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Twins Tips: 4 Simple Strategies to Save Your Sanity (Great for Managing Singleton Siblings, Too!)

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun (via lineofdeparture.com)

Here’s the thing about caring for infant twins:

It’s really not that much harder than taking care of singletons.

It’s just not. All babies have shitty sleep patterns, and need to be fed and changed and carried around enough to make you want to shoot someone (generally the person who doesn’t do as much feeding, changing, and carrying as you do).

All babies, at some point, make their parents think, “Man, it is a seriously wonderful feat of evolution that infants are so fucking adorable, because if you weren’t the cutest thing I’d ever seen, I’d probably have EATEN YOU JUST TO MAKE YOU SHUT UP by now.”

Twins just make you think that TWICE as much, because you’re doing all that stuff you have to do all day long TWICE AS MANY TIMES.

Unless you find a few ways to … umm … NOT.

So here’s what I do, to save time — and my sanity — while managing the day-to-day care of my twins (and their sisters).

Twins Tips: 4 Simple Strategies to Save Your Sanity

1. Keep everybody on the same schedule.

It is imperative for my sanity that our boys are on the same schedule. I have always been a routine-oriented parent, ala The Baby Whisperer, but with the boys, I am even more so. (Which is ironic, honestly, because in her books, Tracy Hogg advocates taking care of your twins on a staggered schedule, so each gets your undivided attention for feeds, playtime, and when you put them down for naps or the night. This is insane. Really. If you always have a baby in your arms, you NEVER get down time. I truly believe that THE key to not killing your kids is getting as much down time each day as humanly possible. You can manage one-on-one twin time in other ways, promise.)

That’s why I nursed my twins in tandem, and it’s why I have always put them down for naps and bedtime together, too. I continue to do this, even though Pancake needs WAY less sleep than his brother does, and Sausage would sleep for hours and hours each day if I’d let him. I split the difference — if Pancake is up way before his brother, I take him out of their room early, and let Sausage sleep some more.

And simultaneous baths, as soon as they are both big enough to sit in the tub, are a MUST. Bring their diapers and PJS in the bathroom with you. Put both kids in the tub together, let them play together, and then when it’s time to take them out, grab one, diaper and pajama him right there on the floor, next to the tub, so you can still see his sibling.

Then you’re good to grab the next baby, get him dressed there on the bathmat, and move on.

(This trick works for any combination of young kids, by the way. I’ve been doing it this way since Diddy was 2 and Gaga was just sitting up — and now I do all four kids in our bath together, and retrieve them from the water in youngest-to-oldest order, dressing the babies on the bathroom floor and sending the girls to their rooms to dress themselves while I read to the boys and get them down for the night.)

2. Color-code the kids in any way you can.

In our house, Pancake’s blue/red and Sausage is yellow/green. That might sound weirdly OCD and personality-squashing, but it’s got the opposite effect for us. Giving the boys their own colors DISTINGUISHES them from each other — for instance, they’re never dressed in matching outfits, because they wear different color palettes.

Their colors are how I can tell their bottles, pacifiers, and diaper bag packing cubes apart at a glance, too. This is a massive time saver, because the boys wear different sized diapers, so it is imperative that I can quickly grab the correct cube for the the diaper bag when I’m racing out the door.

I keep their sippies color-coded, too. Sausage has a slight cow milk sensitivity, so he’s been on goat milk — which is easy to distinguish from his brother’s cow milk because Sausage’s sippies are green, and Pancake’s blue.

That said: I don’t sweat it too much if they swap! For instance, I don’t worry about it when Pancake’s sucking Sausage’s pacifier — they’re brothers, they climb all over each other, any germs one’s got, he’s given it to the other WAY before I can do anything about it …

3. Starting Solids? Feed from the same spoon.

Same logic as the swapped-pacis applies: they’ve already transmitted that killer baby cold to each other. One more instance of shared spit isn’t going to make it worse. My pediatrician agrees, and she’s the one who told me this great twin-feeding trick:

One jar, or pouch, or bowl of food. One spoon.

One bite for Pancake, one bite for Sausage. One bite for Pancake, one bite for Sausage. One bite for Pancake, one bite for Sausage.

Most importantly: ONE SPOON in the dishwasher afterwards. ONE BOWL.

4. And ALWAYS feed the same food.

With the exception of the cow milk / goat milk thing, the boys’ diets are dictated in large part by what they can or can’t eat, collectively. For instance, when they were first starting solids, Pancake had huge problems with peaches — so they were removed from Sausage’s approved-foods list, too. It was simply too difficult for anyone but me to remember which boy could eat which foods, even if I wrote it down, so we just nixed any item that either kid found problematic.

Nor do I make separate meals for them even now that each boy is expressing his likes and dislikes more clearly. This is my basic feeding logic for our family, as a whole. When we eat together, we all eat the same meal — the kids can eat, or they can not, but we prefer to try to expand our kids’ palettes, rather than restrict them to mac-and-cheese diets, and we assume no one is going to starve him or herself if the selections aren’t to their particular liking one night to the next. (Also, I just absolutely refuse to cook more than one meal at a time — life is too short for that.)

Got twins? (Or other combinations of singleton siblings)? What kid-juggling tips-and-tricks have you got?

 

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Categories: Diddy, Gaga, Infants, Pancake, Sausage, Tips / Tools / Tricks, and Twins.

5 Responses to Twins Tips: 4 Simple Strategies to Save Your Sanity (Great for Managing Singleton Siblings, Too!)

  • Carpool Goddess
    May 1, 2012

    I don’t have twins and my kids are older, but keeping them on a schedule and feeding everyone the same food is a life saver :)

  • Christina Simon
    May 1, 2012

    With my singletons who are exactly 3 years apart, they both woke up in the middle of the night for the first few months my second was home. It was impossible not to wake up my daughter so we just tried to get the baby on a schedule as soon as possible.

  • Gina Osher
    May 1, 2012

    I tandem-fed my twins also. It was really enjoyable for me, my kids didn’t seem to mind their sibling there (they actually reached out for each other from time to time), and it gave me a lot more time to do so much more with them. Staggered feeding made no sense to me at all because it meant I would be nursing/pumping constantly and would never have a chance to sleep! I got my one on one time in elsewhere!

  • Leeann
    June 18, 2013

    Thank you so much, these tips have been lifesavers since I implemented them with my twins. I love your blog, keep up the excellent work :)

    • checklistmommy
      June 18, 2013

      I am so glad these helped! How old are your twins? Boys, girls, both? Twins are DELICIOUS and it just gets better and better, promise!

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About Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a novelist living in New York City. Four kids later, I'm a blogger living in LA who writes about parenting, partnering, and the rise and fall of my family / my home / civilization. I'm also a I'm a screenwriter, most recently of the movie "No Way Jose." I live with my husband, kids, dog, cats, and a tank full of surprisingly resilient fish, and I take bedtime around here as seriously as I do my morning coffee. Which is to say: I AM NOT KIDDING AROUND ABOUT BEDTIME.

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