Tips from parents on how to raise multiples
They say parenting a child is a full-time job, but what must it be like parenting multiples? Multiple births are becoming more common than ever, as more couples are having babies later in life or turning to fertility treatments for help, both of which increase the chance of having multiples. I am not a mother of multiples myself, but I can imagine that it is probably double, triple, quadruple or even quintuple the trouble. The truth is each child comes with its own unique package of fun, but when they’re multiplied, how do parents cope? Motherhood Diaries spoke to some parents who kindly provided their tips on how to raise multiples.
Multiplebirths.org.uk assure new parents of multiples that they shouldn’t be too anxious about feeding. Although feeding two or more babies takes more time and organisation, it should be an enjoying and fulfilling time. Mothers of newborn babies often feel very isolated, so get your partner or other members of the family to help, if possible, especially during the night, so that parents can get some pockets of rest in between feeding.
“Always feed them at the same time, if possible, otherwise when they’re newborn, you could be up every hour. Also, if you need to get other things done when they get a bit bigger, I have five children so sometimes two hands are never enough, we rolled up towels for blankets to prop their bottle up, it’s not ideal but sometimes there’s no choice”. Helen Power, mum of twins (mum to five children in total) http://www.crazyfamilystory.com.
Each child is different
Parenting multiples may mean that you feel guilty or sad for having less time to spend with each baby. And, treating your multiples the same way may sometimes seem like a practical solution and even contribute to survival in those newborn/toddler days. But, it’s important to think about your children as individuals with different characteristics and needs. Make it easy for people to tell which child is which, so they start to have their own identity from the very beginning. As they get older, ensuring they have their own space and possessions can also help for that child to form their own life separate from their life with their multiple siblings. Each person is unique no matter whether they were born at the same time. Embrace those differences and ensure you are not favouring one over the other, even subconsciously, as this may lead to competition amongst themselves.
“Most people think it’s like parenting their children twice over. It’s not. No matter their identical DNA they are two very individual people – with individual needs, issues, temper, and attitudes! Saying that, my girls are now 4 and I’ve found this last year having twins has become much easier. They always have someone to play with and it gives them confidence, whilst they bicker like nobody’s business, it feels like I’m being rewarded for an easier life as they amuse each other”. Beth Law, mum of twins (mum to three children in total) http://www.twinderelmo.co.uk“
“The challenges change- but it does get easier. I think that would be my advice to any new parent of twins. The moment I was able to tandem feed my twins, life got exceptionally better (due to problems with feeding one of the boys this didn’t happen until week 12), and so the sleep deprivation of managing consecutive feeds was so difficult. The moment they can feed themselves- again a huge bonus. The moment they could move- never in the same direction brought more challenges. But every milestone brings a new celebration, life gets a little easier, and a bit more challenging. Mine are now six so full-time school was a bonus for sanity, but it has been important for me to be aware of their individual differences as in an educational setting there can be a habit to talk about ‘them’ (by everyone), and so I’ve had to be really on the ball with their differences. This has been so different to the experience with my daughter. The school are great, and we’ve gained a lot of support, but yes, they are individuals who may learn differently, at different paces, have different interests, different friends. Like siblings, not ‘twins’. ” Debbie Johnson, mum of twins (mum to three children in total) http://www.anorganisedmess.com
Get the right Support
The first six to eight weeks at home tend to be the most challenging for parents who often need additional help from family and friends to make things more manageable for them. If you don’t have friends or family around, reach out to friends and neighbours in the area. Asking for help, especially in the first three months, is important.
“Some of the differences in lifestyle the multiple births will need are easy to expect, standards for household’s neatness will likely have to relax for a few years unless you can afford to hire a house cleaning service. You will get a lot less sleep, as multiple babies need frequent feeding and care at night. Raising twins or multiples is easier with the right support. Meeting other parents of multiples in your area is an invaluable way to share knowledge and experience. Find out if there’s a way to share knowledge and experience. Find out whether there is a multiple group in your team, look for clothing sales, and take advantage of opportunities pick up things in duplicate”. Elizabeth Plumb, http://www.thehomemakersjournal.com
Learn how to manage your routine your way
“Our boys are two and our girls are one. My partner manages our two sets of twins with a mixture of routine, kindness and just letting things go – twin parents can’t really be held to the same standard as singleton parents; they have double the child to manage! Me? I keep them out of the house all day where I can. Hence, I’d be a dreadful SAHM – we’d have no money left by halfway through the month because it would all be frittered on activities and coffee!” Amber Allen, mum to two sets of twins! http://www.meetthewildes.com
No matter how organised your house is, there will be destruction along the way. Establishing a good and simple routine is key to surviving life with multiples. It takes trial and error, but with the right support, you will start to establish routines for feeding, bathing, changing and bedtimes and soon you’ll become a pro multiple parenting superstar! Just remember that you’re not alone because there are tons of great resources online that can help you get your mojo back when you feel like you’re losing it in a sea of multiples and mess.
And, if you really want to feel like you have your eye on the multiple ball, check out the Busbys’ fly-on-the-wall reality show on TLC called OutDaughtered, which follows them parenting the US’ first all-girl quintuplets. New shows air every Monday at 9 pm on TLC and you can catch the repeats every Sunday at 8 pm either TLC online, SKY channel 125, Virgin channel 167 or BT TV channel 323.
*This post is sponsored by TLC*
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