Having already parented one child 2.5 years older than my b/g 13.5mo twins, I feel I’m at an advantage knowing somewhat about what to expect with the twins. I’m sure I have much more to learn on this parenting journey, but here are some lessons I’ve learned so far:
During Times of Sickness
Never over-coddle a child when he is sick. Even the youngest of children have absurdly brilliant minds and will expect the same exact treatment permanently after recovery. So resist the urge to feel sorry for your poor sniffly baby and snuggle with her in a rocking chair all night because she’s congested… unless doing the exact same thing every night forever sounds good to you. I’ve spent too many nights “re-training” my firstborn to sleep to ever want to experience that again. Now, I give just the right amount of cuddles during daytime only, and consider minor stuffy noses something babies need to learn to deal with on their own.
Be liberal about pouring water over babies in the bath. Even deliberately splash a little into their eyes. At such a young age, babies have absolutely no fear of the water. In fact, my twins LOVE getting their baths. The water in their faces does not faze them one bit. They kick and splash it into their own faces, while cackling and having a great time. But never, NEVER, allow babies to come into contact with adult soap/shampoo. We had traumatizing moment while traveling in Asia without a baby tub when my eldest had just turned two. In the shower with me, she got a hold of a bar of soap, and before I could get her to wash it off her hands, she wiped her eyes. If you don’t want future swim lessons to break down into hysterical tears, constant requests of face wiping during bathtimes, intense fear of the showerhead spray, beware of over protecting babies’ faces from water in the tub and be extra careful about using only tearless soap/shampoo.
Reading to Kids
Works! Firstborn was a calm baby, so reading a cloth book as part of her bedtime routine started very early on. She’s always loved stories with Mommy, and I believe this is the reason she is such a verbal kid, excels in school, and learned to recognize all her letters and write her name before most other kids. She is also fully bilingual, can seamlessly transition between English and Mandarin, and even translates for those in the family who are monolingual. Her love of stories has also improved her focus, attention span, and ability to analogize. The twins have not yet given up their chewing on whatever they get their hands on, and the two of them makes it logistically difficult to read to both at once, but just as soon as they’re ready, we will be reading together too. These days, a trip to the library occurs regularly, and I hope that the twins will be a part of this routine soon as well. (Just as soon as they stop eating their books.)
On Having Toys
Having the first child it was easy to always put her first and think of her every waking moment. Having two more puts things more into perspective. I used to pick up a little something for her everywhere I went. Grocery shopping? Oh, here’s a little treat for her too. At the dollar store? Buy her a little toy. Little by little added up to quite a lot, and we accumulated an entire playroomful of this and that. We honestly have so many that the kids are not even playing with them. Too many. We now do not buy any toys. Since the twins were born, the only toys they have gotten have not been from me. Actually, on birthdays and Christmas, I try to steer family and friends away from a massive number of toys. We have plenty of toys from our first child to last through our other two children, and then some.
This is a parenting philosophy I’ve always embraced because it worked so well when my mom used it to raise me and my brother. And it’s paid off with my firstborn too. At 3.5 now, she openly starts conversations with random strangers, needs no supervision when using the bathroom/washing hands, can dress and undress herself as well as put on/take off shoes. I believe myself to have a controlling personality, so sometimes letting her figure things out on her own takes some willpower. But I do also believe that it’s ok for kids to fall, get dirty, get frustrated, and work out how to share on their own. With twins, they are not only learning from every decision I make with them, but I see them also watching and studying my interactions with the other twin. I think they will learn to rely on themselves even faster than my first, just based on the nature of the fact that Mommy cannot be in two places at once. I’ve already started to notice that they help themselves more to the things that they want: taking from each other, grabbing assertively for food, etc.
Can’t wait to see how my own parenting will evolve as these kids grow older. It’s been a real blast this last year to experience the differences and similarities between all three children.