How Do You Do It?

This is probably one of the most oft asked questions of parents of multiples. The simplest answer is: "You just do." While this may satisfy the curious public, parents of twin infants could benefit from a more detailed answer.

Plain & Simple - You just do it

"Seriously, you JUST DO IT! And marvel at the experience later!"

"No amount of reading will prepare you for the joy of twin parenthood. Though the first few months can be overwhelming, you somehow figure out just how to do it all. Suddenly you realize that you've developed a rythym and system that works. Then they reach another milestone (rolling, crawling, teething) and you start all over again."

Take it one step at a time.

"I basically just broke the day up into parts to be survived. I never look at the whole day all at once, only specific parts, like breakfast, playtime, lunch, naptime, etc. It's the only way I have been able to endure. One minute at a time, that's my motto!"

"One thing at a time. You will find the things that work for you and when you do, you will feel like a hero."

"We all went through theses dark days. [N]one of us are superhuman (well, at least not me). One of the most poignant memories was sitting in the living room with my ID twins and 2 year old. It was 7:00 a.m. in the morning. I looked at my watch and thought to myself, okay, I only have to get through 8 1/2 more hours of today and then I will have help (when my husband returned from work).

"Remember, the first few months you have to live day-to-day. LOL, sometimes (as I did) hour-to-hour. You will make it. Otherwise, you wouldn't have been picked to be a 'special mom' :-)"

"Like any big job, you have to divide it up into tiny pieces with reasonable goals; first, the morning, then the afternoon, then night- time!! (Not this 'one day at a time' crap--I know I was counting *minutes* at what we called the 'high-need' times of the day!!) Then, as soon as you think you can't take it another second, they both fall asleep and become such beautiful angels that you feel like a horrible mom for all the tears, fears, and tiny curses that have flitted across your mind throughout the day. Parenting really *is* the hardest and most rewarding work there is."

"I've always said that my first three months at home was the same as labor. You don't think you can go on one minute more because the pain is so intense but once it's over, you think, 'that wasn't sooo bad, I could do that again if I had to.' Amnesia can be a wonderful gift ;-)"

Maintain a Sense of Humor

"Someone mentioned a sense of humor thru the 'rough' days. I remember the first month at home with my girls; My mother stayed with me for the whole month and sometimes we would literally only get 2-3 hours of sleep (total) a night. We'd be in the nursery at 2am, laughing so hard we were crying because one baby would just go to sleep and the other would poot (loudly) and wake her up! or after changing a very dirty diaper, as soon as you 'closed her back up', she would go again! Sometimes before you got her closed up! I look back on the first two months and as hard as it was (and it was!!!) I just smile. Because without that sense of humor (and my mom) I don't think I'd have made it."

"There was one time both babies were crying, my then barely 3 year old started whaling and for 5 minutes I tried to appease all of them-to no avail. I literally plopped down in the middle of the tear fest and had a big, loud, noisy, self-indulgent cry. We eventually all calmed down and resumed our day. It could have been the thing that sent me around-the-bend but I went with it and laughed later. Always laugh!"

Count your blessings

"Keep focusing on the fact that you are INDEED blessed - that was the only thing that held [my husband] and me together those early months."

Be flexible

"So I guess my advice is this -- do whatever works to get you and your babies the sleep you need. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else. And follow your instincts. Nobody told me about [letting my fussy infant sleep in] the carseat, but it just felt right to me. It's okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed-out, too. This is hard stuff. Keep reminding yourself that you're doing a good job."

"Try and let them set their own schedule as far as eating/sleeping and just watch for clues as to what they want."

Give yourself credit for the hard work you are doing

"I don't mean this to offend anyone, but I got so tired of everyone telling me "It will get better!" The words I appreciated the most were, and are still, 'I know it's got to be hard, but you're doing a really good job.' Things don't necessarily get better, but they do get "different", of course some moms and dads find it a breeze from the very beginning! Everyone is different! And everyone handles parenthood differently."

Find others who've "been there" and can offer support

Contact your local mothers of twins club and talk to an experienced twin mom. There are also lots of resources on the Internet where you can meet other parents of multiples!

~ Getting Help ~

Most parents of multiples agree that it is essential to get some help in the early weeks and months of having multiple infants. Taking care of these new additions to your family requires almost all of your attention anyway, let alone have time for things like meals, laundry, housecleaning or errands! Here's some advice from seasoned parents of multiples...

Take all the help you can get

"...take ANY HELP at all that anybody offers, you DO NOT have to be a super-human and do it all yourself."

"Don't feel bad that you need help; everyone needs it -- and lots of it! -- if they are going to keep their sanity through this."

"...when people call and want to help ask them to make you a meal or go shopping or do wash. I wish I asked for more help, rather than saying we were doing fine."

"I admire the moms and dads who do it with little help and realize I'm pretty lucky. Although I'm sure I'll have many days ahead with no help I'm trying to avoid that for as long as possible. Right now with the lack of sleep and breast feeding I'm really glad for all the help!! I take advantage of any offers of help and I recommend doing that."

"Sometimes I fall into a trap of feeling like I 'should' do it /'should' be able to do it all on my own, and then I think about quality of life, and the time I'm able to spend with my gorgeous daughters, and I just feel blessed. They grow so quickly and develop so much in the first years, and this way, they get as much attention and cuddling as they would have if they had been singletons. I especially love to take one with me to do errands/on outings so they get special 'just mommy and me' time -- and so do I!"

"Have a "To Do" list ready for any volunteers you can get and let them pick what they want to do."

Find volunteers

  • Family, friends, neighbors & co-workers

    "I had my mom live with us for 7 weeks, then my dad stayed 1 week, then my mother-in-law came and stayed 3 weeks. It is so much longer than a first-time mom with one baby, because I was also incredibly sleep-deprived and physically exhausted from breastfeeding. My relatives live 2000 miles away, so I had to have them live with me if I wanted their help. And I was desperate for their help in making my babies feel loved and cared for in those critical first months."

    "My husband and I chose to use some of our savings (and SSI we got while kids were in NICU) for him to stay home first 4 weeks. Then each grandmother came over for one week."

  • Friends, neighbors & co-workers who want to come see the babies

    "I also would make use of the people who visited.I would ask them to hang out my wash, fold the nappies, or bring me a casserole!!! People do understand."

    "If you have your own laundry machines and can afford it, offer to let a friend do laundry at your house if they'll do your loads and help with the babies while they are there."

    "Find a few close friends or neighbors you can call on to "pick up" a couple of items you need from the grocery store the next time they go."

  • Pre-teens & teenagers

    "One more thought (sorry), see if you can enlist some high school or junior high school kids to come over after school to volunteer and help you out. Hold a baby, (sometimes, girls like to come over with friends--4 hands!!), fold laundry, let you prepare dinner...even let you nap."

    "...we hired a high school girl to come over and help 3 hours a day from 2:30 p.m. when school let out until Jim came home. WHAT A RELIEF. I had time to answer the phone, pay my bills, write checks, read mail. I paid her $2 a hour and I stayed with her the whole time."

  • Other volunteers
    • Have family or friends bring a friend!
    • A local church
    • A local mothers of twins club
    • Contact a local volunteer center -- make sure that they screen their volunteers by doing criminal background check and that they check references.

Hired Help

One mom expecting multiples asked:

"I'm deciding if I'm going to need hired help after the twins are born. I'll be full time mom, but I don't have family around to help. I'm wondering how much helpyou all recommend based on having newborns and a 2.5 year old. Also, how much do you think is a reasonable rate to pay someone ($$/hour) to help with the kids and to do light cleaning?"
Other moms replied...

"I think it's a wonderful idea to hire some help once your twins are born. You might check with a couple of churches in your area or a local MOT club for any recommendations. If you have a college or University in your area you can check to see if there are some students (taking a child development class) that might be looking for some extra money (check with counselors &/or teachers for recommendations)."

"If they can be there [full time], that's wonderful, if not, you might try for the a.m. -early aft. This would help you in being able to shower, get dressed, breakfast or maybe even a little cat nap. My girls seemed to get pretty fussy around the early evening as well (trying to walk them both, by yourself, is not easy) so you might consider this depending on what time your [husband] arrives home. One of my mistakes was, I was afraid to try something new for fear it would start one (or both) of the girls crying, or just have a general bad reaction. Usually when I was left with no other option and tried a new approach they usually did great."

"I had my twins [3 months ago], and I, too, am a stay-at-home-Mom. We decided to get someone in on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 8-6 to help me out. I wanted to be able to "do it on my own" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and besides, it saved us a lot of money not to have her come in all five days."

"She pretty much does everything for the kids when she's here (meals, diapers, baths), the kids' laundry, and some housecleaning. I run errands (alone or with one kid), do our laundry, eat/shower/rest, pay bills, and attempt to dig through the "most of a year" of clutter that we've been accumulating since [this time last year]. And cuddle and play with the babies, of course. Occasionally we load up all three kids and go out for a walk in the neighborhood, or to the mall, or the park, etc."

"I'm pretty new to the twins thing myself. I also have a 2 1/2 year old son. I have lots of family around but I went ahead and hired someone two days a week.... [She] primarily holds the twins but if they are sleeping she cleans, does laundry, etc. I love having her around. By the way I've only had the twins a month so I've never even been alone with them (except for an hour or two) between my husband, sisters, mom and [mother-in-law] and now my nanny.

"We hired her as a baby nurse for two weeks, then she stayed. Its been 15 months now. I have her from 11-5 Tuesdays through Fridays, and it is worth every penny."

"I found a wonderful babysitter through a local newspaper when my twins were about 3 months old. I split her with my neighbor, as she wanted a full-time job, but I only need her 2 days a week, for a total of about 9 hours. She charges $9/hour, and does all of the laundry, cleans up the kitchen, makes the bottles, etc., and is far more creative with the kids than I would have been. I don't have any family in the area, and on some days, it's a sanity save just knowing that [she] will be coming over."

"Yes! It's very possible. I work 40 hours a week and I have NO family for 600 miles. It was tough to find a daycare you trust, but once we did, all seems to fall into place. I am still very, very busy, but it can be done. It's all in the routine. My G/G twins are 8 months old and grow more precious everyday. Our time in the evenings are special and I can't wait to pick them up. Mornings are tough to drop them off, but the time away from them makes the time spent with them incredible!"

"I found that just handling twins was a huge handful, so I'd recommend any help you can get. We don't have family in the area, either, so it was basically just my husband and me, and he had to go back to work after a couple of weeks. For about 10 days after we came home from the hospital, I had a baby nurse come in overnight. I was breastfeeding, but she would wake me when they needed to eat, and would deal with the diaper changes, final burping, and getting them, back to sleep, so I got more sleep and DH could sleep through the night. That meant we had at least one sane adult around during the day!"

"We arranged to have a nurse (who only works with multiples) stay with us 24/7 for 3 weeks after the birth ofmy boys. It was the best thing I could have done. It really helped me learn what I had to do.

"Having said that, no matter how much help you can get, at times things are going to be hairy. It is great, but also very hard."

How much to pay?

"I live in Brooklyn, and the rate is anywhere from $9-12. We are paying ours $11. She keeps the kitchen clean (but no mopping, etc.), but doesn't do any other light cleaning."

"Mine works ~6 hours a day, for $9/hour (which is apparently a little above the going rate around [Albany, NY area], but she started when [my twins] were 6 weeks old and things were *so* hectic around here that I think she earned it)."

"I pay her $50/day." (Southern California) (two days a week to come in and help mom out)

"We pay ours $15 an hour (California), down from $18 last year."

"I live in a suburb of Philadelphia, & it seems like $8 - $10/hour is the going rate for sitters."

"I started off with someone for 4-5 hours a day, paying WAY too much, but since we hadn't planned ahead well enough, we felt lucky to have her. We ended up getting an au pair through one of the agencies (state department program), and REALLY are happy we did -- I get all the help I need for a LOT less money. You do need an extra bedroom, and be willing to have someone else living in your house, but for us, it's worked really well. We pay the agency about $4500 for the year (covers airfare, training and administrative fees), and then $160 per week to the au pair for 45 hours of help each week. It works out to about 5.70/hour + room and board -- hard to beat, especially in this area (DC metro)." 

Keeping Records

You may find it helpful to keep records of your infants activity (eating, sleeping, bowel movements, medicines etc.) especially during those early days when you are low on sleep and energy to remember things. You can use your records to see if your infants are developing patterns or just to help you track the information your pediatrician will request at the next visit.

I am trying to get as organized as possible before my two little boys arrive. I want to create some sort of hourly list that I can write down when each one gets a feeding, diaper change etc. Any ideas?

Some samples...

One of the twins list members has provided two forms which she used. You'll find this especially valuable if your babies are on different schedules or need medication.

The first is to keep track of the babies in the earliest stages, with places for noting feedings, changes, and other info (eg medication given). The other will allow you to keep track of what solid foods they're eating. You can view them together, or see the early records or the more advanced stages.

First time moms...

"My advice would be, if you are a first time mom expecting twins, --and since you MIGHT (big might) be getting alittle more sleep (could nap a bit during the day--I never could with older kids) then maybe you'll have the presence of mind to keep written records of your babies' activities. It may be helpful and necessary 'til you develop your own history with your new science experiments!!"

Keep it simple

"We used a whiteboard on the refrigerator and just kept track on a day-to-day basis."

"We kept track of feedings, but not diaper changes. I printed out a lot of sheets with column headings of time, quantity, etc., and just filled it in."

"We carried around a clipboard with all the info charted on it. My twins were also being supplemented with different formulas, and they were on apnea monitors so we kept all the info on that old chart."

"I used one of those top spiral bound notebooks. I used a page for each day. Each page has a line down the middle so one baby was on one side and the other on the other side. I liked this method because I could also jot down things like the first time they smiled or other milestones and then I could refer back to it when writing in their babybooks. Believe me, you will forget really fast and thank goodness I wrote all of this stuff down."

"To ensure I never let them go too long between feedings(dr's instructions), I just used a smallish pad of paper (so it would fit in my pocket), wrote [one baby's name] on one half and [the other baby's name] on the other, and wrote the time whenever I fed them. Once the page was filled, I flipped over to the next. Easy as pie."

Or detailed

"I used the computer to keep track. I bought a journal program and started one for each baby. My computer stays on all the time and is in a convenient location. Every feeding, diaper change, or medicine given was typed in right at the time. I kept each journal open and running side by side on the computer so it was always ready. It worked great for us, and it made it fun. Plus you will always have it on the computer-you can even print it out and show it to the pediatrician."

"My girls where born 6 weeks early so I had to keep close track of all functions for about a month after they came home. I made a spreadsheet with Excel with the column headings; Baby, time/date, BF or Bottle, quantity fed, diaper change, pee or poo or both and just filled it in with the appropriate info. I had it tacked to the fridge. Once they (docs) where sure that the girls where gaining weight well and thriving I didn't have to keep track any more. It did help keep track of what was done for whom during those early sleep deprived times although my handwritting was terrible fom lack of sleep!"

"When my twins were born... I decided that i had to keep a log book so that i would know who ate when, when they got their diapers changed, etc. I took 2 three-ring binders and divided it into 4 sections: Bottles, Food (which you won't need for a few months), diapers, and medicines. Bottles sheet is divided into these sections: date, time, amount made, amound drank, comments. Diapers divided like this: date, time, voided, stool, comments. Food: date, time, food given, amount eaten, comments. Medicine: date, time, medicine given, amount given, comments. I also had one section to keep track of their apnea monitor alarms. You probably won't need this one, though. I was able to make all of these log sheets on my computer using Microsoft Excel. "

If charting becomes too much

"FWIW, I love keeping charts and being really organized, so I made a big notebook with full charts for each baby -- poops, wet diapers, feedings. After they were born, though, taking care of the newborns was so much work that I soon hated the charts, which just seemed like more work. We kept forgetting to write things down and then would try to remember stuff hours later, which was impossible. We finally gave up. It was a relief. I'm pretty sure we never skipped feeding anyone but I wouldn't swear to it! Anyway they do let you know if they need something."

You can always change it as you go

"When I first brought them home from the hospital, there were two things I needed to know: (1) were they getting enough milk?, and (2) was it time to feed them again? The hospital gave me a form for the first question. All it did was count how many wet and poopy diapers they each had in a 24 hour period. I think the goal was something like 6 wet and 3 poopy, but your pediatrician or any baby care book should tell you about that. I only did that for one week since I was satisfied things were going fine..

"Once it became possible to think about schedules (for sleeping and eating), I wanted more info about their sleeping. I made a chart like the ones you see in books. It has one box for each hour with 24 hours going across the page. I use a separate page for each baby. I shade the sleep times and circle the feed times. I'd do it for a few days to see if there were patterns. If not, I stopped and tried again in a few days. Some patterns are *finally* starting to emerge out of this last try. (They're 11 weeks now.)"

From a mom whose twins were her third and fourth children...

"With the twins, survival was key. The ONLY think I tried to remember from feeding to feeding was to switch sides every nursing to keep them from getting "attached" to one breast. (pun intended) As for diapers, sleep times, etc., again, instinct and experience took the place of cognitive thought and decision-making. Example: if I "sensed" that the interval between feedings was really short, if it was daytime, I'd try to prolong it a bit, though at night, again, survival was the mode, I nursed no matter what. I was a zombie, I don't think I could have signed my name legibly for the first 3 months.

Twins List FAQs:   Copyright © Mary Foley
All Rights Reserved
Permission to reprint all FAQ information is granted to individuals for private use.
Please contact regarding any other reprint permissions.