1+1 > 2 (or how twins doesn't equal economies of scale)

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Categories Activities, Development

When I was pregnant – and afterwards, now that I think of it – people would say to me “Oh, wow, twins! Great! One try and your done!” Or I hear “Oh how nice that they’re at the same age developmentally, that’ll make things easier.”

Not that I have anything to compare it to? But NOT SO MUCH, methinks.

I have yet to realize any economies of scale. Clothing-wise, they are boy and girl and though I try to purchase more neutral stuff than naught, they simply aren’t wearing the same size anyway. In fact, the sizes are so far apart that by the time my daughter could wear my son’s ‘neutral’ clothing, they’ll be out of season.

Bottles? The never could use the same bottle system. OF COURSE. My son uses standard nipples and my daughter prefers the Born Free stuff. She can drink from a cup and straw. He needs a sippy cup. For now. He leaks at night without Overnights and a Diaper Doubler, she’s fine in the regular diapers.

Sure we got the 10% off for multiples discount from various stores, but that only applied to the big gear.

Now, I’m finding myself a little anxious about future activities. We recently attended a music play class that offered two FREE demonstration classes. We went, and they enjoyed it. So did I! But to enroll them, it’s $250. PER CHILD. So right there, with two kids, I’m priced out.

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Do I enroll one and alternate attendance? Do I enroll both and make them sit around in dirty diapers longer to make up for the expenditure? Or do I enroll neither because $500 for 30 minutes once a week for 19 weeks is TOO MUCH MONEY?

And I’m just using the music play class as an example. I never intended to enroll them in the class because I figured I could watch the instructor and at least sort of do what she does at home with the kids. This isn’t just about music play classes. What about soccer or piano lessons or karate or dance class on down the road? My nephew plays in a football league, two baseball leagues, and a basketball league and EACH season EACH sport is about $170 for registration and uniforms. It makes me admire my parents even more because I played and did seemingly EVERYTHING – and I know they didn’t have a lot of funds.

When did organized group PLAY get so expensive?

So how do you do it? How do you keep your kids socialized and involved without breaking the bank?

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15 thoughts on “1+1 > 2 (or how twins doesn't equal economies of scale)”

  1. It’s killer, isn’t it? I definitely ask around for the twin discount. Sometimes it’s 50%, sometimes only 10%, but always worth getting. If there’s absolutely no discount for the second kid (especially since, hello, they aren’t providing me with a second adult!), I won’t do it. But sometimes we need the structured activities to keep us sane during these cold, indoor winter months in the north.

    Otherwise, I try to look for other freebies, like library storytime, a sing-along at a cafe (or Whole Foods), or even the mall play area.

    Is it spring yet?

  2. I ask for discounts everywhere I go!

    Gymboree gave me a 50% discount on the second twin when I agreed to sign up and get a friend to sign up with me.

    Our day care gives us a 10% discount on the second kid. Their tumbling class at day care gives a 20% discount on the second kid.

    Swim class gave me a 10% discount.

    Basically, I’m not afraid to ask anyone and everyone if they have a twin or sibling discount. I don’t want anyone screwed out of being paid fairly but sometimes fees are negotiable.

    Everyone tells me these are the cheap years. Putting two 16 year old boys on car insurance at the same time is supposed to be *a little* expensive. I almost had a heart attack when I read a recent CPSC recall for hockey helmets for boys that were $400. That’s just the helmet and not the other gear!

  3. Reading this makes me think twice about trying to be a SAHM. I am working now, but we keep thinking I’ll try to stay home. I don’t see how people do it and save for college and retirement at the same time.

  4. Wow since my babies are only 15 months old I haven’t really considered the price of things. I think it depends where you are located as well. We are in Canada now but moved from Houston. Houston is alot more pricey.
    I love how you pointed out that they are so different. Everyone assumes with twins they are EXACTLY the same.

  5. Hi
    I am a SAHM and I am always looking for a bargain. We have a local children’s museum that costs $80 for a full year membership (I go there at least once a week), I frequent mall play areas, library story time, I have tried many of the free trial classes from all of the local kid play spaces (MyGym, Great Play, Kindermusik). My latest find has been http://www.meetup.com I joined a free moms’ group and these women organize awesome playdates! Sometimes at their homes, often at different facilities where we get a discount for going as a group. Also, many of the kid play spaces also have a meetup group and sporadically offer free/reduced play times. My gym has a pool where we can take the kids to swim and not have to pay for lessons.
    As a former elementary school teacher and early childhood development major, I figure that there is no reason to spend a ton of money on structured play activities that I feel my husband and I can do with the kids on our own. We are saving our money for team/individual activities/lessons for when the kids are older and can verbalize likes and dislikes. Hope that helps:)
    Trina

  6. We pick and choose carefully. Gymnastics (10% discount for second child but 50% for the third) in the winter in New England—a must. I close my eyes, cringe, and write the check. We need to get out and run around. In the summer, with playgrounds and our own backyard, not so much. We also do a group through our local Early Intervention program—it’s free if your kids get EI and only $5 a class if they don’t. Worth checking into programs like that that are pretty affordable. That’s where my guys (almost 2) get socialized and used to a classroom and circletime and all that. We also do lots of playdates and library storytimes and such.

  7. i don’t do the gymboree/pay to play route. my kids meet plenty other kids at the park and i think the ‘my gym’ stuff is a hoot…i mean, it is just a well padded playground. i use local play groups that meet for free to ‘socialize’ my kids. i am not truly sure i want them social sometimes when i meet up with other parents in public.

    we buy a lot of used clothing at the resale shops, i got rid of baby feeding stuff and gave them stainless steel camp plates, etc and toys are traded and rotated.

    i think it is harder as you have boy/girl twins and it is not really all as easily shared between the two. but as for the future sports, etc…i have no idea. i am thinking to get them involved in community activities and hook back up with my old dance teacher as i know she will give them deeply discounted lessons. college, now that is scary to think about.

  8. I don’t do any “pay for play” activities with my twins (age 18 mos.) I had that luxury with my first son, he loved gymboree. But there’s no way I can bring the twins.
    Can’t afford it now, and can’t chase one while the other goes in another direction, as gymboree does require some parent hands-on at the toddler age.
    My guys have only clothes from consignment & resale which are fine at the rate they outgrow things.
    You might have great success doing playgroups in your local area through meetup.com, and save $ too!

  9. One of the complicating challenges for us is that we both work, full-time. Which means we’re gone 55hrs a week Monday-Friday (includes commuting time).

    I’ve found that most playgroups gather on weekdays and that’s just not an option for us, compounded by the fact that I don’t want the nanny carting around our kids in her car. That’s just a little more risk than I’m willing to assume at this time.

    For these reasons, we’ll probably put them back in daycare after their a year old, but our son had so much daycare-related illness, we were having to either stay home, or pay for additional childcare, and it was just cost-prohibitive to continue to do that so we pulled them out at 6.5 months. They’re 9 months on Friday and NEITHER has been sick since.

    I’m involved in our local Mother’s of Multiples group, was even on the garage sale committee. We get MOST of their clothes there and through unsolicited hand-me-downs for which we are grateful. Most anything new comes from grandparents or in a pinch when, like recently, when the Texas warmth arrived in early January and neither kid had shorts that fit them.

    And yes, college! Yikes!

  10. I am with you sister! I totally envy thse moms of two kids who buy one crib and pass it down. Who buy one swing and pass it down. Even if people lend you some things, the financial pressure that twins cause is indescribable.

    I will offer this, we encourage grandparents to pay as gifts for some of those activities we could not afford. My girls are four and once they don’t grow out of toys so quickly (their development slows down some) you realize you have a ton of toys and don’t need anymore. This year, for their birthday, they got ballet lessons from both sets of grandparents. They really wanted to go and we couldn’t afford 80 dollars per month (on top of preschool tuition and life costs) to send them. It was a great present…the girls love it and it didn’t add any more stuff to our house. We also have one set of grandparents that contributes to their college fund. My husband manages it but they have a partial say in how the money is invested so they feel involved.

    My parents had me and my sister six years apart so they had time to save for the second wedding and college…that kind of stuff totally freaks me out. I tell my girls they need to have a double wedding to save me money. They haven’t made up their minds on that yet:)

  11. First of all GORGEOUS picture! We do weekly story time and have a membership at a local museum/village type thing that was $75/yr. I was a bit bummed when I looked into classes b/c they are all pretty pricey in my opinion and if you times that by two it becomes somewhat outrageous. I try and be creative with them at home and I am also blessed to have 3 sisters with young children so if we ar in need of play we head to one of their houses although during the winter we are a bit “hermity” (yep, made that word up) because we are cautious about getting sick. We may start swim classes in our area b/c they are extremely well priced and I plan to ask for a twin discount.

  12. We shop the park districts. Our local park districts offer great classes at bargain prices. The neighboring park district has a ballet class which runs from October through May. The cost is only $109 per girl for the session. We also joined the local arboretum and they have a fabulous children’s section. We could go their daily. It takes work to find fun that is frugal, but it is possible.

  13. We also go to the local park districts, they have great classes at rather cheap prices.

    This is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. In the not too distant future, I’m going to have to pay for 3 kids in preschool for one year and then 2 in preschool and one in Kindergarten…not to mention any “fun stuff” that the 3 boys older sister will want to do.

    Makes me already pinched wallet hurt just thinking about it.

  14. This is something we have struggled with – I couldn’t shell out $500 for 10 weeks of music classes for 10-month olds… so now the twins and their nanny are all getting cabin fever because they are stuck inside in this crazy cold weather! Luckily, there is a free big playgroup once a week in our neighborhood with music and lots of other kids, so they have at least one destination.

    My husband and I ski and snow board and have season passes that were postponed due to my pregnancy. When I looked into childcare at the mountain, I realized that it would be $160 a DAY!!! So, we’ll be splitting up our time.

    The upside? I will actually have some time to myself, by myself, doing something for myself!

    Crazy!

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