I remember the first few days home with my newborn twins. My husband and I were on cloud nine. I was still in disbelief that I was lucky enough to have twins despite being told by doctors that I’d never have more children. I was happy and ready to take on the challenge of raising my two little bundles of pure joy. I was going to be a supermom! Ready for the “but” part? After their first doctors appointment, reality slowly crept in. My husband was amazing at getting us all to the doctor (I say us because I was still recovering from my c-section) and it was a smooth, stress free outing…BUT then I thought: how on earth am I going to do this alone? John would be going back to work in a week and it would be up to me to get the boys and our two older daughters, ages 4 and 14, to appointments, grocery runs, theatre practice, preschool, afterschool activities and so on, and on, and on, and… I cried. I was overcome with anxiety, feared losing my weekly mommy daughter lunches with my girls, feared not being strong enough to carry two babies at once, feared that my life would never be the same. It was that serious. So many many fears. But I made a decision. Life would go on as normally as was humanly possible (quick reality check: nothing is ever really “normal” after twins) and I was determined to enjoy the same things in life that my family and I had enjoyed before John and Phoenix graced us with their presence. It took a while but I FINALLY got it. Here are a few tips for my fellow moms, whether you have one, two, three or more babies!
1: FAILING TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL
I was never really a planner. I had a “let me just wing” it mentality and for the most part it worked for me. I know, sounds irresponsible. After the birth of my twins I did a 180 and became a planaholic. For our very first outing, I chose Panera because their tables are spaced out and I’d be able to bring in my mini-SUV (aka double stroller) without inconveniencing anyone. I packed their bags (plural – we will get to that) and sat them in the car, fed the boys well, played with them to get them nice and tired, and quickly (ha!) got them in the car. They immediately fell asleep and I calculated that I’d have 1 hour 47 mins and 32 seconds before they’d wake up again. Timing is everything. You don’t want to be at the grocery store and have a screaming baby that needs to be fed right there and then. There is no “off” switch. Trust me. So always leave the house after they’ve been fed and tired out. Don’t go to too many places in one day. Start with one spot and increase as you learn your babies’ habits. As for getting them INTO the car safely, my double stroller became my life saver. It was tedious at first to take it out and put it away after loading and unloading, but my arms have never been stronger. Who needs gym memberships with twins? Not this mama.
2: PACKING LIGHT IS ONLY FOR VACATIONS.
There is no magical diaper bag out there for twins. Not one. So I have separate bags for separate needs. One small bag for food, the “main” diaper bag for essentials (diapers, wipes, simple change of clothes, small first aid kit, etc.) and the “in case of emergency” bag. This one had everything I could ever possibly need while out with the boys. Extra change of clothes including bulky sweaters, blankets, toys, books sunscreen, ponchos, bottled water, washcloths, wine bottle….ok I stopped carrying the wine bottle after my husband found it that one time. But you get the idea. Think ahead of what a worst case scenario would require and pack that bag accordingly. Since my 4 year old was always with me, she had her own special bag as well.
3: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
“Look at the twins!” You’ll get stares. Friendly strangers asking questions: some intrusive, some innocent, some downright strange. Be prepared to be a traveling sideshow. Enjoy this! Your babies are an amazing phenomena that will attract plenty of attention and your cheeks will be hurting from smiling at strangers all day. Always be kind but respond with what you’re comfortable with. Be friendly but stern if strangers reach to touch your baby. “Oh they have slight colds right now, I wouldn’t touch” got me out of a bind quite a few times. You can use the baby vomit on his hands excuse too! Side note: don’t be afraid to ask employees for help. I promise, a smile, please and thank yous will be enough to have anyone assist you with carrying that new car seat to your van. You’ll also be pleasantly amazed at just how many do-gooders there are in this world. Strangers have done the nicest things for me, including offering to be my personal shopper!
4. PUT THE OXYGEN MASK ON YOURSELF FIRST!
This is crucial. A parent who is extremely overtired, malnourished, and extremely sleep deprived cannot efficiently care for their newborn. Yes, you will be tired. Get used to it as being a part of your permanent physical state. But you can be tired and still function well if you remember to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. As an army wife, my closest family members were hours away and I had to learn to find “me time.” If your spouse works full time (or if you do), take turns for “me time.”Book weekend spa treatments. Sit in your backyard and have a cup of coffee with a book. Hide in a dark corner of your closet and sleep for 30 minutes (my personal favorite). Whateverbrings you peace and joy, do it.
There is no rule book for parenting. Always trust your gut and do what works best for YOU. My boys are now 20 months old and I’ve gotten to the point where I take them with me even if my husband is home. I miss them when they’re not with me. It took time, lots of trial and error, lots of tears, but most of all, the mindset that I can do this. If I can do it, so can you. And as I said, with the right attitude, you won’t need therapy. Just the occasional glass of wine.
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