Raising Twins Through Ages, Stages & Phases – It Really Does Get Easier With Twins (When, How, Etc.)
Raising Twins Through Ages, Stages & Phases – It Really Does Get Easier With Twins (When, How, Etc.)
But it’s going to take some time. It is worth the wait, and you will look back and smile.. I PROMISE!
**I’m writing this ‘through the stages’ with twins post, until 4 years old, because now I have 4+ years under my belt, so I can speak from true experience, not from a psychology degree. This is much more accurate 😆 . It’s worth reading if you are in the thick of it now, or one day will be.**
I remember marveling my 2 little newborns napping in their boppy pillows as I typed here on my blog in the mornings. They’d be right behind me on the bed, and I’d turn around and just soak in the amazing and seemingly impossible feat my body had recently accomplished. How ‘lil ‘ol me carried and birthed these two perfect human beings. Something I had feared before went from a ‘once upon a time’ admitted nightmare, into a dream come true I never knew I had before.
When they woke I’d feed them, and they’d drift right back off to sleep. I wished I could wake them so I could interact with them more. I knew one day I would wish they napped more, but I still couldn’t help but want to see those 4 beautiful eyes more often, nonetheless. This was phase one. Despite some night-time wake ups, I was high as a kite during this period of time with my twins. It was the opposite of postpartum depression, it was postpartum elation. My heart never felt so full.
Me and my husband were working together beautifully as a team. I worried so that we might just crumble and fall apart at the seams when I first heard the news of twins and spent 37 weeks thinking about it, nervously imagining our future. The news that had divided us enough to barely talking, shocking us to our core, was actually bringing us closer together AFTER the fact. It was the opposite of how I imagined things, thankfully. The more difficult task we faced daily, was the intense jealousy from our very spoiled 4 year old daughter. It seemed like nobody on earth, online or in real life, could compare their sibling struggles, even with multiples, to anything close to what we were enduring, but I made special time for everybody. I was pulling myself apart literally to make everybody happy. It was working out.
Balancing everybody’s needs and blending these two babies into our household was challenging no doubt, but not as difficult as I had predicted since I kept my mind so negative all the while (during my pregnancy). I had no ‘fantasies’ in my mind of this being a perfect, easy journey. I was tired, but every night we had our system. I did get some sleep, and you’d be surprised how you can survive on less than you used to, as somebody who had always needed my 8 hours prior. God gives you that ability with multiples, I swear. 4 and 1/2- 5 hours a night felt like 10 hours during those newborn days. God gives you the energy I swear. I was more exhausted with my singletons.
Fast forward to crawling and walking:
Things got more hectic with the new and sometimes scary new movements and feats they acquired, but things were still manageable. Crawling is when they started getting into stuff, and we had to fence in the living room, baby-proof absolutely everything, and worry about them finding little things on the rug that we couldn’t see (but they could) and possibly put them into their little mouths. That was scary, but our good friend the vacuum who knew us very well by this point in time, was a major help there.
There were a lot of fun milestones being reached all the time, which was fun. There was a lot to talk about and to write down. Outings were fun yet slow-moving as people were drawn to us like we were celebrities. In a way I sort of miss that. (Go figure.) The teething was tougher for one twin than for the other, but we survived it all. Some nights were worse than others. You really just need to have one another’s backs as a couple. Just become a team and weather the storms together. Things will turn out just fine.
Any amount of children will test your relationship to its limits. You just can’t let anything divide you. Talk before the birth of your twins about all of this. We didn’t and it still worked out, but it is best to discuss everything that lies ahead and make your game plan, sooner than later. Not binding together will make life much harder on you guys and on everyone, as kids sense your martial tension and frustrations.
My biggest fear during this period was two kids of the same age walking at the same time. There was a 2 month difference, which helped. However, I do remember so much fear as their little feet hit the pavement. They were wobbly, but still aimed to try and not only walk but cruise. I remember seeing a couple with 13 month old triplets on a ‘multiple’s leash’ I guess one would call it. A type of baby harness, to keep those kids there and protected. I couldn’t blame her at all. I couldn’t picture going through this whole walking thing with THREE at once. God bless her.
Fears of falling on faces, scuffed knees, or what could happen with a terrible tumble. You just wanted to protect, but at the same time they were pushing to roam free. Making sure they stayed in one piece as they became more adventurous was #1 on my to-do list. Nevertheless, I didn’t let my fears stop me. We were out at the parks, malls, museum, carnivals, pools and parks every day of the week. I took them out alone the majority of the time. It was still easier than I had predicted while I was pregnant with multiples.
18 months through the terrible twos:
OK, I’d say from 18 months+ is when things got tougher. I was wondering why all those women who told me the 1st year (namely the 1st 6 months) was the hardest with multiples. I thought to myself at times, ”Damn you liars :lol:!.” I guess for many it is just because of the feedings and sleep adjustments, it just was not for us. What made this time so tough was the following:
1) The struggles of dividing yourself among the kids more than ever, and sometimes a big return to jealousy for those with older siblings.
They were two real, little people now who needed you to interact more than ever. They showed affection (and sometimes the opposite) and craved affection and attention constantly. And for the jealous sibling(s) who had you all to him or her or themselves before the babies came, and then during all of the napping they got to have a lot more of us as well. This became a huge ‘once again’ challenge. The big kids felt like they lost a little more of us (their parents) again around this time because the twins had become so dependant, clingy and in need for your constant entertainment, though some twins of this age start entertaining each other, it is a bit early for the true friendship to emerge without any bloodshed. Siblings acting out wasn’t abnormal, but was quite hard to manage at the end of an exhausting day chasing new and fast toddlers.
They were no longer just little beings requiring every couple of hour feedings. They weren’t sitting in bouncy seats cooing and babbling away. They were hugging on you, reaching for you, wanting and needing you all day long. The green-eyed monster, the one that had become partially submerged, was back and rearing its ugly head again. It was more of a juggling act than ever before, and it got HARD. I think people with twins first have a major, major advantage. Or couples with older children that long to help out or aren’t quite as needy. We didn’t have that. Ours was an extreme case, so try and fear not. I hadn’t met anybody else in our exact shoes, who had it quite as bad as we did.
2) They were into and onto everything.
This was a point where they actually were drawn to danger and were extra susceptible to finding it. Later on into the 2’s when they were danger aware and started avoiding it, and were becoming more careful with their own safety, it was a load lifted (partially) off of our chests. You had to be right by and behind them at any given moment just in case though still. I felt like I was a bodyguard for two separate people, but I was guarding their bodies from themselves. If nothing else it was terrific exercise :lol:.
3) Different directions, oh my Lord!
Some sets of twins I saw following one another (at least sometimes). Not this pair back then. They were always off in two different directions and it was tiring, as I never worked out more in my life. It was good for keeping the body toned and the weight fairly stable, but it was really tough. People being empathetic to my plight was a nice thing. Praising me for a job so well done was nice. That gave me a good feeling inside. Being at home with twins wasn’t any easier to me, maybe harder actually, so staying in all of the time.. no good. It was a good thing for all of us to get out all of the time, and I highly recommend it for you to.
4) Miscommunications lead to twin frustrations.
At this age the twins would be trying to convey certain messages to us, and they couldn’t always get their points across, which caused massive frustration in them. Sometimes, in one of my twins most especially, it would create tantrums at this age. Ignoring them and not fighting them was key. I knew in time that they would express themselves easier and this frustration would pass, so I had to handle it as best as I could, and we quite quickly rode the wave to year 3.
5) The fighting, oh my the fighting.
I met some twin pairs that the mother would tell me how they never or barely ever fought. I remember loathing those mothers for getting so lucky. I felt like a referee, more so than a mom most times. My girls went for blood. Starting at a a year and 1/2 they would get REALLY dirty in the boxing ring. Before then it was a little hair pulling, slapping and some biting, which I didn’t like but could keep up with. But they got bigger and stronger and started really going for the jugular. I’d cry on the inside because I thought twins were supposed to be the closest of friends, not worst enemies.
The tender moments at this stage were very few and far between, in hindsight. And usually time makes you glamorize the past and not recall the worst aspects of things, so I know it was bad. I’d be cutting and filing nails every day because scratches on their faces were the new trend it seemed. I was forever running around Neosporin and Mederma in hand. They still have some very, very faint scarring from an attack or two. It seemed like constant protecting one twin from another during this stage. No worries about your own set. I seemed to have it worse than most (maybe all) other twin moms and dads that I spoke to. This was the major challenge of this time period. Keeping them alive, not just from outside dangers or household dangers, but from one another even more so.
3 years old:
1) Frustrations decreased as little minds developed.
The first part of 3 is where things seemed to get better and easier. I wrote a post on here about it, and I knew with singletons the term terrible twos should be replaced by terrible 3’s, but it seemed different with twins. Now they understood what I wanted from them better. They could express themselves with much more ease, they projected their wants and desires, so there was less frustration, which meant a huge decline in tantrums.
2) There was a slight (and ever-growing) increase in the twin bond
There were some hugs and quick kisses. Facial scratching and habits like biting, etc. seemed to be a thing of the past. (At least mostly.) But just as things were settling down in the ‘mommy ref.’ department, the storms rose up again in other ways.
3) 2 minds working together can be far more scary 😆 .
Their devious ways were ever-growing. When they would ‘bond together’ they were ganging up on poor ‘ol mom and dad like Cagney & Lacey, but not for the side of good. Sibling jealousy was still ever present. Naps were LONG gone, and so there was a lot of night-time hell because in the evening hours they would get so ornery from all of the activity during the day and no sleep inbetween rising and bedtime (and this did start well before 3 when they gave naps up) they’d have meltdowns at some point in the day. We knew it was from being tired, but there was only so much we could do. Their mouths were far larger and louder than they used to be.
Their frustrations lessened a lot, but not mom and dads. I think 2 and 1/2 to 3 and 1/2 was the hardest on me and my husband. We seemed to fight more because of the ongoing chaos. We had different ideas on how to handle certain situations, which you want to stay on the same page as your spouse, and we had been. But I guess everybody butts heads at one time or another. Just like everything else, it was a phase.
Now they were little humans with really formed personalities, and the former bully because the bully-ee. It was amazing to watch them change and grow, but the bigger and stronger they got, the more trouble they were itching to get into, and the more they could hurt one another if and when they wanted to. I was back to playing ref again for awhile there. It wasn’t as frequent, but it was scarier because they’d play and go for an attack at the least likely moment. It wasn’t as predictable, and they were FAST!
4) Outings became easier for mom & dad.
It was easier to not have to follow their every move at the park and stuff. Much less parental fear and panic. They knew all about danger and most always tried to stay away from anything they weren’t confident in, however, I do have two little daredevils, so I have to follow ‘to a point’ still to this day, but they are amazing in what they can do. Very brave and independent compared to my previous singletons of the same age. I think putting them in gymnastics at 2.5 really ended up paying off in the long run. It gave them time to get out some pent up energy, they learned to listen and follow instructions.
At the start at 2 and 1/2 they were a train wreck. I wondered if we should take them out of gymnastics because they weren’t listening. Within a month or two TOPS they were following along like champs, and now it’s such a great experience for them. Body, mind and soul. They listen better, stay disciplined and focused. It’s wonderful for either boy or girls. Times 2 it is quite expensive though. With a set like ours that were always such danger junkies and monkeys hanging upside down at the playground so young, we really felt like we had no option. I was once a gymnast. I had no complaints about it. It honestly kept me out of trouble over the years.
Then the tail end of 3 and the start of 4 came along:
1) You really have to watch what you say.
They aren’t into that annoying repeat everything you say phase now, but they do understand way more. I am not looking forward to next year. We will be spelling things out to get personal messages across back and forth, from me to hubby. But at this point, they became developed, smart little ladies. Do they get moody as all heck sometimes? Absolutely. But in major ways the tides have turned in very positive ways. When they start school in September (most moms will admit) things get easier. I’m honestly not even looking forward to that. I enjoy spending my days with them, however, I will finally have some time to get my own work done here at home.
2) The twin bond further heightens.
The lacking twin bond I used to pine over has certainly developed in a more positive way. It was a seemingly overnight change that could not have been more welcomed. Suddenly my girls were entertaining each other, making my life A LOT easier. I know some twin moms note this benefit as early as 9-12 months in, but for us it was a delayed gift that was worth the wait. Now I can trust them together as the fighting has decreased immensely.
Do they still get mad and throw an occasional blow to one another? YES. But so do any other two siblings. Honestly now that we are well into the 4’s, I think they are better together than two other siblings close in age. They have the exact same age and stages as a common thread between them. They laugh at things together when I have no idea what they are laughing at. There are times now where they will hold hands even (praise God), and call each other their best friend now, which I find just darling.
3) Don’t forget other siblings still. They need you!
My son will be leaving for college soon. He’s almost 18 (obviously a male), and there was a HUGE age gap between children, as is what commonly happens with parents that go into new relationships. So sadly for my newly 9 year old daughter, in certain ways, it was like being an only child with twins thrown into her world the whole time. So making sure to spend enough time with her has been key.
Make sure to find that time and make it happen if you have a situation like mine. Know you will get through it. The sad part is that I wanted a sibling for HER benefit. I know these two will be wonderful ones for her down the line, but right now, the more that they have each other and shun her, I see it in her eyes. I know that even though they were all up in her stuff, they used to come to her and look up to her, and sometimes now she’s kind of cut out from the equation.
Mikayla even allows herself to be bullied by them at times, which I try and deflect and tell her, ”You are the big sister. You need to make them know that so they respect you more.” She did say the other day, ”They have each other and I have nobody.” Something I feared hearing from the second I learned that I was having twins and not one baby as planned, but I tell her about how the future will be and how she has me until then. They do play sometimes, but it’s not so easy. Again, moms with twins first (or only twins) have a great advantage here. It is not this bad for everybody, (Again, I must clarify.)
Is life now how I predicted it would be before I conceived these two locos 😆 ? Heck no. But sometimes life throws you curve balls, and you just have got to follow the winding path to wherever it leads you, and have faith in God that he’ll see you through. Life is just a series of tests, and you can and will pass them all as long as you keep your eyes on the prize. Loving and enjoying your beautiful family, remembering that some people aren’t as fortunate as you are, despite your current exhaustion… this to shall pass. Treasure it all.
Even in the tough times, you have to find joy in them, because every experience in life is mixed with both good times and bad times; hard times and easy(ier) times. You DO surpass them. And one day when you look back you will smile on EVERYTHING! Yes, even sleepless nights and stories about that dirty diaper flying across the room and causing a mess, and those twin toddler battles that should have been held in a boxing ring. It all is truly worth it. I know this was God’s plan for our lives, even though I surely could not see it at the time. Stay strong and know that everything falls into place. I’m no more special than you are. I am far from a super human.
Me and my husband are on track again. We are getting together more, meaning more time for sex, more time for enjoying one another, for watching kids enjoy each other rather than standing by to console someone constantly, or to offer up first aid.. ha, ha. It really is something that makes me tear up to watch because THIS NOW is how I always thought they should be. How I thought twins were from the start of it. Some fighting like regular siblings yes, but more love and a connection between them. More playing. more expression of care and concern. It just does a mother’s heart good, and I can truly see that 4 is a much more magical number. At least for my twins.
I’d honestly re-live everything I have gone through with them just to have those moments back again. Yes, everything… the good, the bad and the ugly, just because I miss them little no matter the struggles. It all goes by too fast, so embrace it all, and keep your relationship a huge priority as you go along in this. The worst thing is to become so divided that you lose one another. YOU NEED EACHOTHER’S SUPPORT IN THIS! With one baby you need to stand as one, with two you must, must, must! This experience will at times test you and the strength of your marriage, but nothing can break it if you do not allow it to.
So my best advice is…
1) Accept that your partner will make mistakes, as will you. Don’t let it divide you.
You have to be in this adventure together.
2) Do make time for one another.
Don’t allow your relationship to get completely lost in the shuffle. This is a huge reason for divorce after children.
3) Do get your rest whenever you can.
This includes naps of your own, and time to just de-stress and unwind. Working together with your partner (friends and family also) you should be able to do this. It is time for you to get back in touch with you and who YOU are, and maybe do something to make yourself feel good again. Get a manicure, your hair done, take a spin class. Whatever once gave you pleasure and an increase in self-esteem..DO IT! Make it happen.
4) Don’t take on the world.
Taking on twins is a ride in and of itself. One child is a ride, two is more fun, but it is also harder, nobody can deny that. Don’t expect to keep a perfect house, a sexually satisfied husband at all times, all children completely content 24/7. It just isn’t possible. If you don’t expect perfection and accept imperfection, as there will be some… you will feel like a much better mother, wife and woman. Don’t run yourself ragged, and do let certain things slide for awhile. Things that can slide. (Not like feeding your kids, I mean like the laundry and dishes, etc.) You aren’t a superhuman, even if you are a super mom.
5) Realize that there will be times where things get easier and then things get harder (like overnight) again.
There are stages, phases, changes, but there is no perfect age. There will be hardships and changes with any and every age up until your children leave home, and even beyond. I’m not quite there yet, but WAH!!! Not too far off anyway. You may see things get wonderful and boom.. a step back with your twins. Expect waves, expect ups and downs. But do know that in a WHOLE.. things do get easier. You manage things better, you become more ‘been there, done that’. You are a pro or a ‘pro-to-be’ depending on when you are reading this. Nothing can tear you down and break your spirit unless you let it. Follow the road and eventually you will get to a happy place where you can watch your twins in amazement and say, ”Damn it, I did a freakin’ terrific job!”
So this is our story over the first 4 years of life. I hope it helps out somebody. I know it is extremely long, but it has been a long journey. Twins have ended up being the greatest gift that I never could have expected. Through it all, it’s SO worth it!
Good luck twin moms and twin mamas-to-be!!
(Mama P. has got your back from start to finish 😎 !)