Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Best Things About Having Twins

One pregnancy/deliver, 2 babies. 
A twin pregnancy certainly has its own risks and stresses, but it is wonderfully efficient.

Everyone gets a baby to hold. Although there are definitely times with 2 babies can seem like too many, I vividly remember coming home with twins and thinking how wonderful it was that my husband and I each had a baby to hold and sorry for singleton parents who had to take turns. This also comes in handy when grandparents come to visit or if there are 2 older siblings.

Many more than double the smiles and laughs.
On top of having the smiles and laughs of each baby alone, you also get the joy of seeing them smile and laugh at each other.

Watching them interact. 
It is so much fun to watch twins interact, from sweet hugs and kisses to inside jokes and elaborate imaginary games. My heart melts when I see the small, unprompted gestures of kindness between them - a toddler running to get a pacifier for her sister when she sees that she is upset, or a 5 year old offering to share her eagerly awaited ice cream cone when her sister's dropped on the ground.

Built in playmates. For a while, I felt guilty about not being as on top of arranging play dates as other moms. Then I realized that I don't have the same need for play dates as singleton moms. My girls' life is a constant play date, so, although they enjoy playing with other friends, it is not as necessary to their happiness (or my sanity) to arrange play dates.

Double birthdays.
For the planning and expense of one birthday party, you get to celebrate 2 birthdays.

Blunting of separation anxiety. The transition to new situations (babysitters, preschool, a new school, etc.) is generally much easier since they get to do it together (except in the occasional situation when one totally freaks out and induces mass hysteria).

The twin bond. Twins seem to have a subconscious bond that goes beyond simply being siblings or friends. As infants, my twins always seemed very aware of each other, and I loved to see them snuggling up next to each other or reaching out to see where the other one was. Even recently, I came upstairs to find my very grown up, 5 year olds curled up in my bed, asleep, holding hands.

Having 2 beautiful, smiling, faces greet you every morning. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Traveling with Twins

Consider taking the train.
We have tried trains, planes, and automobiles, and by far the most pleasant trip was on the train. You don't have to deal with getting through security, the seats are more roomy, the windows are bigger, and there is room to roam and explore when the kids get restless.
Pack as many snacks and small activities as you can carry.
Kids have short attention spans and run through activities quickly, plus you never know when you are going to hit a traffic jam or delayed flight. Portable DVD players can be a lifesaver, and some of our other favorites are books of all kinds (reading, coloring, sticker), small etch-a-sketches, and handheld computer games. It is always helpful to have some new toys that they haven't seen before.
If you fly...

Investigate seating arrangements and get preassigned seats if possible.
There are rules about how many lap children can be in any given row to make sure there are adequate oxygen masks, so depending on the plane and whether you have booked separate seats for the children, you may need to split up. It is much nicer to know this in advance and to be able to strategize accordingly.
Consider buying separate seats for babies/toddlers.
It is hard to pass up the free lap travel for children under 2, and we have never actually done it, but it is worth at least considering getting seats for the kids, especially for long flights, so that everyone can have their own space.

Look for family security lines.
Getting through security with 2 small children, a stroller, diaper bag, carry-ons, etc is a nightmare. It gives me hives even thinking about it. Some airports have lines dedicated to families.  Seek these out and use them, even if they have a longer line. Everyone will be infinitely more patient and you will be able to avoid the looks of death from fellow travelers as they wait for you to struggle through security.
Check the stroller at the gate.
You can end up having to walk miles in the airport, so having the stroller up until you get on the plane - and immediately upon arrival - is really helpful.  Even if you don't use it for the kids, you can use it to cart your bags around.

Escalators and moving sidewalks can provide hours of airport entertainment for small children.
This allows you to save your other activities for the flight.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

10 Things To Accept When You Have Twins

The babies will cry.
I have this fantasy - totally ridiculous, I know - that I could have meet every need of one baby and that they would have never cried. This is impossible with 2 babies, because there will always be times when you will be busy with one baby (changing, feeding, etc.) and the other will want you. The sooner you are able to accept this and go to some Zen place in your mind, the better. (This is easier said than done. I knew this the second time around and still found it almost physically painful to hear the babies cry at first. I think it must be something hormonal, because it did not seem to bother my husband nearly as much.)
Two babies are not very portable.
I am always a bit jealous of the singleton parents I see casually out and about with their babies. It seems that you can take one baby almost anywhere pretty easily. Taking infant twins out, on the other hand, is a big production, and, with the exception of possible outings using a double stroller, usually best accomplished by 2 adults. And just forget trying to breastfeed twins away from home. It is impossible to tandem feed discretely or without the help of a nursing pillow and feeding one at a time takes forever.
Your house will be dirty.
Your threshold for an acceptable level of cleanliness will change as other things (sleep, shower) take priority. If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting a regular cleaning service. 
Your house will become an obstacle course of brightly colored, plastic stuff that plays annoying music.
This is inevitable. One baby takes a ridiculous amount of gear, and 2 babies take more than twice as much. When I realized that my kids really did love this stuff and that it kept them happy and entertained, I was able to make peace with the fact that it clashes with my decor, although I have been known to not put in or replace batteries to avoid the annoying sounds.

You will not be eating nightly gourmet meals.
In fact, there will be nights that ordering pizza sounds like too much effort and a bowl of cereal seems like a perfectly good dinner. 

Your new celebrity status.
It is almost impossible to go anywhere with young twins without attracting looks, comments, and questions (some amazingly personal) from total strangers.  I have even had people ask to take pictures with my children on their smart phones. Depending on your personality, your degree of sleep deprivation, and how much time you have on your hands, this attention can range from fun to extremely annoying.  
Your dry cleaning bill will rise exponentially.
Even if you wait until the last minute to get dressed before leaving the house and quickly change into sweats on reentry, there is a good chance that you will end up baby spit-up, snot, or worse on your outfit. It is a good day as long as you realize this before you are actually out in public.
Your body will never be the same.
The body recovers remarkably well from being stretched to ridiculous proportions, but even when you lose the pregnancy weight, your body will never be as taut and firm as it once was. The good news is that with Spanx and a supportive bra, you and your spouse can be the only ones to know.

You will be exhausted.
I am not sure when (or if) this ends. I will say that each time, I felt like we turned a corner around 3 months and then again around 1 year.
This was difficult for me since I am much more comfortable in the role of giver than recipient, but I was amazed and moved by the generosity of our community and am forever grateful. I don't think that we cooked a meal for the first 2 months after the babies came home. People genuinely want to help, and, truthfully, you need help, so graciously let them. Even if you don't have a chance to pay back the kindness directly, you can pay it forward when other families have babies or are dealing with illness.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Great Gifts for Twins

This is a very sweet book that can be personalized with your twins names and the names of all the people who love them most.

There are lots of twin themed onsies and t-shirts out there.  Here are some of my favorites:
    - Milk and Cookies onsies.  They also have salt & pepper and bacon & eggs sets

- "They did it" Personalized Shirts/Onsies. Personalized onsies that say "Twin A did it" and "Twin B did it" with an arrow pointing to the supposed trouble maker.

-Thing 1 and Thing 2 Onsies (Thing 1 and Thing 2 Newborn Onesie Gift set. 3m). If you are not familiar Thing 2 and Thing 2, they are mess making, havoc wreaking characters from Dr. Seuss's classic book The Cat in the Hat. These always make me laugh - I even featured similar T-shirts (along with Thing 3 and Thing 4) on our last holiday card.

Anything monogrammed/personalized is usually a hit.  In a world where you share almost everything, it is nice to have something that is only yours.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Twin Advice: Miscellaneous

Put the babies back to back in the bucket swings at the park/playground.
The babies will love it and there is nothing cuter.

For large gatherings, consider putting your twins in clothes with their names or initials.
This will save you from endlessly having to say who is who, and save your friends and family from the embarrassment of not knowing! 
Stock up your freezer.
Every time you make something that freezes well (soup, chili, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, enchiladas, pot pies, bread, muffins, etc.) make an extra portion or two for the freezer. Then on the days when you do not have time or energy to deal with cooking, you can just pull a nutritious, homemade meal out of the freezer. I started doing this while pregnant to have meals for those crazy first few months, but have continued to do it and find it invaluable for weekday meals. I have always just done this on my own, but many cities have services (such as Dream Dinners) that handle the shopping and prep work for you and allow you to prepare a bunch of meals at once.

Lanolin cream makes great lip balm.
I have terribly dry lips and have tried practically every lip balm on the market. The best, hands down, is the lanolin cream that they sell for sore/cracked nipples. And, even better, an $8 tube has lasted me 4 years.

Get a minivan.
I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I would be driving a minivan, but I haven't regretted it for a second. Being able to open/close the side doors simply by pushing a button, by itself, is worth driving a minivan to me. This is invaluable when struggling with 2 babies, a diaper bag, and whatever else you need to carry. The wonderful thing is that since minivans are specifically designed with kids and families in mind, they also have lots of other great features - built in DVD players, wireless headphones that allow the kids to listen to something different from the adults (sanity saving on long trips), flexible seating, built-in mirrors to see the kids in back, built-in window shades - I could go on and on...

Check out consignment sales.
Many communities have semi-annual consignment sales for kids clothes and gear.  If you are willing to sort through what is there, you can find some great deals on clothes and baby gear that look as good as new.  Submitting things to sell can be a bit of a hassle depending on the rules of the specific sale, but it is a good way to recoup a bit of the money that you spent purchasing the items.  Plus, consignors generally get to shop the sale before everyone else which allows you to avoid the crowds and get the best stuff.

Dreft stain remover can get out almost anything.  On rare occasion it will take a second treatment, but this consistently works miracles in our house as I was reminded this morning when my husband decided to feed my toddlers a blueberry smoothie in their pastel dresses without a bib (or evidently much supervision!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Twin Advice: Toddler/Preschool

With a little practice, you can master the art of having both of your children holding one of your hands, with one child walking in front of the other. This is invaluable in freeing up your other hand to carry other things.
Give each child a space of their own. This doesn't have to be anything big, for my girls it is just a drawer where they can store their treasures and things that they designate as just theirs in a world where they share virtually everything - toys, clothes, room, birthday, etc. For us, this ended a lot of arguments.
Make copies of partially filled out school/camp forms to prevent having to fill everything out twice. Filling out piles of forms in duplicate gets extremely annoying. For many of these forms, the only thing different for the twins will be their name at the top. If so, you can save tons of time by filling out one form with everything except the name, then photocopying it and adding the names in.
Odds/Evens. One of my friends had done this with her two boys, and I thought it was genius. Assign one twin to odds and one to evens (we did this based on birth order so it would be easier to remember). When things come up (who gets to go first in line, pick the movie during a car trip, etc.), it is decided by whether it is an odd or even day of the month. This has eliminated numerous arguments about whose turn it is to do things, and as an added bonus they have learned the concept of even and odd (fortunately, they have not yet realized that there are a few extra odd days each year...).
"If you cut it, she gets to choose which piece she wants." This was the rule in my house growing up and works especially well with twins for whom sharing is a way of life. If something needs to be split in half, one twin divides it and the other gets to pick the first piece, ensuring that the splitting is done as evenly as humanly possible.
The 3 person playdate is difficult to navigate. It seems like someone is always the odd man out and getting their feelings hurt. Even though it is more people, I found that it was often easier to have 2 friends over. If your kids befriend another set of twins or siblings, that makes it easier.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twin Advice: Shopping with Twins

Shop on-line. You can get almost anything on-line these days, and many sites offer free shipping. This allows you to do your shopping in bits and pieces as you have time, and everything is delivered straight to your door which is especially great for bulky or heavy items like diapers and formula. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to order groceries on-line for delivery or pick-up.

For days when a trip to the grocery store or Target with the whole crew cannot be avoided, here are some strategies:
-Be sure that you make a list in advance and prioritize your shopping.  You never know when a baby will poop or have a total meltdown, forcing you to cut your trip short.
-If you are just picking up a few things, use the double stroller and put your purchases in a basket or the cargo area of the stroller.
-Put one baby in the cart and one in a baby bjorn or other baby carrier. This is my personal favorite since it gives you a mostly empty cart while only having to maneuver one thing.
-My husband liked to use 2 carts with a kid in each cart.  This seems like a nightmare to me, but it worked for him (plus I think it got him a lot of attention from fellow shoppers).
-There is a window (after the babies are sitting up well and before they get too big) where you can actually put both children in the front of a regular cart.  The trick is to put them slightly angled towards the center with the outside leg of each baby in the leg hole on their side and the inside leg across the seat itself towards the other twin. The legs on the seat will overlap a bit. How long you can pull this off will depend on how big your twins are and how tolerant they are of being squished together in this position.
-When the babies are sitting up well, warehouse stores (Sams, Costco) often have extra wide carts with room for 2 children to fit in the front portion.
-For toddlers/preschoolers, many stores have special carts (often in fun shapes like rockets or cars) that are made for 2 kids.