I cannot tell you the number of people who say to me, “I could never have twins! I don’t know how you do it?” Well, aside from being a ridiculous statement (as parents we do what needs to be done, whatever it is, right?), I can tell you quite simply how I do it: I have help; lots of it. From our full-time nanny/housekeeper (who’s salary negates the need for my daily therapy session); to my amazing husband; to my girlfriends who will listen to my babblings, deal with my memory-lapses (“What was I saying?”), bring my family dinner, and allow me to have a 2-minute conversation that takes 35 minutes due to all the interruptions; and to my parents and in-laws, who check in periodically to make sure we’re all alive and relatively sane.
But in addition to our “village”, there are also some tips I’m picking up along the way and holding on to for dear life.
1. Pre-organization. Taking the time to pre-organize things helps tremendously
Before heading off to bed, we prep the bottles so at a 2am feeding we’re not relying on our ability to count formula scoops.
And when I get home from an outing of any kind, I immediately re-supply the diaper backpack so it’s ready to go the next time. Getting “three under three” out of the house is proving to be a mammoth task that I am bound and determined to get done in less than an hour… before they’re “three under fifteen”.
I divided all the twib clothes into age groups and gender piles and lovingly crammed them into grocery bags on which I wrote “Girl 9mos” or “Boy 12mos” so I could more easily grab what I needed when whomever moved into the next size range.
2. Wait a Second, and Second-hand Means Second-chance. First off, I did not race out and buy doubles of everything. We bought a second crib and a second car seat, but everything else I held off on. Dropping hundreds of dollars on double swings, double bouncy chairs, double jumperoos, etc. when you could very well have one twib who decidedly hates the swing or the bouncy, would be a significant waste. After a few months, getting to know their preferences, I then sought out folks selling their baby gear and I bought things second-hand. This also allowed me to buy some higher-end stuff that I otherwise might not have bought brand new.
3. Diaper Bags are Cute (for one kid). When toting around gear for a toddler (water, snacks, clothing for accidents, books, wet bags, and a travel potty), and twibs (diapers, wipes, clothes for accidents, bottles, extra formula, water, burp cloths, pacifiers, wet bags, etc.), I have found great solace in the standard backpack. Not only does is hold three to four times as much as your average diaper bag, but it also frees up your hands, which you always need more of.
4. Delivery, Please! I spent a few days logging diligently our current use of diapers and formula. And if you’re curious, for two-month-old twibs we go through, on average, 115 diapers and two-and-a-half tubs of formula (or about 65 ounces) in one week. So, with those numbers on hand, I then put diapers, formula and wipes on online “subscribe” programs that got me the best deal and will deliver them happily to my front door on a regular basis. These needs will change over time, the diapers will get bigger and the formula use will increase, but then I’ll just modify the subscription and life will continue. Ahhh.
In addition to the wonders of Amazon.com, Target.com, etc., I’ve also found a wonderful local option for fresh fruits and veggies and basic grocery needs. I place the order online and typically later that day a nice man arrives at my door with fresh figs, mushrooms, nectarines, prepped spinach and the occasional sugar, toilet paper or dishwashing soap (as the need arises). Thank you, khodarji.com!
5. Gotta Second? Do Laundry. No matter how many hand-me-downs we have, or how many burp cloths I think is “enough”, or how many swaddlers we’ve acquired, laundry is proving to be a daily task. We can wait a day, but only once a week. Then we need to catch up. Clothing five people, all of whom may end up covered in spit-up in a 24-hour period, is no joke.
6. Jot, Jot, Jot. Because it doesn’t really matter whether you have one kid or three, in the beginning you’re damn tired and your brain is on pure autonomic mode and therefore not much use for anything else. So I’m learning to carry a notebook and just write everything down; whether I’m in the doctor’s office doing two check-ups, or meeting a new nursery school teacher, or remember that we need more detergent, as soon as anything important comes up, I jot it down. I’ve learned my retention period is about 47 seconds; squirrels have greater attention spans than I do currently.
7. No one Died from Waiting Their Turn. As difficult as it is to explain patience to a two-year-old, it’s a moot point when dealing with the two-month-olds. So when both are screaming and I find myself trying to explain to one that, “Mommy’s coming, just wait your turn, sweetie,” I know that I’m just speaking out loud to comfort myself because no one else cares.
8. Share the Love. Whenever anyone asks me, “Can I hold one?”, I say, “Yes!” but not with such gusto as to raise concern. I try to just smile and pass one over.
9. Bend and Stretch. Bottom line is be flexible. Whether you’re parenting one, three, or twelve (oy vey!), flexibility is vital for maintaining sanity. While I know my current survival guide is stopping me from curling up in a ball on the bathroom floor and eating my hair, I also know that the needs will change and therefore so will my “guide.” So be it; bending and stretching, bending and stretching.
10. Hold on to Hope. And when I have those days where I long for a living room that isn’t a maze of duplo blocks, tea sets, potty books, baby rockers, burp cloths and baby swings, or 20 minutes of quiet solace (alone, damnit!), I try to just breathe deeply, then holler out to whomever is the loudest, “I’m coming!” and go address whatever need is pressing because I know that solace (and an adult living room) is coming. They can’t be “three under three” forever.