Raising twins has been the most incredible, unique, fun, rewarding, and challenging experience of my life. Watching my girls grow and learn together has been the driving force that inspires me, encourages me, and compels me to wake up every morning and do it all over again. It's not easy. In fact, every single day is demanding -- and requires me to give everything I have ... and then more. Being a parent of twins carries unique challenges, and here are just a few:
1. Swimming lessons (or going swimming with friends). Does swimming with two toddlers sound like a fun day at the pool? Yeah, it's not. Unless you have two incredibly water safe babies, I recommend that you decline invitations to swim with friends on your own. Water play is simply a team work activity that requires the help of a second set of hands. Instead of attempting to swim in a big pool, invite friends over to your place and let the little ones splash around in a baby pool. This way, everyone gets to play, stay cool, and most importantly -- stay safe.
2. Back to back illnesses ... or two sick kids at once. Caring for sick toddlers is a huge challenge. There's whining, crying, fussing, cabin fever, disturbed sleeping routines, and that helplessness you experience when your little one is feeling lousy. Just as you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, your other child begins to show signs of illness. Brace yourself for Groundhog Day -- you're staying at home for at least another few days to repeat everything all over again. Your patience will be depleted, your energy exhausted, and your sanity tested -- but don't worry, this too shall pass. And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through ... You won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about. -- Haruki Murakami
3. Going to the park. Going to the park with two walking (running) toddlers sort of makes you look like a chicken running around with its head cut off. They always want to explore in different directions, and you'll find yourself racing back and forth gathering them up. Sometimes you might even envy other moms who only have to keep one toddler safe, one toddler injury free, and one toddler having fun. You will look over in their direction longingly as they chat with other parents or idly check their phones. You might seriously start thinking of investing in some baby leashes. And visiting completely enclosed parks.
4. Splitting yourself between two. Have you ever tried to comfort two crying babies at the same time? It sucks. Your lap isn't big enough, and you need at least two more arms. Luckily, if you sit on the floor, you can probably comfort both of them for a few fleeting seconds before they start pushing each other off your lap.
5. Sharing. Aren't twins supposed to be really awesome at sharing? If your kids are anything like mine, they will make it their full-time jobs to fight over the same toys. If one picks up a toy from the ground, it suddenly becomes incredibly appealing to the other. When you grow tired of playing referee, you might just start buying all your toys in twos. They'll learn how to share eventually, right?
6. Relieving the other parent. Parenting twins takes team-work. Unfortunately, this means that neither parent is ever off duty. There's not a lot of, "let me watch the baby while you eat your nice hot food." It's more like, you glance over at each other every so often as you come up for air while throwing a bite of food in your mouth as you chase babies. It's a 2:2 ratio, and you will always be working.
7. Tantrums. Meltdowns. Fits. Whatever you want to call them, they suck. It's the aftermath of a teeny tiny person losing their shit -- over not having a pretzel for each hand. Over having to sit down in a shopping cart. Over having the same exact toy as someone else, but wanting the other one. Over a diaper change. It's exasperating, irritating, and sometimes even humiliating. One tantrum is bad, two tantrums are worse. Way worse.
8. Getting two toddlers into the car. That's a whole separate blog post, but I'll just say this: automatic sliding doors are key. You'll want to carry them both to the car at the same time, because let's face it -- those little tornadoes can't be trusted alone in the house. When carrying them out to the car, the automatic sliding doors on your "mom car" will be huge. This will allow you to swiftly plop them into their car seats and hit the road. You can grab your other stuff (diaper bag, phone, etc) after the kids are strapped in. What I'm trying to say is, get a minivan. Get over the stigma and embrace the swagger wagon.
9. The old ball 'n stroller. You'll be chained to your stroller for awhile, and that's okay. Your double stroller will keep you independent, sane, and mobile. Unlike parents of singletons, you can't just pop out of the house with the baby, or pop out with just a baby carrier. You have twice the babies, and twice the baggage. Get used to your stroller, you're going to need it.
10. Staying present. Because you're so busy caring for two babies -- and all the tasks that go along with it -- you might find your days zipping past in a frenzied hurry. There's so much to be done, and someone always needs something. The moments seem to blend into hours, and the hours seem to blend into days. With the constant work, and the chaos that comes with raising two toddlers at once, you might feel like the moments are slipping by ... and it's hard to stay present. When my girls do something really special and "twin-ish," I stop what I'm doing to watch (or grab my phone to record the moment). It's moments like these that are worth savoring. It's moments like these that will grab you by the hand, ground you, and remind you that what you have is so special. Hang on to these moments while you can, and use their sweet memory to guide you through your day -- you're going to need it!
Being a parent of twins is no easy task. Some days they shame me out of grocery stores, deplete every ounce of my energy, rob me of my patience, and make me question my sanity.
And then there are those moments in between.
The moments where they make each other belly laugh. The moments where they hold my hands nicely and we all walk together. The moments where I peek around the corner to find them both dancing.
These are the moments that make it all worth it, because in between it all -- they are totally kicking my ass.