By Tonia Tomlin
There is nothing quite like the moment you hear those life-changing words: "Congratulations, you're having twins!" What follows is likely excitement, intrigue, and absolute astonishment...accompanied with visions of double everything-car seats, cribs, highchairs, tricycles, and bicycles. And yet, even with the rush of emotions and flashing dollar signs, there is no sweeter moment.
With the birth of your new bundles of joy, comes the birth of your new role as a parent of multiples. As a parent of multiples, you will discover that you will face challenges. Feeling overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, isolated, and scared is perfectly normal. You will also learn that you can face those challenges. However, knowledge is definitely power, and understanding some of the unique challenges you are in for will help tremendously as you prepare yourself for what can best be described as "life in the fast lane parenting."
Take it from someone who's been there: planning ahead is crucial. These easy dos and don'ts can help you prepare:
Do investigate/interview daycares just shortly after you find out you are pregnant with the twins. This time can be very timely and may require weeks of planning of appointments.
Do ask an experienced twin mother to shop with you for your baby registry. She will be able to give you helpful information that singleton mothers may not be able to give.
Do lots of napping. You'll never nap again!
Do wrap up any major household projects. Time will be limited in preparation for the babies.
Do add shelving in your babies' closets. You will need lots of space for 2, 3 or 4 babies. Hats, socks, blankets, extra diapers, wipes take up lots of room.
Do get in the habit of going on date nights with your spouse now!
Don't wait to relocate the babies' room. Start as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
Don't purchase too many preemie diapers. You will often find your little preemie miracles grow faster than you think.
Don't lose your gift receipts for items purchased on your registry. You may receive duplicate gifts that you can exchange for other items you will need.
Don't over buy for babies -- especially during the early months. In the first three months, most babies wear their diaper and onesies. Save your money for college!
Aside from the dos and don'ts, it is crucial to consider the SOS strategy - safety , organization, and support!
Safety: Resolve to make safety a top priority and don't be afraid to bring in the experts. The margin for error when parenting multiples is naturally greater than the margin for error when parenting singletons. Think of it this way: there are two or more of them and only one of you. Consider hiring an expert to come into your home and assist in establishing a safe space for your family. Keep in mind that multiple children move in multiple directions at one time. Together, multiples are able to exercise their curiosity and their strength-both of which can be dangerous. Companies such as InfantHouse.com audit homes and make recommendations and installations, if necessary, for creating the safest space possible. When parenting multiples, it is impossible to be in all places at all times. Families need a space created specifically for multiple babies. Make safety your family's number one priority.
Organization: Resolve to get organized now. A lack of organization will be
chaotic both for kids and parents. If parents are exhausted, frustrated, and
stressed out because of a lack of order, children tend to respond in a similar
way. Order and structure are some of the best gifts parents can give their
kids. Take time to get every area in
your home organized. Cutting down on the physical clutter is key to winning the
battle between chaos and calm. Resolve
to bring your babies home to a calm, organized, and clutter-free environment.
Support: Support is also incredibly important for any parent of multiples. Parenting multiples is a tough job, and learning from those who have gone before you and seeking support from those who are currently walking in your shoes is essential. Join a local chapter of the National Organization of Mother of Twins Club, Inc. (www.nomotc.org), an organization founded in 1960 for the purpose of promoting the special aspects of child development that relate specifically to multiple birth children. If you are a mom of supertwins (parents with more than one set of multiples), consider affiliating with MOST (Mothers of Supertwins, www.mostonline.org), an organization that provides support to "Multiple Birth Families ... Every Step of the Way."
Whatever you do, realize that you are enormously blessed. Being a parent of multiples is not without its fair share of challenges, but with multiple babies come multiple blessings.
Tonia Tomlin is the Founder and President of Sorted OutTM and Sorted Out Publishing. Tonia is an author, publisher, speaker and mother of twin girls. She has been featured on HGTV's, Mission: Organization, and is the author of Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms'-of-Multiples Guide to an Organized Family. (Available wherever fine books are sold.) Tonia con be reached at Tonia@SortedOut.biz. Please visit Tonia on the web at: www.sortedout.biz