After three years of waiting, we adopted six-month-old twin girls from China in 2008. Since there was only a 3% chance of twins, we were totally unprepared. We had a meagre four quick weeks to prepare for their arrival, which included a rush operation to remove a cyst from my ovary. So, as a professional organizer of over 10 years, my skills went immediately into action. Here’s a list to make the speedy drive down the twin lane a little smoother for moms of twins from six months to six years—and beyond.
Let it go
If you can’t seem to get out of the house, don’t put pressure on yourself to keep up with singleton moms, playdates, singing groups or, for that matter, anything social. When you have twins, you are basically working on a production line of dealing with bodily fluids for the first two years. This can be exacerbated if you don’t have help—which leads me to my next point.
Whatever you do, get help, whether from family, friends, siblings, neighbours, babysitters or a nanny:
- If you can hire a nanny, prepare a schedule of routine and weekly activities, and post it on the fridge.
- Join a multiples support group—even if you can’t make coffee dates, you’ll have email support at a moment’s notice from other parents in the same boat as you.
- Trust that you will naturally attract the attention of other parents of twins. They will put their hand on you shoulder and say, “It will be great when they hit two.” Soak up their knowledge and compassion; these parents understand.
- Having twins is literally twice the cost—two cribs, two car seats, two feeding seats, two sets of clothes. To get financial help, ask for it! Many stores and big brands will offer discounts to twins.
- When you’re outfitting for two, look for 2-for-1 sales and buy clothes one size larger at the end of the season for the next year. You will save 50-70% and squeeze the most out of every dollar.
Read more: How to organize your life>
Play to strengths
As you and your partner ease into twin parenthood, it is wise to maximize on each other’s strengths and situations. If one of you functions fine getting up in the middle of the night, or can handle the cry-out during sleep training while the other parent deals with daytime details and doctor appointments, then go for it.
While every parent will handle taking care of their twins differently, my husband and I found some things made sense to do together and some things separately when it came to our twins. Bathing them together saved time, while keeping them sleeping apart meant everyone’s sleep quality went up.
Let them do it
It took us six long months of rocking our twins to sleep for three hours a day before we realized that, within three days, they learned to go to sleep on their own. It was a painful three days but, thanks to my helpful mother, a miracle prevailed.
As a general rule, encourage your twins to be self-sufficient—let them do things for themselves as much as possible. This is called life training and gives you the microseconds you need.
When your twins are babies, use clear bins to store their clothes, and label socks, pants, tops and sleepers so you just reach in to grab what you need—quickly.
When they first start school, you can also use these bins to organize their outfits for the week. Label bins with the days of the week, stack them at the end of the bed, and have them handle it from there.
Be sure to label all clothing, shoes and food containers for school. I love stickers from stuckonyou.ca and mabelslabels.com. Alternatively, some Parent Advisory Councils will offer programs in which you can order labels and part of the proceeds support the PAC.
Colour coding is helpful for identical twins—have one twin in hot colours and the other cool colours. This is particularly important when you go to the doctor, for example, or when you’re looking at pictures and realize you can’t tell them apart.
If one twin’s favourite colour is orange and the other’s is pink—work it! An orange or pink glass in the fridge means you’ll always know whose is whose.
I loved dressing our girls the same—I think this is a twin mom thing. However, for the sake of their pals and teachers, it is better to dress them differently, or at least in different colours of the same outfit.
Identical twins have a very special quality that literally mesmerizes you—even as a parent. Be prepared to be stopped frequently by curious bystanders asking if they are twins. The secret is to add in buffer time on any outings.
As an adoptee myself, organizing is rooted in my need to put my world in order. I’ve been doing it literally since birth. Life can throw you all kinds of crazy curve balls, and I counteract this by keeping my home, mind and business under control and organized. Use the tips above that resonate with you to create your own sense of twin control.
Marie Potter is a trained professional organizer. She is a proud Silver Leaf member and director of marketing for Professional Organizers in Canada. She’s been helping busy people get organized at home and in their businesses since 2002.