I found a great article by Mike Crider who shared 41 rules for raising twin babies. I went through his list of rules, and it’s a great list for you to check out. But today I wanted to talk you through nine of my favorite rules that he shares, and why they’re my favorite and why they worked for us.
If you’d like even more details on raising your twins, check out my book, the Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.
So his rule No. 1 is to keep your kids on the same schedule as much as possible. My wife and I could not agree with this more. We tried our best to keep both of our daughters on the same schedule, the same cycle of eating, and then some kind of activity, and then sleeping. And then when they wake up we’d often go right through the cycle one more time.
Now, as the twins start to age from newborns into infants and beyond, that cycle kind of spreads out over time: eating, activity, sleeping. However, it was very beneficial to us to try to keep them on the same schedule. So what this meant was during the nighttime, we would hear the cries of one of our girls who was hungry, we’d go in and we’d get her out of the crib and we’d wake up her sister and feed her as well. This helped keep them on the same schedule, same cycles, and helped maintain some sanity in our home.
Mike’s No. 4 is, “As much as possible, you will not refer to your children as ‘the twins.'” Now, this might be a bit of a challenge for you, particularly based on those that are around you, your family and your friends, neighbors, co-workers and how they refer to your kids, because they will most likely default to saying, “How are the twins doing? How are your twins?” instead of, “How are your kids? or “How are your children?” So one thing that we did as parents was make sure that when we are speaking about our girls, we always referred to them by their names or we referred to them as our daughters or the girls, not the twins.
We kind of led by example here in our home, and so our older boys were kind of hearing that already in our house. In our immediate family, we had established a habit of not calling our girls “the twins.” And in so doing we also set an example for our extended family and our friends when referring to our children. Now when others refer to your twins as “the twins,” you don’t have to get angry, fly off the wall, and yell at them. You can simply roll with it and refer to your twins as your boys, your girls, or call them by name. This definitely helps us focus on the individuality of each of the twins, and focus on what makes them unique and special.
My next favorite on Mike’s list was No. 6. “You will accept help from anyone you trust.” You will pretend to do it all by yourself, but when you have hit the bottom, you will ask and accept. So Mike is right on here. You may feel like you can juggle everything by yourself, or you and your spouse, but the reality is that’s not true. And if you are expecting twins, you’re kind of ignorant of the reality of how hard it’s going to be until you’re actually in the trenches with your newborn twins. And so as people ask you for help during the twin pregnancy, accept the offer, because many people will say, “Is there anything I can do to help you”‘ And you need to say, “Yes, yes there is.” And you sign them up to help you. Even after the twins are born, you’re going to realize even more what a dire situation you’re in and that you need extra helping hands. So recruit your family, recruit your friends, recruit your neighbors. Pay for a babysitter. Do what you need to do to get the help that you need from someone that you trust.
Mike’s No. 12 rule was, “When you’re alone with your twins, any place makes a good changing table.” This, again, is also true. We found that we had a changing table in our girls’ bedroom. However, we didn’t use it as much as I thought we would. Of course, with twins you need only one changing table, because the vast majority of the time you’re going to be changing diapers anywhere else but where the changing table is located. You’re going to change your kids’ diapers on a bed, on the floor, in different rooms of your house, even in your car on the back seat, on the floor of the minivan, you name it. Any place is a good place to change a diaper, because diapers have to be changed when they need to be changed and sometimes you take whatever location you’re in and make it work.
No. 15 on the list is, “You will accept checks from formula companies to receive discounts on formula, and you will wait at the register until the cashier rings it up properly.” Now, this rule is great because it speaks to the need that you have as a parent of twins to reach out to manufacturers and companies of the products that you will use on a daily basis – formula, diapers, baby gear – and let them know that you are a parent of twins, and that you need coupons, discounts, offers from them so that you’ll do business with them. Formula companies in particular are very generous in sending out discounts and coupons because they know that with twins, you are going to be buying a lot of formula.
And so if you get discounts and buy samples early on, of course, you’re more likely to get used to purchasing, used to having that brand of formula, your babies will get used to that formula, and you’ll continue to be a customer. So there’s no shame in asking for a discount. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. The best that can happen is you’ll get free stuff, which is always a benefit because cash is short when you have twins.
(RELATED: Expecting twins? Avoid these 4 critical mistakes expectant twin parents make.)
No. 21 on the list is, “You will buy a thermometer that takes temperature by reading it through the temple.” Of course, if you insist on doing it the other way, good luck with that. So I laugh because this is true. We did not have a thermometer that takes the temperature by scanning the child’s forehead, and we really wish we did. We had one of those thermometers that we put under the baby’s arm, and when you do that, you wiggle with the baby, baby’s uncomfortable, thermometer pops out, it takes a while for the temperature to read. And it’s a huge hassle, especially if both twins are sick and you fear that both of them have fevers. It takes extra long to wrangle both babies to get them both with a thermometer and get them measured and see if they actually have a temperature. So splurge a little bit, get the really nice thermometer like your doctor has, like the nurse uses at the pediatrician, and you can use that at home as well to quickly find out if your child has a fever.
No. 25 on Mike’s list is, “You will love bouncy seats, and that is all.” Very true. I love bouncy seats. They were a lifesaver for us. As our twins were infants, we would have them in the bouncy seats every single day. Bouncy seats became our best friend for feeding our girls when my wife or I were by ourselves. We could sit on the floor between a pair of bouncy seats, a girl in each bouncy seat, and pop a bottle of formula in each of their mouths, hold it easily, support ourselves by sitting on the floor, maybe a back against the sofa, and we’d be good to go. Bouncy seats also came in handy when one twin was feisty and needed personal attention, you could put the other twin in a bouncy seat, and they can soothe themselves by moving around. We even used bouncy seats when our girls were older and it was time to start feeding them solids, we can put them in the bouncy seat on the kitchen table and start to feed them more easily while they are elevated and contained.
Mike’s No. 28 is, “You will have good luck at consignment stores, both when buying and selling clothes.” This one is absolutely true. Baby clothes get used so little because the babies are growing so fast, or parents receive so many baby clothes as gifts that oftentimes very new, even unused baby clothes find their way to consignment stores. And so you can go into a consignment store and find very affordable clothing that looks brand new. Sometimes it even has the tags still on it, and you can bring this home and use it for your twins. So definitely check out and find the local consignment store that’s near your home and see what they have to offer. We found clothes, onesies, baby toys, baby gear. We bought a Pack ‘n Play. We bought lots of things at a consignment store, and you’ll have good luck there as well. And of course, when you’re done with your stuff you can turn around and sell it and recoup some of the cost that you had originally.
Now, the last rule that Mike shares that I want to share with you today is No. 35. “You will not forget your significant other. There’s a reason you ended up with twins.” Now, Mike is absolutely right with this because with twins, your attention and focus in your home is going to be scattered all over the place. You’re going to be sleep-deprived. Your schedule’s going to be turned on its head, and you need to consciously make the effort to connect with your partner, to talk with your spouse, to show your love for your wife though your actions, through your words, through what you’re doing. And this may include oftentimes serving your wife, doing things for her that you didn’t do before or that you see are needed to be done. So do not forget your significant other, and you can come out of those crazy newborn months with twins, even the foggy first year of twins, with a much stronger marriage.
Now, you can check out the whole list of Mike’s 41 rules for raising twin babies. You’ll see several others which will be good for you as you raise your twin babies. One important rule that I would add to the list is that you will let unimportant things go. You’re going to have to prioritize what you do and what you do not do with twins. And this will often mean changing your lifestyle, changing the things that you used to do frequently before the twins came, leaving them behind for now, letting them go. Oftentimes you can always come back to those activities, those hobbies, even some friendships, once the twins are a little bit older. Focus your activities on taking care of your babies and your family.
This topic was originally addressed on the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Episode 62: Essential Rules for Raising Twin Babies .