As I approach the first anniversary of birthing two humans on the same day (otherwise known as the twins’ first birthday) I thought it would be a good time to write down a list of things that got me through this first year not only as a parent of twins but also a stay at home parent. This past year has been a huge learning experience and I know I have a long road ahead of me, but it feels good to have made it to this milestone. There were bumps, some days it felt like there were freaking cliffs, but I made it through it and I feel like I have some tips for those who are either new to the world of staying home with kids or about to have multiples or those who just enjoy reading things that I write. (who wouldn’t, right??)
10 tips for surviving the first year with multiples as a stay at home parent:
1. Me time is not just a suggestion, it’s the most important.
EVERYDAY schedule in some time for yourself. Not every once in a while, not when you can fit it in, EVERY SINGLE FREAKING DAY. Sorry for yelling, but I cannot stress this one enough. This does not have to be a big thing, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. For me, I go to dance classes a few times a week and on days when I don’t, I will take the dog for a 25 minute walk, or take a bath and watch an episode of Friends. It doesn’t have to be much but it has to be something. Even if you just go to your room and shut the door and meditate for 20 minutes, something to clear your head and come back to reality. I came across a quote that resonated with me regarding this and I say it to myself regularly (see below). Your kids need you to be okay and in order for you to be okay you need to take some time to yourself to find yourself and remember that you are more than a booger and butt wiper and keeper of food.
One thing that can be easy to do when you are in the thick of all of it is forget to take care of yourself, I have already touched on that. However, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE EAT! I know first hand how easy it can be to forget to eat, something I never thought would be possible before I had kids, I mean, I LOVE food. But crying kids and busy schedules can do that to you. And nothing eliminates patience like being HANGRY. You know, being so hungry that you’re actually angry at the world and everything in it. I can tell when I’m getting to that point because every request, every cry, can be earth shattering from me wanting to yell in anger or cry, just because I’m hungry. When you stay at home with multiples, or any children for that matter, patience is something that you need an abundance of and not eating can shatter that. Now sitting down to a meal is rarely a possibility for me so I choose to leave little stations around the house. You know, like diaper stations but for food. Little protein bars and a bottle of water so you can grab a quick bite whenever you need it. And you will need it.
3. Do your best to get over the guilt.
Seriously, like I have room to talk about this one. I’m the worst at feeling guilty about ever leaving. Even if it’s just for an hour I feel like I should be there. But once I’m out and after I come back I realize that it really helped all of us. It gave my husband time to spend some time alone with his kids which he appreciates and me some time to reboot. I have also felt guilty when I hear other parents talk about how they take their kids to a different park every day, or they are Pinterest-ing the crap out of crafts and all I managed to do that day was make sure everyone ate and had their diapers changed. You are doing what is best for you and your family, whether you are a crafting maniac or go to parks all the time or watch movies with your kids. You do you, and don’t you dare feel guilty or compare yourself to other parents out there. You’re amazing.
4. Don’t compare your kids to each other, or anyone else for that matter.
When you have kids, it’s easy to compare them to other kids when it comes to developmental milestones. When you have multiples, the comparison to each other can be overwhelming since you see it for yourself every day. If one twin is crawling but the other isn’t, it can be stressful thinking that they are behind. THEY AREN’T. As long as you and your pediatrician are comfortable with where your child is at then there is no need to stress over it. Each kid will do their own thing on their own time. And seriously, as a mother of four I can tell you that having a late crawler or walker isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. Once they are mobile, the challenges and supervision increase exponentially.
5. Have a schedule, but prepare and be open for the unexpected.
Schedules are crazy important when it comes to having multiples. My husband and I have always been big on schedules with all our kids because that’s what works best for us. However when it comes to multiples, having a schedule can help save your sanity. We would wake one when the other got up to eat, started on naps at the same time every day and eating at the same time every day and adjusting it as they got older. Of course there will be hiccups and that’s okay, you will survive. One twin will get sick and wake up a bunch, or you have a family event that will mean you have to be out of the house during a scheduled nap. Do your best to keep your cool and know that you can work to get back on track tomorrow.
6. Have a weekly schedule.
Like I said, my husband and I are big schedule people, it’s just what works for us. One thing that I feel helps me tremendously is having a weekly schedule of things I get done. For example, I do laundry every Tuesday and Thursday and I clean the bathroom and vacuum every Friday morning. This just ensures that everything gets done and I’m not overloaded with stuff on the weekends or in the evenings. Of course sometimes these things don’t always get done and that’s okay, but I try to stick to it so there are no surprises and everyone knows what to expect.
7. Prepare what you can the night before.
Nothing starts a day off stressful like having a whole mess of stuff to do or clean or put together first thing in the morning. I like to pull out all my kids clothes for the next day and set them out on their dressers so it’s one less thing to pick out and argue about in the morning (if you have an indecisive fashionista child like mine, this can be crucial). I also like to have my clothes picked out and the dishes put away and backpacks packed (if you have older kids) all the night before. After my kids go to bed, even if I’m so tired I can hardly stand anymore, all I need is 5 minutes so straighten up the shoes and put away the dinner dishes and it makes my next morning go that much smoother.
8. Get up and get ready for the day before the kids get up.
Before I had my multiples I never cared to get up and get ready before my older two kids got up. I wanted to sleep. However this would cause problems when I wouldn’t be able to shower until nap time some days and some days not at all. I never felt quite right about it but I just wanted to sleep. Once my twins started sleeping on a decent schedule and my husband went back to work I decided I would get up before anybody else and shower and get ready for the day. This changed everything. Not only was it time to myself and enjoy a shower without being accompanied by 4 tiny people, but it was a good way to start the day. I get up at 5:40 everyday, ugh so early but truly worth it. Now, if my older kids want to go outside during the twins’ morning nap, I don’t have to worry about needing to get ready or go outside in my pjs.
9. Be okay with asking and accepting help.
I HATE asking for help. I was raised to be independent so the idea of staying at home and counting on my husband to financially support us was incredibly difficult for me. But it did and still does make the most sense for us and our family. Even though it took some time, I have accepted that and am glad every day that we made this choice. One thing that I have a hard time with still though is asking for help or accepting it when it’s offered. Just recently I had all 4 kids sick with a virus at the same time. I wasn’t sleeping and the house was so gross and felt like a giant germ, all I could do was cry. So I called my mom and asked if there was any way she could take all the kids for a while the next weekend so I could clean my house and take a nap. It was so hard for me to ask because I was embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up. She completely understood and did it without even a flinch. After you have your multiples you will find your people that are willing to help you and you shouldn’t ever feel guilty about it. You are caring for more than one baby for crying out loud, give yourself a break!
10. The first few months don’t count for ANY of this.
The first few months of the life of your multiples are all about survival. Just take it day by day, make sure you are eating, and every once in a while take a shower. Do your best to take some self care time each day, even if it’s a 10 minute snooze when your partner comes home. Find some kind of groove that works for all of you. For us it was to wake the other twin when one woke up to keep them on the same schedule. What works for some doesn’t work for all, spend some time figuring out what works for you and your babies. You will be tired, like next level tired. But please know that this will not last forever and you will look back on it with fondness and a new appreciation for your badass self for getting through it.
When all else fails, (because there will be days where seriously everything fails) just remember how insanely awesome you are. You are taking care of tiny humans and the job is gross, underpaid, undermined, and just plain icky sometimes. But you’re doing it and you’re rocking it. Some days will suck and some days will rock. Some days you will kick ass and everyone will be fed, you will be clean, the house will be clean and you’ll even do a Pinterest craft. Some days all you can accomplish is that the kids are alive and that’s absolutely okay. You are enough, you are amazing and you, my friend, are a rock star!!
Don’t forget to have a little fun today!