Motherhood itself is overwhelming. Add to it being a mom to twins can be incredibly psychologically draining and emotionally ravaging. Surviving a high-risk twin pregnancy is a feat worth lauding, but then you realize that this is only the beginning. My twins will turn seven in a couple of months and looking back today, I can say the journey has been anything but boring.
Having twins is a fun-game for bystanders, but the mother gets to deal with twice as much soiled laundry, crying, vomit, and a whole lot of poop! You call this boring? Ha!
A first-time mother being handed twins to care for can be numbing, confusing and overwhelming. Of course, there are many things I could have done better, but being a first-time mom, I have done fairly okay and have learned most of the skills on the job. I am still learning. And like all mothers will agree, my learning curve may never end. So I am like the university student enrolled in dual specialization and the course seems never ending!!
I have realized that my twins have influenced me in more ways than I thought, in my evolution over the last six years as a person, as a woman, and as a mother. As a mother of twins, I share my learnings and experiences as takeaways for new twin mothers and mothers to be to help them enjoy their motherhood without being crushed under the pressure.
- Regain your old life back
I agree the first couple of months as a new-twin-mom could be harrowing. Added to it, you may also be dealing with post-partum depression and stress. But make an earnest attempt to regain your old life gradually. This may mean taking time out for a stroll, going back to a hobby class, finishing unfinished courses, going for a movie or catching out with friends. Do not stay holed up in the home with two babies hanging on to you. Go out, have a life!
2.Get rid of guilt
Guilt can ruin an otherwise perfect journey. I remember feeling guilty for even the littlest things like missing out on giving medicine on time for a sick child, not having time to clean laundry and forgetting the bottles in the dryer. I was constantly feeling less capable of handling the mayhem compared to peer mothers whose home and kids looked picture perfect to me. On hindsight, I realize, it was bogus. I was always good enough and tried my best to be as good a mother as I could. The kids don’t remember any of it. Neither do I.
- Don’t let the Superwoman syndrome set in
Have empathy for yourself. Being a mother doesn’t make you any less or more human. You could be as vulnerable to people, places, and situations as anyone else. Manage your time and chores as much as you can while maintaining your sanity. If you don’t feel like doing that errand to the bank, don’t do it. If you feel like taking an extra hour of rest, go ahead. Don’t beat yourself hard to be a superwoman. It’s perfectly okay if the curtains aren’t changed for another week or id the trash bag is not disposed. Years later the kids won’t remember any of it. Neither will you.
- Ask for help
Shying away from asking for help is an extension of the superwoman syndrome. It is absolutely acceptable to seek help from the spouse, extended family, and friends in times of need. Even better, talk with your spouse to divide work and child care. Your husband can pitch in housework and child care as and when possible in whatever way. The kids belong to both parents and so does their responsibility. Asking for help by no means is not a sign of weakness or admission of failure. Rather it reflects an accommodating, open and positive attitude.
- Set a schedule
Being a working woman, one of the biggest things that helped me as a mother of young twins was to have a schedule – not just for the twins, but for myself as well. It eases a lot of stress and maximizes efficiency. Kids are amazingly great at adapting to schedules from a very young age. Having fixed times for laundry, dishes, sleep and meal times, medicines, errands and other works ensures that you do not get frustrated, exhausted or insane at the end of the day.
- Organize, organize, organize
Organizing things efficiently gives a huge boost to a twin momma. Get an extra stock of diapers, additional wet wipes and medicines could help last minute worries. Organizing play areas, sealing electrical points, arranging clothes for the week, and planning meals in advance go a long way in easing your struggle to raise twins. In the first year, I always had a handy checklist of everything I would need every time I stepped out. Additionally, I also kept an extra diaper bag with spare clothes, diapers, wipes, and formula powder for outings and emergencies. I also bought multiple feeding bottles so that I always have sufficient clean and sterilized bottles for use. My twins will soon turn seven, and I still organize beforehand to make like simpler.
- Outsource chores
The magic begins to happen in the life of a twin-mom once she begins outsourcing domestic chores to reliable and dependable others. I am no longer a stickler for perfection and am kind of okay with the way my domestic help cleans the kitchen, does laundry or arranges cupboard in my absence. I have learned to live with little-less-than-perfectly folded clothes and it doesn’t make a huge difference to my quality of life. I spend time bonding with the kids instead of worrying myself to death over household chores.
- Engage with other mothers
Reach out and engage with like-minded mothers in the same phase of life as you. Instead of being ashamed to admit that you are overwhelmed, share with them your worries and learn from their experiences. All twin-mothers undergo the same array of emotions and challenges and doubt their parenting techniques from time to time. A support network can help you tremendously in times of distress.
- Do not overreact to illness
I am guilty of being this paranoid mother every time any one of the kids sneezed. I admit that. I would call up the family doctor at unearthly hours or call over my pediatric friend each time a kid had a bout of diarrhea. Looking back, I feel embarrassed! I was clearly overreacting. The only excuse I can now think of is that I was a first-time mother and a first-time twin mom! Conditions like cold, flu, fever and diarrhea occur with amazing frequency and normally respond to standard medication. Do not overreact and cause panic for minor ailments and medical conditions. You will do a lot better being calm. Kids are born with strong immune systems which become stronger over time.
- Practice self-love
Understand that you are more than just being a mother. You have a life and identity beyond the kids. Appreciate yourself for the small and big things you do for the kids and the family. Stay away from negative thoughts, self- doubt, guilt, self-blame, shame, feelings of inadequacies, fear of being judged or failure. Trust me, most of these things are in the mind and have no real existence. Remind yourself of your abilities and strengths.
- Keep a check on emotional spending
I wish I had this wisdom earlier, I could have saved sufficient bucks to buy a home on the beach! Avoid buying everything brand new. The kids (till they reach preteens maybe) really don’t care if they are wearing new clothes or the hand-me-downs from cousins and friends. Avoid buying too many clothes and shoes. The kids will outgrow them before you blink an eye. Don’t buy two of everything. As a rule, we just buy two sets of absolute non-sharables, like school uniforms, shoes, books etc. For the rest, like toys, story books, and crayons, the twins have to share among themselves. Don’t indulge the kids beyond a certain limit. It’s not a mandate to get them every fancy item in the store.
- Reconnect with your spouse
Parenting as a journey is for both the parents to share, experience learn and enjoy. Sometimes, in your naivety, carelessness or ignorance it is possible that you neglect your spouse and his emotional needs. You may not be aware of it or he may not raise a concern, but the marriage can suffer in the long run if disconnect sets in and persists. Don’t let the relationship revolve around the kids. Talk, share and discuss your life events, career goals and a million other things that are beyond the kids. Make an attempt to squeeze in time for both of you, get cooking together, or go for a date. Keeping the marriage alive and healthy is an ongoing responsibility of both spouses and having twins cannot change that.
You can’t imagine having one and wouldn’t want it any other way
Well, it’s not as bad as it may seem. Have I crumbled under pressure and questioned God “Why me?”. YES! But, would I have wanted it any other way? NO! The twins were the best things that happened to me in the marriage. Sure, there’s no denying that being a mom of two comes with some unique challenges, but raising twins can also be fun, hilarious and joyful. I get to experience what normal parents miss out on.
There may be total chaos in my house, cushions scattered all over, water taps left open, floors scribbled with crayons, unflushed toilets, Batman and Spiderman resting inside the freezer, shoes separated from their pairs forever and a million other earth shattering irregularities, but that’s what a normal house to me looks like. And over the years I have fallen in love with this madness. Attending to two kids at the same time is the most normal thing to me, anything else would seem abnormal! However, stressed or perturbed you may be, you will not want to trade your status as a twin-mom for anything in this world.
My twins have made me a more efficient person, who manages full-time work and home (not!) effortlessly. I have a fulfilling career, pursue my hobbies, have a social circle. I have been in my best shape ever. I ran my first ever half marathon last year! I make time to paint, ride, bake and write, all while being the best mother my twins could have.
My twins have never been my limitation, instead they have enriched my life and empowered me in many ways.