People are constantly asking us how we do it. How do you raise twins? I won’t lie, the awe can put a little pep in your step and make you feel like superwoman, but the truth is that twins are all we know. If we’d had a child before we had twins, it might be different, but as it is we don’t know anything else. I’m no expert, but these are a few of the share-worthy tips that make our days just a little bit easier.
Let them RUN! Toddlers have So. Much. Energy. and my daughters are certainly no exception. It’s truly amazing how much running they can do. We spend 95% of their waking hours outside. I like to take them on mini adventures, like a new park or to the waterfront, and now that it’s getting warm again, the beach! We go to the playground, walk around the neighborhood, play in our front yard, and go on bike rides everyday. I want to encourage their love of “outside” as much as possible.
Practice Consistency: I think this rule is universal for all children, but it’s particularly important for keeping your sanity with twins. I was a sleep nazi from day 1. I try to avoid doling out advice, but when asked directly, this is the one thing I tell new moms: Get your baby on a schedule. The girls are now 22-months old and you can set a watch by their sleep schedule. They sleep 12+ hours — uninterrupted — at night and take a 2 to 2 1/2 hour nap in the afternoon. On a bad day, it’s nice to know when your break is coming.
Consistency goes beyond sleep schedules, though. Having a morning, afternoon, and nighttime routine are important as well. Children thrive in a structured environment. It’s also easier to break from routine from time to time, since you know you can easily get back on your normal schedule the following day.
Let them problem solve: Whether it be learning how to use a new toy or fighting over something they both want, toddler twins are constantly looking to you to solve their problems. Unless they’re hurting each other, I try to stand back. Of course, there are times you need to step in — like when they’re about to walk off the edge of the ladder at the playground — or guide from afar, but the most part I try to let them figure it out for themselves.
Teach them boundaries: The toddler stage is so much fun. They understand so much, are so expressive, and are working hard to communicate. It’s fun to participate in their playtime, but it’s equally as fun to watch them play together. This is the stage that they are able to tell you what they want, so you can expect them to understand what you want from them. It’s okay to expect good behavior, but keep it in perspective. Remember that they can’t rationalize or understand like an adult, so set your expectations accordingly and have a sense of humor.
Accept help: Hire babysitters, go on day dates and date nights, spend time away from your kids, no matter how old they are. We are lucky to have my mother in Charleston and she helps A LOT. We were adamant that she wouldn’t be a caregiver and I don’t think we abuse her help, but she’s definitely my first choice. We have a handful of babysitters on call and are surrounded by friends that will help in a pinch. My best advice is to accept the help. If you have good people around you and they want to help, let them. It takes a village.
Embrace the bad days: Some days are just bad. You woke on the wrong side of the bed, they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe they don’t feel well, are overtired, or are cutting teeth. You don’t feel great everyday, so you can’t expect them to feel great everyday either. Bad days can be frustrating and it’s okay to feel annoyed, but sometimes that’s just they way it is. I refuse to accept the old adage that it’s just terrible twos. Kids are inherently good, but we all have our moments.
Take time for yourself: It’s easy to lose yourself when you have kids, so be sure that you take a moment for yourself everyday. It might only be 15 minutes and by the way, washing dishes and folding laundry doesn’t count. This is when you’ll be thankful for schedules and early bedtimes, which is my last tip. Early bedtimes are good for you and your toddlers.