Everyone told me that parenting twins is hard when I found out I was having twins half-way through my first pregnancy. And I knew they were probably telling the truth. But, as a new mother, I didn’t have anything to compare having twins to – I have never had a single baby. I guess for a long time you’re really just in survival mode. You just do what has to be done and forget about everything else. As a new mom to twins, you only occasionally get a glimpse of what it could be like to have one, when one is awake during nap time, and the other is sleeping, for example. And often in those moments I have thought, “Gee, one must be really easy.” And I’ve also marveled at how nice it is to only have one child to devout your attention to, and how different they act when we are interacting one-on-one.
As my girls have gotten older, the challenges have changed. While they are much more independent and not so dependent upon me for everything, there are a whole new slew of parenting challenges that a singleton’s mother would not have to be dealing with yet.
So, as a mother of twins, I want to share with you just why twins are so hard, at every age from 0 months to just under 2.5 years.
Having twins is hard because you need double the amount of supplies, especially as a first time mother, when you have nothing to be handed down from an older sibling. This means two pack n’ plays, two cribs, two mattresses, two swings, two car seats, two high chairs/booster seats, infant carrier/slings, a double stroller, and double the amount of bedding, clothes, diapers, and wipes. It also means twice the amount of feedings, eating utensils, toys, and books.
*Related – 7 Tips Worth Embracing to Save Money on Kids Clothes
If twins are your first you go from having no baby products, to a huge amount of them, costing you a lot of money and stress of where to fit it all in a small apartment and car. After they outgrow various items, you then have to find a place in your home to store double the amount of products, just in case you were to have twins again. It also means having to carry around two babies at the same time because they both need to be held a lot, no matter how old they are.
The First Year
I definitely don’t fondly pine for the days of my twins first year of life. While they were cute, small, and relatively remote, they depended on me for everything, and when you have two who need you like that, it is very hard. Often in the first year, I had to listen to one scream as I changed the other one’s diaper or breastfed one and then the other (I didn’t like tandem feedings). I had to finagle two squirmy, heavy-headed infants in my arms to calm them down, without dropping them or losing circulation.I had to feed them all the time, and change their diapers and clothes all the time, and get up in the middle of the night fairly often (though they were pretty good sleepers, eventually). The first year just becomes a blur to pretty much every new mother of twins. It’s a marathon. In fact, I often had to remind myself that I needed to eat and sleep too, because sometimes it would be hard to find the time to do those things. To compound the first year’s difficulties, my girls were walking before a year, causing me extra stress and worry. I am glad those days are behind me.
Two babies screaming, crying, pooping, peeing, bathing, yelling, talking, eating, destroying, jumping, begging, whining, messing, running, sleeping, taking off diapers, using the potty, wanting to be held, throwing tantrums, grabbing, stealing, pulling, and generally terrorizing AT THE SAME TIME. Twins definitely play off of each other. If one does something mischievous, even after they are called out for it, the other almost always immediately follows suit. You often have two kids just screaming and yelling and fussing about something, at the same time. While that’s not always the case (thank God), when it does happen it knocks you off balance. It prevents you from thinking clearly, because you can’t even hear yourself thinking!
*Related: Why You Should Let Your Kids Be Loud
And twins fight often. Unlike mothers who space children out a few years, mothers of twins have the joy of sibling rivalry and fighting beginning very early on in your parenting career. And it’s not very awesome.
*Related: How to Stop Twins from Hitting Each Other
And then there is the fact that instead of one toddler destroying everything you have TWO – two kids writing on walls (See this post on how to remove crayon marks from walls), exploring cabinets they shouldn’t be, breaking DVDs, ripping pages in a book, eating books, picking at your walls, chewing on your furniture, slamming cups and bowls and utensils into your wood table, trying on glasses and breaking them, screwing up presets on your computer and electronics, writing on pages of everything, pulling stuffing out from stuffed animals, and tearing stickers off their toys. Yes, all of those things have happened in my home, and I probably missed many more. Sometimes this house is just a crazy house, plain and simple.
*Related: Parenthood – Embracing the Beautiful Mess
Diapers and Potty Training
Our girls have developed this habit of removing their clothes and diapers; if one is stripping, so must the other. It has been going on for over a year! This often leaves me cleaning up twice the amount of pee and poop, changing two sets of sheets and blankets, and wiping off two cribs and babies. And while we are working on potty-training, it seems they still have no qualms about just peeing in their beds at nap time or bedtime or crapping on chairs or floors. Potty training is doubly messy with twins.
Related: 5 Smart Diapering Tips to Avoid Messy Blowouts
And we have tried everything to get them to stop this habit, from onesies, to pants under onesies, to jammies safety-pinned closed, to jammies put on backwards (by far the most effective, though not really practical when hot outside), to duct tape over the velcro tabs, to duct tape wrapped all around the diaper’s top, to pull-ups, to candy bribes. Most of these resistance methods have been overcome by our girls however. They are smart, and apparently determined to get undressed, one way or another. And this has been going on for one year here people, one year.
*Related: 10 Ways to Stop Your Child From Taking Off Their Diaper
Oh, nap time. How you often get the best of me. Lisa has always been our more difficult sleeper and nap time has sometimes been an enormous headache. This past week we finally removed the front of Lisa’s crib, converting it to a toddler bed. Before this though, if Lisa wasn’t tired enough, she would enlist her sister (who was in a toddler bed) to roam around the room and pick up toys and books and give them to her in her crib (who would probably be bare bummed and pee on most of the items), and then Lisa would still never end up passing out, because she has all these toys in her crib!
Alison is a great sleeper, but having a sister who you can play with, entertain, share with, and talk to, doesn’t help her fall asleep very fast. But, if she is tired, she’ll pass right out, often on the floor. Some days they just spend all of nap time screaming and playing and enjoying themselves in their room. And despite my efforts to lay them back down, tuck them in, sing them another song, or tell them sternly to sleep, play they continue to do. With one child this would be much, much simpler. No distraction.Related: How to Get a Child to Nap Past Their 4th Birthday
When they are on good sleeping schedules, you often run into the problem of living your life around nap time. When they were taking two naps a day, it felt almost impossible to get anything accomplished outside of the home because the window of opportunity was just so small when you factored in feeding, packing supplies and kids in a car, and then the travel time. You then had maybe an hour to do what you set out to do before you had to head home and put them down for another nap.
And then there’s the fact they always seem to want food. My girls eat a lot. And they always seem to want cereal (my daughters through and through). But, as a good mother I give them other things to eat. Some days though I feel like all I did was make food, serve food, clean up the eating area, clean up my kids, and put away the dishes, only to do it again about an hour to three hours later. Two growing kids need twice the amount of food. Having twins also means you need to carry twice the amount of food with you wherever you go, or pay doubly for the mistake. Parenting twins is hard on my pocketbook and my lack of cooking abilities!
Related: How to Afford Twins
I often wonder as a stay-at-home mother, how on earth I am supposed to enjoy my time at home with my children, when most of what I do feels like crowd control. Parenting twins is hard because young children have very short attention spans, so even when I do bust out the crayons, play-doh, bubbles, or side-walk chalk, the activity is often over in 10 minutes or less, because after that time they just want to figure out ways to destroy said objects, or eat/drink them, or use them inappropriately (like drawing on walls). So, even when doing fun things and activities with my children, the joy is often short lived. And I don’t really get to give them the one-on-one attention they often crave because if one snuggles in close, the other is sure to follow. The only time I seem to get the chance to bond with them one-on-one is at the grocery store, when Josh and I split up to do our shopping. I wish I could give them that attention more.
Related: 5 Ways to Be Happier as a Stay at Home Mom
And, seriously, nothing can prepare you for being a mother, especially not to two at once. It’s a whole new world of experiences, of delights and frustrations, of sorrow and gladness, of pain and joy. When I was a teenager, I was told by a woman that she and her husband never knew anger or rage until they had children and thought how strange and wrong of a statement that was! But, now I am beginning to understand the truth to those words. Parenting is hard, hard work, and often extremely frustrating, because you don’t see the fruits of your labor for a long time.Mothering is a selfless sacrifice that is often unappreciated, under-recognized, and underscored. You give and give and give. And sometimes I have a hard time giving or making motherhood a selfless sacrifice, because I am selfish. I crave time to edify myself for my personal benefit. I spend so much of my day towing to the needs of little people, that I often just want to connect with the outside world to feel like a person of worth outside of my small sphere of my home. I want to be more than “just” a mother and wife. And that selfishness is hard to overcome.
Related: Are we weary in well doing for our children?
And then there is the doubt – you doubt yourself, your parenting, your choice of activities, and how you measure up to others. You fear that your faults and imperfections will one day come back to haunt you in the form of defiant teenagers or vagabond young adults. You worry if you are teaching them enough academia so they’ll know how to read before kindergarten, or if you are teaching them enough about Jesus and religion. And you also start thinking about when you should introduce sports or musical instruments, if you should home-school or not, if you should split up your twins or keep them together. But, most especially you worry about how to protect their innocence for as long as possible. Motherhood stresses you out and makes you think so much about someone under your care. And again, nothing prepares you for that, and I am still trying to learn how to be a good mother but still retain some sort of identity.
May God bless we will get through these rough years. Because parenting twins is hard!
More Twin-Related Posts:
The Messy Reality of Twin Toddlers
How to Stop Twins from Hitting Each Other
Sleeping Arrangements for Newborn Twins and Beyond
I thought I was the only one who felt this way about being a MOM (mother of multiples).
*sigh of relief*
My twins are my first…and I’m pretty sure my last. Being a mother was a role I never imagined I’d take on, and when I learned I was having twins I thought I was surely going to faint! I thought, “How can I love, care, and raise twins..TWINS?! I am still trying to answer that question, but I’m finding that its all a learning experience.
I am so grateful I came across your post, this has put my heart and chaotic life at ease.
Blessings to you and your family!
Katelyn Fagan says
I’m glad you came across this post too! I definitely wrote this post when in the thick of it. My life has been far less crazy as time has continued to go on. Hang in there. It is a tough thing for sure, but there is hope. It really does get easier. 🙂 Blessings to you and yours!
Wow. You sum it up perfectly. I’m always so jealous (OK sometimes resentful) of new Moms who have a single child to care for. I feel like my twin boys and I missed out on a lot that first year especially because they were both terribly sick with GERD which added so much additional stress.
Oh, thank you for writing this! You wrote everything that I feel! I’m in the early stages of potty training my 2-year-old twin girls, and it is CHAOS! One girl is playing with the pee in their potty, while I’m trying wash the other girl’s hands, and vice versa! I think one “potty session” takes at least 30 minutes, with the getting the pants off, sitting on the potty, waiting for them to actually go, then cleaning up and washing hands. It is EXHAUSTING! But worth it, always worth it.
Courtney Conover says
Wow. All I can say is may the force be with you. From the looks of it, you’ve got everything under control, so that’s awesome.
I really, REALLY wanted twins with my first pregnancy (and prayed I didn’t with my second; lol!) It’s a good thing I didn’t, however, because I had a fibroid tumor the size of Texas and carrying an extra baby could have been a very big problem…
My mom’s a twin: My maternal grandmother had two sets of twins 10 months a part…so in the first week of June — right before the older set’s birthday — they were ALL the same age.
Although my grandmother is no longer with us, the family stories about this time will live on in infamy…
Katelyn Fagan says
Oh my goodness! I can only imagine the chaos and the stories of having two sets of twins in ONE YEAR! That is incredible!
Rebecca Scaglione says
I’m way late on this post’s bandwagon but I love this post. I’m expecting twins in late December, and came across this as a pin on Pinterest. Thanks for this post. It’s always nicer hearing from twin moms about having twins. It bugs me when moms of singletons or no kids say that it’s going to be tough. I mean, of course it is! I’m not dumb. I just can’t take their opinions as seriously as a twin mom’s. . . one who has been through it and can explain WHY it’s hard or WHAT makes it hard. Not just “oh that’s hard.” This post is appreciated!
BTW the potty training debacle had me laughing. . . but not too hard because I’m not trying to bring bad naked pee/poop karma on myself!
Katelyn Fagan says
Well you are welcome Rebecca! I really wanted to explain to my singleton momma friends why it really is harder. And for posterity’s sake too. And yes. The diaper removing was a debacle for sure! Most people don’t have to deal with that, and I hope you are one of the lucky ones. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and birth! I recommend checking out HDYDI.com (How do you do it?) for more twin-related posts. I’m a contributor over there and it’s full of real moms of multiples telling it like it is.
Oh. I have a 3 year old daughter and 18 month old twin boys. Life is crazy, fun and yes, oh so hard. Reading your post was very refreshing, to remember I’m not the only one haha.
My husband and I were just talking tonight about how the first few months of having our twin boys was a haze. The exhaustion!!! Our 20 month old son also contributed to this!!! It’s funny to hear moms of singletons or moms with two children years apart complain. That would be easy!! Two kids the same age is way harder than kids that are stages apart. They have no idea how easy they have it. But I wouldn’t have traded my 3 boys under 2 years for anything. One of the most precious things is seeing your twins have a relationship no singleton has. So sweet!
Katelyn Fagan says
I wouldn’t trade my twins for anything either! They are such a blessing and a delight! But, yes! Those first few months are a haze! Thanks for stopping by and commenting Kelli!
I was looking forward to sharing this post with my friend who is having twins (she also has two other children) and got really annoyed at your line of having one is so easy, and even more annoyed at these comments that follow. No one with any amount of children would deny how hard it is having twins, and what whirl wind it is for a long time. But for any *new* mom, any number of children is hard because it is all new. And for any mom that has multiple children, no matter how close or far a part it is, it is hard because it is new to them. So, how about, instead of trying to prove to other moms how much harder you (or anyone on this post) has it, we just support each other as moms, and be thankful we are blessed with healthy children.
Katelyn Fagan says
I totally agree with you. No matter how many children you have, it can be trying and difficult to be a mom. If you read other posts, I’m sure you’d clearly get that vibe from me. I wrote this as a new mom, of twins, so I was speaking from my experiences of what I knew at the time, and when I wrote this, was clearing feeling the hard times. I didn’t intend to prove anything, but to illustrate how difficult my life was at the time, because I had twins. I fully support all moms doing the best, and am thankful for the children I have.
I now have two more children, both singletons. I do have to say they are easier than my twins!
I had my twins last and although it was easier going from 2 to 4 than it was from 1 to 2, I’ve openly admitted that if I had twins first I would have been done after that! Twins are hard. I thought it was hard when my first didn’t want to sleep, then I had the twins & realized that was a cakewalk! I nursed on demand & the twins often nursed tandem, but in the middle of the night, it was often one right after the other. I don’t think I slept more than 2 hours a night for a month!
Katelyn Fagan says
I’m sorry for the sleep exhaustion you had!! I am always amazed at you moms who have twins after having other kids! I don’t know if I would’ve handled it well because twins are so demanding, but your older kids need you still, so it’s not like you can just sleep when your twins do during the day (which definitely what I did for a while with my twins!).
I was lucky. My oldest was 4 and still napped, so I got some down time during the day. Plus, both of my older 2 liked to help with the twins. They would get out changing supplies, cuddle with the twins, and read/sing to them so I could do something by myself for two seconds 🙂
I do think having twins as your first children is mentally more difficult than even mammas who have singletons first and then twins. The shock of having no experience and TWO bloody hard colicky babies is likened to the trauma of going through war.
We multiple mammas know though that we must have help, that we cant do it all on our own. That it takes a village!
My two are turning two soon. I pray the potty stages go smooth. I am immune to Pee and Poop however. And the thought of no more diapers!?!. I think i’ll survive.
So what is the magic age when I can paint my nails again?
Katelyn Fagan says
Four or five. 😉 Although I totally bribed my kids that if they let me clip their nails without thrashing (cause they totally did every time) we would paint their nails. Totally helped! That was before they were four. And then I got to paint mine too.
Potty training wasn’t too terrible. Ha. Good luck!
Hi. I ‘ve got 14 year old twin boys. I must say, like you they were my 1st. I loved every second, and by the look of it s a rarity as they were so good. If one cried, the 2nd one never woke up. The only thing is about food, must be exactly the same amount ! I had to count the sweets afront of them ?Maybe that why, it s now it is hard. They argue a lot, eat so much, I never see the end of what’s for dinner, I m hungry… Teenager twin are not a walk in the park, but won t change anything. Love my boys.