Practice going out early.
We were advised by another twin parent to make ourselves go out sooner rather than later. I second this.
The longer you put it off, the more impossible it will seem. The most difficult part of running errands with baby twins is managing the car seats and the double stroller. Once you get this down, the rest is a cinch. You will save yourself tons of frustration by smoothing out the bumps now with practice trips. You do not want to be facing all the unknowns the first time you MUST run out for something.
Start small. Walk around the neighborhood with the double stroller. Pick up milk from the store. Visit a friend. Fill your gas tank. Return some library books. Pick up that bag of baby clothes someone is saving for you.
Regardless what activity you pick, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Short in drive time and execution
- Able to be cancelled if necessary
- Right after you feed the kids
- In good weather, if possible
- Involves you strapping the kids into & carrying around the car seats
- Requires you to assemble & disassemble the double stroller at least once
Be encouraged! Going out with baby twins will feel like a regular part of life after you practice a little.
When you need a morale boost, wield the twin power.
Pretty much everyone you pass in the store will want to see your twins. I have had more conversations with total strangers in the last four months than I have had in my entire previous 26 years of life.
If your morale is low, take the twins out in public wearing matching or coordinating outfits. It sounds silly, but it works. I am not ashamed to say I have done this multiple times. In fact, this is the outfit combo I usually pick. It’s great for any combination of genders and people go bananas for it.
Being a twin parent is hard. Give yourself permission to bask in the “wow” factor when you need a boost. Nothing reminds me how lucky we were to get two kids at once than to hear a passerby say, “Wow, I wish I had twins!”
Give your feet more responsibility.
You’re holding Angry Twin 1’s pacifier in place while using your other hand to administer Hangry Twin 2’s bottle. Hangry Twin 2 is propped against your leg in a bobble-headed seated position. Things are precarious, but for the moment, stable.
Suddenly, Angry Twin 1 spits up, having drained their bottle several minutes before. Curses, the burp rag is just out of reach! Not that you have a hand to grab it even if it wasn’t. What to do?
You stretch your free leg as far as it can go, grip the edge of the rag with your toes, and expertly drop it onto Angry Twin 1’s wet face. They never lost pacifier contact and Hangry Twin never lost connection with the bottle. Success!
(This is a true story.)
Your toes become extra grippers to pick up fallen plushies, blankets, burp rags, diapers, pacifiers. Feet become paddles to corral baby equipment to the appropriate side of the room while you are holding the corresponding baby.
You will stuff bottles, cups of coffee, wipes, crib mobiles, and more in your pockets to eliminate an extra trip up the stairs. If you’re worried about the logistics of juggling two infants…yes, it is a lot, but you will find creative ways to get things done when your hands are full.
Your hands can do two separate tasks.
Speaking of creative ways…
You will also become good at multitasking with your hands.
Examples: Folding laundry + holding in pacifiers. Mixing formula in the container + pouring formula from your second container into bottles. Washing a plate + wiping off the counter. Load the dishwasher + dry off the counter. Schedule appointments via speakerphone + microwaving formula + loading the dishwasher.
Prepare your spaces.
In the previous list, I mentioned preparing supplies & spaces ahead of time. Here are some things we do:
- Clean burp rags on every couch arm so something is always within reach.
- Books stored in the pockets of my nursery glider.
- Stocked diaper stations on both floors with refills of everything in a bin close by.
- A set of filled bottles in the diaper bag whenever we go out.
- Outfits stuffed into ziplock bags so I can grab and go in the morning.
- A backup set of clothes for each kid in the diaper bag.
- Medicine prepared for the morning & night.
- Backup pacifiers in the diaper bag and nursery.
Go to the bathroom before feeding.
At 4 months 10 days, we generally can service both kids at night in an hour. They are excellent at going back to bed (finally) with minimal fussing. Even under these ideal conditions, I still make the mistake of not using the bathroom before we start. I regret it every time.
You, in the difficult 0-3 months stage, are likely still getting to the point where diapers and bottles don’t take an entire eternity. For you especially, GO TO THE BATHROOM first. You do not want to be forced, at the 3 am feeding, to put down a kid so you can run to the bathroom, only to return and find Angry Twin has now woken up Formerly Sleeping Twin, and now you have Two Angry Twins.
Maintain one diaper bag, but have a second one if needed.
In my previous list of tips, I suggested maintaining only one diaper bag. I realized this advice is incomplete.
Yes, I recommend only bringing one diaper bag when you have both kids out. However, I suggest having a second bag that COULD be used as a diaper bag stored in your nursery closet. Just this week I had one twin at a doctor appointment while Josiah had the other twin with him to run errands. Both of us needed diaper supplies.
Divide up night duty.
This is a critical area all twin parents must develop their own system for. When our twins first came home, Josiah and I woke every time we were needed. We serviced the kids together and waited for each other before we went back to sleep.
This works well on paper. You are servicing both kids at the same time, so theoretically it takes less time and everyone gets more sleep. Unfortunately, this also means you both get very broken sleep. We learned that a shorter, unbroken stretch of sleep is much better than many short chunks of sleep.
(Side note: Much easier to pull this off if you feed with formula. Just saying…)
I do recommend dividing up the night.(For us, Josiah does 9 pm-3 am. I take over at 3 am and until 6 am. I’ve got to tell you, though, this was probably the single hardest thing for me to accept when the twins came home.
I hated the idea of leaving Josiah to handle the kids on his own while I slept. It’s not that I didn’t think he could handle it; he handled things better than I did most of that first three months! Rather, I felt like I had abandoned him to sleepiness and working through a stressful situation alone. I did not want to be a couple who does “their turn” and then leaves the other person to figure it out. We are a team. We go through the hard stuff together. If he needs my help, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired. I’m there.
If you also hate the idea of leaving your spouse to deal with the multiples, I suggest having a conversation. Tell them how this arrangement makes you feel. Josiah finally convinced me that the best way I could help him was to sleep for a while so I could later gift him some unbroken sleep.
Nighttime duty is easily one of the areas where having multiples really is different from having a single. My advice is the same advice I got (still get!) from my mom: This is only a season. Try a system for a few weeks, and if it doesn’t work, try a new one. At 4 months and 10 days, our twins sleep SO MUCH BETTER. Yours may do it before 4 months, yours may do it after, but they will eventually do it.
Give them their own space.
I know any given parent can view infant sleep from a multitude of perspectives. My personal opinion is that you are far better off with your twins in their own room, separate from you. We did this from the very beginning.
Our nursery is about four steps across the hall from our bedroom. If you have the floorplan to consider this arrangement for yourselves, I strongly encourage it. We can hear our twins cry if we leave their door and our cracked. What we don’t hear is the constant stream of noise a baby (x2!!) makes while sleeping. We also don’t hear minor fussing, short-lived cries, and other sounds that I would interpret as distress (and therefore intervene) without it actually being necessary.
They get to work through small issues themselves, we get more sleep, and everyone is better off for it.
By sheer necessity, your twins will learn to deal with things on their own sooner.
I don’t think many moms can tolerate the sound of their infant’s cry for long. There’s just something inside you that needs to make it okay.
I have found that because of having twins, I am forced to allow one child to cry longer than what I would like because I am helping (usually feeding) the other. And the interesting thing? A lot of times, they stop on their own! Even the times I was convinced they were very upset, had a legitimate need, would not self-resolve, I must get there as soon as possible, etc….they stopped! There is no way on earth I would have lasted long enough to figure that out if I had not been physically incapable of going to them at that moment.
Maybe that’s my final take-away advice on starting your twin parenting journey: It’s rough. You will be stressed. But you’ll also get tough. You accrue multiple years of experience while only living through one. You learn to juggle, to multitask, and to endure the difficult situations until one morning, you wake up and realize you’re getting the hang of this.
(Ask me my thoughts on that once they start to teeth at the same time!)