Nadya Suleman, single American mother, became world famous when she gave birth to eight babies in January 2009 and she already had six children before giving birth to the octuplets!
According to the OECD 2014 stats, 17% of children aged 0-14 live in single-parent households worldwide and women head approximately 88% of these households. Nowadays, one out of every 30 babies born is a twin.
Taking care of twins or multiples can be challenging, demanding, tricky and overwhelming, even more for a single parent who is often doing more than is physically possible for one person.
Imagine manoeuvre in shops, cafes, toilets with a giant double stroller, breastfeeding or rocking 2 babies to sleep at a time (and put them back in their cribs!), buying all the equipment in duplicate, getting a place at school for 2 in same grade, facing instant and constant comparisons between siblings, 2 kids leaving the nest at the same time…
You need to be super organized, develop solutions and strategies, and the following tips from other parents will help you to cope more easily:
- Don’t be too polite: Ask for help and admit that sometimes you are not coping very well. If you do not have parents or friends around, join your local parents' community or network for support (and discussions about grown-up issues). Some colleges also offer nursery nurse students to mums with twins (for free as a work experience).
- You can’t pour from an empty cup, so try to rest and take a nap at every single opportunity (when the kids' sleep, are at school) ignore the housework and prioritize your health. It will give you the boost you need to get everything done.
- Keep everyone's on the same schedule (feeds, sleep, play, bath…) you are likely to get a chance to catch a break. When one of your babies wakes up to be fed in the middle of the night, wake up the other one, if one of your twins gets sick, infect the other one as soon as possible (fewer days to take off at work).
- Keep a chart of their activities (meals, change of diapers, medications). Your head is already too full of other things to remember.
- Prefer fenced playgrounds to open areas so you can watch all kids from your bench.
- Cook lots of big meals and freeze the rest to do lunch or dinner for busy or “bad” days.
Keep extra everything everywhere (extra diapers, change of clothing, snacks…), in the car or the stroller and set up diaper changing places in several parts of the house.
Buy things in bulk or wholesale to save money and have them delivered to your house (to avoid the time-consuming experience of shopping with 2 children around). But if you have to go shopping, park near the trolleys return so you can transfer your babies back into their car seats, pack up your purchases, and return the cart without leaving them out of sight. A car with automatic sliding doors is certainly a plus as well.
Anticipate every potentially appealing hazard in the house and make sure everything is childproofed to ensure their safety.
- If your 2 toddlers cry at the same time or want a cuddle, sit on the floor. You can probably comfort them both of them before they start pushing each other off your lap.
- When your kids grow older, it is important that you set clear rules and boundaries to give them a sense of safety and security. Try to be consistent. And choose your battles (you will not be able to deal with every single issue). As a single parent, your positive attitude, strength, and determination give your child an example that lasts for life.
Missing the kids when they're with their other parent? Plan things out with friends or a treat just for yourself.
Being a single parent of twins is no easy task, but remember it gets easier when your kids grow older. Don’t forget to sometimes stop what you are doing and take time to savour all the precious moments of complicity and bonding between them both.