My twins just turned 2 years old, and looking back over the last year I realize just how far they and our family have come in a period of 12 months.
No one has to tell you that raising twins is difficult. It’s much more than the “double trouble” that everyone and their mother love to say. Unless they have their own set of twins, they will never be able to fully comprehend what it’s like.
If your twins are approaching the one-year mark, I know that you are thankful you’ve made it this far and hopefully looking forward to things getting at least a little bit easier.
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the time between my children’s first and second birthdays, with the hope that they can help you in the year ahead.
1. It Doesn’t Really Get “Easier”…Just Different
It’s a question I’ve wondered a million times and heard asked from other twin moms countless others.
When does it get easier?
I don’t know that I can say raising twins has gotten easier (at least not yet). The challenges as they grow just become different.
Yes, you’ll become more skilled at multitasking and fine-tuning a routine that helps prevent all hell from breaking loose in your household. But then something will change and you’ll feel like you’re back at square one.
The biggest change that will challenge you after your twins’ first birthday will be their mobility. My daughter took her first steps at 11 months, and my son 2 months later. It’s so exciting to see them growing and learning. But then their mobility skills grow exponentially and suddenly you are frantically chasing 2 toddlers running in opposite directions at a park with no fence.
So no, I can’t say it gets easier. You will be constantly learning and growing as a parent, just like they are as crazy tiny human beings who are seemingly intent on self-destruction.
2. The Fog Will Lift and You Will Graduate from “Survival Mode”
While raising your twins won’t necessarily feel like it gets easier, you will start to feel like you are no longer in survival mode sometime during their second year of life.
You know by know that year one with twins is only about survival. Anyone who tells you the opposite is spouting a complete lie. At the end of year one with my twins my house was still a complete disaster and all I could think about doing was just keeping the kids alive for the next 24 hours.
For me, the mental fog started to lift around 18 months, and I started to feel like I could somewhat start living my life again. Our kids did start sleeping through the night for 12 hour stretches around their first birthday. After that breakthrough, my husband and I were able to slowly recover from the prior 12 months of not even having time to take care of ourselves.
From 12 to 18 months we worked on getting our home back in order and developing shopping, chore, and meal-planning routines that brought us out of the drowning feeling.
It was a great feeling going to bed at the end of the day without a sink full of dirty dishes, the looming question of what we were going to eat the next day, and the weak hope that I could get to the store before we ran out of diapers. It took some dedication to creating a household routine and sticking to it, but once it was in place and running smoothly, we were able to start thinking and living outside of a 24-hour window.
3. Your Twins’ Bond Grow MUCH Stronger
I can’t fully describe how amazing it is now to see how close my son and daughter are, and how much they care about and do for each other.
They have never known being alone. And with their growing mobility and language skills, they have become closer than ever. They are always on the lookout to make sure their other half is being treated equally. My son loves to grab their cups at mealtime and put his sister’s at her seat before he takes his own. They will give each other hugs and kisses when they are sad or hurt. They have made up several “games” that they play cooperatively (a skill that usually doesn’t emerge until around age 4).
They are inseparable. I do regret, though, not taking more opportunities for one-on-one time over the past year with them. My husband recently took my son to the doctor while my daughter stayed home with our au pair. My son was worried and concerned the entire time with where his sister was.
As much as I love how much they love each other, I do want them to learn to be individuals. Try to avoid my mistake of not starting earlier on with time dedicated to each twin separately. I am hoping that on weekends now my husband and I can take our kids out for some short outings separately.
4. This is the Time to Refocus on Your Partner
Surviving a twin pregnancy and then keeping those children alive for the first year consumes every ounce of energy and focus you have. At the end of the day, you’re drained and have nothing left to give. It’s likely that you have had minimal quality time with your partner during the journey so far.
That’s why it is so important that once you feel the fog begin to lift during their second year of life, you start to devote more time towards your relationship. It’s still not going to be like it was before twins, but you need to commit some focus to each other to continue on your journey.
Like I said, it won’t necessarily get easier, but recharging your bond with your partner will help both of you tackle the new challenges that come as your twins grow.
I can tell you firsthand that it is so easy to just collapse on the couch next to each other and stare at the TV after the kids go to bed, but that is not going to help your relationship.
Try to make arrangements that will let you go out at least once a month without the kids. It could be having lunch together while your parents entertain the kids for a few hours, or a babysitter coming over after they go to bed so you can grab a late dinner and movie.
During the week, make an effort to do something other than pass out on the couch every night. Yes, you both need to rest and you’re not going to have the energy to do something every night. But try to plan something a little more engaging at least once a week. Start with small things like stargazing outside for 20 minutes while you talk, or playing a couple rounds of Euchre (yes I’m from the Midwest).
Don’t wait too long to reconnect with your partner, or the next year will only be harder.
5. Keep Calm
From age 1 to 2, your children’s understanding of the world around them grows exponentially. They will try everything. They will not succeed at many things. Combine this with their very immature understanding of emotions and you have two tiny ticking time-bombs on your hands that feed off and influence each other.
The biggest piece of advice I have as you your twins reach toddler-hood is to do your best to just keep calm. They will look to you for how to react to events, and will also feed off YOUR emotions in the moment. The best way to help them through a difficult time is to keep an even tone of voice and stay calm.
Did your child get hurt? Go comfort him but stay as calm as possible – kids get over minor injuries quickly if you don’t make a big deal out of it. If you get overexcited, he’ll feel like it should be a big deal. So it becomes one.
Is your toddler doing something she shouldn’t? I can absolutely tell you that yelling at them to stop is not effective. It might stop them at first because they are evaluating your reaction, but eventually the yelling will lose any effectiveness it initially held. Then they’ll just think it’s fun to make you mad and they’ll do it more. True story.
If they are doing something they are not supposed to (and is not an immediate danger to them), try your best to calmly tell them “No, we don’t do _____” and redirect them. Take away whatever they are doing to cause trouble if you need to. Just keep the emotions out of it, because escalation only makes it worse.
It is soooo frustrating because it takes a lot of time and consistency to curb bad behaviors in twin toddlers with how much they influence each other. You’ll feel like you’re a broken record telling them to stop. It will take everything in your power to stay calm. But I’ve been down the emotional response road and it has never ended well. Either they’ll just start ignoring you, or your emotions will supercharge theirs and lead to a meltdown that solves/teaches nothing.
Save the emotions and yelling for when there is a true safety issue, such as if your child is about to run out into the road. You don’t want them to become desensitized to you raising your voice, and ignore you when they are in immediate danger.
There’s Always Challenge Ahead
Making it through to my children’s 2nd birthday has reinforced to me that there will always be a new challenge to face.
Though I don’t think it necessarily gets easier, life raising twins does get better. The first year teaches you what you are capable of, and you learn the skills you will need to carry on. The fog does lift in the second year, which will allow you to regain some of the control you formerly had of your life.
Once you feel like you have some control back, make sure to refocus some time and energy into your relationship. You need it to keep going and face those new challenges.
Your twins’ relationship with each other will grow, for better or for worse. They will show love for each other like you’d never imagine, and they will work together to cause you endless headaches. Just make sure to spend some time with them separately to encourage their individual growth.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to call on your twin momma friends for help and advice. They’ve been there and will completely understand what you are facing. If you haven’t yet, connect with your local multiples club.
What fears do you have about your twins passing their first birthday milestone? The comments are open for your questions!