Raising children is challenging for any parent, but parents raising twins may feel that they’ve really been thrown in the deep end. As well as trying to raise two well-adjusted children, parents need to recognise that their twins are separate individuals; they need to cater to their different needs and personalities.
However, remember that double the children doesn’t have to mean double the work. Here’s what you can expect at each stage of raising twins, and tips for managing them.
One of the most stressful aspects of raising twins has to be the very beginning, as you try and establish schedules. Keeping the children on the same schedule makes sense, but it’s not always simple to get them to sleep and eat at the same time. You can’t force a schedule, but you can encourage the babies to feed and sleep at the same time by going through the same routine with them at the same time.
Parents should forget the image of the perfect Super-parent that can do everything by themselves — you’re going to need the help of everyone to get the children on the same schedule. If your twins are reluctant to feed at the same time, let your partner, parents or their older siblings feed, change or play with one twin while you care for the other.
For more information on how to raise newborn twins, read our article on Dos And Don’ts Of Caring For Twin Babies.
Your Growing Babies
You might have two babies, but you don’t need two of everything else. Rotate stuff to keep them busy. Too much stuff is so overwhelming. Donate or sell things they no longer use before they take over your home.
As your babies grow, their personalities will emerge. One baby may be very active while their twin is quieter. At about nine months, you’ll see preferences. One baby may prefer being fed by Dad instead of Mum, and you’ll learn to embrace the differences. As you get to know their personalities, you’ll instinctively adjust how you parent each of your twins in ways that suit them.
The Toddler Years
Keeping two toddlers out of mischief is a challenge. With two little ones that are constantly on the move, get some help. Travel with help and always bring a family member when you go on holiday. That way, everyone will be able to enjoy themselves more.
During their toddler years, your twins will also begin to display more of their likes, dislikes, interests and abilities. It’s important to cater to both of their personalities, recognising them as individuals. Make sure they have something special that they don’t have to share – something that makes them ‘them’. So, try and give them specific toys, or take them on outings which will cater to their own personality.
Start setting boundaries while your twins are in preschool years. When you’re having snuggle time with one child, the other has to be respectful of that, especially if they’re sharing a room. Set clear rules so each child knows what is expected of them.
At this age, children can also start making small decisions on their own. Let them pick out their own clothes and activities as soon as they can. It’s okay if they want matching clothes or enjoy the same activities, but don’t push it on them. Dropping them both off at the same extracurricular activity might be easier for you, but make sure both children are equally interested in the activity.
The School Years
Nurture each child’s strengths and encourage them to help each other. Let your twins help each other learn. One may be better at writing and one at drawing. You have two different children who are learning at different speeds.
Also consider their classrooms at school. If you place your twins in separate classes at school, they will have their own space, own close friends, and the ability to be recognised as individuals. Even though they look different and have distinct personalities, just the thought of them being twins makes people outside the family expect them to be alike.