My top ten tips for surviving multiples of children.
1. Watch what you eat...
You've just had twins, so you really ought to be watching what you eat. Watch to make sure you eat. Comfort eat (I used to say I knew how bad my day was based on how many tunnocks teacakes I'd had that day) but make sure you eat plenty of those foods that give you energy (like bananas and nuts and what not). Trust me, when those kids get mobile, you'll be running around like a mad thing, discovering muscles you didn't know you had, and generally effortlessly getting fit.
2. Buy a stopwatch...
Ok, so you don't actually need a stop watch for this one, but this was a really good tip I was given when I had just one baby, but boy was it relevant when I had two. When you're entering a double melt down, which are a common occurrence in those early days, keep an eye on the time. Those melt downs when you're in them feel like they've been going on ALL day. But if you time them you'll (hopefully) see that they're actually a lot shorter, and normally no longer than 20 minutes - or at least that's how long it used to take me to prepare and administer 2 bottles of milk.
I have noticed that now the boys are playing, they sometimes play better when they think I'm not about - luckily for me I have a glass door* between my kitchen and my living room. So once a day, I go into the kitchen, make myself a cup of tea, get their dinner started, load the dishwasher - allowing them to have some (supervised) playtime together when they're not squabbling over mummy cuddles. It's good for me, and it's good for their development as independent little people.
4. Loosen up
By this I mean learn to just let things go a bit. If you're the sort of person that keeps the perfect show home - take a break from it. Whilst I do agree that routine is an essential way of surviving twinhood, don't be too hard on yourself and expect a routine from day one. Those routines we all aspire to take a while to develop, implement, and bed down. If at first they sleep at different times then make the most of some precious one to one time. The routine will come in time, work towards it. But don't be so focused on it that you make the early days harder than they need to be.
5. Set your expectations low
In the early days, consider brushing your teeth a major achievement. If you brush your hair too you deserve a medal (more on those shortly). Do not put too much pressure on yourself, you haven't just got your hands full, you've also got your day crammed full of nappy changes, getting small people dressed, preparing and administering feeds (or just feeds for those of you that breastfeed - and you guys get my utmost respect), cuddling and rocking small people and mopping up sick. Surprisingly you just don't have a lot of spare minutes between any of these activities left for putting a wash on, or getting the dinner ready. So be realistic about what you can achieve each day, otherwise it'll leave you frustrated.
6. Don't watch supernanny
Don't watch too many of those programs aimed at showing parents how to parent better. For starters, have you ever noticed how most families she helps have at least one set of multiples in them? What is with that? But mostly, because they are worst case scenarios. Your children will (most likely) never be that naughty... so why raise your already elevated anxiety levels. The future will come, your parenting skills will grow as the children do. Don't panic yourself by watching the worst cases around.
7. It's ok to not like your children at times
It is really important that you hear this... It is ok to not like your children all the time. It does NOT mean you don't always love them. But at times, they are going to push all your buttons and make you feel a bit rubbish. During these times you probably won't like them very much. Forgive yourself. It is ok. You do still love them. Parenting is a constant conflict between seeing to their needs whilst not completely ignoring your own. This is hard. At times it means you will feel in conflict with your children. But you do and will always love them. (and if you really don't then completely ignore tip 6 and get in touch with supernanny).
8. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.
Going out and about with just you, your buggy, and your twins (and of course a whole heap of nappies and wipes and two full sets of clothes plus gallons of milk if you're not bf'ing) feels really really daunting to begin with. In the early days it seems to take as long getting ready to leave the house, nay longer, than you are actually out for. Not to mention the fear of coping with your two babies, which is hard enough in the house, never mind with the public watching just waiting to make a daft comment or two. However, go out you must. I promise you it is worth it. Slowly you get much quicker at 'mobilising' (as my dear friend calls it) and you no longer fear your darling angels showing you up. In part because you get better at anticipating the parts of the day that are more prone to double meltdowns, and in part because you get better at dealing with them. Plus, we all know motion and new environments cheer even the grumpiest of children up.
9. Accept help.
Hopefully you will be inundated with offers of help in the beginning. Capitalise on this. Do not be too proud or stubborn to accept it. Simply manage the offers and make sure that people are actually helping. Lots of friends and family will want to come and visit the babies, allow them, but when they are there make sure they put the kettle on themselves and make you a well needed cuppa, that you can enjoy while they have a cuddle. If friends want to visit, ask them to stop by the shop to pick up some dinner, some milk, some teabags, and a box of tunnocks teacakes. If you have family around, don't be shy in asking them to put on a wash. To be honest, this time last year, I'd have asked the bin man to help me! My cleaner (yes, I know, but I had 3 under 3, what else was I going to do!) fed a baby when she arrived each Thursday morning. Eventually the offers of help peter out, and you'll be wishing you still had so many offers. Make the most of it... people can be very kind and are usually very happy to help you in return for some lovely cuddles.
10. Give yourself some medals.This is really important that you reward yourself for all the hard work you do. Make sure you get occasional treats. Or, more importantly, make sure others get them for you. There is nothing quite like the odd pair of new shoes, or a large slab of your favourite cake, or a nice massage, to make you feel better about the worst of weeks. The last 17 months have been made much more survivable thanks to my kurt geiger sneakers, the odd bunch of flowers, and numerous chocolate brownies from konditor and cook - all my medals, received with pride.
* for you worriers out there; yes it is toughened and laminated