A surprising number of people I meet tell me they’ve always wanted twins. I was not one of those people. My brother and his wife also have twins, 8 months older than mine. I remember so clearly phoning my mum shortly after hearing they were expecting two – my words were something like: “How on earth would you do that? It would just be impossible.” Clearly someone thought it would be amusing to give some to me too so I could find out. Obviously now I couldn’t imagine life without them, but we muddle and stumble our way through every day. Here is my (very brief) guide to being a multiple mum:
- If you already have one child (or more) when you find out you’re expecting twins, all the wonderful plans you had for baby number 1 go out the window with these little guys. You have to settle for being good-enough if you are to stay sane. Perfection is not an option – your aim is getting to the end of each day with everyone still in one piece.
- Lower your expectations – of yourself, and in particular of what can be achieved in a day. For everything, but in particular, for days out. My criteria for a successful day out is 1) arrive somewhere 2) eat something 3) come home. If those things happen without incident, I consider it a success and if we manage to see and/or do one thing as well then it’s a resounding success. This way you won’t be disappointed.
- You read a lot about the ‘special bond’ twins share, and seeing the relationship develop between your own is, of course, incredibly special. But twins also bicker, snatch, and fight. Regularly, and very loudly. Prolonged exposure to this makes you feel like you are losing your mind and has you reaching for a large glass of wine every evening.
- People stop you all the time to ask you about your little bundles. Some twin mums find this irritating, I generally don’t mind as long as they are not stopping me to tell me how unlucky I am to have three boys (this does happen). Usually, people like to tell you you have your hands full – this is very true so I don’t mind people acknowledging it. In fact, in the early days I found being a twin mum quite lonely, so actually appreciated people stopping me in the street if they had something nice to say. But you can guarantee the following questions will crop up at some point:
- Are they twins? Even if, like mine, they are identical in shape, size as well as facially
- Are they natural? Meaning ‘did you have IVF?’
- Did you deliver them naturally? Oh yes, even people you’ve never met before will, within seconds, ask you about the conception and delivery of your babies. Extraordinary.
- There is no point even attempting to be house-proud – two at a time is an entirely different ball-game. While you are pulling one child down from the top of the bookcase and attempting to reprimand him, the second is making his way up. It won’t be forever…..or that’s what I’m telling myself.
- I love food and cooking, and thankfully my boys are pretty good eaters. But this does not mean that mealtimes are in any way enjoyable – I find them by far the most stressful times of the day. By the time you have battled to get 3 boys to wash their hands and sit down, served up food at the right temperature on the right plates, picked up everyone’s dropped cutlery, mopped up spilt drinks and are finally ready to sit down yourself, they have all finished and are demanding a) more b) pudding c) to get down. You try your best to ignore it, but once one has started everyone joins in, even if they don’t want anything. On the odd occasion that mealtimes don’t go like this I am disproportionately thrilled.
- On the subject of meals, you burn so many calories just getting these small people through a day that you can justify as many treats as are necessary to get yourself through. And, of course, there is absolutely no need to be going anywhere near a gym.
- The other piece of exercise you will do is wrestling with your children – at least once a day. Chasing and wrestling are both required to get three small people washed, dressed, out of the door, into a car seat, into a pushchair and more. And whilst you are mid-way through wrestling with one, you will almost certainly have to run off and rescue another one who has escaped and decided to lie down in a puddle or climb into the washing machine.
And you just realise that, unless you drive yourself mad, there is very little you can do about any of these things – you just have to lower your expectations and embrace the chaos.