Twins versus singleton, roar roar roar

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Categories Childcare, Development, Family, Relationships, Singletons

This weekend, my husband Jon and I  watched our friend’s son Ben along with our twin boys Nate and Alex.  I learned some valuable lessons, most notably that Jon and I are definitely two-kid parents. I also had a super huge light bulb go off in my head. Twins versus singleton: it is very different, from both sides.

In the past, most of my focus has been on the negatives of parenting two the same age. Nate and Alex always have to share. They always have to wait. They never get alone time. In all of this, I never understood what my twins are GAINING from this experience. They are great at sharing. They have patience.  They have each other. It’s all cliche but it is true.

All of this was highlighted over the weekend when we threw Ben into the mix. Nate and Alex are used to waiting their turn to speak, or when they do speak, they often speak to each other. Ben is used to talking to adults, so even when Nate and Alex talked to him, Ben wanted to talk to the adults. Nate and Alex often have to wait for us to help them, so they’ve learned to try to do things themselves if we are busy. Ben often has the help of multiple adults, so he wanted us to do things for him.

This last point was highlighted frequently in physical activities. Jon and I simply can’t do everything physical for two 30+ lb children, so we rely on the boys to do a lot of the physical stuff. They take off their own clothes, climb into their chairs, climb into the tub, wash their own hands, climb into their car seats, etc. We’ve pushed them into more physical independence because it’s easier for us. It was very interesting to be around another child the same age who could not or did not want to do these things.

In no way am I saying either situation is better. What I took away from this weekend is that it will always be hard for twin parents and singleton parents to relate to one another on tackling issues because parenting multiples and parenting one kid are such completely different experiences. But I’ve always looked at it from the twin mom perspective. As a twin mom I’ve had to do things, so many things, to compromise but I could always justify it because I have twins. I now see things from the singleton mom perspective, where your kid relies on you for so much.

I’m so very glad we had this weekend, for me, for Jon, for my boys, for my friends, and for Ben. I feel like everybody won in some way. Our friends got a much-needed vacation. My boys got to take in another boy like a brother. Ben got to live in a house with “siblings”. Jon and I took away a better understanding of the things our boys have gotten from the experience of being a twin, lessons I will never forget. And I feel like I will be a better friend to my singleton mom friends when they talk to me about their trials and tribulations.

Now who wants to take my boys for a weekend so you can experience singleton versus twins?

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9 thoughts on “Twins versus singleton, roar roar roar”

  1. It’s always interesting for me to see the dynamics between singletons and multiples. Neither one is “better” but they typically have different ways of doing things. Your observation of physical activities hit the nail on the head. As my daughters get older they have to do more things for themselves because I simply can’t lift all four of them. Great topic.

  2. Seriously, I’d love it if someone would take me up on the offer to see what it’s like to have twin toddlers! :-)

    But, very quietly, I will say there’s sometimes a few things that are a teensy bit easier with two. The increased independence (by necessity) is a huge bonus, as is the fact that they can often entertain each other.

  3. My neighbourhood is very close, and we have three singletons around the same age as my twins living nearby and interacting almost daily. We Moms have made this sort of observation about twin parenting vs. singleton parenting time after time. I think the things that are easier about twins were present even in the newborn fog. Because I expected nursing two babies to be hard, I felt less of a failure than my nieghbours facing similar challenges, which ultimately made it easier for me to keep it up.

    I’ve been trying to help out a neighbour with her two-year-old so that she can concentrate on her newborn, but the older daughter is just uncomfortable being without her mom. My kids, on the other hand, will happily play at their friend’s house if I need to run across the street for something.

  4. I second Goddess’ offer – anyone who wants to see what life is like with twins in their “terrible twos”…..

    I will also reiterate what Goddess said in that I don’t think the “terrible twos” have been all that terrible with twins. I think the fact that they have each other makes the personality growth and push/pull for independence that happens during the “terrible twos” a smoother transition. Neither of them is the star of the show. I see the benefits of them have to wait and share when we go to birthday parties or play dates. My girls, like your boys Laura, are great at sharing and they have MUCH more patience than your typical 2.5 year old.

    I will also say (quietly as well – as to not jinx myself) that I think having two at this age is actually easier than one.

    GREAT POST!!!!! :-)

  5. While I do agree with you and I am sure there is much truth to everything you have said, it is important to remember personality as well. Some kids just *are* a certain way, ya know?

  6. Oh, I wish I could agree with the terrible twos comments. My girls are driving us to an early grave. They fight all the time and have nearly zero patience. Just constant shrieking when they’re waiting for their milk or whatever else. They turn two in a week. Separately they are sweet as pie and so well-behaved. Together, they create this force of energy that is larger than life.

    Anyone out there having the same experience? I’m desperate for tips, or at least commiseration.

  7. I’m going to have to disagree and say it is probably personality (of children and parents) rather than number of children. My 3.5 year olds are not the slightest bit independent. They’ve never really hit that “do it myself” stage in most respects. We’ve also never really pushed them to be independent because it is so much faster and more efficient if we do things for them (dressing them, putting them in their car seats, etc.) because waiting for 2 of them to complete those tasks means building in a lot of extra time into our schedule. Now we are struggling to get them to try to dress themselves and do things for themselves because it will be required for preschool this fall.

    Our same age singleton niece however is much more independent and really doesn’t need anyone to entertain her and has been super independent from very early on. Her mom also has more time to allow her to be independent because she only has one child to herd in the right direction.

    I will admit to finding some advantages to having twins now that we are past all the infant/toddler insanity, but the ones mentioned above certainly don’t exist at our house.

  8. I was able to see some of the difference because I had a singleton first. It’s so true that twins have to master much more physical independence. When mine were very tiny, they could crawl into the twin stroller themselves and buckle themselves in. They learned to dress at a very very young age, because I just couldn’t manage it all.

    I think the difference is more pronounced as they get older. When I saw gradeschool parents of singletons fussing I just shook my head. Really, the workload of twins never goes away. I even see it in middle school.

  9. I had 3 under 2 with my singleton born first. I am still amazed when I look back and realize that our life didn’t change much after the birth of our singleton. I remember at some point thinking how demanding one was…now I get a good laugh about that. I cheered the day they all walked to the car and no one had to be carried. Of course, later that day one of the twins was demonstrating her “crazy dance” for grammy, twisted and fractured her leg and was in a cast for 6 weeks. Again….this is funny now…

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