When You Have Two

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Categories Family, Parenting TwinsTags

A couple of weekends ago, two of my best friends from college came to town for the weekend. Another friend, who lives just two towns over, offered to host a family brunch so we could all spend some time together. It was going to be 5 couples with 5 kids- our 2-year-olds, two 19 month old singletons, and a 9 month old baby. Normally, this is the type of invitation that my husband and I would respectfully decline, but these were my closest friends.

Ten minutes into the brunch, it became very clear why we don’t attend events such as these. There we were, in this very lovely, though not at all baby/childproofed apartment, and I was feeling stressed to the max about all the breakable things at 2-year-old eye level just waiting to be discovered by my curious and determined toddlers. There were picture frames, wine bottles, an iPod docking station, tons of books (unfortunately, not ones for kids), and numerous other decorative items. The hosts had a non-mobile 9 month old and had left every room in their apartment open for exploration. Not a baby gate to be found.

The longer we stayed the crankier I felt. All of my friends with their one kid traded their child back and forth between Mommy and Daddy so that one parent could eat and socialize while the other was on kid duty. Meanwhile my husband and I were busy following our kids around the apartment, preventing them from touching the numerous things not meant for little hands, and trying to lure them back to the main room with a few of their favorite toys we’d brought from home. When it was finally time to eat, we occupied the kids with fruit salad while we shoveled food into our mouths as quickly as we could, hoping to get enough to eat before the kids became full and interested in other things.

I felt exhausted and sad when we left, realizing just how much work it had been to participate in this fun-for-the-whole-family event and knowing that, in the end, I had not had one meaningful interaction or conversation with any of my friends. It occurred to me that perhaps if we did this sort of thing more often, we would have better strategies for these types of situations. But it also occurred to me that when you have two little ones, these things are never easy.

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28 thoughts on “When You Have Two”

  1. Ya, the adult:kid ratio is such a crucial thing. I don’t think singleton parents even realize it when they think about twin parents. DH and I were telling friends of ours how we get up to the feed the kids together on the weekends (this is when they were much smaller and still needing us to feed them a bottle) and our friend said “why do both of you get up?” and I replied, “because there are two of them” and he was like, “oh, yeah…”

    And if it makes you feel any better, my kids have never been to a non-child proofed home since they have been mobile, with the exception of grandparents’ homes. And only then its because I have at least a 3:1 ratio and they usually do a good job of clearing off breakables and such before we get there. It’s so much harder to expect that of a friend and I would feel so bossy asking them!
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..Hello Third Trimester! =-.

  2. So, so true. My new mom’s group from Isis would get together periodically for brunch as our babies grew. I was the only one with twins, and it was before any of them had second babies. It was RIDICULOUS how much easier it was for them with their 2:1 ratio. Just take turns! No problem! Obviously, for us, it was exhausting. Even in an age-appropriate, reasonably childproofed place.

    As they’ve gotten older, I do think it has gotten easier. But we still are fairly selective when agreeing to that sort of thing…
    .-= Goddess in Progress´s last blog ..This is how we’re teaching our kids to live =-.

  3. We made a conscious decision not to fully baby proof our home. The kids have been taught by trail and error not to get into certain things including my photography supplies & my computer stuff in our living room. This makes it much easier when we go places as they know there will always be things they are not allowed to get into. They just turned two this last weekend, and we rarely have trouble with them getting into stuff at other peoples house. They are outgoing and friendly kids too, so they aren’t stuck to me the whole time. Of course, they occasionally get into things here at home. They aren’t saints!

  4. The ratio is crucial. Most events are me & DH and that is tough because we are both always fielding a kid and have an eye each on our 5 year old. I have been to events where it was just me. Not an ounce of fun was had, I was stressed to the max and sweating grossly by the time the day was done. After one particular FAMILY reunion when the girls had just learned to walk (yes, my family did not assist they were too busy socializing) I announced that I would NEVER do that again and I haven’t and I won’t until they are older. My mother was mad but tough – she should have helped me out a bit. Thank goodness for one of my sisters – she and her husband had their 2 y/o son and they helped with my 14 month old girls. We made a coral with chairs and we all stayed in it for most of the day. Oh, it was hosted at a bar/catering room with a hot buffet and fireplaces on tiled floor (brand spanking new walkers falling every 10 seconds). FUN FUN FUN!

    It’s getting a bit easier now that they are almost 2. I have started taking them places alone and they are learning to stick together. It takes A LOT of practice though as I am sure everyone knows.

  5. I learned, very early on that I needed to eat before going to these type of events. After being starving, sweaty, and very cranky I just couldn’t do it anymore. For me, it is not about the food and sitting like a civilized person, it is more about seeing everyone and letting them see a glimps of life with our great girls.

    It’s funny because my sister has twin boys the same age as my twin girls and there are still place we can go but they can’t go — the lovely differences between girls and boys. BUT, I will say, they are all 3 now and it is SO much easier.

    Good luck everyone.

  6. Oh, I so feel your pain! We visited my dad’s house over the holidays. I kept getting left with both our girls, then 11 months old and very mobile, in a very non-baby-friendly environment. I guess everyone assumed I could handle my own children, which I obviously can at home. I felt kind of guilty for having to ask for help, and even then, someone would engage a baby for a few minutes and then wander off to do something else. Hello??? I, too, swore that we wouldn’t make a return trip until the girls were older (in part because of that, and in part because it’s difficult to drive much distance with two small kiddos). I would like to try it again this summer, but we’ll just have to wait and see. :)

    I have a couple of friends who are great, though. We meet for lunch pretty regularly (during the week, while they’re at work and don’t have their children with them), and they’re so wonderful to help me keep the girls occupied so I can enjoy a bite to eat, too.
    .-= MandyE´s last blog ..Silly Mommy =-.

  7. I hear you. I can’t actually remembered the last social event my husband attended with us, so I’m always outnumbered. I find it much easier to attend kid-focused events (birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, kids’ theatre), since there’s no expectation that the adults will have the luxury to interact meaningfully. Also, most of the friends we see regularly have two or more kids. That’s probably not coincidence; we probably have more realistic expectations of each other than non-parents or parents of one.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..The new normal =-.

  8. We have a strategy when going out into the world as a family that works for us. Each of us is assigned one of the kids.
    There’s no question about who is watching which kid. No battles over getting a few minutes off duty while the on duty parent takes over two rambunctious kids.
    If someone needs a second for some specific thing, then they ask the other parent to take over for a few minutes.
    No big deal.
    No resentments or anger.
    It’s just so much easier to take care of one kid, that I find it a complete breeze taking care of my assigned kid while my partner takes care of his assigned kid.
    We make sure to trade back and forth for outings, too.
    Of course, this is our strategy for most every two parent and two child thing we do, so it was natural to extend it to outings. Before we actually came up with it and talked about it, though, it was a lot of him getting “stuck” watching the kids while I hung out, or me getting “stuck” with the kids while he hung out. No one really feels stuck anymore, and everyone is just enjoying their time as best as possible while their crazy, fun, balls of energy, danger seeking, silly toddler runs them ragged.
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..18 months =-.

  9. I can so relate. My boys are almost 3 so I am finally able to start taking them more places without disaster. We have had several disastrous outings- even at the home of friends with one toddler, I (wrongly) expected that my toddler boys would be safe and ok during a kids birthday party! but OH was I wrong! Open cooler with glass bottles on the floor, bathroom door wide open, tablecloth hanging down waiting to be pulled, breakables everywhere, no gates, etc. Their toddler girl sat and played nicely with her blocks. Meanwhile my two boys found every hazard and danger in that place within about 10 minutes. 5 minutes later I hauled them out sweating, apologizing (and cursing myself for even trying it). Ohhh I have been there. Even at my twin moms club picnic this past weekend, me and my husband each watched one kid. our older son was largely ignored. Nobody ate and when we left I was a drained exhausted mess who had not one good conversation with anyone. I felt so defeated, like “whats the point??”

  10. I will add that we were ok at the moms club picnic UNTIL my boys found the “spin art” activity which involved squirting liquid paint onto paper as it spins, creating beautiful art (and a whopper of a mess). This activity was SO interesting that they would not leave it to eat or do anything so I was pretty much stuck at that painting table for waaay too long.

  11. We found with our triplets that it all depended on the other folks that were going to be there. We’ve been to gatherings with our friends with other kids that have been very willing to pitch in and help with our three (and are used to 2 second conversations) and that’s definitely made the experience nicer. And we’ve been to family gatherings where we’ve had to ask for help when it wasn’t given. We’ve tried to avoid places that will be too stressful.

    We’ve explained it that we need to move from man on man defense to zone defense when we are with folks that are open to it.

  12. I have very similar stories as everyone else. B/G twins 18 mons. What I find works the best is to host as many events at my place. I rather clean and cook then be stressed out in other people’s homes. And I want to second Diane- even kids b-day parties, if the host only has one they don’t always relize the stuff that two kids can get into.

  13. Amen! We have gone to a couple of birthday parties recently with our 7 month old twins and we strap them on in the baby Bjorn and have to wear them around. They can scoot around pretty fast and I can’t just put them on the floor with so many people around! All the while mommies and daddies are trading off holding their singleton.
    Oh, and forget about going to lunch with the girls…I gotta decline those invites. Just not happening.

  14. I have had that exact experience, and it is SO FRUSTRATING. I’ve made peace with the fact that non-twin parents just don’t get it, and avoid those situations for now, but really hope it gets easier in the future.
    .-= Jungletwins´s last blog ..Lady and the Scamp =-.

  15. I just experienced that this weekend….and they are due with their second at the end of June. Many times throughout the visit (we stayed with them over the weekend) I thought — oh just you wait until you have two.. *evil laugh*

  16. I could have written this post myself. My husband and I always decompress by talking about how, although it’s important to get together with our close friends, it’s always so difficult and we always feel like our kids are out of control, even though they aren’t — they’re just normal 2 year olds…and there’s 2 of them! Recently at a wedding I had to miss out on the ceremony to entertain the kids in the lobby, and forget about enjoying the buffet! While our friends got to trade off their babies, we were both struggling to shovel in food while holding squirming kids who just wanted to get down and run around!
    .-= Leigh Ann´s last blog ..Star of the Show =-.

  17. Has anyone gotten the comment from people with one child that you were just too overprotective? To me, it’s a simply equation: If one child is a challenge, wouldn’t two be twice as hard? I find so many parents to be really myopic, even when they see my partner and chasing the kids around the room at a birthday party. What are we supposed to do, let them kill themselves? I find it really strange…
    .-= stephanie´s last blog ..sharing =-.

  18. We do a lot of hosting, because it’s easier for us to be in our own environment sometimes. Or, we hang out with other people with similar aged kids—cookouts on pretty summer evenings are the best! One thing we do sometimes is take the kids out to run around—regardless of what anyone else is doing. We did this at my uncle’s birthday party, once my kids had scarfed through the appetizers (while sitting on white couches!). A good run around outside burns off the energy and gives others a break from my guys.

    It does feel nice to get out of the house even if it’s a challenge sometimes.

  19. As a single mom of twins, I’m always outnumbered by kids. I learn to deal. I’m not afraid to ask someone with free hands to hold a boy if I need to go to the bathroom, grab some food, whatever. Even if they dont want to, most people will say yes.

    I consider my place childsafe more than childproof. There are things they can reach that are mine that could be damaged, but they are things that dont matter as much and give me a chance to teach. But it is child safe, with bookshelves anchored to the wall, plugs covered etc. I may have two eyes, but they move together so I cant always see two at the same time.
    I wonder if in part the reason their 9 month old doesn have mobility is because they havent created the space for it to happen. One of my boys has crawled for almost 4 months. The other still doesnt crawl, but he moves around (rolls, spins, crawls backwards). They need the space.
    .-= Selmada´s last blog .. =-.

  20. Like Rebecca, I often just insisted on hosting since I have “more of everything” anyway and like Selmada I would just ask someone to help. I like Jen’s idea of assigning a kid to a parent. We have a family trip coming up in July with 4 generations in 2 houses and I will have 3 by then (including a newborn) and we know it won’t be a vacation but an insanely hard family obligation. Oh, we are bringing gates and childproofing supplies – who has the energy to be telling kids – “no, stay away from” EVERYTHING?
    .-= Mommy, Esq.´s last blog ..Diary of a Stay-at-Home Mom =-.

  21. I was feeling a little sad at the park today that I can’t let the babies out (they are crawlers) by myself for more than a few minutes without losing it. If my husband and I are both there, then likely so is our older daughter, so who do we ignore?

    For social events one of us goes and takes one kid, or we go to places where we know others will help us. If these were your good friends, they really should have offered to spell you so that one of you could sit and chat for a bit. Okay, now I am feeling lucky that I have the kind of friends who do this.
    .-= nonlineargirl´s last blog ..Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week =-.

  22. I didn’t really do any childproofing until our (now 17mo) g/g twins were crawling, and they were late crawlers.

    We have taken the girls to more events lately — a 4-yr-old’s birthday party, a baby shower open house, a few playdates — and I am always amazed to look at my watch afterward and realize we were only there for an hour yet I am completely exhausted and sweating from having to track two toddlers. Even this weekend, when we visited friends who have 3 children under 5, I noticed that I was running after the girls a lot more than my friend, because she could ask her boys to make sure their little sister didn’t get into this or that. I do envy how parents of singletons can trade off the chasing duties. When the girls were young infants, I took them everywhere; now they don’t leave the yard except to go to their grandparents’ house. And it’s not that I’m overprotective — they run around the backyard eating dirt clods — but it’s just such a PITA to take them places.

    On Easter weekend we drove about 4.5 hours to see my parents, and we stopped at a fast food restaurant for changing and lunch. This restaurant happened to still have the old French doors from its smoking-section days. We took the girls in there, closed the doors, and they could run around while we finished our burgers. I did briefly wonder whether people thought we were being rude to take over this space, but it’s not like others were clamoring to use it, and it really helped us! (FYI: It is the Hardee’s in East Peoria, IL, last exit on I-74 before crossing into Peoria. But they don’t have any changing tables in the restrooms.)

    I really like Janel’s strategy.

  23. This past weekend we went to a concert with our children. I laughed at the couples next to us because the Moms were holding the babies in their baby carriers, as the Dads drank beer and visited. It is a reality that I will never know and my poor husband wrangled children all night. I’m sure sometimes he longs to be the uninvolved Dad, but that’s not the card we’ve been dealt.

  24. The solution: have more babies!
    We have two soon-to-be three-year olds. Fortunately, we also have 7 other children (ages 10 months to 10 years), and our little guys generally seem much more interested in what their brothers or sisters are doing than the ‘hand grenade’ someone may have left within reach. Not always, but usually.
    Our older ones tend to know to keep an eye on them, but we still have to tag team when we are with friends.
    We just spent 27 days on the road with all 9 of them. The more you do it, the better they get at it. For us it seems to be a matter of practice, but I am sure it is not the same for all.
    Thanks for the blog!

  25. This really hit home–the description of what it’s like to be exhausted from a simple social event that other people have enjoyed. I’m a single mother of twin boys who just turned 2 and a 3.75-year-old boy. I do take the kids out by myself quite a lot, but at other people’s houses or at parties (or synagogue, etc.), I simply have to rely on help from other people. Somehow I’ve managed, so far, to get along, but it’s always stressful. I’m lucky in that my older boy is not the type to wander off in public, and is generally very reliable and responsible (unfortunately, as a result he is often treated–by me and by others–like he’s 5 rather than 3). But my little guys will run in opposite directions, get into everything, attempt to fly from the top of the monkey bars, etc.

    I also know I am lucky that most places I go socially, there are people willing to take one or more of the kids and entertain them so I can relax a little bit. Sometimes it’s harder for me to be at home, actually, since I don’t have any other distractions, so it’s just fighting, getting into crazy things like cocoa powder, throwing the toilet paper in the sink and turning the water on, etc. Wait–actually, it’s always hard, everywhere. It’s a good thing they are so wonderful and delightful at times, too!

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