Well, it is definitely a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun! There is never a dull moment in our house and I enjoy each new stage my four-year-old boys go through more than the last. The first two years were by far the toughest due to the sleep deprivation in year one and then trying to keep two bruise-prone toddlers safe in year two. Year three got better and year four (and a half) has been amazing. Hunter and Harrison are best friends who are always playing (and fighting) with each other.
Within minutes of bringing Hunter and Harrison home from the hospital, it quickly became apparent that we needed a plan, a system, to keep our boys as content as possible despite some challenges from being born at 32 weeks. The birth experience is a story in itself for another day. Imagine bringing two babies home from the hospital at 37 weeks gestation, who are on opposite schedules that only allow you to get 30 minutes of sleep every 5-6 hours, if you were lucky. You learn a few things about yourself and your limits (and your spouse’s limits) when you experience that level of sleep deprivation. It helped when we could feed them at the same time, but it changed our lives when we got them on the same sleeping schedule.
Around 6-7 months old, our routine was well-established, and we have chosen to keep to it because it helps us to plan each day in a somewhat organized fashion. It made it easier for us to recognize what was driving their behavior, which was mainly hunger or lack of sleep. I am not saying these issues are unique to having twins because they face all parents of young children. I am simply acknowledging we need to plan ahead because we had two challenging babies. We have received wonderful ideas and support from a ‘Moms of Multiples’ club (yes, these clubs exist and they are awesome!). Perhaps the most rewarding part of planning our days and keeping a routine is that we know when ‘Mom and Dad time’ starts.
One suggestion I want to make, which can apply to parents in general and certainly parents with children close in age, but coming from a father of twins…you can always ask! I appreciate when someone asks if they should get the same gift for each of them, if they wear the same clothes, or if they behave the same way. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. It depends on the child and what the parents prefer.
One thing I continue to hear often is how my life as a parent of twins must be more difficult than those who have singletons, but I don’t think it is. It is just different, with different challenges and at different stages. Today, I am grateful that I did not need to go through the ‘diaper stage’ while chasing a two-year-old around or two toddlers. Having twins is not harder or easier, it is just different. It also depends on the support system the parents have in place. Because, as many of you know, it ‘takes a village to raise a child.’