The reality of having twins – being individuals

twins - individuals

Parenting twins really can be a hard task, because not only are you teaching your children but you also need to educate your family, friends and even strangers along the way. I don’t know what it is but people seem to think that just because they are twins that they aren’t individuals. The biggest mistake you can ever make is not to treat a twin as an individual!

My twins are both boys, which is actually quite wonderful, but just because they are both boys does not in any way mean that they both like the same things. And this is true for identical twins as well. Twins do not always like the same things! Identical twins are not identical in every single way, they will have their own likes and dislikes and I’m sure their own little quirks too.

Yes twins do tend to have a lot in common. I’m not going to get into the nature vs. nurture debate, but honestly they were in the womb together, were born together and are brought up together in the same environment so yes they do have a lot in common and will develop some of the same interests.

Both my boys like cars, trucks and megabloks. They both enjoy reading but one will sit and read a book a lot more often than the other. They both love outside and our dogs but one will constantly ask to go outside, the other won’t care. One will sit and watch the world go by, while the other is too busy tearing around the world like a maniac. They are twins, they do like some of the same things but they are still very much individuals.

Which honestly can be hard to manage. You want to have quiet time with one and the other will want in on it, which can then cause a meltdown for either one or both twins. They will want different things but both at the same time. It’s difficult but you learn to do it all. You teach taking turns and hopefully patience (I’m not sure we have learned patience yet) and as they get older they will hopefully have a better grasp of it all. They need to know that they are individuals, and as a parent of twins I need to encourage them to be individuals. If they don’t want to play the same sports or musical instruments or whatever, you know what that’s fine (it’ll be much more work but if they were all born as singletons you wouldn’t force them to do what their older sibling did so why should twins?).

You can read more on my reality of twins series here!

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The reality of having twins – the first three months

twins - first

So here we go with the reality of having twins, this is all about those daunting first three months….

The first 3 months are rough, really rough.  Having twins means you are doing everything twice and if your lucky your twins will be in sync and you can do them both at the same time, but trust me this is not always the case.  My twins often woke up at different times during the night for a feed and people often say wake the other one up so you can feed them both at the same time, but that was neither helpful or practical for us, we went by the mantra ‘never wake a sleeping baby.’  They do go through periods of being in a rhythm and its wonderful, but I always found that trying to get them onto what I thought their schedule should be never worked (I actually physically hid all the parenting books I thought would be oh so helpful and stopped listening to others advice that came from a book).  Once I started following their schedule, they knew what they wanted and when, and once I knew the signs life became that little bit easier.  Actually once they both started sleeping through the night life became wonderful again!  That happened for us around the 4 month mark.

Unless you have family or friends who have had twins no-one will understand what you are going through and it will frustrate you constantly because you will get advice that worked for their singleton.  Having two 18 months apart is not the same as twins (I have no idea whether its harder or easier but it is NOT the same so please don’t say it is, its infuriating!!).  Unfortunately you need to learn to block out all the ‘noise’ because it can really get you down and fill you with self doubt.  I’ve felt it and I’ve seen it in other twin parents who feel the pressure of what all the single mothers around them did.  Twins are different and you will work out your own way to deal with it all.  If you need support there are twins groups out there, they can help.  If your in Australia you need to check out AMBA, in the UK there is TAMBA, in Canada there is MBC and in the USA there is NOMOTC.  I’m sure there’s lots more but they are great places to start for twins, triplets, or more!

If you haven’t already guessed it costs a fortune!  You need to buy two of all the essentials – car seats, cots, a double pram, high chairs, endless clothes and nappies, and don’t even ask how much formula you will go through if you can’t (or choose not to) breastfeed.  Having twins drains your bank account and will continue to do so (I’m guessing for the rest of my life).  There is nothing to hand down from the first born to the second born because they are twins.  I’ve heard of people buying two of each toy but really I’ve found its not worth the expense.  When my twins do want the same toy they always want exactly the same toy and an identical version will not do.  So save yourself the expense and buy different things.  You’ll either be a parent who wants to dress your twins in matching clothes or not.  Personally I hate matching clothes but we were given a lot of them, so there’s been a lot of smiling and saying how wonderful and putting one of the outfits aside for gifts in the future.

The boys can be challenging and I am often glad to get them down for their sleep!  But its other people that get to me the most.  The boys meltdowns and demands I can usually handle but others peoples opinions quite honestly drive me mad.  It is hard enough being a mum these days without the added pressure of not only friends and family but complete strangers weighing in on your families business.  From the first moment we stepped out of the house we got comments from complete strangers.  Yes there were lots of ‘how cute’ and ‘are they twins’ which can start to get annoying but its the other comments that really got to me.  People have no idea about boundaries, I got everything from ‘do twins run in your family’ (which is code for did you have IVF?) to blatantly asking if they were “test tube” babies.  And then there were the people grilling me on breastfeeding, I ended up lying and saying yes of course I was (I actually knew before the boys were born that I wouldn’t be able to but for those who tried really hard and couldn’t this would be awful!).  You will never be able to go anywhere in peace again.  And nothing will ever be quick!  But you do need to get out of the house in those first three months, not just for your own sanity but because your twins need to see the world.  A walk every so often can clear your mind and make you feel good.  It can also help your twins drift off to sleep or with the help of an ipod and some headphones drown out the crying.  Once a week I would beg my husband to take us to the shops for a coffee, it became our Thursday night ritual and I looked forward to it.  Find what works for you.

You can never just quickly dash to the shops, the time alone to get the boys ready to go out and pack their bag was long.  But you learn tricks to streamline the process and as they get older the items you need to pack really changes.  Then you have to get the twins in the car and at the other end you have to get them out of the car and into the pram and navigate with your double pram and hope that you fit down the aisles.  Really most shops are either completely not accessible, seriously just rule out anything that is not a department store, or a real maze as you navigate around displays and people.  Trust me its easier when they’re little, once they get to somewhere around the year old mark they work out that they can grab things off shelves.  And you have a double pram so good luck just walking down the middle of an aisle so they cant reach.  All I can say is distraction works well and you will know which child is less interested in pulling off all the price tags and every box that looks interesting.

Anyone who tells you it will get easier is out and out lying!  Twins don’t get easier, the battles you have with them just change.  Some things become easier, while new things that you never even thought of throw another large curveball into the mix.  But this is all the fun of being a parent.

To see more posts from this series, go here!

The reality of having twins

twins

So carrying on with my reality series I thought I better start sharing what its like to have twins. Although my twins are only just approaching the 18 month mark I’ve learnt a lot over this time and hopefully I can share my experience with others.

Parenting takes a lot of patience and negotiation but with twins you need to further develop those skills along with a whole range of others. It’s hard but it’s oh so rewarding. As much as I complain at times my boys are amazing, they are the light of my life and I can’t imagine not having them. I’m looking forward to all the kisses, hugs and I love you’s that two little men can provide because it really is twice the love.

From twice the costs and double the headaches to twice the joy to go around, this series will hopefully be everything you need to know about having twins. This will be a several part series over a few weeks as it’s far too long for one post, so if you’d like to learn more I suggest you either follow us on facebook or follow my posts to keep up to date. And if there’s something you’d like to know that I haven’t posted about yet please feel free to ask and I will try to answer you as best I can.

In the meantime you can check out some of my other reality posts below…

* The reality of parenting

* The reality of having children

Check out the posts in this series here…

* The first three months