If you’ve prepared your older children for the arrival of twins, you’ve made good progress. However, your work is not done. You need to actively manage your relationship with your older children and be attentive to their needs even when you have your hands full with newborn twins.
Your life will very easily be consumed by sleep deprivation and taking care of the newborn twins. You need to consciously make plans to spend time with your other children.
I took advantage of the twins’ nap time to play with my boys or take them out of the house for some activities. My wife would take advantage of quiet moments to read to the boys. We tried to make it a point to eat meals together as a family so we could talk with the boys about their day, even if it meant their sisters were in their bouncy seats on the kitchen floor.
Try to Maintain the Schedule
Once the babies arrive, your schedule will be turned upside down. To help keep some normalcy in the life of your other kids, do your best to keep their routine as it was pre-twins.
Just like before our girls were born, I’d help give our boys baths and get them ready for bed. With so much change in their lives, having something constant was a big help. We tried to maintain the routine that was familiar and important to our sons so they could have a sense of security amidst the change.
Look for Kid’s Reactions
You have doubtless heard tales of older siblings not coping well with the new babies. They may act out, start hitting, tantruming, or even fighting. Be aware that there is no prescribed timetable for this to happen. They may be fine initially, and you may be tempted to boast about how well they’re taking the change. Keep a weather eye out. This may be because they are getting attention from Grandma, or because the twins are still a novelty.
The big change will eventually catch up to them and you will see behavioral changes. Don’t be surprised if you see some regression in their behaviors. This may include steps backwards with potty training, speech, or sleeping.
Do your best to see their behavior for what it really is and be ready to dole out extra hugs, snuggles, and kisses. Your child still needs to know that they are important to you.
No Big Changes
Bringing twins home is a big enough change for your other kids. Don’t add to the mix with other changes. For example, don’t start potty training or move your older child out of a crib around the same time that twins arrive.
We had our boys move rooms several months ahead of our due date and let our youngest boy stay in his crib. We bought a new crib (since we were going to need two eventually, anyway) and kept the twins in the new crib together for a few months. When it became evident that each girl needed her own bed, we had our son give up his crib to his sisters and moved him to a big boy bed. By then, we had fallen into a good rhythm with the new family dynamics so the change was less traumatic for our youngest son.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Take Care of All Your Kids
No matter how busy you are, how sleep deprived you get, or how much your twins need attention, you must remember that you have other kids, too. Even small gestures will help them feel loved. Talk to them. Sit with them. Play with them. Have them help you with tasks that need to be done anyway but will help them feel like they’re important to you.
It may be hard for you to fathom the possibility that you might be able to love two more babies. All the cliches are true. You will find that your capacity to love your children grows incrementally with each child.
If you have a close relationship with a child and you’re worried that these new little beings will mess that up, take heart. The relationship you’ve nurtured with your child has only prepared you to do the same with your soon-to-be twins.
Make time for all of your kids. The new reality will fade and life will go on, but what you’re left with are the relationships and memories that you’ve cared enough to take time for.
Picture by surlygirl