Even if you haven’t been trying for all that long, discovering that you and your partner are having a baby is the most joyous day. Going to an ultrasound after around 10 weeks of this happiness and discovering that your one baby is actually two (or more!) should double the joy, but if you and your partner exchange a worried look and feel hesitation for the first time in the pregnancy, you are not alone. Twins are double the fun, but double the trouble too.
If you think the prospect of raising twins, triplets, or even quadruplets, is a bit daunting, read on to find the common problems you’re likely to face, as well as their solutions. Caring for children doesn’t have to be a disaster - more family means more fun!
The first thing to think about when you’re having multiples is space - is your house big enough for more than one newborn? You have to think about how your kids will occupy space as they grow up too. Will they share a room with bunk beds or will they need separate rooms? The best advice agrees that multiples (regardless of age gaps) should share rooms in childhood to encourage them to develop social skills, including problem solving. But as expensive as it is to buy a pram, cot, bottles, nappies, and clothes for one child, having twins will almost double the cost. If your place isn’t big enough for all the baby supplies your newborns will need, it’s time to think about moving.
Arguing for Attention
The biggest problem with multiples, from infancy through to lasting psychological effects in adulthood, is the split attention of the parents. Unlike with siblings where the eldest can remember a time when they were the sole receiver of attention, twins never know a world where they aren’t beside their twin. While this creates a unique bond and understanding between your twins, it can put strain on their relationships with you. With an age difference, caring for children doesn’t require as much split attention because the children have different needs and different demands. Twins are constantly competing for the attention of a parent.
Struggling to Split
A further struggle with splitting attention between multiples is that often a parent can make the mistake of assuming all of their children want the same thing, without addressing each individually. One will ask for a cup of juice, and the parent will bring a cup for everyone without thinking to ask if their other children wanted juice or something else. Twins are constant victims of being treated like a pair, especially if they’re identical. This can lead to developmental problems later in life if they’re only addressed as a single entity rather than as individuals.
Fighting for Fun
Competition between multiples is constant and exhausting. Before becoming irritated at your triplet toddlers for their constant fighting, try to give each of them some one-on-one time with your undivided attention, and help teach them how to share effectively without having to fight for every second of attention. You’ll both feel better for it.
An Eye for an Eye...for an Eye
Especially as children age, parents can start to feel outnumbered. If two parents take their triplets to the park, it’s simply not an option to assign each child to a parent. Keeping an eye on multiples is a lot harder than tracking just one child, and that’s tough enough. Caring for children is far from the easiest job in the world, but there are ways to keep track of your multiples without losing your sanity.
Getting help from friends and family isn’t weakness. It’s important for the social development of multiples to interact with groups. It helps them find their identity away from their twin, and it will save you from having to split your focus between multiple children who all equally need you. Establishing house rules early and implementing a buddy system with your multiples can also help you keep them under control. The most important thing is to realise that you’re not outnumbered - your children aren’t ganging up against you. They are individuals, and you should treat them as such.
While your multiples are making up secret languages together, you can feel out of your depth, but caring for multiples can be fun too. Enjoy the journey while you can. Your twins will grow up and leave the nest sooner than you think.