Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tutorial on Twins

Parenthood is an adventure, no one with kids will disagree. That adventure often turns into an episode worthy of the Amazing Race when you have twins. In my case, twins plus one make life quite unpredictable.

People often makes comments to me about how wonderful it is to have twins and how they wish they had twins. I'm sure they are trying to be nice, but in all honesty, no one knows what is like to parent twins unless you have them. I don't care if your kids are close in age, or if you have 19 of them, twins will throw a wrench into your parenting skills.

We weren't first time parents when we learned twins were on the way. We have a daughter who is wonderful in every possible way. She is funny, sweet, beautiful, outgoing, a dream come true. We wanted to give her a sibling, and ended up giving her two. We figured our experience as parents would pay off. How hard could it be? We had been through the midnight feedings, diaper changing, reflux, etc.

I wish someone had given me a tutorial before the twins arrive. Better yet, I wish they had given it to me the minute I walked out of the doctor's office, eight weeks into the pregnancy and with the news of double trouble on the way.

So this is my attempt at preparing future mothers (and fathers) of twins. My tutorial on how to parent twins.

1) The minute you find out you are expecting twins, run out of the doctor's office screaming. People will stare but that's ok. Their stares will be nothing compared to those you'll get every time you step out of your home with your twins.

2) Invest in a recliner if you don't already own one. Not only will you need it when you get too big to lay in bed comfortably, it will come in handy during those all night feedings.

3) Speaking of feedings, get used to eating cold food. Once the twins are here, you will seldom get a chance to eat a hot meal. When they are babies, they will start crying the minute you sit down to have a meal. Once they start talking, they will call your name the second you sit down. Most of the time the voice will be coming from the bathroom.
When you decide to eat out with the kids, ask for a box to pack your dinner before you start eating. By the time you are done cutting their dinner, telling them to sit down, making sure they don't pour water in their sibling's food, your food will be cold and they will be ready to go home.

4) Invest in earplugs. I know, sounds harsh unless you've heard the cries of two babies at 2 AM.

5) Throw out all the preconceived notions you had about how you'll deal with twins. You may think think you'll put them on a schedule and they will be sleeping through the night by the time they are 3 months old. It may work, it may not. Not only did my twins decide they didn't like the same schedule, they didn't start sleeping through the night until they turned one. And yes, we tried everything. Better to go in without any expectations.

6) Every time someone says "oh, how I wished I had had twins", ask them for a donation and their phone number. By the time your kids are of school age, you will have a very nice trust fund set for the kids, and you'll have tons of babysitters.

7) Speaking of babysitters, once you find one that actually enjoys babysitting twins, pay her well so she'll keep coming back. You'll be surprised how many will hesitate at the thought of watching more than one child of the same age.

8) Twins are individuals and they rejoice in reminding you of that fact. They will like different foods, different toys, even different sides of the car. And once they are old enough to undress, they will take off the clothes you picked out for them, and find something else to wear. This usually happens as you are trying to walk out the door.

9) When it comes to twins, silence is NOT golden. It just means they are probably in the bathroom, flushing everything they can down the toilet.

10) Enjoy every second with your twins. You will be amazed at how strong their bond is, how connected they are, and how much they love one another. It doesn't matter if they are identical or fraternal, your twins will have that special bond forever.

There will be times you'll be so exhausted, all you can do is cry. There will be times when you'll go outside, sit in the car, and enjoy a few seconds of silence. Many times you'll wonder how you will ever make it until they are old enough to go to college.

But there will also be lots of laughter. Kisses and hugs, and I love you's that will melt your heart. Enjoy the moments when you are all snuggled up in bed watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. Rejoice in knowing they chose you to be their parent. I know it won't be easy at first but the best things in life often aren't easy.