think there was always at least one baby awake, and they were completely out of sync with each other!
It didn’t help that tandem breastfeeding didn’t really work for us, so we had to feed one at a time to begin with, but we soon came up with some strategies to help. I ended up expressing, and then we bottle fed a combination of breast milk and formula which meant we could feed both babies at the same time. We dream fed if one was asleep, just to ensure they were feeding together. Eventually, with persistent synced up feeding, the babies naturally adapted the same daily patterns as each other and life got a little easier. Once they were napping at the same time, I had time to do all of the simple things that had previously felt like impossible tasks (showering being at the top of my list). My husband and I could stop working in shifts to look after the babies and we were able to spend some time together!
2. Take the easy route whoever you need to.
Generally, I make meals for the whole family from scratch, we go on walks to stretch our legs, and the babies get lots of stimulation. HOWEVER, there are days when I’m struggling, both mentally and physically, and everything goes out the window.
Any new parent will have hard days, and twin parents can sometimes have it even harder! On these days, do whatever you need to do to get through the day. Make sure you’ve got something easy to feed your babies if you’re weaning (a frozen home cooked meal, or a baby ready meal – nobody’s judging). Order yourself a takeaway, or cook a frozen pizza. Plonk the babies in front of a basket of toys with the TV on – as long as you’re watching them to ensure they’re safe, there’s no need to feel guilty about not interacting with them all day if you’re struggling.
3. Prepare everything you can ahead of time.
This one is a game changer for me when I’m on it… if I know I need to go somewhere the next day, I’ll prepare my changing bag the night before. I’ll put in everything I could possibly need, including things for me, so I don’t have to worry the next day.
I get everyone’s clothes ready too. I have no idea why, but spending five minutes laying out everyone’s clothes the night before, saves me about an hour in the morning. Go figure…
I also try to batch cook at least once a week. Batch cooking means I’ve automatically got a couple of days of quick, healthy meals ready to grab and go, and I usually have enough to stick some in the freezer too. Largely, I serve the babies the same as what my husband and I eat, so this works for the whole family.
This one might seem obvious, but I’ve been caught short more than once… prep your bottles. If you’re bottle feeding then make sure there are ALWAYS bottles (and measured out formula / breast milk) at the ready.
From an eco point of view, my babies are in cloth nappies most of the time, however, if I’m finding things tough, I don’t force myself to use cloth. I’ve always got a small stash of disposable nappies that I can easily switch to if I need a little break.
4. Invest in some decent high chairs or bouncy chairs.
I got a couple of cheap IKEA high chairs when my babies were three months old. I had inflatable chair inserts to pad out all the extra space and keep the babies upright.
All of a sudden, I found that I could get an hour of kitchen chores done without interruption. The babies were very happy to just sit and watch me potter around, and putting something as simple as a washing up sponge on their tray tables would just buy me even more time! Now they’re almost a year old and they still like to sit in their chairs and watch me do the washing up!
5. Ask for help when you need it!
Everyone says this, but I’m not sure how many people actually do it!! It’s important though, and help can come in many forms. It could be someone coming and doing your washing up, a grandparent watching the babies for an afternoon while you nap, or a neighbour leaving a meal on your doorstep. Help can also be medical if you’re struggling with the mental or physical aspects of parenthood – GPs, midwives, and health visitors are there to help!
When the babies were very small, we made a point of trying to visit the in-laws once a week. We would usually stop by on a Sunday and go home in the evening. I would leave the babies in the very capable hands of their grandmother, and go upstairs to catch up on sleep, or sometimes just lay down quietly with a book. We would all have Sunday roast before home time and honestly, the whole experience of just having a couple of hours where I could switch off did wonders for me.
I would love to know any other twin parenting tips to make things a little easier. Please let me know if you’ve got any!