By Dan Brown
People always ask my wife and I: “How did you ever do it with two babies? I just can’t imagine it”. My answer is always the same…we just do. We just do what needs to be done. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, it’s stressful. But we find a way to get the things done that need to be done. That’s really the key, is finding a way that works for you and your spouse. I’ve listed some things in this article that have worked for us, maybe you can use some of the same things to help you through the first year.
Get into a routine
I can’t stress this enough. In my opinion, this is the most important thing during the first year if you’ve two or more babies under the age of one at home…get everyone into a routine and stick to it. Feed them at the same time, change diapers at the same time, put them down for naps at the same time, put them to bed at the same time, etc… This will make it a lot easier on you! If you feed them at the same time, you always know when they have been fed last. You won’t be wondering, “was that Colby I fed a half hour ago or was that Camden”? Trust me, you will find yourself asking those kinds of questions. If you put them down for a nap at the same time, you can take a nap yourself!
If you don’t get into a routine like this, you will always be feeding a baby, or changing diapers, or trying to get one of them to fall asleep. It won’t be long and you’ll be worn out, because there’s always be something to do.
I know that this seems impossible now with two children under the age of one, but you have to try and get enough sleep. I’m not saying that you can sleep as much as you did before you had children, but try and get as many hours of quality sleep in a row as you can.
When the twins were less than about 4 or 5 months old, and still not sleeping through the night, my wife and I worked out a system that seemed to work pretty well. Since she stayed home during the day while I went to work, we decided to sleep in shifts. Usually, she would go to bed between 8 or 8:30, and I would stay up with the twins. No matter what happened, they were my responsibility until about midnight or 1:00am. Sometimes they would sleep during that time, sometimes they wouldn’t. It didn’t matter, that was my wife’s time to sleep. Then, at around midnight or 1:00am, I would change diapers and feed them again before putting them to bed. I also went to bed at that time. Usually we could count on them to sleep for another two to three hours before they woke up again. That would put us in the 2:00am to 3:00am range. Then it was my wife’s turn to get up with them, feed them and change diapers, and it was my time to sleep.
This system seemed to work pretty well for us…it was a way for both of us to get around five or six hours of quality sleep in a row. The bottom line is to find something that works for both you and your wife because you both are going to need as much sleep as possible to make it through the next day.
Divide and Conquer
For those of you guys out there that still believe it’s a woman’s job to take care of the baby, that’s just not going to work with twins. If you expect your wife to feed the babies, dress them, give them baths, change all of the diapers, put them down for naps, she’s going to be very tired and very irritable. You know how the saying goes…”when mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy”.
So guys…get used to helping out. That includes helping out with the babies and around the house. Don’t be afraid to change a diaper, make a bottle, do the dishes, sweep the floor. In fact, it’s even better if you do these things without being asked or told to do them first. Trust me, it will be easier on everyone. Having two babies at one time is very time-consuming…there are always lots of things to do. Pitch in and your marriage as well as the babies will reap the benefits.
Make time for yourself
As anyone with kids can tell you, once in awhile you just need to get away and have some time for yourself. As much as you love your kids, sometimes you need time without the kids. My wife and I are both pretty flexible when it comes to allowing each other some time away. I don’t mind when she goes to a movie with her friends, or plays bunco (whatever that is!) with the neighborhood bunco group. She gives me the same freedom to play golf or go fishing once in awhile with my friends. As long as neither one of you take it to an extreme, you should encourage each other to do it.
You also need to make sure you work in some time where you and your spouse spend time together without the kids. Don’t feel guilty about it…think of it as a sanity check! My wife and I try and get our parents to watch the kids once in awhile while we go out for dinner or even for a weekend away. We just feel more comfortable having our parents watch them rather than a babysitter, but that’s really more of a personal preference thing for us. However you do it, just make sure you and your spouse make some time for each other without the kids.
The house just isn’t going to be as clean
This is an important lesson for first time parents of twins. Before my wife and I started having kids, we were both kind of anal about keeping the house spotless, straightened up, and things just so. It hasn’t been that way for quite awhile now…and you know what, it just doesn’t matter. Our house is usually a mess, the dishes don’t get done as soon as they used to, and I don’t cut the grass whenever I see a blade of grass higher than another. With all of the responsibilities that go with having children, especially under the age of one, you just won’t have as much time as you used to. Get used to it!