Staying sane after newborn twins can often be a struggle for parents. Having and looking after newborn twins adds loads of fun and joy to your life but it can also be STRESSFUL! Apparently it is a leading cause for divorce. My beautiful twinnes are now 4 but if I think back to their first few months of life it becomes a blur of feeding, changing and sleep deprivation. Here are a few things my husband and I did to care for our twins. I hope these tips on having twins and raising twins can help you. Many of the points also apply to mums with one newborn baby. Here are Sue’s 17 Bright Ideas for Staying Sane After Newborn Twins:
Divide and conquer – This is what my husband and I used to call dividing up the workload and the sleeping schedule. I bottle fed which meant my husband could help feed when he wasn’t at work. From Sunday to Thursday I did the night shifts and on Saturday and Sunday (when he didn’t have to go to work the next day) hubby took the night shifts. This gave me two nights of full sleep per week which as any new mum knows is absolute bliss. Sleep lets you enjoy having twins that much more and is is key to staying sane after newborn twins.
Double cuddle twin feeding pillow – This is the greatest invention in the world!! (For those who have trouble breastfeeding twins and are bottle feeding.) If you have ever tried bottle feeding two babies at once by propping them up on cushions its really tricky. This fabulous invention allows you to bottle feed two babies comfortably at once. It saved me hours of time in the day and the night and allowed one person to be able to do the feeding duties.
Routine – I found following a strict routine really worked for me when looking after my twins. I got my routine from a book called “A Contented House with Twins” by Gina Ford. I modified the routine in the book slightly to fit my own needs but once the twins were in a routine and I knew when they would sleep and when they would be awake it really helped me. I found that having a routine for my twin babies also helped me organise the other areas of my life and gave me more time with my other child.
Separated bowl for feeding – When the twins started eating real food I would make up two bowls of food for them, but I would then have to keep switching from one bowl to another. I then contemplated just using one bowl, but then their food gets contaminated with the spoon from the other twin and its also harder to work out how much each twin has eaten. One day I found a bowl in the chemist that had two separate compartments. It was fab! Here is an example of one that separates milk from cereal so it doesn’t get soggy (also a bright idea!) called the Obol, but it would work well for twins.
Swing chairs – My parents bought me two chairs that would swing automatically and I found them invaluable and helped me a lot when staying sane after newborn twins. For me it was a great way for staying sane after newborn twins. During the night when I fed the babies, I would feed them both together in the feeding pillow, half way through the bottle I would burp them. Finish the feed. I would then re-wrap them both. I would cuddle and settle one and put the other in the swing chair. I would then put number 1 to bed. I would then pick up Number 2 from the swing (who was no already half asleep thanks to the swing) give them a cuddle and put them to bed. The chairs were also great for the day so they could see what was going on in the world, see the other get bathed etc, or for fractious times when nothing else helped.
Get help – Never say no to help. Accept any help possible. Write out a list of chores so when people offer help you know what jobs to give them. Caring for newborn twins is tiring and no one expects you to be a miracle worker. Most people are happy to help.
Prepare meals and get a slow cooker – I found cooking in big batches and freezing food saved lots of time. This can be done for both family dinners and baby food. I also found it quite comforting to have a freezer full of food that required limited preparation. You never know when you are going to have a terrible afternoon of tears and tantrums (the kids, not you hopefully).
Mental game – I think getting through the first few weeks and months of looking after twins and the sleep deprivation are a mental game as well as a physical one. I used to amuse myself by seeing how quickly I could do my jobs and then trying to beat the time the next time I did it. For example, it took me 6 mins to change nappies on both babies – could I do it in 5? 45 mins in the night for babies up, changed, fed and back to sleep – could I do it in 40? (Ok it does sound a bit weird when I write it down – you can find your own thing but it sure helped me when I was trying for staying sane after newborn twins). Every minute less you spend doing jobs means extra cuddle and play time!
Assist them to be good sleepers – Sleep is key to staying sane after newborn twins. If they sleep well they won’t be tried and cranky in the day. If you sleep well you won’t tired and cranky in the day. Teach your babies good sleeping habits from Day 1. Point #3 really helps here.
Basinette – I found using basinettes initially for newborn twins was useful. If one was fractious, you could separate them easily so it didn’t wake the other one up. You could also bring the twins into your bedroom easily, or move them to living areas during the day.
Washing – Typical families always have loads of clothes washing and it takes up sooo much time. I found that doing mine everyday was the only way I could stay on top of it. I could find time to do 20 mins of folding and putting away but I couldn’t find 2 hours to do a huge basket full.
Time out – I am not talking about the “naughty corner” type, rather, I am talking about the parent type. Even a 1/2 hr trip to the local cafe by yourself, or a 10 min walk around the block, can do wonders when you are caring for twins. Time out without having twins with you is a must for staying sane after newborn twins.
Don’t over commit – It’s really easy to commit to every social event going on, especially when you want to show off your beautiful twins. I started to realise however, that too many social events meant two overtired, overstimulated bubs, two exhausted parents and a toddler who was usually full of treats. Fun while you are out but a bit chaotic when you got home. Like all good things, moderation is the best approach.
Take the twins for a walk – This was my fall back for those times when I had two crying newborns, a toddler who felt a bit left out and a sleep deprived mum and dad. I would stick the twins in the pram and go for a walk which usually calmed them down, got me some fresh air and a bit of exercise and amused my toddler as we found things to look at along the way. My only problem was I live within walking distance of an Aldi – anyone need a yoghurt maker?
Separate clothes into “Good/Going Out” and “Around the House” – I kept two piles of clothes for each of my children. “Around the House” usually onesies that required no ironing. I used these wherever possible. When we were going out I grabbed from the other pile,”Good/ Going Out”. It saved on washing and kept their going out clothes looking fresh. It also ensured the twins had something clean and nice to wear when we did go out. Nothing is better than having twins look super cute in their matching outfits!
Be kind to yourself – You are doing a good job, your house is clean enough, your other kids won’t die of malnutrition if they have soup and sandwiches for dinner one night etc, your partner will still love you even if you are wearing tracky daks etc……. Looking after newborn twins, or babies in general, is hard work so be proud of yourself when you get to the end of the day.
Join a Mums group – Support from other mums going through the same thing can be really helpful for all parents staying sane after newborn twins. My Mothers Group friends and I from my first child 6 years ago still catch up (Hello lovely ladies!). The Australian Multiple Birth Association can also provide valuable adviceon having twins and support.
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