There are lots of sources of information about having twins. There are books and websites and blogs and classes that will tell you how to prepare for twins, how to tell twins apart, how to dress them, and how to decide whether to put them in the same class at school. You can join a club for parents of twins and multiples, and the members will tell you how they survived the difficulties of pregnancy, coped with premature infants, or endured sleepless nights with twinfants.
But there’s a lot more that nobody tells you. They are concepts that you learn for yourself, by living as a parent of twins.
1. You’ll be a celebrity.
Twins and multiples attract a lot of attention. Everywhere you go, especially with younger twins, you’ll garner looks, stares, and sometimes downright invasive inquiries about your family and private life. How were they conceived? How were they born? Do you breastfeed? No aspect of your life with twins is off limits when you’re dealing with inquisitive strangers. Just as superstar singers and actors have to learn to evade and deal with paparazzi, parents of multiples learn to handle the remarks and stupid questions from the public.
Learn more: In the Public Eye
2. In some ways, having twins is easier than having two kids of different ages.
Along with your celebrity status, you’ll incur a certain level of praise for your ability to wrangle multiples. And you should enjoy the acclaim, because you’ll work really hard. But shhhhhh! There’s a secret that parents of mutiples don’t really like to share. In some ways, there are actually advantages to parenting multiples that make it easier than raising kids of different ages. For one thing, you can focus singlehandedly on one age, rather than multi-tasking for various ages and stages, like you do with kids of different ages. Multiples often keep the same schedule, meet milestones at about the same time, and provide great entertainment for one another. Instead of spreading potty training out over several years, you’ll get it done for both kids within a matter of months.
3. The logistics of having two kids the same age can be overwhelming.
Everyone warns you about the lack of sleep, the messes, the childproofing. But one of the biggest issues faced by parents of twins or more is the challenge to be in two places at the same time. Parents night at school? Tricky when both your kids are in the same grade, but in different classes. Multiple sports, lessons and activities? Calendar coordination, traffic shortcuts and carpools will be your best friends. Of course, busy families with singletons face logistics challenges also, but multiples are more likely to have overlapping events.
4. You don’t have to have two of everything, but sometimes it helps.
Before my twins were born, I envisioned, our home filled with duplicates. As I prepared for their arrival during pregnancy, I bought double of everything. But, after they arrived, I realized that we could make do with only one of some things. And, as they’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten much more discerning about what they can share and what must be multiplied to meet their needs. With twins, there are no hand-me-downs, and there will be times when you have no choice but to buy double. But, you can also be very creative about sharing and taking turns. Still, I often find myself unconsciously purchasing things in two’s or in even numbers so that they can be equally shared. I just can’t bring myself to buy only 3 apples, or a box of 9 granola bars!
Learn more: To Buy Two?
5. They’ll fight.All siblings quarrel. From brawling blowouts to squabbling spats, family life is marred by conflict. But the disputes between twins and multiples can be surprisingly intense and complex. And because there is so much overlap in their lives, being in the same grade, and often involved in the same activities and relationships, it can be difficult to contain. Many parents of multiples are surprised at how early in life the fighting begins, citing instances of biting and hitting in babies and toddlers. Others are dismayed by the ferocity, fearing their multiples will not enjoy the close relationship that characterizes the stereotype of twins as “best buddies.” It can be a frustrating and discouraging predicament for parents, as they struggle to determine how to handle the hostility.
Learn more: Twins Fighting