Hi. I’m Michelle and I have two sets of twins. Nineteen months apart.
Here is a quick visual of what that looked like:
And I think this picture was taken by my parents as they were getting ready to fly home after helping me for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure… but I think I’m crying in this picture.
And, even though my memory is really really sketchy about this time and the two years that followed, I think I can muster up some advice for those moms who are expecting their second set of twins.
Get Help. No, not like help in the head although there are going to be times that you feel like you need it. Hire as much help as you can afford for as many days a week you can afford. Hire babysitting help. Hire someone to clean your house. Find that 6th grader who loves babies who would be willing to hold/feed/play with any of your children. Piece together what you can. And, don’t be afraid of letting the person go who isn’t helping. You need another you! Find that person.
Get Out. No, not like run away and never come back. More like, get out of the house without babies at least one day a week… you need a break. It is not a sign of weakness or that you don’t love your kids. But you first need to love on yourself a little bit. You are a better mother if you can walk away from being a mother… even if it is for a little while. Listen to yourself and what you need and put those needs first.
Photograph the heck out of all of it. First, because you won’t remember any of it. Second, because having two sets of toddlers won’t last even though you feel like this is the worst hell imaginable (e.g.. every outing where one of them said, “I have to poop!” and EVERYONE had to go into the bathroom together). Make sure you get as many “ugly” photos as you do with everyone matching and smiling. Actually, get mostly ugly photos and videos of tantrums and messy house and potty training and the food everywhere and the two or more crying at the same time. You will look back… believe me you will… and want to go back again to hug and love on those babies and to help out that poor mama who is doing the best she can and still feeling like it isn’t even 1% enough.
On your best days you will be doing a good job if you are only meeting basic needs: food, changing, loving, and maybe reading a story or two. Forget the glitter painting and stamping and crafty crap that you always imagined you’d do with your kids. DON’T look at Pinterest and see what you could be doing… yeah, if you had one child. Your child is not missing out and glitter is so everywhere.
Make friends with other Mothers-of-Multiples. These will be your sisters-in-arms. You will need them like you need a nightly glass of wine. They are the ones who during an outing won’t bat an eye when YOU have to go to the bathroom and you ask one of them to keep an eye on your kids. They will empathize, sympathize and encourage you… and agree that no one understands.
Find a good parenting class. Mostly you’ll learn that you are doing it right… and you’ll learn not to worry about the small stuff. You’ll learn to let your child fall and not rush over. You’ll learn that listening is the best communication tool that you’ll ever cultivate. You’ll learn that other parents are going through EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF at the SAME TIME. This is called child development. Make friends with the stages… they are necessary for healthy growth. And, sometimes these classes also have FREE CHILDCARE!
Say this Mantra: THIS WON’T LAST. THIS WON’T LAST. Because it won’t and you don’t get a do-over. The potty training, the tantrums, the middle of the night wake-ups. These all go away… as do your babies. So let toys be everywhere and in every room. Let them ride mini big wheels in the house on a rainy day (heck, on a sunny day so you can get dinner made!). You will remember these crazy times as being your favorite times. You are striving for happy… and peaceful… and loved. Mostly loved.
I remember an older mother of four teens saying that she’d go back to the infant and toddler time in a heartbeat. At the time I thought, I will NEVER wish for that! And, you know what, I’d go back in a nanosecond. You will too. Just wait. You’ll want to go back in time and tell that mama that she is doing a GREAT job… and you might even stay to do a load of laundry… or six.
Finally, as my husband reads this over my shoulder, he says longingly, “It goes by so fast!” It won’t seem like it at the time, but it does. Do whatever you can to enjoy the time. Find help, get out, take lots of photos, have a mantra that helps you stay sane, learn about child development so you know why some of the most difficult states (in stereo with twins) are the most necessary!
Michelle blogs at www.twinstimestwo.com where she tries to piece together those lost early memories from mothering two sets of twins and where she tries to record the daily joy and chaos of being a mother of multiples.