Being a stay at home father, my sons and I spend a lot of time out and about. We do the normal things like grocery shopping and running other errands, but my sons’ favorite days are when we schedule a playdate with the daddy group I belong to. It’s great to be part of a group with dads who have children of all ages. I’ve learned so much from those with kids older than mine, and have been a welcome resource to the fathers with kids younger than my twins. One of the most common questions I get asked is…does it get easier?
I don’t think “easier” is the right word. It’s never easy. I tell them that it gets different. It seems that just when you start to master one stage, they grow up a little and you are faced with a whole new set of obstacles to overcome. There are a ton of books, manuals, and websites out there that all proclaim they have the answers. The truth is, there is no answer. Every child is different, just like every set of twins is different…even identical ones! My only advice is to pick up whatever tips and tricks you can to make each stage go as smoothly as possible.
What are those tips, you ask? Well, here’s a few I’ve picked up along the way:
1. set a schedule & stick to it.
This may sound familiar from other people you’ve talked to along the way. Do you know why? Because it’s the most important tip anyone with twins
can share. Find out who told you this (other than me) and send them a nice fruit basket or something. Keeping your twins on the same schedule is going to improve the chances that you not go completely crazy during the first 8 months of their lives. Feed your babies on the same schedule, and put them down for sleep at the same time. If one wakes up early, wake the other one up, keeping them synchronized. It’s the only way you’re going to get a break.
2. keep choices to a minimum.
Dealing with a toddler is taxing enough. Dealing with multiple toddlers gives new meaning to the word “challenging.” The less options you present them, the better. Why? They will both respond with a different answer: “Do you want to go to the park or the playplace?” or worse yet, the SAME answer: “Do you want the red cup or the blue one?” Every. Single. Time.
3. set aside one on one time.
They are twins, and it’s really easy to treat them as one. Heck, I even sign cards with “The Twins.” As hard as it may be to break free and do a little something special with each child, it’s one of the most important things you can do for them and to nurture your relationship separate from the other twin. It could be something as simple as reading a book with one before the other wakes up from a nap, or doing bath time separately so that you can focus on them independently. It also lets you realize how easy those with only one child have it.
4. outfits – buy sets of three.
I’m not saying you have to dress your twins alike. Some people say that you shouldn’t. Do I dress my boys alike? Of course, I do! The reason why is because in less years than I care to admit, they will both be old enough to dress themselves and pick for themselves what they want to wear. I’m guessing it’s not going to be the cute Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls with red shirts and matching red socks. I normally dress them similar. They may both have jeans on, and the same style, but different color shirt. If you DO decide to dress your twins alike or even similar, I suggest buying outfits in threes. Why? Because Murphy’s Law has a way of sneaking up on twin parents. It never fails that the minute you’re heading out the door, one of them will get something on their outfit. That third set of clothes prevents you from having to change them both.
5. toys – buy two of all of them.
What is my oldest son’s favorite toy? It ALWAYS happens to be the one his brother has at any given moment. Although my wife and I knew this from the beginning, we still started buying two similar items with little differences rather than two of the exact same thing. Sounds reasonable, right? The Dump Truck and the Bull Dozer, or the Blue Hippo and the Red Hippo. DO NOT DO THIS. I’m telling you from experience…the blue hippo is the one they will both want. The solution may be two blue hippos, but they will be happy hippos (and more importantly, so will you!).
These tips may work well for you…and well, they may not. If not, like I said, all children are different and no one has all the answers. Knowing that puts you far ahead of the game compared to someone that’s still reading everything on the internet and taking it as gospel. If any of these DO work for you, remember, they’ve come from experience. Only 35 months’ worth, but experience none the less. Feel free to get in touch and I’ll tell you where to send that fruit basket!