People love to dole out advice when it comes to babies. Let them cry it out. Swaddle them tightly. Breast is best. But when it comes to toddlers? People get a pained look on their face, wish you luck and make a quick getaway. Surviving toddlerhood is a huge accomplishment. Surviving twin toddlerhood is akin to climbing Mt. Rushmore in a bikini while yodeling the entire soundtrack from the Sound of Music.
After discussing this toddlerhood topic with several of my momrades, I think we’ve figured out a nifty list to help keep not only twin mommas sane, but singleton moms, as well.
Stick to a schedule. The most important thing you learn before having twins is to get your babies on the same schedule. That means naptime, feeding time, playtime, etc is the same for both twins. Yes, it takes a lot of juggling, but at the end of the day, kids do best with consistency. Running a tight time ship when the twins were babies, definitely helped smooth my boys’ transition to toddlership. Plus, if that’s all they know, that’s one less thing they can argue about.
Be flexible. Oh my God, didn’t I just say to stick to a rigid routine? Yes, but having some leeway is key when you’re dealing with twins. One of my twins is a champion sleeper, while the other is full of energy. I know that while they may go down at the same time for their nap, I need to pull out my Energizer Bunny before he wakes his brother. This one is less about being flexible and more about knowing your audience, ahem twins.
Have a sense of humor. Just this evening, one of my twins pulled up my pant leg, looked at my leg, and said, “Ew.” I looked at him cross-eyed until he ran his chubby hand on my less-than-smooth leg. Apparently, everyone’s a critic. Especially toddlers. At this age, they’ve just learned how to communicate using words and man, do they want to use them. Unfortunately, they haven’t quite learned tact. Hopefully, that comes later.
Pick your battles. This one is extremely important for all toddler mamas, but especially with twins. The old adage goes you can’t negotiate with a terrorist. Well, imagine trying to negotiate with two tiny completely unreasonable ones prone to screaming meltdowns? That’s what reasoning with twins is like. One of my momrades shared that her twins refused to eat anything but Oreos and pretzels for lunch one day. And you know what? She let them. She felt it was better to stay calm, sharing that, “A frustrated mommy makes for frustrated kids and in the end no one wins.” Wise words.
Accept and be kind to yourself. We are our own harshest critics. And while we worry that everyone else is judging our every momma move, everyone else is probably just trying to keep their own crap together. Another momrade shared that everyday she works on reminding herself that being a mom is hard, and we don’t have to be perfect. And you what, that’s OK. It’s not the end of the world if the kids miss their bath one night or eat the same thing for dinner every night. Being a kickass mom is a lot more than five-course dinners and a spotless house.
Create your own Momaraderie. This is a camaraderie of mommies. Surround yourself with people you trust, love, and can count on. They’re your own little army of supporters and can include family members, friends, acquaintances, and fellow moms-at-arms. When the toddlering gets tough, these are the people you can rely on to bring a smile to your face, remind you that your kids won’t be jerks forever (hopefully), and will be there when the wine glass needs refilling.
Always have a plan. When you’re a twin mom, there’s no grabbing your kid and running out on a few errands. Oh no. You need a minute-by-minute plan in place to help you survive even the quickest of missions. What if there’s a meltdown? How can you distract one while comforting the other? Your handbag becomes a magician’s bag of tricks, filled with coloring books, crayons, Play-doh (ugh, the smell), and puzzles. Never leave home without them. And every time you leave the house, you calculate exactly how long you have before the naptime or bedtime fits begin.
Keep your calm. There are going to be times when you lose your cool. Sure, you’ll scream, curse, and want to throw something (probably at one of the twins.) But keeping calm is so important. When you flip out, they flip out. And with twins, once one flips out, the other usually isn’t far behind. Calmness confuses toddlers. One of my twins is the king of temper tantrums. He will walk up to you, scrunch up his face, and shriek like a banshee. Lately, if I calmly ignore him, he settles down much quicker, even asking for a hug. Crisis adverted.
Remember yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you take an extra long shower, sneak out on the weekends for a blow out (my guilty pleasure), or indulge in a massage. Looking out for yourself keeps you sane, and staying sane, makes you a better mamma. So in the end, you’re really getting that hot stone massage for your kids. Good job.
Be stern. Set rules and boundaries with your twins, or any children for that matter. Another momrade shared that she lets her twin girls know that she is going to do before she does it. If she’s reading them two books at bedtime, they know it’s only two, and there’s no room for an argument. It’s important for toddlers to realize that you’re the one calling the shots. If you cave, and let them always get their way, they won’t ever respect your authority or take you seriously when you give them orders. Even if they throw a tantrum and say they hate you, the odds are they won’t remember it the next day, and they certainly won’t remember it in a week.
And most importantly, remember, there’s nothing a little red wine can’t fix. Or a tequila shot.