Five Things I Learned In my First Year as a Stay at Home Mum Of Twins
I am a scientist who switched to a stay at home mum of twins. These are five things I have learned through my first year as a stay at home mum. Things I wished I knew earlier.
Before having kids, I used to be a super busy woman with a lot going on: a career in science and many long nights working, lots of social events for networking, fitness enthusiast attending many yoga and pilates classes, holiday arrangements with my other half, and walking and playing with my young little chihuahua puppy. I loved the fast life and all that comes along with it. It energized me and I was very happy.
But then, I became pregnant. I became pregnant with twins. I was incredibly happy, I always wish for twins and it was one of my life’s dreams that I thought it would always remain a dream. But to my surprise, it became a reality. It was happening and I was completely unprepared for what was coming my way.
So here, are the five lessons I learned from my first year as a stay at home mum of twin girls.
Listen to your body during pregnancy and beyond
When I was pregnant I was constantly trying to do everything I used to do before pregnancy: exercise, work, stay up late, and generally being restless. Even though at the start of the pregnancy *other than all day/morning sickness* I didn’t feel much different. Towards the second and third trimester, things became harder. I was super big, I couldn’t do as much as I used to do, and it was frustrating me. What I did not understand is that I was growing two humans inside me, and even though I did not do much, my body was doing much and that is why I was feeling more and more tired, more and more sleepy, more and more hungry. after giving birth, I rushed into wanting to go back to my old self: exercise, see all my friends, attend social events in the late evening. But this was adding to my exhaustion, especially since I had to juggle caring for my twins with no extra help. So my advice here is: Listen to your bodies mamas, if they need rest, leave everything and go to bed, watch a movie, read a book, draw a painting, browse cute baby clothes online, eat at your favorite restaurant and generally, do whatever makes you relax. Your true friends will understand and will wait for you to regenerate, your true friends, will bring you some dinner and help you wash the dishes so you can get the relaxing bonding time you deserve with your babies. Listen to your bodies during pregnancy and beyond, you need it for the years to come.
Find a pediatrician you fully trust
During the first year of my twins, I was incredibly worried about milestones. Do they smile? Do they bubble? Do they crawl? Do they respond to instructions? Do they eat enough? Do they sleep enough? Oh, my head was exploding. I had a table with all the milestones in each month, testing, ticking, checking them. As a stay at home mum, I felt responsible for their well-rounded development, which is why it was so stressful for me. I still remember when one of my twins walked at 9 months old, while the other one, did not even crawl at that point. I even called our pediatrician to check whether my second child needs observation. What I did not understand then, is that every child is different and all children will develop at their speed and ways. My pediatrician thought helped me so much: he once told me that I should trust that he is monitoring my little ones, and if anything is concerning, he will bring it to my attention. He congratulated me for caring so much for my little ones and he explained how kids have their speeds for developing and it is nice to just let them to it in their own time. This made me a lot more relaxed. And yes, my second twin eventually walked (never crawled) at 13 months. So my advice here is: Find a good pediatrician that you can talk openly, a pediatrician that will listen to you and whom you can listen too! Trust that your pediatrician will monitor your little ones’ development so you can relax and enjoy the first year of motherhood without unnecessary worries.
Have a schedule for your sleep
I was told that having a newborn will lead to sleep deprivation. But with twins, sleep deprivation goes to a different level. At the first couple of months, my twins napped at different times, they woke up at different times, they ate at different times and in general, they were all over the place with their sleep patterns. This meant that I never had any sleep. It was truly hard, it made me snappy at my husband and everyone around me. I was feeling weak and unhappy. So when my husband and I reached our limits, we decided that it was time to figure out a solution. So here, is what we did and it worked wonders to us:
- I slept 5 PM to midnight every night uninterrupted which was a lifesaver. During that time, my husband was responsible for the twins. He would: bath the twins at 5 PM, feed them with already expressed breast milk, or just attach them to me for feeding while I slept (honestly, I was so tired I was in deep sleep and I didn’t even wake up). He would also change their diapers, put them in pajamas or swaddle them, and put them to bed by 7 PM approximately. If they woke up between 7 to midnight, he would be responsible for giving more food, changing them again, and placing them back to bed nicely.
- At midnight, my husband would notify me that is my time to be the carer for the twins, and he would then go to sleep in a separate room. At that point, if they cried, I would be responsible and he would have a quiet space to sleep, so he can go to work the next day with a clear mind.
- At 6 AM the day of my twins started.
During the day and the night, if one twin woke up for food, we would gently encourage the other twin to wake up as well. This increased our chances for both twins being hungry at the same time, therefore waking up and sleeping at the same time. And to my happy surprise, it worked: the twins would wake up at the same time, eat at the same time, sleep at the same time.
This plan worked very well for us because we both had some hours of uninterrupted sleep so we can handle the days. It did have some disadvantages though, such as sleeping super early in the evening and having different sleeping patterns with my husband (and seeing him much less!) but it was worth it for the hard first year of having twins.
Plan your date nights and don’t cancel them
I know, it doesn’t sound romantic having pre-planned date nights but it was a great way to ensure that we will see each other, without kids, without interruptions. We would usually plan them on a Saturday since my husband would not work on Sundays and it meant he would help me the next day. We would also have them early in the evening, like an hour after the twins go to bed because we would still be able to go to bed at a reasonable time and not be tired and snappy the next day. We would also pre-agree that one of us will get a lie in bed while the other one takes care of the twins the morning after. But the one who did not get a lie-in would get a noon nap time. It’s a lot of work planning date nights and organizing all these details, and I admit it, sometimes it took away the excitement. But once we were on our dates (which usually included a nice dinner on our balcony together, painting with new techniques, watching random youtube videos, and so on), we would feel so relaxed and bonded that we would be nicer and calmer with each-other the weeks to follow. So it was beneficial. So my advice here is, plan your date nights and do not cancel them. If you are super tired, just have an hour of date, and have dinner together away from phones and social media. Just make sure you still spend some alone time with each other. Staying connected is important.
Outsource as much as you can and ask for help
This was perhaps the hardest thing for me. We lived in a city with no family. My husband would work Monday to Saturday and I had no one. It was hard, lonely and some times, depressing. So, I once asked a friend mum of twins, how could she do it with her husband working as much and also living as an ex-pat and she said: “Outsource as much as you can”. Well, that made me thinking, and eventually, I realized what excellent advice it was. If I did not have to cook, I would have more time to be out in a playground with the twins where together with my twins, I could also socialize and have fun too! If I did not have to wash the clothes, I would have more time to lie in bed with the twins and just rest while hugging them. Well, I did that: I set up a weekly preplanned meal service, weekly grocery delivery, and a weekly friend who will come and help me with the laundry ( I was scared to ask my friend for help, but she was happy I did and she was happy she could see me while I was caring for the twins and helping me feel a little more rested, a little less tired). Deep inside me, I felt bad for actually using all this help. I was a stay at home mum, it was under my responsibilities. But then again, I am no superwoman! I saw my kids happier, and myself more relaxed. I could focus a lot more on playing rather than cleaning. So, my advice here is that if you can, outsource as much as you can. Be brave and ask for help from any friend you have, especially those without kids as spending an hour with your kids while you have a bath, is fun for them and valuable for you!
So here we are, these are five lessons that I wish someone told me before having kids. I hope they are helpful for you and if you have any other pieces of advice that worked for you, please share them with me!
And as a last note, hang in their parents of multiples. It does get incredibly fun. My twins are now four and they are currently playing in our garden with mud and water buckets. And guess what? They much prefer playing together than playing with me! So, I got to have a few cups of coffee, eat breakfast, and write this blog while sitting on my balcony, listening to their giggles and watching them get messy!
Life with twins is a true blessing!