Looking back on our early days with our now two-year-old twins, there aren’t too many things I’d do differently. (Well, maybe hire a night nurse!) But one thing that stands out in my mind that I would have changed if I could, is taking one baby out for an outing more often.
I recall having friends ask how often my husband and I would split up with our kids. At the time, I filed these comments into “you don’t understand because you don’t have twins” category. On days when my husband and I were both around, we pretty much operated as a family of four. We did all activities together, or were cooped up in our house together. It felt essential to have both sets of hands on deck for both kids at all possible times. For those necessary tasks like running to the grocery store, which, sadly became our “me” time for the first year, one parent would grin and bear it for an hour, while the other blissfully strolled the aisles solo. This made perfect sense to us: it’s not “easy” to bring just one of the babies on errands, so why wouldn’t we leave both kids at home if we had the option?
However, now that our kids are older, we split up much more often. We’ll take one on an errand alone, or on a special outing, and the kids light up at that grocery store, like we took them to Disneyland. (They do often end up shouting the other twin’s name, and/or the absent parent’s name, on the outing, looking for them. But, it still is so precious to see how excited they get to have their own trip with mom or dad.)
It makes me feel sad that I didn’t realize earlier how special that solo time would feel to them. Arguably, maybe they were too young to have the awareness of this separation before we started doing it. But, still, I think there may have been value in us splitting up with them before they did recognize it. So much of the first 18 months or so of parenting twins was filled with anxiety for me. Looking back, I think if I had ventured out on my own with one baby more often, it would have built some confidence in me that would eventually have led to adventures with both babies. I think it also would have led to less mommy guilt: ie, since an hour at the store was my “me” time, I wasn’t “allowed” other time alone. If we’d divided up with baby, maybe I’d have done more sans baby for mommy. Lastly, I think it may have been healthier to split them up more than we did, allowing them to be their own person, even if just for an hour.
Katie is a working mom of 2-year-old twins, who makes too many trips to the grocery store, with or without kids!