Becoming a new parent is, well, hard. It’s wonderful, thrilling, exhausting, terrifying, amazing and hard. Becoming a new parent of multiple children at once? That’s a whole different ballgame.
Parents of multiples have a different experience than new parents of single children, or even of parents with children who are very close in age. So I asked the members of our Offspring Facebook Parenting Group — many of whom are parents of twins or triplets — what advice they have for those who are starting on the multi-baby journey.
Lower your expectations
For most parents, the lowering of one’s expectations usually happens around the time the second child arrives; in the case of parents of multiples, that means lowering them immediately. Parenting two (or more!) newborns and then two toddlers and then two preschoolers simultaneously will not be same as it would have been if there were just one, Brittany says:
Realise that your experience is going to be VERY different than those with singletons. A lot of times, I’ve pined for the experiences that a lot of my friends have (easily taking their kids to restaurants, stores, etc.), but it just ain’t gonna happen.
It ain’t gonna happen, so let yourself off the hook a little. The house will be messier, the laundry will pile higher and you’ll be later to everything than your friends who are wrangling just one.
Embrace the crying
Or, if you can’t exactly embrace it, at least buckle in and get comfortable with it, says group member Robin, who has one-year-old twins:
With multiples, you can’t be afraid of crying, because someone is going to be crying. You deal with them one at a time and everything will be fine. In that vein, I sleep-trained, which I know can be controversial, but it doesn’t help anyone if no one is getting more than three hours of sleep at a time after 6 months ...
Otherwise, I don’t know if there are really hacks to twin-parenting, but more of a mindset — stay calm, try to do something, and everything will be fine.
I love the simplicity of “try to do something.” Solid advice for so much of the parenting experience.
Cultivate their individuality
Of course you know they’re not the same kid just because they look so much alike — but if it’s easy to compare your baby to a similar-age baby of a friend, it’s all the more so when you’ve got two right in front of you who are doing different things on different schedules.
“They’ll develop at their own pace and be into different things at different times,” group member Oscar says. “Keep comparisons to a minimum.”
Oscar also emphasises the need for each child to have their own things they don’t have to share all the time — and ideally, they wouldn’t share you all the time either. Try to build one-on-one time in with each of them as your schedule allows (even if that’s as simple as running errands with one child while your partner stays home with the others).
Have some containment options
You simply cannot be in two places at once and there will be (many) times when you need to tend to one child and keep the other one safe and contained. One option recommended by Lauren in the Facebook group is this KidCo GoPod, which contains a child like a pack ‘n play or a jumper, but “folds up super easily, and thus can be quickly moved and dropped anywhere in the house.”
Baby-wearing is another good containment option, says Clovis: “A friend with multiples swears by using a carrier and transitioning to back-carry as soon as is healthy. She says that when both kids need her, she can put one on the back and deal with the other with both hands.”
And for dinnertime prep, once the kids are standing, a platform for the kitchen could be key. “Put them up there with some Play-Doh on the counter and they can pretend to help, while you get work done and they stay in sight,” Ryan says. “A little expensive if you buy them online, but we got ours via Facebook Marketplace, and they would be easy to build, as well.”
Connect with other parents of multiples
All new parents can benefit from connecting with other new parents to share in the journey and lean on for support or advice. Parents of multiples especially need this, Julie says.
Finding other twin/multiples families is a really important thing, I think. When I met (virtually or in person) other people with twins, I immediately felt relief, because they get it and they’ve been through it, too.
One place for this is the “Parents of Multiples” board on Reddit, where you’ll find everything from nervous multiple-parents-to-be, to questions about feeding and sleep schedules to endless adorable pictures of babies and toddlers. And, Alissa says, it’s a treasure trove of information about parenting multiples.
“If you go there and search specific keywords,” she says, “it’s pretty much been asked and answered before.”
We’ll say it again: Lower your standards
A lot of the advice from our parenting group boils down to one key tactic: acceptance. There are routines you can put in place to make things more manageable, there are things you can do to make the day-to-day a little less daunting, but ultimately, accepting that it’s going to be hard is important.
“Ditto a lot of the above, ESPECIALLY the lowering of the standards,” Julie says. “And then lower them some more. Ignore all your singleton friends who are trying to be Perfect Pinterest Mothers. Because that is bullshit and you don’t have time for that nonsense. Do what you can, do what works for you, and ignore anyone else.”
What else should we add to this list? If you’re a parent of multiples, tell us: How do you do it? What little tricks saved you during diaper-changes or nighttime feedings? How do you get out the door in the morning, and how do you find time for yourself?