When we found out that we were having twins, I was shocked beyond belief. The pregnancy was difficult (not for medical reasons, but for anxiety reasons) and the first 3-6 months were really rough.
But then, the sun started shining and I began to realize how lucky we are to have twins. The disclaimer here is that twins are tricky no matter what and that I’m not discounting anyone’s experience with multiples, I’m just saying that there are certain advantages to having twins. And here they are:
1) Twins learn how to share from day one.
Breastfeeding was very important to me and with a ton of support, I was able to breast feed my boys for 8 months and 13 months. For the first month or so, I tandem fed them which meant that they both breast fed at the same time. It was very difficult to do that and once the feedings got quicker, I shifted to feeding them one at a time. So from very, very early on, they heard me say (and watched me) as I gave them one turn at a time. And trust me when I say that the one who had to wait wasn’t always happy, but hey, guess what, that’s life and it is much easier to learn at 3-4 months old rather than at 2 years old.
So if you only have one baby, play games where each of you takes a turn from when they are wee ones. You can have a fun toy and play with it for a minute or two while saying “my turn!” before you give it to them. Continue this daily, “My turn for ‘eye spy!'” or “My turn for a bite of applesauce” so that they have the built in skill of taking turns.
2) The father has to take a lead role from day one.
Moms take on too much. That is part of being a mom originating from the days of living in a cave. One of our goals as mothers is to delegate and give the father some jobs. But we don’t do that well because we think we can do it just a little bit better. However, if you have multiples, then there is no way that you can physically handle two babies all the time. The father has to change diapers, feed the babies with bottles, cook, clean, etc.
It is so so difficult to give up some of these jobs but it is crucial for the whole family and especially for the child to have the father take a big role in raising children. Even having just one child is very difficult at the beginning but if dad takes care of the bath or the bedtime story, or one feeding, then that is one less thing you have to do and everyone will benefit from it.
3) You start them on a schedule from day one.
There are lots of differing opinions on scheduling children and in this case I’m referring more to a routine, but also to a schedule of sorts. For the first three months, I fed them when they were hungry but I fed both of them at the same time. So from the beginning I felt comfortable molding their schedule a bit so that as they got older and I did start a stricter feeding and eating schedule, it wasn’t weird for any of us.
There are some days when I feel a little jealous when I see cute kids running and playing at a friend’s house at 9pm because my boys have never been awake after 8 pm but at the same time, I love love love that when 7/ 7:30 comes around, I put the boys in their beds and they fall asleep. This is because of routine, this is because of a schedule.
If you only have one child and want to build good sleep habits, resist the urge to have them follow your schedule. Instead, build your life around their schedule. It’s not forever and it sets them up for good life-long habits. Feed them at about the same times every day, put them down for nap in their crib at the same time every day and put them to bed at the same time every night. It really does pay off in the long run.
4) Twins learn problem solving skills from early on
This one is similar to reason #1 but is different in that I’m really just saying that children learn how to “argue” at a young age. People ask me all the time if they fight a lot, and the answer is “Yes, if they are tired or hungry, they are very whiny and irrational, but otherwise, they are constantly using their problem solving skills.” What does that mean? It means that they are always negotiating, helping each other, finding solutions with each other and so on. What it means and that they are each other’s social teachers and the lessons never end.
If you only have one child, it is good to do lots of play dates and allow the children to find conflict. Don’t solve the problem yourself just to avoid the problem. Instead, help them solve the problem. Offer solutions, give ideas and see what they come up with. Non-verbal toddlers can learn lots of problem solving skills if you allow them to experience conflict.
5) The ubiquitous “two for one” (but it’s true)
I hear this so often that it is annoying, but it is also true. Pregnancy is rough, birth is rough and if you only have to do it once to get two children, then it is a real advantage.
Twins are the best thing in the world!