Thoughts on Parenting Twins

 

Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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This month’s topic for the Carnival of Natural Parenting is Special Needs, and more loosely, special circumstances or situations relating to parenting. While I do not have children with special needs, I do feel like I can speak to the unique challenges of raising twins, and dealing with parenting circumstances which are unexpected and overwhelming at times.

So cute. So exhausting! So very little sleep...

1. First off!  While it can feel selfish or downright ungrateful in the light of people struggling with various parenting issues (infertility, special needs, loss) or when faced with the loads of friends, relatives and perfect strangers who offer up how MUCH they hoped for or dreamed of having twins, allow yourself a chance to mourn the loss of the “normal” pregnancy/parenting journey you envisioned. While twins is indeed an amazing blessing and experience, it is also life-changing and (particularly in the first year or three) overwhelming and sometimes NOT at all what you had dreamed of or planned for. You have a right to those feelings of resentment, frustration or sadness that you are facing a different, more difficult situation than you expected. I certainly had them! But I promise they were, indeed, temporary. And while I think it’s important not to wallow in the negative stuff, acknowledging the validity of these thoughts and feelings is a part moving into a more accepting, peaceful, enthusiastic and joyful place.

Just dumping more stuff, Ma! Carry on!

2. Lower that parenting bar, pronto! Perhaps some people will disagree with me on this but I think that my setting the expectations LOW for how that first year or two was going to go with twins/3 young kids helped me a ton. I expected very VERY little sleep, I expected difficult and non-stop feedings, I expected everything would feel hard and that I would rarely be able to get out of my jammies, let alone the house, with three needy small children in tow. I expected a fair bit of crying (on all our parts!), more TV watching than I’d prefer, and less-than-stellar parenting on my part. That I wouldn’t be able to keep up with laundry or dishes or cooking or other housework for quite awhile. I gave myself a pass on a lot of things, frankly, and I think that is a-ok. That doesn’t mean I didn’t strive for it (I do think that is important, too!), but I also didn’t expect to somehow juggle and manage it all with grace and ease (haha!). You just cannot do it all when you have twins (or even if you don’t!) and when you internalize this you will have a much shorter fall than if you’d set yourself way high up there with all those “supermom” ideals! A fabulous upside is that it feels SOOOOOOO great when you actually DO accomplish more than you thought or planned for!

Crying happens. Messes happen. But we will all be okay.

3. Seek out others who “get it” and have “been there”. Even if it’s really hard to make the effort and you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone, try! I think this is so important. It is just so easy to look at others around you (who don’t have twins/kids with special needs/are not single parents/whatever your difficult issue may be) and feel poorly about how you are doing, how much harder or less smoothly things are going for you, all the things that “they” can do that you — for the moment at least — can not. Look for online parenting support groups, boards or forums, blogs or twitter “tweeps” as well as real life folks in your area (participating with my local twins club has been a hugely positive experience) to meet up with face to face.  Meeting people in person if you can is really critical, in my opinion!  Commiserating with parents going through a similar experience or situation or coming from a similar parenting philosophy or background can make ALL the difference, and can really boost the mood and ego. Parenting can be so very isolating, and you have to be intentional about setting up the social and emotional support that you need now, and down the line as things change.

Feeding twins? It really can help to talk to some other twin mamas & papas

4. Look for the beauty and joy in those simple, everyday moments, each and every day. I know it sounds like a cliche but there is merit to it! Celebrate the small stuff, like when your house is momentarily quiet enough to hear the birds or the ferry horn. When you actually sit down and get to enjoy a few sips of your tea while it’s still hot. When you doze off for awhile with your children, when the sun shines in or the rain pounds while you are cozy inside, when your children are — for the moment — playing peacefully or delight in some little, beautiful thing that you never would have looked at otherwise. Savor it all for a few moments, caught in the wonder of it all, and know that this is the important stuff, right here right now.

Savor this moment. Right now!

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 13 with all the carnival links.)

Related posts:

23 comments to Thoughts on Parenting Twins

  • I like the idea of having lower expectations for yourself as a parent. It sounds awful when said that way but the idea of being realistic and not overwhelming yourself with unneeded pressure is good for any parent. It is something I’m still working on but it is a goal of mine to not to try to do everything or label myself a failure if everything is not accomplished or perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  • The advice to give yourself permission to let things slide (but still strive for more) is SO good. Having just added our second baby, I’ve needed to relearn this. I can only imagine how much more hectic everything would feel with double the babies! Moms of multiples are amazing!

  • I think it’s so important to give yourself the freedom to mourn the pregnancy and babyhood you are NOT having with twins. Despite what people might tell you, it is not ungrateful to go through that process. Parenting twins is a wonderful adventure in many ways, but it’s not going to look the way you might have pictured pregnancy and parenthood with just one baby. Really, though, I think that’s true for most of parenthood – life has a way of throwing us twists and turns (and twins)!

  • Thanks for writing about your experiences! I think parenting multiples is definitely a special circumstance with its own unique challenges and joys. I also agree with lowering our expectations (even for ALL parents of new babies) and letting things slide a lot more than you would normally. I loved seeing your photographs, too!

  • Nora

    Such a thoughtful post, thank you! Finding those who have “been there” is a little tricky I think. It is not easy to find parents of twins who are also interested in natural/positive/attachment based parenting,especially because I live in a small town. I look online for twin support! (including right here!)

  • What a great article! I think your advice is so helpful for anyone feeling overwhelmed with parenting, and I admire you tons for handling three little ones with such grace. Also? Cutest kids. You win. Seriously.

  • Hey Kristin,
    I’ve been enjoying following along on your blog. I liked this post especially. “So cute! So exhausting!” :)

    I second Lauren’s comment about your sharing being helpful for anyone feeling overwhelmed with parenting. Thank you!

  • Joe

    I echo your thoughts on resetting expectations. The first year with our twins was a complete blur. I’m glad we knew from other parents of twins ahead of time that this would be the case. It made dealing with reality just a little bit easier.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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