When twin boys were born my eldest daughter had 21 months. She did not speak well yet and honestly, our first year felt like having not 2+1, but triplets at home. Today I want to share 3 simple tips that helped me to survive the 1 st year without losing my sanity.
You don’t have to do it all! There is nothing wrong with asking for help: with the baby, shopping, housework, cooking, or siblings. It doesn’t mean you are not a good mom or failing to be. I and my husband tried one month to survive on our own, but then, one fine morning, I could not stand up from the bed. Feeling helpless, anxious, and absolutely useless for two crying newborns and my baby girl who had a fever was a great wake up call for me. Asking for help, you make sure that you will not collapse, that your babies will have the care they need and that they will be safe. In short, you are doing it not for you. You are doing it for THEM.
The grandparents are the most precious “team” you can have on your side. And they are not less important family members for the children than the parents themselves. The care, unconditional love, and kindness they give to the children can not be matched. I feel so grateful and blessed to have two amazing grandparents! They moved in to live with us for ! eight months! And they help me with anything that needed to be done. ANYTHING: cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, pediatrician visits (that winter was very hard for our baby girl), cleaning, babysitting.
With my first child, I was doing EVERYTHING alone. When twins arrived, first months they were eating almost every hour (different times each one of course), and all four of us (parents + grandparents) had to take shifts during the day and night to give them milk (I did not breastfeed my boys) and make burps. The grandma was my “home angel”, I do not know how on Earth I would survive with my little trio, the husband often away for work, and working part-time as a freelancer if she was not there for me.
I had to teach the “adult part” of our family to do all that new mama needs to know. Literary. Each of our family members could take complete care of a newborn child from A to Z to substitute me when needed. The grandpa who was fainting from the poo smell first days, learned in record time to change diapers, give a bath to my twins, cook meals for my baby girl, prepare milk like a pro, and to do another zillion “new mom” things. It was crazy times, but also a very beautiful experience of living as a messy big family. So if you have this luck, use it!
I realize that not many new moms are as lucky as me. Ask your besties, your neighbors, your husband if you don’t have grandparents’ help and can’t hire a babysitter. Swipe toddlers for playtime with other mom friends – today they play at your house, tomorrow and other 2 days of the week your toddler can go to visit the playmates in their houses, so you have 1-2 hours “free”. Search for baby care opportunities, check mom support groups in your area, ask your pediatrician where you can find the information about it if you have no new mom friends yet.
Even if you get help just for 1 hour a day, or with housekeeping tasks, it will make a huge difference. Again, you are not doing it for YOU, you are doing it for THEM. They need HAPPY and “operating” mama.
Plan just one “big thing” to do for a day
I had to say good-bye to perfectionism and multi-tasking in order to stay sane. I followed the advice found in a book of Italian mama of five: “Plan only one big thing you want to accomplish and that’s your win for the day!” It can be as simple and “small” as a walk with kids in the park or grocery shopping. Or doing laundry. When you have newborn twins +, anything counts as that “big thing”.
Why? Because this is the time when you need to be in good spirits and do not lose optimism. Planning things you can’t possibly do, as a trick to “push yourself forward”, will end up being upset with yourself. Or worse – comparison game with your mom friends, or on Instagram. Your body needs time to heal after giving life to two people, your mind needs time to adjust to a new “beauty and chaos” in your life, your hormones are having a party, and all of this “new normal” is not easy to handle. Tomorrow is another day, and you’ll learn to do better. To be a rock for your babies, you need to feel good. Doing that one big thing you planned for today makes you feel good = strong + everything is under control. Don’t you agree?
Start a Log Book
When you have 3 little babies, the amount of information you need to remember and keep in your head is huge. After the first weeks my boys were born, I was totally lost between feeding, keeping track of medicine to give to my baby girl, work, and zillion other things. I was literary losing my mind. The first days the grandparents moved it was expected to be helpful, but then we realized that only me could distinguish my twins, so it could happen that one boy ate twice and another one skipped a meal.
I remember sitting lost in the bathroom and crying. I was feeling overwhelmed and helpless. I did not remember if I ate that day; if I gave all the meds to my daughter and who of boys had a bath already. The house was a complete mess, and all the extra help I hoped for made everything only worse. I was sitting there staring at the wall and asking myself: “How is that possible?! I was managing a department and was able to coordinate the work of hundreds of people when I worked in the hotel, and now I can’t manage three babies and three adults!” And then, thinking of those “old good days” at my work before Italy and becoming a mom, I remembered how we used a logbook to keep records of all that was happening in the hotel between shifts. I was laughing about it at that time as it seemed so archaic to me, but it helped us easily find any info just looking at the records by date.
Bingo! I found the easiest way to keep track of everything that was happening to my babies and at glance see all I need to know. I took a big note pad with squares, divided every page into 3 columns, wrote the names of kids on top of each column, and on the angle of the page wrote the date (1 page = 1 day). I asked my husband and grandparents to write down anything that was done by them or happened to each kid during the day in the column under the name with times. If the record was about feeding, I asked them to write about how many ml of milk / what food was consumed. It also helped me to schedule all the medicine I had to give to my little girl in advance- all I had to do after it was given, highlight it as done.
Our logbook became a laboratory precise diary of our children’s lives during the first year with twins. It was our savior – I could see at a glance if my babies ate well, the current weight, whether they had colics and even the color of poo. My family members were sure that they did not feed “wrong” boy by mistake. And I was serene to have help, knowing that all is under my control even if it’s not me doing all things.
I know that when comes to parenting there is no “one works for all” solutions or hacks. Every child is different, every family is different, every mom is different. But I hope that this post will help you to look at your every day life with newborn twins in a different, “doable” prospective. We survived it, and you can do it to.
What is your best tip to survive first year for new twin mama? Please, comment below.